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Thread: drag link connection

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    drag link connection

    The fitting between my drag link and steering arm is very loose, and steering is sloppy. I know my tie rod ends could use replacing as well. What is the part called where the drag link connects to the steering arm (circled in orange)?



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    drag link connection

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    Last edited by gfleduc; 09-23-2019 at 08:43 AM. Reason: Corrected errors in figure & added 2nd gen ref
    Gary
    1965 Display

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    VCVC Member van-itti's Avatar
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    That is the connection point. There will be a grease zerk so you can lube the joint.
    The drag link has the knuckles with the threaded fittings that attach to the steering arm at that spot
    and the pitman.

    After replacing the drag link my van drove like new. Make sure to check front end alignment.
    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by van-itti View Post
    That is the connection point. There will be a grease zerk so you can lube the joint.
    The drag link has the knuckles with the threaded fittings that attach to the steering arm at that spot
    and the pitman.

    After replacing the drag link my van drove like new. Make sure to check front end alignment.
    Wait, I'm confused. I have to replace the entire drag link? Not just the fittings and rubber gasket? It's super loose at the steering arm connection, I'm wondering if the fitting is busted or just that severely worn.

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    Gary - you added the part numbers on the right side of that image?



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    VCVC Member van-itti's Avatar
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    If the end is loose replace the drag link!
    It can break off and youll be headed for the rhubarb.

    Thats the piece. You can order from Rare Parts directly too.
    Mike

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    VCVC Member jrinaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VanSandy View Post
    Gary - you added the part numbers on the right side of that image?



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    don't feel bad, I paid the advance auto price and didn't even need it! when I needed one, couldn't find it so made one from tie rod ends and threaded tubing. seen this afterwards an ordered it anyways. first and second gen are different!!!
    '64 chevy, 292 40 over, 206/526 cam, 2004r trans. 9.75:1, dual webbers, Langdon cast headers, 1.94 valves

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    VCVC Member joyrde's Avatar
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    If you shop around, or search VCVC you may find a combination of tie-rod ends and adjusting sleeve. This combo would be much cheaper and perhaps stronger. - - http://www.vcvc.org/showthread.php/2...ight=drag+link


    For reference only, last winter I added power steering to my '67 GMC. In doing so, I used a tie-rod, adjusting sleeve and a machined bar to attach the Control Valve - - - thus making a power steering drag link assembly.

    http://www.angelfire.com/wv/joyrde/vanstuff/steering/vanpowersteering.html



    Last edited by joyrde; 09-21-2019 at 07:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by van-itti View Post
    If the end is loose replace the drag link!
    It can break off and youll be headed for the rhubarb.

    Thats the piece. You can order from Rare Parts directly too.
    Criminy!! No wonder it seemed to be getting worse lately.. Gonna order the Moog tie rod ends as well.

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    Got Moog tie rod ends at Pep Boys on sale, under $20.00 each. I ordered the drag link from FCRC Machine and of course my order changed to "Awaiting Fulfillment" as soon as I paid, which means they have to run down the street to Rare Parts and get it, they are both located in Stockton CA. At least I saved fifteen bucks on the part - $245 vs $260.

    And yeah, O'Reilly wanted $393.99 for it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by joyrde View Post
    If you shop around, or search VCVC you may find a combination of tie-rod ends and adjusting sleeve. This combo would be much cheaper and perhaps stronger. - - http://www.vcvc.org/showthread.php/2...ight=drag+link


    For reference only, last winter I added power steering to my '67 GMC. In doing so, I used a tie-rod, adjusting sleeve and a machined bar to attach the Control Valve - - - thus making a power steering drag link assembly.

    http://www.angelfire.com/wv/joyrde/vanstuff/steering/vanpowersteering.html



    I see mentioned in this thread that 1st and 2nd gen drag links are different. Is that true?

