Question: I have been a reader and subscriber for 17 years. I own an '85 Chevy 1/2-ton shortbox stepside 4x4 with what I think is a 4.5-inch lift (3-inch suspension and 1.5-inch body; the body blocks were cut in half). I removed the 10-bolt axles and upgraded to 3/4-ton axles-a Dana 44 eight-lug in the front and a 14-bolt full floater in the rear-and 35x12.50/16.5 rims and tires.
The problem I am having is with the front axle. When I turn the steering wheel all the way to the left, the tire rubs the fender, and not when turning right. This started after I installed the Dana 44. I had no trouble with the old set of 35s when the 10-bolts were in it. The offset of the new 16.5x9.75-inch rims looks to be the same as the old rims and tires. Nothing is bent or misaligned.
Do I need more lift? If so, how much, and how come the old tires did not rub? Am I missing something obvious?
Answer: There are only a couple of things that I can think of that would cause the problem. When you installed the new axle, you did not center the steering box. No, I don't mean centering it in the frame, but finding the exact center of the turning arc within the box when the wheels are pointed straight ahead. Usually it's when the flat indexing spot on the input shaft (the one that connects to the steering column) is at the top. If the box is not centered, then you will not have full turning capabilities in one direction while you can turn more in the opposite direction.
However, there is no adjustment on the stock steering drag link, and perhaps when you went to the new front axle, the attachment point on the axle was in a slightly different location than on the original axle. Generally speaking, when you go with a lift kit, it's advisable to also buy a longer drop-style drag link or an adjustable one. Just about every one of the major suspension manufacturers offers this in their kits or as an option.
Could it be that you don't have this new drag link? Why is this necessary? The steering box is attached to the frame, and the drag link runs from it to the front axle's steering knuckle. When adding a lift, the distance between these two points is increased, and the stock drag link is too short and pulls the steering box's pitman arm slightly forward off the center of rotation, which limits the turning radius in one direction and increases it in the opposite. Another problem that can develop is the extra load that is now placed on the steering box. Seems that now the steering knuckle can turn further than there is movement in the steering box. This load will, in time, crack the frame around the steering-box mounting holes.
You also mentioned that the wheel offset "seemed" to be the same. There is a big difference in "seemed" and actually measuring the backspacing. It doesn't take much in both tire diameter or width, or wheel offset, to make a clearance difference. Combine this with the steering box not being centered, and this could be your rubbing problem.
Question: I recently converted the suspension on my '98 Chevy K-1500 to a solid axle (Dana 60 front, 14-bolt rear, 4.88:1 gears). The truck has almost 200,000 miles on it, and the trans (4L60E) is slipping in overdrive-go figure.
Will a 4L80E swap electrically in place of the 4L60E? If not, what mods will be required? Will the transfer case (NP243C) mount up to the 4L80E without mods? Is this swap necessary, or will a 4L60E suffice? The motor is stock, and when required, it will be replaced with a Ram Jet 350. I have already dropped a lot of dollars into a 10-cent truck, and I need it to last and drive well. I don't go 'wheeling every day, but when I did in the past, I usually broke the IFS or gears in the locked 10-bolt. A point in the right direction would surely be appreciated.
Answer: By all means, keep your present transmission and have it rebuilt. Think for a minute-it's given you 200,000 miles of service. That is pretty darn good in my book. It's going to be a real pain to swap over to the 4L80E, as well as a lot of expense.
I would have a local shop do a quality rebuild. I don't mean one of the major chain-type transmission shops, but one that has been around for a while and which depends on word of mouth for its advertising. Tell them what you plan to do with the truck and your future engine plans. If you don't have a shop you feel comfortable with, you could always go with a performance trans from someone like TCI-which, by the way, I have heard does an excellent job building transmissions all the way up to handle over 600 hp.
Question: I've got a stock '97 4x4 Ford Expedition that I recently decided to take four wheeling. The SUV surprised me in how well it did, but throughout the trip I could hear those awful clunking and scraping sounds coming from the underbelly when it hit a rock-even with careful tire placement (I think). When I got back home, I searched for Expedition lift kits and found a cool 4-inch Rancho lift that allowed for 33-inch tires.
First, what would I need to do in terms of gears and other drivetrain components to keep everything running smoothly and without breakage? Second, I think my front axle is a Ford 8.8-inch, but I can't seem to figure out what my rear axle is, and I'd like to put an ARB Air Locker in it. I would think all the Expeditions had the same rear axle, but I could be wrong. Any help you could give would be great.
Answer: Depending on what tire size you choose, you should definitely regear, and think about adding a locker while you are in there.
I can't determine what makes the difference, but '97 Expeditions used either the 8.8- or 9.75-inch rear axle. What I have actually seen in them has been mostly the 9.75-inch ring-gear model. There is a big difference in size, so you should easily be able tell the difference between the two.