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This is what you get when the AGR Rock Ram kit arrives: new Rock Ram gearbox tapped with fittings for the ram, a Super pump, the Rock Ram cylinder, hoses, rod ends, and mounting tabs.
Our Bronco was already equipped with an AGR power-steering pump and box when it was outfitted with power steering using a James Duff Saginaw Power Steering conversion kit; so we just had to replace the old box. You can see where the new AGR box has been tapped with fittings for the hoses that go to the Rock Ram.
The next step was to cycle the suspension of the Bronco to try to figure out where the Rock Ram would actually fit. Very little room was available for us to play with because the track bar mounts to the front of the axle on early Broncos right where the Rock Ram needs to be. The massive tie rod that Performance Unlimited built for us also took up a bit of space.
After a bunch of head-scratching, a few mock setups, and lots more suspension cycling, we finally decided on a plan of attack. To make room for the Rock Ram we needed to move the track bar up and out of the way, so a new lower mount was built. It is seen here in its early stages of development. Eventually it would be fully welded and the front bolt removed.
To raise the other end of the track bar, we simply torched the track bar drop bracket out of the way and put the track bar into the stock mount. By using the new lower mount fabbed onto the axle and the stock upper mount, we were able to raise the track bar three inchesmaking just enough room for the Rock Ram.
After moving the track bar, we then had to switch from a dropped pitman arm back to the stock unit with no drop in order to keep the drag link and track bar at the same angle. Doing this eliminates bumpsteer.
After centering the Rock Ram in its stroke, we figured out where it needed to be on the tie rod with the wheels pointed straight. We then mocked up the setup and worked the ram and the steering through their respective cycles to make sure there was enough clearance. After a few minor adjustments we were able to finalize the welds.
Ideally, we would mount the other side of the Rock Ram to the axlehousing, but we had to settle for the diff cover to keep the tie rod from hitting the ram when it went through its cycle. In the future we plan to upgrade to the thickest cover we can find so we dont have to worry about tearing the cover apart.
With the Rock Ram in place, we went about centering the axle and putting the track bar back into position.
The last step was to attach the hoses to the Rock Ram and bleed the power steering system.
From this shot on the passenger side you can see that though there isnt much room, everything clears except for the bumpstop, which will be moved back a bit. Part of the minor tweaks we had to perform when cycling the suspension included moving the track bar to the back of the new lower mount, and also flipping the track bar so that its bend was pointing backward. Youll also notice where the C bushing mount was ground down for clearance.
Here you can see how nicely the Rock Ram tucks out of the waypart of the reason for all our effort. It would have been much easier to mount it below the tie rod, but having a hydraulic ram be the lowest point on your vehicle is not a good idea. If you have a leaf-sprung vehicle, or a rig with a track bar that mounts to the top of the axle rather than the front, your installation will be much easier than ours was.
Is your steering what you want it to be? For most of us, the answer would be, no, it isnt. Running big tires and hitting the trails can really tax a stock steering system, and make turning the steering wheel into an ordeal that only a bodybuilder can manage. Even our friend who runs 38-inch tires on his Super Duty but never hits the trail has a hard time turning his big tires when going slowly. This also was the situation with our Bronco. Wanting to improve this sub-par steering, we searched for a product that could make turning the wheel an easy affair.
The solution to our steering woes came in the form of the AGR Rock Ram. Basically a hydraulic assist, the Rock Ram mounts from the axlehousing to the tie rod and exerts force on it. This takes a great deal of load off the steering box itself and makes turning the wheel easy.
To graft our Rock Ram into position on our 69 Bronco we headed down to Off Road Unlimited in Burbank, California. While the installation was a bit of a challenge, the result was well worth it. In its prior form, we couldnt even manage to turn our poor Broncos big front tires when parked on pavement. After installing the Rock Ram it felt like we had shod the Bronco with the tires from a compact car, as steering was effortless. The only quirk we noticed is the Rock Ram system made our steering a bit quicker. This made our steed a bit twitchy until we adapted by slowing down our steering inputs. A nice and unexpected side effect was that our Bronco no longer jerks around while shifting due to the rear Detroit Locker locking and unlocking. So if you want to be able to steer your 4x4 on the street or trail without having to hit the gym, a Rock Ram might be for you.