    I fabricated my own ('cause I'm cheap, and didn't know I could just buy one) but it was a bit of a challenge. I essentially bought a tube with weld-in threaded inserts, some jam nuts, and a pair of tie rod ends. It works great but super tight on clearance. The challenge I had was that the only tie rod end I could find that had the correct size for the pitman arm and steering arm was off of a 20?? Dodge 3500. It made the assembly fairly large. The stock drag links use a rather large tapered end so it was hard to find a match. I've heard that others used different tie rod ends when doing the same thing, but those have a smaller diameter tapered end. I would suspect that this would tend to bottom out and cause premature wear. I may also have made the whole thing way more complicated than it needed to be.

    Which takes me back to my original question with some clarification: Did 2nd gen drag links use a smaller diameter tapered end?

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    drag link connection

    Quote Originally Posted by VanSandy View Post
    Gary - you added the part numbers on the right side of that image?



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    What item?
    Gary
    1965 Display

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    VCVC Member joyrde's Avatar
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    jrinaman

    Has solved this issue for 1st Generations Vans
    http://www.vcvc.org/showthread.php/2...ight=drag+link

    The three parts he used
    https://www.summitracing.com/oh/part...2-21/overview/

    Summit Racing
    Tie rod ends
    Left - es409lt
    Right - es409rt

    - - - -

    When I converted my ’67 GMC to power steering I used a NAPA ES409LT tie-rod end on the Steering arm end of the Drag Link - - - same taper, same length, works great
    Last edited by joyrde; 09-22-2019 at 07:21 AM.

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    VCVC Member kookykrispy's Avatar
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    I have a spare 1st gen drag link that I will sell from a low mileage '66. It seems to be tight and in good shape.



    64' wikivan 230/4 onda tree/2.56 posi
    '64 Red Baron no engine/trans
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vanner68 View Post
    Remember, they're still printing money, but they aren't making any more earlies!

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    VCVC Member joyrde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madillow View Post
    I see mentioned in this thread that 1st and 2nd gen drag links are different. Is that true?

    . . . . .

    Did 2nd gen drag links use a smaller diameter tapered end?
    I do not know - - - my guess is they are the same. ?????

    Below are the measurements I used in my Power Steering conversion - - note the diameters and tapers. with those measurements you can find the tie-rods you can use in making a Drag Link - - - the tie-rods that have been used are listed in previous posts

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    Quote Originally Posted by joyrde View Post
    jrinaman

    Has solved this issue for 1st Generations Vans
    http://www.vcvc.org/showthread.php/2...ight=drag+link

    The three parts he used
    https://www.summitracing.com/oh/part...2-21/overview/

    Summit Racing
    Tie rod ends
    Left - es409lt
    Right - es409rt

    - - - -

    When I converted my 67 GMC to power steering I used a NAPA ES409LT tie-rod end on the Steering arm end of the Drag Link - - - same taper, same length, works great
    That's above my pay grade! But thanks for the info.

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    Loose?

    When you say it's loose, does that mean you can twist it or that it has play along the axis of the cotter pin retained shaft? The ability to twist it some is normal but any play when you squeeze that ball and socket joint is not normal. The squeezing should be done by hand and not by compressing with a big pair of channel locks for example. It's a tight fit to get your hand under there and give it a good squeeze but that is the preferred method to check for play. This check should be done with the front wheels off the ground. An alternative method is to have one person rocking the steering wheel back and forth while another keeps a hand on the ball socket and pitman arm connection. TThere should be not peerceptable play at that connection. This check should be done with the wheels on the ground. I have seen very few of these drag links fail so before you replace it, be sure it's bad. If you do replace it, be aware that you will need to remove the pitman arm from the steering box to remove the drag link. That will require a compact pitman arm puller.
    Also, whenever the front wheels are off the ground, never move the steering from underneath all the way to the stops with force. Said another way, with the weight off the front wheels, you can move them left and right easily from underneath. If you do move the wheels from underneath, do not allow them to be stopped forcefully against the internal steering gear stops. This can cause severe damage to the steering box.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 Spd.with OD, 3.36 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
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    1965 GMC HandiBus Custom, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "MilkVan" Seized Engine
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    VCVC Member jrinaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madillow View Post
    I see mentioned in this thread that 1st and 2nd gen drag links are different. Is that true?
    to my knowledge, the only difference is the direction of the ball joints. front at steering box is same but 1st gen turns 90 degrees in one direction while 2nd turns 90 the other way. the one I made is adjustable so fits either. I believe I have a second gen 'somewhere' in my garage if someone needs it.
    '64 chevy, 292 40 over, 206/526 cam, 2004r trans. 9.75:1, dual webbers, Langdon cast headers, 1.94 valves

