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Check your rag joints. part 1
#1
so a compromise i made 3 years ago came back to bite me in the butt last night.

Basically i needed to move my car to get something with the engine off so i rolled it out of the garage and steered it and POP my rag joint in the steering system 'gave up the ghost'.

3 years ago i should of changed it as a preventable problem but the original looked good and i was in a rush. Thankfully the rag joint failed at home in the driveway.

Basically Add a rag joint inspection to your maintenance cycle it is after all just a thick piece of rubber keeping your steering in control of your wheels. The rubber is also located under the Master cylinder and dot 3 brake fluid does eat the rubber and re-enforcement layers over time. couple that with high heat and constant stretching left and right, and it should be considered a wear item like tires.

the joint needs to remain intact with out power steering assist. what if you loose power steering while driving that joint must be able to take full steering load to limp you home.

I don't know the 'correct' way to replace a rag joint, funny enough rag joints are not covered in most manuals and are barely mentioned at all in most books.

originally the rubber disc came riveted from the factory, most of the rag joint replacement kits come with 'most' of the hardware you need to retrofit the rag joint, but you will have to remove it from the car the completely to get it on the bench and get the original rivets out. Thankfully mine was replaced in the past so i didn't have to deal with drilling out the rivets.

so this is how i replace a rag joint.
1) remove the driver's side shock tower monte carlo brace from cowl to the shock tower. this will give you better access from the top if you need it to get to some bolts on the rag joint.

2) go into the car, and remove the lower Steering wheel cover.

3) Lift the carpet back and remove the 3 large bolts in the floor board that hold the lower part of the steering wheel column in place, this is a good time to think about replacing your steering wheel Firewall Seal with a new one if yours is falling apart.

4) loosen the 4 main nuts that hold the steering column, around the lower dash panel and around the fuse box. take out 3 of the nuts, leave 1 in loose.

5) jack up the car, get underneath the steering box.

now if you have an original rag joint you need to take the unit out completely, loosing the bolt that holds the rag joint to the splines on the steering box, you then remove the 2 nuts that hold the upper part to the steering column, go back inside the car loosen the 1 nut holding the column then pull the column back from the rag joint, then you may need a puller to get it off the steering box splines.

since mine was already drilled out, i loosened the steering column side nuts, loosened the steering box nuts and got the original rubber disc out by sliding the steering column back after taking the one nut out. i laid the column on the front seat, you don't have to pull it completely out.

now depending on the condition of the hardware you need to examine the new rag joint and the hardware that comes with it.

if you can save the bolts that go into the steering column side its nice for originality they have Xs on the tops if not the kit comes with regular hex head bolts to replace them.

the rest of the hardware is regular pins and you can replace them from the kit they match the original stuff pretty well. the kit comes with some pins for different years so match what came out of your car to whats in the kit.

4 important Parts that you must reuse are not included in the kit, these are special shaped washers that lock into the edge of the rubber rag joint disc. and the hardware goes through these washers to have solid support.

with all the exposure to brake fluid and water and dirt these 4 washers can be pretty messed up, with hardware locked into them with rust. i recommend either sand blasting them and freeing all the parts,

or i decided to chemically remove all the rust using a Rust remover evapo-rust i've done this to hardware before because it preserves the surface much better sand blasting turns all metal into the surface of the moon, with the evapo-rust only the rust is taken away the rest of the metal is left alone giving a more natural surface.

at this point i had to stop for the night, because i left the hardware soaking in evapo-rust overnight, this morning i went to go check and awesomely all the rust was gone and the parts are ready for some sealer paint. plus all the fused together hardware came right part with no effort.

i will post pics and walk you through putting the steering back together tonight.

all told it took me about an hour to get the rubber part of the joint out.

check your joints make sure they aren't about to die on you.


(Part 1)


  Reply
#2
Good info...Thanks

[Image: 20r9ylt.jpg]
  Reply
#3
Too true! I had one fail leaving a car show. That is a scary experience.

Jeff T.

Low buck, touring style, '73 Convertible "rolling restoration", 351c, 2v heads with a shave and a haircut, Performer intake, Holley 650(ish), roller rockers, screw in studs, guideplates, stainless valves, Duraspark / Motorsports MSD, T-5 conversion. 1-1/8" front, 3/4" rear swaybars KYB shocks and some home brewed subframe connectors. Future plans; JGC steering box, Cobra brakes and... paint, interior, etc.

When I die I want to die like grandpa, peacefully in my sleep... not screaming, like his passenger.

