TTB Steering Mod - build thread | Page 3 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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TTB Steering Mod - build thread

Finished - Holy cow, it's awesome.

3 Cases of beer and $600.00 in cash, I'm freakin' done.

I can't test drive it because I'm working on the fuel injection and the top of the engine's apart. Small project, but a holdup none-the-less.

Even though I couldn't drive it, I turned the wheel to extreme left and right, no problem. No indications of interference, no clearance issues, nothing negative.

Hopefully, I can test it tomorrow. Otherwise, It'll be Monday - blasted Holidays.





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"No, I hadn't seen this, I couldn't have imagined someone else didn't try to tackle this gnarley setup previously. You should post a link to it, unless there's some conflict between the two sites. I like the way the linkages are attached. I think a hybrid of this idea with mine would have been optimal."

So, if you could read the recent PM's between us you would understand that I found a build thread in the Ranger Station with a similar set-up. There is some discussion as well about the poly bushing etc. Of interest there is also mention of a possible set-up using a stock GM 2WD idler and a second drop pitman arm which intrigues me.

How was the test drive or did you not finish your injectors?

I'll be darned, It worked ?!?

Fuel injectors are serviced/rebuilt, thank you. Fuel leak solved and fuel system serviced, runs a whole lot smoother now. It idles better, I can hardly tell it's running if I'm in the cab, runs like a top.

If you read the title, there you go, anymore than that, and it would be bragging, but no more bump-steer. I test drove it around town and it steers like a dream. I'm pleasantly surprised how much of an improvement it was, and it feels so different because it's 3.5" taller, softer front springs, rear f150 springs (softer too), and new shocks. All the sway bars are hooked up.

I only took it up to 55mph cause I'm easing into it. I eyeballed the alignment, but it doesn't pull to either side. It does drift a little, the tow needs to be 1/8 in and I'm not sure exactly where it's set, I aimed for straight. My theory is it could be the idler deflection, there's more movement than I care for, but not excessive. I'm going to remake the idler with a taller upper mount and a tube which will work with shoulder bearings. 4x4Junkie hit the nail right on the head:

4X4Junkie: Only thing I'd probably do different is make the upper end of the idler arm wider (longer tube), which would distribute the leverage against the bushings better (less deflection).

He couldn't be more correct, I got in a hurry, but should have listened. I can grab the inner tie rod plate and move it pretty good. I hate the poly bushings too, don't use them. This was only temporary for me to test with. There's a little play in the steering wheel because of it and I think it could be tightened up, but it's not bad. The steering seems mostly immune to this movement.

I'm going to try and get it to the alignment rack tomorrow, see where it's at now and align it properly. Test drive it again and order the taller tires.

Day 3

Yesterday, I was brave enough to take it on the interstate but kept my speed to 60mph, it was OK but still 'drifty', requires a sharp attention and constant corrections.

I had three goals yesterday, replacement of all 4 leaky tire stems, Order 35" tires and throw it on the alignment rack. The tire stems were the only thing I was able to accomplish in a set amount of time.

Yesterday my suspicions were confirmed; it was towed out - a lot. I adjusted it to what appeared to be straight and hit the road. Viola, no more drifting so I pushed it up to 80mph for a short run. It's not pulling though it wasn't before; drifting was reduced to an almost negligible amount, and not responding unpredictable to any bumps or suspension travel. I'm not getting any tire vibrations either.

I checked it again this morning and drove the back roads, it was still towed out slightly so turned it in a little more, it's better even yet, I'll have to take it on the interstate and really test it.

I am getting quite a vibration under acceleration which I believe to be the Transmission side driveshaft ujoint which is at a steep angle. Here's my thought, the front driveshaft has a CV joint which works by using two ujoints to ease the angles a bit, It's a factory item on the 4x4, but has anyone ever thought about using this in the rear? I have to extend my rear driveshaft a little anyway; this may solve that problem in one fell swoop.

A double carden CV joint? Hmmm. I am pretty sure I have read they were used for a rear driveshaft.

Good to hear the steering is doing what you wanted. Wonder how it will wheel?

you will need to use a carrier bearing in the middle for support. I'm pretty sure the long wheelbase f150 have a carrier. you might be able to have one shorted to fit, then mount your carrier a little lower than normal. Just a thought.

Alignment still off / Vibrations

I appreciate the feedback. I should read more before posting dumb questions for easily researchable inquiries. But, in my defense, I didn't post a new thread about it. These are great links I will study. No, I didn't know all this, as this's my first lifted vehicle. Much of this experience and it's problems are all new to me. As for the driveshaft angles, I'm going to have to add these mod links to my 8" lift post, cause it's a annoying problem which must be addressed.

I too am curious how well this design will adapt to wheeling, but since my primary use is for on-road, and my knowledge of off roading is limited, it may never get pushed to it's limits, at least the way the readers likely want to see, and my responses are intended for informational purposes, absorb my info with that caveat. I hope that the followers of this thread understand this and my use.

I really need to get this aligned properly. Whether it's with a tape measure, levels, and plumb bob in my garage, or on a rack; I want to know without question if It's my design, or if it's just an alignment problem. Time and experience will tell, but I can tell all of you with certainty it's on the right track. It feels pretty darn good, I hope anyone whom reproduces this, improves upon it and lets us follow their build, and the best part is they won't have to start from scratch.

Before I left for Christmas with the family, I bought Rusty's 4" lift. I told him not to worry about being in a hurry to ship it because I was going to be gone. He called me Thursday to make sure there were no last minute instructions or concerns. Of course he did this while I was in holiday traffic trying to make my exit.
When i came home late last night, there was a box on my porch.
I can safely say that if anyone buys something from Rusty, it will be very well packaged.
This is what I found.

