Swing Arm Universal Joint

Information and questions on GL1200 Goldwings (1984-1987)
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Swing Arm Universal Joint

Post by Clara_Trefts »

Hey everyone!

My name is Clara. I just joined and I'm looking forward to using Goldwing Doc throughout my 1985 GL1200 rebuild. I've run into a lot of trouble and I think all of your experience may be very helpful for me.

Does anyone know if I'm able to install the universal joint in the swing arm if the engine is removed without removing the swing arm itself? I'm on a time crunch to get my bike mostly build up before I move across the country. I'm waiting on the universal joint to come in the mail and the service manual states to install it by removing the swing arm. I'd like to build up the rear end and install it afterwards if possible (then install the engine). My bike is almost completely torn apart so whatever progress I can make now before I move in a few weeks, is important to determine I can even bring the bike with me at all. Thank you in advance!

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Re: Swing Arm Universal Joint

Post by Rednaxs60 »

I'll chime in here. Don't have to remove the swing arm. Worst case is you would need to remove the right side swing arm bolt so that the swing arm falls down a bit to let you remove/install the u-joint. You do have a couple of options to my way of thinking. I am in the process of rebuilding the engine for my '85 Limited Edition and will be trying the second recommendation - may try the first recommendation as well - need to know which works best. The OEM service manual details that you should be able to remove install the engine with the u-joint and drive system intact. I tried this when I removed the engine and could not take the u-joint off the engine.

You mention you have the engine out. You can install the u-joint on the prop shaft before you put the engine back in. When you install the engine you will have to maneuver the engine so that the u-joint lines up with the engine final drive shaft. Once the u-joint is on the engine final drive shaft move the engine into position and bolt it in place. Before you mate the u-joint up to the engine, make sure the prop shaft and u-joint are connected to the rear wheel final drive. Don't rush this part of the engine install.

If you do not want to install the u-joint/engine as above, remove the rear wheel, final drive and prop shaft - would recommend draining the final drive fluid. Put the u-joint in the swing arm - mate the u-joint to the prop shaft - will be easier to line up the u-joint with the engine out and the rear wheel final drive off. Secure the prop shaft so that it does not disconnect from the u-joint, install the engine, then mate the u-joint to the engine making sure the prop shaft does not disconnect from the u-joint. Bolt the final drive into place and install rear wheel.

The last way is to do as if you were going to do maintenance on the drive system. Remove the rear wheel, final drive and prop shaft. Put the u-joint in the swing arm, install engine, mate u-joint to engine, insert prop shaft into u-joint, install final drive, then rear wheel.

I've stripped my bike as well:

Just some thoughts on your issue. Good luck.
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Re: Swing Arm Universal Joint

Post by WingAdmin »

Have a look at how I demonstrate it on my GL1500 here:


You can use the same technique on your GL1200.
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Re: Swing Arm Universal Joint

Post by Clara_Trefts »

Thank you both for all of the help. I still have a week before the new u-joint will come in the mail so I'll be preparing the engine for install in the meantime. It looks like installing the engine and them assembling the remains of the rear end is my best option. I'll be coming back to this information once the part comes in for sure!
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Re: Swing Arm Universal Joint

Post by CrystalPistol »

1985? The U-joint will go in or come out through the swing arm driveshaft tunnel or tube. I used to pull mine on my '85Aspencade at tire changes to inspect & lube those splines. Usually the U-joint was stiff enough to hold it's front yoke "up", but a wrap of masking tape won't hurt. I used the driveshaft and final drive as a "handle", assembled the three and feed the U-joint in first with the FD cradled in my left hand and used a finger at boot end to guide the front yoke onto the output shaft after pulling boot back.

I think it was maybe '86 or '87 the swing arm construction was changed somehow and the tube was smaller inside at the engine end maybe?
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Re: Swing Arm Universal Joint

Post by ALEX3425 »

Hello Clara
I just had to reinstall my u-joint last month so I know how frustrating it can potentially be. That is great info that Redaxs60 has provided. As I did not have engine out I did not have that option. To be able to remove/install u-joint in my case was as Redaxs60 explained for maintenance. A bit of work in my case as bags,rear fender, shocks,wheel all have to come off. In your case that may already be done. The key is to remove final drive and drop right side of swingarm.That will give enough room to maneuver u-joint in or out. Once u- joint is attached to drive shaft raise swingarm and push drive shaft and u-joint onto engine.You will be able to rotate drive shaft to align u-joint to engine. Reattach final drive.If you have already finished your project this may help someone else.

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