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Category: Tech Tips - clear category    

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Five Easy Steps to Select the Correct Universal Joints and Shafts For Your Steering System

Filed under Tech Tips


What makes Flaming River unique is that we have designed a complete steering system from the steering gear, to the universal joints and shafts, to the tilt steering column, and even to the steering wheel. Let's say that you've got your steering column selected, and you know what kind of steering gear you're planning to use. Now what? Now is the time to put a little bit of thought into figuring out how you're going to connect the two together using universal joints and shaft so that you can actually steer your vehicle. Read below for five easy tips for designing your steering system, and how to select the universal joints and shafts needed to complete your installation.



1.  Determine whether you will need a two or three u-joint system. This will be dictated by the angle of the universal joints and the routing of the column to the steering gear. If it’s a relatively straight shot, and your universal joint angle will be less than 30°, then you can use two universal joints and one piece of shaft.


If you need to use two pieces of intermediate shaft to route around an object such as your headers or exhaust, or your universal joint angle will be greater than 30-40°, then we recommend a three u-joint setup. If using a three u-joint system, a support bearing or support bearing kit will be necessary and can be used with either splined or DD shafts. Your center u-joint in a three joint system will be either 3/4" DD X 3/4" DD or 3/4"-36 X 3/4"-36, depending on the type of shaft that you select.


three u-joints with shaft assembly and support bearing



2.  Choose the type of intermediate shaft that you will be using. We offer 3/4”-36 splined or 3/4" DD stainless steel shafts. The style of shaft that you select will determine one of the yoke ends that you need on each universal joint. 3/4"-36 splined shafts have two inches of spline on each end and can easily be trimmed up to 1” on either side. 3/4" DD shafts are available in 18", 22", or 36" lengths and can be cut to an exact size.

3/4" DD and 3/4"-36 splined shafts



3.  Determine what yoke ends you will need on either end of your universal joints. To determine the size and shape of the other yoke end of each universal joint, use this reference application chart to select the correct universal joint to connect to your steering column and your steering box or rack and pinion setup. If the chart does not list your application, identify the shaft shape using the diagram below and then measure the diameter using calipers or a micrometer. 

steering shaft yoke sizes and shapes

 If your shaft is splined, count the total number of teeth (i.e. 1”-48 or 3/4"-30). If your shaft is DD ("Double D" – it has two round sides and two flat sides), measure the diameter across the rounds—it will most likely be 3/4" DD or 1” DD.


Note: We do offer a number of different universal joint installation kits that will allow you to connect a Flaming River column with a 1" DD shaft to popular gear box and rack and pinion designs.



4.  Select the appropriate length of intermediate shaft.  If you are using a 3/4"-36 splined shaft and two universal joints, measure the distance between the rack and pinion or steering box, and your steering column shaft. Take this measured distance and then subtract 3.25” and round up to the next whole number to determine which shaft length will be best for your setup. DD shaft can be cut to size and multiple lengths can be cut from one piece. Ordering a larger size than you think you may need will give you a safety net in case you need to re-cut or adjust your steering linkage prior to installation.



5.  Use dowel rods to mock up your system prior to ordering.  If you are using a three-joint system, we recommend that you first use 3/4" dowel rods to mock up your system. This will allow you to experiment with different shaft lengths and universal joint angles. Once you’ve mocked up the design of your steering linkage, we recommend 3/4" DD shafts, as they can easily be cut to the correct length(s).



Other Important Notes for Proper Universal Joint Installation:

  • NEVER WELD a universal joint unless it specifies that it can be used in welded setups. You can refer to our universal joint specifications sheet to see which product lines can and can’t be welded.
  • Phasing – Keep the forks of the yokes closest to each other in line, and parallel to the center of the shaft, to avoid binding.
  • When inserting a shaft into the universal joint, make sure that it goes in 7/8” and is flush with the yoke end. A shaft that does not fully engage with the yoke can compromise the strength of the connection. However, a shaft that is too far into the yoke will cause the shaft to interfere or bind with the operation of the u-joint.
  • Set screws are supplied on all universal joints that have yokes that are splined or DD. However, it is necessary to dimple the shaft to properly secure the set screw. Loc-Tite or thread locker should also be used. Set screws should be periodically inspected and checked for tightness. Watch this quick video for more information on how to safely and properly install your universal joints.


Friday, February 24, 2017

How to Properly Install the Canceling Cam for Proper Turn Signal and Horn Function

Filed under Tech Tips

One of the questions that we get asked the most is how to properly install the canceling cam for proper turn signal function on a Flaming River steering column. When installed properly, the canceling cam will allow the turn signals to self-cancel and also allow you to connect the horn wire to the horn contact on your steering wheel. See below for instructions on installing the canceling cam on keyed and non-keyed tilt steering columns.


