Q&A: Willys, CJ & Jeepster Tires, Suspension, Steering and
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the Ross TL Steering Gear
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 4:03 PM
To: 4WD Mechanix Magazine
Subject: Ross steering box question
I am currently rebuilding a Ross steering box from a 1967 CJ5 Jeep with a V6 Dauntless engine. I watched your video
and have a couple of questions. Every picture I see of a Ross box shows the fill plug on the top end of the box. As
you can see from the photos I attached, mine has no fill plug in the original location and it looks like someone
drilled and tapped the cover and put in an elbow with a plug to fill the box with. What's the deal with this box? I
am only the 2nd owner of this jeep which we purchased in the early 70s so I know it’s the original box and I didn’t
put that elbow in. Can it be from the factory? Also I cant find a rebuild kit with a new sector shaft for the Ross
box with the V6 Dauntless. Do you have a source?
From: 4WD Q &
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 2:37 AM
To: 'John F.'
Subject: RE: Ross steering box question
Hi, John…Your gear housing has the same casting number as a military M38A1. I ran into this when seeking a
V-6 sector/lever shaft and bushings a few years ago. These gears use a long and short bushing set for the
lever…I found a lever shaft (short shaft design) and bushings at Surplus City Jeep Parts: http://www.surplusjeep.com/. These folks were well-informed and could supply the
correct pieces for a V-6 Ross TL gear. Share your findings with them when you call…
Not sure about the fill elbow. Maybe the V-6 engine and exhaust on civilian models leaves no room to access a
top plug? Perhaps the military preferred the plug on the side to enable sealing the column and gear case for
water fording?…If Surplus City Jeep Parts (or anyone else) can explain the “why” of the missing fill plug on top of
the case, please share.
The cam/worm bearings in your gear do look like the later Ross type with the nylon spacers. It is likely that this
gear has not been apart. I assume it has the short V-6 style sector/lever shaft, as the one bushing looks
like the notched style for a V-6 short-lever case. The notch is to clear the oil feed hole in the
housing. If your worm/cam bearing races are in good condition, they are likely better than the currently
available “off-shore” replacement races.
Trust this helps…I’m here if you have comments or questions…
From: 4WD Q & A
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:41 PM
To: 'John F.'
Subject: RE: Ross steering box question
Hi, John, see my comments below…Moses
From: John F.
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 12:24 PM
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: Ross steering box question
Thank you Moses for your quick reply, I really appreciate it.
I’m striking out on the sector shaft for this box, waiting for a couple more emails
to locate one. I do have another question. How do I know if my parts are ok in the gear? I haven’t driven the Jeep
in over 20 yrs but I don’t recall any issues with the steering when I parked it. I’m now doing a full restoration
The short shaft is more difficult to find, although all TL parts are scarce
now. Worse yet, there is a plethora of off-shore and even some Jeep/NOS parts that fall short of
spec…Off-shore replacement parts, despite my suspicions, might be less risky. A quantity of defective
U.S.-made parts found their way into official Jeep parts boxes in the early AMC era, and I’ve seen some of these
The sector shaft does have flat spots on it but you have to feel them as they are
hard to see. I used a dial indicator to check the lever clearance and I came up with 0.0004” of play. The bearings
all look to be in good shape but the seal is leaking and will be replaced. All the tie rods, king pins and bearings
will be new. The worm gear is in perfect shape.
0.004” or 0.0004”? (I’m guessing 0.004”, as conventional micrometers are
somewhat inaccurate at 1/10,000ths inch.) Factory spec calls for minimum of 0.0005” (half of 1/1000th inch)
and a maximum of 0.0025”. That noted, there is a likelihood of bushing wear, which could bring your 0.004” to
within spec. It might be worth a bushing replacement, as bushings generally are undersized slightly, which
allows for an even more precise fit in your application. Unless the lever cones are worn flat as I discuss in
the presentation, you might be able to get by with the original sector/lever shaft. Most replacements involve
lever pins/cones with distinctly flat wear points…I’d like to discuss this further once you look closer. By
design, very slight pin wear is okay, more than that is not. Let’s consider this…
So I guess my question is since I’m doing
a complete restoration, do I keep looking for the shaft and replace the bushings, bearings, seal and sector shaft
to get it like new or do I put the box back together knowing the existing parts show little wear ? Or do I replace
everything but the shaft since I cant seem to locate one ? I sent some photos of the
Is the lower pin worn less than it appears? Is that a flat, or am I seeing
reflection? Try measuring the cones on a level radius (swing the micrometer around the pin on an even plane
at several points). See if you can get a better idea of the wear. (Since hardening is deeper on these
pins, there is little risk of faster wear at the stage shown.) Note that there is room for very slight
adjustment/wear within the backlash setting if pin/cone wear is not excessive. Measurements will help
determine actual wear…we’ll discuss your findings.
Note, too, that there are many causes of wander
beyond the gear: loose tie-rod ends or bellcrank, loose draglink or other parts. Gear backlash is always set
over-center. The gear/pitman must align with the center position of the steering gear when the front wheels point
straight ahead. Misaligned, the normal backlash (off-center) will create wander. Although your focus is the
steering gear, these other concerns need address as you complete this job. Front axle caster angle (affected by
worn leaf springs) can also contribute to wander and shimmy; so can loose or damaged front knuckle/kingpin
bearings…My Jeep CJ Rebuilder’s Manual (’46-’71) covers details…
From: John F.
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2012 8:17 AM
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: Ross steering box question
That is 0.004” sorry. I laid washers on each pin so I can put the caliper in the same
spot and the photos show the result. There are definite flat spots on the pins but being this is my first attempt
at this I don’t know whats ok and whats not. I’m thinking to replace the bushings, bearings and seal at this point.
What are your thoughts based on the caliper readings ?
Also I’ve searched a ton of sites looking for the fill plug location and only found
one site that shows the cover plate with the fill plug like mine, minus the elbow. Do these boxes require to be
completely filled? Where my plug is it will only fill the box about a third.
Thanks again for your time.
Nice work, John, fairly accurate method of
measurement, and close enough for our purposes…
0.55mm out-of-round is quite a spread. That’s
over 0.020” wear overall. The problem is that any attempt at an over-center adjustment with these wear flats will
make the lever bind as it rotates in the left-right directions. (The flats are always at the straight ahead
position on these pins.) This is a high-friction steering gear design and why many non-restorers opt for a Saginaw
recirculation ball-and-nut retrofit gear!
I’ve considered options to the off-shore
replacement parts. One idea is to rotate the pins 90-degrees (drill back stamping and rotate) then TIG them at the
back with an isolated heat approach to avoid removing the hardening from the pins. Thinking this through, however,
this approach would increase clearance in the left-right turning positions. (Caster at the axle reduces the
backlash effect, but there would still be some risk of wander and play.) So, that’s not high on my list of
Another approach, if there is enough interest
and volume, would be to manufacture quality replacement pins and to rebuild these levers. (The cam seldom wears
significantly, the lever shaft portion seldom wears appreciably, the wear point is the pins.) If this were a volume
operation, I would emulate the factory pin installation method, which is either stamping or a carbon-arc
pressure/melting approach at the backside of the lever. (I would research this process carefully, as the pins must
retain their hardening after the installation.)
Anyway, let’s see what you find in the way of
parts. Another approach would be to source the least expensive replacement sector/lever shaft, regardless of
length. (TL pins should be the same.) Remove the new pins carefully from the lever and install them with TIG in
your OEM lever shaft, isolating the heat to prevent heat treatment loss at the pins or shaft…Not sure what you
think of this or whether you would find it cost effective…Let’s continue the dialogue…
From: John F.
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 1:55 PM
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: Ross steering box question
I found a kit with the correct shaft from Willys Overland. Doesn’t seem as beefy as the OEM but I don’t have a
choice here. Wish me luck!
