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Discussion Starter #1
I have not seen this mentioned in the forum and was hoping someone could tell me the cure for my issue.
The end of the steering shaft fits into the top part of the universal joint where there is a bolt to tighten and help lock, the steering shaft, into place. That connection is the point of my issue - a bit of play - you can take your hand and turn the shaft and see that it move within that top part of the universal joint - that is it does not immediately transfer the turning force to the universal joint, again just a little bit of play. I have the bolt as tight as I dare and the part which looks somewhat like a clamp looks much too rigid to move and actually tighten around the shaft to take up the play. I hope I am missing something simple or there is an easy fix - just once. Thanks..................
 

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I have the same problem. Will be watching to see if anyone has a solution.
 

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X3..... Haven't gotten to that one yet...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
X3..... Haven't gotten to that one yet...
Seems like this would be a more common problem but perhaps its not. I know that my original rack and pinion had the same issue and now the newer Rack and Pinion replacement, which was used, has the same issue, just not as severe as the original. Again hoping someone out there has a solution. I have given it a lot of thought and tried using a feeler gauge slat as a shim but that, while seemed to help, did not cure the problem as the shim just would not stay in place.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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So this is where the steering shaft connected to the steering wheel goes into the upper part of the universal joint?

I would start by making sure the correct torque is on the bolt. The FSM says to put 22 ft-lbs of torque on that bolt. The FSM diagram shows it as an internal 12 pointed head.... don't use an allen wrench there, but get the right tool for that internal 12 pointed bolt head. If you have worked on the engine and removed the cam bolts, I bet it is the same sized tool. You'll need a 3/8" drive torque wrench to get that level of torque on that bolt.

Now, if it has been loose for a while and worn the clamp or flats on the shaft, then that is another matter.
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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In my experience, this is VERY unusual. EVERY steering column shaft clamp at the rack universal I have dealt with(about 7-8) has always been so tight I have to spread it with a giant screwdriver or chisel to get the shaft out

Therein may lie the problem. A previous owner may have "over-spread" the clamp trying to get the shaft out and the bolt isn't strong enough to squeeze the spread back together. Or maybe a PO drove around for a long time with the clamp loose and now the clamp is egged-out.

Regardless, this should be a very easy problem to fix. Try putting a big c-clamp on the steering clamp(remove the bolt first) and see if you can squeeze it firmly, with no play, together. Try to put the bolt in and tighten it while you have it squeezed together. Or you can shim the play away. Find some sort of super thin metal, preferably stainless, copper, etc., and try to jam some into any gap between the shaft and clamp, then tighten. I suppose you could even use a piece of razor blade, but that would rust quickly. I have even used tooth picks to fill gaps between loose bolts and screws.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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If you use a shim (certainly possible), then it needs to be hard enough to that it will not squeeze down and thin out. IDK how hard a shim from a feeler gauge set would be...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Excellent advice I just happen to have a very large C clamp and I am going to give that a try right now. Perhaps combination of shim and tightening will give me the results I am looking for. Had not thought of the C Clamp - great idea. Will follow up and let you know the results. Thanks.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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I suppose you could even use a piece of razor blade, but that would rust quickly.
Actually the part of a razor blade is probably a great candidate. The steel is typically very hard and strong. I just looked it up, and it is a martinsitic steel, which means very hard. Put some light grease on it for any rust proofing.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I was able to get a 0.10 m feeler gauge blade into one side all the way through, prior attempts had only been able to insert the shim around 1/4 inch - success was achieved after using the C clamp. Was also able to put part of a 0.12 into the other side - the whole 0.12 whim would not go in so I used tin snips and cut it on an angle and was able to wiggle and push it and wiggle the shaft until the tip was visible on the other side, but that was as far as it would go. I think the shims will hold up fairly well as they are on the flat sides of the shaft. I wrapped the shims to the shaft with electrical tape and put a small radiator clamp on it. I think instead of the 0.12 on the other side it should be replaced with another 0.10 which would most likely fit perfectly. Next time I am in Auto Zone I will pick up another feeler gauge and make the swap or if I can find a better metal I will go with that. The good news is play is gone, really tight, and it the steering wheel feels great. Thanks for your assistance everyone. Nice to have another project off the list and one that in fact was a pretty easy fix. That little bit of play was driving me nuts.....


