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post #1 of 37 Old 05-21-2011, 07:58 AM Thread Starter
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Another Death Wobble Thread

This isn't new or novel, but maybe i'll document something that will help others (and I also might need some advice myself).

For the last year, driving 30-50 mph on street when I hit a small bump, i get a very very slight wobble in the steering. I let of gas and it goes right away. I've checked all bolts and they seem tight. When I torqued and balance the tires it seems to go away for a while.

Yesterday I was approaching a toll booth (~40mph) slightly on the brake, changed lanes going over the reflector bumps when it went into full on death wobble. Whole jeep shook, steering wheel violently went 10-2-10-2. The shaking didn't stop until I came to a complete stop.

So today I'll tear into it and see what I can find. This sucks as I have no idea what's the issue. I've read the threads, so I'll check usual suspects.

--Ruskin

Current set up:
- 07 4dr Rubicon (Shrockworks front stubby and rear bumper)
- Stock tires for 25K miles, 35 KM2 for 15K miles and 37KM2 for 1K miles
- Synergy Stage II 3" lift installed in 2008 when I moved to 35KM2 (poly track bar axle bracket without the cam bolt washer)
- Stock tie rod
- stock track bar
- axle C brackets & sleeves
- Been offroad 7 -8 times for 1 day rides and i baby it

Updated findings (5/21):

- Trackbar bolts seemed tight, but when removed the trackbar mount holes are larger than bolt (see video links below)
- Stock tie rod ends have 1/16 vertical play when squeezed with channel locks
- Flipped draglink end has 1/16 to an 1/8 inch of horizontal play when steering wheel turned. The end threads and castle nut don't move, so horizontal movement is in TRE.

Videos:
http://youtu.be/zAoDxNTDaKU Trackbar axle mount

http://youtu.be/0aKUbw8Rpns Trackbar frame mount

http://youtu.be/sSrT1VbsJhg Trackbar bolt holes

Fixes in progress:
- (5/23) Replaced track bar bolts with 9/16" bolts with full sholder through brackets. This took up all the extra slack so the bolts couldn't move around. (still have issues with shimmy / wobble)
- (5/25) Dealer inspected and claims ball joints and wheel hub/bearings assemblies are fine.

-- 6/5 --
- Draglink end is looser than new TREs. Swivels easy and has 1/16 of play when I just grab it with my hands.
- Toe was 1/8" out (everyone says it should be 1/8" in, so I'm 1/4" off)
- Caster is 9 degrees
.......

-- 6/6 update --
What I've done:
- I've replaced both track bar bolts with 9/16 bolts
- Added adjustable trackbar centered axle
- Added track bar frame brace
- Added new tie rod adjusted toe-in to 1/8"
- Centered steering by adjusting drag link.
- Steering stablizer is NOT installed at this time

My results:
- wobble is greatly reduced, there is still a constant minor vibration (but if I wasn't chasing DW I probably wouldn't think twice about it)
- ESP/etc lights are sometime on / sometimes off

Next Steps (to be completed next week):
- Caster is 9 degrees, plan to reset to 5 degrees
- A re-measurement found axle needs to shift 1/8" to passenger
- Steering wheel is just slightly off, but that's an easy adjustment
- Drag link TRE is questionable, new one on order and will be replaced
- Will be installing Poly drag link TRE adapter (because it has better contact/support than the current reamed setup)
- Replace all LCA bolts with 9/16 bolts from PP F911 hardware kit + adding cam elimination washers.

I will update after all fixes have been completed
-----------------------------

-- Update 7/17 --
- I replaced the drag link TRE and used the 7/8 insert adapter. I believe the issue was with my poorly drilled tappered hole and not the TRE.
- I replaced all front control bolts with 9/16 and found LCA frame bolt holes to be wallowed slightly.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats

Last edited by Ruskin; 07-19-2011 at 08:09 PM. Reason: updating with findings
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post #2 of 37 Old 05-21-2011, 06:53 PM
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I put the link to my DW write-up thread in my signature for easy reference.

From your description, you have more than one thing going on.

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post #3 of 37 Old 05-21-2011, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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OK, tightened everything. Found slop in the drag link axle side TRE. It's the poly flip kit, but when I reamed the hole, I never felt good about it as I thought i over drilled it. I torqued it again and it felt solid, but the end still moves. I'm clueless because I don't think the TRE should be shot (i haven't done anything to it yet), so maybe i just need the Poly TRE adapter?

Also, when i take channel locks to the tie rod ends, they have 2mm of movement. Not sure that's a lot. any opinions?

torqued everything and drove around the block. still squirmy and will feels like it would definitely go into death wobble.

EDIT: I went back and looked again and the tapered post and castle nut are not moving, the movement is in the joint it'self.

