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

Thanks! I know, right! Someone on here got a Metalcloak diff cover and took the time to grind off the giant M in the casting. I'm not going that extreme on some TREs though.. :LOL:


I made a bit of progress on that steering arm. 1.25" steel takes a while to cut!

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I should have spaced the drilled holes closer because the sawzall part of that was not fun.

I saw that thread too! haha I think it was maybe @Irun that did it... must have taken forever.
 
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Not gonna lie, I panicked a little yesterday when I mocked up the tie rod at full stuff and saw this:

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A couple things working against me in this pic though are that I stuck larger 2" PVC on there for mockup and the pitman arm itself was biased to the left side. I removed the pitman clocking key and rotated it right one tooth which gives me more front to back clearance when turning fully left. I really almost bought Rancho knuckles! I don't really know why JK/JL pitman arms have that offset to them, maybe just so the link can be an inch longer.

Clearances are still extremely tight with it so high up. I don't know if I measured something wrong when planning it out or what but I wasn't expecting it to be higher than the pitman arm joint. After thinking about it for a bit, I think I've devised a plan that should work and maintain optimal geometry.

Full stuff full right turn is ok, everything clears:
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Full left turn is a bit tighter though:

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Same viewed from the front:

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Before, I was planning on just running straight aluminum bar for all 3 linkages with double adjustable ends, but I don't think there's any way around doing a bent trackbar. The bar needs to go over/in front of the diff cover then sneak under the pitman arm bolt. I threw my old currie track bar up there, and it does seem like it will work with a fairly similar shape. The frame side joint has enough space to live between the fully turned tie rod and the spring perch and can still be in line with the pitman joint. I've never bent tubing before so hopefully I can make it work on my shop press. Not aware of anyone locally that does that sort of stuff.

Good news is the high steer arm on the knuckle seems like it is going to work perfectly, so I think I'll go ahead and tackle that soon. Got a new Monroe stabilizer to put there, and that also seems like it will clear everything.

Where exactly is your trackbar mounting on frame side?
 
Got that middle piece finished up, now I just need to cut out the top and bottom plates and weld 'er up!

I learned a few things about manual milling:
1. It sucks
2. It's slow
3. A computer should be doing it

Maybe one day I'll convert my mini mill to CNC.

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Got that middle piece finished up, now I just need to cut out the top and bottom plates and weld 'er up!

I learned a few things about manual milling:
1. It sucks
2. It's slow
3. A computer should be doing it

Maybe one day I'll convert my mini mill to CNC.

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This is incredible to me. I would never have even thought of something like this. You sir, are an inspiration.
 
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This is incredible to me. I would never have even thought of something like this. You sir, are an inspiration.

Thank you, quite the compliment!


Got the bottom plate cut out and chamfered for welding. My welder is kind of underpowered for material this thick so I'll try preheating everything first. Pressure is on to make some decent looking welds...

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Got that middle piece finished up, now I just need to cut out the top and bottom plates and weld 'er up!

I learned a few things about manual milling:
1. It sucks
2. It's slow
3. A computer should be doing it

Maybe one day I'll convert my mini mill to CNC.

View attachment 416073

Absolutely, when I hired some pieces to be CNCd I realized I would never buy a manual because the CNC is too good and I wouod definitely mess up manual milling
 
Absolutely, when I hired some pieces to be CNCd I realized I would never buy a manual because the CNC is too good and I wouod definitely mess up manual milling

A big mistake a lot of guys make is jumping right into CNC without knowing the Manual process. Easy to blow up tooling and spindles if you can't recognize the sounds the cutters are making.
 
A big mistake a lot of guys make is jumping right into CNC without knowing the Manual process. Easy to blow up tooling and spindles if you can't recognize the sounds the cutters are making.

You’re probably right, that sounds like the voice of experience.
 
A big mistake a lot of guys make is jumping right into CNC without knowing the Manual process. Easy to blow up tooling and spindles if you can't recognize the sounds the cutters are making.

Believe me, I definitely learned about speeds and feeds with this part. Every time I took too deep of a cut (which is like 20 thou on this thing) the cutter would grab the work, stall, shatter the carbide insert, and tilt the column a degree or two. Then I'd spend the next 15 minutes re-tramming and getting back to where I was. If I need to make cuts .01" at a time I'd rather have stepper motors turning the knobs instead of having my hands getting rained on with hot sharp chips. I agree though blowing up tools gets old quick and an even quicker way to do it is to have a robot flailing its axes unattended :LOL:
 
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My experience tells me it’s better to let those with experience do it for me, lol

We have some big CNCs at work. This is a casting for the rear suspension of my motorhome. It’s about 8” x 10” x10”

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Workholding gets kind of crazy with cast parts. I'll have to find my pics of how I had my knuckles set up in the mini mill to bore the TRE holes out for the inserts.. Looked a bit silly.


Got those pieces burned together and tacked onto the knuckle. Clearance is clearance and I think everything has it!

Full left turn:

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Right turn:

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Whatever bracket I come up with for the axle side of the stabilizer should space it up and forward a bit more than pictured. Gonna be tight but everything looks promising. Need to get a real tie rod and drag link made so I can figure out the trackbar without all this PVC flopping around.
 