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I was wondering about the u-joint availability too. Not sure whether it's the shaft that gets worn or the u-joint. I'm going to tackle this in the next few days but I can see it's going to be a bear because the serrated teeth of the bolt head are worn down. Allen wrench fits in the hole but very sloppy. I'll probably end up having to use a bolt extractor on it.

Shim and c-clamp sound like good options if I can manage to get the bolt out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If you grab the shaft just above the u joint and you can move the shaft within the u-joint connector I believe you have the same issue that I have recently fixed with the shims. Don't know how long it will last but I am optimistic because the shims fit on the flat side of the shaft. I replaced the serrated bolt with a regular bolt years ago and that really helped get some serious torque on the connection. Mine is now very tight with no play. Good luck with the extraction.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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IIRC, the serrations have different angles than on an allen wrench.

If you have the tool for the cam sprocket bolts or the front 2 bolts through the later heads into the later timing cover, that is probably the same tool for this bolt. K-D Tools #2304...also NAPA 2304.
 

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IIRC, the serrations have different angles than on an allen wrench.

If you have the tool for the cam sprocket bolts or the front 2 bolts through the later heads into the later timing cover, that is probably the same tool for this bolt. K-D Tools #2304...also NAPA 2304.
Yes, I have that tool, but it seems like it doesn't grab at all. Perhaps the bolt got replaced somewhere along the line with an allen head?

Will, I'm pretty sure my problem is exactly the same as yours. I intend to try the feeler gauge trick too.
 

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Opel Rallier since 1977
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The serrations may may have already been 'turned out' with a former Allen head user. (And I am just going by memory on that bolt head....always dangerous!) Maybe some small vice grips?
 

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Just Some Dude in Jersey
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I always replace the bolt with an allen. Metal shims will work just fine. Assuming that someone ground down the flats of the shaft or the clamp was so loose for so long it was egged out, then the shims are just replacing the metal that was lost. More than likely, though, someone over spread the clamp with a screwdriver, chisel, etc., not realizing that you have to fully remove the bolt to get the shaft out of the clamp. Did you try the c-clamp to squeeze the clamp together? I'm pretty sure that there should only be about 1/8" of space between the 2 sides of the clamp when tightened up, anymore and it's probably been spread open excessively.
 

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Yes, I'm definitely going to try the c-clamp suggestion, Gordon. We have a heat wave going on here-- supposed to be 109 F today (even though I'm at 3,500 feet elevation!) and the garage is like an oven-- so I'm going to wait a few more days to tackle it. I'm just glad I'm not in Phoenix, where it's supposed to be 116 today, or Bullhead City, where NWS is predicting 120 for tomorrow!
 

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Well thanks to this thread I no longer have a 1/2" of play in my steering! It's tight as new now! Yay. In my case the joint under the dashboard was tight but the bolt had backed out alot on the one before the steering rack itself . Easy fix, but it was brought to my attention by this thread.

Thanks everyone
 

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Yeah, y'all rock! Got rid of my play too using pieces of .010 feeler gauge and a "c" clamp to tighten up the gap before putting the bolt back in. Actually, got a new bolt because I had stripped the head of the old one. Fortunately, from under the car I was able to get a good bite on it with vice grips. Ace Hardware has the proper hardened metric bolt for it. It's just like the old bolt except has a 6 mm allen head instead of serrated bit.

BTW, I didn't think of it until I stripped the bolt, but this job is easier from under the car. You can access the bolt from the top with a very long extension, but the angle isn't quite right, which is likely why I stripped it in the first place. With the front of the car jacked up it's easy access.
 
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