Address your correspondence to:
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515.
All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.
Question: One excellent method Willie overlooked (or maybe does not know about) on removing rust from small parts like the 7/16-inch bolt he mentioned is using a parts tumbler.
"Tumblers," as they are called, are used widely by pistol-casing reloaders to clean casings. If you're not familiar with them, they comprise a 1-gallon hopper for the media and two spinning arms that tumble the parts around in the media, thus cleaning them, and removing rust also. These tumblers can be had for around $60.
Answer: Thanks for bringing up the tumblers. I am familiar with them. In fact, I tried one years ago, but didn't like the threads of bolts being hit together, as it took off the sharp edge and bent them over a bit. After I ran a die over them to straighten them out, it took off material and made the bolt a bit undersized. Granted, the bolts I tried were really rusty, and it took a long time to clean them.
I think the answer for cleaning up bolts would be to soda blast them, or in reality, just use replacements where possible. However, for small brackets and parts, the tumbler may be ideal, and I'm glad you brought it to my attention
Question: I am getting different opinions on how to mount my hydraulic ram to a Dana 44 front axle of my leaf-sprung CJ-7. There is not a lot of room for an axle truss, plus I have stock knuckles, so it's not a high-steer setup anyway. My plan was to build up a rock ring made by Poison Spyder Customs so that the mount would be connected to the axlehousing by the ten 5/16-inch bolts. However, they told me the bolts may shear. It's not an extreme crawler or anything, but I don't want it to be a weak setup, either. I have noticed pictures of several hydraulic-assist setups in magazines that have the ram mounted to the diff housing, but I'm not sure if a fully hydraulic system would have more or equal pressure on the ram. Do you have any advice, or can you point me in the right direction?
Answer: If you're not building an extreme rockcrawler, why in heck do you want to go to full hydraulic steering? Generally speaking, at anything even close to highway speed, every vehicle with hydraulic steering I have seen handles terribly and wanders all over the road. Now without some high-mounted steering knuckles, the ram would have to mount pretty darn low and stick out in front of the front axle by quite a bit-and naturally become an instant rock magnet.
As for using the rock ring and the bolts that hold it and the differential on, maybe it would hold, but I sure wouldn't want to bet my life on it. Unless you're planning on running a tire over 37 inches tall, the Jeep power-steering box should work just fine with a few modifications. A ram assist is so much easier to install and won't hang up on things like the full hydraulic ram will.
(Matt wrote back saying that he did the steering contrary to my advice and it worked well for the mud 'wheeling that he does, as there are no rocks to worry about. He went the hydraulic-steering route because he had access to the parts instead of replacing the worn-out stock steering parts.)
Question: I have a '97 Chevrolet four-door Tahoe with the 350 V-8 and 4L60E transmission. I am swapping out for live axles and had a question about the transfer case. I know that I would have to get a Ford front axle to use the transfer case that I have, but I would rather swap it out for an NP205. Is this possible? Are there adapters for that? I looked (not very hard because it's easier to write you guys!) and couldn't find any-or am I just stuck with what I got?
Answer: I think that you would be better off to keep your present transfer case and find a Ford left-hand-drop solid axle. There are several reasons for this. First, you will need an adapter, and Advance Adapters (www.adanceadapters.com) does have some parts that will work. Depending on which model of the 205 you're using, the price of the adapter will be anywhere from about $170 to $500.
You will also have to come up with some type of a reluctor kit to drive your speedometer, which also controls shift points of the transmission. I just found that Brea Auto Electric (714/256-2250, www.breaautoelectric.com) has one that will fit on to the driveshaft slip yoke.
You will also have to build a new rear driveshaft, and a new crossmember to hold the 205-and you need to buy the 205, which doesn't have as low of a low-range gear as your present transfer case. Yep, it's a whole lot easier to use the Ford axle to begin with.