Name is Mark, and I live at Reno. Wheeling since 1976, like 4x4s, ATVs, dirt bikes and my beloved, and sometimes hated, 1981 CJ8 Scrambler. Interested in all things Jeep!
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Posted by RareCJ8 on 09 April 2013 - 09:46 PM
Name is Mark, and I live at Reno. Wheeling since 1976, like 4x4s, ATVs, dirt bikes and my beloved, and sometimes hated, 1981 CJ8 Scrambler. Interested in all things Jeep!
Posted by Moses Ludel on 27 July 2013 - 01:16 PM
All good points, Megatron, each deserves an explanation, so here we go...I'll begin by sharing that I ran a four-wheel alignment rack at a GMC truck dealership in the mid-'80s, the era of both beam front axle 4x4s and IFS 2WD and 4WD front ends. For fifteen years prior to that, I had been doing alignment with far less equipment than that new Hunter four-wheel, electronic light beam rack. Fifteen years after the dealership stint, I taught wheel alignment at the adult vocational training level and merged my varied equipment experiences, which reflect in what I'm now sharing.
It's great to use precision four-wheel alignment equipment. However, "computer" alignment equipment is also limited in many ways. For example, you describe aftermarket wheels, suspension and tires, and you're right, of the three (assuming the suspension kit is as adjustable as yours), the wheel offset is the most critical modification. Because your truck falls outside the OEM guidelines built into the software for modern alignment equipment, many shops will avoid doing your truck's alignment.
Reasons for refusal include "liability", "unpredictable results" and "possibility of abnormal tire wear"—regardless of the alignment procedure. In many cases, the shop simply doesn't know what they can do to address or compensate for your modifications...After all, this is the era of plug-and-play. Follow the flow charts or stare at the computer screen or scanner. Wait long enough, and maybe an answer will materialize...That's not going to happen here!
For now, let's suspend judgment about why your truck and millions of other 4x4s are in this predicament. You've installed all of this hardware, and it's time to make the vehicle track as safely as possible—and for the tires to last.
As for front axle lateral alignment, your adjustable track bar is a real asset. Alignment does reference from the rear axle, and for good reason. The term "thrust" is just what it sounds like: The rear axle on a RWD vehicle is the traction point, pushing the frame and the entire vehicle forward from the rear. Unless you're driving backward, your rear-drive truck requires the front axle to align squarely under thrust. (Thus the term "thrust alignment"!) The axles must be square, in any case.
To illustrate, draw a line forward and perpendicular to the centerline of the rear axle. This follows the driveline in approximate terms—unless the driveline is offset like with a side-drive transfer case. This line of force, aimed forward and perpendicular to the rear axle, becomes the reference point for the front axle's position. The front axle ends up parallel to the rear axle, which is simple to visualize on beam axle trucks like our Ram 3500 models. The front axle must also align sideways or laterally, the reason for your adjustable track bar.
Whether the frame is perfectly square or not, if the front axle is parallel to the rear axle (plane view from the top), and if the axles center laterally with each other, you can align the truck's front end. The frame should be square, though, because an out-of-square frame would place the springs, suspension arms and steering linkage at odd angles with the axles.
So, let's start with a square frame, no collision damage, and a rear axle that sets squarely in the truck. It's much easier with our leaf sprung, beam rear axle: The centering points for the rear axle are simply the leaf spring center bolts and the axle's spring perch holes—plus any spacer block alignment holes or pins.
Rear axle in place, you can use the string-in-diamond method for setting the beam front axle's position for both parallel to the rear axle and laterally on center. I used the string method for two illustrated how-to articles at the magazine: my Jeep XJ Cherokee 6-inch long arm installation at the "Jeep XJ Cherokee & MJ Comanche 4WD Workshop" (see the left panel menu) and also the Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon Full-Traction Ultimate 4-inch lift. The XJ Cherokee is similar to our Dodge Ram trucks with link-and-coil front suspension and leaf springs at the rear. Both Jeep vehicles have beam axles front and rear.
Critical to a string-in-diamond beam axle alignment is finding precise reference points at each of the axles. You must have a reference point at each side of the front axle that is truly equal distance from the axle's centerline. The rear axle on our trucks is simple: Use the leaf spring center bolts as the rear reference points. On a Jeep TJ or JK Wrangler, there are matching suspension points that are equidistant from the rear axle's centerline.
The front axle should align with equal string lengths to the rear axle, measured in cross or "diamond". This means measuring from the front axle's left side reference point to the right rear spring center bolt, then from the front axle's right side reference point to the rear axle left side spring center bolt.
This measurement must be very accurate. Even 1/16"-1/8" variance can make a difference. If there are obstacles under the chassis that prevent an accurate measurement, you may need to relocate your reference points or even make "extensions" from the reference points to below the obstacles...For these measurements, you can have the axles suspended to full drop, which may help the string lines clear the transfer case skid plate, the exhaust or any other objects in the way.
Be creative. It's crucial that your four reference points reflect equal distances from the center of each beam axle outward to each axle's reference points. Strings then measure in cross between the front and rear axle reference points.
