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August 2010 Nuts & Bolts

Posted in How To on August 1, 2010
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Burb is the Answer
Q I'm 12 and trying to convince my parents to get me a four-wheel-drive truck. I know it would be a good way for me and my dad to spend time together and learn different things about the 4x4 world. We already have a '71 Chevelle and an '87 T/A, and we could use it as a tow rig. What would be a good two- or four-wheel-drive, pre-'89 truck that is good for wheeling, won't break the bank, and would be a good project?
Damien G.

A What you need is a late '80s/early '90s Chevy Suburban. Just make sure it is a 3/4-ton. This has the bigger rear axles, and it would be both a great tow rig and a good trail rig. It isn't exactly small, but the whole family could go to the local mud hole and tow the Chevelle to the drag strip. Plus you could pull a boat, camp out in it, and still have enough interior space to haul parts, groceries, and all your girlfriends.

The other great thing is that the Chevy trucks are very abundant and parts are available at nearly every auto parts store for a Chevy truck. LMC Truck (800.LMC.TRUC, has lots of replacement body panels and all the interior bits and pieces if the Suburban you find is missing some small parts or has rust. Plus the Suburban nameplate has been in use for 75 years, making it the oldest model in continuous production. I think it would be a great father-son project, a useful 4x4, and a great truck for you to get into four-wheeling with.

Front 14
Q I have a GM 14-bolt rear that I want to make a frontend, but I can't find an axletube thick enough for the Dana 60 axle seals. The 14-bolt is shaved and has a 31/2-inch OD axletube. Any help or info on axletubes would be very helpful. I have been looking at DOM tubing. It is going into an F-150 with a 14-bolt in the rear already, 460 ci, NP435, and a married NP205 running 4.88 gears.
Bobby R.
Whitesburg, GA

A Seals-it ( makes various custom axle seals, otherwise you need to get some new tubing and have it machined for the seal and then pressed into the housing. You will also need 30-spline, 11/2-inch-diameter custom front axleshafts, but many custom axle places can make them for you.

Wrong Way 'Round
Q Why can't I just flip over my front axle to put the pumpkin on the other side? Is it just that the ring-and-pinion gears would be pointing the wrong way? Since I plan on putting in lockers and switching to a lower gear ratio anyway, it seems like as long as I get the right gears for the high-pinion application, I should be able to put the Dana 44 from my Power Wagon under my Wrangler.
Joel S.
Bellingham, WA

A It would turn the wrong way, and the high-pinion gears will only fit in a high-pinion housing. A high-pinion housing is not the same as a low-pinion housing flipped upside-down.

The front driveshaft and pinion always turn counterclockwise (unless the transmission is in reverse).

The front pinion is always on the left side of the ring gear, no matter whether it's high or low pinion, driver or passenger side.

If you flip the housing, the pinion will be on the right side of the ring gear. If you then turn the driveshaft counterclockwise the ring gear (along with the axleshafts and tires) will all turn backward. If your rear axle is turning forward and your front axle is turning backward, your Jeep won't go anywhere.

The only time to flip an axle over is when you have three-gear portal axles or the engine in the back of the vehicle, such as in many rock buggies, because it will then turn everything the opposite direction. However, by doing this you can run into issues with lack of oil getting to the pinion gear and bearings.

More Toy vs. jeep
Q I own an '00 Toyota Tacoma, V-6, extended cab, of course 4x4. While I was having a drink with a buddy he said he would build a truck to beat me in. I said, "Yeah, sure, whatever." I didn't think he would go all out on it. We didn't bet any money except we put our pride into it. Then he bought a '94 Jeep Cherokee, 4.0 L straight-six, and put on a K&N-style intake, Skyjacker suspension, MSD ignition, and a set of Mickey Thompson MTZ tires, just to name a few things. We are to race in mud and sand in both 4-Hi and 4-Lo . All I have are a few skills, and my truck is pretty much stock except for a K&N, Rancho 5000 shocks, Energy Suspension, and some BFGoodrich all-terrains. We're suppose to race in July. Any suggestions, or should I just consider kissing my pride goodbye?
Nathan G.
Brownsville, TX

A I love bench racing! Let's figure out some specs. First, the power-to-weight ratio on each truck. In stock form both 4x4s would have about 190 hp, but although the XJ (Cherokee) weighs right around 3,000 pounds, your Tacoma weighs about 3,425. So on paper I think he has you beat.

However, he has a lift kit and larger tires, but you didn't mention whether he had regeared his truck for the bigger tires. If he is still running the factory gear ratio then you might have an advantage, as it will be tougher for him to spin the larger tires. In fact, his Jeep probably has 3.07, 3.55, or 3.73 axle gears, whereas your Taco likely has 3.73 or 4.10 gears, an advantage for you. However, his mud tires should work better in the mud than your all-terrains, but your tires should work better in the sand.

