Horse & Buggy Syndrome 

     It amazes me what people can get used to driving. Everyday some bloke will bring his rig in to get that shiny new light bar or angry jeep grill etc. Proceeding to drive it even around the building gives me a symphony of pops and creeks and a steering wheel like a wild stallion refusing to be tamed that NO light bar will remedy. Ask the customer about it, he said it drives fine or puts it down to “it’s a jeep thing” hence, horse and buggy syndrome. 

     We know there’s drivability sacrificed when lifting and adding large tires to our rigs, they will never drive like a stock machine. Although most lift and tire combinations can be fine tuned to drive quite reasonably on-road and still embarrass any obstacle off the pavement.  Let us start with some checks any reputable shop would do right away regardless of which brand light bar your buying. 

The Dry Steer

     A dry steer test is a simple yet very effective diagnostic test. Simply get another human (clever dog maybe) to hop in the driver seat with the vehicle running, get them to rock the steering wheel back and forth at a good pace. With a flashlight take a close look at the front steering and suspension components including; 

Modified Tj Wrangler steering using Currie components.

  • Tie rods
  • Universal joints
  • Track bar
  • Control arms
  • Steering gear input & output
  • Unit bearings 

     If any of these components have suspicious play they should be at least investigated further or changed. If you are unsure of what “suspicious play” may be, observe the oposing side. 
   

    Example if the drivers side tie rod on the knuckle is popping up and down it’s unlikely for all the tie rod ends to be equally worn giving you a clear comparison.  While under the front end, look for any grease nipples. These should be greased on occasion to prevent moisture and metal on metal wear. They are also a good indication that the component with said grease fitting has been changed at some point as most stock components are not serviceable, “only upper ball joints on wranglers are serviceable from the factory”. Torn grease boots should be replaced if the component hasn’t already failed. 

     Universal joints can be observed binding or popping on a dry steer. Putting a pry bar between the u joint cap and inner C on the axle can also check for play. Physically grabbing the inner axle shaft and rocking it around to check for movement is also recommended. Look carefully for cracks on the caps and rust around the base of the caps where they meet the joint body, this indicates they have dried up inside and need replaced. 

Adjustable axle end of track bar.


     A solid axle vehicle will almost always have a “track bar” that centers the axle. This may have rubber, poly or a tie rod style ends one attached to the frame or body, the other the the axle assembly. These ends should have very little to no movement. The Track bar also plays into steering geometry and should be as parallel to your upper most drag link as possible to avoid bump steer. This can be checked with a piece of string held up to the track bar and visually compared to the drag link. Overcoming the difference in angle can be achieved using certain aftermarket brackets to raise or lower one end of the track bar or aftermarket bars and steering components can be had. Another benefit to an aftermarket bar is the adjustable length, this can be used to centre the axle under the vehicle as it tends to be pushed to one side after suspension height changes.


     Ball joints must be checked off the ground. On a solid axle truck the axle can be free hanging or under load (on jack stands). Grab a pry bar and place it in between the lower knuckle and lower C where the ball joint is housed and pry up and down, if any gap or lateral play shows it is worn. Repeat on the upper. IFS trucks need to be under load to do this test, not free hanging.
         

      While in the air, grab each wheel and rock it side to side to double check for unit bearing play and up and down as a secondary ball joint check. 


     Tie rod ends can also be double checked with a large set of adjustable pliers by checking for play in the ball socket. 

     Keep in mind, most of the factory components are NOT designed to run huge tires. Some exceptions include the Dana Spicer end components ie. Universal joints and ball joints. That said if your stock components need replacing and you are running bigger than stock tires or plan to, consider an aftermarket upgrade component that is built for the task. It exists, trust me. 

Alignment

     The factory control arms are known to actually have very durable rubber bushings. If they are starting to go downhill, you will see side to side movement on a dry steer. Look for cracks in the bushings and on the axle ends if the bolt holding them in place is no longer centre the inner sleeve is being pulled back in the bushing, which is no good.


     I put “control arms” under alignment as adjustable control arms “available in many brands” will help dial in caster and pinion angle. Camber is usually unable to be altered on a solid axle vehicle.  On IFS trucks upper or lower control arms will have cam centric bolts for  camber and caster adjustment.

     Now that your front end is tight, (head out of the gutter people) alignment is tremendously important to getting you’r custom built street legal flame spewing light bar rocking buggy crawler driving right and extending tire life. You can do a decent home check on alignment with some basic tools and perform some basic adjustments such as checking your toe setting and centering your steering wheel.  After any front end work is done however, the vehicle should be taken to a shop for a proper alignment.  Be prepared if running older steering equipment, the adjustment portion may not move because of rust. You could be looking at more parts or labour to free them up. 


Author- Ty Reid
     

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20 Minute Pinion Seal

 

 I’m sure we’re all going to run into this if you beat up your rigs as much as I think (hope).   It’s important to fix as soon as possible to avoid bearing damage and as we all know where oil leaks out water gets in, and water is a diffs worst enemy. So let’s make this quick..