Again, the end game here is to have the axles parallel and tracking in line with each other. When the front axle is offset laterally, one way or the other, we call this "dog tracking".
Note: Don't be confused if one axle's track width is actually slightly wider than the other axle with the wheels in place. Some trucks (G.M. beam axle 4x4s come to mind) were designed this way, typically with the front axle slightly wider than the rear. I won't digress into "why" this was the design, simply know that if your reference points match side to side on each axle, and if you run the string lines in cross to matching points at the opposite axle, you will determine both the square and lateral alignment of the two axles.
Checking for square with two strings-in-cross is a simple function of geometry. If anyone is having difficulty understanding the principle, draw a perfect square on a piece of paper; now draw an "X" from opposite corners, intersecting at the middle. Measure the length of each "X" line. It will be equal. If you now use a rectangle instead of a square, the results will also be two equal length, intersecting lines. Play with this, and then transfer the "X" lines to your truck's chassis: On your long wheelbase Dodge Ram 3500 truck, the beam axles represent the short ends of a rectangle.
The most elaborate "4-wheel" alignment machine will not produce any more accurate results than doing a string line test properly. Once you get the axles square, you can concentrate on a front wheel alignment. This, as you say, is not rocket science, and it's even easier with a beam front axle.
Camber, in particular, is factory pre-set on a beam axle. Camber measurement indicates the degree to which the axle beams, steering knuckles and ball joints are in alignment. As you mention, you can make camber corrections with off-set ball joints, or eccentric ball-joint seats, and a source for such parts is Specialty Products Company.
Caution: I am against "bending" beam axles to correct slight camber issues unless a racing, weld-on truss is part of the straightening process. (Be aware, too, that welding on a truss is a good way to warp an axle and alter camber!) Consider the axle tube and center section materials plus the original stress that caused the axle to bend. There are metallurgical changes that take place with cold or hot bending. If you need to correct for a slightly bent or out-of-spec axle beam, use offset ball-joints or eccentric ball-joint seats. Make sure the bend did not stress-fracture the axle pieces. Toss out the axle housing if in doubt—you can transfer internal pieces and add-on goodies to a new housing. (See the magazine's many axle rebuilding articles and the HD videos on axle setup.)
Be aware that beam front axles come from the factory with +/- camber often slightly beyond the factory recommended camber degree range. I have seen this on Dana Jeep front axles, typically at the short beam side with more factory welding. An extra 1/8 to 1/4-degree camber at one side is not earthshattering and likely was acceptable during OEM axle assembly and installation. This will not impair vehicle handling and has negligible effect on tire wear if you rotate your tires on time. If you are adjusting caster and camber with offset ball-joints or eccentric ball-joint seats, bring both the caster and camber within their recommended degree ranges.
To answer your questions about "do-it-yourself" alignment, go no further than these three features that I've done at the magazine. They each get brisk traffic, addressing alignment goals with inexpensive solutions for doing your own alignment work.
First is the ‘DIY’ feature on a beam front axle wheel alignment. This is a useful article for understanding the principles of front wheel alignment as well as a 'how-to' on using an affordable SPC Off-Road Fastrax 91025 gauge kit designed for tires to 44" diameter. Click here to see this DIY how-to and equipment article.
For those on a shoestring budget, a single gauge kit will do. You can even improvise on the need for turn plates. SPC suggests using plastic sheeting beneath the front tires for a slip surface. On a beam axle, you can unload the weight slightly with the use of two floor jacks, raising the weighted axle evenly and just enough to take the heavy load off the front wheels and tires. This provides easier wheel turning.
There is also a photo closer to home, my Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 alignment after installing the Mopar lift kit. Here, I purchased inexpensive front turn plates ($100 for the pair!) from Gil Smith Racing at New York. Gil is a personable family guy, and these plates do the job despite the massive front end weight of the Cummins engine, 9.25" beam axle and 500 pounds of Warn bumper with M12000 winch and stainless wire.
For the Dodge Ram alignment, I added a second Fastrax 91025 alignment gauge kit from SPC to make toe setting easier and quicker. This way, you can use the winged braces and separate gauges at each side of the truck during the alignment procedure. This eliminates the need to swap a single gauge set from one side to the other.
Last, but surely not least, is the HD video walk-through of alignment on a Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon. You'll like this for both a visual orientation and added quips about the process. In this HD video, I do use the double alignment gauge sets from SPC and the Gil Smith turn plates. You’ll see how this speeds up the process.
Some additional pointers on doing your own alignment at this level: 1) make sure the floor is flat in both directions or compensate when taking the measurements with the bubble gauges, 2) make sure the turn plates are thin (like the Gil Smith type) or if you spring for more commercial type turn plates (available from several sources, do a Google search under "wheel alignment turn plates"), make sure you raise the rear of the truck to compensate for the turn plate height at the front. Even with a 140.5" or longer wheelbase, a sloping or leaning truck will throw off your camber and caster readings with the SPC 91025 bubble gauges...If you want to add a touch of professionalism, purchase a pair of rear slip plates from Gil Smith Racing that will enhance the work and raise the truck's back end to match the front turn plates.
