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ORU Steering Kit & Track Bar Install - Drag-Link & Track-Bar Harmony

Posted in How To on September 1, 2008
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Linking your solid-axle front end can be quite an ordeal, and one of the hardest parts of it will be trying to get your track bar, aka Panhard rod, and steering drag link to line up correctly and create zero bump-steer during the suspension movement.

As your suspension oscillates, the track bar (connected to the vehicle frame on one side and the front axle on the other side) positions the axle laterally. As the track bar flattens out, it pushes the axle toward the passenger side (assuming you have a left-hand driving vehicle and your track bar is descending from the driver side). The more angle the track bar sees, the more it will pull the axle over to the driver side as it drops out. The axle not only moves up and down but also side to side with suspension movement. You want to make sure that the drag link follows the same path that the track bar does, or you will have a push or pull effect, known as bumpsteer, on your steering wheel.

If you are building from scratch, there are three important rules to remember:

1.) First off, and most importantly, you'll want to keep the drag link and track bar as parallel as possible. Keeping the bars parallel to each other will help keep them following the same arc. If the angle of one is greater than the other, then the track-bar pull on the axle will not match the drag-link pull on the knuckle, and you will find the truck steering itself during suspension travel (bumpsteer).

2.) Secondly, you'll ideally want the track bar and drag link as close to the same length as you can. From experience, we have learned that having the drag link and track bar a bit different in lengths is not as big of a deal as having parallel links is. We have had multiple good experiences with different-length drag links and track bars, as long as they were parallel with each other. But theoretically, if one bar is shorter than the other, then it will change angles faster or slower than the other bar, therefore leading to bumpsteer.

3.) Lastly, you want to try to keep both the drag link and track bar at an angle almost parallel with the axlehousing at ride height. The steeper and more severe the angle on the track bar and drag link, the more difficult steering input will be, and the more the axle will move from side to side during suspension cycling. Ideally, you want your axle moving side to side as little as possible.

It took us three different tries to get this '02 solid-axle-swapped Chevy's front end right, but sometimes it can be very difficult lining everything up and finding the right parts to get the job done correctly. Finally, after trying to cobble different things together to get our front end corrected, we went to the solid-axle-swap specialists. The guys at Off Road Unlimited (ORU) have been doing solid-axle swaps for years and fixed our solid-axle Chevy using one of their crossover-steering kits and ORU track bars on our front Ford Dana 60.

PhotosView Slideshow

_ The flatter the links are, the better
_ The more parallel the drag link and track bar are, the better
_ The closer the track-bar length to the drag-link length, the better

PhotosView Slideshow


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