Getaway Jeep Gets A New Sense of Direction

Monday, June 27th, 2016 at 12:25 am

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Filed under Adventure TJ Project, Jeep

So a slightly smaller post this time – even though a couple other things have been happening on the Jeep front I wanted to focused just on one problem because it seems it’s a unique one in the TJ world. When I pulled off my steering box I found this:


The steering box had nearly ripped itself right off the frame. Some online reading makes it seem that this is a fairly common issue on CJ’s and YJ’s with oversize rubber and replacement steering box mounts and reinforcements are available right off the shelf – but for TJ’s there’s nothing. Is it a non-issue or am I just ahead of the curve? Of course some east coast salt in the mix doesn’t help things, but either way there’s now a real dilemma – what to do? First step was to hit things with a wire brush to see the extent of the damage. At that point it was obvious there was no fixing or patching the existing. I figured there might not be a solution off the shelf, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t create one myself. I took some measurements then cut the existing mount off the frame. It was pretty obvious at that point I was going in the right direction.


For one of the highest stress points on the frame, there isn’t much metal left there. What’s surprising is that this frame had recently been certified as safe in this condition. So I cracked out some of my recently dormant engineering background and designed the new mount. I had a friend with a high end machine shop who agreed to prototype out a new mount. The biggest dilemma to building the new mount was finding the solid bolt mounts with just the right inner diameter. They have to be open enough to let the bolt slide freely but tight fitting enough not to introduce play. Rather than try to find pipe with a 12.15mm inner diameter, we were able to just weld in solid rod then machine it to the exact inner diameter. That’s the only part stopping the backyard mechanic from taking this project on I think. If one were really dedicated through they might be able to salvage the material out of the factory mount. With that issue solved, the rest of the mount was designed with over-building in mind. I spec’ed 3/16″ sheet throughout but it was actually built with 1/4″. We probably should have then recessed the bolt faces slightly, but I can tell you that the factory bolts are long enough to take up the excess – but you do have to compensate for the extra plate thickness in the length of the pipes supporting the bolt as their inside edge sets the steering box the right distance from the frame. So if you add a 1/16″ to the plate size, also add 1/16″ to the length of those pipes from the outer mount face. I also made a point to leave the lower corner open to drain mud and water.


With the mount built – it was time to weld it in place. You’ll notice in the photos that there’s also some smaller plates welded to the frame – those are patches to reinforce the tear and the removed rust. With the new steering box mount now welded in place I think this is probably the strongest part of the frame.



And just like that the frame is ready to go again – the steering box mount fits perfectly and I just need to trim off the lower corner so it doesn’t catch rocks. If you’re having a similar problem – download the steering box mount plans and build you’re own, or contact me to arrange to have one built.




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