As you mention, always save the toe-in setting for last. Camber and caster angle must be right, with the vehicle setting at static (curb) height on the ground, before setting toe. I use factory toe-in and caster angle settings, and the Dodge Ram handles very well. And, yes, caster is important, this and steering axis inclination (SAI) are what return the front wheels to center after coming out of a corner.
The surest sign of too little caster angle is a vehicle that requires turning the steering wheel back to center after a turn. I'm at 4-degrees positive caster on the Dodge Ram 3500, closer to 7-degees positive on the XJ Cherokee. More can sometimes be better for off-pavement turning radius; however, factory specs are the best for normal tire wear and handling in general.
I mentioned another specification that is of concern during alignment: steering axis inclination (SAI). We can go into this if you want, but the important thing to note for DIY alignment purposes is that strange caster and camber angle readings over the full turning arcs (illustrated in the XJ Cherokee alignment how-to article and shown in the TJ Wrangler HD video coverage) are an indication of a bent steering knuckle on a later beam axle 4x4 or a bent spindle on 2WD and vintage 4WD vehicles.
On alignment equipment that will identify SAI error, if all measurements are correct and SAI is off, we inspect the steering knuckle, spindle or unit bearing hub for damage. Make sure any strange readings are not from bad steering knuckle ball joints or worn wheel/hub bearings! Better yet, inspect for ball joint, wheel bearing and unit hub bearing wear before attempting the alignment. Check steering linkage for loose joints, too.
This is ground school, we can go from here. As a light- and medium-duty truck fleet mechanic in the late 'sixties, I began aligning my own beam axle Jeep CJ3A and vintage '55 Ford F100 at home. On these vehicles, toe-in could be set with nothing more than a tape measure. If you do wheel alignment with turn plates, the steering linkage and suspension will be unloaded, and the measurements will be that much more accurate. Add rear wheel slip plates and Fastrax gauges, and you can emulate a "pro" alignment!
Even on the vintage 2WD and 4WD fleet trucks with beam axles, I did quick, rough-in beam axle wheel alignments with nothing more than a tape measure or a portable, adjustable "toe bar". Floor jacks were placed evenly under the axle at each side. I would lift the axle beam just enough to "unload" the wheels and tires. Before setting toe, I made sure the wheel bearings and kingpin bushings or bearings were in good shape and adjusted properly.
Tape measure alignments on the trail are often necessary when someone bows a tie-rod on a tall rock or snaps a tie-rod in half. A Ready Welder tie-rod repair at Moab's Rose Garden is just one place where your tape measure alignment skills would be popular. This can get a vehicle home from the trail and tracking down the road safely to a wheel alignment shop. When using just a tape measure for toe-set, make sure you follow the tread pattern closely at the front and rear midline of the tires.
When using turn plates to unload and center up the steering linkage and suspension, it helps to bounce the front end. Push down on the front bumper a few times—the bumper is conveniently located at waist height on your Mega Cab!
If necessary, use a pair of floor jacks under the beam front axle to take weight off the wheels and tires, then lightly rock the steering wheel at its center position before setting the front tires and steering wheel to straight ahead. This will unload the steering linkage for more accurate alignment settings.
When using a tape measure only (not the Fastrax 91025's wing arms), always measure matching tread points. Measure as close to the midline (3 and 9 o'clock) of the tires as possible. Avoiding obstacles is sometimes difficult, but midline of the tires is preferred. Always set toe-in, followed by centering up the steering wheel. You center the steering wheel by adjusting the steering linkage sleeves—never by removing the steering wheel and repositioning it!
Caution: The steering wheel spokes are factory set to align with the center or “high” point of the steering gear in the straight ahead steering position. Bring the front wheels into alignment with the centered steering gear and steering wheel—not the other way around! If the steering wheel has been repositioned from factory, find the precise center point of the steering gear. Position the steering wheel there before aligning the front wheels to straight ahead. This also applies when making fine steering wheel position changes after an alignment: Adjust the steering linkage sleeves, do not reposition the steering wheel! Always check toe-in again when you center the steering wheel.
To illustrate how well you can do a 4-wheel alignment with strings, a tape measure, a common spirit level and a protractor, I installed the Full-Traction Ultimate lift kit on the Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon in just that way! The job began with the vehicle on my hoist and as level/parallel to the ground as possible.
I placed a pair of adjustable tripod stands beneath each axle and raised the vehicle straight up, just enough to install the lift kit. The axles remained on the stands with cables and other chassis attachments still in place.
After installing the kit, including a bevy of adjustable link arms and a unique rear tri-mount suspension system, I used the string method to square the axles. The rear axle location, fortunately, was fixed by the kit’s design, so this became the reference for making everything square with the frame. The approach was similar to the rear leaf springs and center bolts on our Dodge Ram 3500 trucks. In our case, the rear springs and axle spring perches locate the rear axle squarely at the frame.
