Rag Joint Replacement or Repair

Rag Joint Replacement or Repair

Replacing or repairing your steering column, steering coupler

Also called steering joint or flexible steering coupling

Checking your steering rag joint can be a life saver. I had bought my 66 Chevy C10 several weeks before.
I have been driving it the whole time, before I checked it and the only reason I found it was bad was I had loose steering and I thought was in the gear box.

I knew the linkage was in good shape, so with having manual steering before, I knew there was an adjustment I could make to the gear box to tighten up the gears.
When I went to start that adjustment was when I found the rag joint was loose and cracking. It was so loose it moved almost a half inch back and forth, boy was it close to coming apart.

With newer models you may not have to remove the steering column, the rag joint could be already bolted not riveted, just unbolt the steering coupler and replace the rag joint, drop the gear box only if you have too.
With older classic trucks and cars or at least with my Chevy truck it was easier to remove the steering shaft/column. So on to this project.

If you’re needing to replace your rag joint, you’ll need one.

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Rebuilding a steering coupler

Replacing a rag joint on a 66 Chevy C10

Step One: Block Tires and loosen front left tire lugs. Jack vehicle up and remove the tire.

Tools, you’ll need Tools.

I’ve used an 18 inch cheater pipe on the 3/8 ratchet to break bolts loose and I do it quite often. It handles the torque real well. I’ve had this tool set for 6 years and I have no complaints with it.
Stanley 92-839 Black Chrome and Laser Etched Socket Set, 99 Pieces

Step Two: Loosen and remove the 7/16 12 point bolt on the old steering joint, it’s closest to the gear box.
On newer vehicles it may not be a 12 point but a 6 point or it could be an Allen Head.

Old Rag Joint

Old Rag Joint

Step Three: I found it was easier to remove the steering shaft/column. So mark the location/orientation of the steering wheel and remove the steering wheel.

On newer trucks or cars it might be easier to drop the steering gear box, on some you might even find that it came from the factory bolted. In that case the job is really easy, just unbolt the old rag joint coupler and install the new coupler. If not, remember you will have to drill the rivets out and you’ll need room for that.

Important Hint: At the point where the steering shaft comes out of the column, there is a Lower Bearing and Adjusting Ring, below those is a spring and clamp.
Loosen spring clamp and let clamp and spring slide down.
Clean steering shaft and column well so you can mark location of the adjusting ring bolt.
The bolt holding it is in a slide slot, you need to mark that location of the bolt.
Remove the bolt and carefully pull the Lower Bearing/Adjusting Ring down the steering shaft to give you room at bottom of column and you won’t damage the bearing like I did.

Removing the steering column

Removing the steering column

Step Four: However you get access to the rag joint, you’ll need to center punch and step drill (Start off with a smaller bit, step up to a bit in-between, then use finale size)
You only want to “Pop” the head of the rivet off, so don’t use a drill bit any larger then about 3/4 the size of the rivet head.
HINT: Pay close attention to the orientation of the coupler, you need to be sure to put it back together the same way.
HINT: Use oil to keep bits cool and sharp it only takes a drop or 2, put more as needed.

Center Punch and step drill rivet heads.

Center Punch and step drill rivet heads.

Step Five: Use the bolts and studs provided to install new Steering Joint. Don’t over tighten the bolts and use Loctite to insure they won’t come loose as time goes along.

Step Six: Reverse your steps to reinstall the steering column/shaft or rebolt up the gear box depending on which way you went.

Did you choose to drop the gear box?

Did you choose to drop the gear box?

It was really easier for me to remove the column.

It was really easier for me to remove the column.

Video of the rag joint replacement, rebuild:

All Images and Video belong to Doug’s Projects, I’m Doug by the way.
I’m also on G+ Doug’s Projects on G+

Author

Husband to Teresa, father to four of the best children in the world (Don’t tell them that) Grandpa to the four BEST Grandkids in the world. Grandkids are great I get all the fun my daughter gets to clean the fun. Fishing is one of my pass times (When I can that is.) Learning not to beat my computer to death when it is only doing what I stupidly told it to is my other pass time when I am not Remodeling someones home or building decks.
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