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Old 10-23-2009, 12:48 PM   #1
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Drag Link problem

I was trying to adjust my steering wheel so that it wasn't upside down anymore, and as I tried to put the drag link back on the pitman arm, the castle nut would not tighten. Upon further inspection, the as I was tightening, the threaded spindle was spinning on the drag link arm. I have taken the pitman arm off a couple of times, but the spindle has never moved before. I assume this is not supposed to do that.

Is there a fix for this, beside getting a new arm for the drag link?

I attached a picture just in case my explanation was clear as mud.

Thanks,
Rick
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:26 PM   #2
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what do you mean the steering wheel it was upside down? You were trying to straighten the steering wheel? If that's the case you don't need to remove anything...

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Old 10-23-2009, 01:28 PM   #3
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That is perfectly normal. If it didn't spin I would be concerned. Put a short socket against it and give it a few taps being careful to not damage the grease zerk. This will seat it in the pitman arm and allow you to tighten it. Take it easy on tightening it our it will come loose again and you'll have to give it a few more whacks.

njkeagle. I think what's going on is he lifted it and the geometry is off so he adjusted the drag link to get it back to center.
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by njkeagle View Post
what do you mean the steering wheel it was upside down? You were trying to straighten the steering wheel? If that's the case you don't need to remove anything...
I had to replace the pitman arm...now the steering wheel is upside down. the steering wheel turned on me when I attached the PA, so I had to remove it again.
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:33 PM   #5
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That is perfectly normal. If it didn't spin I would be concerned. Put a short socket against it and give it a few taps being careful to not damage the grease zerk. This will seat it in the pitman arm and allow you to tighten it. Take it easy on tightening it our it will come loose again and you'll have to give it a few more whacks.

njkeagle. I think what's going on is he lifted it and the geometry is off so he adjusted the drag link to get it back to center.
Thank you. I will give that a try. The other time I put it on I didn't have any problem. I knew the spindles was supposed to pivot, just didn't expect it to turn. Thanks again.
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:42 PM   #6
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Gave it a few good whacks, but it still spins. It won't let me tighten the nut at all. I can almost spin it by hand...any ideas??? Hit it harder?
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:46 PM   #7
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You could use a bar clamp to push the drank link to the pitman arm.
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:49 PM   #8
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I wish I had one. I will check to see if a local auto parts store loans one out.
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:50 PM   #9
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I had the same problem with a stock sway bar end link. A big hammer helped..
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Old 10-23-2009, 01:57 PM   #10
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I was afraid that if I hit to hard it would break...It isn't working now, so what is the worse I can do to it?

Thanks...I will go back and whack it some more (the end link)!
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Old 10-23-2009, 02:05 PM   #11
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Try using some throttle body or carb cleaner to clean all the grease/oil off where the bolt touches the pitman arm and inside the Pitman arm hole so the added friction may hold the bolt tightly enough so it won't spin as you tighten the nut.
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Old 10-23-2009, 02:20 PM   #12
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After banging on it pretty hard, I can't get the castle nut off. Even holding the spindle with a 16" pair of channel locks, the spindle still spins, instead of the nut.
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Old 10-23-2009, 02:26 PM   #13
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got the nut off. I will try hitting it harder. It just doesn't feel like it is going to seat at all.
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Old 10-23-2009, 02:39 PM   #14
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Drag Link Problem

Use a floor jack or bottle jack, put a piece of wood like a 2x4 between the jack and the piece that is spinning, don't put it under the greaserk, put pressure on the part like you are trying to lift the truck but don't lift it, you will damage the part, do this untlil the part stops spinning on you. Hope this works. Laters,
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Old 10-23-2009, 02:56 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by skpuppy2 View Post
got the nut off. I will try hitting it harder. It just doesn't feel like it is going to seat at all.
Did you ever try the suggestion of getting all (!) the grease/oil off the two surfaces with carb or throttle body cleaner so they won't be slick and spin against each other?
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Old 10-23-2009, 02:57 PM   #16
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I'll give it a shot! Thanks.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:09 PM   #17
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Update...Got the stupid thing on. Used a ball joint press. Worked like a champ!

I still have to put some other things back together to check if the steering wheel is centered, but I think it is still off. It seems that I can't get the pitman arm centered, the wheels centered, and the steering wheel centered all at the same time. I can get any two. I understand the PA doesn't have to be centered, but if the wheels and steering wheel are centered, then the PA is off by 1/2 a turn, which means I can't turn all the way to one side. The tie-rod end and the Drag link arm need to shorten up about 1/2 inch, however, they are already touching. Outside of cutting off a 1/2 inch or so off the tie-rod end, I can't seem to make it work.

Any one have any idea what I am doing wrong? Could it be a problem with the toe-in? I haven't checked that yet.

Thanks.
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Old 10-26-2009, 12:54 PM   #18
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take it to an alignment shop. spend 40 bucks and know that it is correct. Plus the added tire life would definitely be worth the 40 bucks.
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Old 10-26-2009, 01:40 PM   #19
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I was hoping to avoid that, but I may have to break down and do it.

