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Steering Rag Joint Mod, Phase-1

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Tacomas (2005-2015)' started by Caddmannq, May 14, 2010.

  1. May 14, 2010 at 3:03 PM
    #1
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    I'd intended to do this a couple weeks ago, but just got around to it today. This is about the problem posted in a couple other threads here where the rubber donut between the upper & lower steering shafts is so floppy that the steering feels really loose under some circumstances.

    I took the cover off mine today and wiggled it around, and OH LORDY! is that damn thing loose. Just wiggling my steering wheel around in the driveway I could see huge deflections.

    Anyhow, some folks here have repaired this by stuffing bits of plastic or rubber in the crack where the lower shaft sticks (loosely) through a hole in the upper flange of the rag joint (lower flange of the spicer-type u-joint.)

    My intention before was to glob this thing up with some stiff polyurethane adhesive/sealant. They use this to glue windshields in and for other construction purposes. I decided that before I tried that I'd do something more easily reversible.

    Here's the rag joint exposed under the dash. I stole this photo from another member here. (I hope they don't mind.)

    [​IMG]

    Anyhow that rubber donut is riveted in place so there is no easy way to change it. Fords always had a joint like this, but it was reinforced with several layers of nylon fabric like the carcass of a truck tire & the Ford donut is MUCH stiffer than the Toyota's soft rubber version. I wasn't up for tearing the steering apart & drilling those rivets to try and replace it with the Ford parts. The Fords I've seen didn't have those spacers either, and the Ford joint is probably slightly larger as well.

    This is what I decided to try first. This is a 1" rubber stopper from the hardware store. I bought two for 89 cents each.
    [​IMG]

    I had to drill holes through them & they needed to be neatly centered, so I made this quicky drill jig out of scrap 1x4 lumber. I bolted it on the drill table & drilled a blind 7/8" dia. hole with a spade bit.
    [​IMG]

    I pressed a stopper in the hole & drilled it through with a 23/64" dia bit. This will be snug on the studs, which measured .350" dia. (~9.5mm)
    [​IMG]

    Here's the stopper, neatly drilled. You can probably buy them with holes at lab supply houses, but I didn't have to hunt around for these.
    [​IMG]

    OK, see the long stud in the first photo? There's two of course, & they stick clear through the joint & through oversized slots in the bottom flange (The black one welded to the lower steering shaft.) They don't need to be so long, but they're there for safety, in case the rubber donut rips or rots. You'd still be able to steer the truck with those two studs. A little. Maybe. As sloppy as this thing is WITH a good donut, I'd hate to find out how sloppy it is without one!

    So my idea was to stuff my home made rubber bushings on those studs & make them tight to the lower flange. Here you can see one of them pressed into place. (yellow arrow points to the new bushing/stopper.)

    [​IMG]

    They fit pretty tight & it took some persistant persuasion with needlenose pliers & a screwdriver to get them in place. I went slowly & was careful not to rip or scar them. Finally I glued them to the flange just a little so they wouldn't work loose. See the glob of glue? I used Crazy Glue, which glues rubber like crazy. It will also glue your fingers to anything rubber in 1 second. Be careful. The fumes are highly poison & irritate the eyes like fire.

    I could tell right away by wiggling the joint around by hand that this was going to make a great improvement, but how great? I don't know yet. I thought I'd let the glue dry really well while I post these photos, then go drive it around.

    So here I Go! See Ya!

    Will report back ASAP.
     
  2. May 14, 2010 at 3:14 PM
    #2
    Chachie

    Chachie Well-Known Member

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    Subbed!
     
  3. May 14, 2010 at 3:37 PM
    #3
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    OK, I'm back. I didn't go off in the mud yet, but I did drive around on some ordinary roads and some moderately rough roads, at speeds up to about 60 MPH.

    My first impression is that the truck turns much more quickly when entering a corner. The steering isn't a direct as a Honda Civic, but I noticed this immediately upon making my first turn from about 35 MPH.

    Second, it doesn't tend to wander quite as much on the road. Instead of feeling like a truck with 150,000 miles on it, it only feels like one with 75,000 miles on it. (My truck has only 10,000 miles and has never been abused or driven off road.)

