Relocating a Steering Box for Better Clearance Short Cuts

| Toyota Tech | Toyota Section | |

By: Harry Wagner. 7/2003

The pitman arm cleared the tie rod with the wheels turned, but not when pointed straight ahead.
The kit consists of sleeves, a top mount, and graded hardware. Photo courtesy of All-Pro Off Road.

As noted previously in the third installment of my solid axle swap, no one makes a high steer "kit" for a Dana 44 under a Toyota pickup. When using the more common Toyota axle for the swap, a complete steering system can be purchased from any number of vendors. The components in these kits are designed to work together and take into account the caster of Toyota knuckles, thickness of typical spring packs, and distance that the front axle can be moved forward.

After spending a handsome amount of money on the steering for my truck I found that the drag link was directly above the tie rod when the wheels were straight, limiting the compression on the driver's side to only a few inches. There were a few options available to fix this problem. The easiest option would be to move the axle rearward, negating the benefits of the All-Pro springs and hanger I was using, which move the axle 1.5" forward. Moving the axle rearward would cause the tires to rub the rear of the fender on compression, so that was not a viable alternative. The next option was to purchase a shorter pitman arm, several of which are now on the market. This would be a good alternative for someone running a closed knuckle Toyota axle, which has a narrower turning radius than a Dana 44. However a shorter pitman arm would reduce the potential turning radius of my open knuckle front axle.

The final option was to move the steering box forward on the frame. This is not the easiest alternative, as there is little room between the steering box and the forward cab mount even with the box in the stock location. Once I had decided on how to remedy my problem, I started the procedure by calling All-Pro Off Road and ordering their IFS steering box mount kit. This kit is typically used by owners of 85 and older solid axle pickups when converting to crossover steering and the required IFS steering box. The kit is also useful for my application though since it comes with frame sleeves and a new mount that will make relocating the steering box much easier.

Drilling the holes for the frame sleeves.
The sleeves in the frame, ready to be welded.

Once the kit arrived I removed the stock steering box and raised the cab up off of the frame in order to better access the area where the work was to be performed. The stock mount on the top of the frame was removed and a wire wheel was taken to the paint on the frame to prepare for welding. My father and I clamped the steering box to the frame in several different positions before we agreed upon the desired position. The box has to be moved far enough forward to allow clearance between the pitman arm and tie rod, but if you move the box too far forward you have to cut out some of the front cab mount. We finally decided to rotate the steering box and position it in a more upright position to keep from having to cut too much sheet metal. This should have the added benefit of lessening the angle of the drag link and reducing any potential bumpsteer. If the drop of the pitman arm is too low though it will contact the spring on driver's side compression.

Once the box was clamped in place we bolted the top mount to the box and then tack welded the mount to the frame. The other two holes were then marked and center punched. The next step was to remove the steering box and drill out the holes for the sleeves. 1/4" pilot holes were drilled before the holes were enlarged to 3/4" to fit the sleeves. Once the sleeves were positioned in the frame they were tacked and then MIG welded in to place on both sides of the frame. The top mount was fully welded to the frame at the same time. An All-Pro frame brace had already been added to the inside of the frame and the hyraulic assist should ease the strain upon the steering box mount. The box install would have been complete and not required any sheetmetal trimming if not for the hydraulic assist hoses coming out the front of my steering box. As it was, a fair amount of sheetmetal was shed from the front cab mount in order to access the port for the hydraulic line.

The welded sleeves completed, ready to mount the box. Some trimming of the front sheet metal was still necessary. The box bolted in to its new position with plenty of clearance.

The lengthed steering shaft.

The final step involved lengthening the steering shaft to accommodate the new location of the steering box. The stock plastic pins were drilled out and then new metal pins were added to the shaft after extening it to a 2 1/2" longer overall length. Once completed I bolted up the steering box, steering shaft, and reconnected all of the power steering lines. The bumpstops on the front of the truck have been positioned to eliminate any contact between the steering components and the suspension and frame. After the truck is on the trail if I encounter issues with the pitman arm contacting the spring under compression I will remedy with the problem with one of the aftermarket arms available with less drop.

Contacts Related Links
  • All-Pro Off-Road
    581 North Palm Avenue - B3
    Hemet, CA 92543
    Telephone: (909) 658-7077

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