I set the caster with a quality bubble level and a 180-degree, indexed protractor. I set toe-in with vehicle weight on the axles and tripod stands, using a tape measure fore and aft (as close to 3 and 9 o'clock as practical) at the front tire midlines, keeping the tape as level and parallel to the floor as possible. In my view, this was all just a preliminary, rough adjustment.
The next stop was a friend's shop with a $40K alignment rack capable of 4-wheel "thrust" alignment. On the alignment rack, to everyone's surprise, the entire suspension system took only one-half turn of one threaded link arm tube to be fully square! Caster was on, camber (non-adjustable on a solid beam axle) was okay, toe-in and centering of the steering wheel were just routine, slight adjustments.
Caster angle was within spec and did, as you describe, provide an acceptable angle for the front/pinion U-joint flange. With a double-Cardan (CV) joint at the transfer case, there is some leeway on this front axle pinion joint angle, and the compromise is between caster angle and U-joint angle. Like you comment, caster usually wins if you want the vehicle to steer correctly!
For modified trucks with suspension lifts and oversized wheels and tires, there are two very important considerations for handling. First, the aftermarket wheels' offset and the tire diameter must provide the right intersect point with the ground. This is the “scrub radius”.
Visualize the front wheels pointed straight ahead. Draw a line through the ball-joint stud centerlines and observe where that line intersects the tire tread at the ground. This point must be similar to the OEM wheel/tire intersection point, or you will swing the tire on an odd arc during turns, resulting in strange handling and premature tire wear. Scrub radius impacts tire wear as well as handling.
Secondly, consider the arc of radius and caster angle changes as the front suspension (link arms in your case) rise and set. Arc of radius is why we do long-arm kits for dramatic lift. When we increase suspension travel, short arms exaggerate the caster angle changes as the suspension extends and compresses.
Long link arms are the solution for increased suspension travel. Longer arms will create less caster angle change over the suspension and axle’s arc of travel—or radius. Simply put, you can set the caster at static/curb weighted chassis height, and the caster angle does not vary excessively as the link arms move up and down with the axle.
When buying an aftermarket suspension lift kit or bigger/wider wheels and tires, consider these issues. In looking at your Mega Cab components, I really like the stamina and quality of the aftermarket joints, link arms and drop brackets! What you want at the end of the day is suspension that behaves as well as or better than OEM engineering—yet with the lift and tires you desire. Going beyond “looks”, the goal is to understand the demands and dynamics of vehicle suspension and handling. Doing your own wheel alignment is a good start.
As for the rear axle, the usual concern is pinion and driveline angles for U-joint survival. Within reason, you can rotate the axle housing for pinion angle change without affecting vehicle handling, as the rear drive axle’s shafts are not sensitive to caster. (If we were talking about a front wheel drive car or an IRS/AWD car, there would likely be provision for adjusting rear wheel caster, camber and even toe-set.) For our trucks, tall lift blocks at the rear leaf springs can create some issues, mainly traction and spring windup related.
So, you might skip the visit to the local 4-wheel alignment shop and the brief Car and Driver read—likely just long enough for the tech to discover that specifications for your lifted and modified '06 Dodge Ram 4x4 Mega Cab are nowhere to be found in the alignment machine's software program. As an option, consider the SPC Off-Road 91025 alignment equipment...Two kits work even better than one!
Used properly, this accurate, portable SPC setup can help you dial your front end alignment for both safety and good tire life. Bubble caster and camber gauges were an automotive industry standard for at least sixty years prior to light beam, infrared, RF and laser alignment equipment.
I entered the service and repair industry when we were still called "mechanics", and breaker point ignitions were the norm. Smaller shops used floating caster/camber bubble gauges that fit magnetically to the end of front wheel hubs! Professionally, I've spun wrenches all the way into the contemporary electronic fuel-and-spark management "technician" era. Electronic, beam four-wheel alignment equipment has been in vogue for more than three decades now...I find it advantageous to have walked in both worlds.
Beyond alignment, make sure that the wheel offset and tire diameter add up to a safe and tolerable "scrub radius”. As an alternative to Car and Driver, sift through this Wiki info about scrub radius and SAI. When you widen the wheel rims, you can only go inward so far. (Rotors, calipers and hubs limit the inward wheel position.) For that reason, wide rims almost always offset to the "negative" direction or outward. If there are wheel backspacing choices, match up the wheel width, backspacing and tire diameter wisely! The concern here is the scrub radius.
We lift our vehicles and mount oversize wheels and tires for a variety of reasons. In the end, we get to make the handling and safety corrections that these modifications require. Routine tire rotation is always essential, even more so when scrub radius and arc of radius get compromised. Once you dial the front end alignment to the best point possible, watch for ball-joint wear, wheel bearing or hub bearing wear and any tire issues. This can sometimes be the price for a lift and oversized tires. We can, however, reduce, minimize or even eliminate that risk and expense!
Posted by elinamaria on 12 February 2014 - 02:37 AM
i bought a few products from garageworkshop.com.au -- it also provides best services in australia ..
