Universal Ball Housing Adjustment

By Stephen Kassis

Proper adjustment of the universal joint ball housing on closed driveline cars & trucks from 1929-1954 is critical for good operation. This housing, if improperly adjusted, may result in oil leakage if too loose, or drivetrain noise if too tight.

Whenever the universal joint is opened for any service operation, or should a leak at this point be experienced, the adjustment should be performed with the ball joint collar oil seal (cork) removed. Attempted adjustment with this cork seal in place, whether new or old seal, will give a false adjustment.

The following procedure should be followed in making this adjustment:

  1. On passenger cars or ½ ton pickups remove universal joint ball from torque tube and on ¾ ton models, remove intermediate universal joint yoke and dust shield and then remove bearing support bracket and rubber cushion from propeller shaft housing.
  2. Wash the universal ball thoroughly in cleaning solvent, then inspect it for roughness. If ball is rough, smooth up with fine emery paper or if deeply scored, replace it.
  3. Using four new universal ball collar shims as a starting point, install universal ball and collar. Tighten the four attaching bolts to 8-12 ft. lbs. torque.
    NOTE: Do not install ball joint collar oil seal (cork) at this time.
  4. With attaching bolts tight, place both hands on the universal ball housing assembly at the end of the housing. If the assembly can be moved and is a snug fit, the torque ball is properly adjusted.
    NOTE: If the ball housing assembly cannot be moved by hand or is too loose, remove the ball collar attaching bolts and remove shims to tighten or add shims to loosen until proper adjustment is secured.
  5. Remove universal ball housing. Install new gaskets at the back of the retaining collar and the back of the ball housing. Hang the shims over the ball housing until ready to install the U-joint. NOTE: 1929-33 ball housings with a fixed seal at the back will require FS-4356 O-ring seal for replacement. To install use a screwdriver to remove any cork that remains between the two flat washers. Clean the housing. Lube and press the O-ring into the back of the housing between the two flat washers and install onto the torque tube.
  6. Install a new U-joint gasket set (FS-125 or FS-125P) whenever the U-joint is apart. After installing the U-joint, fill the ball housing with about 1/2 pint of 90W (1936 or earlier models use 600W – VT-40) Fill through the top plug at the back of the transmission. If there is no fill hole, remove the speedometer drive gear and fill through that hole.