G-Body upgraded intermediate steering shaft

ck80

Moderator
Moderator
Supporting Member
Feb 18, 2014
5,748
9,143
113
Heat from forward turbo pipes has melted my son’s. The rag joint would get gooey/spongey feeling. An Astro van shaft solved the issue, and also had more clearance.
See, that makes sense.

Problem is, most of the people complaining about the factory joints not holding up dont have that plumbing of a turbo/heat to blame.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
8,258
17,780
113
Heat from forward turbo pipes has melted my son’s. The rag joint would get gooey/spongey feeling. An Astro van shaft solved the issue, and also had more clearance.
That's a very good reason to do the swap. It's been my experience that melted sh*t and stuff that's on fire don't usually operate as originally intended. If you don't care about harmonics in your hands and need every bit of road feel, then get those conversion shafts. I understand there are always reasons to make the system tight as possible, such as handling considerations.

In my own experiences with rag joints which GM has seemingly used on cars since 2,000 B.C., 95% of the ones I've seen on other cars that are weak and tear USUALLY have or had a leaky power steering system and get oil soaked, swell up, degrade to mush, then fail. As everyone should already know, GM didn't design G-body cars with the most primo parts and never expected 40 years or more service from them. Replacing them with other types of systems is fine, just know what you're getting into and any safety features you may be bypassing.

But I'm in the camp of ck80 on this. I've never personally had a rag joint failure. I've had my share of clunky boxes over the years, but that was more a process of clearances/gear and linkage wear. I've had no issues keeping my junk between the ditches using rag joints.

And as far as jimsmonte80 comments goes, I'm going to go ahead and disagree with the statement about his telescoping feature purpose opinion as it doesn't make sense to me. Have you ever tried to push in or pull apart an intermediate shaft by hand? Maybe the Hulk can do it, but I need to eat more Wheaties if I'm going to do it. It is designed not to move under normal conditions. The intermediate shaft is collapsible along with the sliding mounts under the dash because of crash considerations. Nothing more. It's been that way for ages. Well, since 1967 anyway.

When properly mounted on the frame at the factory, the G-body body and the frame was designed to act as one. Your body should not be moving around on the frame unless something is wrong. Any movement of the steering column and frame should be negligible, and what minute flex is there is designed to be absorbed by, you guessed it, the rag joint. Not the collapsible feature. Otherwise they'd have used the same part number intermediate shafts for all the different body styles to save $. It also is there for NVH considerations, just like those body bushings. Weakness with age, improper maintenance, and rust, etc., takes its toll on the entire car and yes, at some point you may see more flex in the car overall which can and does affect your steering systems. But it was not designed that way.

Of course you can believe whatever you wish. But I'm not a rag joint poo- pooher.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
8,258
17,780
113
Check this out if you think it's a good idea to get rid of any collapsible steering column. Watch each car's interior camera and see what happens to the steering wheel. There were no collapsible columns in 1959. Sorry, the old tanks weren't as safe as everyone claimed they were.

 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

Streetbu

Know it all, that doesn't
Supporting Member
May 22, 2011
3,757
11,729
113
Central NY
No one is getting rid of collapsible columns. Just changing from one style of collapsible shaft to another.
I changed mine not because the rag joint was bad, but rather the jeep style was smaller and offered more header room
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users

69hurstolds

Geezer
Supporting Member
Jan 2, 2006
8,258
17,780
113
No one is getting rid of collapsible columns. Just changing from one style of collapsible shaft to another.
I changed mine not because the rag joint was bad, but rather the jeep style was smaller and offered more header room
Never said they were. My comment was more geared to a generalization to show what happens if anyone got the idea a solid steering shaft was better for the driver than a collapsible one in a crash. Because it's not. I'm not denouncing anyone's reasoning for changing a shaft if they wish. Do whatever you want if it makes sense to you. Sometimes just getting rid of the big azz plastic shield nets you more room.

On some vehicles, the u-joint shafts are simply links and don't actually collapse, and their positioining in the system doesn't lend themselves to collapse, but rather to fold back at the joint in a crash to effectively not be a spear hazard.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

ck80

Moderator
Moderator
Supporting Member
Feb 18, 2014
5,748
9,143
113
The way I see it is two-fold:

Frist: to those who want to? Well, whether you use the jeep, or the astro, either way you're using a field tested and heavily engineered factory part swapped in. Not something billy-bob made in his garage.

Second: to me? If I bought a car with one I'd swap back to good old rag joint. I still see it as a solution in search of a problem. Some guys it makes sense for: you added high heat piping where the factory had nothing Ala 64nailhead ? OK. You did an engine swap for a powerplant and headers never intended by the engineers for the car Ala Streetbu ? OK again. To each their own.

Personally, I think these swaps 99.99% of the time were something like the old flip-your-air-cleaner-lid for-more-horsepower deal. For each guy with some legitimate engineered solution based reason for the change, in this case whether it was a poorly maintained system damaged their rag joint, or, their modern setup renders another solution better, there's 100 or more guys making the swap because the internet tells them "it is an improvement" and, really, they're just making a change for the sake of a change.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Rt Jam

G-Body Guru
Mar 30, 2020
600
597
93
Ontario Canada
The issue Jimsmonte is talking about is body to frame movement. It's real no matter how good your body mounts are. Every bump your car hits, I guarantee there is some distance change from steering box to steering column. Without a slip joint, there are bearings in that system that will not be happy.

The rag joint is not meant to deal with length change. It's a coupler that can account for any angle variance. The joint at the top by firewall is a sliding coupling. This is what the Jeep and Astro upgrade do not account for.

I'm not here to say a rag joint is better than a universal joint but if there is no slip joint coupler, then OEM for me.

Comparing a broken or worn rag joint to a universal joint is a poor argument.
 

Attachments

  • 20210607_213757.jpg
    20210607_213757.jpg
    367.7 KB · Views: 81
  • 20211011_132616.jpg
    20211011_132616.jpg
    845.2 KB · Views: 86
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

jimsmonte80

Apprentice
Aug 22, 2011
63
17
8
Pretty sure the column shaft itself moves in and out also. There's a couple of spots in that whole system that move so you're not Kabob'd in a wreck.
The column shaft will collapse in an accident.
I've had this Jeep one for 12 years now, no issues.

View attachment 217695
This is the jeep shaft from an 84-94 Jeep Cherokee? Where the to halves slide together and telescope, I have some play. You can almost jiggle it. Curious if yours feels that way or I just have a worn out shaft. Also, I believe these shafts have two grooves on the inside where metal shims may cushion the telescoping shafts are missing.
 

GBodyForum is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

Please support GBodyForum Sponsors

Classic Truck Consoles Dixie Restoration Depot UMI Performance

Contact [email protected] for info on becoming a sponsor