Saturday, June 27, 2020

Jeep JK DIY Hydro Assist Steering

I've been running 37" tires on my 2010 Jeep Wrangle JK for several years now. Steering was pretty much fine on the road at anything over 5mph, but slow speed turning was difficult. On the trails with the lockers on steering becomes very difficult. It feels like it's going to break something to force the wheel so I ended up either taking a less than ideal route, backing up and going forward again, or turning the front locker on and off all day. I've fixed this with a DIY hydro assist steering. It's not as complicated as it sounds. You need to drill two holes in your steering box, add a hydraulic ram to your tie rod and track bar mount, and route two hydraulic lines between the two. Researching the Jeep forums was very helpful for the precise location to drill and tap the box, and West Texas Offroad was very helpful in supplying the initial hydraulic hoses / fittings, and recommending the 1.5" ram size for my application. 

Here is the final result:

Here is a video of my steering easily pushing this old wood anchored down in my yard to the side with the ram. 

I ended up having custom hoses made based on the hoses I got from West Texas Offroad, because I wasn't happy with the routing with the WTO hoses. The hose connecting to the lower hole on the steering box is 2'1" end to end. The hose connected to the upper hole on the steering box is 2' 8". I got the lengths by drooping the axles to the lower limit from my limit straps, measuring the distance from the ram to the box ports, and adding 2". I made the drivers side connection on the ram a straight fitting because it can pretty much go straight up to the box. Both hoses use a 90 degree turn on the box that I took off the WTO hoses, and this is required so they don't hit the radiator fluid reservoir.

This was the original setup with hoses from West Texas Offroad. I had too much hose and had to loop it around to use up the extra. I was concerned about rubbing with other moving things so decided to get shorter hoses and remove the 90 degree curve on the drivers side ram hose. 

I'm using a 1.5" x 8" psc ram, with an internal UHWB plastic limiter to reduce the stroke to 6.5", which is my original steering travel lock to lock. Here is a link to the UHWB plastic

These pictures are how I disassembled the ram. 

This is the tool you need to remove the ram cap. I had to drill the holes in the aluminum cap slightly larger to work with the tool.

The box ports are shown below. The tap size is 1/4" -18 NPT. I drilled the holes with the box at an angle in my vice so most of the shavings would fall out. I then manually removed the rest with a small magnet. Also coated the tap with grease to catch the tap shavings. The tap has to go all the way in in order to get the ports screwed in. These came from West Texas Offroad. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Jeep Comanche Frame Repair

I pulled the truck bed off to get a better look at everything underneath it. Every bolt I removed broke off. I sand blasted the frame out in my driveway (sand everywhere) with my harbor freight unit. After bringing it down to bare metal, a few frame rot issues become obvious near the front leaf spring mounts on both the driver and passenger sides.


Metal cleaned up pretty well with the sand blaster. There was some sort of undercoating that wouldn't come off in some areas, I'll have to take it off with the grinder. 

Here is the bad area on the driver side.

I put a quick coat of rustoleum metal primer over everything I blasted to keep it from flash rusting. I figure anything that isn't perfect can be re-blasted and repainted if it shows any discoloration after a week or two. Also, the areas of the frame that get repaired will have to be repainted afterwards as well.

This is the area on the passenger side that is rotted out. The bracket looks to be in good shape, but what it's attached to is definitely not.

I figured out why it was rusting all around this area. The frame was totally clogged with mud, about 4 inches deep inside there. The mud in the frame probably retains moisture and causes the rust from the inside out. 

I cut that section of the frame out with the cutting torch and all that mud fell out. 

I was able to drill out the plug welds all over the bracket and remove the rusted part of the frame from the bracket. They don't make replacement brackets, so I needed to save them. 

I'll sand blast this inside and out and repaint it before welding it back on. 

I got a bunch of small pieces of steel for free from the local steel place. Here I'm mocking up the plate on the drivers side to put on the passenger side. My plan is to cut it to follow the original curve of the frame on the bottom of the tape line, then make another one and weld them on the inside of the frame on the passenger side. Then I'll go back and plate the bottom with some thicker steel. 

Comanche Project Overview

This is my new project, 1991 Jeep Comanche Eliminator, 4L.

The goal is for this to be a fun project to do with my daughter and when she gets old enough it'll be hers. We're still formulating some of the build plans, but the plan at this point is to fix all of it's issues, rebuild the motor, and put Ford super duty axles (1999 - 2004 Sterling 10.5" in back, Dana 60 in front) / 40 in Mickey Thompson MTZ tires on it. Also planning a custom truck bed, and a different paint color.

List of Issues:
  • Seat belt on drivers side doesn't plug in
  • missing headliner
  • loose steer wheel 
  • check engine light on
  • rough idle when first start
  • rusted bed
  • rusted frame in a few spots
  • Existing 31" wheels contact frame in back and front in some situations
  • rust metal underneath doors on uni body