The trackbar bolt on the axle can have a bad habit of coming loose on it’s own, and once that happens it can wallow out the hole in the axle bracket pretty quick. And that’s exactly what happened to us with our TJ. We’d been noticing a bit of understeer for a while, but the TJ doesn’t get driven all that often, so we really hadn’t really given it much thought. One day I finally decided to look into it and I discovered that not only was the bolt loose, but the hole had wallowed out by about 1/16″!
As luck would have it, one of the guys on our forum had just posted a great write-up about a week earlier on fixing this exact issue. So, I looked back through his pictures and headed out to the garage to fix our TJ.
As you can see, the hole had gotten wallowed out pretty good. A 7/16″ bolt fit perfect (the stock bolt is 3/8″), but I’d have to have bored out the metal sleeve in the trackbar bushing to fit a bigger bolt, and it was just easier to do a weld-on plate. The hole on the right is from our original lift before we got an adjustable trackbar. The first thing was to do a little CAD (that’s cardboard-aided drafting) work to make a template for the new plate that would get welded to the bracket.
The next order of business was to transfer the template to a piece of 1.5″ x 1/4″ flatstock I had leftover from another project. This finally gave me something to use my new drillpress for! I call it my “Dr Evil” drillpress because it’s got a frikin’ laser on it, mwaha-ha-ha!
So, after I was done playing with my new shop toy and doing bad Mike Myers impersonations it was time to cut out the plate, do some test fitting, and make any final adjustments that were needed.
The flapper wheel on my angle grinder made quick work of cleaning up the metal surfaces to prep them for welding. I used trackbar bolt to hold the new plate in position so I could tack-weld it to the axle bracket.
After that it was just a matter of welding the new plate all around then cleaning it up with a grinder and painting it so you don’t see how truly boogery my welding looked on that bracket (I’ve done some more practice welding since then, I promise). I really need to pick up some anti-spatter spray (or get a tank of gas to convert my wire feed to mig), the spatter that’s left wasn’t coming off with my chip hammer, and I couldn’t get my grinder in a good position because of the steering linkages. Oh well.
Despite my less-than-stellar-looking weld job, the new plate is on good and solid, and the bolt now fit nice and snug. All in all I probably spent less than an hour on the whole thing, and it didn’t cost me anything since I used some left over material to make the reinforcement plate.8 comments