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Bad rag joint!!

 
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Old 02-16-2019, 01:26 PM
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Bad rag joint!!

I was looking around under the hood of my 1983 F-150, 300-6, the other day; I realized I'd never checked under the rag joint shield, in the year and a half that I've owned the truck.

So I popped it off and lo and behold, I found total carnage where a healthy rag joint should be!

I have done some googling, but I still can't tell exactly what I'm looking at, or what the rag joint is supposed to look like installed. It appears that mine has sheared almost completely on both sides, which could explain the sloppy steering.

Here's some disturbing pictures:


That doesn't look quite right...

Everything metal appears broken.
 
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Old 02-16-2019, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by can0fspam View Post
I was looking around under the hood of my 1983 F-150, 300-6, the other day; I realized I'd never checked under the rag joint shield, in the year and a half that I've owned the truck.

So I popped it off and lo and behold, I found total carnage where a healthy rag joint should be!

I have done some googling, but I still can't tell exactly what I'm looking at, or what the rag joint is supposed to look like installed. It appears that mine has sheared almost completely on both sides, which could explain the sloppy steering.
A/T or M/T, 2WD or 4WD, with or without a tilt wheel?

Whatever the application is, you cannot replace just the rag joint on these trucks, you have to replace the entire lower steering shaft and coupler assy., because the rag joint is not available by itself.

Pic will follow once you answer the questions.
 
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Old 02-16-2019, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by NumberDummy View Post
A/T or M/T, 2WD or 4WD, with or without a tilt wheel?

Whatever the application is, you cannot replace just the rag joint on these trucks, you have to replace the entire lower steering shaft and coupler assy., because the rag joint is not available by itself.

Pic will follow once you answer the questions.
It's a np435 manual transmission with a mechanical clutch, 4wd np208, and a fixed column. Sounds like I could pull an intermediate shaft from a junkyard; in addition to the pic do you know which intermediate shaft model years can fit this truck?

thank you!
 
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Old 02-16-2019, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by can0fspam View Post


It's a np435 manual transmission with a mechanical clutch, 4wd np208, and a fixed column. Sounds like I could pull an intermediate shaft from a junkyard; in addition to the pic do you know which intermediate shaft model years can fit this truck?

Pic: 3A525 is the rag joint. but it was not available as a separate part after 2/81 (February 1981).

It was made as part of the 3B676 lower steering shaft & coupler assy.

You may be able to get the rag joint at auto parts stores, otherwise...

To list the applications for the shaft & coupler, I also need to know if your truck has P/S or not.


 
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Old 02-16-2019, 04:27 PM
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On second thought, it might not be broken after all.
I went to a junkyard and looked at another truck's rag joint. The split portion looks janky but it might be intentional:
 
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Old 02-16-2019, 08:37 PM
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Bill, He has PS look at his first post & first picture box has lines going to it.

COS, it does look broken from the pictures.
To see if that is where the play is take vise grips and put them on the upper shaft. Unlock the wheel and then move the vise grips left & right looking at the joint.
If it is bad you will see play and it will need to be fixed.
Dave ----
 
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Old 02-16-2019, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by FuzzFace2 View Post
Bill, He has PS look at his first post & first picture box has lines going to it.

COS, it does look broken from the pictures.
To see if that is where the play is take vise grips and put them on the upper shaft. Unlock the wheel and then move the vise grips left & right looking at the joint.
If it is bad you will see play and it will need to be fixed.
Dave ----
Thanks, I will try out the vice grip test as soon as I can get to it.

What about the appearance makes you think the joint is broken?
After seeing the other truck with the same looking part, I think it actually looks alright. But if you see something, I'd like to play it safe.

- COS
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 06:52 AM
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The 2 curled up parts left & right of that center stud in the picture.
I have to check mine to see what they look like but others I have worked on did not look like yours they looked more like the picture Bill posted.
A flatish part on the wheel side that has 2 cut outs for large round non-threaded studs on the "rag" part to fit in and then 2 holes 180* from the cut outs that threaded studs go thru and lock nut put on.

The 2 round studs thru the cut outs is for safety.
If the "rag" was to break the 2 round studs that are part of the metal part bolted to the box input shaft. would hit either side of the cut out and you would still have steering but with a L O T of play.
I barrowed a tow truck once that the rag broke and the studs where the only thing steering the truck not fun to drive!
Dave ----

edit: Looking at the first few pictures it looks like it may be good?
The 2 parts with the curl may be the round safety stud I talked of above.
When you can do the test I posted above. If you have a helper they can move the wheel left & right and you would not need the vise grips.
It might be best with a helper as you can start at the rag joint looking for play then thru the box, input should move the out put shaft with vary little play.
Wile at the box make sure the box is tight to the frame. A cracked frame the box will move around and add play to the system.
Seams to happen more on 4x4 trucks from what I seen posted.
Then move to the tie rods checking each for play. A little bit of play at each area all adds up to a lot total.

