Doing It The Hard Way - JL Steering Box and a Front Stretch

I went ahead and trimmed up that upper mount. Much better.

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May even take just a little bit more off the front. This probably gained an inch of clearance against the rad hose.
Finished up making the truss. Man that was way more work than I thought it would be...






Material is 1/4 x 3" plate and 5/16" round bar, plus lots of weld. Hopefully this will be rigid enough, it seems fairly similar to the Savvy bracket in stature. Feeling much more confident in my metal gluing abilities now, too. Critiques welcome though.
I made some progress again! Got the front truss fully welded on and now have the lower spring perches tacked in place.

The spring perches were a real head scratcher. I was having a hard time figuring out how to position them front to back, as well as the angle. Led to a lot of stalling.
For the front to back placement, I just trimmed a bit and mocked it up several times, settled on a position placing the center of the springs about 1/2" behind axle centerline. I was basically just trying to get the jounce cups to play nice with the coils. Full stuff they hit the back, full droop they hit the front.
Fab takes so much time without fancy tools. Just hours of angle grinding swapping between cutoff wheel and flap disk. Safety gear on and off over and over...


I have no idea if I got the position "right", but it seems good.

Next was the angle. I tried researching online but wasn't able to come up with a definitive answer as to how to set this. At first I had the perch tacked on at the same angle as the upper spring mount, 6° back, at full stuff. While this would be great at stuff, at full droop it caused some issues both with the coil unseating as well as the jounce bucket rubbing on the spring:


I cut that off and placed it back on there at the same angle as the pinion, so about 10° forward from before. Here is how that turned out:


As you can see, the coil remains fully supported at the bottom at full droop now, and because of that, it retains a slight forward bow which gives the jounce bucket space. Hopefully there are no new issues at full stuff now, but it seems ok. I have no way of compressing the spring up there to check at the moment.

If anyone has any insight to add, I'm all ears before I burn these brackets in. Otherwise, I think I'll roll with it and move on to the next task. I think steering might be next, that should be interesting.
Did some mocking up today, trying to figure out the steering.

I got these Rare Parts tie rod ends about 2 years ago at a steal, but not sure if they are going to be the right thing to use. They are pretty massive and may be difficult to package. Just for comparison, the thread size is the same as the LCA JJ's.

Clearance to diff seems fine with these 1.5" offset forgings. Camera perspective makes it seem close but there's a lot of room. Uptravel clearance should be fine too as there is at least 7.5-8" until it hits the radiator, only need 5.5-6" depending on the shocks I go with:

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If I mount these joints OTK on these factory JK knuckles, it puts the tie rod basically in line with the top edge of the axle tube. That's pretty good clearance, maybe even better than a Reid knuckle. This is going to cause some glaring issues with the drag link arm on the passenger side, but I did warn that steering would get interesting.

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I mounted the tire to check things out. Really liking the forward placement of the axle, but I'm yet to determine how many clearance issues it will cause. Rear fender clearance seems good, LCAs are good, but I could definitely see the top of the shock tower being an issue, and who knows if it will run into the grille now too. I didn't cycle anything up yet, this is just ride height.

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The massive RP rod ends have some interference problems with the wheel when turning into them, and I'm not sure how I'm going to solve that problem.

Full lock on the knuckle without the rod end in the way:
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Interference point with the offset TRE hitting the rim:
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The cartridge itself fits inside the wheel fine, it's just the tang on it that hits the edge of the rim:
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Seems like if that bend was at more of an angle it might clear, but I have no idea how I would do that. Heat it cherry red and bend it in a press, hoping the metal isn't fatigued after? Shaving the edge of the rim and the side of the forging also sound like bad ideas and probably wouldn't net much. A wheel spacer would probably solve all these problems, but I'm trying to avoid that if I can.
Just realized I forgot to put the brake rotor on there. The extra 0.30" or so of additional backspacing seems to help a tiny bit but not where it needs to be. At least I think not, how much steering angle I actually need is a bit of a mystery, the outside tire needs to turn less than the inside one and I don't really know where I'm at without mounting the other knuckle and putting that one at lock.

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Stole a pic from @jjvw 's build thread:

The inside tire really turns a lot more than the outside one. My steering interference may not even be an issue.

Does anyone have any actual measurements of what an inside and outside tire turns to at full lock on their jeep?
Made myself a schedule 40 tie rod to see how things look (UTK for now) and so I can figure out the Ackermann steering angle difference per side. I'll share the results once I figure out how to measure it.

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Plenty of clearance on the diff, at least 1/2" at the tightest spot. Drag link and track bar still need a home though

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For anyone wondering why an over the knuckle tie rod is impossible challenging on a JK knuckle, see pic:

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Did some quick mock up to see what it would take to mount the tie rod OTK, and in turn the drag link OTK too.

For the drag link stud to clear the tie rod forging, it needs to be this high up:
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With the joint that high, it needs to be this far in to clear the tire and rim:
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That leaves basically no room for a track bar to mount at the inner C, and I want the drag link TB to be as identical as possible:
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A whole two inches in fact
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I don't think these Rare Parts joints are going to work, at least not if I want to go OTK with stock knuckles. Given how much the drag link joint interfered with the tire, I also doubt Reid knuckles would be any better without a bunch of wheel spacer added.

I think I'll see how 1 ton joints look in there next.
Actually I have bigger issues with that trackbar mounting location. Any guesses of what I'm looking at?
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Cut off another unnecessary bracket:
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Notched my frame for the secret orange device:
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Still have some finishing up to do with that notch and a lot of reinforcing, but wanted to see how fitment was looking:
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If anyone hasn't figured it out yet, I'm putting a JL (think JK is the same shape too) steering box in place of the stock one. Since the pitman arm extends forward, the box had to move way back. This will result in the drag link being more forward than stock, giving me room for my front stretch, and will tuck the steering box away too, not that it's really much of an issue to begin with. Lastly. my old box was leaking and sloppy so now I don't even have to deal with that.
These are my weak justifications anyway... ;)
Whew man that was a lot of grinding and welding and bending and grinding and welding... Got that frame notch done! I don't think it is very strong right now, but once I add 4x .250 wall DOM tubes for the bolt holes tieing in both sides, 1/4" plate the bottom, and plate/gusset wherever else I can, I think I'll be able to trust it.

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Here is the idea with the steering gear:
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I'll patch up the spring bucket later on, but it looks like the coil should clear fine. I'll still need to put another notch in the frame for the TRE stud at the pitman arm.
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I did the thing, I got the JL steering gear mounted to the frame!

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The welds aren't pretty, but they'll hold. I'm not showing the ones Ray Charles did on the inside half...

The placement of that last bolt was rather unfortunate, but it worked out ok. If I were to do this again, which I definitely wouldn't, I'd hammer in the corner of the grille about 1/2" so the steering gear clears it and last bolt could clear the coil bucket. You know, advice for anyone unhinged enough to copy what I'm doing. It seems like the coil spring will have enough clearance, but we'll see.

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It took that under powered drill contraption about 30 minutes and 4 batteries to get through that one hole. I'm glad I didn't have to drain the radiator though.

Still need to clearance the frame where the stud comes through the pitman arm, after that I think the track bar is the next hurdle. Feels good getting this part over with.