Posted by Moses Ludel on 01 December 2013 - 02:55 PM
Wow, that spring comparison is graphic, thanks for the photo! The wire size on the smaller spring must be 1/4th the apply pressure...Apparently, there was excessive fuel pressure, and the leaking or by-passing regulator was "force feeding" the injector without the normal electronic opening and closing of the fuel flow.
Good observation, and good solution...Let's see where this leads now that the engine is flowing a more moderate amount of fuel. We'll see if the sensors are all back on line with normal closed loop function and air-fuel ratios.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 16 November 2013 - 09:42 PM
Thanks for the compliment, Josh. The TBI signal could be a factor, although the Seafoam has me looking at the oxygen sensor, EGR valve or an exhaust obstruction...The '89 YJ Wrangler is early OBD and awkward for testing the onboard diagnostics. If you do have access to a scan tool that will work with Chrysler's early OBD hookup, try getting a DTC trouble code from the ECU. You do have a diagnostic test plug on the Jeep engine bay wiring.
Make sure that the exhaust is unrestricted, and consider the EGR valve and oxygen sensor. Test parts before replacing them. Even though the oxygen sensor is a higher mileage "perishable", you should still make sure that it is defective before buying a new O2 sensor. Same with the EGR valve.
As the issue goes away when you sweep Seafoam through the vacuum hoses, this may be a clue. Seafoam flows through the combustion chambers and exhaust, which may be cleaning a sticky EGR valve or dirty O2 sensor. Unseated and stuck open, the EGR will generally cause a rough idle or low speed performance quirks. An EGR valve stuck shut will create upper cylinder heat and possibly erratic fuel mixtures. The EGR controls NOx and can affect other exhaust gases.
Considering your troubles to this point, the EGR valve would be worth testing. If you have a hand vacuum pump, you can quickly test the EGR with the engine idling. Attach the pump hose to the EGR. Pump down vacuum with the engine idling, enough to open the EGR valve. You should hear a change in engine speed and smoothness as you open the EGR valve at an idle. No changes would indicate that the EGR valve is either stuck or defective. The valve has a diaphragm that can be weak or leak with age.
Be cautious when working around the EGR valve, it gets very hot! Handle with care...If you attempt to remove and clean the EGR valve, do not soak the diaphragm in solvent or carburetor cleaner. Try to submerge the base of the EGR valve (metal parts only) in carburetor cleaner, and make sure you get the valve plunger to open and shut freely—and seat completely. Rinse away any solvent or carburetor cleaner before reinstalling the EGR valve and running the engine.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 28 October 2013 - 09:02 PM
The steering gear and linkage are vital safety concerns—yet the pitman arm on a 4WD Jeep or other light 4x4 truck can easily be installed incorrectly. With the popularity of oversized tires and suspension lift kits, many pitman arms get replaced long before there is a parts wear issue. A dropped pitman arm is often part of a suspension lift kit, and the pitman arm on a new or relatively new vehicle may get replaced with a dropped arm.
Here are some procedures that I use when installing a pitman arm:
1) Never turn the arm against either of the steering gear's extreme left or right turn positions. Force against the gear in these positions can damage the steering gear internal parts—the gear is not intended to absorb this kind of force at either end of the worm or ball nut's travel. I like to keep the steering gear and pitman arm close to the center or straight-ahead steering position during pitman arm removal and installation.
2) When removing the pitman arm nut on a typical steering gear, there is a lot of force required. It is easier on parts to use an air impact gun and socket to remove the nut, as there is less tendency for the pitman to rotate...If you have the steering gear removed from the vehicle, consider holding the arm in a large bench vise (with the gear assembly free) while loosening or tightening the nut.
3) Once the nut is removed, use the correct pitman arm puller tool to prevent damage to the steering shaft and other parts. Make sure the tool fits properly between the backside of the arm and the neck of the steering gear housing, with enough clearance to prevent damaging the housing/casting!
4) There is considerable force with the pitman arm secured on tapered splines, so use extreme caution with the puller tool. Once the initial tension relieves, the arm will come off readily.
5) Clean up the sector shaft splines as needed. It is critical that the new pitman arm fits properly, an interference fit that demands clean mating surfaces. If installing a powder coated aftermarket pitman arm, I always use a suitable drill motor-powered wire brush to remove the powder coating from the tapered seat and splines of the new pitman arm. (I remove paint here, too.) Don't damage or dull the spline teeth in the process!
Warning: If you mate a powder-coated part at the splines, you will get a false torque reading. There is a high likelihood that the pitman arm will loosen at the splines as steering force wears through the powder coating. If you have a powder-coated arm already installed, and if the arm has been in service, re-check the nut torque with the pitman arm in the straight ahead steering position.
6) Always use the required torque wrench and socket to bring the sector/pitman nut to proper torque. Again, make sure the arm is near the straight ahead steering position to prevent damaging the steering gear. The torque required is high, especially on a recirculating ball-and-nut power gear, much more than on a light-duty vintage Jeep cam-and-lever gear! Do not second-guess the torque setting. Use a factory or professional shop manual to determine the correct torque for the pitman/sector nut on your steering gear.
