with Bill Johnston
Let's make it Rock!Part 4
After taking on some great trails, we found our first problems. The most notable being the (lack of) steering! The Andy's Samurai Steering (high steer) kit we added in previous articles showed its worth by keeping the components away from the rocks, and the Missing Links we installed out front allowed for lots of articulation. But with all that capability comes the need to control the axle location so that it doesn't move at the wrong time.
We have installed the Spidertrax Panhard kit in the past to clean up ugly road manners, so we again called the boys out in Colorado. T
The Panhard kit has been improved since the last time we installed it. Each of these changes added strength and reliability. The kit came complete and ready to install. Both of the spring plates are replaced with new components the add a new bumpstop 'shelf'. If you are not running bumpstops because you just neglected to put them back on after that springover conversion... then you are just waiting for a shock to blow when it violently bottoms out (or gets ripped in two from over extension). The passenger side plate has the lower mounting point for the panhard bar built in, the drivers side plate is just there to give you the bumpstop shelf. The upper mount for the panhard bar gets bolted to the chassis just in front of the stock upper bumpstop mount. It also has a new brake line mount built in. Attaching the new panhard bar is just a matter of bolting it to the mounting brackets and adjusting it. Here is a look at 'before' (above) and 'after (below). The first photo in each series shows the Missing Link shackle up front in its normal position. Above you can plainly see in pictures 2-3 what happens when the wheel is turned from right to left. On normal pavement it actually moves the axle from side to side. This can cause some really scary maneuvers when going down a busy street.
The photos below show how the panhard bar keeps the axle located in the same place in relation to the chassis. Not only does this make the steering wheel more responsive on the street, but it also changes the offroad characteristics for the better. When in a tight situation on the trail, you expect the tire to turn left or right to nudge up on a boulder or ledge. Without the bar the whole axle will shift from side to side before starting to steer the tire... not good. With the bar the tire turns left and right , but only as you direct it. The 'play' goes away!
Another thing we wanted to make sure of was retaining good suspension geometry. Look closely at the right and you will see that the gray panhard bar and the black high steer drag link are at the same angle. If the angle differs in any way then the suspension will bind. Again, not good. This panhard bar has two mounting positions to allow for different suspension combinations.
Project Component Sources (in alphabetical order):
Andy's Samurai Steering
Hawk Strictly Suzuki
Rocky Road Outfitters
Trail Tough Products