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats

Last edited by Ruskin; 05-23-2011 at 06:28 AM.
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post #4 of 37 Old 05-21-2011, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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Planman - thanks for the reply. I had already referenced your thread and printed out the instructions. I'm going to call poly and get their take and do something about the drag link end.

Then on to the front tie rod. If that doesn't fix it, I'll move on to the unit bearings (although I've already had one replaced by the dealer 5K miles back).

I was surprised I didn't find play in the ball joints.

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats
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post #5 of 37 Old 05-21-2011, 08:30 PM
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There has also been mention of bent or misaligned axle housing tubes.

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08 Black and Khaki JK Sahara Unlimited, Dual Tops, MyGig, Tow pkg, Trax-Lok Rear Diff,
Mods -- 3.5" Rock Krawler front springs, 2.5 TerraFlex BB rear, Mopar D44HD/J8, OX Locker, RCVs, 37x12.50x17 Pitbull Rockers on ProComp 7069, AEV Premium front bumper, Smittybilt X2O 12K Comp winch.
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post #6 of 37 Old 05-21-2011, 09:51 PM Thread Starter
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Took the track bar out. here's the play at both ends with the bolts. I have not idea if this is normal or not. Anyone with more experience have an opionion?


http://youtu.be/zAoDxNTDaKU

http://youtu.be/0aKUbw8Rpns

http://youtu.be/sSrT1VbsJhg

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats
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post #7 of 37 Old 05-21-2011, 11:14 PM
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Unfortunatley yes, thats pretty normal movement for those bolts when loose (shouldnt be, poor design of mixing imperial and metric parts). Another reason why the high torque settings for the bolts - to stop them moving!
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post #8 of 37 Old 05-22-2011, 12:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruskin View Post
Took the track bar out. here's the play at both ends with the bolts. I have not idea if this is normal or not. Anyone with more experience have an opionion?


http://youtu.be/zAoDxNTDaKU

http://youtu.be/0aKUbw8Rpns

http://youtu.be/sSrT1VbsJhg
For sure you want to try a 9/16" bolt in that trackbar end and weld washers on both the front and back side of each the axle and frame side brackets that are snug on the bolt. That amount of movement is definitely a problem.

That amount of play of the bolt in the bushings bolt sleeve and the trackbar brackets, combined with the 2 mm movement in the tie rod ends and the movement in the drag link end at the knuckle would definitely explain some DW.

I would weld in the washers, run the larger bolt, and fix the drag link end/knuckle issue. If you still have wobble issues after that, then look at upgrading the trackbar and ends.


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post #9 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Changed front track bar bolts out for 9/16" bolts. This removed the slop from the holes and stock bolt. Shimmy still there, so I'll keep working.

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats
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post #10 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 11:32 AM
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OK here is my observation over the past 3 years. FWIW maybe this will help give others direction in their quest for this illusive DW.

First of all I have never experienced DW in any one of our 3 JKs. 1 stock, 2 have 2.5" lifts, 1 on 35s, 1 on 33s, 1 stock tires and wheels. The JKU has 86,000 klm mostly hwy. None of these 3 JKs have had a wheel alignment.

- The JKU had a noise in the front end which was found to be not only a loose track bar bolt, but the nut had fallen completely off, yet no DW.
- Same JK small click in rear when going over bumps, upper rear trackbar bolt had loosened off, once again no DW.
- Ran without Steering Stabilizer and again No DW.
- When the lift kit was initially installed in the JKU there was no mention of loosening off Control arm bolts to relieve tension on the bushing when installing the lift. So, none of the control arm bolts have ever been loosened or re-torqued from factory. After 86,000KLM no bushing failures.

My conclusion at this point :
For those that experience the DW syndrome, I suggest that there is something wrong with the diff assembly from factory ie. bent/improperly welded axle tube, or Cs. Cs out of alignment (indicated by a different degree of castor or camber left and right).
I suppose an incorrectly placed control arm mount (from factory) may also cause issues including premature bushing and balljoint failure. A diagonal cross chassis measurement from tube to tube would indicate whether or not the diff housings are sitting square to the frame. A tube to tube (fr to rr) measurement comparing Left side to right side would also indicate a differential housing not properly aligned.
Just my .02 , food for thought.

Jeff _(OllllllO)_



08 Black and Khaki JK Sahara Unlimited, Dual Tops, MyGig, Tow pkg, Trax-Lok Rear Diff,
Mods -- 3.5" Rock Krawler front springs, 2.5 TerraFlex BB rear, Mopar D44HD/J8, OX Locker, RCVs, 37x12.50x17 Pitbull Rockers on ProComp 7069, AEV Premium front bumper, Smittybilt X2O 12K Comp winch.

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post #11 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 01:43 PM
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DW is not a new thing.

Every vehicle that has a front trackbar with a solid front axle is susceptible.

