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Old 06-25-2011, 10:03 PM   #1
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Rugged Ridge steering system part 2.

WARNING!!!! WARNING!!!! WARNING!!!!
*** I AM NOT AN SAE CERTIFIED MECHANIC ***
*** THE METHODS I USED IN THIS INSTALLATION DO NOT REPRESENT THE CORRECT WAY TO INSTALL OR ADJUST A STEERING SYSTEM ON ANY VEHICLE ***
*** ALWAYS HAVE YOUR STEERING ALLIGNMENT ADJUST BY A PROFESSIONAL AFTER ANY STEERING MODIFICATIONS BEFORE OPERATING ON PUBLIC ROADS ****
Removal of the old stock system and installation of the new system:
Ok, the first thing I did was locate the fastners that hold on the factory steering, these are the castle nuts at each of the factory tie rod ends located at both steering knuckles, and also at the pitman arm.



I also wanted to unbolt the steering stabilizer from the steering linkage.

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Old 06-25-2011, 10:03 PM   #2
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Before I could start I had to remove the cotter pins that prevent the castle nuts from backing off.

to make this easier I first did my best to bend the cotter pin so that it was straight, and then I used an allen wrench that was about the right size to slide through the cotter pin loop end.

Then I grabbed onto the allen wrench with a pair of pliers and pulled it free of the castle nut.

I did the same for all the rest of them except the cotter pin that attached at the pitman arm, the cotter pin was mangled and didn't want to straighten back out so I used a pair of side cutters to cut the loop end off and pulled it out from the other side.

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Old 06-25-2011, 10:04 PM   #3
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The old tie rod ends were on there good and tight, a little bit of penetrating fluid would've been a good idea, but I didn't have any so I improvised...

I made sure not to remove the nut completely yet because I didn't want the link to drop and bind up the opposite side and make it harder to remove. Also I don't own a tie rod end sepperating tool so I planned on using a hammer and driving the TRE out of the knuckle by smacking the top side of the nut... which isn't the ideal way to do it, but it works... and leaving the nut on helps prevent the threads from getting to badly dinged up by the hammer.

The passenger side was even more of a pain to remove, so I dug around in the garage and found a small section of pipe to use as a cheater bar...

After getting the TRE at both knuckles loose, I tried to remove the steering stabilizer, but it wouldn't cooperate at all and I ended up mushrooming the end of the bolt that holds it in place on the drag link... I will have to cut the bolt with a cut off wheel at a later date to remove it.
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Old 06-25-2011, 10:04 PM   #4
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After getting everything nice and loose I pounded on the top of the TRE castle nut with a hammer, to make the TRE drop out of the steering arm.
I left the nut in place to prevent the linkage from dropping and binding up the other TRE's until after I broke all of them loose.

Then I did the same with the other side.

After both sides were loose I took the nut off of each side and let the linkage hang by the steering stabilizer and the pitman arm connections.

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Old 06-25-2011, 10:05 PM   #5
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After I had the linkage disconnected from the steering knuckles I turned the steering wheel to move the pitman arm to a spot where I could more easily knock the last remaining TRE loose.

Now the only thing holding me up was the steering stabilizer...

Since I had mushroomed the threads by beating on it, I decided to just take it loose from the other end and remove it for now.

Here's a picture of the factory linkage plus the attached steering stabilizer after it was completely removed from the Jeep.
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Old 06-25-2011, 10:05 PM   #6
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Here's a pic of the Rugged Ridge drag link and tie rod compared to the factory parts.

First I put the tie rod together, the end of the rod with the groove is the passenger side, and it got the TRE that has the mounting hole for the drag link TRE to attach to, the other side gets one of the other 3 TRE's that are included with the kit. I attached the drivers side of the tie rod first and installed the castle nut onto it loosely.

Then I adjusted the tie rod until both TRE's were threaded all the way inside of both ends as far as they could go. After that step I held the passenger end up to the steering knuckle and turned the tie rod with my hand until the TRE tapered stud aligned up with the steering arm hole, after which I loosely installed the castle nut on that end.