Chock your wheels front and back as the weight of the vehicle should be enough to stop the pinion from spinning while removing the nut. We will get to a clever trick if it does happen to be on there really tight.

Remove your driveshaft, two ubolt straps on each end. Carefull not to drop it on your head, it’s heavy. Note this is a great time to clean off any built up crap on the shaft and thoroughly check your u-joints. 

 

Pinion Nut

 
Take a punch and mark the nut and the shaft so you can realign them during reinstallation. This will keep the pre load the same and not wreck the crush sleeve. 

You will need a 1-1/8 socket and the biggest breaker bar or impact gun you can fit under here. Go ahead and remove the nut. As I mentioned earlier if your lacking a powerful impact gun here is an alternate method that almost always works.

  
Take the strongest ratchet you own and place it as shown above,  unchock your rear wheels and slowly reverse the vehicle. You will feel the tire grab when the ratchet makes contact with the leaf spring, give it a touch of gas and it should break the nut free. Do not move to far there after! As you now have no pre load on the bearings.

  

Pinion nut backed off.


Remove the nut and washer. Then remove the yoke, it may need some love taps to pop it off. Once again make sure it doesn’t fly off and hit your face, it’s heavy. 

 

Terrible old seal.

   

A wood chisel is your best friend here, a flat head will do but may take a little more time. Take your chisel or whatever and place it in the outer lip (above) and hit it with a hammer to puncture it through. Fluid might pour out so have a catch ready. Work your way around a little repeating the process, picture old school can opener action. Once you’ve gotten about a quarter to half of the way around pry it out, it should be very easy by this point.

   

 
  This is what success looks like! (Above)

 

Clean out the area as best as possible for the new seal. 

 

New seal.


If you have any put a thin layer of RTV or silicone around the outer edge of your new seal to help it do it’s job. Note there are rubber, silicone and viton seals available. This being the viton, we will see how it holds up in the long run in comparison to the others. 

   

Gently tap around the whole circumference of the seal as not to bend the outer lip until it is flush with the housing. 

Re assemble, tap your yoke back on, place washer then torque the nut to (160-260ft) as per FSM with plenty of lock tight if re using the original nut. I start on the lowest torque setting (160ft) and see how close your punch marks are apart, then just tighten until your marks align.  Edit- I should mention the. FSM calls for a new  nut and washer , which makes realignment more complicated. Lock tight should hold up but  use your own discretion. Washer Quadratec PN# 52423_02  Nut Quadratec. PN#52449_0200. 

  
Attach your driveshaft and too off your diff if need be. Last but not least! Pat yourself on the back, good job man. 
Author- Ty Reid

War on Rust!- Part 1

Our rigs aren’t getting any newer and I bet our number one enemy is the same, rust. I’m creating this multiple part series on our “war on rust” to keep your rig looking shiny new! Well close anyway..
Floor pans, I look in some vehicles that are only a few years old and can usually find some bubble rust poking it’s ugly face through the floor! Let alone our decade plus “old reliable” with leaky tops and cracked weatherstripping. Being the highest traffic zone in the vehicle; muddy boots, water, salt ect, makes floors go quick! Luckily for us, some great aftermarket companies offer perfect fit floor pans if your not the “steal the corner sign and hammer it in” kind of guy.

Daunting as this looks the whole project took only a few hours.

We’re tackling drivers front today, it’s pretty much as bad as it can get. The replacement pan we used: Quadratec Part No: 22507.0001.  Made by KeyParts Inc These are beefy 18 gauge cold rolled steel, laser cut to a perfect fit. We like the fact they come up the walls on each side a couple inches.

You will need a few tool’:

  • 4.5″ cut-off wheel’s
  • 4.5″ flap disk
  • Wire brush
  • Body panel seam sealer
  • Welder (optional)
  • Primer (weld through primer if welding)
  • Top coat
  • Scraper
  • Goggles&gloves
  • Painters tape
  • Straight edge
  • Measuring tape
  • Clamps
Surgery time!
    If it’s as bad as our’s, take a chisel or flat head screw driver and scrape  away all you can. We ended up with a pile of rust that would make Honda owners proud.
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    Put on your safety gear (gloves&goggles) we’re breaking out the death wheel! Grab your grinder with a flap disk wheel and start working away at all the rust until you get to clean thick metal on all sides. Uncover as much of the clean metal as you can so you can mark a clean diameter for the new pan.
    Take a straight edge and mark a clean edge on all sides leaving at least a half inch or more of a lip for the new pan to sit on. Measure twice even though it would be hard to over cut with this pan since it covers so much. Switch to your cutting wheel and go slow! Pay close attention around the centre as your frame has very little clearance from the floor. There is also a brace with a single rosette weld, just tap the weld with the cutting wheel and give it a tap with a hammer
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This is what we were left with. Notice the frame and brace to watch for when cutting.

