<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT"%> ROCKCRAWLER.com - Currie Heavy Duty Steering System
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Steering You Straight

By Shawn M. Pagan
(Click on Photos to Enlarge) 

Currie Enterprises Steering System
Stock tie rod and drag link assembly. 

Currie Enterprises Steering System
After-market assembly I have been running. The tie rod and drag link are great but it puts most of the load on the tie rod ends.
Currie Enterprises Steering System
This is my always-broken tie rod end. Notice that the adjoined end is severely bent and has to be replaced, as well.

Currie Enterprises Steering System
Exploded view of the Currie parts.

Currie Enterprises Steering System
This Currie ad. should give you an idea of the massive size of their parts.

Currie Enterprises Steering System
The Pitman arm has been reconnected to the drag link assembly.
Currie Enterprises Steering System
The only instructions Currie sends with the system.
Currie Enterprises Steering System
Be sure to use a torque wrench and set to the factory settings.
Currie Enterprises Steering System
Be sure to install the cotter pins in all four of the castle nuts. Remember not to looses a castle nut to install the cotter pin. Always tighten them.

Currie Enterprises Steering System
Notice the dust boot on this tie rod is collapsed. It needs grease in order to survive.

Currie Enterprises Steering System
Notice how the dust boot expands itself when it is filled with grease.

Currie Enterprises Steering System
Install the steering stabilizer bracket on the drag link. If you haven't done it already, this may be a good time to upgrade the stabilizer, as well.

Currie Enterprises Steering System
Now step back and admire your work. I would recommend getting a professional alignment at this point. You may also need to re-center your steering wheel.

Discuss This Article
Due to the nature of our sport, each of us probably regards breakage as a common occurrence, but that does not mean we have to like it. The fact is, that many of us are fond of saying that a shop would have charged us $100 or more to make that fix we just did on the trail.  However, after a while, changing the same part still becomes laborious - and I think we would all like to limit those type of repairs as much as possible.

This is true of my tie rod ends. Seen at the top right, is a picture of a stock tie rod and tie rod ends from a Jeep TJ. The second picture is the first attempt I made at resolving the issue of breakage - replacing both the tie rod and drag link with after market DOM units that also changed the stock inverted "Y" steering to a straight tie rod. 

Unfortunately this solution makes the tie rod and the drag link almost impervious to breakage, which in turn puts all of the stress on the tie rod ends themselves. In the last year I have replaced at least 2 tie rod ends on 2 or 3 separate outings. The third picture is what happens to my tie rod ends when the tie rod doesn't move and forces all the pressure on to the tie rod end.

I started calling around to various places and I got the typical replace the tie rod bar w/either DOM or chromolly and use the stock ends or have someone custom make a heim joint steering at a price that was out of this world. I was pretty convinced that the system I was running was already superior to any of the other manufacturers' heavy-duty tie rods that still used the factory ends, so I kept looking.

Leave it to the usual suspects at Currie Enterprises to finally fix the TJ tie rod and drag link problem(s). Dan Moses at Tennessee Off Road was very helpful and called Currie to get one of their systems drop-shipped to me.

The Currie "Heavy Duty Tie Rod System" consists of a new drag link that is made of 1-1/4" chromolly with an oversized 1-1/8" threaded adjuster, huge 1-1/8" rod end with zerk fitting, bolt-on steering stabilizer bracket that can be adjusted for proper placement and a heavy-duty tie rod made of 1-1/4" chromolly rod with 7/8" clamps and 7/8" threaded tie rod ends with zerk fittings. All of the pieces are available separately.

As you can see from the pictures, the Currie unit is MUCH larger all around then either the factory stock unit or the previous aftermarket assembly that was on my Jeep. In fact, the drag link end and threaded area is more then twice as large as the stock rod end. This should solve both the problems of bending the tie rod connector and breaking the tie rod ends. And, it should return my steering geometry very close to stock.

Installation Notes

You will need (at a minimum) needle nose pliers, 1/2 drive socket wrench and sockets, torque wrench, small hammer, grease gun, and a few cotter pins, depending on how many Currie included. Mine had only 3 and I needed 4.

Start by driving your Jeep into your work area so that the wheels are pointed as straight as you can get them. Don't worry about centering your steering wheel at this point. It is more important that your wheels are straight.

Remove the bolt that holds drag link end of your steering stabilizer but leave the other end installed.

Next, remove the cotter pins from both outer tie rod ends and the drag link end at the Pitman arm. 

Loosen the three castle nuts holding the tie rod and drag link assembly to the vehicle (the drag link end where it connects to the Pitman arm and both outer tie rods).

If you have a tie rod separator (pickle fork), use it to loosen the drag link end from the Pitman arm. If you do not have a separator then a small mallet or a dead blow hammer will work, as well. Tap the hammer against the rod end until it separates from the Pitman arm. Repeat on each outer tie rod end.