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    VCVC Member jrinaman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joyrde View Post
    jrinaman

    Has solved this issue for 1st Generations Vans
    http://www.vcvc.org/showthread.php/2...ight=drag+link

    The three parts he used
    https://www.summitracing.com/oh/part...2-21/overview/

    Summit Racing
    Tie rod ends
    Left - es409lt
    Right - es409rt

    - - - -

    When I converted my 67 GMC to power steering I used a NAPA ES409LT tie-rod end on the Steering arm end of the Drag Link - - - same taper, same length, works great
    after making that one, I opted for a longer tube as it didn't thread in enough for my liking. the replacement wasn't available in the octagon stock so used thin walled tubing. over time, they started to oval at the ends as not much for the nuts to tighten against. I welded it solid and while searching for parts to make another, found the complete drag link at advance and ordered it. I may never need it but have it incase I do. I plan on making one from heavier wall pipe and weld in bungs if there is clearance, otherwise back to octagon stock.
    '64 chevy, 292 40 over, 206/526 cam, 2004r trans. 9.75:1, dual webbers, Langdon cast headers, 1.94 valves

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    Quote Originally Posted by 108VanGuy View Post
    When you say it's loose,
    108VanGuy...
    108VanGuy - What I mean by loose is that by grabbing the drag link with both hands, wheels on the ground, I can easily rotate the bar back and forth, with most of the movement at the steering knuckle connection (I'll put it on jack stands later to try the squeeze test) When it moves to the right, towards the blue sway bar bushings in the pictures, it sort of clunks or snaps into place, goes much farther that direction. To me and my non expert self, it seems "wrong", almost like it is broken. See pics below.

    Straight up and down:

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    To the Right:

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    To the Left:

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    I previously had my son turning the wheel back and forth with the wheels off the ground and the pitman arm connection seems fine, the steering gear box seems to engage immediately with movement of the steering wheel. I was wondering if the steering wheel had to pass through the "play" I'm used to when driving before the pitman arm moved, but it rotated pretty much immediately when he turned the steering wheel a small amount. But you could see no movement in the steering knuckle or wheels until he turned the wheel further. So I could see the drag link move, but not the knuckle or tire.

    Anyway, the new drag link is ordered and I have new tie rod ends. I will probably hire my mobile mechanic who is really good and likes working on old cars as well as new to install the parts. He has access to a lift if we need that. I also have a spare steering gear box that I plan to send to a place in Ventura that specializes in rebuilding old parts. I have not had a chance to pull the pitman arm to adjust the large nut on the gear box to see if that helps. New spring bushings are also "on the list".

    I grew up driving old cars because we were not rich so I know what "regular" old Chevy steering feels like and this is not right. I want to replace all these old parts for safety first, then drive-ability. Right now it wanders around too much. Oh, and yes, I have read your excellent write up for checking on steering issues, thanks for putting that together. I replaced the wheel hub bushings a while back and they are still good, and the king pins show no play.

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    And Yes, I am aware my sway bar and axle need to be cleaned and painted!! :-0

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    VCVC Member panelmanrd's Avatar
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    when looking for loose tie rods or draglink, it is best to do it with the tires on the ground
    so when you have someone slightly turn the wheel back and forth you can look to see if there
    are any loose joints, when you have the vehicle in the air there is no load on the steering parts
    and if there are any slightly loose joints it is easy to not see it, when its on the ground it forces the
    parts to work instead of just following along with the other parts, Kingpins are best checked with the
    wheels in the air. hope this helps
    54 chevy panel truck 355 tpi 700r4 325/9in
    64 chevy 90 5.7 tpi 700r4 336 8.2
    69 chevy panel van 5.7 tbi 700r4 336 8.2

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    VanSandy..