[Image: 1_12_09_14_10_15_11.png]
  Reply
#4
Great post, mine is original so I will check it out this weekend.
  Reply
#5
Yea i know what you mean there is no feeling worse than turning the steering wheel and nothing happens,except you go where the car takes you. the steering in mine was sloppy as heck, got new rag joint and all is well. But it was a pain

[Image: 2zdx09d.png]
Yea,Tho i cruise through the valley of the shadow of rice,I will fear no Turbo,For Torque art with me.Thy rods and crankshaft,they comfort me. Big Grin Robert
  Reply
#6
I just drop the steering box ..3 bolts
  Reply
#7
then you will have issues with taking the steering linkage apart, and having to deal with a joint puller. not to mention having to torque a lot of bolts to spec. add to that the steering box is like 50-75 pounds i remember when i installed it trying to hold it in place from the top without the engine in the engine bay and tring to line up the first bolt through the chassis rail. never again.

seriously pulling the steering column is very easy and will get you all the room your need with minimal effort.

Part 2 is going to get delayed i discovered an interesting issue caused by a former owner of my car i never noticed before. so I've had to take more things apart and think of a solution.

I'll leave you with these photo of my car taken 6 years ago before restoration, you can clearly see the problem in these photos, see if you can spot what 10 people including myself missed the first time around. because when everything was re-assembled it was put back the same way. I just figured it out today when i started to put things together again and i started to question why the failure happened the way it did. had i replaced my rag joint 3 years ago when i should have i would of caught this major screw up.

[Image: 100_0317.jpg]
[Image: 100_0958.jpg]

Thank god the Rag joint failed when it did, must have a guardian angle.

here is my Failed Rag joint.

[Image: DSCN0292.jpg]

here is the hardware i restored, and some new hardware
[Image: DSCN0295.jpg]
  Reply
#8
Well that was a fun ride through Fixing other peoples 'Serious' mistakes land.

Its amazing how much wrong information is on the net in regards to rag joints.

what i discovered was on my car a LONG time ago a very short person was driving it.

so the steering column was pushed all the way in at some point.

owner number 2 comes in and hes taller then owner 1, so that person loosened the bolts underneath and yanked the steering wheel back half way.
but they didn't loosen the column clamp at the bottom all the way and only managed to pull the column back half way, they then left it like that for who knows how long. they never went under the car to notice the steering column shaft was rusted or stuck into its original position.

what happened was the steering column joint was pulled away from the jag joint towards the firewall and the bottom of the rag joint stayed in its original position meaning the secondary pins that save you in the event of rag joint failure were not even touching the steering wheel plate.

the rubber was the only thing holding the steering together, what prevented everyone from seeing the problem for so long was the power steering taking the load off the rag joint, so there was only the rubber part of the rag joint keeping my car from loosing control. I didn't even feel it in the steering wheel when i drove it.

the old rag joint rubber was stretched backwards do to this and eventually the rubber hardened and stayed like that. i've never seen a rag joint really so i just thought that is how its suppose to be.

After messing around with it last night i could see the problem. also after looking over the internet i've seen other people screw up this same way and not realize the correct way the rag joint should be spaced.

another thing is people seem to use the wrong hardware that is included in the kits.

for reference this is the correct hardware for the 71-73 mustang.
[Image: DSCN0298.jpg]
[Image: DSCN0297.jpg]

do not use these parts included in the kit
[Image: DSCN0304.jpg]

you want the largest pin and the second to largest pin.

try and save these nuts if you can, they are pinched and lock the steering side pins in place much better then the ones in the kit.
[Image: DSCN0299.jpg]


for the rag joint to function correctly, you want to make sure the pins fit into their correct grooves on the steering column plate.

Large pin
[Image: DSCN0301.jpg]
smaller pin
[Image: DSCN0300.jpg]

These 2 pins act like a primitive universal in the event of Rubber ring failure. you may need to bang the steering column plate out to get it into the correct position. remember to loosen the lower steering column clamp behind the brake pedal before you start to mess with it. its a 1/2" nut.

if the rubber ring of the rag joint fails these 2 pins will allow you to steer the car they remain engaged against the steering column plate.

when you go inspect your rag joint.
[Image: DSCN0303.jpg]
Look at the areas where my red arrows are.

first make sure the 2 pins are making contact with the steering column as in the picture.

next make sure the lower part of the rag joint that attaches to the steering box, is not Smashed into the face of the seal there should be some clearance.

lastly you can see the steering column can move out to meet the rag joint correctly.

Anytime you adjust the steering column in or out give your rag joint an inspection and make sure something is not stuck in the wrong position.

the reason my rag joint failed was due to old age and incorrect steering column plate position which allowed the pivot pins to come off the guide plate.

i've never seen anyone take detailed pictures like this and it seems to be a simple thing that can go very wrong.

if you go back and look at my old picture
[Image: 100_0958.jpg]

you can see the larger pin is just kissing the plate, but the smaller pin not only was the wrong one(too small) but wasn't touching the plate at all, and you can see how deformed the rubber is.

