We have watched even the most skilled drivers in the most capable of vehicles tweak, hammer on, bend, and destroy their steering linkage while tackling a trail. And the fact of the matter is we'll continue to see such carnage to the tie rod and drag link assemblies for years to come. Providing, that is, that said drivers don't convert their steering systems to a springover-style setup such as the kit available from Tri-County Gear in Pomona, California.
Designed to fit any Dana 44 in most vehicle models, the kit includes completely new modified steering knuckles that reposition the vulnerable tie rod and drag link out of harm's way. With the new knuckles, the steering linkage sits above the leaf springs, and since it's a custom design, Tri-County eliminated the factory steering arm location that would normally protrude from the front of the knuckle. This not only provides a cleaner appearance, it also leaves nothing along the lower portion of the knuckle behind to catch on rocks and hamper the vehicle's ability. Also included in the kit is a new, machined steering arm that bolts to the flat top of each knuckle. The arm attaches using three bolts and cone washers and positions the tie rod high above the leaf springs. Tri-County also had the foresight to build the arms with a corrected angle for the tie rod (as opposed to leaving the surface flat) in order to maintain the proper steering geometry, thus eliminating bumpsteer, wander, and front-end shimmy. Geometry is further maintained by moving the drag link so that it operates off of the tie rod rather than the passenger-side steering knuckle, which greatly improves drag link angles.
With the Tri-County springover steering kit, the steering linkage is upgraded to heavy-duty 1-1/4-inch truck-style linkage, and the stock pitman arm is used so that the steering wheel can still be turned lock to lock. Currently the kits are available to fit most Dana 44 applications and Dana 30s in Jeep CJs. We're told that the kits will also work in Dana 44-equipped Jeep TJs, though a series of modifications are necessary. Tri-County Gear sells its springover steering systems in part or in whole. Whole kits include two modified steering knuckles with new ball joints, left- and right-side custom steering arms, a heavy-duty tie rod and drag link assembly, a heavy-duty pitman arm, and all of the necessary hardware.
If your nirvana is extreme rockcrawling, then the latest video from Invictus Productions will give you 40 minutes of nonstop, rock-pounding action. Hammer Down is the first in a series of videos that will be documenting the trail footage and competitive carnage witnessed at the United Rockcrawling & Off-Road Challenge (UROC) events. In this first film, Invictus has done a great job of capturing the intensity of extreme rockcrawling and has given viewers a real feel for the kinds of rigs and drivers it takes to be competitive at this level. Following the UROC World Super Crawl Championships next October, Invictus will produce another video that will aim to capture what many are saying will be the ultimate rockcrawling event.
Further Facts: For more information about this film and Invictus Productions, go to www.hammerdown4x4.com.