    Sounds like you're taking the right approach on that front end.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 Spd.with OD, 3.36 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan" 292 TFI coming. Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 GMC HandiBus Custom, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "MilkVan" Seized Engine
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van" Best body of my 65s
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by panelmanrd View Post
    when looking for loose tie rods or draglink, it is best to do it with the tires on the ground
    so when you have someone slightly turn the wheel back and forth you can look to see if there
    are any loose joints, when you have the vehicle in the air there is no load on the steering parts
    and if there are any slightly loose joints it is easy to not see it, when its on the ground it forces the
    parts to work instead of just following along with the other parts, Kingpins are best checked with the
    wheels in the air. hope this helps
    Re-checked last night with wheels on the ground and drag link / steering knuckle is definitely the link with the most play. Had the wheels in the air to check bearings and king pins. Now just waiting on parts.

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    OK, so the parts arrived, now I gotta figure out if I can install them myself. Usually I can find a lot of info on YouTube but I only found one video that shows a non four wheel drive leaf spring front end. He makes it seem pretty easy, I just need to get a pickle fork tool.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIRiMswTo0c (music is annoying, you can mute it as there is no dialogue)

    108VanGuy - you mentioned removing the pitman arm to disconnect the drag link. I know I need to do that to adjust the steering gear box large adjusting nut, but not sure why I need to do so to remove/install the drag link. Is it to protect the steerign gear box from harm?

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    [QUOTE 108VanGuy - you mentioned removing the pitman arm to disconnect the drag link. I know I need to do that to adjust the steering gear box large adjusting nut, but not sure why I need to do so to remove/install the drag link. Is it to protect the steerign gear box from harm? [/QUOTE]

    If memory serves, you can get the ball stud loose but not completely remove it from the Pitman arm since there isn't enough room for the stud to clear the Pitman arm.
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 Spd.with OD, 3.36 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan" 292 TFI coming. Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 GMC HandiBus Custom, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "MilkVan" Seized Engine
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van" Best body of my 65s
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 108VanGuy View Post
    If memory serves, you can get the ball stud loose but not completely remove it from the Pitman arm since there isn't enough room for the stud to clear the Pitman arm.
    108VanGuy...
    Ahhh... that sounds about right.

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    VCVC Member Wookee's Avatar
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    Cool

    You will need to invest in a Pickle Fork to get the original drag link free of the connections on both ends.
    just beating the threaded ends through there mounts can mushroom the top of the threaded end Just enough to not allow them to pass through tne mounting hole smoothly...
    Pickle forks can be found in the help section at your local auto parts stores.
    Tool trucks carry more expensive ones...
    Last edited by Wookee; 09-30-2019 at 03:55 PM.
    Its a "van thing". A life style you have to live to understand!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wookee View Post
    You will need to invest in a Pickle Fork to get the original drag link free of the connections on both ends.
    just beating the threaded ends through there mounts can mushroom the top of the threaded end Just enough to not allow them to pass through tne mounting hole smoothly...
    Pickle forks can be found in the help section at your local auto parts stores.
    Tool trucks carry more expensive ones...
    Thanks. I picked up a free rental set from Pep Boys last night. Now my question is does the driver's side wheel need to be off the ground (with jackstands on frame and not axle) for changing the part? If so I need to get a set of the taller jackstands.

