There's a healthy 1/8" or so gap between the front axle and the frame. So yes the steering has lots of play and the wheels move fore/aft before turning L or R.
I should have no problem tightening the castle nut one or two more "positions" (so that the cotter pin will go back in). But how tight is tight, here? This doesn't appear to be like an automotive wheel bearing situation.
The castle nut is hard to get to: I've removed the heat shield/guard for the muffler but that's as far as I made it today with other commitments. (I did get the cotter pin out of the castle nut that secures the axle.) The castle nut does spin a little by hand, but not easily enough to tighten without a wrench or socket. Maybe if I squeezed the axle to the frame with some clamps ...
With the muffler present, there isn't enough room to get a socket (nor the closed-end of a wrench ...) onto the castle nut. Not sure if I have to remove the muffler (and what's involved with doing so?) or if the open-end of a wrench could get at the castle nut sufficiently.
Seems to be just under a 1.5", so maybe a 36mm? I'll have to see if a pipe wrench will go on there. I don't see buying a huge wrench for this, but I do have access to larger (SAE) sockets and don't mind buying a large metric socket.
Should I remove the castle nut and remove the axle and smear some grease between it and the frame, where they meet, since the axle has to move "up/down" in normal operation?
One front wheel spindle has a bit of vertical play, or a small gap between it and the axle. But there's no adjustment or bearing I can see available.
Both front wheels have a little slop on their respective spindles, but again, I don't see them as having castle nuts/replaceable wheel bearings, so ...
All advice is welcome.