I normally start my search for steering wheel play with a large pair of Channel locks. I saw a mechanic use them to squeeze the tie rod ends to check for movement. It's very effective. So thats what I did. I found that the drag link and drivers side outer tie rod end was worn. I decided to change the Drag link first because I had to replace the steering gear anyway because it was leaking.
I used a Fork and it took a lot of time to get it to break loose. But as the picture shows it will not seperate because it is too close to the frame.
I had to remove the pitman arm to remove the drag link. I had to remove it anyway because I was also replacing the steering gear. It took a lot of force on this puller but it did finally drop off. It dropped so fast that the drag link hit me in the head before I could move.
Now That Hurt. It was good that I did that when I had a job with health insurance. They told me that there was no permanent damage, but to please be more careful in the future. A couple of years before that while putting new mufflers on my Winnebago, I dropped a muffler on my glasses. It cut me above the eye and took several stiches. I must really be careful now because I am unemployed and only have VA. I must pay a surcharge whenever I use them. I am Retired Air Force, but I am not close enough to a Military Installation to get my Free Care.
You can see in these pictures that the new Drag Link has a bend in it. That's a better design because there is a angle involved when it is installed. this new one should last longer.
These pictures show that when the new link is connected the tie rod is flat. The original link had a constant angle to it. I think that the new one is a better design.
There is the NAPA part number for the 1976 M500 Chassis Drag Link.