Metalcloak Front Track Bar Life Expectancy? - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 22 Old 11-16-2016, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Metalcloak Front Track Bar Life Expectancy?

How long did your Metalcloak front track bar last before you needed to service it? Mine has a little over 15k miles on it. On my most recent teardown of the front end, I noticed that the frame side rod end is developing some noticeable play when unloaded.


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post #2 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 06:09 AM
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Not uncommon with heims.
My old jeep had a heim joint in the track bar.
It was starting to get loose in under a year.

Buy a replacement heim. Keep the old one as a spare.
U might look to see if anyone offers a better quality heim?
Good luck.

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post #3 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 07:34 AM
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Replace heim with a Johnny Joint? Currie makes one that would thread right in there...

, might work...

try it and let me know, for future reference...
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post #4 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 07:36 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rouxbicon View Post
Replace heim with a Johnny Joint? Currie makes one that would thread right in there...

, might work...

try it and let me know, for future reference...
I've been wondering about that.

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post #5 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by jjvw View Post
How long did your Metalcloak front track bar last before you needed to service it? Mine has a little over 15k miles on it. On my most recent teardown of the front end, I noticed that the frame side rod end is developing some noticeable play when unloaded.
Those who ignore history tend to repeat it and make the same mistakes. RE made a (likely still does) rod end trackbar. It was fraught with issues due to having a rod end on one end and a bushing on the other. We had issues with the rod ends quite frequently due to the fact that a rod end doesn't function at it's best when moved laterally on the ball. When one uses it in that application, any dirt, grime, or contaminant that can accelerate wear gets on the exposed face of the ball, the movement of the body with the race in it moves to wipe the ball when the suspension moves up and down. As such it is always carrying contamination into the race which can accelerate wear.

The more correct way to run the rod end in this application is with the bolt horizontal which greatly reduces the introduction of contaminates into the bearing surfaces. With the bolt horizontal, the ball just rotates on the race with very little lateral movement and they tend to last longer, much longer. The other issue is the design of the rod end. Correctly to increase longevity, you would want the differential sized shank and body. The 3/4" bore with a 7/8" shank rod ends have much larger bodies which increases the bearing surface area around the ball and they last much longer. It also helps to use the high dollar rod ends like the ones from FK.

I have many of those in use in front track bar applications with horizontal bolts on rigs with very large tires and I don't recall any of them wearing out over the past several years. They are around 50 bucks each so as you can surmise, that they wouldn't be the first choice in an economy trackbar.
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post #6 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 08:31 AM Thread Starter
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I guess my question is one of expectations. I knew going in that the MC track bar rod end would wear out more quickly than other options. I'm just surprised it is happening this quickly.

Wouldn't a Johnny Joint sitting in the vertical position suffer from similar increased wear compared to one in the horizontal position? Perhaps it does, but the larger wear surface places it's life span as a track bar joint on the factory frame mount at a more reasonable level. Is that a fair statement?

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post #7 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by jjvw View Post
I guess my question is one of expectations. I knew going in that the MC track bar rod end would wear out more quickly than other options. I'm just surprised it is happening this quickly.

Wouldn't a Johnny Joint sitting in the vertical position suffer from similar increased wear compared to one in the horizontal position? Perhaps it does, but the larger wear surface places it's life span as a track bar joint on the factory frame mount at a more reasonable level. Is that a fair statement?
Apples and oranges comparison due to the completely different design between the two. The JJ has a compressed urethane race with a high level of wiping ability to keep contaminates out of the bearing area. That and it isn't a close tolerance bearing like a rod end is and if there is some wear of the ball, the compressed urethane will keep the play minimized. That and the surface of the ball is very hard due to it being case hardened. I've had many JJ's apart and have never seen any wear on the ball. (not saying it hasn't happened, I've just not seen any)

But again, even if it were AS susceptible to the same issues, the huge increase in surface area between the two is one more thing that would make the JJ last much longer in an apples to apples application.

The issue with a normal rod end is once the wear starts and there is any play between the ball and race, it accelerates quickly because there is a hammering effect which adds to the wear and now the gap is bigger which lets in more contaminants.

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post #8 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 09:48 AM Thread Starter
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Makes good sense. Thanks.

I know I can get a replacement end from MC, but since this is my daily driver I really don't want to be replacing this joint every year. So now I have to think about making the MC bar longer lasting or switching to Currie. Fun stuff.

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post #9 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 09:50 AM
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There is a pretty significant increase in price to get to the Currie level too. Keep us in the loop if you try to swap a JJ on the end. I'm curious if it would work, and keep the geometry the same.


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post #10 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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There is a pretty significant increase in price to get to the Currie level too. Keep us in the loop if you try to swap a JJ on the end. I'm curious if it would work, and keep the geometry the same.
Will do. The difference between the two bars brand new is $180 vs $370.

To be fair, I should say that I am currently not aware of the loosening rod end while driving. It was only when I had the front taken apart recently that I saw what was going on. This fix isn't on my high priority list, yet.

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post #11 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 10:09 AM
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The Currie joint in my track bar has lasted over a decade.

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post #12 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ross View Post
The Currie joint in my track bar has lasted over a decade.
About how many miles did you drive in that decade? More than 15k?

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post #13 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 10:32 AM
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About how many miles did you drive in that decade? More than 15k?
My personal experiences with them in track bar applications ranges from a low of around 10,000 miles to well over 80,000 with no need for replacement. Those are ones that I keep track of and in my personal vehicles ranging up to 60,000 miles, I've never replaced one due to wear. I've tightened them with a very thin shim washer trying to diagnose other issues but only because I do things like that to try and learn something or validate something I suspect.

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post #14 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 11:41 AM
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I've had the RE bar with the rod end for probably 12 years and 120k miles. If I recall I've had to put two new ends on it in that time. Course I don't go bouncing through boulder fields very often if at all anymore. Mostly a DD, but just about every weekend throughout its life it's on dirt roads that range from several miles of washboard to rocky hunting trails.
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post #15 of 22 Old 11-17-2016, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by jjvw View Post
About how many miles did you drive in that decade? More than 15k?

yes, I bet close to 50k maybe. It was a daily driver when I but not anymore. I did have to replace the center nut and bolt.

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