Notice it is taped very securely with duct tape. Also that he conveniently labeled the handles on the sides.


Everything was individually wrapped, and placed to best make use of the space.

The bottom box is actually two boxes, literally bolted together. And what I didn't get a picture of was the plywood bottom for added support. I'm sure the whole package weighs north of 50 pounds.

Thanks man. :thumbsup:

TW, I swear that motorcycle rear that's partly in your pics looks familiar. What is it?
(I keep wanting to say a small zuki?)

Curiosity has got me, sorry.

Sorry for the hijack. :)

The one you can see in the pic is a 75 CB360 rat rod cafe. It is sitting next to a nearly mint 70 CB350 that sat in climate controlled storage for 30 years. They are my two favorites. So I keep them at the house always. the other are in a storage building about two miles from the house. They get rotated in when they need upgrades and stuff.

Just so you know. I'm always looking for more bikes. Mostly the old standards, but the early crotch rockets, vintage dirt bikes, and any dual sport is good too. So if any of you guys know of an old bike that needs rescuing, let me know. All Jap and Euro bike is considered.

Sorry for the hijack, back on topic.

Interstate success

Looking good.

Much appreciated boost of confidence. After all, that's why we post these threads is because we get tired of patting ourselves on the back (at least I do). I Just need a crowd of sympathizers whom understands the effort, pain, frustration, our odd aspirations, and the sweat equity we invest into these triumphs, plus someone else whom to share with and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

I think I have what is the ideal setup ('cept for the poly bushings in the idler arm (I hate them)) My opinion, it's better than stock. I drove around more today than I have all week, Intestate, highway, back-roads, downtown Indy, hell - even the darn ghetto. Tight turns, parking, gas station, grocery store, quick stop, bone yard, and even grandmas' houses.

If you have a TTB front end, and the means to reproduce this; Sell your first born, finance it however you can and DO IT. It's well worth it. Best Mod yet.

Rusty it looks like you've also really helped unload pitman arm and steering box output shaft loads. Excellent!

My comment is because I had an output shaft break on me once...


I was thinking the same thing. A few have mentioned the fact that their pitman arms have broke.

What I have observed, is that if you have a lifted Explorer with the stock setup, and if the linkages are in anyway not a 'T', it will produce excessive force on your pitman arm, and I'm sure will ultimately break it, from excess tow (in or out) pulling the pitman arm up or down.

This picture is an extreme example of the stock steering linkages abusing the stock setup, with the vehicle static, wheels were set as straight as possible to begin with, driven minimally forward, going over the slightest bump and look at how this pulls the steering geometry out of wack on it's own. Of course, I have a higher than usual TTB lift; but this can be used as visual example of what happens with a stock setup when the steering geometry's off. Now, go wheeling, drive it hard, and let the invertered 'Y' pull up and down on your pitman arm all day long, what do you think will happen....eventually?

As you pointed out, I think (Opinion only, not proven) is that the improved geometry and the added idler arm reduces the stress on the pitman arm.


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Poly bushing replacement

It's been a few weeks since my last update, but I didn't have anything useful to add since my previous post. I wanted to drive it around a while to better be able to describe problems or undesired effects. There is really nothing new, it was a given the Poly bushings would not be a good application, and 4X4Junkie's reccomendation of a taller idler arm to reduce deflection is still on the agenda. I was able to remedy at least one of those problems as I'm sure you've deduced from the title.

I have received double sealed stainless needle bearings (1.5od, 3/4"id) I intend to use to replace the Polyeurithane bushings.

There's a 'dead spot' in the steering which can be best described by the deflection of the inner tie rod plate (saggy *****), but only on one side - the side where the idler arm attaches and where the Left (drivers side) tie rod attaches. It really only affects the left wheel. The right wheel is unaffected because it's attached on the side with the much stiffer pitman arm. This makes the steering a little squirrelly, but only at low speeds - it goes away at highway speeds 50mph+. My theory is it's because road inputs can allow the left wheel to turn in/out a little. This is most noticeable when on a road which is worn in, you know - like when there's ruts worn into the pavement?
If I push/pull the passengers side of the tie rod plate, I can make the left wheel turn in/out, only a little mind you, but still...

I have not used the 4wd yet, but I can't since I don't have 4.10 for the front gears- (E-beggin')


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Alignment complete

Alignment complete. I didn't align it myself, I simply observed. I was happier than a puppy dog with two peter's to get to learn how to use this new Ravaglioli alignment rack. It was super sweat: 8 lasers, bluetooth communication with an automated wide screen hi-def workstation and freakin' awesome and impressive graphics on the gui interface. It even aligned the rear end and measured the distance between the front and rear wheels. Thorough. The lasers clamp onto the wheels like a set of vicegrips, no wheel runout is required, I started to hand the shop guys an allen wrench to remove the center caps but they just looked at me like an idiot and showed me how it's done.

I aligned it by eye originally just to get by, but I guess I need to get my peepers recalibrated, 'cause I was waaaay off. My mom told me if I kept doing that, I'd go blind - I should have stopped when I needed glasses. Towed in big-time. We took our time and set it precisely.

I replaced the upper idler arm poly bushings with needle roller bearings on the upper mount and it eliminated 90% of the play (dead spot) in the steering. It was amazing, the difference was astounding. This thing does not steer like a lifted truck anymore, it's more like a car. The steering's tight, it tracks like a ninja and goes straight down the road with no effort. I took it up to 90mph, not a shimmy, drift, rattle, or vibration. There's no bump steer anymore, it's effortless, better than when I bought it.


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