After both sides were lined up I tightened them down nice and tight, then I tightened them just a little more to get the cotter pin holes to line up with the castle nuts. Then I adjusted the tie rod itself by feel, I spun it one way until i could feel it getting tight and the tires started to move a little bit, then I spun it the other way and counted the turns until it tightened up again and the tires started moving, then I spun it back the other way half of the turns that I had counted and then I locked down the jam nuts on each side, and then locked the jam nuts with the second set of jam nuts.
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Old 06-25-2011, 10:06 PM   #7
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Next I centered the steering wheel, and then assembled the drag link. The drag link has a groove in it as well, and I installed the grooved side on the passenger side so it would match the tie rod, and so that the adjustments for both would be in the same direction to try to avoid confusion.
Then I attached one end of the drag link to the pitman arm.

After attaching to the pitman arm I spun the drag link until both TRE's were adjusted until they were both spun in as far as they would go, then I Spun the body of the drag link until the TRE that connects to the tie rod would slide into the mounting hole on the passenger side tie rod TRE.

After everything was connected I tightened up the castle nuts on the drag link TRE's the same as I did on the tie rod, pretty close to as tight as I could get them with a 10 inch ratchet, then just a little more until the cotter pin hole lined up with the castle nut.
Just for everyones information, the instructions say to use a tourqe wrench set to 60 ft lbs.
After I tightened all the castle nuts and adjusted them so the holes would line up I installed the cotter pins.

And then I installed the little plugs that hold the grease in place. The ends also came with zirk fittings, but I plan on using the little plugs instead since they're smaller and don't stick out as much as the zirk fittings do.
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Old 06-25-2011, 10:06 PM   #8
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Here's what it looks like installed. I like that the drag link almost mirrors my Rubicon Express track bar angles just about perfectly, so hopefully bump steer will be very minimal if at all.

With my steering turned all the way driver the tie rod clears the diff cover by about a 1/4 of an inch.


Also while turned all the way driver side the drag link just barely touches the mounting bolt for my track bar. I might try adjusting my steering stop a little bit to keep it from touching.
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Old 06-25-2011, 10:07 PM   #9
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With the steering turned all the way passenger, once again the drag link just kisses the mounting bolt for my track bar...

With the steering turned all the way passenger there is plenty of clearance for the front diff.




With my previous fatory set up I had about 6 inches of play in the steering wheel just sitting parked, after installing this system I now only have 2 inches of play, and I haven't even filled up the TRE's with grease yet... I haven't driven it on the street yet either, so I can't comment on how it performs yet. I do know that I didn't get my drag link adjusted propperly though because with my wheels pointed straight my steering wheel is now about 90 degrees out from being where it should be. I'm also prolly not even close on my steering alignment, but I prolly wasn't very close to being aligned properly before I started. And then there is the issue of the steering stabilizer... I will try to get the bolt cut tomorrow and maybe see if the local auto parts store has replacement bushings, then hopefully I can get it installed and grease up the TRE's, adjust my steering wheel so it's pointed the correct direction, and then take to the road cautiously and see how bad the alignment is and how well the steering performs or if it doesn't.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:33 PM   #10
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So today I borrowed a grease gun from one of my neighbors and filled up each TRE with grease, then I took the Jeep for a spin through my neighborhood...

All went well, my steering was a bit more precise than what I started with and my Jeep still tracked down the road nice and straight if I let go of the wheel...

I still have about 2 inches of play in the steering wheel, but that is mostly bieng caused by a worn out steering box and a worn out track bar bushing.. I already have a new track bar bushing, I just didn't install it this weekend. And I've got a new steering box on order from agr as part of my rock ram steering assist system that I ordered on the 16th... the system I ordered said it would ship within 6-10 days, and today makes 10 days and it still hasn't shipped, I'm a little bit upset about that, but thats a write up for another day...

Over all I'm happy with the Rugged Ridge steering system, it's way beefier than the fatory set up, and it removed about 4 inches of steering play at the steering wheel... It tracks down the road nice and straight and the overall size difference between the Rugged Ridge 1 ton TRE's and the factory stuff is really impressive and the size of the drag link and tie rod are impressive as well.

