Tips and Techniques for Installing Drive Shaft U-Joints
Welding u-joints is not recommended. Aside from the technical complications of metal stress or risk of boiling the grease, welding your u-joints can be inconvenient. Welding is permanent and the u-joints can not be re-used. Many times, as builders, we have had to remove the columns for later adjustments or last minute decisions on the rack or box. Safety is another factor, Splined or “D” shafts can not spin inside the u-joint. If you do make the decision to weld, remember; all your components must be in the proper phase and alignment (you wouldn’t want to drive with a crooked steering wheel or have your steering bind).
U-joints must be “in phase”. This is referring to how they relate to each other. If you do not line up your u-joints properly, they WILL bind (again another good reason not to weld).
Using more than three u-joints is not recommended. Again, this is not only a safety issue, but it becomes more difficult to keep phase on the u-joints. There are a variety of options available to handle difficult applications and we we will be more than happy to help you plan. Also, if more than two connections are used, you must support one of the shafts to keep the assembly from swinging. (In our experience, this includes using a solid coupler for a third support).
Do not measure u-joints with a ruler to determine size. Calipers are the only accurate tool. Not all boxes or racks are alike even within the same applications. An example is GM columns which could be one of four different versions. Another example is the ford rack, which comes in different spline counts.
Vibration dampers/reducers are helpful for reducing road feel. They are not a system requirement nor are they meant to be a 100% cure. Vibration dampers will not take out vibration from other sources (such as engine or improper installation).
Used steering parts are not recommended. The main reason is due to the unknown history of those parts. Any accident can stress steering components. Time is a big factor as it affects all components, grease dries, metal rusts and becomes more brittle with lack of use. What seems like a bargain is usually not.
Our best advice… DON’T CUT CORNERS!! Your life and others depend on your ability to control your car, so please, be safe.
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