    Third, the steering isn't as insulated from road shock as before, but it is still really well insulated compared to other trucks I've driven. I do feel minor pavement irregularities a bit more, but they are still hardly felt.

    Anyhow, I think that some more experimentation is in order, and I will probably use the urethane glue next.

    Stay tuned...
     
  4. May 14, 2010 at 3:45 PM
    #4
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    PS: I know the third photo shows a 3/4" spade bit but it wasn't large enough & I had to drill the jig out to 7/8" dia.
     
  5. May 30, 2010 at 8:46 AM
    #5
    livintall

    livintall Well-Known Member

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    So what's the update on this? I'm thinking about trying it.
     
  6. May 30, 2010 at 8:59 AM
    #6
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    OK, here's the update:

    First, while this mod was a perceptible improvement over stock, it didn't provide quite the improvement that I'd hoped for. The reasons are partially these:

    -The rubber stoppers aren't very hard rubber--only meduim-hard
    -The bearing area of the rubber against the steel is rather small

    I haven't had time to work on the truck, but will be able to do so tomorrow. I have been considering three courses of action:

    -Sleeve the lower part of the joint with tape & pump the area between the rubber donut & the black flange full of Polyurethane.

    -Cut some shaped rubber spacers and just glue them in that area to stabilize the donut.

    -Make a mold & pre-mold some polyurethane spacers, then glue them into that space.


    The idea for all three concepts is to stabilize the rubber donut, while not creating any solid contact between the upper & lower metal assemblies. I want to stiffen things up, but I don't want the steering to get harsh.

    Also, if I make the connection solid enough to transmit road shocks to the upper shaft assembly, it might have detrimental effects on the upper bearings/supports or other steering/dash parts.

    I will post more when I know more.
     
  7. May 30, 2010 at 9:03 AM
    #7
    OH-MAN

    OH-MAN Well-Known Member

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    Well done sir!

    I have not noticed it on my 2010 4X4 but on the 09 2wd it was very noticeable.

    Looking forward to see the final solution.
     
  8. Jun 1, 2010 at 9:40 AM
    #8
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    OK, just a quick update so you folks don't think I forgot about this.

    I did a couple different things and came to a couple different conclusions.

    First, I don't wan't to do anything grossly irreversible if I don't have to. I don't want to damage the rubber donut, as it is not a separately listed part, and if I damage it I don't want to buy a new shaft assembly.

    So the first thing I did was make 4 rubber spacers to fit between the donut & black flange, with hopes of stabilizing the donut. I used pieces of rubber cut from black rubber stoppers, ~12mm thick after cutting. This didn't do as much as I'd hoped. There was some improvement but it was very slight.

    Next as an experiment, I trussed the upper flange (the lower yoke of the spicer joint) on either side , to the spacers which are riveted to the black flange. I used heavy zip-ties, but I don't have a photo of this yet. I made the ties fairly tight, and this did restrain the motion of that flange and the steering stiffened up noticibly.

    This puts some tearing (shear) force against the donut right where it's riveted down to the black flange, and I didn't want to make the zip-ties too tight for fear that I'd rip the donut.

    A road test proved that this is indeed what needs to happen: the upper flange must be restrained from tipping and deflecting the donut.

    I'm still toying with ideas on the best way to do this without making the steering harsh.

    I'll post photos the next time I go in there.
     
  9. Jun 1, 2010 at 10:25 AM
    #9
    papabear050

    papabear050 Well-Known Member

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  10. Jul 17, 2010 at 2:22 PM
    #10
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    UPDATE:

    It's been a while since I last looked into this and, frankly, after hearing that Toyota had come out with a TSB on the intermediate steering shaft I sorta lost interest in a home-brew modification, but I decided to take another look into this issue and post some photos of the Phase-II mods that I did some weeks back with the long zip-ties.

    In doing this I discovered something I'd previously missed, and it left me a bit confused and asking questions about the TSB and just what Toyota actually modified.