Installing the Canceling Cam on a Non-Keyed Column:

installing canceling cam on non-key column



STEP 1: Position the stem of the canceling cam so that it is between 10 and 11 o'clock.

position canceling cam at 10:30



STEP 2: The compression spring is positioned over the column shaft on top of the canceling cam.

positioning compression spring



STEP 3: Place the steering wheel or adapter on the steering column shaft. Then place the retaining nut on the shaft and tighten—drawing down the wheel or adapter to the desired gap (we recommend approximately 1/16"). DO NOT OVER TORQUE!

place steering wheel or adapter on the column shaft




Installing the Canceling Cam on a Keyed Column:

installing canceling cam on a key column


STEP 1: Install the large 5/8" large aluminum spacer over the column shaft.

install 5/8" spacer over column shaft



STEP 2: Slide the compression spring over the column shaft and down so that's resting on top of the 5/8" aluminum spacer.

install spring over shaft and on top of spacer



STEP 3: Next, slide the canceling cam over the top shaft so that it is resting on top of the compression spring. Position the stem of the canceling cam so that it is between 10 and 11 o'clock.

position canceling cam at 10:30



STEP 4: Place the small 3/16" aluminum spacer over the column shaft so that it is resting on top of the canceling cam.

place 3/16" spacer on top of canceling cam



STEP 5: Place the steering wheel or adapter on the steering column shaft. Then place the retaining nut on the shaft and tighten—drawing down the wheel or adapter to the desired gap (we recommend approximately 1/16"). DO NOT OVER TORQUE!

tighten nut on wheel or adapter


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Introducing Flaming River Tech School...

Filed under Tech Tips


We've created a section on our website called Flaming River Tech School, which houses all of the FAQs, technical product sheets, specifications sheets, videos, and other information designed to help you learn about and better understand our products.


Our hope is that this information will help you make an informed decision on the part(s) that are most suitable for your vehicle. Or if you're a distributor, we hope this helps you learn more about our products, so that you can better assist your customers and sell more parts.


We're always looking for customer feedback. If there's product information that you are looking for that you can't find, contact us, and we'll do our best to help guide you in the right direction, or put something together that will help you better understand our product lines.


Browse Flaming River Tech School


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Things to Keep in Mind When Designing Your Steering System

Filed under Tech Tips

design your steering system


We receive a lot of the same questions and hear from customers who are experiencing the same problems when designing and installing their steering system. To help identify and answer some of these issues, we've compiled a list with the proper solutions regarding column installation, column electric and wiring issues, clocking and installing the canceling cam and horn functionality, and universal joint installation.


Steering Column Installation


  • Incorrect Column Angle - When the angle of the column going through the firewall or floorboard is not taken into consideration, it can affect the entire steering system. The biggest effect will be in your steering linkage (universal joints and intermediate shafts). With a column at an incorrect angle, it can cause binding due to extreme angles, which can turn a relatively simple two u-joint system into a three or four u-joint setup. Inside the vehicle, an incorrect column angle can affect driver comfort by having to constantly adjust the tilt position of the column. In extreme cases, the column can be out of position and alignment with the dash, causing the driver to have to "short arm" or fully extend their arms to drive. 


  • Incorrect Column Length - Ordering the correct length steering column can make or break the way a car feels. Having a column that is too long inside the car can affect driver comfort and make them feel cramped or crowded while driving. If it's too long and goes through the firewall too far, it can cause extreme angles and cause binding in the universal joint system. Along the same line, a column that is too short and does not extend far enough through the firewall will interfere with the ability to properly connect and engage the steering linkage.


Column Wiring


  • Connecting the Wire Harness - One of the most common errors happens when someone is replacing a stock OEM steering column. They will remove the factory original column without verifying the wire colors and what they relate to in their vehicle's electrical system. Customers sometimes incorrectly assume that their car is original and the previous owner did not modify the wiring or electrical system. Taking a couple of minutes to verify what color wire operates front and rear turn signals, brake lights, horn function, etc. will save you a lot of headaches when you install and wire in a Flaming River column. All of our columns come with a 4-1/4" GM wiring connector and a wiring diagram. We also sell a female wiring connector kit to adapt any existing wiring harness to the wiring plug on a Flaming River column.


  • Erratic Electrical Problems - An improperly grounded column can cause the horn and turn signals to work erratically or not at all—especially in fiberglass bodied vehicles.  Checking to make sure the column is grounded, or attaching a ground strap from the column to the vehicle chassis will often eliminate this issue.


  • LED Lighting - When using a LED style lighting for your turn signals and brake lights, a standard flasher can not be used. LED style lights do not pull enough to cause the flasher to open and close the circuit. A special LED flasher must be used for correct turn signal operation.


Clocking the Canceling Cam


  • Properly Clocking or Timing the Canceling Cam - The canceling cam has two functions: First, it acts as contact for the horn and second, cancels or turns off the turn signals as the steering wheel comes back to the straight-ahead position after a turn. When the canceling cam is not clocked or timed properly, the turn signals will not cancel (turn off), or they will cancel too quickly. To properly clock or time the canceling cam, look at the top of the column as if it were the face of a clock. On the canceling cam itself, there is a stem that sticks up approximately 1.5" - imagine this stem as the hour hand on a clock and place it approximately at the 10:30 position (between 10 and 11). This will ensure that the turn signals cancel every time.


Universal Joint Installation


  • Dimpling the Steering Shaft - The most common error made when installing a universal joint is not dimpling the steering shaft. The ends of the set screws provided with the universal joints have a cupped point and do not sit flush on a flat surface. If the shaft is not dimpled, the set screw may feel tight, but will eventually loosen itself with use and will result in play in your steering system. By dimpling the shaft, you increase the clamping force of the set screw, allowing it to "bite" into the surface and creating a tight fit between the universal joint and steering shaft.


  • Installing the Universal Joint - One of the most common errors made when installing a universal joint is putting too much shafting into the yoke. On any universal joint, you only want about 7/8" of shaft in each end of the yoke—this will place the shaft flush with the yoke itself. Too much of the shaft through the yoke can cause interference with the bearing cross in the center of the joint, which will make it feel like the joint is binding up. Note: Always use red thread locker on the set screws to ensure that they do not loosen from road vibration.


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