Steering Linkage

I have to use two universal joints to connect the end of the steering shaft to the rack n pinion unit. Everything I read said use Flaming River or Borgeson u-joints. Unfortunately, by the time one of their u-joints get into Canada, I'm looking at $125 a pop. I need two, add in tax and the total is hitting close to $270. Way out of my price league. So its off to search the Internet to see what I can find.

Did some serious searching on the net and found out this info from http://www.pirate4x4.com/tech/powersteering/index.html who was installing a GM power steering box into a Jeep:

Here are the part numbers for the little steering u-joints:

1. NAPA part # 1512- 3/4" bore yoke About $15 (part number may be wrong!)

2. NAPA part # NUJ338- u-joint About $8

3. spicer part # 10-4-621-SX (Spicer 3/4" yoke) same as NAPA, only cost more.

4. Spicer part # 10-4-551-SX (Spicer 3/4" splined for GM p/s box) About $22

5. AFCO 3/4" bore complete u-joint. This is a small bad ass little u-joint. Used for custom steering on race cars and such. Perfect for tight places. Here is the part number for the non splined u-joint: 30303. Note: this can be purchased through Tognotties or other high performance shops. The cost is $60.99 for both splined and non- splined. By the way, AFCO is the name of the manufacture.

Check out the AFCO site, they have some interesting products including neat lowering blocks and one that is even adjustable for fore and aft positioning. It would be great for centering your rear axle in the wheelwell.

Unfortunately, NAPA US and NAPA Canada don't have the same part numbering system. So after some fruitless phoning around, I went to the wreckers. I found that quite a few models of fwd GMs have minature u-joints (similar to the driveshaft u-joints) to connect from the steering column to the rack n pinion. Mid 80s cars like Citations, Celebrities and even Fireflies have the 2 u-joints. I bought a complete steering column with the u-joints for $15. The u-joints are about twice the size of a Borgeson joint and are packed with grease. They would need some sort of protection to prevent dirt from getting in. They look like they would be pretty close to my exhaust manifold so a heat shield would have to be made if they would work.

GM u-joint

GM small, mid size and minivan u-joints

top view

Side view showing steering column to rack connection

The green arrow indicates the adjustment for the column shifter as I found out. The two bolts are on spiral grooves, that allow you to set the amount of play when you pull on the shifter to shift gears. I had set it too tight and couldn't pull the shifter back at all. The tranny was locked in Park!

top view

Top view showing angle and exhaust clearance

I used a 1990 Firefly's universal joints to connect the 80s Chevy van's steering shaft to the 86 Buick Park Avenue's rack and pinion. The steering shaft was cut down and silver soldered (rated 70,000 lbs - as good as welding!) to the Firefly's steering shaft end. The ends were butted with a male/female dowel arrangement.

An adapter was welded onto the end of the Firefly's universals to connect to the rack. Four long allen screws keep the universals firmly attached to the rack and prevent the rack from slipping. Each screw has a locking nut to keep it from coming loose. I will check these periodically and locktite them in place for added safety.

It's hard to tell from the pictures but there is about 1/2" of clearance between the steering shaft and the frame. There is a bearing at the end of the steering column and it is held in place by a spring. The spring presses against a clamp at the end of the shaft and just before the first u-joint.

I had a chance to go to the wreckers and wander around, here's what I found looking at the different steering hardware.

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Copyright March 2011 Eugene Blanchard