XJ Steering Shaft Upgrade (88-94 Trucks) 95+instructions on page 31

Discussion in 'Stock Suspension + Bolt On Kits' started by shelbyt.67, Jul 16, 2012.

  1. 77Impala

    77Impala The Hauler

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    There is no extra vibration from changing out a rag joint to a universal joint. My 97 Dodge van had universal from the factory and it was lined up where a rag joint would have worked fine. The Jeeps that many of us have pulled these shafts from were also lined up where a rag joint would have worked.

    Most front wheel drive and many modern trucks and cars do require a universal joint to line up the awkward alignments.

    And try to find a modern rag joint that will last, I have not seen one I would trust to even replace my still good OEM one in my 77 Impala.

    Sent from my SM-G930U using Tapatalk
     
  2. Moparmat2000

    Moparmat2000 I'm Awesome

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    To answer your question. Yes, and no. You can put in a new rag joint which is the weak link, however over time it will wear out to where you would be replacing it again, also it does flex which is why even in its newest state its not as positive and without slop as a universal joint is. Additionally on 4x4 trucks with larger and wider than stock tires the universal joints tend to help with a more positive feel driving over a flexing rag joint. The frame flex you are getting is not a whole lot.

    You also have to remember that large volume production vehicles are designed and built by committee. What is meant by that statement is simply this, the bean counters look at things like cost for every little item that makes up a vehicle. Example can the engineers design something that would be adequate using 3 bolts instead of 4 to attach it, saving the additional 1 bolt x how ever many vehicles etc.

    Thats just one example, but they do it with everything. If i was a betting man I'd probably say that replacement lower rag joint part number probably has a passenger car and light truck vehicle range of at minimum 40 years. Why? Because it worked good enough for stock stuff, and the tooling money was already spent to punch out this part. Also the design is good enough to get the vehicle out of its warranty period without problems. Vehicles are designed with planned obsolescence in mind. Average life span is supposed to be 10-15 years.

    Now getting back to the u joint issue. The rag joint does work pretty well for its initial designed job, my buddys 55 chevy had one, my 60 elcamino had one, my brothers 87 monte SS had one. It was there for one reason only, it was a "cheap" solution to a problem. Think like a bean counter again. A pair of universal joints is more expensive than a rag joint. Both get the job done. How many thousands of these trucks was GM pumping out of 3 different factories at this time? Between Chevy and GMC i venture a bet it was at minimum 350,000 trucks a year. When i special ordered my 1994 new i waited 22 weeks just to have a vin number assigned to it. And another 6 weeks for the dealer to receive it in.

    Lets use that 350,000 vehicles as our hypothetical year production figure say even with bulk ordering from a supplier contractor a u jointed shaft was lets say $5 each part to GM as a bulk purchase for their assembly line, however the rag joint is costing them lets say $1 each. The rag joints would cost $350,000 or $1 per truck. The u jointed shaft would cost them $1,750,000 @ $5 each per truck. They both do an adequate job for the average joe. Most people could give 2 shits if GM used a u jointed steering shaft in their trucks or not.

    This higher cost part adds to the window sticker of the truck, and if not added onto the cost of the truck would be felt by company shareholders, so the customer pays with a mark up to lets say $8 more being added to the window sticker. Keep in mind this is only one cost cutting example. And if they did that with enough different parts on the truck, the customer, who shops by price, would buy elsewhere.

    Is a rag joint the "best" solution ? No it isnt, however its by far the cheapest from a bean counter standpoint, and worked "good enough" for 99% of the people who bought these trucks brand new concidering the fact that they would be hitting the wrecking yards either wrecked, rotted out, beat to shit, or just plain worn out by the 15 year mark.

    Why do you think the 90° 4.3 V6, 305s, and 350s in these trucks are all SAE thread, when the cabs and chassis are metric? It sure as shit isnt out of tradition, though we would like to think so. Its because the same tooling and processes thats been making small block V8s since 1955 was probably still being used to make the engines in these trucks in the 80s and 90s. Why spend money to retool for metric hardware on the engine. Costs more money with no additional benefit.

    I am in the process of restoring 2 second gen plymouth barracudas. One is a 1967 sport coupe 1st year second gen. The other is a 1969 sport coupe last year of second gen. What the manufacturer cheapened up between 67 and 69 is pretty epic even though they look pretty close to the same. Stuff was done for cost cutting. By really looking at the differences in everything between both cars you could imagine the beanies at work telling the stylists and engineers to make it cheaper, sell it same price etc.

    Personally i am glad jeep being the 4th largest automaker, used saginaw steering boxes specced with GM splines and went with a U joint setup. This makes it easy. As a smaller volume manufacturer with a reputation for trucks that are like billy goats for their agility and climbing ability in offroad situations, that u jointed shaft was concidered a necessity, and worth it to them to have it add to their bottom line.

    Sorry this is long winded, however In closing, yes they both work and do the job, the u jointed shaft has a more positive feel, and is a way better quality piece. Install it and its done. You could hand the truck down to your grandkid one day, and they would prob never have to replace it either. Rag joints were only used because they were cheap to produce and worked ok for most people. It was only done that way to keep costs down.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
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  3. Darrell

    Darrell I'm Awesome

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    Moparmat, very well explained. What you're saying makes sense.

    I was actually thinking that the biggest benefit was a solid material with no give over something that has some flex to it..just wasn't 100% sure.

    What's the best steering shaft I need to look for to make this work on my 95 two wheel drive as I've seen a couple suggestions on various Jeep yrs.

    Thanks again
     
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  4. Urambo Tauro

    Urambo Tauro I'm Awesome

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    Excellent question and excellent answer from both of you there.

    I'm still a fan of rag joints, but YMMV vary. I've seen original rag joints last longer than 20 years. I've also seen them become horribly worn long before that much time had elapsed. Makes me wonder how some of them start to fail so early.

    I suppose some of that could be due to off-roading. But maybe we ought to blame some of that on steering while stationary, too. Especially in parking lots where the tires have a lot of grip on the pavement. Even with power steering, you can feel the strain... I imagine that owners that have switched to low-profile tires might also be accelerating rag joint wear on account of the reduced sidewall flex. No doubt potholes have an effect as well. So many potential explanations...
     
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  5. Moparmat2000

    Moparmat2000 I'm Awesome

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    Dont forget vehicle fluids and chemicals being spilled on them. A rag joint being rubber can be affected by things like this.
     
  6. Moparmat2000

    Moparmat2000 I'm Awesome

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    Finally drove my truck for the first time after jeep shaft install. Feels very tight, i like it. My steering wheel however now sits turned to the right when the the truck is driving straight. Cannot reclock the steering wheel because of the master spline, so how do you get it straight? I am assuming you go about adjusting the tie rods to center it. Any input from those of you who successfully did this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
  7. MSCustoms

    MSCustoms Its not just a Truck

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    You adjust the tierods equally on both sides to recenter the wheel
     
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  8. someotherguy

    someotherguy I'm Awesome

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    Which is one reason the factory puts that cool plastic cover on it. Hmmmm

    Richard
     
  9. Moparmat2000

    Moparmat2000 I'm Awesome

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    Speaking of stock steering shafts. I got a new replacement one that i put in my truck at 132K and just pulled back out at about 150k to do this jeep shaft mod. Anybody need a 28,000 mile stock shaft. It looks and feels like new. I may list it in parts for sale.
     
  10. Moparmat2000

    Moparmat2000 I'm Awesome

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    All it took to center my wheel was 1/2 turn adjustment on the tie rod adjustors to the right, and she is dead center when driving straight. I am sure every truck is different. This is all it took to correct mine.
     

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