7) When reattaching steering tie-rods, make sure they are clean and free of debris. If the outer end of the new pitman arm has a tapered seat with powder coating or paint, I use a drill motor-powered wire brush to remove the powder coating and take the tapered seat to bare metal.
8) Attach a clean tie-rod ball stud to the pitman arm tapered seat, using the correct type nut (typically castellated or flanged self-locking) that comes with the tie-rod end. Flanged, self-locking nuts are often one-time use only. Consult the factory workshop manual for recommendations on replacing fasteners or use of thread locking liquid. Always use OEM grade hardware and fasteners.
9) Align steering joints, adjusting sleeves and tie-rod ends so that the ball studs are on center with the steering linkage aligned. Make sure none of the joints bind or run out of travel over the full range of steering turn positions and angles. Make sure that parts do not interfere with each other.
10) I always recheck the torque on the pitman and tie-rod fasteners after a short time in service. This is a safety precaution that may catch a part requiring a slight re-torque.
Again, this is all about safety. Use of oversized tires places an even bigger load on these parts...
Posted by biggman100 on 25 October 2013 - 10:54 AM
Jim, i would definitely add trailer brakes. The trailer might turn out to be compact and not very heavy, but fully loaded it might end up extremely heavy, and push against the truck, and cause the trucks brakes to work harder, and especially on big hills would definitely be worth it to have.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 24 October 2013 - 03:05 PM
With our interest in traction and all things 4x4, you'll find this video both interesting and entertaining. It reminds us that "Cadillac Hill" on the Rubicon Trail was originally about touring cars and not lifted 4x4s with 37" tires:
Posted by Moses Ludel on 24 October 2013 - 02:38 PM
Thanks for your enthusiasm around my books, Jim...I'm very pleased that we have these "forums" to share our common interests! Looking forward to the dialogue...
Posted by Moses Ludel on 24 October 2013 - 02:36 PM
Yea, another trailer guy! You, me and RareCJ8...Thanks for sharing, Jim...RareCJ8 will jump in, I'm sure! So will Biggman100...
Posted by Rollbar on 24 October 2013 - 10:52 AM
Posted by forman on 04 February 2014 - 07:55 PM
Hey I enjoyed the compressor story!
Today I was able to start disassembling the transfer case I followed your procedure and took some photos.
The impact driver worked great on the yoke nuts and to be honest most of what I disassembled today was very easily done. I have to admit once I learned the new to me transfer case nomenclature it went very well, I'm having fun.
I noticed that the intermediate shaft had some wear, I could feel where the gears rode on the shaft. The gear teeth that I can see so far aren't showing any sign of wear I hope some of the photos will show.
In the first photo the bushing on the left looks rough on the outside.
Posted by Rocket Doctor on 04 January 2014 - 10:59 PM
My first XJ was an 87 with the 4.0/Renix and the AW4. The single biggest reliability issue I had with the rig was the cooling system bottle. Got to the point where I carried TWO in the vehicle, with extra coolant, water, and tools to replace it, and there was more than one trip where I limped home on a leaking second bottle! The only other real problem I had with it was that going uphill, especially at interstate speed, it would start running like it was a Briggs and Stratton instead of a six cylinder. I found that the guts had busted loose inside the catalytic converter, and they would occasionally slide back and choke the exhaust off. I won't swear that the converter got replaced, but the exhaust got 'fixed' and ran till the coolant bottle blew apart again.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 03 January 2014 - 08:10 AM
I'm pleased to see you jump into this, Belvedere, great suggestions! Regarding weak valve springs, they can show up in a simple manifold vacuum check. At any steady throttle setting, there will be an erratic, shaky vacuum needle movement with the vacuum gauge hooked up to an intake manifold vacuum source. (Not to be confused with the wider swinging needle movement associated with a valve that is steadily leaking.) As you share, Belvedere, weak valve springs can build up carbon, as the valves do not seat firmly when closed.
Valve springs can actually be tested for valve seat pressure on the engine. Above is a photo of a simple tester available for that purpose. (Click here for a more upscale Moroso 62388 design available at JEGS.) With the rocker arm(s) removed, head and valves still in place, this over-the-top spring pressure tester can indicate the actual seating pressure, which is a true test of each valve spring's function. This is a sensible testing method with the least amount of teardown work: simply removing the valve cover and rotating the crankshaft to close the valve(s) to be tested. (Caution: Disconnect the negative battery cable to prevent starter engagement when turning the crankshaft by hand.)
There are two off-the-engine tests for weak valve springs. If Belvedere still has the original springs, measuring and comparing the free standing height of the springs can be one test. Another method, commonly used by automotive machine shops and race engine builders, is actual spring compression testing (read in actual pounds force or as PSI) with a special gauge. This measures pressure as the spring compresses.
As for removing the valve springs, Belvedere's method works. So does an air hold, and this is especially easy for #1 cylinder, since the timing mark for TDC on the crankshaft damper is a quick way to find TDC for #1 piston.