Dodge trucks, XJs, TJs, ZJs, JKs, etc. are susceptible, and the most common sources are trackbar related. Visit any jeep or dodge forum--as well as ford forums--and it is common to the discussion.

So, although your anecdotal experience is interesting, it is outside the norm for drivers of solid front axles with a trackbar.

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post #12 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 02:23 PM
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Hey I totally agree, all straight axle vehicles are susceptible whether coil sprung, leaf sprung or no springs at all. I've had two farm tractors that would go into death wobble if I went too fast on road. NTL when you have 2 identical vehicles in stock form one has DW and one doesn't its my gut feeling that it has to be more then just loose bolts.
Why is it that DW only occurs in the frontend , it doesn't occur in the rear diff even though it has a trackbar, and control arms.

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post #13 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtphoto JK View Post
Hey I totally agree, all straight axle vehicles are susceptible whether coil sprung, leaf sprung or no springs at all. I've had two farm tractors that would go into death wobble if I went too fast on road. NTL when you have 2 identical vehicles in stock form one has DW and one doesn't its my gut feeling that it has to be more then just loose bolts.
Why is it that DW only occurs in the frontend , it doesn't occur in the rear diff even though it has a trackbar, and control arms.
It also does not have inner and outer knuckles allowing for lateral rotation.

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post #14 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by jtphoto JK View Post
Why is it that DW only occurs in the frontend , it doesn't occur in the rear diff even though it has a trackbar, and control arms.
I kind of explain this in my death wobble thread. It has to do with the harmonic resonance between the components in the front end of a steering axle.

The link to my thread is in my signature.


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post #15 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruskin View Post
Took the track bar out. here's the play at both ends with the bolts. I have not idea if this is normal or not. Anyone with more experience have an opionion?


http://youtu.be/zAoDxNTDaKU

http://youtu.be/0aKUbw8Rpns

http://youtu.be/sSrT1VbsJhg
Yea, thats not good... How are the ball joints?


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post #16 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planman View Post
I kind of explain this in my death wobble thread. It has to do with the harmonic resonance between the components in the front end of a steering axle.

The link to my thread is in my signature.
Yup, read your post and totally understand what you have written. That is exactly why I wanted to let you know my findings. I did not post here to undermine your findings, but to add my findings to the knowledge base as well and hopefully find a cure for this dangerous situation which does apply also to leaf sprung and front straight axles with no springs, driven or solid not just coilspring/trackbar. By trying to pin down similarities we can remove components from the equation i.e. trackbars and control arms front and rear. Steering components I agree with 100%, because they are the similar components on ALL straight axels. But what allows the harmonic resonance to start? Why some vehicles and not others, stock or modified, there must be a root cause that allows this phenomenon to start. As far as my findings not being the norm they may very well be more normal than we realize. As in my case people who don't have DW won't even realize they have loose components until they hear a little clicking, or clacking when they go over bumps. Like I said I was quite surprised hearing how much interest a loose trackbar got in this regard after I drove around over a week with a very sloppy front track bar and no DW or shimmy. You can believe me or not, its your choice..

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post #17 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Yea, thats not good... How are the ball joints?
From what I can tell they are fine. I jacked each side of separately and put it on jack stands and then with both hands on top of the tire pushed and pulled. All that did was move the whole thing.

Then I put a 2x4 under and tried to lift the tire. That didn't appear to do anything either.

I honestly didn't see anything, but if there is a better way to test them, i'm open to ideas. I took it for a test drive today. Got it up to 60. If it's straight and flat, it's fine. But you throw one bump in the road and you can feel something. Just makes you uneasy, like it might go into DW any minute.

I'm taking it to the dealer tomorrow to have them look at it. I plan to ask them to look at the ball joints and hub/bearing assembly.

- Ruskin
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Last edited by Ruskin; 05-24-2011 at 07:19 PM.
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post #18 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 07:07 PM
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To the OP Ruskin..

Did you have the slight wobble before or after the lift and list of current mods?

Jeff _(OllllllO)_



08 Black and Khaki JK Sahara Unlimited, Dual Tops, MyGig, Tow pkg, Trax-Lok Rear Diff,
Mods -- 3.5" Rock Krawler front springs, 2.5 TerraFlex BB rear, Mopar D44HD/J8, OX Locker, RCVs, 37x12.50x17 Pitbull Rockers on ProComp 7069, AEV Premium front bumper, Smittybilt X2O 12K Comp winch.
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post #19 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 07:20 PM
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As I sit here pondering the possible causes, I realized that 3 years ago I had the front unit bearings, drivers side, go out completely on my RAM Pickup at highway speed NO DW or even a shimmy leading up to the failure. By the time I stopped the truck sparks were coming from the hub. The truck had to be towed. This would also take unit bearings out of the DW equation for me.

Information Please:
For those that suffer from DW is it always the same front wheel or does it vary from side to side?

