By Scott Rossow
Upgrade: Rocky Road OTT Stage 2
I recently installed the Rocky Road Over The Top Stage 1. Right away I noticed that the stock tie rod was still below my leaf springs and way too wobbly for my liking. This was the perfect time to upgrade to the Stage 2, which would put that tie rod up where it belongs and tighten the steering once and for all. After explaining all this to my accountant/wife I was on the phone with Rocky Road again. A week or so later I was back in the garage for Stage 2.
Having just done the drag link install I could see all the steps in my mind and knew this was going to be quick and easy. I collected the few simple tools I would need and got to work. After making sure the wheels were pointed straight ahead I jacked the Samurai up and blocked the axle with a pair of 6x6s to make sure it was stable while I worked on it. I removed the drivers side wheel.
Then using a 17mm socket I removed the brake caliper and rotor. By twisting the caliper up and around I could rest it up on the shock mount out of the way. The rotor I set aside. The next step was to remove the four 12mm bolts holding the kingpin and then the kingpin. After pumping a bunch of high quality grease down the kingpin hole I was ready to install the new steering arm.
After applying a couple of drops of lock tight I used the nut/lock-nut trick to tighten the two studs into the brake caliper and then fit it and the rotor back into place. I remembered to start the supplied locknuts as they came through the caliper mount holes and steering arm. There is no room to do it if you wait until the caliper and disc are all the way on. I used two lug nuts to pull the disc up making everything tighten up very easily.
After the arm was installed it was time to put on the new tie rod. It is important that the tie rod be the right length to allow for correct tire wear. I left the stock tie rod in place until I had installed the new tie rod to help make sure the length was as close to right as possible. I threaded both the beefy tie rod ends into the tie rod and tightened them down so that they lined up with the holes in the two steering arms and then mounted the arm using the supplied castle nuts and cotter pins. Finally, I tightened the tie rod nuts firmly in place. Only after I was sure everything was straight and tight did I remove the stock tie rod. It sure did look nice with all the steering components above the leaf spring. The first place I drove it was to a buddies shop to have the alignment checked. He said it was pretty close to perfect considering I had just changed everything.
It drives great! One of the main concerns I had about the Stage 2 install was that I had a full-sized steering damper in place between my stock tie rod and the axle. It was not immediately obvious where I was going to mount that damper on the new arm. But after just a short drive I could tell that I would not need to put it back on at all.
The steering is solid and does not shudder - ever. The action is smooth and if you have any forward momentum at all it is almost easy to turn the wheel, and that is not usually the case with 33x13.50 tires.
If you are ready to go with over the top steering I highly recommend the Rocky Road Solution.