    This is what we were left with, hopefully yours will be smaller. None the less, moving on. Measure your new “massive raging hole” adding on your half inch or larger lip to your measurement and transfer it over to the new pan. Chalk works wonders for marking the black powder coat. The benefit to our being so large is we only had to cut about 4.5″ off the top of the new pan for a perfect fit.
IMG_0108

Like a glove..

Before going any further clean the area really well with some degreaser, and give all the clean metal a few coats of primer. The more the better (rust protection).
image

Some nasty rosette welds. Our shop welder was acting up that day..

This is only if your welding, which is recommended but not absolutely necessary. We just rosette welded every couple of inches around the whole pan. To do this, mark with your chalk a dot about a quarter of an inch in on the pan or the centre of the overlaying lip you left while cutting. Go all the way around the pan every few inches and mark a dot. Take the smallest drill bit you have and punch a hole in each dot. Clamp the pan down (found it easier to clamp only opposing sides as to the whole pan) and take your trusty welder and fill each hole with a small pool of metal. Return to the flap disk on your grinder and hit those welds smooth! Another coat or two of primer please!
  Next is the sticky stuff, back to the gloves. I mean use gloves you really hate, they are not recovering from this. Seam sealer can be had at most any auto parts store either in a quart can or caulking gun. It is permanent and dries like a rock. Ours is Eastwoods seam seal in a caulking gun and was actually quite simple to lay down.
  Do one side at a time! Lay a good size bead down on one side only or it will dry before you can smooth it out. Make sure to cover your weld as well. With the bead down, take your scraper and lightly smooth the bead in one motion. Do your best as this stuff does not like to be sanded (learned the hard way). Continue until all sides are done. Do the bottom seams as well.
image
   Wait until the sealer is fully cured, as per instructions. Give some good coats of paint and you sir or mam are done! Seriously’ pat yourself on the back and have a cold beverage. You’ve earned it.
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To be continued..
Writer- Ty Reid

Off-Road Survival Guide- Part 1

image    This is an introduction and tips guide to off-road driving. Whether you’re new, a seasoned veteran to the sport or just stuck, this will help you. Basics like “How to engage your 4×4” and “opening your hood” are covered in your user manual, usually located in your glove box, go ahead give that a quick read first! Assuming you’ve done so, let’s move on.

That moment when you hit dirt for the first time I guarantee you’ll have a new outlook on your vehicle, good or bad, probably good.. Really good. Whether you drive a Jeep, Range Rover, Ford or Honda someone has built it into a bad ass off road machine! So search some videos or builds online and see what your rig is capable of, bet you’ll be inspired.

Back to you in the dirt, don’t just go rip through some guys field! He will NOT cheer you on. You will most likely get a ticket or worse. Let’s assume you have friends, hopefully one with a 4×4 that knows a legal area or has permission from the land owner to take you. This brings up a very important beginner tip NEVER GO ALONE! We have all broken this rule and learned the hard way, walking miles home in the cold. The only exception would be if it’s on your own or a friends land with good communication and a recovery vehicle nearby, even this is not recommended.

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– Make 100% sure you have landowner and or township permissions to be where you are. Do your do diligence! please..

Wheel around for a bit, try and hit different terrains and see what limitations you and your vehicle have. Start small, don’t drive into a river or a cliff face quite yet. You will be surprised even with a stock 4×4. Try and get stuck to see what needs tweaked or upgraded, let your friends pull you out.

Speaking of recoveries let’s touch base! BEFORE you go anywhere, make sure you have at least one safe recovery point on the front and rear of your vehicle. If it’s rusty or bent or to small to fit a shackle through, replace it! Make sure to throw a recovery strap in your truck as well. There are many tools you will end up needing the more adventurous you get and the more you find yourself spinning tires, but for now a friend and a strap will get you far.

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-Consider yourself well armed if you or someone in the group is equipped with a decent winch.

Safety! Safety! Safety! I’ll repeat it if I need to..

-Always be aware of your surroundings including the vehicle behind and in front of you.

-Walk ahead as far as you can to assess the trail.

-Slow down! Only go as fast as you need to get across or over the obstacle ahead.

-Make sure someone has a fully charged cell phone, try and bring a charger as well!

-Bring double the water you think your crew will need.

-Get a buddy to hop out and guide you over tricky obstacles or anywhere you feel uncomfortable.

-When your friends in the back all say you can’t do it.. Throw them out and give er hell! No, they’re probably right.

-Do not wear black! You might live, but it won’t help your chances.

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– A very well thought out recovery kit, your personal carry on will develop slowly over time as you learn what you need


To be continued..

Author/Photos- Ty Reid
Editor- Katie Diamanti

Welcome!

Like you I feel there a lack of useful and fun 4×4 blog’s out there, so let’s put a dent in the niche!

I will try to cover as many events, clubs and news related to the sport as possible. Plus follow as we break our rigs in our local Trail Yachts club! That means parts.. and installation d.i.y articles of course!

An article is in the works right now, time for me to stop ranting and start wheeling!