BangShift Project Power Laggin’ Update: We Tighten Up The Steering With A Borgeson Steering Shaft!

Welcome back to our coverage of Project Power Laggin’! Follow along as we take a tired 1979 Dodge W150 Power Wagon we found in Central Maine and transform it from a derelict roadside attraction to a dependable, powerful weekend workhorse that lives up to it’s given name! In this installment, we address our Dodge’s dodgy (no pun intended, we swear) steering with a modern upgrade: a steering shaft from our friends at Borgeson! 

If you own a decades-old rig like Project Power Laggin’, you’ve more than likely found yourself sawing at the steering wheel to keep the thing straight going down the road at one point or another. There are a variety of reasons why this can happen, from worn tie rods to a loose steering box. But what happens when you’ve gone through all the suspension bits and you’re still having trouble keeping things straight? We found ourselves in this very situation with Project Power Laggin’. After inspecting the front end and replacing all worn components, a dead spot in the steering was still present and making things hairy at speed. That’s when we took a peek at the stock steering shaft.

Aside from being covered in a malaise of gunk, the stock steering shaft was smoked. There was a significant amount of play in the shaft bot side-to-side and back-and-forth, not to mention the grease seal had started to puke out the back. This was flat out unsafe at this point.

Our options were to either find a good, used shaft, which is unlikely, or come up with a better solution. Enter Borgeson Universal Company, who offers just the thing to fix our problem: a new, modern-design steering shaft with a universal joint. This is the same style shaft that many modern vehicles use, and a big upgrade over the old-style steering shaft. And the best part: installation is simple and easy. Let’s get to it!

Borgeson makes two different shafts for our truck: one for trucks with two-piece joint steering column output shaft and one (like ours) for the one-piece shaft. From our research, trucks with tilt columns typically come with the two-piece column output shaft. Power Laggin’s not nearly fancy enough for that, so the shaft we needed bolts directly to the rag joint (Part # 000940). Since the factory rag joint was likely to disintegrate as soon as I touched it, a new rag joint disk and hardware kit were ordered up as well (Part # 000941).

Time to start removing the old shaft. The steering box end is easy; there’s a roll pin holding the shaft in place. Knock it out and remove the shaft. Easy! As you can see here, the grease seal had been making its exit, and this shaft was not long for this world.

As you can see, things got a little hairy when removing the old shaft at the rag joint. The retaining bracket had fused itself to the bolts, requiring them to be cut off. This is exactly why we opted for the rag joint kit with the shaft.

Here’s a direct comparison of the two units. What makes the Borgeson shaft so special? Instead of the old ball-and-socket design, these ones have a small universal joint with precision needle bearings to ensure both smooth, tight operation and long life. The shaft is also telescoping for easy installation and has a set screw instead of a roll pin to hold it in place. Slight modification of the steering box output shaft is necessary, which we will cover in a bit. Overall, the Borgeson unit is a much beefier design as well.

With the old shaft in the trash, we bolted the new one onto the truck using the rag joint disk kit and tightened it accordingly. No issues at all here, nice and easy.

We mentioned earlier that modifying the output shaft was necessary. We used a drill to create a small detent for the set screw to sit in, ensuring that the shaft would stay put.

After that, just slip the Borgeson shaft onto the steering box, screw in the retaining screw, and lock down the additional retaining collar to the telescoping joint (the circular part in the middle next to the rubber boot). That’s it!

After installing the shaft, we noticed immediately that much of the steering slop we had before was now gone. Not only that, but there’s now decent steering feel and feedback from the wheel, which was something that was completely lacking from the truck with the old shaft. And most importantly, the truck is much safer to drive, knowing that the shaft will not fall apart anytime soon. This was definitely a worthwhile upgrade and super easy to do!

You can find more info on Borgeson’s line of steering components by visiting their website: https://www.borgeson.com/

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