I’m kind of particular when it comes to doing everything to original factory specs. It looks like my Ross gear was
reddish in color almost like a red oxide. was the original color the glyptal red as was on the inside, I hope not
since it’s $ 50.00 a qt. What was the color ross painted these back in the day?
Thank you again,
From: 4WD Q & A
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 10:27 PM
To: John F.
Subject: RE: Ross steering box question
Hi, John…Take measurements on the new shaft and also check the pitman arm’s fit at the splines. See that the arm
will fit up as the OEM did.
As for red outside paint on your gear, I would not be concerned. The glyptal on the inside of the housing should be
left alone if intact and appearing original. Corrosion on the outside can be prevented with bead blasting (avoid
stripping the interior of the case) and use of a modern epoxy primer if possible. The color coat should be
compatible with the primer.
My video/slideshow and other info will be helpful. I assume you have OEM specs. When installing the bushings, avoid
flattening the bushing ends. (You can use a shouldered driver cup as a press guide.) Align the bushings to the OE
locations in the housing. Make sure you relieve the bushing at the oil hole if necessary…
You can true and finish bushings with a self-centering (tapered cone) kingpin reamer to near the minimum clearance,
then make final finish/burnish with a stone brake hone and light oil or solvent. (0.001” dry is a nice shaft fit if
bushing bores are precisely aligned with each other.)
Note: Do not remove too much material from bushings, or you will be buying another set. Automotive machine
shops can use a piston pin or rod bushing hone for this operation, honing both bushings to size at the same time to
avoid risk of misalignment. You might consider a sublet here.
I’m also “detail oriented” and build these units to blueprint standards—beyond what Ross delivered in most
From: John F.
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2012 1:37
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: Ross steering box question
Success! I think Got everything
together. Turns nice and smooth with slight resistance at the center point. Thanks again for your help. I’m sure I
will pick your brain more in the future. I started a blog on the project if you’re
Great, John…Looks like you came in at 0.0005” on the shaft clearance. Did you
ream and finish to that spec, or were the bushings that close as installed? You have a quality spec for
openers! How does the gear feel? Does the lever arm clear the side cover on full swings left to
right? (It’s assumed that you used a new side cover gasket.) Over-center adjustment on spec?
You were concerned about filling the gear with
oil at the elbow’s low height…Here’s a thought: Point the elbow vertically up and add a stem pipe that stands at
the height you want the gear oil to reach within the case. When you pour gear lube slowly into the stem pipe and
elbow, the oil will find a matching level inside the gear case. You can set the lube height to wherever you want
Lastly, make sure the steering linkage has the
wheels pointed straight ahead with the steering cam and lever on its center/high point. This will assure quality
steering and the least amount of play at the straight ahead position. Check kingpin bearings and bellcrank for
wear. Make sure caster angle of the axle is on spec. (See the alignment article at the
. There’s also a video
a Trail CJ-7 Jeep Suspension—Shackle Reverse and 'SOV'
From: Janet & Eric
Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2011 7:45
To: 4WD Mechanix Magazine
Subject: CJ-7 suspension options
I have been a big Moses fan going way back
and was happy to find this site. (I have a copy of an old Off Road magazine with Moses answering one of my
I am rebuilding a 1985 CJ-7. I'm putting in
a TBI 350 and an NV4500 tranny out of the same donor vehicle. Because of the length of the tranny and the desire to
lift it, I am going to use a Hi-9 rear end to get rid of some of the angle. 35" tires are
My question has to do with suspension
options. I have pondered a shackle reversal with 4-6 in lift springs, a SOV with flat stock YJ springs and just the
4-6" lift springs added in the current configuration.
Tons of opinions out there...the SOV is the
best, the SOV is not safe and will wear out springs, the reversal is the best, the reversal will cause weird
handling and will cause axle movement to the rear. I have developed paralysis from analysis...I can't decide which
way to proceed. Your opinion please...
Hi, Eric…“Thanks!” for your interest in my
comments over the years.
To the point with your questions, the shackle
reverse is always advisable at the front of a CJ or YJ Wrangler. The Jeep will have more stable steering on-highway
and not be as vulnerable to harsh frame shock and poor ride quality off-pavement. With the reversal of shackle and
anchor points, the front axle is not “pushed ahead” by the frame but simple trails in a more compliant way…I’m not
a fan of spring-overs, though the longer, wider YJ springs do improve the ride and directional stability of a Jeep
CJ. Many do the spring over conversion, a less costly approach in most cases.
As for the shackle reversal and front
driveline—yes, the axle does swing rearward slightly upon the compression of the springs, which shortens the
driveshaft. To avoid bottoming the driveshaft coupler and possible risk to the transfer case, allow enough spline
coupler length and spline movement to cover the full range of front driveshaft stretch and compression. A custom
driveline with adequate spline length, movement and engagement over the range of suspension travel should eliminate
Another “handling” issue is caster angle. In
any case of setting up a front end, the caster degrees must be correct over the range of suspension travel. The
Jeep will steer well and return to center after cornering if the caster angle is correct. There is a slight caster
geometry shift when doing a spring-over or a shackle reverse. Again, simply making sure that you have “factory”
caster degrees at the vehicle’s static/loaded height should provide a range of caster that is acceptable—whether
you do the shackle reverse or not.
Note: This is simple geometry.
Visualize the spring/axle moving over its arc of travel, pivoting from the springs’ anchor points (at the front if
shackle reversed). See how much the caster might change in the process…Also, problems can occur from altering the
wheelbase length when setting up the front and rear springs and axles. Stay with the CJ-7 wheelbase, each axle at
the factory point when the vehicle is on the ground and normally weighted.
Taking all of this into account, I would likely
do the under-axle spring lift (4 or 6 inches as per your needs, 4-inches better if adequate for your tire diameter
choice) with the shackle reversal. Make sure caster is correct as installed. Shim the axle with hard steel (not
aluminum), tapered caster wedges if needed; increase the spring bolt head lengths to reach through the wedges and
engage the spring perch holes properly.
With the new anchor points at the front of the
front springs, the rear-of-spring shackles should be an “H” type, very stable laterally. Loose shackles defeat your
stability aims, allowing lateral wander of the springs and axles. I try to minimize shackle height if possible,
though this is often dictated by the caster or pinion angles and spring arch.
Lastly, make sure that the steering does not
“bump” from a steep draglink (“short tie-rod”) angle. This is where a dropped pitman arm or K-link steering linkage
comes into play. If using a dramatic drop on the pitman arm, brace the steering box-to-frame; otherwise, the gear
will be at risk of breaking loose from the frame. Make sure the steering linkage works safely and does not bind or
rub over the full range of suspension travel. See that the steering gear is on-center with the wheels pointed
I’m available for further questions…Not sure
where “home” is for you folks…I will be at Johnson Valley for the King of the Hammers (February), the Moab Jeep
Safari and surely SEMA. Perhaps we’ll connect at one of these events or on a trail…
From: Janet & Eric
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2012 8:44
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: CJ-7 suspension options
Moses, I have decided to go with the
reversal, so, of course, I have a couple more questions:
1. I am going to go with the MORE kit. (No need to reinvent the wheel, I think they have really good products) They
have two versions, one weld-in that does not lift the vehicle and one that is bolt on that lifts it 1.5". I kind of
like the idea of the 1.5" lift so I can buy more mild 2.5" lift springs and still get the 4" lift I want. My
question is how do I achieve the needed 1.5" additional lift at the rear? Lift blocks are not so great...but maybe
OK at the rear? I suppose I could try to get a lift company to sell me 4" springs for the rear and 2.5 for the
The 4” pair of rear springs will work…Or you
can get a spring company like National Spring to fab a pair to your specs…I like the less-arch approach…Also, some
go to the YJ Wrangler style springs, longer and wider, to improve handling and ride quality. Talk with MORE about
2. Odd question here: I have converted my
D300 to twin stick with an additional modification to the rear shift rail which allows front Hi without removing
the interlock pills (this is a very slick mod I found on-line, bench testing indicates it actually works, have you
heard about it?) I want to add a line lock to the rear so that I can perform front digs using front Low (front pull
arounds, whatever you want to call them). My question is that with a Detroit locker back there can I install a
separate line lock for each side or do I need just one for the entire rear? Logically (at least to me) because the
Detroit will allow one side to spin faster than the other, I should be able to employ line locks on both sides (to
allow for easier digs) without destroying anything. I hope this question makes sense...