  Reply
#9
72HCODE;22523 Wrote:Well that was a fun ride through Fixing other peoples 'Serious' mistakes land.

Its amazing how much wrong information is on the net in regards to rag joints.

what i discovered was on my car a LONG time ago a very short person was driving it.

so the steering column was pushed all the way in at some point.

owner number 2 comes in and hes taller then owner 1, so that person loosened the bolts underneath and yanked the steering wheel back half way.
but they didn't loosen the column clamp at the bottom all the way and only managed to pull the column back half way, they then left it like that for who knows how long. they never went under the car to notice the steering column shaft was rusted or stuck into its original position.

what happened was the steering column joint was pulled away from the jag joint towards the firewall and the bottom of the rag joint stayed in its original position meaning the secondary pins that save you in the event of rag joint failure were not even touching the steering wheel plate.

the rubber was the only thing holding the steering together, what prevented everyone from seeing the problem for so long was the power steering taking the load off the rag joint, so there was only the rubber part of the rag joint keeping my car from loosing control. I didn't even feel it in the steering wheel when i drove it.

the old rag joint rubber was stretched backwards do to this and eventually the rubber hardened and stayed like that. i've never seen a rag joint really so i just thought that is how its suppose to be.

After messing around with it last night i could see the problem. also after looking over the internet i've seen other people screw up this same way and not realize the correct way the rag joint should be spaced.

another thing is people seem to use the wrong hardware that is included in the kits.

for reference this is the correct hardware for the 71-73 mustang.
[Image: DSCN0298.jpg]
[Image: DSCN0297.jpg]

do not use these parts included in the kit
[Image: DSCN0304.jpg]

you want the largest pin and the second to largest pin.

try and save these nuts if you can, they are pinched and lock the steering side pins in place much better then the ones in the kit.
[Image: DSCN0299.jpg]


for the rag joint to function correctly, you want to make sure the pins fit into their correct grooves on the steering column plate.

Large pin
[Image: DSCN0301.jpg]
smaller pin
[Image: DSCN0300.jpg]

These 2 pins act like a primitive universal in the event of Rubber ring failure. you may need to bang the steering column plate out to get it into the correct position. remember to loosen the lower steering column clamp behind the brake pedal before you start to mess with it. its a 1/2" nut.

if the rubber ring of the rag joint fails these 2 pins will allow you to steer the car they remain engaged against the steering column plate.

when you go inspect your rag joint.
[Image: DSCN0303.jpg]
Look at the areas where my red arrows are.

first make sure the 2 pins are making contact with the steering column as in the picture.

next make sure the lower part of the rag joint that attaches to the steering box, is not Smashed into the face of the seal there should be some clearance.

lastly you can see the steering column can move out to meet the rag joint correctly.

Anytime you adjust the steering column in or out give your rag joint an inspection and make sure something is not stuck in the wrong position.

the reason my rag joint failed was due to old age and incorrect steering column plate position which allowed the pivot pins to come off the guide plate.

i've never seen anyone take detailed pictures like this and it seems to be a simple thing that can go very wrong.

if you go back and look at my old picture
[Image: 100_0958.jpg]

you can see the larger pin is just kissing the plate, but the smaller pin not only was the wrong one(too small) but wasn't touching the plate at all, and you can see how deformed the rubber is.

think i need to re-check mine Angry same here on the steering column being moved before

[Image: 2zdx09d.png]
Yea,Tho i cruise through the valley of the shadow of rice,I will fear no Turbo,For Torque art with me.Thy rods and crankshaft,they comfort me. Big Grin Robert
  Reply
#10
it seems to be very common for people missing this, when droptop73 mentioned the failure after a car show it hit home to me that the pins are important to the engagement of the rag joint. the Rubber ring, allows the pins to float but if you think about it the Pins really do all the work when the steering is under load. the floating of the pins on the rubber ring is what takes all the little impacts from the road and prevent them from transmitting up to your hands on the steering wheel.

the power steering is so good on our cars that the slightest movement through the shaft is enough to get the wheels turning, but if that power steering pump goes out on you and your rag joint is suspect watch out.

another interesting thing is before this little adventure i had no idea that you could adjust the position of the steering wheel, i thought the large adjustable plates under the dashboard simply compensated for variations on the assembly. the real deal is you can move that steering wheel about 5 inches in and out of the dash board. I have some leg room now Big Grin.

Its funny to think that somewhere an old timer is reading this laughing about it. the sad truth is 'us' younger guys are re-discovering these things. Heck my engine builder was impressed i knew what a Dwell gauge was. Ask one of these Tuner kids today hey did you set your dwell in your distributor correctly, and they look at you like an alien.
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