Yet another CJ steering thread -
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Unread 09-29-2011, 12:22 PM   #1
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1983 CJ7 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 6
Yet another CJ steering thread

I have spent a lot of time on this forum lately and very much appreciate all the wisdom that I have been able to find. I am, being a n00b, left with quite a few other questions as to where to start on my wondering steering.

It's a '83 CJ7 with a 4" lift . Every now and then it pulls abruptly to the right or left and without quick correction would end up in another lane very fast. There is some slop in the steering but being new to this I am not sure how much is to be expected with the lift.

I had a friend work the wheel while I watched the front end. There seems to be a lot of play at the U bolts joining the spring and the axle, and also the shackles where they meet the springs and hangers.

I am planning on the following:
  • HD U bolts
  • steering gearbox brace
  • HD gearbock bracket
  • caster correction (shims?)
  • new shackle bushings

What I need guidance on:
  • What info do I need to fit the HD U bolts to my CJ?
  • Thoughts on gearbox braces? Worthwhile?
  • I do not see any sway bar or linkage. Is this common for lifted CJs?
  • Is a shim between the axle and springs the best bet? I have heard there are "better options".
  • How would I go about fitting bushings to the shackles I have. They do not appear to be stock.

Pardon my ignorance. Thank you for all your knowledge so far and in advance for your help.

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Unread 09-29-2011, 12:47 PM   #2
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Jim1611's Avatar
1985 CJ7 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 6,327
Welcome to the forum.

What you describe in your steering could be many things. If the u-bolts are loose that could get bad in a hurry so it's a good idea you're fixing that. Loose ball joints can also be a problem as well as tie rod and drag link ends. The ball joints are a pretty big job to replace unless you've got equipment and experience with doing that. Rod ends are not bad at all though. Steering box itself could have wear too.

Depending on what diameter your new u-bolts are you may need to drill the u-bolt plates out bigger. 1/2" is standard size for the u-bolts but upgrading to 5/8" is a worthwhile upgrade.

The steering box brace is a good idea if you run over a 32" tire.

The sway bar is good for driving on curvy roads, helps control body roll. It may have bee taken off when the lift was installed. It's good to have for highway driving.

The shim between the axle and springs is called a degree shim. It's for correcting pinion angle. They're okay but a better way to correct that problem is to cut the spring perch loose, rotate the axle and reweld. BUT that brings another imporatant point up. You'll change the caster angle and if that's not close to stock, about 6 degrees positive, your steering won't be too good. Check that out pretty quick.

You shackle bushings are most likely 1" diameter. That's the stock size for a CJ. There are other sizes available though but measure what you have first. If those are worn out that can affect steering too.
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Unread 09-29-2011, 01:27 PM   #3
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1983 CJ7 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 6
Thanks so much Jim for your help.

Given my skill level (or lack there of) I think I would want to stick to a more reversible means of correcting caster than rotating the spring perch.

I have heard there are sleeves at the upper ball joints that may have the same effect? How effective would that be in correcting caster? I have not measured but the way it drives I would no be surprised to find it around 0.

Would I be better off getting new plates with the HD U bolts? I am not sure what condition the plates are in or what effect sizing the holes would have.
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Unread 09-29-2011, 01:28 PM   #4
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1984 CJ7 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Rochester, New York
Posts: 2,182
Loose bolts are never good, fix that and than proceed.

I am also new to Jeeps, been spending a "LOT" of time reading.

I believe that anything above a 2" lift will require a caster change.

Two good methods are the shims and cutting and rewelding the spring perches.

Not much attention has been spent in the reweld option talking about warpping the axle housing due to heat and checking with an axle fixture. I believe, unless you have all the tools, that rewelding is a profession shop fix.

I will be looking into the shims when I do my 2 " lift (go to an alignment shop to determine how much is needed) Oh yes that is one more point for the shims, it is adjustable where cutting and rewelding again is a major job.
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