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Old 05-08-2021, 11:32 PM   #1
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Seeking Drag Link bushings 04 Alpine 38 and a bit more.

Hello. I’m pretty sure that’s what they are called from my steering box to drivers side. The one connected to steering box is shot and I am very concerned. Also, I bought with little information on rig, guy had dementia but really need to know how I can check tie rod ends. Finally, when I turn steering I get this moaning sound, not a squeak. I have removed plastic housing and shot with PB blaster and still there. Do I need to add some type of steering bracket to strengthen system. Any help on these three would be great. Have this paranoia that drag linkage will literally fall off around a corner. Rig has 90K on it and California garaged.
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Old 05-09-2021, 06:01 AM   #2
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Yes, that is the drag link. Hopefully someone who has already replaced the ends will have PN's. But, should be standard off the shelf items at any good parts house catering to OTR trucks. Remove it and take it in to match. Be sure to measure EXACT dimensions (length of drag link with old and new ends MUST be the same, as this will affect turn angles and steering wheel centering.


Checking tie rod ends is very easy-- takes two people. Easy job is sitting in the driver's seat. Start coach and allow suspension to air up, then turn engine off. Be sure you have safety stands under there or are thin enough to be safe if the air suspension came down.


Have them turn the steering wheel back and forth (starting in small arcs, and as you call out from under the coach in increasingly wider arcs as needed.

Start at the steering box (actually start above the U joint in the steering shaft from steering wheel to steering box). Look for any movement on the IN side that does not transfer to the OUT side. That will indicate unwanted play.


As far as the noise, very first thing I would do is change the hydraulic filters and lid gasket. At worst, a necessary preventive measure-- at best a cure for your problem. Drain the hydraulic canister before removing the filters.I use a siphon, but you could also remove a hose or drain plug. If the fluid looks OK, just replace what was drained with new. If it looks contaminated, probably best the flush the system (unlikely to be needed). Easy to see long-neglected, clogged filters restricting fluid flow. Ya, also check for a kink in the hoses to/from the steering box, though I have never seen that.
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Old 05-09-2021, 11:36 AM   #3
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Some added thoughts: 1- kind of unusual for the actual drag link joints to fail--grease cups yes, joints not so much; 2- same goes for tie rod ends; 3- someone may be able to help with end replacement--dia., thread pitch, and right vs left thread are issues; 4-some steering "groan" is normal--changing hydraulic fluid and filters is a good idea if last service date is unknown--on older Alpines, the rubber grommet that seals steering column shaft thru floor can dry-out causing noise. Not sure using PB-Blaster was a good idea?
5- Starting in 2004, WRV used thinner material to form the steering knuckle bracket--these brackets are susceptible to metal fatigue--inspect for cracks and reinforce, if needed.
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Old 05-10-2021, 11:08 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. So is it better just to buy a new drag link bar with all new bushings. I greases them and front is slightly twisted and I’m sort of freaked that it could fall off. Is that not very likely. The front rubber grease bushings are the worst. Ok just to replace rubber and grease again?
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Old 05-12-2021, 06:26 AM   #5
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Hard to tell without a hands-on inspection--if you are concerned, get a professional inspection. The main issue with mid-2003 and newer Alpine drag links is that the bar had to be bent more to accommodate the increased wheel cut on the upgraded suspension. This changed the center of gravity for the bar, which caused more vertical movement AND perhaps more wear. Threaded ends may be available but some owners have just had the entire link fabricated.
I dont have the COG issue with my early 2003 but did replace the OEM grease cups with generic cups [not molded to end joint]--I keep the joints well greased--190k miles, no issues.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:07 PM   #6
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Want to clarify-- are the drag link end links mechanically loose OR is it just that the boots are in poor shape?


If OK mechanically, but boots denigrated, it is up to you. Many of us just grease more frequently and do not replace until there is mechanical play.


You are correct, the drag link is NOT straight. And, because of the off-set, which causes the bar to "tilt" many of us have designed a drag link weight to counterbalance so the end links stay pretty close to correct orientation. PM me your e-mail and I can send you a high res picture of mine.


As Old Scout said, none of us can help you with "it this mechanically safe". That is a question that can only be answered by someone with experience seeing it first hand and checking for wear/play.
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Old 05-14-2021, 07:10 AM   #7
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On my 2006 I noticed considerably more steering corrections that I had to make after a 3000 mile trip. Further inspection showed play in the ball joint on the rear drag link. On the front one the boot was defective but it showed no play.
I took the entire link off and measured center to center, replaced the rear and made a new boot for the front one. Amazingly that boot is still there today.
Also I had a smile in my face when I unpacked the ball joint. It was made by “ Lemforder Fahrwerkstechnik” in Germany the company I worked for coming to the US.
I don’t have the part number handy. If you still need it I can dig it up ...
Jörg
PS: if you attempt to make a repair on your own set the wheels / steering wheel to center and don’t touch it. The replaced link has to “fall into place” so that your steering wheel stays centered.
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Old 05-14-2021, 07:17 AM   #8
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Here some pics
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Old 05-14-2021, 08:17 AM   #9
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I replaced mine due to missing dust caps. I had no drive-ability/handling issues before or after the replacement. Below are part numbers for the replacement ball joints. I used the Euclid part number. I have a 2006. Both ends have right hand threads. The parts I received were sealed units and did not have provisions for zerk fittings although the picture in the parts catalogue we ordered from showed them with zerks. Curious if Jorg's parts came with grease fittings.

Dayton 310-444
Industry Standard ES9601R
Euclid E-10163
Meritor 1698846
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Old 05-14-2021, 08:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rrthor View Post
I replaced mine due to missing dust caps. I had no drive-ability/handling issues before or after the replacement. Below are part numbers for the replacement ball joints. I used the Euclid part number. I have a 2006. Both ends have right hand threads. The parts I received were sealed units and did not have provisions for zerk fittings although the picture in the parts catalogue we ordered from showed them with zerks. Curious if Jorg's parts came with grease fittings.

Dayton 310-444
Industry Standard ES9601R
Euclid E-10163
Meritor 1698846

Mine were also right hand thread on both sides.
No grease fitting. I actually don’t mind that.
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Old 05-14-2021, 11:08 AM   #11
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Wow above and way beyond! I got a buddy and tried to find play in front but absolutely none so I’m not freaked out. Found aftermarket boots and will re-pack and change fluid and filters. This first time diesel pusher owner feels really fortunate to have you guys. I’m a responsible owner who tends not to just throw money at stuff without some understanding. Bought the $300 angle iron piece to strengthen steering box. Feel it was money well spent. Thanks again! Love my Alpine!
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Old 05-19-2021, 04:27 PM   #12
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The "moaning" noise is likely the steering column shaft boot.
Hit it with a little silicone spray lube from the topside of the steering column. Easy fix.
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