Thanks.
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:37 PM   #20
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Rather than taking it to a standard alignment shop that won't know jack about properly aligning a modified Jeep, I'd go to a 4x4 shop that has an alignment rack. They'll have the experience and skills to do it right, a typical alignment shop won't. Especially since alignment specs like for the proper Caster angle are different for a lifted vs. a stock Jeep.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:23 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by skpuppy2 View Post
I had to replace the pitman arm...now the steering wheel is upside down. the steering wheel turned on me when I attached the PA, so I had to remove it again.
Why did you have to replace the pitman arm? Hopefully it wasn't to install a drop.

Donn
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:23 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skpuppy2 View Post
Update...Got the stupid thing on. Used a ball joint press. Worked like a champ!

I still have to put some other things back together to check if the steering wheel is centered, but I think it is still off. It seems that I can't get the pitman arm centered, the wheels centered, and the steering wheel centered all at the same time. I can get any two. I understand the PA doesn't have to be centered, but if the wheels and steering wheel are centered, then the PA is off by 1/2 a turn, which means I can't turn all the way to one side. The tie-rod end and the Drag link arm need to shorten up about 1/2 inch, however, they are already touching. Outside of cutting off a 1/2 inch or so off the tie-rod end, I can't seem to make it work.

Any one have any idea what I am doing wrong? Could it be a problem with the toe-in? I haven't checked that yet.

Thanks.
If you haven't touched the center link, the toe shouldn't need to be adjusted.

Something doesn't sound right. You shouldn't have to cut a TRE to get it aligned right.

Here is how I setup the steering on my jeep. You can try this or parts or whatever but if done this way it should work just fine unless something is messed up.

Start by centering the front tires so they are pointing straight forward. Then disconnect the drag link from the pitman arm. Now turn the steering wheel to full lock in either direction. Now turn it all the way to the other lock and count the number of turns it takes. Divide that number by two and turn the steering wheel back that number. So if it is 6 3/4 turns lock to lock, go from lock back 3 3/8 turns. That should center the steering wheel. Now your wheels and steering wheel are both centered. If at this point your steering wheel isn't straight then you'll need to pull it off and reposition it but that shouldn't be an issue. Pull the key out of the ignition to lock the steering wheel. Now observe the pitman arm. It should be pointing straight to the back of the jeep and not to either side or to the front. If it is, pull it off and install it so it is pointing straight to the back. It can go on in 4 different positions, every 90*. Now adjust the drag link until it will bolt up to the pitman arm and bolt it up. This should get you fairly close to a centered steering wheel. After a bit of driving mine required about 1-2 more turns of the drag link and it was centered. As njkeagle said earlier you don't need to pull the drag link off to adjust it. The tie rod ends have opposing threads so you can just use a pipe wrench to turn the link. If at this point you cannot get the drag link adjusted so it will go into pitman arm then something is wrong. Either you have the wrong pitman arm, tie rod ends, or drag link. Some tie rod ends come in long and short. I don't know if that is true for jeeps or not but I've gone to order some for other vehicles and was asked if I wanted long or short ones.

Hope this gets you sorted.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:06 AM   #23
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Why did you have to replace the pitman arm? Hopefully it wasn't to install a drop.

Donn
No, it was to remove a DPA. The genius that installed the lift put on a DPA. The bump steer was awful. The previous owner lived with it for years. It was the first thing I had fixed when I bought it last month. Still feels like I slide through turns, but at least I can control the steering wheel.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:27 AM   #24
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....Now adjust the drag link until it will bolt up to the pitman arm and bolt it up. This should get you fairly close to a centered steering wheel. After a bit of driving mine required about 1-2 more turns of the drag link and it was centered. As njkeagle said earlier you don't need to pull the drag link off to adjust it. The tie rod ends have opposing threads so you can just use a pipe wrench to turn the link. If at this point you cannot get the drag link adjusted so it will go into pitman arm then something is wrong. Either you have the wrong pitman arm, tie rod ends, or drag link. Some tie rod ends come in long and short. I don't know if that is true for jeeps or not but I've gone to order some for other vehicles and was asked if I wanted long or short ones.

Hope this gets you sorted.
I haven't touched the center link, so that should be good.

I did the adjustment pretty much like you have above until I got to "...Now adjust the drag link until it will bolt up to the pitman arm and bolt it up. " The steering wheel is straight, the wheels are straight, but I cannot get the drag link short enough (off by about 1/2-1") to fit into the pitman arm. I looked at putting the PA on one of the other 90 degree settings, but quickly realized that wasn't going to work. It had only one setting that was going to work.

I pulled the tie rod end off to take a look at it because I couldn't get it back on.

I am wondering if whoever put the lift on added a longer TRE. A quick measurement shows that the TRE is about 6" from center post to the end of the threads (I may be off by 1/2" it was a quick measurement...didn't want to get my uniform dirty...the Navy is funny about going in to work with grease on the uniform). Is that longer than it should be?

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