We’ve been piling up the miles on Buford T Justice, our 1987 Chevy Caprice project recently. Having completed the suspension upgrade and installed the new wheels and tires, the thing is a riot to heave into the corners and scare the kids, passengers, and passers by with. That being said, there was still a nagging issue that we couldn’t get a handle on. Despite our best efforts at adjusting the steering box, having the car properly aligned, and being on top of every nut and bolt, there was still a bunch of play in the steering wheel.
After searching high and low we made the discovery that tt was coming from the one place we hadn’t looked at, the rag joint. Unlike older models, the rag joint cannot be replaced on its own in B-Body and G-Body General Motors cars from the 1980s. Instead, the rag joint needs to be replaced along with the entire collapsible steering shaft. We saw these shafts going for hundreds of dollars from most popular sources we looked at. The good news is that there’s an alternative to buying a big bucks replacement. That alternative is (of all things) a Jeep Cherokee lower steering shaft that can be had from many locations for under $100 bucks and under $50 bucks if you want to score one from the local junkyard. The install is very straight forward and so long as you have some basic tools and don’t mind getting greasy, you can knock it out in an hour or so. (BTW…if you mind getting greasy, please don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out).
The Jeep shaft eliminates the rag joint and uses universal joints on both ends. This was an instant win for us. The slop was immediately gone from the steering and the job requires minimal work. We will have to make a slight toe correction to get our steering wheel centered up again but having the slop totally eliminated makes that small potatoes! The other side benefit of this swap is additional room for headers. More on that tomorrow!
We’re telling you the story and showing you the job with the photos and captions below! Scroll down!