If you want steering brakes, consider two hand
brakes like the Ultra4 race cars use (twin levers for pivoting). This requires hand master cylinders that can
capture pressure when the lever(s) are released, so the normal brake system will still operate all four
brakes…Explore Wilwood and other sources, let me know what you find.
As for the Detroit, it might want to power the
un-braked side, although it may decide to ratchet around this. To be safer, I would run the hand steering brakes
for pivoting with a Detroit, you can feather the brakes as required.
Let me know what you decide to run and your
CJ Jeep: Rear Drum vs. Disc
& Eric L.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 9:03 PM
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: CJ-7 suspension options
My rebuild is
progressing. Getting ready to paint the frame, then start slowly putting things back
Anyway, I am
leaning towards a rear disk brake conversion. The question I have is about the proportioning valve and
M/C. I have read everything from just removing the prop valve, to drilling out the guts of it. I
think it has more importance than just disabling it. Also I have read that the front disk /rear drum M/C wont
push enough fluid to the rear disk brakes. I have also read that it works fine. Lots of differing
opinions. I am also contacting SSBC and Currie for their opinions, but was curious about yours. Also,
this Jeep will just be a trail runner and mild rocks (maybe Rubicon), mostly road actually. Is even
upgrading to disks overkill? I like the "wow" factory but don't want to just throw money at
Hi, Eric…I have
used the disc front/drum rear master cylinder with disc rear brakes, using earlier GM S-truck, single piston
calipers. (These are the calipers that Warn fitted with their disc conversions, visible in my Jeep CJ
Rebuilder’s Manuals.) To be sure, you could use a master cylinder from a TJ Rubicon with four-wheel disc
proportioning valve on a disc/drum system helps apply the rear drum brakes slightly ahead of the disc front brakes
to allow for shoe-to-drum take up. Disc brakes have virtually no take-up. To prevent front end dive,
the proportioning valve allows rear brake shoes to move slightly ahead of front disc pad
If you do disc
brakes at the rear, you may need a manual proportioning valve to balance front-to-rear braking. Do not
confuse this with an OEM proportioning valve. The manual valve simply reduces apply volume/pressure, it does
not affect pad or shoe application timing—all four brakes apply simultaneously. Some find that a short wheelbase
Jeep with stiff springs and four-wheel disc brakes does not have as much dive tendency, hence references to
removing the proportioning valve with a rear disc brake conversion. This is a safety matter, though, so
address your vehicle’s particular needs and braking reactions.
Again, if you
want “factory” brakes, the Rubicon master cylinder and proportioning valve might provide a solution. Use the
correct master cylinder pushrod length with adequate pushrod-to-piston clearance. Follow TJ Rubicon
guidelines here. Make sure the brakes release completely with the pedal released—without trapping fluid in
the system. You may need to play with pedal height to achieve this on a CJ. You may also need to use
the TJ brake booster and other parts.
If running an
aftermarket manual valve, adjustment is a cautious affair. Begin with the brake pressure set light at the
rear. This assures that the rear will not lock up and spin your short wheelbase vehicle around or
worse. Gradually add more pressure to the rear, only to the point of balance, not to the point of premature
rear wheel lockup on hard braking. Test brakes at a safe area, away from traffic or
You asked whether
rear disc brakes are overkill…Drum brakes, especially 11” x 2” upgrade type, are very effective at the rear.
My XJ Cherokee has its OEM drum brakes at the back. The only issue is water crossings, which lead to drum
brake lack of response until the brakes dry. This can be anticipated and dealt with…Drag the brakes lightly
after water crossings and allow the rear drum brakes to dry sufficiently…Let me know what SSBC and Currie have to
Disc Brake Retrofit Continued:
Front-to-Rear Proportioning Controversy
From: Janet & Eric
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2012 9:00
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: CJ-7 rear disk options
Moses, thanks so much for your very thoughtful responses. It's like a throw back to your days
at Off Road magazine...I just have no idea how many emails you
get every day!
Past Q&A successes
were my goal and impetus...
I got a response from SSBC and their answer was that the stock
proportioning valve needs to be disabled. They don't mention disabling the stock residual pressure valve in the
MC, which I believe also needs to be done. I didn't mention it, but I am not retaining the AMC 20, but going to
an aftermarket Ford 9". Basic needs must be the same.
the Jeep CJ Rebuilder’s Manuals, I talk about the residual
valves…Disc brake caliper seals do not require residual pressure like the sealing cups in drum brake wheel
cylinders. Residual pressure keeps drum brake cup lips expanded to prevent leaks. (To prevent brake shoe drag
with the pedal released, drum brakes have shoe retraction springs that counter the residual
When retrofitting rear disc brakes on a Jeep CJ chassis with a disc/drum
master cylinder, the rear drum brake check valve of the master cylinder must be removed. This residual check
valve is usually found behind the flare nut seat at the master cylinder’s rear brake output port. (See a parts
schematic of the master cylinder. Master cylinder rebuild kits include the check valves; the seat is removable,
using care not to distort or damage parts. I can explain how to remove the flare seat.) With a drum brake
residual check valve in place, retrofitted rear disc brake pads will drag against the rotors when the brake
pedal is released. This causes brake heat, fade, premature pad wear and scored
Note: Some later four-wheel disc brake systems use a very slight
amount of residual pressure; this is less pressure than drum brake check valve settings. The slight pressure
keeps the disc pads aligned with the rotors and reduces application lag time; this slight, intended pressure
will not create pad drag...Drum brake residual check valve settings are too high for disc
As I shared in comments about using a TJ Rubicon master cylinder, one solution is a master
cylinder from a four-wheel disc brake model. The dual Wilwood cylinder idea can work, as long as the twin master
cylinders meet your disc brake caliper fluid volume and piston stroke requirements. Wilwood offers adjustable
stroke and leverage with these cylinders.
Totally losing the combination valve concerns me. I'm leaning toward using a Wilwood
adjustable combination valve so I can still have the brake warning light and be able to tweak the rear brakes if
needed. You can see it at this link:
I like most features described in the Wilwood valve you share. Be aware that the preset
proportioning is for a G.M. chassis with drum rear brakes and discs at the front. There is the option of
manually tuning the rear brake proportioning…I like the isolated front and rear circuits and other OEM
emulations. However, I would contact Wilwood and ask if the valve’s metering function works safely with
four-wheel disc brakes. Metering helps prevent front dive tendencies on hard braking. Will the Wilwood disc/drum
metering work safely with a disc brake retrofit at the rear, or would the four-wheel disc brake metering rate be
Keep in mind that dive is different for a longer wheelbase car or truck than a short wheelbase
Jeep CJ with stiff leaf springs. On my short 81” wheelbase ’55 CJ with four-wheel retrofit disc brakes, using
earlier G.M. S-truck single piston calipers all around and aftermarket springs, I fitted an AMC-era drum brake
CJ (’72-’76 circa) master cylinder; with the residual check valves removed and a manual proportioning valve on
the rear brake system, adjusted properly, there was no dive tendency—and I looked for it while testing the
vehicle thoroughly and driving it since! I am not recommending that you do what I did on the ’55 CJ, but this is
one case scenario that did work—for this vehicle. The anti-dive was not as much of an issue at 81” wheelbase, a
light vehicle weight, stiff leaf springs, beam axles and with the rear brakes proportioned down in
With the rear brake manual valve adjusted properly, the ’55 CJ stops straight and without rear
wheel lockup or hop—no dive on hard braking, good pedal response. No combination valve, separate front and rear
hydraulic line systems, no rear-to-front metering, the system works safely and there is adequate fluid
displacement from the drum brake master cylinder—for these size calipers. Since we’re talking about braking,
however, the conservative approach is to be aware of all brake safety issues.
One point worth making is that a manual proportioning valve damps down the rear brake
pressure. This helps prevent rear wheel lockup. Isolated rear lockup can spin a vehicle out of control. When
adjusting and setting up a system, start with the rear brake pressure set low. Gradually add pressure to a point
just below rear brake lockup on hard braking. Do not allow the rear brakes to lock up, independently of the
front brakes, on hard application—solo rear brake lockup can spin the Jeep around and out of control. Test the
vehicle in a deserted, safe environment, not in traffic or on a busy road!
Online, there is ongoing controversy and anecdotal information circulating on the brake
proportioning and combination valve topic. You now have a “bigger picture” to consider. The safest, best tested
brake system will emulate an OEM prototype, using all of the OEM components or similar aftermarket pieces—like
my TJ Wrangler Rubicon four-wheel disc brake suggestion. Start with safe, proven engineering when building your
As shared earlier, you do have the option of drum rear brakes.
Ford 9-inch axles were popular in pickups with 5-on-5-1/2” wheel patterns—like your Jeep CJ. Adequate 11” x 2” rear
brakes or similar area sizes were available on F100/F150 trucks. Rear drum sizes from a disc front/drum rear pickup
would be more than adequate…Disc brakes can be efficient, weigh the cost differences here. If you do the rear
drums, the Wilwood Adjustable Combination Proportioning Valve might work well. Remember to use a master cylinder
with a rear drum brake residual check valve if you use drum rear brakes—otherwise, the drum brake wheel cylinders
will leak with the pedal released!
Your thoughts are appreciated.
Vintage CJ Needs Steering Gear Options
From: Mark & Lindsay
August 28, 2011 12:24 PM
To: 4WD Mechanix Magazine
Subject: 56 CJ5 Steering
I have a quick question regarding a possible steering upgrade for my 56 CJ5. It is going to be my ranch/hunting rig
and I would like to upgrade the steering but it has a large PTO driven winch on the front which I refuse to part
with and precludes a Saginaw installation. So I was wondering which you think would be better… Rebuild the factory
steering or fab up a rack&pinion set-up?
Thanks for the help!
On Sun, Aug 28,
2011 at 3:26 PM, 4WD Q & A wrote:
Mark, if you have
a copy of my Jeep CJ Rebuilder’s Manual: 1946-71, I share a Saginaw manual gear installation that should work with
a PTO winch. Please send me a photo(s) of the front bumper and frame section, including the left (driver’s side) of
the winch and the PTO driveshaft…Let’s see if a Saginaw unit will work or not.
From: Mark S.
Sent: Monday, August 29, 2011 8:54 AM
To: 4WD Q & A
Subject: Re: 56 CJ5 Steering
the quick response. As a matter of fact I do have a copy of your CJ Rebuilder's Manual as well as your Jeep Owner's
Bible, they are great resources!
I am currently traveling (for the Navy) so it will take a couple of weeks to get a photo taken. But the winch is
rather large and sits inside the frame rails with the driveshaft coming right down the inside of the left frame
rail right where a Saginaw box normally would sit. The only possible option I could see is mounting the steering
gear outside the frame rail. Are you aware of any any Saginaw applications that mounted to the outside of the frame
Hi, Mark…Glad you
have my books and find them useful.
Here’s an idea:
There are Saginaw truck gears from the fore-aft draglink era, circa 1955 (2nd series) through 1959. These gears
have the solid steering shaft and a closed column tube, commonly found in ½-ton and ¾-ton Chevrolet and GMC truck
models. The gear is a recirculating ball-and-nut Saginaw design, a great unit, and the column configuration is
roughly what you have with the current Ross column and gear unit.
Of course, you
can rebuild the Ross gear; however, if you prefer the Saginaw gains, there may be a way to go here. You would need
to fabricate a drag link from the pitman arm to the current bellcrank on your vintage CJ. Look into this and
consider the possibility. The column would need the correct mounting angle and length, measuring carefully and
performing any modifications to a high safety standard.
I have scanned
and attached an image of such a gear in a 1958 Chevy half-ton truck application. This is the recirculating ball
design with a fixed column and a solid steering shaft.
Trust this will
foster some ideas…We can discuss this further.
'86 CJ Power Steering Belt
From: John N.
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 4:47 PM
To: 4WD Mechanix Magazine
Subject: Hello from Lamoille, NV
Hello Mr. Ludel,
I am having a fit trying to adjust the power steering belt on my 1986 CJ7. I have a copy of your book but it is
sketchy in this area. I can see why, any goof should be able to adjust a fan belt, right? The alternator belt is
"duck soup"—typical, with a slotted bracket. The power steering unit is a mystery, nothing I have tried will get
the power steering pump to rotate, HELP!
Hi, John…It’s not that easy to determine the bolts involved
or method of adjustment. I have attached a PDF with instructions for both the V-belt and serpentine belt
adjustments for each of your engine’s belts (if “V” type, or one belt if it is of serpentine
The mystery is the swinging bracket, as you will
discover. Look to the backside of the pump
support bracket and consider the through-bolt at the timing cover. See the bracket as a moving
Disc Brake Conversion
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 10:49 AM
Subject: Brake issues on a
To whom it may
I have a question about my
brakes, and I was wondering if you could give some insight?
My situation is this, I have a
1966 Jeep CJ-5 with some braking issues.
Here is where I'm at, First off
I removed the Dana 27 front axle and installed a Dana 30 from a 1974 CJ. I have converted this axle to disc
brakes using parts from the "spindles out" off of a 1984 Jeep CJ Dana 30. So I hope that I'm on the right track
so far given the similarity of the vehicles.
I'm running 33" X 12" X 15"
tires on 10" aluminum wheels. In
addition, I have replaced the single reservoir master cylinder with one of the kits from Herm The Overdrive Guy.
I used this kit because my pedals still go through the floor. The master cylinder that I ordered was one for
Disc/drum brakes non-power assist. I plumbed the brakes as follows. The front/bigger res. to the front brakes
and the rear to rear respectively. I replaced all of the hard lines using 3/16" lines, I hope this is not where
I went wrong, because my rear brakes don't seem to work really well. I have a SSBC adjustable proportioning
valve in the rear line, and it's presently wide open. The Jeep had a MICO lock so I plumbed it to the rear line
as well. My rear brakes are the stock 10" X 2" no mods done to these.
On the front brakes I've used
all new parts calipers, pads etc. I'm not sure of the material of the pads, but what I can tell you is that
they're real grabby & squeaky in the morning, and when it's raining they seem to not work at all, and when
the brakes get warm they're not effective either.
From this point I'm not at all
happy with the braking performance, and I almost wished that I stayed with the stock 10 X 2 drum
If you have any suggestions, or
if you can tell me where I may have gone wrong with selection of parts/hardware. Should I consider upgrading the
rear brakes to 11" drum?
Any help is
Hi, Larry...After reading through your project description, I would run
an actual pressure test (hydraulic) at the calipers and rear wheel cylinders. (There are professional
brake pressure test kits available at a variety of costs.) If pressures are
sufficient, the remaining two questions would be fluid volume and brake surface area.
Fluid volume is governed by the
stroke of the master cylinder piston and whether the cylinders charge sufficiently with the brakes
applied. This is almost certainly confirmed with a hydraulic pressure test: under applied pedal
pressure, the pressure should be sufficient and hold steadily at each brake cylinder. You can also check the
relationship between various pedal apply pressures (mechanical) and the hydraulic applied pressure at the
3/16" brake line is often
sufficient for your brake cylinder volumes; some use 1/4" to feed the front calipers. There is some discussion
that front disc operation is smoother with 1/4" pipe. If you want to demystify
this, find out what the master cylinder application fits, consider the OEM brake pipe sizing for a 1984 CJ disc
brake system, and match the pipe size to the OE for an '84 CJ Jeep...Apply pressure is the relationship between
the master cylinder's piston size, the caliper and wheel cylinder bore sizes, and the pedal leverage and pushrod
Note that the master cylinder
should not have a drum brake residual check valve at the disc brake caliper port; it does need a residual check
valve for the rear drum brake cylinders. Disc brakes will drag when released if there is residual pressure.
(Some use very low residual pressure like 2 psi.) Drum brakes require residual pressure (typically 10-12 psi) to
keep wheel cylinder cups expanded with the brake shoes retracted. (Rear brake shoe springs overcome this
residual pressure and prevent shoes from dragging.) Your master cylinder requires the right
Additionally, OEM Jeep drum/disc
brake systems, like the '84 CJ Jeep system you have emulated, use an inline combination valve that meters and
proportions, providing proper take-up of the rear brakes—slightly before the front discs. This permits the
brakes to apply safely, as the calipers will otherwise apply ahead of the drum brakes. (Drum brakes take more
"time" to apply due to the shoe-to-drum clearance. The rear brakes should apply slightly ahead of the front to
prevent dive.) The proportioning function prevents the rear brakes from locking up when the vehicle does
The manual proportioning valve
that you're using merely adjusts apply pressure to the rear brakes; it has no effect on the timing of the fluid
application rear-to-front. Without fluid metering, timing and proportioning, the front end can dive under hard
braking; the rear wheels become unloaded, and rear wheel lockup occurs.
Here is a useful summation of
what I'm sharing:
Note the comments about a master
cylinder mounted low. Your cylinder should be above the height of the front calipers.
In your case, the limited rear
brake effect could be due to undersized rear brake shoes and drums. The 3/16" pipe should be
enough for the rear brakes...As you describe, the disc front brakes outperform the stopping power at the
rear. 11"x2" drum brakes could make up the difference. Use concentric drums, the right wheel
cylinders and quality brake lining.
Begin with testing brake
hydraulic pressure per wheel...Let me know how this works out, Larry...
Heavy-Duty Front Shackle Brackets
In the Jeep Owner’s Bible, you show a shackle that I need for my 1982 CJ-7.
Is that a D-ring shackle to fit the bracket on my front bumper? Where could I find that shackle?—Mike
Mike, I believe
you're describing the heavy duty replacement bracket that supports the front ends of each front spring.
(Full-Traction Suspension may still stock these replacement brackets.) This is actually a heavy-duty shackle
support, not a D-shackle attachment point, that corrects weakness in AMC-era ’76-’86 CJ front spring frame
support brackets. The OEM bracket that bolts to the frame and serves as the pivot point for the upper shackle
bushings is weakened by a factory punched hole that clears a frame rivet. Over time, the shackle bracket weakens
from load and fatigue, and these brackets can bend or even break. The heavy-duty replacement bracket bolts to
the stock bracket holes plus a front bumper bolt hole. They extend further forward and offer superior support.
These aftermarket brackets are a practical solution to the weak factory bracket. There are variations on this
theme from several aftermarket suppliers. 4WD Hardware might be a resource here.
The CJ Shackle Reverse
What do you think about shackle reversals on older CJs? I am mounting
YJ leaf springs on a vintage CJ-6 chassis and want the best on-road manners that I can have with this old rig. I am
not convinced that anchoring the springs out at the end of the frame is the way to go, but I value your opinion.
I'm just now building the rear spring mounts and am going to make them outboard like a Jeepster for more stability.
I have some Skyjacker leafs and need to find spring eye bushings with 1.5” outside diameter. Where’s a good source
for urethane bushings?—Bill B.
I would do a front shackle reversal on any CJ. (There is some controversy
about YJ Wrangler conversions.) With the YJ springs that far forward, make sure the frame boxing is sufficient. The
spring anchors at the front should actually decrease stress on the frame, as the axle trails from the frame rather
than being pushed forward from the stock (rear of spring) anchor points at the frame. However, if you’re mounting
the long springs forward of the OE position, the frame horns do need substantial lateral support. I have added this
kind of support by incorporating a winch mount (square) plate that laps each frame rail. (On ’76-up CJs, there is
the factory plate, which sometimes needs embellishment.)
You will not regret the shackle reverse! Just make sure your front axle
pinion/caster angle is correct and that the driveline will move within its spline coupler’s range over the
rise-and-set cycling of the suspension. Configure the driveline angles and their lengths carefully; allow for the
unique suspension movement and compression of the driveshaft.
As for urethane bushings, one time-honored source has been Energy
Suspension. A catalog is available online at:
Jeep model applications are OEM replacement and not shown as size, so you
may need to call them. With any urethane product, correct durometer (hardness) is always essential. Since you’re
using Skyjacker springs, consider giving them a ring about bushings.
Assembling Vintage CJ-5 Leaf
I just put some spring clamps on my mid-‘60s CJ springs. My front
(10-leaf) springs have three "lips" on the leaves, two on one end, one on the other, presumably for the purposes of
preventing the spring clamps from wiggling off. I only found two lips on the back springs (one on each end). As to
how the front springs were oriented, I'm not sure. Were the two clamps oriented toward the front of the vehicle or
I had a couple of axle shims and determined that they were mounted at
the rear axle by the slight indentation marks visible on the rear springs. However, the center post for aligning
the axle onto the spring isn't long enough to accommodate the shim and be able to align and set the axle onto the
spring with the shim in place. A friend suggested welding an extension onto the bolt nub; do you have any other
ideas? Initially, this was a stock setup, but how (why?) did they use shims without being able to seat the axle
into the spring so it was aligned properly?
Lastly, should I use grease on my spring clamps? What keeps the clamps
from sliding on the leaf springs? These are fold-over replacement clamps…I have provided photos of my springs.—Ray
Ray, the plates do not have rolled end “lips,” as you describe, and the
clamp style is an insulated, wrapped design. This is a contemporary spring design, not the classic Jeep “military”
design with riveted, cross-bolt clamps and raised plate lips. Classic leafs with a factory clamp(s)
typically have a drilled and chamfered hole for a rivet. The rivet holds the base of the clamp to a single leaf.
The sides of the clamp simply rise alongside the plates. A cross bolt keeps the clamp from spreading; the cross
bolt does not pinch the spring sides tightly, as that would restrict movement of the
By design, the backside of the hole is chamfered to allow the flattened
rivet to fit flush with the leaf. As the springs flex and change arc, the leaf plates must be able to move
longitudinally without restriction or chafing, so the flattened rivet stud must be flush with the plate surface.
The clamps keep plates aligned (sideways) without restricting flex as the leaf arcs change. The rivet affixes the
clamp to a single leaf.
Later model clamps are often a jacketed rubber insulator. A tin strap folds
around the spring stack. Some approaches do not even include the rubber insulator and are simply a tin (sheet
metal) strap that wraps around the leaf stack, folds over and has a tab lock. Looks like you have this kind of
clamp…There is not a considerable amount of longitudinal plate movement, but on a Jeep used off-road, the spring
leafs can separate and change arc considerably when the axle "articulates" over rough
As for spring clamps on your Kaiser Era CJ, the vintage Jeep springs I have
reworked each had clamps riveted to the leaf springs. The leaf was drilled to accept a rivet. On my '55 CJ depicted
in the Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual, the original springs have multiple clamps facing each end of the spring. There
is no relationship to rolled lip spring ends and the clamp positions; the clamps were riveted at flat-ended leaf
plates. (Your springs’ rolled lip ends were likely for reducing friction as the plates slide normally in
A spring shop creates rivet holes to affix clamps at the correct leaf.
Clamps are for lateral alignment of the leaf, not for clamping plates together. Clamping plates together would
restrict the spring plate movement, and clamps would break as the springs flex, anyway. (Rivets only hold the
clamps to plates. Leaf plates are not riveted together!) The older U-shaped clamps have a cross-bolt that keeps the
upright sides of the clamp from spreading.
I would place the two-lip/clamp end of each front spring toward the front
of the vehicle. The rolled spring plate lips should prevent the strap-on clamps from sliding off the springs. At
the base of your new strap clamps note that there is a tab designed to locate in the original rivet hole (if one
exists). You bend the tab into the hole to keep the clip from sliding out of position. If there are no rivet holes,
the curled lips should keep the clamps in place.
As for greasing
leaf springs plates to reduce friction, don’t do it! Grease will attract dirt. If you use anything between the
plates, make it a silicone or graphite, full-drying substance. A white grease like lithium might be okay if it
dries completely. Any substance that attracts dirt, however, will cause problems. Be aware that any
lubricant you apply is temporary, as moisture and debris will find their way through the leafs and grind out the
A more sensible approach, if the leafs are apart or gapped, would be a
durable enamel or a modern epoxy-based, two-part (catalyzed) primer. I use such a primer for transmission cases,
axle housings and other parts. It is available in black and requires a respirator to shoot. Outdoor enamel in a
thin application will also work. If you paint each side of each leaf without clamping them together first, make a
point of re-torquing spring U-bolts after the paint settles. Paint pounds thin and creates
Regarding the short spring bolt heads and wedge shaped shims, there are
spring bolts available with longer heads. These are designed for applications like yours that use a wedge shim.
Check with NAPA or other retailers under the Dorman product line. When changing spring bolts, use pairs of
heavy-duty clamps to keep the plates compressed. There can be a lot of force here, so be
I would not weld on the bolt head as this can reduce a hardened bolt’s
tensile. The proper solution is a bolt head long enough to fit through the shim and into the spring perch’s
locating hole at the axle.
Be aware that wedge shaped shims are used to adjust the U-joint/pinion
angle. On the front axle, they can also adjust the caster angle. This requires a U-joint angle gauge or alignment
gauges to determine the correct axle tilt. Unless it is clear where these shims should fit, I recommend use of a
U-joint angle gauge for setting up the rear axle wedges.
CJ-6 Gets Late JK Wrangler Front
I’m building a vintage CJ-6 to modern standards. The CJ rolling frame is
done, coil springs in front and YJ-type leaf springs at the rear. (I’ve included photos that I took of the rolling
chassis.) I am optimistic that I did my calculations right and that the chassis will handle well. However, I used
the 4-link suspension calculators found on many online sites, and the findings are
The calculations did seem important—you input your parameters, and it tells
you a value for anti-dive, anti-squat, roll center and so forth. If I mount my links one way I get an anti-dive
value of 220; if I change the mounting, I get an anti-dive value of 60. What is right? There are no "desired" or
"correct" values listed. In that regard, I found the exercise somewhat meaningless, so I tried to copy the JK
I looked at the websites, and the calculations do aim at four-wheel drive
vehicle dynamics. Beam axles, by design, limit the variables used in these calculations. These are mathematical
formulae and, to the extent that the variables permit, they reflect the “numbers” you
To be more practical and specific to your project, let’s begin by assuming
that the JK Wrangler was engineered properly. (This is Jeep engineering, after all!) Given that, begin by using
JK-type link arms. Match up the frame and front axle attachment points. See that the link arms’ slope angles mimic
a JK chassis. A key goal is to establish correct caster and arc of radius. Essentially, you want to create a JK
equivalent front end.
For safety and handling, your setup should work well
1) you use JK or JK replacement link arms
2) you set up the arms so that front axle caster is correct at the static,
weighted chassis height*
*Note: The JK arms should be set up at a neutral length to allow for
fine-tuning and adjusting the caster and pinion angle.
3) axle travel and arc of radius follow the JK
*Note: Confirm by cycling the suspension with the coil springs removed,
measuring caster over the range of axle travel. Test articulation of the axle, too. Make sure there is no binding
or conflict between parts.
4) the front driveline slip coupler works with the established arc of
radius and range of wheel travel
5) the track bar’s shape and bracket location permits axle movement—without
creating lateral shift of the axle, “yaw” or bump steer
Since your rear leaf springs have YJ Wrangler-type anchors and hangers,
there’s nothing more to setting up the rear than adjusting the pinion angle properly.Make sure the rear axle is
centered and perpendicular to the frame’s centerline. This creates proper “thrust.” A square and centered rear axle
serves as a reference for squaring and aligning the front axle’s position.
The calculation charts seem mathematically reliable. However, without
describing optimal figures or how to adjust for them, the calculations simply provide a mathematical description of
existing layouts. They describe what you have rather than what you need.
As I shared, using a beam front and rear axle constrains some variables:
caster, camber, roll and lateral shift. Camber for a beam axle is determined by the straightness of the axle tubes
and knuckles. Caster is typically uniform at each front wheel, since the axle beam and its steering knuckle
supports are rigid. This simplified design eliminates several variables used in independent
Caster and pinion angle are easy to establish with a beam axle. Link arm
design, in your case, was determined by the factory length and shape of the arms. So, the remaining concern is
where to attach the arms at the frame. Start with a close comparison to a JK Wrangler
The goal with link arm pivot points is to provide ease of axle articulation
(rise and drop at each side) and a normal “arc of radius.” The arc of radius is critical and should be a central
concern in the design of an aftermarket lift kit for a Jeep 4WD vehicle.
Arc of radius is the arc of travel that the beam axle takes as the
suspension rises and sets to its extremes. One of the best examples of poor arc of radius can be found in some
“short arm” lift kits. If there is significant wheel travel, the stock or short arms (mounted at stock pivot
points) create a considerable caster angle change as the axle moves up and down over its range of
This caster change can adversely affect the handling and steering of the
vehicle, since caster angle is crucial to the return-to-center feel of a vehicle when negotiating turns. Too little
caster angle can lead to “kingpin shimmy” or the so-called “death wobble” ascribed to short arm, lifted Jeep
So, make sure that caster angles stay within acceptable tolerance over the
range of axle, wheel and suspension travel. You can determine this with caster gauges as you cycle the suspension
over its range of expected travel. (See this month’s “4WD Tech” section for details on wheel
Raising a vehicle to install big tires is the primary reason for a lift in
the first place. Given that, the use of big tires with a link arm suspension system begs the use of longer arms.
Properly engineered, a long-arm suspension kit for a beam axle will provide acceptable caster angles over the range
of wheel travel and arc-of-radius.
If your link arms are stock JK Wrangler Rubicon type, and if you have
matched the pivot points at the frame and axle to a JK, then the suspension should work okay if you maintain proper
caster angle with the vehicle at normal curb height.
With the coil springs removed and the track bar installed properly, you
should be able to cycle (raise and lower) the suspension, simulating the full range of movement and articulation,
without seeing a radical change in axle caster angle.Note that I include the track bar in this
The installation of the track bar must do two
1) Keep the beam axle from moving laterally (side-to-side) as the vehicle
weight shifts and the frame rolls
2) Keep the axle beam in proper alignment with the frame and rear axle
throughout the range of wheel travel
This also includes proper arcs of each wheel as the front axle beam
articulates. If the track bar shape or attachment points are incorrect, the axle can shift laterally on turns, and
it can move in irregular arcs that cause bump steer. Poor track bar location on a link arm suspension causes the
vehicle to mishandle and steer erratically. It can even bind up the suspension or
As for anti-dive and anti-lift, this has more to do with spring rates than
any other factor. Dive can be affected by the length of link or radius arms; however, the degree of pitch under
braking is still the result of how much spring force counteracts the tendency for the suspension to
Major factors that affect anti-dive are total sprung weight of the vehicle,
spring rates, acceleration of gravity, deceleration force during braking, and wheel base length. Lesser factors
surrounding dive would be the distance from the vehicle’s center-of-gravity to the front and rear wheels. This is
determined by vehicle height (center-of-gravity and roll center) and the wheelbase length.
Since you’re using leaf springs at the back, the issues of rear brake
anti-lift and rear anti-squat during acceleration are largely governed by the leaf spring design and, once again,
the spring rates.
Some short-arm suspension systems tend to wheel hop under braking on a
rough surface, like a washboard or gravel road. A bit of front end dive will actually reduce this tendency and
provide better braking under panic conditions. Too stiff, and the vehicle’s unsprung weight mass will want to press
forward, while a desirable degree of dive permits the chassis to weight the front wheels, enough for better braking
Note: For math’s sake, workable braking is usually in the 25%-50%
anti-dive coefficient range. I can provide formulas for anti-dive coefficient if anyone wants to run these
calculations. Suffice to say, a stiff chassis is more apt to skid than one that allows for some weight transfer to
the front wheels under hard braking. Too much transfer is undesirable—under hard braking, it can cause rear wheel
lift and loss of traction or skidding of the rear wheels.
While many variables can be adjusted, your CJ-6 and most other trail rigs
have fairly rigid parameters: a predetermined wheelbase length, a desired ground clearance height, specific tire
diameter and a fixed track width. Given that, the “safest vehicle” is a relative consideration, governed by these
chosen constraints and parameters.
Do your best to make concessions toward safety! As a rule, widening the
track width is always a good idea, it offsets the increased center-of-gravity height and helps stabilize body roll.
Widening the spring mounting points to the YJ Wrangler’s position at the rear is also
The Kaiser-era CJ-6 has a 101-inch wheelbase, and that’s far better than an
81-inch wheelbase CJ-5. Wider axles are a plus, as this is part of the wide track gains and reduces the need for
shallow wheel backspacing. You’re on the right track...I’m here for more questions!
Past the Engine and Ready for a Tire
From: Chad A.
Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2011 9:26 AM
I have another question. I keep going back and
forth on tire selection. I want to find a very utilitarian tire. Size wise, I think I am
going to go with a 31x10.50x15 on 15x8 wheels w/ 3.75 backspacing. Tire wise, I can't
decide. Here is what I am thinking about: BF
Goodrich A/T KOs, Treadwright Wardens w/ Kedge Grip (BFG Retread w/ crushed glass and walnut shells imbeded
in rubber), or Firestone Destination A/Ts. Do you have any
experience with any of these tires? I keep leaning on the
BFGs. The BFGs have a very utilitarian feel but they have mixed reviews on
ice. I would really appreciate any insight you could provide.
I hope you don't mind all of my emails. If they get to be too
much, please let me know.
Thanks again for you time.
Reply from Moses...
Good question, Chad...For ice, you need sipes on the
tread. Hardcore mud tires (broad, open cleats) clean out well but lack sipes and tread surface
area. This means that they grip in mud and deeper snow but do poorly on an icy
One of the best
tires I ever used was an all around on- and off-road platform: the Goodyear GSA. It had three tread designs in
one. With the GSA, the bigger the tire size, the better the mud or
cleat action, as the tread blocks spread further apart. At 33"x12.5"x15" diameter on a 10-inch rim, it
excelled. Even in 31"x10.5"x15", it would be
There are tire niches for specific terrain, but your vehicle is driven
on- and off-highway. Of the tires you describe, the BFG A/T would make better sense, although you should also
look at the Toyo Open Country A/T (used on our XJ Cherokee for good all-around performance with excellent
wear characteristics, good off-road traction and plenty of sipes) and, of course, Goodyear's current
offerings. Above is a photo of Goodyear's AT/S line, derivative of the Aqua-Tred design. This tire works
well on wet pavement, as it was originally engineered to resist hydroplaning.
I'm here when you're narrowing your choices
Identifying a Ross ‘TL’ Willys Steering
Moses, per your request, here is the steering gear housing casting
number from my 1962 Willys PU Model 475—with the exception of the casting number, what appears are the letter "B"
and the 'Ross' brand, no other numbers visible. If I discover any additional numbers after I remove the unit, I'll
copy you. Here is the casting number: TL122992…I plan to pull the gear this weekend and ship it your way early the
following week. I'll be sure to forward you the tracking number. Thanks…
Matt, thanks for the details. We like this sort of referencing before the
gear arrives. I can get genuine Jeep/NOS parts lined up that way…Your gear is original for the Model 475. I have
rebuilt many of these units. They always need a new sector/lever shaft, as the twin pins wear flat on one portion.
(The light-duty Ross gears do not benefit from the rotating pins found in larger truck applications.) Studebaker
also uses the ‘TL’ gear, and that ‘TL’ designation describes the size and type housing. Your worm-cam is likely
okay unless there is chipping or corrosion. I glass-bead all parts before inspection. Cams, by design, do not have
the marked wear commonly found at the lever shaft pins. Once all hard parts are glass-beaded, inspected and cabinet
washed, I will install, align-hone and finish fit new bushings then reseal the unit. Worm-cam ball bearings will be
renewed, using only OEM/NOS parts. Off-shore bearing races are of inferior quality and questionable hardness. I use
only OEM pieces here, and they are getting scarce!
During assembly, I precisely adjust the worm bearings with a spring scale
and backup torque wrench test method that I have devised for the TL gears. I do a similar approach with the
critical over-center mesh adjustment at the sector/lever shaft and cam groove. Custom paint is an option, or I will
final seal and detail your gear with epoxy primer and stock color. The gear will ship back looking and performing
as new, ready for installation, Matt…Thanks for the business!
Frame Repairs and Upgrades for the '72-'75 AMC/Jeep
I have a 75 CJ5 with the 304 V8,
Dana 44 rear, Dana 30 front, Dana 20 TC & T-14 tranny. It has a 2 1/2" suspension lift and 33x12.5x15 tires.
I'm in the process of a complete frame off rebuild. I'm just about down to the frame now and about ready to
start working on the frame. It has a couple of minor cracks that need repair, then clean up and
I understand about
checking the frame for square before proceeding, so I'll do that. What I'm interested in is opinions on frame
boxing vs just reinforcing. I've read a lot of varying opinions on this subject, but I'd like to hear what
this forum has to say.
I plan to use the Jeep
mainly off road - forest roads and mild rock
Thanks for any help you
can give - Bill
Hi, Bill...I thought a quick
two-cents worth might help here. I am thoroughly familiar with the '72-'75 AMC/Jeep CJ frames and their
boxed the front frame from the front bumper to just behind the front spring anchors. In off-road pounding, the
force at the front springs drives through the spring anchors and into the frame section. Being open channel behind
the boxed section, the frame tends to crack at this point between the boxed and C-channel
assume that the weakness is the frame. Actually, the weakness is the anchor at the rear of the front springs. In my
Jeep books, I talk to this issue and the use of a retrofit shackle reverse kit that will put the anchors at the
front of the springs. This reduces frame stress at the original anchor point. The vehicle will steer better, too,
as the axle "trails" from the reversed anchors instead of pushing the springs and front axle forward from the rear
of the front springs—which is what the stock anchor orientation does.
my first priority would be a shackle reverse, making sure that the front axle, steering linkage and driveline each
position properly. (The axle's arc of travel must be consistent with the steering linkage position and front
driveline's range of travel.) Caster angle must be set properly, too. This reversed anchor orientation will take a
good deal of load off the stock frame.
for boxing, this rigidifies the frame. On the downside, the stiffness can lead to frame stress from the lack of
torsional movement. Jeep CJ frames all flex end-to-end. Two people can hold a bare frame bumper-to-bumper and
readily twist it—quite a bit! This frame flex seems like part of the "suspension" on '75-back CJs! Notably, the
older frames were riveted and more forgiving of this flex.
does make sense that a stiffer frame is better, and this is demonstrated by the engineering on each of the Wrangler
designs. The YJ, TJ and JK have progressively stiffer and more rigid frames, which is consistent with modern
theory: A rigid, strong frame provides a solid platform, which makes suspension tuning and vehicle handling more
precise. Link arms and coil suspension work best with a rigid frame.
boxing the '72-'75 CJ-5 or earlier CJ frames, the frame should end up rigid from bumper to bumper. If not, any open
areas will be stressed by the inflexibility of the rigid sections. The weak points will be any area not boxed.
These points will fatigue from flexing and eventually crack—just like the spot right behind the stock front boxed
section on '72-'75 CJ models.
Welding should mimick factory boxed section technique, which is generally long stitching and not
continuous beads. Look over other Jeep frames, later ones in particular, to understand weld patterns. Use the right
stick rod or MIG wire, and clean all surfaces of scale and rust before welding. If you have further questions about
welding or the frame, I am available through the magazine's 'Q&A'.
Readers will benefit from your thoughtful post, Bill. Hey, CJ owners, add your comments! Welcome
to the 4WD Mechanix Magazine forum...
Moses - Thanks for all the helpful
information, especially the info on shackle reverse. I think I will go in that direction and forgo the frame boxing
for now. With boxing the frame, I have concerns about creating a trap for mud, rust, etc. and creating a worse
problem than I'm trying to correct. I'm told that the CJ was run pretty hard in the past and the frame is in good
shape, except at the very front where I'm told a tree fell on it a few years ago. There I have a couple of cracks
that will need repair and a slight twist which will need to be straightened.
have a question regarding shackle reverse kits though. I'm having a hard time finding one that fits the 75 with my
2 1/2" lift. Everything that I've been able to find is for stock or 1 1/2" lifts. Any recommendations of where to
Thanks again - Bill
marketed shackle reverse kits are for the '76-up chassis. I worked with a design years ago and shared it in
the Jeep Owner's Bible and other books...If you can find a kit for stock or 1-1/2" lift on a '72-'75 CJ, one
or the other kit will likely work. Your current 2.5" lift is a spring arch lift that works with stock
anchors...So, a stock shackle reverse might work with your 2.5" spring lift. (You may need to experiment with
shackle lengths.) When you reverse the anchor ends, be sure to maintain wheelbase and axle location, driveshaft
coupler range and clearance for steering linkage and brake hoses. Maintaining axle caster angle is important,
In the extreme case, for your
'72-'75 chassis, you may need to fabricate a setup. In my new magazine section on the
Dodge Ram tow vehicle, you will find an article about loading and hauling with a trailer. I show my '55 CJ-5 on the
trailer. The front shackles were factory reversed, actually due to the use of the M38A1 military frame on the
earliest CJ-5. By 1956, this was changed to the rear anchor approach like your '75. (There are many photos of that
frame in my Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual 1946-71. Perhaps you have access to that book, although the '72-'86 edition
is specifically for your Jeep CJ.)
out the article on trailering and look at the front spring anchors. This can provide some ideas. There is a lot
less fabrication involved than boxing the frame. You can get ideas for the rear/shackle end of the springs from the
shackle reverse kits available for '72-'75 CJs, or review my '46-'71 manual to see the 1955 CJ-5 setup. When
setting up the springs, keep in mind the front axle caster angle, driveline angle and so
my comments helped, Bill...
Worn ‘66 and ‘71 Jeep CJ-5 Steering
Are you able to rebuild a ’66 Jeep CJ5 steering box? The chassis is a V-6
type, and I believe this is a Ross box. Is it wise to rebuild the gear?—Lavin
My 1971 Jeep CJ’s Ross steering box needs a rebuild or replacement. I can
rotate the steering wheel 1/3 revolution before the front wheels actually begin to turn. I have another used box,
seems tighter but the true condition is unknown. Does it pay to rebuild these gears?—
Lavin and Mark, you have great CJs! The 225 V-6 and reasonable gear
reduction make these a time-honored package. The ’66 and ’71 models should have Ross TL gears with a one-piece
column. Basic and often considered primitive, cam-and-lever two pin gears served the CJs through the Willys and
Kaiser period. By the end of the Kaiser era, Jeep began using popular G.M. Saginaw recirculating ball-and-nut
gears. I rebuild the Ross gears for Willys models and Kaiser CJs, finding that in nearly every instance there is
pin wear. Pins on these basic Ross gears wear flat on the sides, as they do not rotate and continually press
against the cam at the same points on the pins. Adjusting the gear is hazardous if the gear has any more than the
slightest amount of play on-center. (Off-center, there will be backlash, and this is normal. The gear’s adjustment
is over-center to eliminate play only in this zone of steering.) Customarily, the project begins with hot cabinet
washing and glass beading of all hard parts before inspection. In the build, the sector/lever bushings are replaced
and fitted precisely for a long service life. A new lever shaft seal, service of the upper/lower worm cam bearings
and replacement of the sector lever shaft with a new NOS item take place before buttoning up the gear with a new
cover gasket. Adjustments of the worm-cam bearings and over center preload are critical to the safety and lifespan
of the gear assembly. All adjustments must be on spec before a unit ships from our shop. I detail the finished
assembly in durable epoxy primer and paint color of your choice. Cost for this level of restoration and use of NOS
parts depends upon the latest NOS prices for the lever shaft and the current condition of your gear. Note: I refer
to “NOS” parts; the only assurance of high quality and a long service life is use of original Jeep replacement
parts. There are off-shore repro parts that simply will not meet the standards for fit-up and metallurgy. Know your
parts source and the origins of parts if you attempt to rebuild one of these gears
restoring a Ross TL steering gear at his bench.
When checking steering play on stock ’46-’71 CJs, look for looseness and
wear at the bellcrank, tie-rod ends and steering knuckle “kingpin” bearings. Some Jeepsters and ’70-’71 CJs use
front-mounted Saginaw steering gears with a one-piece tie-rod between steering knuckles. Ross TL applications have
the steering gear mounted rearward of the axle and use a draglink, bellcrank, tie-rod to the right side knuckle and
a one-piece tie-rod between the knuckles. Make sure you know the origin of the steering play…If you opt for a
Saginaw steering gear swap, there are several concerns: 1) mounting the gear properly to the frame, 2) using the
correct steering linkage and pitman arm plus 3) fabricating the steering column support if your original column ran
from the gear to the steering wheel. In my Jeep CJ Rebuilder’s Manual: 1946-71, I show the steps for rebuilding a
Ross gear like yours and also outline the steps for converting to Saginaw manual steering. Historically, Advance
Adapters has been a source for Saginaw steering conversion kits for the vintage CJs. Their catalog can also be
useful for identifying the parts needed. If your CJ has collectible value or you wish to maintain a stock profile,
proper restoration of the Ross TL steering gear can add years of safety and driving satisfaction. To eliminate the
more primitive gear design and busy bellcrank, draglink and two tie-rod steering linkage, consider the Saginaw