Remove the three nuts and lower the tie rod/drag link assembly.

With the front steering assembly removed, now is a good time to make sure your steering wheel is centered or close to it.

Re-install the parts in reverse order. Start with the drag link to tie rod assembly on the passenger side, making sure you adjust the assembly to fit between the wheel and the Pitman arm without moving the Pitman arm. This will help to make sure that your steering wheel stays close to center. Keep in mind that you should turn the adjuster in order to keep an even amount of thread on each side of the adjuster.  This will insure plenty of adjustment in the future.

Install the drag link to tie rod end on the driver's side.

Pay attention to the end of the tie rod that Currie has marked with a red tag that says "Driver Side Only" (these are the only instructions included in the kit) .

Tighten all four castle nuts up to the factory specs The Currie drag link and tie rod are shipped separated so you will need to put them together. This is one place where you want to use the factory torque settings - too tight and they could bind, too loose and your steering may wobble all over the road.

Don't forget to insert cotter pins to keep the castle nuts from backing off. Remember to never loosen a castle nut to get the cotter pin in.

Next, tighten the drag link adjuster and both of the tie rod adjusters. Be sure to take your time in checking to make sure that none of the adjusters will interfere with any skid plates or other things you may have hanging down around your steering.

Grease all four new zerk fittings. 

Loosely install the new steering stabilizer bracket on the drag link. 

Connect the steering stabilizer to the bracket (Note: depending on who's after-market stabilizer you have, you may have to remove a sleeve from the eye bushing to get the proper fit  to the Currie adapter).

Turn your wheels over to the passenger side as far as they will go. Slide the stabilizer and bracket along the drag link until you have about 1" or 1-1/2" of the stabilizer shaft showing. Then tighten the stabilizer and the bracket into place.

Be sure to turn the wheels from lock to lock and make sure that the stabilizer is not binding.

I would then recommend having a professional alignment done and from the massive size, I would expect it to be the last one you need for a while - at least from breaking tie rods.

Some may consider this solution a little pricey, but if you have ever changed your tie rods in the middle of a torrential downpour, in a four foot deep pool of stagnant cold water in the middle of a river bed in Oklahoma, the price is not really that bad. Except for the alignment (which you should get), this really is an installation you can do in your garage with basic hand tools.

Since I have had my alignment done, the Jeep steers with ease.  It works great off-road and nothing binds.  I am no longer worried about breaking my tie rod ends and am very happy with the quality of the parts.  I look forward to testing this on the rocks in the near future.

Notes from the alignment shop: They were much happier with the ease of adjustment of this setup over the previous one I had. The only slight issue they had was that due to the size of the adjusters and the slots provided for the lock downs they had to pop one tie rod ends out and turn it independently until they could get the adjuster lined up so that it did not hit against anything during the lock to lock turn or under compression.

Currie Part Number And Pricing Information*
Description Part Number List Price
Full System
Heavy Duty Tie Rod System CE-9701 $399.95
Piece Parts
Heavy Duty Drag Link (Complete) CE-9701DL $199.95
  Drag Link End (Left Hand Thread) CE-9701DLR $49.95
  Drag Link Adjuster CE-9701DLA $49.95
  Steering Dampener Bracket CE-9701SB $49.95
Heavy Duty Tie Rod Set (Complete) CE-9701TR $189.95
  Heavy Duty Tie Rod (No Ends) CE-9701TRN $89.95
  Heavy Duty Tie Rod End - Left CE-9701TRL $49.95
  Heavy Duty Tie Rod End - Right CE-9701TRR $49.95

 

Update: 11/25/01 - Due to website articles touting the Currie Heavy Duty Steering for Jeep TJ's, Currie's original stock of parts has been depleted. While there is nothing technically wrong with the original design (nor have they had any problems with it), Currie is is taking some time to fine-tune the design prior to building more parts for general release.

According to Kent Anderson at Currie, they plan to improve the strength in the connection area of the Drag Link and Tie-Rod Connector and to adjust the angles of the steering components. Currie stock should be back to normal mid-January.

RESOURCES
Currie Enterprises
1480 North Tustin Ave.
Anaheim, CA  92807

Phone: (714) 528-6957
www.currieenterprises.com
Tennessee Off-Road
1200 3rd Avenue South
Nashville, TN  37210

Phone:
(615) 248-8638
www.tennesseeoffroad.com
E-Mail: TennesseeOffRoad@home.com 

 

 

Shawn Pagan

Shawn Pagan is a staff writer for ROCKCRAWLER.com as well as Our Land Use Editor. Shawn resides north of Houston, TX.

Contact Shawn at thepagan@rockcrawler.com

* Prices accurate at time of writing