Yeah, it seems to be more an issue of not reaching, then an issue of it not sliding (or probably both). I can just see the recess through the bolt hole, but its not centered. Maybe I need to try and pull the universal down like you said.
But I'm still a big confused. The bolt will go over the recess in the shaft, not over the flat section of the spline? I don't think it was over the flat section when I took it off, but I wasn't paying attention. And it isn't lined up to go over the flat spot right now. If its not meant to, then I just need to keep pulling on this thing until I get it down far enough.
OK, I'm thinking I must just be a moron at this point. I have the universal
joint sliding on the splined shaft more then far enough now. With the rack
centered, and wheel centered, the bolt hole does not line up with the flat spot
on the shaft. I didn't think it had to. I just assumed the bolt needed to line
up with the groove that goes fully around the spline. Well, the bolt hole is
lined up with the groove on the shaft, but there's no way the groove is deep
enough to allow the bolt to clear the shaft. Should it? If so, I don't see how.
If not, what the heck is the groove even there for?
So I'm assuming the bolt needs to line up with the flat spot on the shaft. But at minimum, that would require me to take the steering wheel off and recenter it, because the universal is like 120 degrees away from lining up with the flat spot.
Doesn't seem like a big deal if that is what's required, but I don't see any mention of anything like that in the manuals or anywhere else. It doesn't matter what position the universal is in, right? Its not like its only setup to turn 180 degrees from stop to stop right? I'm hesitant because I know there was a recall on earlier cars having to do with improperly positioned steering universal joints.
Basically, the question is........what the hell!?!? (I'm getting frustrated at this seemingly trivial project).
1979 Euro 5speed
The universal joint only goes on one way. The steering wheel goes on wherever
center is. The universal joint has a groove that the bolt goes through
relatively tightly. You can only get it like one spline off of you can't get the
bolt through the holt and the groove at the same time.
So get the universal joint together and then put the steering on after.
My car is a bit off when the splines line up so I align it by locking the steering at the end of the process and re-toe.
First, install the centering bolt in the rack. Then center the steering
wheel. Clean and lube everything, and mesh until the bolt will go thru the round
groove in the shaft.
The universal joint is, well, universal in rotation. As far as aligning things, the bolt has to go though the groove. The correct thing to do is center the rack and, if the steering wheel isn't level, pull the wheel and put it back on level.
The steering wheel operation leads to the question "So what?" If the wheel is off a bit the alignment shop will "fix" that and the car will turn a bit tighter one way than another. The problem is that the input shaft on the rack is not put on with any regard to where the rack shaft is centered. This means the steering wheel could be a full 180 degrees off. I find it easier to work the assembly with the steering wheel off. Less mass to spin from under the car.
Center the rack.
Put the U-joint on with the bolt across the groove.
Make sure it's on deep enough so the input shaft is about even with the inside of the U-joint. That is, you can see, or at least feel, the top of the shaft.
Check the centering and then pull the steering wheel and put it back level.
Take the car for an alignment.
One thing to check is the centering of the rack. There is a plastic plug on
the rack housing directly opposite the steering column shaft. If you remove that
plug (little or no fluid should come out) and center the rack so that the wheels
are straight ahead, there should be a centering dimple in the rack visible thru
the hole. If the rack is not centered, the steering geometry won't be correct.
The rack should be centered when the suspension is being aligned.