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Rusty's Steering Upgrade - Tie Rod and Drag Link!


 
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Black2001TJ
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Joined: 03 Jan 2004

PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 5:57 pm    Post subject: Rusty's Steering Upgrade - Tie Rod and Drag Link! Reply with quote

First, the write up, then the review! I will explain what I feel may be best after we did my install the way we did it, however, this will probably deviate from how we did some things to save embarassment Mr. Green It's actually a simple install, but removing the stock setup is a freaking PITA!! This setup takes you to a full tie rod that is much stronger than stock as well as an upgraded drag link that is much stronger than stock and is recommended for 35" tires and above and in my case, after a little mishap with a guard rail! I recommend them for 33s and up as well after feeling the ride (review coming soon).. I think the setup cost $225 + $15 shipping compared to the stock setup at the dealership for about $300. Feel free to add your opinions and experiences, as well as pics if you have them!

Tools Needed (from memory, sorry if I lie):
- BFH - (Big Hammer, we had a 3lb. mini sledge, then a mammoth - maybe a 6lb.)
- Socket wrench
- Torque wrench
- 3/4" socket
- 13mm socket
- 13mm open ended wrench (spanner for you brits)
- Big pickle fork
- Tie rod end puller (not needed, but helps - but sorry, don't think I got a pic, but I can if someone doesn't know what they look like..)
- Tape measure
- Grease gun and some grease

The kit includes:
- New Tie Rod and Drag Link connected already
- 4 cotter pins
- Stabilizer mount and bolts
- Maybe more, can't remember!

Here is the old setup:


First of all, measure your distance between your tires to see how you are toed before doing this upgrade.. You don't have to do this, but it's nice knowledge. Many people have different ways, the most accurate is probably the nail way, but with my MT/Rs, I just went ahead and measured using molding on the tire. Have someone place one end of the tape measure onto one tire at the same point that you measure from on the other front tire, and gather the distance for both the front of the front tires and the rear of the rear tires.. Now, subract your front measurement from your rear to figure out if you are toed in or out and by how much. I found out that I was actually toed out 1/32" and the recommendation is 1/32" toed in, according to Rusty.

Measuring the toe...
(take a picture and insert here - coming soon, be patient)

Now, find the cotter pins on both the tie rod (2, 1 at each nuckle) and drag link (1 at the pitman arm) and remove them by un bending the thin ends and then going to the other side of the nut and pulling them out forcefully. You can cut these, the Rusty's setup gives you new ones to use..

Removing cotter pins:


Once those are removed, remove the nuts on the tie rod (2 total, 1 at each nuckle) and the draglink (1 at the pitman arm).. At this point, you can jack up the front axle and put it on jack stands and take off both front tires to make things easier... Now, remove the tie rod by placing the tie rod puller on the end and cranking it until they pop out, if you don't have one, you can hit the nuckle with your BFH, or use a pickle fork wedged in there to remove it...

Removing tie rod ends:
(take a picture and insert here - coming soon, be patient)

Now comes the only hard part and time consuming part - removing the stock draglink from the pitman arm. I want to hear your suggestions for this, we tried everything but heat to remove it. The best way we found was by putting your pickle fork in there to separate them and just beating the living daylights outta it for a while and it finally just popped right out!

Beating the drag link:






Now you can play with your tires:


Now it's time to line up the new setup, first we went ahead and made the new tie rod as long as the old setup.

old versus new:


Now, take the new setup and line it up and finger tighten the tie rod ends and drag link at the pitman arm. First thing first, measure your toe now from the front and back of the front tires and get yourself as close to perfect, but within 1/32" toed in. Once you have this, tighten the nuts on the tie rod ends and drag link at both ends to 35 ft. lbs. torque and tighten the jam nuts on the tie rod only.

Lining up the new setup:


Driver's side tie rod end:


Passenger's side tie rod end:



Now, have someone watch the steering wheel and turn your drag link by hand and have them yell bloody hell when it's centered. Then you'll want to torque the drag link nuts to 35 ft. lbs. as well as tighten the jam nuts also..

