Steering Setups

Because your leaf springs are now above your axles, you'll notice that your OEM steering will not work any more.  There are two types of different steering setups to deal with this, and a bunch of different companies who make them.  They are the high steer system, and a double steering arm system (sometimes called "crossover steering").  Unfortunately, steering is probably the biggest single expense of a spring over and will cost you at least $200-$500 depending on which setup you use.

Crossover Steering:
The older, more common, and less expensive setup is a double arm.  This is either a modified factory steering arm, with another one cut in half and welded to the top of it, or one that is custom made from a cast unit.  Aqualu (www.aqualu.com), JT Outfitters (www.jtoutfitters.com) and several other manufacturers sell forged versions for about $250 for one arm.  The advantage of the double arm setup is that it mimics your factory steering setup as closely as possible in a spring over configuration, and allows you to retain your factory tie rod and drag link, making the $250 arm your only steering-related cost. 

Its disadvantages is that it allows the tie rod to hang in front of your axle, so if you were on a tough stretch of trail and were to hit a rock, it could damage your steering. Likewise, because your springs are now above your axle, they do not offer the protection from rocks that your axle used to when they were below the axle.  I have also heard of issues regarding relatively uneven forces exerted on the double arm causing steering knuckle studs to loosen, and if not checked often for looseness, can sheer off.

Here is a photo of Aqualu's double arm that bolts to the top of the passenger side knuckle.  It reuses your OEM steering linkage with no necessary midifications required:


The more advantageous system, but unfortunately more expensive, is the high steer steering.  
Sometimes referred to as hy-steer, it uses two custom arms that are usually CNC manchined, and places your entire steering linkage above the leaf springs, well out of the way of potential rocks.  

The arms I chose to use, which are seen in the photos, are part of a system by Marlin Crawler. The Marlin system and most hy-steer systems today use DOT approved 80-series tie rod ends.  They are put into a custom drag link and tie rod which are very thick and beef.  They are then used with very heavy duty arms as seen here on my FJ55, it is certainly one of the sturdiest systems Ive seen.

The 80 series tie rod ends, which are common and easy to find, are comparable to some of the tie rod ends seen on 1-ton vehicles.  The only downfall to the setup is its steep price tag of about $450. 

Several manufacturers make comparable versions.  Marlin Crawler (www.marlincrawler.com -- recommended), All Pro Off Road (www.allprooffroad.com), Rock Buggy Supply (www.rockbuggysupply.com); and others carry similar setups, at similar prices.

For 1979 and later FJ40s, 55s, and all 60s and 70s, they use the same pattern as a Toyota Mini Truck which is why so many manufacturers make these arms.  You will probably need to take custom measurements to get the draglink and tierod correct though, especially if you have custom power steering.  1978 and earlier cruisers use their own pattern and I believe it is the same from '68 through '78 until they went to the larger mini truck pattern.  I believe only Rock Buggy Supply sells arms for these earlier cruisers.


Other Options:
Luke Porter at 4x4labs.com has been building some interesting custom double high steer arms.  These are also about $250 but move the steering linkage conveniently behind the axle - taking the high steer idea "to the extreme." (www.4x4labs.com)

 

Cheaper Options:
"W" Harold at overthehill4x4.com in Washington State is an old timer who has been building Land Cruisers for years and years.  He also knows his metals very well and though most recommendations are that heating and bending a forged metal like a highsteer arm is not a good idea, he seems to have done it and they seem to hold up strong. I personally inspected about 6 different pairs on different vehicles and all seemed to hold up very well.  He slow heats the arms, bends them, then buries them in sand to allow them to cool very slowely.  He charges about $75 and it also allows you to reuse your stock steering linkages as well though you might have to trim your draglink slightly.  He basically bends your OEM arms into high steer arms.  He has never heard of or seen a cracked set but it can potentially be dangerous....

 

Also, some people have made their own arms by cutting and welding two together, however this is NOT recommended and even so, you must REALLY know your metals well and be careful when welding them...
 

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9. Shocks
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