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Thread: how to do an xj steering shaft conversion

  1. #1
    Knows their $hit appalachian86's Avatar
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    how to do an xj steering shaft conversion

    I'm not a professional, this swap took me about the time it will take you to read this right up twice. (maybe three times) haha. It's very simple but can be a little cramped in there. the tools i needed were a marker, a socket wrench and 2 or 3 sockets, a small hammer, a torch/heat gun (you will have to heat the shaft in order to get it to collapse/extend), a grinder/dremel tool to grind a small notch (a handfile would probably work but you'll have to read this 25 times in order for my 1st sentence to be true), and a pry bar/big flat head screw driver. THOSE ARE THE ONLY TOOLS I USED.

    alright so of course the first step would be to procure the steering shaft from a jeep cherokee (xj). NOT A GRAND CHEROKEE. A word of advice for those going to the pick and steal, MAKE SURE ALL THE U JOINTS ARE SERVICEABLE AND MOVE FREELY!!!! else you're wasting your time.


    alright so step1 of course it to remove the old shaft. with mine i simply removed the bolt at the steering column, and the bolt all the way down at the steering box and used a pry bar to push the steering shaft up and off the steering box, it comes right out. piece of cake.

    remove top bolt and collapse the shaft to pull the shaft off the steering column


    remove the bottom bolt at the steering box (i left my rag joint intact, i have heard that some people had to disassemble the joint in order to remove the old shaft)


    i love this ratchet. if you dont' have one, try one....you'll love it. 30 bucks at lowes for a cheapo like mine that's held up just fine. (removing the bottom bolt)


    again, I DIDN'T HAVE TO, but you might if the column wont collapse..this is how you take apart the rag joint


    used a pry bar..GENTLY.. to push the shaft up off the input for the steering box


    bare steering column end


    bare steering box end


    here are the shafts compared. i have 2 xj shafts (outside) and the old rag joint shaft (middle)


    this is the upgrade, to get away from this dry rotted, torn, junk. it has certain advantages, such as less shock/vibration but the xj shaft feels much tighter.



    alright...so that part is done. now sorry for insulting anyone for going this simple BUT...the top end of the xj shaft has no splines...just an oval shape with 2 flat sides. it's the side with the "big fat bushing thingy"



    and this is the steering box end. take not of the splines, and the flat side that will match up to the male end on the steering box



    so lets put this thing in there, right? At this point, the xj shaft is too long to fit in there and they don't collapse as easy as the oem part. so i took a measurement. i attached the bottom part of the steering shaft on the steering box end and then measured to see how short it would need to be to fit on the steering column end. mine came out to what you see here, right at 21 inches, but yours may be different. i have a body lift. the measurement is for you alone just so you'll know how much you need to "tap it down"


    so to get it down to that 21 inches i first used a mapp gas torch, a little propane torch will do fine, and began heating here...staying close to the joint and about 2 inches from there towards the steering column


    the trick here is to only heat as much as you have to. there are plastic bushings inside that you don't want to incinerate. after about 30 seconds of heating i would tap the column to see if it would collapse, if no movement i would apply another 10 to 15 seconds of heat.

    a vise would be the easiest thing to do here, but i unfortunately do not have one in my garage and didn't want to drive all the way to the farm to use the shop for what would take about 2 minutes total. excuse me, i digress. so anyway, this is how i did it. notice the bolt stuck through the u joint down low. that fat collar is mounted over a bushing and it will slide if you start tapping on it. i put the bolt in it to keep it from sliding down. so that the only part the COULD slide was the joint in the middle of the shaft. so i got out my tape and TAP TAP TAP, measure, TAP TAP TAP, measure. all the way to 21 inches. i think i started out at 23 inches total so you dont' have that far to go. a side note. be easy with your tapping so as not to damage the shaft/splines/u joints, etc. it's a TAP. not a clobbering of the ford tool.


    so now we have our shaft short enough to fit in between our attachment points, we need to grind a notch in the steering column shaft so that the bolt of the xj will have enough clearance to bite the threads and tighten up. if you don't know what i'm trying to say, just try to bolt up the top of the xj shaft now and it will all make sense. so i took some measurements.

    the bolt hole is 3/4" from the leading edge of the "yoke" (this will be the same for you)


    i measured from the end of the steering column shaft, back towards the fire wall 3/4" and made a mark, then colored in with my marker the area that the bolt would need gone in order to fit.



