1985 GM M1008 - GI Gyp: Part 4
Tips for ram-assisting the steering on your 4x4
In the previous segments, we fitted our ’85 Chevy 1¼-ton CUCV ex-military truck with a 6-inch-lift, 39-inch tires, and 15x12 wheels. What we needed now was a streetable way to steer this ultra-wide mess of a combination. For that, we made a call to Stephen Watson of Offroad Design (ORD). Watson and ORD specialize in turning fullsize trucks into awesome trail rigs, so we knew he could help us. After subtly poking fun at our monster truck, Watson gave us some great steering advice before we spun any wrenches in our garage. His solution came in the form of an ORD crossover steering kit and an ORD-spec’d PSC Motorsports ram-assist system.
A ram-assist steering system is a great addition to any 4x4 with tires larger than 35-37 inches tall, especially if the vehicle is used in slow-technical or high-speed off-road situations. The ram and high-performance pump not only make steering the large tires easier, they help absorb some of the trail punishment that is fed back into the steering box. Adding a ram-assist can increase the lifespan of a steering box and help avoid a broken sector shaft in extreme cases. Before the addition of the ram-assist system, we could only turn the steering wheel with our truck moving forward or backward. Now, we can saw the steering wheel back and forth with the truck parked using only one finger. And, unlike the vague feel of a full-hydraulic steering system, our truck still drives down the street like it has a conventional steering box.
Rather than move the tie rod to the top of the steering knuckles for added clearance, we decided to leave it in the factory location and beef it up a bit to keep it from bending when (not if) it hits trail debris. Moving the tie rod to the top of the steering knuckles (high-steer) can cause additional stress on the factory components, which can lead to failure, especially with the added leverage of a large and wide tire and wheel combo like ours. The good news is that with the system we have now, we can always upgrade our steering knuckles down the road if need be, and all of our existing steering parts will still work.