Samurai "Rag" Joint Elimination



Samurai "Rag" Joint Elimination

One of the more annoying weak links on the Samurai is the rubber joint that acts as a flexible link between the steering shaft and steering box.  The body lift I put on compounded the problem by increasing the angle between the steering shaft and steering box, this caused the joint to bind while turning and increased the frequency of breakage.  I had heard of people eliminating the joint with the stock setup and with the Sidekick power steering setup but I hadn't heard of anyone doing it with the Toyota power steering setup.   A little searching turned up a couple methods, the one I based my setup on was done by George Hicks, a poster on the Pirates of the Rubicon message boards.  I have copied the e-mail he sent me below.  I decide to do it a little different due to parts availability and my desire to have a backup solution in case this one fails in the field.

DSCN4232.JPG (178030 bytes)


Steering Universal Joint from an 80-85 Celica (look for rack and pinion steering)

Spare Samurai steering shaft or steering box

Access to a welder

Access to a bench grinder/belt sander


DSCN4235.JPG (184348 bytes)

First I found a Celica universal joint at the junk yard.  One end has splines that fit my Toyota power steering box, the other end has a smaller diameter spline that's just smaller than the stock samurai spline.  next I disassembled my old steering box so I could cut the shaft off about 3/4" past the splines.  In the picture above you can see I bolted the stock Samurai steering box flange to the Samurai steering shaft.  Then I took the spline I cut from the Samurai steering box and inserted it into the flange.  Using the bench grinder at work I ground the other end of the shaft down so it would tightly fit into the small end of the Toyota universal joint.  Once it fit I marked where the bolt would cross the shaft and ground a small notch in the shaft.  the plan was to insert the newly ground shaft into the Toyota universal joint and weld it at the joint end.  As a backup the bolt can be inserted into the squeeze clamp and tightened.  If the weld ever fails the clamp is your backup and due to the notch the shaft cannot spin.

DSCN4239.JPG (191380 bytes)

(Click for full size image)

Lastly I collapsed the steering shaft down till I could get everything installed.  I also had to notch the fender well a little more to allow clearance for the flanges.  Another plus to this setup is if the universal joint ever breaks you can knock the steering shaft back out and re-install the stock rubber joint (don't forget to throw that and the Toyota flange in your spare parts kit).

There's probably a million ways to do this.  For reference here's the e-mail George sent me detailing how he did it.

Here is the info on how to eliminate the rag joint in your Sami. The key part is a steering u-joint from a mid 80's Celica (or any other Toyota). I got mine off an 83 Celica. I looked around the Pick-n-Pull, and almost all of the mid 80's Toyota cars had the same joint and steering set up. Anything with a rack and pinion steering system (I think that is what it was) should do. What you are looking for, is the steering box mounted on the lower cross member near the center of the engine compartment. The steering u-joint is located at the steering box. It has a larger splined end which attaches to the steering box. This end is the exact same spline as the 1980 Celica box you should have used. The other end, which attaches to the steering shaft leading up to the steering wheel, is a smaller diameter. The spline on this shaft is VERY long, which allows you to remove the bolts which tighten the spline fittings and slide the joint up towards the steering wheel enough to clear the steering box. Then pull it down and off the steering shaft. I then took this home and removed my Samurai steering shaft at the firewall. I cut off the "flanged end where it bolts to the rag joint. Then I took a hammer and compressed the Samurai steering shaft (it is a slip fitting with two little spot welds and made to compress in a wreck) about 3 inches. I then took a spare Samurai steering shaft that I had laying around, and cut off the upper splined end. I slid this Samurai splined end from the spare shaft it into the lower end of my good steering shaft (where I had just cut off the flange) and welded it on. I had to grind the spline a tiny bit to get it to go, but I spread the new u-joint and hammered the Samurai shaft home. After it was in there, I put the bolt which compresses the spline fitting in a tightened it. That is it. Now you have a shaft with a stock Samurai upper and a Samurai splined lower end instead of the rag joint. This lower end inserts into the new u-joint from the Toyota donor car which fits perfectly to your Celica steering box. 

If I had it to do over again, I would also grab the steering rod which is attached to and above the steering u-joint from the donor car. It has the right spline, it is a very long spline, and I'll bet it has the right shaft diameter that would allow you to slip it inside the lower end of the Samurai shaft after you cut off the flange. Since you are only using an little stub and welding it all the way around anyway, close is good enough. This would keep you from having to score a shaft off a Samurai. By the looks of things at our wrecking yard, the Toyota donor cars that this comes off of out number the Samurais by 100:1.