Steering Upgrade

As most of my fellow dodge owners know.  The steering is a weak link.  Not anymore. This is what it looks like now after spending considerable time and money. I went to Strapt Performance in Phoenix (Cave Creek). When I left I had better than new steering.               

 In the beginning the steering wasn't that bad.  Bill (original owner) had already installed a borg warner steering shaft.  When it got a little loose I installed the steering gear box stiffener.  You know, the one that bolts onto the front sway bar mounts then the bottom nut of the gear box.  After a few thousand more miles it was wandering a bit and now the track bar bolt started contacting the diff cover.  The picture below shows the mark on the diff cover from the contact.
  
After much research I decided that I wasn't going to just replace the stock parts.  My tires are 35 inches and the lift is 6 and it didn't make sense to put stock parts on a non stock set up.  I got most of my education from Dodge Off-road.  The owner Danny, took some serious time writing all about what works and what doesn't.  Link to forum post.  I was set to buy the complete package from him but further reading stopped me.  I read a few articles that spoke about serious stocking and delivery issues.  These turned out to be untrue in the end, but I also think I was better off having the job done by professionals anyway.  For the record, although I didn't end up using him, I spoke with Danny Gaston at Dodge off-road and believe him to be one of the best in the industry.  I don't think you would go wrong with his product.  

I ended up going to Strapt Performance in Chandler Arizona.  Dennis was very straight forward with me and seemed more concerned with how he could help me with this problem rather than how many other products he could sell me.  I had an appointment to have my steering custom built.  The two main issues being the welded on bracket someone made for the first track bar "fix" and the issue of getting a track bar that wouldn't contact my Mag-Hytec differential cover.  

There are many aftermarket track bars out there that will work with stock diff covers.  The Mag-Hytec in particular is different though in that it is square and tall up front.  There just wasn't a track bar out there that would clear it.  Dennis suggested a different cover, but I already have the transmission pan and rear cover made by Hytec so wanted to keep everything the same.  I also really liked the fact that the Mag-Hytec holds much more oil than most.

So the guys at Strapt immediately rip everything apart.  They have custom tubing and heim joints on hand and will make every thing up as they go.  The track bar and bracket will come from DT Pro Fab in Prescott, Arizona.  After a few hours of work one thing is clear.  I like to do things myself and was considering this job.  Now I know that would have been a bad idea.  These two guys were working hard and using some tools and techniques that aren't found in my garage.  

Eventually there were a few problems.  The primary one was that the parts that came in from Prescott were not correct.  The guys were trying to figure out what custom parts could be used to get around that Mag-Hytec diff cover.  Eventually it became clear that we would need more parts from Dt Pro Fab which was two hours away.  It was clear that the job would not be finished this day.  I thought to myself, "home is where I park it, why not here"?  I told Dennis I was happy to sleep in the shop and he soon agreed.  He tried to set me up with coffee, bathroom, sofa, etc. and I said no worries I've got it all here.  
The next morning the guys had a new Track bar from DT Pro Fab that was the second one ever made. The owner of DT Pro Fab had a prototype on his truck and perhaps built mine the night before.  

With the new parts it didn't take that long to get everything put together.  It did take some time getting everything aligned since you now have to pull the tie rod off to make adjustments.  The good news is that once set nothing changes until you get new Heim joints.  So how does it steer now?  You know those go-carts on the indoor cement tracks?  Well it doesn't steer that good, it is an 11,000 pound camper after all.  It's good though.  No more worries in the steering department.  No death wobble, no bottoming out on the diff cover, and no bump steer either.  The guys did an excellent job and I'd go back to them in a second.  

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