    But first the photos:

    Here's the zip-tie installation, and you can see that what I did was wrap one around each lower spacer, and then around the leg of the lower yoke flange on the same side, crossing them over in the process.
    [​IMG]

    Here's another shot from a different angle.
    [​IMG]


    Here's the end view, and you can see both sides are now trussed with the zip-ties. I tightened them up as evenly as possible, but not as tightly as possible. You can see they pull against the rubber donut, and I did not want to rip the rubber. Everything is still flexible, but much more restrained than before using the zip-ties. This really did improve the steering feel.
    [​IMG]

    Anyhow, it was cheap and easy, and made a noticeable improvement in the steering, so if it wasn't perfect or as good as having the TSB done, I could hardly complain.

    But I decided to try and shim that center shaft a bit tighter, and I took a rag and wiped away the grease so I could get a good look at it. That's when I saw this:
    [​IMG]

    See the little arrow? It's pointing to the viton bushing which I didn't see before, due to the grease. I thought that only the improved steering shaft had the viton bushing and the original one did not, but now I'm thinking that my truck already had this improved (TSB) part from the factory.

    Am I nuts here? Or do the original intermediate shafts have a viton bushing too, and I just fail to see it in the photos previously posted by other members?

    EDIT: URK! Yes I did miss this, and even after another member pointed it out and I replied to him. I truly did not realize that my truck had the viton bushing.
     
  11. Aug 16, 2010 at 10:20 AM
    #11
    totmacher

    totmacher Well-Known Member

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    Nice work Cadd...

    Which would you think might work best: more resilient rubber material for the cylinders/bushings versus a better fit at the shaft-bushing interface would work best? Or is it a combination of the 2?

    Do you think a plastic flanged sleeve bearing could be put on the shaft to get a tighter fit between the shaft and the yellow bushing?

    I was thinking a sleeve bearing/bushing could be cut in half and the 2 halves sandwiched over the shaft and slid down into the yellow piece to make a tighter fit there but still have some give to it. Or just replace the viton piece with this same method. It seems too simple.

    http://www.mcmaster.com/#sleeve-bearings/=8fifdw

    As far as the TSB:
    1. Did toyota change the durometer rating of those cylinder bushings?
    2. Did toyota change the diameter of the shaft to fit tighter in the yellow sleeve?

    Thoughts anyone?
     
  12. Aug 16, 2010 at 5:31 PM
    #12
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    I don't know exactly what Toyota changed on the new shaft assembly.

    I was considering this: just spray out that bushing with solvent to remove any grease, and drop some glue into the viton bushing to glue it right to the shaft. Crazy glue Gel would probably do the trick.

    Also, since those rubber stoppers I used were kind of soft I was thinking about replacing them with something harder. Maybe nylon or delrin or UHMWPE or some such.
     
  13. Aug 16, 2010 at 5:37 PM
    #13
    08pretaco

    08pretaco Almost there

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  14. Aug 16, 2010 at 5:49 PM
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    OZ-T

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  15. Aug 16, 2010 at 6:18 PM
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    buddywh1

    buddywh1 Well-Known Member

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  16. Aug 16, 2010 at 6:38 PM
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    Asgard

    Asgard Well-Known Member

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  17. Aug 16, 2010 at 6:39 PM
    #17
    OZ-T

    OZ-T Quite an experience to live in fear , isn't it ?

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    Good point about out of warranty trucks .

    Thanks
     
  18. Aug 16, 2010 at 9:05 PM
    #18
    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    I was guessing $300, so $200 doesn't look so bad, but read the TSB, and you'll see there is a hour's labor involved, and you must be very careful to mark everything and not get the steering mis-indexed. (crooked)

    I've been trying to develop a new part you can slap on in 10 minutes, without tools, for under $50, for those out-of-warranty cases. So far I figured out how to make the part for $5 in materials, but there's a lot of labor involved. With the right tooling I can make the parts and sell them for $50 and make a reasonable profit, but I would be losing money until I sold 1000 of them, and that assumes no advertising costs.
     
  19. Aug 25, 2010 at 8:11 PM
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    JasonJump

    JasonJump Well-Known Member

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    Do you have that part made? I'd be interested since my truck is a little out of warranty.... 115k ;)
     
  20. Aug 25, 2010 at 9:21 PM
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    Caddmannq

    Caddmannq [OP] MotoNerd

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    I only have a design drawn, but I haven't made the first prototype. I expected to make one a couple months ago, but lots of unexpected stuff has been going on in my life & I've been unable to get it going.

    I do still intend to do this though.
     
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