Reid Racing Replacement Knuckles
By Gil "usmcdoc" Fortin
It goes to eleven.
The worse thing about making something the "ultimate" or "the best" is someone, somewhere has to come out with something better. There you are thinking to yourself, "Self, you did a kick-ass job on this and you are done. Go get a beer." Sure enough a product or 2 or 3 hits the market. Now all your work is lacking because a new product would make your stuff better.
This is the case with my JK Dana 44 build shown here http://www.jkowners.com/tech/axle/index.php
With the introduction of heavy duty JK knuckles from Reid Racing it changed what is considered "ultimate" by a huge margin.
I am sure you have heard of the Reid name in one motorsport or another, starting back when Reid Racing was still part of Dedenbear Products. They have been in the business of making parts to handle horsepower for years. They revolutionized the 4x4 front axle industry when they introduced their trademark orange dana 60 knuckles after people were seeing the limitations of the factory options. This technology was also used on the "normal" Dana 44 knuckles and finally the Jeep JK Dana 44 knuckles.
Why do I need new knuckles?
If you're like me and have fun with smacking your tie rod on everything, you might want tougher knuckles. Do you plan on running a high steer setup on that JK front axle? Not a whole lot of options there other than replacement knuckles. Perhaps you've bent a steering stop from hitting a curb at the mall? Or you have stretched or broke a ball joint hole in a blaze of off-road stupidity. And we like stupidity; at least enough get the adrenalin pumping. But you want to get that rush from a good event, not a bad thing like a steering part breaking at highway speeds.
There is a thin line between clever and stupid.
That would be like using random bolts combined with random chunks of plate steel to take your steering load when you can cast the entire thing out of ductile iron. And other clever bits like:
- Re-uses stock everything.
- Easy bolt-on installation with no machining required.
- Aftermarket high strength axle shafts, U-joints/CV joints, and stub shafts can be used (more on this in a bit).
- Antilock Brakes, Traction Control, and Electronic Stability Control systems remain fully operational.
- Steering linkage is raised as high as possible while retaining clearance for OEM Jeep and most aftermarket wheels.
- Tie Rod gains 1.5 inches of clearance to minimize vulnerability to trail damage.
- Drag Link is flipped and gains 3 inches of height to perfectly correct the steering geometry for the common 3-4 inch suspension lift; minimizes additional steering correction for taller suspension lifts.
- Beefed up with extra material and ribbing.
- Cast-in DUAL steering stops eliminate bent stop bolts that can cause u-joint and axle failures.
- Tapered tie rod holes accept factory tie rod ends.
- Tie rod holes can be drilled to accept 3/4" heim ends.
I got Reid Racing knuckles for the ability to run a true high steer with 37"+ sized tires and hydro assist with not a worry in the world. The dual steering stops are a big thing for me and the fact they are solid iron makes bending them a memory. The forces of a hydro assist are more than enough to bend a previously weakened steering stop bolt, not to mention the forces exerted by a 37" tire against an immovable object. The fact that Jeep tack welded the steering stops from the factory also is annoying as they will have to be removed and replaced to be correct for whatever your setup is. When you adjust the Reid steering stops to hit front/rear or rear/front at the same time you don't have to worry about your u-joints being forced outside of their operating angles. Seeing as I am running RCV shafts I can set the angles to better utilize the available operating ability of a CV joint.
Lets take our first look at Reid Racing's latest offering to the JK market.
The most obvious thing being the bright orange powder coating the Reid applies. There is none more orange. Next notice how all the webbing and casting is thicker and more pronounced. This and the quality control are what make it the strongest JK knuckle on the market. You can also see the dual steering stops that are cast into the knuckle itself.
Here is a Reid Knuckle on top of a stock knuckle so you can see the clearance you gain. In addition to that the tie rod are is so over built that you can drill it out for rod ends in the future should you decide.