Here's how I do an AMC-design Jeep 4.2L or 4.0L valve spring removal:
1) Disconnect the battery negative cable to disable the starter. Remove the valve cover and spark plugs, at least #1 plug in this case, all of them to make rotating the crankshaft easier by hand. Rotate the crankshaft by the damper bolt, turning the crankshaft in its normal direction of rotation. Watch the valves open and close to be sure #1 piston is coming up on its compression stroke as you bring the damper pulley around to TDC on the compression stroke.
2) Set the damper mark at TDC to be sure the #1 piston is at the top. This will prevent fears of "losing" a valve into the cylinder.
3) Use an air hold fitting in the #1 spark plug hole to keep the valves up in position. These adapter/tools are commercially available and inexpensive, or you can make an air hold tool with an air coupler and an old spark plug. (See my comments below. Summit Racing lists the KD 901 adapters for $4.97, the best price I've seen anywhere! For that price, no need to make your own.)
4) Remove the #1 cylinder intake and exhaust rocker arms. The pedestal bolts simply get torqued back into place, there is no valve "adjustment" to be concerned about when you reassemble the rockers. (Just align the arms carefully with the pushrod tips and valve stems when you reinstall the rocker arms.)
5) With a stream of air applying pressure from any reasonable size home shop or garage air compressor, you can remove the valve springs using the "over the top" method. (80-90 PSI should be plenty, there will be some leak down, so your tank compressor should be full when you begin the spring change out. You can recharge the compressor if necessary between each spring removal.) Belvedere's approach with a pry tool attached to the rocker stud can be effective, and this tool is readily available. KD has made an affordable rocker pedestal pry bar for many years. Even if "universal" fit, however, make sure the tool is designed for the Jeep 4.0L engine application, or you will be fighting this task.
6) There is also an over-the-top valve spring compressor available, which can be easier to control for the less practiced mechanic. (OTC's version is shown at the Summit Racing page link. KD makes a tool like this, too.) This is a two jaw compressor that can compress the spring between the valve spring retainer and the spring coils. This tool is great—as long as there is enough installed spring height and adequate coil gaps for the jaws to fit. You must be able to compress the spring enough to safely remove the valve keepers. With either tool, stay centered on the valve spring retainer to prevent valve stem or keeper damage, and carefully remove the keepers like Belvedere cautions. Belvedere's magnet suggestion works.
As a valve hold, Belvedere's traditional rope method certainly would work. (I like that vintage Mopar logo, Belvedere!) Make sure the piston is coming up on the compression stroke before inserting the rope. Otherwise, rope could get caught between a valve head and seat, which would reduce exposed valve stem height (or chew up the rope under valve spring pressure).
As for making an air hold tool, above is a photo of the hold I made in ten minutes for a tight-access Honda four-valve motorcycle engine. The KD type adapter is so inexpensive that unless you need the tool this minute or have a unique situation (like the narrow access Honda four-valve thumper motorcycle engine, which will not accommodate the air hold adapter!), buy the KD or similar air adapters.
Steps involved in making and using an air hold tool:
1) Remove the ground strap from the old spark plug shell.
2) Knock the porcelain and center electrode out of the plug shell. Use eye protection, you're breaking porcelain/glass here.
3) If the shell size allows for tapping with a pipe tap, you can drill, cut and thread for an air coupler fitting's male threads.
4) Use Teflon tape on threads of the air coupler fitting if you do use the threaded method. I find brazing works very well and can be a much quicker way to attach the air coupler fitting—if you have an oxy-acetylene welding/brazing torch.
5) Surface grind away any rough areas, like the remainder of the ground strap weld. Wire brush your "new tool" as required. You don't want loose material to blow into the engine's cylinder.
6) Thread your KD type or homemade tool into the spark plug hole. With the piston at TDC and the valves closed, hook your hose coupler to the air fitting and apply compressed air at the fitting and into the cylinder.
The air hold tool is a way to hold the valves in position and also run a crude cylinder leak down test. (For details on a leak down test, see my HD video how-to at the magazine site.) Though you cannot measure the percentage of leak with an air hold adapter, you can certainly find a badly leaking valve or leaky piston rings by the volume of air leaking out of the cylinder through the exhaust pipe, intake manifold/throttle body/carburetor or into the crankcase. The leak down test is only reliable when performed with each piston at TDC on its compression stroke and both valves closed.
That the PCM would send a #1 Cylinder Misfire DTC, code P0301 in this case, due to weak valve springs is "interesting". The diagnostic tie-in here would be incomplete combustion, since fuel flow volume through the injectors is uniform (whether the valves seat properly or not), and the ignition spark reliability can be easily determined with an oscilloscope analysis. Poor injector flow or weak spark can also create incomplete combustion and a misfire.
So, that means that the DTC reflects poor combustion at #1 cylinder, which could also be the result of inadequate valve sealing from the weak springs. AMC-design engines do not have a history of weak valve springs, so weak valve springs should not be an epidemic or wide-ranging concern. However, it would be a factor in some cases, and "weak valve springs" can result from valve seat recession/wear, overheated valve springs or over-revving the engine to the extreme and "floating the valves". The 4.0L and 2.5L engines are known to run 250K miles without valve spring issues.