Jeff _(OllllllO)_



08 Black and Khaki JK Sahara Unlimited, Dual Tops, MyGig, Tow pkg, Trax-Lok Rear Diff,
Mods -- 3.5" Rock Krawler front springs, 2.5 TerraFlex BB rear, Mopar D44HD/J8, OX Locker, RCVs, 37x12.50x17 Pitbull Rockers on ProComp 7069, AEV Premium front bumper, Smittybilt X2O 12K Comp winch.

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post #20 of 37 Old 05-24-2011, 09:49 PM
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Full on DW like in the youtube video in my thread is most commonly trackbar related. Then, it ends up taking out other components.

A bad unit bearing will not cause DW. It usually causes a shimmy type wobble, but not full on, clanking, violent, going-to-rip-off-your-brackets DW.

It is highly unusual for someone to drive uneven, rutted, bumpy roads, potholes, and/or railroad crossings with loose trackbar bolts and not experience DW.

The more components that are damaged, the worse the DW can become.

A combination of loose trackbar and control arm bolts, bad lower ball joints, loose drag link ends, bad tie rod ends, loose swaybar link bolts, combined with too much or too little caster, with too much toe-in, and with bad unit bearings can end up ripping off trackbar brackets and loss of control of the vehicle.

The only thing that I could think of in your situation is that everything else must have been completely dialed in (caster, toe-in, good ball joints, etc.) and you were not running without a steering stabilizer at the same time that your bolts were dangerously loose.

Most all people who have experienced real DW (not just a shimmy) and who have gone through each step in my checklist--using a properly calibrated torque wrench--have diagnosed and fixed the source of their DW.

There are some who skipped steps and haven't found it. There are some who did not weld in washers and/or run larger bolts that fit the bracket holes who didn't find it. There are some who run too much or too little caster. There are some who skip inspecting or replacing bushings. Some skip inspecting recently replaced components thinking they must still be okay. Some try to check the lower ball joints by hand instead of using a lever. However, most all find the source of the DW.

Then, what sometimes remains are non-DW shimmies or wobbles they have to chase down that were caused by damage from the DW. They can be any number of things, from feathered treadwear on tires, to worn components, to a bad alignment.

If the same process can systematically diagnose and fix rigs with DW, then it is more than a random occurrence due to inconsistent tolerances in manufacturing.

In one thread, a guy posted that after reading my DW thread, he decided to take a torque wrench to the bolts on his brand new stock jeep. He found several bolts only hand tight and a couple loose.

Jeep actually has a recall or TSB for some jeeps asking owners to bring their rigs into the dealer to have all the components re-torqued to specs. They blamed it on a different paint compound used on a particular year--instead of the workers caught on youtube smoking pot on their breaks.

Jeep has changed the design of the trackbar on newer JK models.

I believe Jeep engineers tried to mitigate the problem on JKs by using beefier components than on prior models. The JK trackbar compared to the TJ/XJ/ZJ trackbar is night and day.


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post #21 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtphoto JK View Post
To the OP Ruskin..

Did you have the slight wobble before or after the lift and list of current mods?
I've had the lift for over 2 yrs no issues. in last 6 months been fighting a slight shimmy with 35" tires. Now with 37's it's amplified issues.

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats
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post #22 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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UPDATE:
I had the dealer inspect the ball joints and hub/bearing assembly. Both are in good condition.

- Ruskin
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post #23 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 06:13 PM
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Have you replaced the drag link end that has slop in it?


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post #24 of 37 Old 05-25-2011, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Atlanta, GA
Age: 43
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OK, I ordered some parts to take care of what I precieve are weak links in general now that I have 37's. While any individual item below may not have been the culprit, I consider it money well spent. I should have parts on in a week or two and will report back.

Poly parts ordered:
- Tie Rod
- Track bar
- Track bar brace (for frame side mount)
- extra TRE for drag link (I need to take the TRE off to see if it's really an issue)
- Hardware kit to upgrade to 9/16 at trackbars and control arms
- steering stabilizer

After installing, i have an appt for an alignment and tire balance.

If that doesn't fix it, the only items left are ball joints, hub bearing and drag link end at the pitman arm, but I have inspected those and they all seem fine. And also, control arm bushings.

We'll see. I'll post once parts are on. Thanks for the help everyone.

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats
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post #25 of 37 Old 06-05-2011, 06:54 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Oct 2007
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Age: 43
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New findings. I started replacing parts this weekend and discovered more...

- Draglink end is looser than new TREs. Swivels easy and has 1/16 of play when I just grab it with my hands.
- Toe was 1/8" out (everyone says it should be 1/8" in, so I'm 1/4" off)
- Caster is 9 degrees

- Ruskin
2.5"Tera, 34"Maxxis, Front Stubby, Cobra75, Flapless Seatbelts & Grounded Floormats
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