One of my friends is hoping to get her Jeep, "Alex," back on the road soon, after having pretty much everything but the rolling chassis stolen while it was at a shop maybe 10 years back. Alex is a '94 YJ, 2.5l, 5-speed, with 4.11s. She slowly got it back together, installing stock-height RE springs and an SOA along the way. A friend had welded the front spider gears against her wishes, and between that and the stock steering it was absolutely undrivable on the street due to bump steer and no slippage (the CAD had been locked engaged for a while.) I got a new front axle with open diff, had spring perches welded on, and installed TJ shafts.
Earlier this year she bought a Rocky Mountain Outfitters "Over The Top" high steer conversion kit. I just finished the installation today, except for the steering stabilizer which I'll install after the alignment. The kit quality is very good, the instructions are pretty clear but could use better pics, and everything went together with no trouble.
The contents of the Rocky Road Outfitters Over The Top high steer conversion. 1ea left and right steering knuckle adapter, 1ea drag link and tie rod, 4ea rod ends, 1ea OME steering stabilizer (optional), and 3ea bags of hardware. Vehicle is a '94 YJ with SOA, and the drag link & tie rod currently meet at what must be a 45-degree angle. Awful bump steer, as you can guess! This kit should take care of it.
Step 1: Jack & securely support front end, and remove wheels.
Step 2: Remove finger from lens, remove brake calipers & rotors, remove hubs, and pull axleshafts.
Step 3: Remove the steering linkage. You will not be reusing any of these parts. I also removed the front track bar and swaybar.
Step 4: It's not necessary to remove the knuckles, but I wanted to clean them up so I pulled them off and brought them to work. A few minutes in the parts washer got the grease & loose dirt off.
Step 5: Nice clean knuckles, after about 90 minutes spent hunched over the bead blast cabinet. My back was stiff for the rest of the day! I also cleaned up the brake dust shields.
Step 6: There's a forging line on the top of the knuckle that runs down the tie rod arm. This line needs to be ground flush in order for the OTT knuckle adapter to fit snugly. The ground-down area is visible on the left knuckle as a shiny area.
Step 7: A quick coat of paint to slow the rust down by a few minutes (hopefully!)
Step 8: Here's how the OTT knuckle adapter installs on the steering knuckle.
Step 9: And here's partly how it's held in place. The OTT kit includes 4 new hub bolts that are longer, and go through the ears visible at 12 o'clock and 8 o'clock. The original bolt is used for the 4 o'clock hole.
Step 10: Here's the rest of the method of securing the OTT knuckle adapter to the steering knuckle. The 2 holes visible require 2 matching 5/16" holes drilled into the knuckle and tapped for 3/8"-16. I securely installed the adapter with the 2 new hub bolts, carefully center-punched the knuckle, making sure the punch mark was centered in the hole in the adapter, then removed the adapter for drilling. I did one at a time in case tightening the 1st bolt moved the adapter.
Step 11: I've drilled the hole in the knuckle, tapped it for 3/8"-16, reinstalled the adapter, and test-installed one of the bolts. The knuckle surface you'll be drilling into isn't parallel to the ground so it's very important that you keep the drill and tap perpendicular to the knuckle surface in both axes. The bolt went right in, and the head seats flush all around on the knuckle. Now why can't I drill that straight when I'm drilling out a broken bolt? Speaking of broken, my 5/16" drill bit snapped when I was backing it out of the hole and the drill got cocked off center a bit. So, no more installation tonight!
Step 12: The 2nd 5/16" hole drilled and tapped for 3/8"-16. Now it's time to repeat for the driver's side. I forgot to bring threadlocker home, and I want to use grade 8 hardware instead of the included grade 5, so I'll finish the knuckle install tomorrow night. Assuming my 4.2l isn't ready to be picked up at the machine shop, that is!
Step 13: 3 of the 5 bolts securing the high steer bracket to the knuckle. 2 of the 3 wheel bearing retainer bolts secure the bracket from the back side of the knuckle.
Step 14: The installed high steer bracket viewed from the front.
Step 15: One of the greasable axle tube seals I installed. This will help keep water and mud from getting in the axle tube and eventually contaminating the gear oil.
Step 16: The tie rod during installation. The hole in the square portion is where the free end of the drag link will go.
Step 17: Another shot of the passenger side end of the tie rod. This gives an idea of how much clearance there is over the spring. Once I get the toe set correctly I'll lock everything in place with the jam nuts.
Step 18: The drag link temporarily installed. I need to get rid of the dropped pitman arm and replace it with a stock arm. The tie rod & drag link will still be close to parallel for the least bump steer, but there will be plenty of room for the steering stabilizer as well.
Step 19: The drag link temporarily installed on the tie rod. I'll need to remove the drag link when I adjust toe, because the tie rod has to be spun to change the toe.
Step 20: A view of the drag link & tie rod, showing how close to parallel they are. All the rod ends are standard ones you can find at any auto parts store. I used the left-handed thread rod ends on the driver side and the right-handed thread ones in the passenger because having them mixed up would offend my sense of order LOL.
So that's one part of bringing Alex back from the dead. I told my friend she should rename him Lazarus, but for some reason she likes Alex. Women!
Still on the agenda are new lower shock mounts, possibly new uppers (Ford truck shock towers), new shocks, exhaust, SYE, some bodywork, a FULL pressure-washing inside & out, and 33s. A 1" BL is a possibility, for ease of cleaning underneath. I'm hoping to have it back on & off the road by summer. Plus I still have my own Jeep to put back together!