New draglink setup:


Now you need to locate the stabilizer bracket and attach it to the drag link approximately where the old setup had it, I found it to be 21" from one end of the steering stabilizer to the middle of the end on the drag link. I ran into a snag here, the OME stabilizer bolt didn't fit well on the Rusty's piece, so I used a 3/4" bolt (about 3 inches long), some washers, and a nut to get that on there. I will be buying/investigating a better way to set that up, but it's cool for now.

Stabilizer mounted:


Now, take a test drive, come back and measure up again to fix any wandering, etc. and to fix your steering wheel. I recommend getting a professional alignment afterwards, but my setup right now runs great, so I'm probably going to save the dough.

All done:



Now for the review. About 2 days from install, and I've loved the setup from the moment I pulled outta Mike's garage. It rides incredible compared to the older setup, you can definitely feel the beefiness and control! I absolutely love it. The new setup is much thicker, more solid, and runs the length of the tires compared to stock. I'll try to add more when a month has passed.


Disclaimer: You can use these instructions however you choose, but I am not liable for anything you do Smile Please feel free to link to them from other sites, but you must get my permission first before copying them off of this site to elsewhere.

Thanks and Enjoy!
Keith

P.S. Thanks so much to the PA/NJ crew for the help, nothing like some last minute wrenching with some good folks. Thanks to Mike for the use of his garage yet again and thanks to JaySea for the pics that I used!


Edit: I've had this on for 3 weeks now and wheeled once. We didn't do much to test it out wheeling Sad but it held up great!!! Actually, I was toed out enough that on the highway, I was having some major swaying issues, so I remeasured more accurately and adjusted both sides of the tie rod in one full turn and now this steering is absolutely perfect, no lies! I love every minute of it, it's more stable on the road and really does a good job of returning me back to a stock feel of steering if not way better than stock.
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Last edited by Black2001TJ on Fri Feb 27, 2004 11:00 am; edited 2 times in total
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'drack
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Joined: 01 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great writeup dude. Too bad it wasn't around last summer because I hadda figure mine out using only the "directions" they supplied Rolling Eyes . Like ya said, the thing I liked most is the solid tie road going from knuckle to knuckle unlike the OEM setup that splices into the draglink. After looking at yours, I definitely need to do a little adjusting on mine to get that grease fitting firing up as opposed to mine where it faces out Shocked . Great job nancy Wink .


PS, thanks for getting it done before I showed........I hate getting dirty flipoff agree .
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JaySea
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Joined: 11 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great write-up Keith.....remember to keep us updated on this....since this might very well be a future upgrade for myself Very Happy
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'drack
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Rusty's Steering Upgrade - Tie Rod and Drag Link! Reply with quote

Black2001TJ wrote:

All done:





Way off topic, kinda sorta, but dude, get a steering box skid Mr. Green . I thought ya already had one.
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Black2001TJ
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a skid, just need to put it back on, I took it off to bend it back since it is a POS and got bent when you were distracted during spotting me Mr. Green

I'm buying a new one, but wanna wait to see if and what type of bumper I get! I'll def. keep folks updated on this, I think it is the best mod dollar for part you can get that I've got! It wasn't even double the cost of those JKS quick discos!
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Candi
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Joined: 02 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2004 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great writeup. Doesn't do justice to the time it took to remove it, but hey, what does? Now, do you really want to hold the pickle fork while Dan swings at it with a sledge????
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WhatWasIThinkin
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[GolfClap]Bravo......Bravo![/GolfClap] Mr. Green

Great write up! Cool
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Black2001TJ
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Added a little post review at the end of the writeup... Enjoy!
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PAJeeper
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you ever call Rusty's and ask for the correct steering stabiliser bolt?
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Black2001TJ
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2004 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PAJeeper wrote:
Did you ever call Rusty's and ask for the correct steering stabiliser bolt?


Kinda forgot about that Shocked

I do need to do so though... Thanks for the reminder! I have to call about the steering brace anywho, so I'll ask bout this!!
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