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EB Tie Rod Conversion

If you have a 76 - 77 Bronco with the inverted Y tie rod assembly and do any kind of serious off-roading you have probably already bent or spaghettied your tie rod assembly more than once. Tired of straightening the mess out time after time, it only gets worse once it has been bent once. Consider changing back to the T-style steering linkage, it's stronger, doesn't bend as easily and can be reinforced if necessary.

The parts that you will need are as follows:

  • (2) ES391R RH tie rod ends
  • (2) ES2012S adjusting sleeves
  • (1) DS812 drag link
  • (1) DS767 LH tie rod end

This operation is pretty straight forward except for a few minor glitches:

  • The tie rod end tapers on the early style T-linkage are larger than on the inverted Y
  • The same is true of the drag link where it attaches to the pitman arm.
  • The distance between the tie rod attaching points on the knuckes is greater than on the T-style linkage. The adjusting sleeve does not have enough thread to compensate for the additional length needed safely.

First you have a few choices to make. If you can find a machine shop that has a 8 reamer you've got it made, have both knuckles and the small end of the pitman arm reamed out to fit the tie rod ends and drag link. You can run the parts as is but the tie rod end tapers will not be in as far as they should be. If you can find a grinding stone with the correct taper you can ream the ends out yourself, but be very careful, not much needs to be taken out. Another option is to find an early style pitman arm which has the correct taper for the drag link, there is a difference between p/s non-p/s pitman arms.

Now is the time to be certain that the body is centered on the front axle assembly by adjusting the length of the track arm, either by obtaining an adjustable track arm or by lowering the track arm mount on the frame or both. You will get less bump steer if you have a lifted vechile if the track arm and the drag link are as close to parallel as possible.

Measure between the wheels at the front and the back to make sure that they are the same distance or slightly toed-in 1/4 to 3/8". Carefully measure the distance between the knuckles to determine what length tie rod you will need to end up with. Thread the short tie rod end and sleeve onto the long shaft leaving about a 3/8 gap between the ends. Allow for a 3/8 or so gap on the long end when you mark the position of the cut. Cut off the left hand tie rod end and have shaft threaded 1" 18 pitch left hand thread, most machine shops won't have a die to do this job so you will have to ask to have it threaded on a lathe using a procedure called "single pointing" in otherwords cutting the threads on the lathe with a cutting tip. Once you have had the long shaft threaded on the end that you cut off you will have threads on both ends of the shaft and will be able to replace the tie rod ends whenever they wear out and not have to replace the long end anymore. Start the sleeve 2 turns on the shaft and then start the tie rod end 2 turns into the other end of the sleeve, then turn the sleeve about 28 turns counter-clockwise while holding both shafts in place. Do the same for the other end. Install the complete tie rod assembly to the knuckles and tighten the nut and install cotter pins. Take the time to center the steering wheel by turning it from left to right and counting the turns, remove the wheel and reinstall so that it is centered with equal turns from lock to lock from center - mark it for future reference. In the future any adjustment for steering wheel center will be done with the tie rod adjusting sleeves not by removing and recentering the steering wheel. Install the drag link to the pitman arm and to the long tie rod shaft, tighten both nuts and install cotter pins.

Make certain that the steering wheel is still centered and visually sight down the front tires to see if they appear straight, if so then the next step is to set the toe-in to factory specs, if not then you will need to either thread in or thread out the adjusting sleeves together to make the wheels move in the desired direction. For example if you need to go to the left, then you would need to turn the left hand adjusting sleeve clockwise to lengthen that tie rod and you would need to turn the right side adjusting sleeve counter-clockwise to shorten that side and vise-versa. Once you have the wheels roughly straight in relation to the steering wheel you can set the toe-in. Jack up each wheel just off the ground and scribe a line in the center of the tire, let the wheels down and measure the distance between the lines on each tire at the front and at the back. If the measurement is greater in the front than in the back, it is called toe-out. If the measurement is greater in the back than in the front it is called toe-in. You need to consult the service manual for the year of your car to get the specs for toe-in or toe-out, most prefer toe-in. When setting the toe-in remember to turn both sleeves an equal amount to preserve steering wheel center. Example, if you need to toe the front in you would have to turn the left sleeve in counter-clockwise and turn the right sleeve in counter-clockwise also. After you have set the toe, tight the adjusting sleeves and test drive the vehicle and see if the steering wheel is centered, if so you are done, if not recenter the steering wheel by adjusting the tie rod sleeves as described.

For those of you converting an early model Dana 44 to Ford Bronco 76-77 disc brakes you will need to obtain the correct knuckles off of a 76-77 Bronco, they are unique to this truck. The rest of the parts can be gotten off of a 76 - 86 Bronco or F150. The hubs, rotors, spindles, dust shields, caliper brackets and calipers are the same. You will also have to obtain new disc brake flex lines.

Installation is a simple bolt-on. Remove the locking hubs, then disassemble the hub and drum assembly, disconnect the brake lines at the axle housing, take off the nuts holding the spindles and remove the spindles and backing plates, then take out the axles. Remove your old drum brake knuckles by removing the nuts holding the tie rod ends and drag link, then remove the steering linkage. Next remove the nuts that hold the ball joints in place and separate the ball joints from the axle housing then remove the knuckles, remove the upper inner sleeve with a castle socket. If you wish to install new ball joints in the disc brake knuckles do it now, later you will have to take everything apart again. Install the disc brake knuckles to the axle housing, torque the lower nut to specification and install the upper inner sleeve and torque, then torque the upper ball joint retaining nut. Place the dics brake caliper brackets over the knuckle studs, the caliper bracket and spindle holes are indexed so they only go on one way. Install the axles making sure the slingers, rubber seals and plastic spacers are in place, next place the dust shields over the studs, assemble the spindles with new caged needle bearings and outer rubber seal, torque the retaing nuts to specifications. Pack the wheel bearings and install new inner grease seals, install the rotors and hubs being sure to align the locking ring between the two retaing nuts, install the locking hubs. Install the calipers and disc brake flex lines and bleed the brakes You're done with the brakes, now you have to do the things outined in Part I except for dealing with the incorrect taper on the pitman arm.

Footnote:

If you want to use the F150 left side axle for the larger U-joint it is almost a direct bolt in (check the length of the inner - may require slight grinding to length). The right side inner is longer and has to be resplined or you can get new axles from All Four Wheel Drive or Moser, Six States also has new outers for both sides that take the larger U-joint.

Author: Lloyd Matsuda - lmats@earthlink.net





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