Now if you are use to driving a car / truck with rack & pinion steering they are a lot tighter than anything with a box like your truck has.
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 08:48 AM
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OK got pictures of the setup that came out of my 81 F100 4x2 truck.
The one from the parts truck is the same, did not get picture as it is in the truck and had that cover and did not want to break it too cold, but is the same as I used the column from parts truck and box from the project truck.
As you can see it like the picture Bill posted.
This is the column side and if you look closely the slots are different sizes so will only fit the rag 1 way as the round studs are also different sizes. I have also come across the threaded studs are different sizes.

Box side with the rag joint in place. Nuts are top & bottom with the round studs left (small) and right (large).

I don't know what you have going on with yours but it is not like any I have seen.
Dave ----
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 10:16 AM
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Interesting. I will try out the steering play test today; I already had it in mind to check for cracks around the steering box so I will do that as well.
I've already jacked up the front end and, happily, there is virtually no play from side to side or up and down if I tug on the wheels or the tie rods. Hopefully the box will check out too.

For clarification, the two pics in my first post are the rag joint on my truck; the third picture I posted separately is from a 1986 F-150 in a junkyard, and the joint looks identical to mine.

Since yours appear very different, it makes me feel like they could be a different design that was put in place mid-generation.
Your trucks are 1980 and 1981 model years, right?
I know that the "early" bullnoses also features things like tailgate linkages instead of cables, kingpins instead of ball joints, and a few different minor features like slide locks and cosmetic changes.
My truck has none of those "early" bullnose features; the only things that makes mine different from an '84+ is the conventional carburetor and the mechanical clutch linkage.
I would not be surprised if Ford also supplied different rag joints between the "early" and "late" bullnose models, given that my '83 and this '86 both had the same weird rag joint!

You're certainly right that mine looks weird... that's why my first instinct was to think that it had been torn apart somehow.
But the symmetry of the part and the perfect similarity to the junkyard truck makes me think it's just a weird design.
You learn something new every day, I guess!
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 12:11 PM
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You are right both of my trucks are 81 model year trucks so you could be right on Ford made a change in the later years.
I guess the only way you are going to know where the play is to check a little deeper.
Hope the frame is not cracked. Wonder if the box is the one adding play to the system?

Yes again on the kingpins & sliding door locks but my tail gate uses chains, flare side
Dave ----
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 03:35 PM
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I did your tests with the steering column and a helper!

When he turned the wheel, there was about 1/8 turn of play, from left to right. The entire intermediate shaft turned with the steering column shaft.
Looks like the upper steering column joint has little to no play in it, which is good.

The rag joint had some play, which was noticeable but not severe. The upper and lower metal plates showed a little bit of lash; the lower plate "caught up" to the top one as the shaft changed direction.
However, the play in the rag joint was still rather minimal.

The shaft below the rag joint, going into the steering box, was still turning quite freely.
The steering box stayed completely still, and I could not find any cracks on the frame around it from a top view.
I took a picture, and my phone immediately died, so I don't have it but I can get another later.

This test was done with the engine off and truck still; the front wheels did not turn at all.
So it seems my steering box has play in it between its input and output.
My friend mentioned that his Toyota steering is adjustable with a screw; but it's manual steering. Is that something I should try, or is the steering box simply worn out?
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 05:27 PM
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There is an adjustment on your box also and you can try no more than 1/8 turn tight.
I had a manual box I went to tight and broke the adjuster plate off the top of the box.

I would not go for a rebuilt from the parts store as I have seen it posted they are not much better than what you have now.
Red head or Blue hat or something like that is who you want to go with. They machine the units to install bearings where the units don't have them and ware the area out.
I think Cory aka Rembrant did one of the boxes last year when he redid the front end in his truck.
http://redheadsteeringgears.com/
http://www.bluetopsteeringgears.com/
Dave ----
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by FuzzFace2 View Post
There is an adjustment on your box also and you can try no more than 1/8 turn tight.
I had a manual box I went to tight and broke the adjuster plate off the top of the box.

I would not go for a rebuilt from the parts store as I have seen it posted they are not much better than what you have now.
Red head or Blue hat or something like that is who you want to go with. They machine the units to install bearings where the units don't have them and ware the area out.
I think Cory aka Rembrant did one of the boxes last year when he redid the front end in his truck.
Dave ----
OK, sounds good. I might try to tighten it up just a teeny bit. The play doesn't really bother me now, but I am aware that tightening the steering is gonna make a pretty big difference in daily driving.
thanks for the info!
 
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Old 02-17-2019, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by FuzzFace2 View Post
There is an adjustment on your box also and you can try no more than 1/8 turn tight.
Do not mess with that nut! It only sets the preload of the sector shaft. Over tighten it, the box could lock up.

Backing the nut off after the box locks up, may not do any good.
 

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