So this is the general idea for getting the trackbar in there, though I'll try to mount it double shear if I can. Gonna need to do some pretty exact bends to get around the diff and not hit the other links, but I've got some ideas on how to accomplish it. You can see how tight it is, I might have to get a slim JJ for this spot but we'll see. I don't think I should do anything else before getting the drag link and tie rod links made first. If I need to push the axle back at all for those two links to clear each other it is going to cause issues if the trackbar is in the way.

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Found those pics of when I bored out the TRE tapered holes in the knuckles to 7/8"

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It's hard to get a feature square to the tool head on a cast piece with minimal flat and parallel surfaces!
 
So this is the general idea for getting the trackbar in there, though I'll try to mount it double shear if I can. Gonna need to do some pretty exact bends to get around the diff and not hit the other links, but I've got some ideas on how to accomplish it. You can see how tight it is, I might have to get a slim JJ for this spot but we'll see. I don't think I should do anything else before getting the drag link and tie rod links made first. If I need to push the axle back at all for those two links to clear each other it is going to cause issues if the trackbar is in the way.

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You going to mount the joint vertical like shown? Just to be clear this is the frame side mount right?
 
You going to mount the joint vertical like shown? Just to be clear this is the frame side mount right?

Yes, that's the frame side mount. The more I look at it, mounting it vertical like that seems like the only way it can fit between the axle and the tie rod when turning. Just need to make sure mounting it like that won't limit my travel, which I don't think it will. It worked fine like that before. In retrospect I wish I had mounted the steering box just a little higher up, but that ain't changing now. I do still have the option of making a flat pitman arm if I really do need the clearance, but I've gotta stop reinventing the wheel at every step and make some forward progress too...

I got the 7075 drag link and tie rod ordered. Turns out the Metalcloak TREs use an uncommon thread pitch of 1"-18, I had just assumed they were the common 1"-14 so glad I double checked. I was planning on using Wide Open Design, but they only use taps to make their links and didn't have that size. Went through Innovative Machining Solutions up in Maine. Never heard of them but they told me no problem they'll just single point thread it. Great price, so excited to get those in. They make some really crazy stuff like billet aluminum trailing arms and knuckles too.
 
I got the 7075 drag link and tie rod ordered. Turns out the Metalcloak TREs use an uncommon thread pitch of 1"-18, I had just assumed they were the common 1"-14 so glad I double checked. I was planning on using Wide Open Design, but they only use taps to make their links and didn't have that size. Went through Innovative Machining Solutions up in Maine. Never heard of them but they told me no problem they'll just single point thread it. Great price, so excited to get those in. They make some really crazy stuff like billet aluminum trailing arms and knuckles too.

Ordered some links for my brothers build from Innovative Machining Solutions. Fair price. Fantastic quality. They are great looking links.
 
I went ahead and moved my radiator up 1/2". Took the end caps off one at a time and just made new holes 1/2" below the original ones. Barely clears the hood but clearance is clearance. Will give the drag link more space as well as the upper CA link against the lower radiator hose.

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Socket still clears on the right side as long as I use a shorty+extension (y)

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Took a short hiatus from working on the Jeep but made some progress again today. I've decided to mount the drag link on top of the pitman arm now rather than under it. This will allow me to mount the frame side of the track bar higher and out of the way of the tie rod. I don't know why this solution wasn't obvious to me before, I think I was getting a bit burnt out working every day in my hot Florida garage.

Ignore the threads pointing the wrong way, this joint is just there for visualization. Waiting on a weld on JJ from Summit.

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With it mounted here, it isn't quite a straight shot to the passenger side axle, so I need to make a bar with a bend in it to clear the pitman arm and diff cover. I don't have a tubing bender, but I do have a shop press. Made a quick jig to do the job out of scrap:

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I got some 1" solid bar and to my surprise, the press jig worked out great! I thought for sure I was going to have to heat the metal, but it bent fine with adequate pressure. I'd imagine a 12 ton press would not be strong enough.

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I may have to tweak it some, but this should be pretty close as is. Here is how it routes:

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The axle side will just be a normal Johnny Joint, but since the frame side is now outside the frame, I'll need to mount it between the inner C and the coil bucket rather than right on the C to keep the length right. That's fine, because it gives me space to mount it double shear that way. I've got a 1"-14 LH threading die coming tomorrow, and with any luck will thread the end of this bent bar just past the diff cover. I'm planning on ordering another aluminum link to go between there and the axle joint, that way I can keep the double adjustability and the links will all match as well.

Something else I've been working on, I got an early JK (07-11?) radiator fan from a junkyard and have been trimming it up to fit the TJ radiator. Got that wrapped up tonight and tested it out by hooking it up to the battery. That fan seems to blow quite a lot of air, so I think it might actually do better than the stock engine driven fan. My Jeep has only ever overheated in situations where it is extremely hot and traffic is barely moving, thus no airflow over the radiator. Hoping this solves that issue.

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I can't say the JK fan was really a good idea though, I had to trim quite a bit of the plastic off and make my own frame out of aluminum channel. The coolant tank isn't even close to fitting either, runs into the belt by like 2-3". The fan itself seems to work well and I like that I can get replacement parts at any parts store, but adapting it to fit was probably more work than making something from scratch and using a generic electric fan. Oh well.

Tomorrow I *might* be modifying my pitman arm... It was inevitable, really. :LOL: