Jim Sammons: "Jack the front end up and place it on jack stands. Use a piece of chalk or soapstone and hold it on the center of the tread and have someone rotate the tire, making a mark in the exact same place all the way around the tire. Then set the Jeep back on the pavement and adjust the tie rod ends so that when you measure the distance between the lines on the front center of the tires it is 1/8 to 1/4-inch less than the distance on the back of the tires. This will give you a slight toe in on the front of the tires which is what front end shops shoot for."
Bill Clemons: "So much for toe in, how about caster and camber?"
The Jeeper who asked the original question commented: "Thanks Jim, that is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I tried what you said and the Jeep drives / steers great now. You saved me money, thanks a lot. As for Bill's question, I think the caster and camber are preset and you can't really mess with that unless you are willing to mess with shims for the adjustments."
Jon Paulsen: "How do you like my beefed up tie rods? I purchased the materials to do them, long before a tie rod end wore out. When the end went, I replaced all 4 ends and sleeved the rods with pipe. The purpose was just to beef them up for offroad use, whacking on rocks, etc. I don't think they are necessary for larger tires, but they are certainly a lot stronger and won't hurt with the big tires.
"If you can grab a tied rod end and feel play, it's in very bad shape (ready to fall off). I don't mean twisting them at the tube as if trying to adjust them -- you'll always get some motion there. But if you can grab the rod near the end and move fore/aft or left/right, it's pretty bad.
"A better test, to find a bad end or slop elsewhere, is to have someone move the steering wheel left and right just enough to where the tires almost begin to turn, just going back and forth taking up slop. Then observe each joint and see if there's any motion on one side before the other. Like if a tie rod begins to move slightly before the arm on the steering knuckle responds. You should watch each tie rod end, the bell crank, and the drag link between the bell crank and the steering gear box. The drag links ends are adjustable, so if there's slop there, they might not need parts.
"Willys Works in Arizona has all the steering parts. The big funky end with the tapered hole in it to accept another tie rod end is about $25.00, the other 3 are about $14.00. With shipping, all four ran about $75.00."
"I used common black gas pipe, taper cut the ends for strain relief, cross drilled about every 6", and welded the ends and the cross drilled holes.
"The rusty shock in the background is not mine -- I think Derek pasted it in because he was jealous of my purdy orange tie rods...
"If I were to do it again, I would make the driver's side sleeve a little shorter, as it's awfully close to the long, inner tie rod end. I did adjust the tapered cut to have the shorter part out, so it's not so close. This may be less of a concern with stock steering geometry, but careful consideration should be made taking into account compression and drooping of the suspension. See also another photo (10K JPEG).
"By the way, some folks don't like to weld on steering stuff, and just ram a solid rod into the hollow stock tube to strengthen it. If there is any doubt about your welding skills or if you can't weld, it should not be very expensive to have the welding done by a certified welder if you bring the tie rods in clean, sleeved and ready to weld. Local laws may regulate the welding of steering parts."
Thanks to Jon for the details on his project. See also more photos of Jon's Jeep in the snow. -- Derek Redmond
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