    out came the grinder and in two little....brrrrrrrt, brrrrrrt. about that long, i had enough material gone that the bolt would pass through. i didn't get a picture of this, i apologise but i literally just ground that mark out that you can see and i only went about 1/8" deep. you only have to go deep enough to let the bolt pass through. look closely at the picture and see just how little the bolt needs


    at this point, the top is done, slide it up on there and bolt it in nice and snug.
    since we've shortened our shaft up you can place the lower end of the shaft in line with the steering box..but...well crap, it won't slide...i let mine cool down too much where i was taking pictures, i heated the shaft again for about 15 seconds, lined up the shaft, then TAPPED it on using a small ball peen hammer. with my body lift i could reach over the wheel and up under the fender well. i expect you can too. mines only got a 1 inch body lift and this is the clearance i've got.

    tap the shaft onto the steering box input. (make sure the bolt isn't in it, this picture was taken after it was already installed. you of course will put the bolt in AFTER you seat the shaft. else you'll be banging on it for a while haha).


    make sure both bolts are snugged up and...

    PRESTO!!! take it for a test drive


    I will add one final piece here. be sure to keep your steering shaft side lined up. would be a good idea to insure that the steering wheel lock is locked so that it doesn't turn on you. you may have to unlock it so that you can spin the column to do your grind but once that's done, lock it back up so it doesn't spin while you're working in there.

    i really recommend this modification. i'd heard great things about it but it really does tighten up the feel of the steering. i have more "feeling" of the front of the truck. it's more direct, i can feel the bite of the tires on the road. i got both of my shafts at the local junkyard but i know there are guys on here that have some for sale that they have found if you can't find one. gobblerk5 comes to mind, i think he has several looking for a new home. they come out of late 80's to mid 90's square body, vertical slat, jeep CHEROKEES. again, not GRAND CHEROKEES. don't bust your knuckles in a wasp infested P.O.S for the wrong part or a part that the u joints are frozen up on. I'm speaking from experience. GOOD LUCK EVERYONE, HOPE THIS HELPS, and if you have any direct questions feel free to PM me with your thoughts.

    June 2016 TOTM

    The Mud Skipper
    "Aw Hell!!! We built it for this!! Hit that Muther F*&$er and see if it sticks!!!"

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  2. #2
    Administrator Senior member GobblerK5's Avatar
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    Good write up! I'll add a couple URLs that I had researched for reference when doing this upgrade:

    Jeep XJ Steering Shaft - Sweet upgrade!

    And yes...it can also be done on the non-square bodied trucks...
    XJ Steering Shaft Upgrade (88-96 Trucks)

    And everyone loves a good YouTube video to reference!

    Last edited by GobblerK5; 08-29-2014 at 02:10 PM.

    RIP - 1987 K5 Blazer - Silverado Edition
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  3. #3
    Another Beer, Another Rok The man, the myth, the legend rokcrawlin85's Avatar
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    Thanks for the detailed write-up! Timing is perfect since I'm headed to the JY tomorrow for the shaft. I can find write-ups on this but none I've found are this detailed. Thanks again for taking the time for the details!!!

  4. #4
    Knows their $hit appalachian86's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rokcrawlin85 View Post
    Thanks for the detailed write-up! Timing is perfect since I'm headed to the JY tomorrow for the shaft. I can find write-ups on this but none I've found are this detailed. Thanks again for taking the time for the details!!!

    very welcome. PM me if you have any questions!!!

    June 2016 TOTM

    The Mud Skipper
    "Aw Hell!!! We built it for this!! Hit that Muther F*&$er and see if it sticks!!!"

    http://www.chevyk5blazer.com/forums/...9-DIESEL-Jimmy

  5. #5
    Fresh from the farm
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    Can someone let me know what year xj shaft will work.
    Thanks

  6. #6
    The man, the myth, the legend Sardo Numspa's Avatar
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    appalachian86, any chance you could reupload the pic since photobucket sucks now?

    gonna try and get to a yard soon to find a shaft. my steering is pretty sloppy and would rather just do this than put in a new rag joint.

  7. #7
    Administrator Senior member GobblerK5's Avatar
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    appalachin86 is currently deployed...he told me to give the forum members his best and he'll be back online floating around once he got his computer setup in the sandbox.

    RIP - 1987 K5 Blazer - Silverado Edition
    305 TBI / 700r4 / 10 Bolts / 3.08s

    32x11.50x15 Buckshot Mudders on stock rallys
    Flowmaster 40 series with dual chrome tips out the back
    1987 K5 Silverado - Build Thread

    1991 K5 Blazer - Silverado Edition
    350 TBI / 4L60 / 10 bolts / 4.10s
    35x12.50x15 Cooper Discoverer STT on stock rallys
    1991 K5 Silverado - Build Thread
    NOVEMBER 2012 ----- TRUCK-OF-THE-MONTH!!!!
    APRIL 2013 ----- TRUCK-OF-THE-MONTH!!!!

    And my other ride ---> GobblerK5's 2004 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab - Not much building going on in here though

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