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    VCVC Member Wookee's Avatar
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    Cool

    The stands can be located on each side of the axle .
    Just inside of the drivers side spring pack will be fine.
    The passenger side can be right under the spring pack it's self...
    Last edited by Wookee; 10-02-2019 at 12:23 PM.
    Its a "van thing". A life style you have to live to understand!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wookee View Post
    The stands can be located on each side of the axle .
    Just inside of the drivers side spring pack will be fine.
    The passenger side can be right under the spring pack it's self...
    Agreed - my question though was can this be done with the wheels on the ground, or rather, weight on the suspension. Or, do I need to have the axle hanging. Sounds like I can do it with the wheels on the ground. With wheel chucks of course!

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    VCVC Member Wookee's Avatar
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    Cool

    If you feel more comfortable working like that. It could be swapped out on the ground..
    Its a "van thing". A life style you have to live to understand!!!!

  33. #33
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    OK, so the job is going well so far, new drag link is in place, pictures to follow. And yes, definitely had to pull the pitman arm to do that. Pulling the pitman arm was easy but the clutch pedal lever location made it pretty tight.

    Anyway, on to the tie rod ends. Ended up having to buy a single pickle fork because all the ones in the free parts store rental set were too wide for the tie rod ends. But that was OK because I ended up using it as a breaker bar to get the old parts out. Once they were half way out it was much easier.

    Question: I am getting ready to clean out the inside threads of the track bar with a brass pipe cleaner as putting in the new tie rod ends went very smooth at first by hand, but once around half way in was getting not so easy. To get them all the way in to the thread count of the old ones, am I going to have to use the pickle fork or large crescent wrench as it gets tighter? I don't know how difficult the turns should be and I don't want to mess up the track bar.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  34. #34
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    drag link connection

    I bet you are working against the tie rod end being rusty & passing through the threads. I don't think there is any place to get rust penatrant back there. Anyway, do spray the rod down with a pure rust peneatant & let it sit; you may get some wicking down the threads.

    Take the easiest side off then dump some peneatrant down the pipe and let it sit before pulling that one off.

    my 2
    Gary
    1965 Display

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by gfleduc View Post
    I bet you are working against the tie rod end being rusty & passing through the threads. I don't think there is any place to get rust penatrant back there. Anyway, do spray the rod down with a pure rust peneatant & let it sit; you may get some wicking down the threads.

    Take the easiest side off then dump some peneatrant down the pipe and let it sit before pulling that one off.

    my 2
    I think the threads only go in a couple of inches, the compressed part of the pipe with the slit cut in it. Anyway, I sprayed the crap out of it with WD40 and rotated the brass pipe cleaner from Harbor Freight (perfect size was in a 5 piece brass and stainless set) a few times then "rinsed" with more WD40. It worked. Still had to use a crescent wrench on the tie rod end with a vice grip on the bar but it was more like tightening a bolt and didn't require a lot of force.

  36. #36
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    OK so the job is done. Still have to put the new zerks in the drag link and get a grease gun to get all the rubber boots full. Steering is much improved on the very short test drive. I was hoping it would be more dramatic like "holy crap this is like an Indy car!!" but it is definitely way tighter.

    Both the old tie rod ends were bent, one way worse. That was the passenger side and it's probably been that way since the van sideswiped something hard way before I purchased it. So that may have been some of my steering issues. Next step is to take it in for an alignment and I will have them install new shocks as well.

    Pics or it didn't happen...

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  37. #37
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    Looking Good

    Fine job!
    108VanGuy...
    1969 Chevy Panel, 250 CID, 3 Spd.with OD, 3.36 "WedgieVan" Daily Driver
    1967 Chevy Panel, 230 CID, 3 Spd. 3.36 "UtiliVan" 292 TFI coming. Owned since 76
    1964 GMC Panel, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "CrunchoVan"
    1965 GMC HandiBus Custom, 194 CID, 3 Spd. "MilkVan" Seized Engine
    1965 Chevy Panel 350 CID, 3 Spd. "RustoRoof" Runs but wiring bad
    1969 Chevy 108 Display 307 CID THM 350 Power Brakes 3.73 Posi
    1965 Chevy Panel, V8, 3 Spd. "Gold Hills Van" Best body of my 65s
    1965 CamperVan, V8, 3 Spd.

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