I know that there are other systems available that are prolly better than the RR system, but at only $244 including shiping from CSE Offroad purchased through Amazon.com, all of the systems that might be better were between $50-$550 more expensive.

I'm impressed that without an alignment, I was able to romp around through my neigborhood minus a steering stabilizer and still have better performing steering than what I removed...
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:52 PM   #11
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Just a quick thought. I replaced my steering damper last week and used a Pitman Arm puller to remove the old one. With air, it was off in less than 5 seconds. The shaft is tapered, easy on, almost impossible to remove by beating on it. It saves a lot of
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by necromancer_tat View Post
I'm impressed that without an alignment, I was able to romp around through my neigborhood minus a steering stabilizer and still have better performing steering than what I removed...
I have a small issue with comparisons like that because a lot of folks will read it and get perhaps a different impression than they really should.

I once had someone bring me their TJ to have the steering gear replaced and they asked me to test drive it to see if anything else might be wrong.

The steering gear was worn so badly that you could barely keep it between the lines on the highway at 55 and having just sent all my steering gears out for rebuilds or cores, the only one I had left was one that was pretty worn, but not nearly as dangerous. Since the owner had a 60 mile drive to get back home that day, I swapped on the other gear I had because it was less dangerous.

He left with much better steering than he arrived with.
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:06 AM   #13
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A few things for those following this that may want to travel in your footsteps.

NEVER hit the end of the threads unless the steering is trash, nut or no nut to remove a TRE from it's tapered hole. As you found, it will mess up the threads and sometimes the steering will need to be reinstalled.

ALWAYS remove the castellated nut completely and then if you want to use it to catch the linkage, put it back on. The reason for that is quite often the cotter pin hole will hang on the threads of the nut and spin the pin when you get it popped out of the hole. If you remove the nut completely first, that stops that from happening.

If you apply some pressure to the linkage in the direction it needs to go and then tap the end of the steering arm with a decent hammer, the shock and vibrations will drop the tapered pin right out of the hole.
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Old 06-27-2011, 10:21 AM   #14
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How do you like the giant died spot in that Rugged Ridge junk?
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
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NEVER hit the end of the threads unless the steering is trash, nut or no nut to remove a TRE from it's tapered hole. As you found, it will mess up the threads and sometimes the steering will need to be reinstalled.
Very good advice, I learned this myself when I bungled up my Steering stabilizer bolt threads so badly that even after I broke it loose the end was mushroomed and it wouldn't go through the hole to get it out...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Magic Brakes View Post
ALWAYS remove the castellated nut completely and then if you want to use it to catch the linkage, put it back on. The reason for that is quite often the cotter pin hole will hang on the threads of the nut and spin the pin when you get it popped out of the hole. If you remove the nut completely first, that stops that from happening.
Wow! I never even thought of that, I'm glad that didn't happen to me cause I can see how that would suck to remove if the pin had've started spinning freely!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Magic Brakes View Post
If you apply some pressure to the linkage in the direction it needs to go and then tap the end of the steering arm with a decent hammer, the shock and vibrations will drop the tapered pin right out of the hole.
This is how I got the TRE that was attached to the pitman arm to release... Over all a propper puller would've helped out a great deal, I had planned to rent/borrow one from my local auto parts store, but I figured I'd give the brute force with a hammer a try first. I strongly agree that trying not to damage the parts you're removing is the best way in case the new parts don't fit right and you have to reinstall them, plus I'm planning on carying my stock set up as a trail spare.
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:19 PM   #16
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I have a small issue with comparisons like that because a lot of folks will read it and get perhaps a different impression than they really should.

I once had someone bring me their TJ to have the steering gear replaced and they asked me to test drive it to see if anything else might be wrong.

The steering gear was worn so badly that you could barely keep it between the lines on the highway at 55 and having just sent all my steering gears out for rebuilds or cores, the only one I had left was one that was pretty worn, but not nearly as dangerous. Since the owner had a 60 mile drive to get back home that day, I swapped on the other gear I had because it was less dangerous.