I guess the question is how much are you willing to spend to win this race? You could add power with a supercharger or nitrous kit, but that's expensive. You have a good air filter, so add a free-flowing exhaust to the mix for a little more efficiency. The other option is removing weight by taking off the doors, fenders, bumpers, seats, and so on, but that's not really reasonable.

The best advice I have is go practice drag racing in the dunes and mud. Try different air pressures, as you'll want the added traction. Try two- and four-wheel-drive launches to see if one pulls better than the other. Also try high- and low-range acceleration tests. Once you find the best gear, pressure, and drive combo for acceleration you may have the edge. I have seen a near-stock Cherokee beat a big V-8 Blazer in a drag race, and I've seen old Tacomas do big jumps in the dunes. I think the IFS may be your advantage for the go-fast stuff, but at the same time your power-to-weight is against you.

Just remember, if you lose, you'll have a good excuse to go buy a supercharger! Definitely let us know who wins.

Nuts, I'm Confused!
I Bought a Scout!
Q When I was a kid growing up in rural Colorado I had an uncle and a brother-in-law who both drove International Scouts. Then to make matters worse my dad drove an old International pickup around the ranch and it was the first truck I ever drove. Needles to say, I ended up with a serious case of IH Fever! (Look it up on WebMD-it's for real.) For years I wanted a Scout of my own, but I could never fast-talk my common sense into such a thing. (Dern, that common sense!)

However, a couple of years ago I opted for a demotion at work that came with a company truck and the elimination of a commute. After this change, I was eventually able to outwit my common sense into the unthinkable. I sold my '89 Toyota truck that my wife loved (required very little attention) and started looking for my new mistress-uh, I mean the Scout of my dreams. Finally last July I found the perfect girl. Since then we have been inseparable, and best of all I have finally found the cure to my IH Fever.

However, there is trouble in paradise. Now I have seemed to develop a terrible sickness for parts and accessories that I cannot afford, and I'm beginning to think that this is what my common sense was trying to warn me about. So far, the best way I can describe this sickness is an overwhelming desire to purchase things like larger tires, winches, and lockers. Worst of all, the urge keeps coming back time and time again to lift my Scout about 4 inches higher then it currently sits. If this sounds crazy just tell me now!

Anyway, as I'm frantically searching the net for the most economical way of lifting my Scout, one annoying fact keeps popping up at every turn: bumpsteer! I found a bunch of information that describes the symptoms of bumpsteer, but I haven't found a lot of resources that describe what causes it and how to prevent it. I'm very concerned about this because my two young daughters love riding in the back, and as much as I'd hate to skip the lift I might do so if it would create a serious driving hazard.

So what is bumpsteer, how dangerous is it, and what are the best measures to prevent it? Thanks for your time.
Colorado Native John

A To help with your affliction, we're going to prescribe a new set of General Tires because you're our letter of the month! General makes a whole bunch of different truck tires, including the new General Grabbers, and we'll be sending you a voucher for some new rubber ASAP.

If you want to take home a set of General Tires, just send in your best Nuts & Bolts question, as we pick lucky readers every month and we have one or two more sets of tires to send out.

As for bumpsteer, many factors are involved in causing it, but it is basically the draglink of the steering (the bar running from your steering box to the steering knuckle on the passenger side) moving during axle articulation and causing the wheels to turn, thus the name bumpsteer: You hit a bump and it steers the wheel. It usually steers toward the right when the right wheel goes up, and toward the left when the right wheel goes down.

The Scout comes from the factory with a short draglink that attaches to the tie rod. When you lift the Scout's suspension the angle of the draglink increases; this is bad, as you want it long and close to level for less bumpsteer. What you need is a passenger-side, flat-top knuckle, a high steer arm, and then a draglink that runs from the steering box to the high steer arm. PartsMike (530.885.0673, can machine your knuckle or sell you the correct parts.

Also, as you lift the truck you may reduce the caster angle of the knuckles, especially if you use longer front shackles, and this can cause death wobble. The best remedy is to grind out the welds around the axle Cs and have them turned back to about 5 to 8 degrees of caster at ride height. Though this is a bit of work, it is the right way to do the job and can be done easily at most axle shops.

Your new tires from General will fit with or without the lift kit (depending on the size you choose, of course), but we agree that doing the lift and doing the steering correctly will make the Scout look, wheel, and drive better and be safer for the whole family.

Submission Information
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using "Nuts, I'm confused" as the subject and include a picture (if it's applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I'll be checking the forums on our website (, and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I'll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 310.531.9368 Email to:

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