Pieces & Parts Steering I
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Short Cuts

By: Terry L. Howe - 9/2001

The Ross steering box, column, and linkage.
The threes intermediate shafts.
One intermediate shaft from three.
The cobbled together intermediate shaft clears the exhaust manifold and the engine mount.
The full size Cherokee column with the Cherokee steering wheel. An after market steering wheel gives the driver more room.
The bend around tie rod and drag link.
The Desert Steel steering box brace.

The Ross steering that is stock on a CJ-2A is basic manual steering. Because there are several moving parts in the linkage, it has a reputation for being loose. I wanted to convert my CJ-2A to Saginaw power steering. Since I was using a Commando frame that had power steering, I kept the stock cast bracket to attach the Saginaw steering box. The box was the easy part, the intermediate shaft, steering column, and linkage where tricky.

Intermediate Shaft

The intermediate shaft is the shaft connecting the box to the steering column. When I was looking to put together a intermediate shaft, I had a lot of junk to pick from. I had three intermediate shafts from various vehicles. In the photo to the right, the top one is from a '72 Commando, the middle one is from a CJ-7 with manual steering, and the bottom one is from a full size Cherokee (I think). I ended up cutting all three to build my intermediate shaft.

The Commando shaft had the right bell coupler for the power steering box, so I put it on the CJ-7 shaft. The CJ-7 shaft was used complete except it was cut down slightly to make it shorter. I needed to extend the end of the steering column down so the shaft would clear the engine mount. I used the part of the u-joint from the Cherokee shaft and the splined end of the commando shaft to build a fixed extension. The resulting intermediate shaft has two u-joints, so there is no need for a fixed point on it.

The intermediate shaft worked well, but the angle on the rear u-joint is extreme and certainly beyond the manufactures recommendation. As long as the tub is attached tight, it worked fine, but if the tub got loose at all there could be some binding in the steering. I have since replaced the shaft with another that works better.


Tim Weldon happened to be parting out a late 70s Cherokee when I was searching for parts for Pieces and Parts. He gave me a complete steering column with a key for free which was much appreciated. It was even a tilt column. The only down side to it was it had a shifter for an automatic on the column. I removed the shifter, cut off the arm, and covered up the shift indicator. After a rattle can black paint job, it looked brand new.

The column bolted right into the location for the stock steering column. I cut a large circular hole in the floor for it to exit and made two plates from thick sheet metal to brace the lower end of the column. Captured nuts were welded into the floor to secure the lower brace for the column. The column plugs right into my wiring harness which is from a CJ-7. Getting in and out of the vehicle is relatively easy even without using the tilt feature after I replaced the original Cherokee steering wheel with a cheap after market steering wheel.


The tie rod and drag link are tricky for a CJ-2A. The front springs are extremely short and they do not provide sufficient room for a modern steering box. A local 4x4 shop, Rockware, came up with a configuration using heavy DOM tubing. It isn't pretty, but it has proven to work very well.

They started with a basic full size Cherokee tie rod and drag link. The drag link goes to the top of the pitman arm instead of the bottom to provide extra clearance. The tie rod bends down in the middle to clear the pitman arm. I use a regular CJ pitman with the end drilled out to 3/4" for the large ends used on the Cherokee. The steering is loose because I could not find a taper larger enough for the big 3/4" ends that would fit in my drill press. The pitman arm is roughed out and finished with a die grinder. I don't really drive on the road much, so this isn't a problem.


I built this steering box brace from a Desert Steel brace. The angle iron bolts into the passenger side shackle hanger bolts inside the frame. I broke this brace with the tie rod came up and hit the pitman arm. The force ripped off the steering box and broke the steering box bracket. I went through three steering box brackets and this brace before I built my own steering box bracket. After I built the bracket from some 4"x3"1/4" steel, I started bending pitman arms. When I dropped my bump stop on the passenger side 2" this problem stopped. This brace would have worked well, but the tough box bracket I built didn't seem to need one. I used a Tomken brace in the past, but I used this brace because it could be modified easier.

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