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PROJECT TJ Steering Conversion
It's no mystery that steering becomes more of a problem, the more we lift our vehicles and make suspension modifications. Our Project TJ is sitting at 6" of suspension lift. Those of us who've hit the serious trails in our TJ's know that one of the first pieces of metal to get bent is usually the tie-rod, since we don't have those nice, protective, shackles to whack first.
The stock tie-rod that comes on the TJ is fine if you're only running 30" tires, but once you get into the big boy tires, it's simply not enough steel to support those big meats.
There are a couple of companies out there making replacement tie-rods, but they only address part of the problem. Yes, they are beefier than stock, but they do nothing to help your steering geometry. You see, optimally, your drag link (the rod that goes from the tie-rod up to the Pitman arm) should parallel the trac bar as closely as possible. Once you get a bunch of lift on your rig, this becomes more difficult to do.
We ran into this problem on the Project TJ. We ended up with a sort of dead spot in the center of our steering. What was happening, was that as the wheel turned, the drag link was pushing downward on the tie-rod until the ends could bend no further. Then, afterward, it would finally allow the tie-rod to go left or right like it was supposed to do.
Besides the very dangerous dead spot in the middle (which nearly caused us a head-on with a semi on a windy, mountain road), it was also very hard on the tie-rod ends. Those of you following along will remember that we busted one in Moab during Easter Safari because of this.
So what did we do? We decided to take matters into our own hands and make our own steering setup. The main ingredients were 1 1/2" steel tubing and heim joints. The big secret, and the reason why nobody will sell a kit like this, is that we did a "knuckle-over" drag link. This involved drilling out the hole in the passenger side steering knuckle and also cutting off the sway bar mount and relocating out of the way of the tie-rod on hard turns. Also, to accomodate the heim joints, we had to drill out the driver side, as well. Lastly, we had to chop a couple inches out of the sway bar quick disconnect on that side to fit in the new bracket location.
The setup turned out to be extremely stout and we are confident that it will prove to be worth the work and permanent modifications. The other nice thing about it is that heim joints are extremely easy to replace in the field, unlike conventional tie-rod ends.
We are providing photos of this conversion, however, we will not supply measurements or the recipe. This is potentially one of the more dangerous modifications you can do to your Jeep!
ROCKCRAWLER will not be
held responsible for damages or injuries and makes no claim as to the safety or
legality of this conversion.
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