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The Rescued Jeep Wrangler - Part 7

Hydraulic Steering Solutions

Wrenching on a project rig like our ’95 Jeep YJ (aka the Rescued Wrangler) can be a rewarding, but sometimes slow endeavor. As with any build, there are challenges that must be overcome. With 2½-ton Rockwell axles affixed under the Jeep, one hurdle we had to get over was what to do with our steering. As you may recall from our previous installments, we extended the front axle substantially from its original location.

The wheelbase stretch not only increased the approach angle of the Jeep, but subsequently provided more breathing room for our 44-inch Pit Bull Rocker tires. Mix in the new axle location with the custom multilink suspension and Ouverson Engineering and Machine pinion brake, and we rapidly lost space for a conventional steering configuration. Luckily, our steering solution is one that is commonplace on mud runners and rockcrawlers alike, fully hydraulic.

Unlike a traditional steering configuration in a solid-axle vehicle that uses a steering gearbox and mechanical linkage (such as a draglink and tie-rod assembly), a fully-hydraulic steering system uses an orbital valve and steering cylinder, which communicate via hydraulic lines. As you can imagine, fishing hydraulic lines through a maze of tubing is much easier than attempting to package a series of heavy-duty steering links. Although fully-hydraulic steering is designed specifically for use off-road, tuning the system to work at high and low speeds is completely achievable. In fact, many fully-hydraulic steering systems have a return-to-center feature to give you a more traditional steering feel. Our rig is primarily a trail toy, so we don’t mind putting on-road handling and performance on the backburner to extend our rig’s off-road potential.

For our 2½-ton Rockwell-equipped YJ we opted to go with a Rockwell-specific steering system from PSC Motorsports. PSC builds steering for everything from daily-driven 4x4s to competition-only monster trucks and Ultra4 racers. We were able to work with PSC’s team of experts to create the right steering setup for our need and have always been impressed with the company’s service (something extremely important when dialing in a custom steering system). To mount our custom steering system we headed back to Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Kelly Carter and his crew helped create a heavy-duty steering setup for our low-buck, big Jeep.

We still have plenty to complete on our YJ, but we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.