People balk at some items because they feel they can not install it in their garage, but trust me, you can handle this. Installation is in my opinion: "easy". You remove the wheel, brake caliper, rotor, disconnect the ABS line, remove the unit bearing and take the old knuckle off. You will need a 35mm socket for the axle nut and a 13mm 12 point wrench for the unit bearing bolts.
While you are in there you may as well replace the ball joints as they have a tendency to fail rather quickly when running 35" or larger tires. This is also relatively easy to do at home, and no, you do not need a specialty ball joint tool set, just a basic one. I figured that I may as well do this right and installed a set of Dynatrac ProSteer ball joints. Now there is a lot of false information in some other forums involving running ProSteer ball joints and RCV shafts together. The end all/be all is: Yes they work just fine, sometimes with a little modification. Read here to cover both the running ProSteers and RCVs together along with a nice how to install ball joints with just a basic install set. http://www.jkowners.com/forum/showthread.php?t=28427
There is a slight modification needed if you plan on running Reid knuckles, but it is kind of moot. You will need to run a flipped tie rod. But if you want Reid knuckles that means you are running 35" or much larger tires. That in turn means you are running a lift kit to fit those tires. If you are dropping the cash on Reid knuckles that also means you value performance, this in turn means you are running a "real" lift kit and not some budget boost. This also means that your "real" kit is already using a flipped drag link and a relocated track bar to get the steering geometry into correct play.
So ya, like I said, its kind of moot.
I am running a Rock Krawler 5.5 system so my tie rod is already flipped and it fit into the new knuckles perfectly.
Once everything is mocked up in place you want to set your steering stops. The first thing I did was check to make sure I did not have to add steel to the stops to keep them from over steering my RCVs. Its HIGHLY unlikely they will ever be too short, but axles vary from the factory, so I played it safe.
Steering stops will be set at whatever the bind for your axle joints are. Install your shafts and if you have RCVs you will want to install them without the boots on. Then it is just a process of grinding off the steering stops a little at a time till just before bind. With traditional shafts it will be when the ears bind and with the RCVs it will be just before the bell contacts the shaft.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT !!
This will preserve your shafts and keep the warranty (if they have one) from being voided due to your own laziness of not setting the stops correctly.
Put everything back together and make sure to have a wheel alignment done. Here is a little tip on doing a front end alignment yourself. Have someone spin the tire and mark it with a chalk line near the middle. Go to the other tire and do the same, keeping the chalk line in about the same spot. Measure from halfway up on the front and rear of the tire and use this spot to do your alignment. Measure from the front half of the tire and the rear half, making the front side closer is your toe in.
Toe in for 35's start at around 1/8", my 37's are right at 1/4", this is great to get you to a real alignment shop.
I took this shot before the install to show you where to aproximatly draw your lines.
There is not a whole lot of off-roading where I currently am stationed so I decide to do some mall crawling.
Or at least crawl on what was left of a mall. (Always make sure you have permission to wheel on private land. The construction company was more than happy to let me do some shots on their demolition. If you don't know if an area is public, don't have permission from the owner, or in any way feel the area you are in is questionable DO NOT wheel in it. We have had too many photos of illegal wheeling posted on the internet as it is as we fight for land use rights. Support your OHV land use organizations and don't off-road illegally)
I also installed a Chromoly Tie rod from Poly Performance to replace the weak stock one. I am running a hydro assist system, so that combined with big tires and smacking the tie rod into stuff meant that I should not skimp and half-ass the tie rod. The PolyPerformance tie rod will flex and spring right back after contact with an obstacle that would leave the factory one wrecked.
The Reid knuckles are the best and pretty much the only way to run a true high steer on JK front axles as far as I am concerned. For the money it is pretty much a 2 for 1 sale as you get higher steering and a much tougher knuckle than stock. I can also maximize my available steering angle safely and effectively.
So when you think your Dana 30, 44 60 or hybrid axle is a 10 and you need to turn it up to 11 give Reid Racing a call for any of your needs.
REID RACING, Inc.
1917 Oak Park Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Tel: (925) 935-3025
Fax: (925) 935-2287
Office Hours: M-F: 8am-6pm PST