Chevy Tie Rod End Swap

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Chevy Tie Rod End Swap

Postby johnl » Mon Sep 20, 2004 9:31 am

Swapping the one ton tie rod ends and drag link ends from mid-80s Chevy Blazers onto the Early Bronco Dana 44 knuckles has become a pretty popular modification. Not only does it get create a newer, stronger setup, it is allows uses readily available parts, as opposed to hard to find original Bronco parts. A lot of people opt to use rod ends for steering components. I firmly believe that that is fine for a race car that gets serviced with ultra frequency, but it a street and trail machine, you are much better off using components Detroit designed for the abuse of life under a truck. And, since these are one ton parts on a half ton truck, all the better.

It is not a direct swap. In addition to measuring, cutting and tapping the tie rod (the bar that goes from knuckle to knuckle) and the drag ling (the bar that goes from pitman arm to tie rod), you have to use a 7 degree reamer on the knuckles to match the taper or the post on the rod ends. The amount of metal removed is negligible. You will need to buy or borrow the correct reamer (although some have done it with a grinding tool--but I don't like that approach).

You can do this as an over the knuckle or under the knuckle swap. Raising the tie rod will make it less likely to run into debris, rocks, whatever. However, it is likely that the new, larger tie rod is installed over the knuckle, it will interfere with the existing track bar bolt. There are a few solutions to this problem. The easiest is cut the bolt shorter and use a lower profile nut (a ball joint nut will work according to some--I'm not sure if it is the upper or lower ball joint nut). Or, you can raise the track bar mount.

I prefer the later solution, because it allows you to adjust your steering geometry in an effort to eliminate bump steer. The basic goal is to keep you drag link and track bar (the component that goes from the passenger side of the axle to the frame) parallel.

Image 1 - This is the whole assembly. The tie rod and drag link are 1.375 diameter tubing, 1018 DOM. The I.D. was .8130, so it was just right for the 7/8-18 taps.

Image 2 - Here's a look at the angles with the wheels at full lock. The angles arn't very good here, but if I ever have the wheels turned this far at speed i've got bigger problems than bumpsteer. I might go back to a stock pitman arm to get the drag link and track bar angles a little closer.

Image 3 - The raised track bar mount clears the over the knuckle, larger tie rod.


Image 4 - You have to ream both the knuckle and the pitman arm to accept the new steering ends.

Image 5 - To raise the track bar, first I removed the bump stop and then cut the leading lip of the original mount with a Sawzall.

Image 6 - Then I welded a flat piece of 1/4-inch plate onto the top using my signature big gloopy weld style.

Image 7 - On top of the new flat surface, I added a piece of rectangular tubing that matched the original sloping angle of the existing mount. To that, I added another piece of 1/4-inch flat across the face to tie the two pieces together, and then I added the bottom of the piece of rectangular tubing I had cut off to bump the track bars mounting surface back out to where it originally was.
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Chevy Tie Rod Swap Parts and Suppliers

Postby johnl » Mon Sep 20, 2004 9:50 am

Chevy Tie Rod Swap Parts and Suppliers

This list of parts and materials was compiled by Quinn Dusenberry. Quinn can cut the tubing to length for you, and tap the tubing for right and left hand threads. If you are considering this swap, having Quinn do it for you will save you a lot of money on tools. I'd highly suggest dropping him a note.

Tools or Materials

1.250 OD x 0.812 ID DOM for the tie rod. Tap directly into 0.812" ID. Any tube with the 0.812" ID will work. Tie rod tube should be about 38" for stock early Bronco knuckles (39.5" for 76-77 disk knuckles) and drag link should be about 25" for high misalignment ends and 27" if using the tie rod ends for the drag link. If using the F150 box and the high misalignment ends, then the drag link tube length should be 18.75".

7/8" x 18 UNEF extra fine left and right hand taps
Travers Tool Co, Inc
14-056-182 (plug style)7/8-18 right hand $20.47
2595A424 7/8-18 right hand $49
2595A999 7/8-18 left hand $108 (Special order)
MSC Direct

7 degree reamer
Afco Racing $120 p/n 80770
Stock Car Products $80 p/n R8201
Goodson $50 p/n TR-216-2
Snap On $37 p/n R121 (rumored low quality alert!)

Tie Rod Ends
1. Passenger side tie rod (with hole and regular misalignment) Source: 85 Blazer
2. Driver side tie rod regular misalignment) Source: 85 Blazer
3. Passenger side drag link end (high misalignment)
4. Pitman arm side drag link end (high misalignment)
Pricing at time of writing:
1. ES2233L $25.99 pass side tie rod
2. ES2234R $23.99 driver side tie rod
3. ES2027L $18.99 high misalignment drag link end
4. ES2026R $20.99 high misalignment drag link end
Autozone Online Prices:
1. ES2233L $25.99 pass side tie rod
2. ES2234R $24.99 driver side tie rod
3. ES2027L $24.99 high misalignment drag link end
4. ES2026R $24.99 high misalignment drag link end

The tie rod ends should come with the jam nuts, but the drag links won't. You'll need one extra right hand thread jam nut and one extra left hand thread jam nut
Chevy dealer:
P/N:14026805 (left hand)
P/N: 14026806 (right hand).
or Avalanche Engineering also sells the jam nuts.
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Postby turbotim2 » Tue Aug 22, 2006 5:51 am

I have been researching this and am having a tough time finding the DOM tubing. Also, you state 2 different sizes, 1.375" you mention in the text and 1.25" in the materials list. I looked at onlinemetals and didn't see either of these listed with a 0.812" ID.
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Postby GubNi » Fri Aug 25, 2006 10:55 am

I have been researching this. The basic concept is that you need .812 ID.

I have a wholesale account, so add about $1.50 per foot to these prices for average retail.

1.25 x .219 $6.50 per foot

1.375 x .281 N/A

1.5 x .343 $8.25 per foot

I can also get you both taps for $99 delivered. They are 4.7" long so you can make 4" of thread.

I also have the goodson reamer and it cuts like a hot knife through butter.
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Postby RedLeg0811 » Sat May 17, 2008 9:25 pm

When I went to get the jam nuts Chevy didn't seam to list them in their parts and Avalanche seams to have changed.

A friend said he got his on E-bay the only one I found was Barnes 4x4. I had to search on google with 7/8 -18 jam nut. It didn't pull on E-bay's search. Barnes 4x4 has a good price, good communication, and fast shipping. Sorry to sound like a commercial, but this way people don't have the same frustration as I did.

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Postby McLeod » Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:30 pm

The Snap-on R121 does NOT have the correct angle for this use.

It is closer to 1.75" TPF. It is close, but will accelerate wear on your tie rod ends etc. This product is marketed as a "repairmans reamer" which is what it is.

1.5" TPF is what you need.

I got mine from XKUT. #5952
Excellent tool and customer service!
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Postby mjanselmo » Wed Sep 23, 2009 7:21 am

Thanks for the info
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