A good steering system can make a trail ride enjoyable, or an improperly
designed/built system can make going to the grocery store a nightmare.
I've seen so many improperly designed steering systems that don't work
well, or are flat out dangerous. Steering is one of the most often skimped
on areas of a trail rig. Considering the fact that you are trusting
your life to each and every component in the steering system each time
you fire up your rig, the steering system should be the most bulletproof
and well designed area of your rig.
example of deathtrap steering!
Over the years I've experienced
both ends of the steering spectrum. When I was a young buck, I had a
Samurai with no power steering, and home made steering components. I
used to bend my home made "S" drag link every trip on the
Rubicon. Looking back, I can't believe that I never lost a steering
part on the way home from the trail on Ice House Rd. and plunged 1000
feet to my death!
Now that I'm a little smarter
(and have a little more money) I want to use the best steering components
on the market. It didn't take much research to figure out what company
was at the forefront of the off road steering industry. Just look at
what all the top desert racers and top rock crawling competitors have
been using for many years - Howe Performance Power Steering.
full hydraulic kit
I gave Howe a call, and spoke
to Jeff Howe on the phone. He is super knowledgeable about the needs
of a rock crawler, as he has been going to rock crawling competitions
for product R&D for quite some time. He knows what we put our rigs
through, and designs
his steering components accordingly. When I told him that we were building
a new high end competition buggy, he suggested we use his newly upgraded
double ended fully hydraulic ram which is capable of 10" of travel.
The ram is shipped from Howe with internal bumpstops to limit the travel
to 8". But the bump stops can be removed or shortened to achieve
the desired steering travel. Now I didn't just buy a ram from Howe,
and then open up my Northern Tools catalog for the rest of the parts.
Jeff sells complete kits that are designed to work together. The kit
consists of the double ended ram, a specially modified power steering
pump (complete with a trick anodized underdrive pulley), a trick reservoir
that incorporates a filter, and an orbital valve. All of these components
are designed to work together to provide what is supposed to be the
ultimate steering. I guess we shall see when we slap it all on the Diablo!
Installation is a very critical
part of having your steering work properly. Jeff told me that most ram
failures are due to improper installation. The double ended ram should
see no side loading in the steering. This means that placement of the
ram is critical. When figuring out where to install your ram, be sure
to cycle the steering in both directions to ensure you have proper geometry.
Shaffer's Offroad utilized
OTT steering arms along with CTM Racing steering clevises that are made
from billet 300m chrome moly. They tig welded up some chrome moly tie
rods and used high quality heim joints to connect the Tera knuckles
to the ram.