Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Glendale, Arizona, USA
Model: 1987 GL1200 Interstate 285,000 miles
There's a bearing holding the shaft in place, so there shouldn't be much movement. However, there is some margin between brand new, and worn out.
Usually you'll get some leaking out of the weep hole before the bearing screams. Make sure the weep hole is open and, if like you say, there is "significant" play in the shaft, just do what you know needs to be done.
Why ain't we ridin'?