Belvedere, thanks for sharing. This kind of information is very helpful to the forum members! I'm very pleased that you take time to contribute at this level!
Posted by Bishie on 22 December 2013 - 09:47 PM
Thank you Moses.I will go along with the dealership DRB III scan tool.will let you know what happens.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 20 December 2013 - 08:36 PM
Bishie, welcome to the forums, let's see if we can help with your troubleshooting dilemma. As you likely know by now, here are the DTC definitions for your trouble codes:
P0340—No camshaft signal at PCM
P1765—Transmission supply relay control circuit voltage at unexpected level
P1391—Intermittent loss of crankshaft or camshaft position sensor
P0531—Air conditioning refrigerant pressure sensor circuit
P0761—Shift solenoid stuck
C214C—Emissions management issue
P0301—#1 Cylinder misfire
While the persisting code is a shift solenoid stuck issue, there is more to this. First of all, I'm not into the philosophy that a DTC code means an immediate call for new parts—especially when you get a constellation of codes at one time and some never come back once cleared. This "global" kind of trouble codes, when it occurs suddenly (like after filling up with fuel or any other single event), can often point to a defective PCM. While a backfire through the intake can be a camshaft position or crankshaft position sensor issue, a variety of other problems can cause a backfire. A defective or malfunctioning PCM can make the entire powertrain and chassis system seem like it's packed with defective components.
I understand that you have tried to be logical with the information offered by the PCM/DTCs. Let's first take this back to the original problem and its starting point. You mention filling up with fuel to the brim. This could be an issue of bad or incorrect fuel or an emission system issue caused by over-fueling the system. It sounds like that initial trip home was in limp mode, which is often triggered by a defective O2 sensor. This is possible and could also relate to fuel quality or the type of fuel in the system. Any of these conclusions would encourage digging deeper or replacing parts.
You followed the logic, or illogic, of these thrown "diagnostic codes". (If the PCM is actually defective, the codes thrown do not represent parts failures but rather the inability of the PCM to interface, read or drive these devices.) The wide array of unrelated trouble codes points to a possible universal electronic problem and not a slough of mechanical parts that suddenly and mysteriously failed.
Think of the PCM like a motherboard in a PC computer. If the motherboard fails, all of the data and in-and-out information flow gets compromised. Although the PCM is supposed to interrogate itself, they often fail without a trace. If this were my Jeep, I would first unplug the PCM and check the connections for corrosion or damage, then carefully plug the connectors back into place to see if that corrects anything. If not, and if you have access to another PCM for this particular model, consider replacing the PCM or at least testing the vehicle with another PCM.
In your case, there's also much to be said about scanning the system with a Chrysler dealership DRB-III scan tool for OBD-II. The cost of a diagnostic check would be far less than the expense of needlessly replacing a laundry list of parts that could be erroneously showing up on the MIL as defective, some storing codes in the PCM. The PCM could very well be defective.
Caution: I did a quick look around the internet for a PCM price. They range from $450 to $600, presumably new as there was no core charge. This is quite expensive for experimenting and would likely be a part that cannot be returned unless defective. Find a much less costly solution if you can...One approach would be a recycling yard, the lowest priced used PCM you can find for your model, it can always be re-flashed, although again, that would call for the dealership DRB-III scan tool...A dealership scan is looking cheaper all the time!
This is a start...Get back to us with your next step and any conclusions...Glad you joined the forums!
Posted by Moses Ludel on 16 December 2013 - 10:42 AM
Should be plug and play, Josh. At any rate, having been in the housing forever, it should come out and go back into position the same way. The biggest issue with these durable sensors (which generally either work or they don't) is contamination by oil and grease or grit from the engine and road.
The tin ware needs to be in place at the bellhousing to keep debris out. What often goes on with sensor trouble is oil contamination caused by a leaking rear main seal on the engine.
Light at the end of a tunnel...and it isn't an oncoming train!
Posted by biggman100 on 10 December 2013 - 12:29 PM
Moses, i know this one has been on here awhile, but after what happened to a friend on his ford the other day, i have one other bit of advice to add to this. When you take the old pitman arm off, mark it in relation to the steering box, and make sure the new one goes on the exact same spot as the old one. I know this may seem like common sense, but the other day, my neighbor did the one on his 1995 F-150, and somehow the wheels got turned while the old pitman arm was off, and instead of realizing that, he just lined up the pitman arm so it would go back on the steering box, and into the hole in the center shaft, which in turn caused the steering wheel to be way out of position, and caused his air bag to go off while he was driving. Another bit of advice, make sure the steering wheel is locked in the center position, and take the keys out of the ignition so the steering wheel cant turn.
Posted by RareCJ8 on 09 December 2013 - 11:00 PM
Am running two batteries in Jeep mechanically isolated. Thinking of adding a second volt meter to monitor the aux battery. This way each battery has its own meter. How to power the 2ed meter is under study. Could power it from aux battery and just have a manual switch or a momentary switch. found one on amazon but cannot paste a link.
so is there merit to an independent volt meter for aux battery?