He left with much better steering than he arrived with.
You are correct, my factory steering system was completely worn out, the only way it could've been any worse would have been if pieces just fell off of it at random, lol. I can't comment on how this steering feels compared to a factory steering system until I've got all the rest of the play out of the system. It's quite possible that after I replace my gear box and my track bar bushing that I might still have some play left in the system due to the tie rod roll that this system is supposed to have. And also for everyones information the instruction manual states that the system does have tie rod roll and that this is normal for this style of steering.
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:21 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by UnlimitedLJ04 View Post
How do you like the giant died spot in that Rugged Ridge junk?
Seeing as my factory system was completely worn out to the point of me having about a 6 inch dead spot anyway, and with this system installed I now have only a 2 inch dead spot, and most of that is being caused by a worn out steering gear box and a bad track bar bushing, I think it's something I can live with. After I've replaced the gearbox and the bushing I'll have a bit more experience and I'll post an update adressing the dead spot at that time.
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Old 04-10-2012, 06:38 PM   #18
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Any updates on how this is working out for you? A buddy of mine just upgraded to a high steer system and I threw him $50 bucks for a 1 year old RR setup. I figured for $50 I might as well see how it works. I have a bent up stock tie rod on there right now and the ends are all worn out.

He never complained about anything with the RR setup soooo, If it doesn't work out I'll just throw the stock setup back on with a ZJ rod.



EDIT, out of curiosuity..what gives the RR setup the so called "dead spot."?
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:16 PM   #19
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He no longer will recommend it. It's a crappy version of a crappy linkage design. The dead spot comes from the fact that the drag link is no longer directly connected to the knuckle. Instead, it has to go through the tie rod and can't communicate your input until the TRE at the junction reaches its limit. I would highly suggest not even wasting your time--the stock inverted Y setup works much better due to the direct linkage between the pitman arm and passenger knuckle. Swapping to an inverted T, especially one with small, low quality TRE's literally has zero advantages.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:42 PM   #20
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Hmm..maybe I'll just dump it on ebay and pick up a ZJ tie rod.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:01 PM   #21
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Any updates on how this is working out for you? A buddy of mine just upgraded to a high steer system and I threw him $50 bucks for a 1 year old RR setup. I figured for $50 I might as well see how it works. I have a bent up stock tie rod on there right now and the ends are all worn out.

He never complained about anything with the RR setup soooo, If it doesn't work out I'll just throw the stock setup back on with a ZJ rod.



EDIT, out of curiosuity..what gives the RR setup the so called "dead spot."?
Keep the RR set up as an emergency get off of the trail and back home spare, and it's not bad for $50.... I don't recommend it at all for daily street driving.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:03 PM   #22
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He no longer will recommend it. It's a crappy version of a crappy linkage design. The dead spot comes from the fact that the drag link is no longer directly connected to the knuckle. Instead, it has to go through the tie rod and can't communicate your input until the TRE at the junction reaches its limit. I would highly suggest not even wasting your time--the stock inverted Y setup works much better due to the direct linkage between the pitman arm and passenger knuckle. Swapping to an inverted T, especially one with small, low quality TRE's literally has zero advantages.

Exactly, I don't recommend this steering at all to anyone. Not only does it have a really large dead spot, but it also limits passenger side droop because the TRE's bind up at the knuckle and the pitman arm...
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:03 PM   #23
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I got a PM today asking me about this steering. I realised that I hadn't updated this thread, or part 1 of this thread.

Let me start out by posting this video:



And let me swear on a stack of Bibles that everyone that warned me about this steering was right, and I was wrong. Do not buy this steering unless you like fearing for your life when you drive down the road and don't want to remain in your lane... It worked awesome for me, for all of about a thousand miles, then it just didn't work anymore. It was really weird, it worked fine on my way to work, then on my way home I couldn't keep my Jeep in my own lane unless I sawed the steering wheel back and forth constantly like in the old movies... it sucked!

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