In the last installment of our Big Mini build we slung the axles under this soon-to-be-monster YJ Jeep Wrangler and didn’t mention anything about steering or brakes. We totally ignored two of the most important systems of Jeeping so that we could focus on them in this story. However, a nasty combination of parts delays and hectic schedules has resulted in the need to spread the steering and brake coverage into the next installment. So this time we’ll cover the major components and why we chose them and finish a few things that we were originally going to save for later.
Each 40-inch tire and 17-inch wheel combo on this Jeep weighs 145 pounds. That’s way more than the 75 pounds of a typical 33-inch or 100 pounds of a 35-inch tire and wheel combo. So we are not only fighting weight, but the additional leverage of the larger 40-inch tires. It was enough to get us thinking hard about our steering and the 5.44:1 compound low range of the Atlas four-speed. With the tight Level 10 torque converter in our automatic (“Heart and Soul,” Nov. ’11), we had a real concern about driving through the brakes. Once again, we knew we were going to have to leave our junkyard comfort zone and make nice with the aftermarket.
Rather than play tiddledywinks with a dual- or triple-diaphragm brake booster, we went straight to hydroboost for its 200- to 300-percent bump in line pressure. Plus, if the engine ever quits and we lose hydraulic assist, the hydroboost is a straight rod-through design. So rather than pumping a diaphragm to stop, you are just pushing a rod.
On the steering side of things, we knew we’d need a ram to move those massive meats in the rocks and a higher-pressure system that played nice with the hydroboost. We also needed heavy-wall tubing to keep the drag link and tie rod straight under pressure and never even considered anything less than 1-ton tie-rod ends.
What we ended up with was a bit different than what we thought we’d need, but in the end we are confident our combination of parts will handle any abuse we throw at it for a long time to come. Oh, and yes, that guy is greasing the pitman arm in that lead photo. More info on that to come.