Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

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Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:25 pm

I'm about to embark on my most intimidating job yet.

Back in April, my ball joints and other steering components managed to pass inspection despite imperfections, but shortly after they were deemed unfit for an alignment :roll:
No matter, as the northern weather gradually gets colder, now's the ideal time to replace what's been flagged.

For starters, I've recently acquired this hefty tool...
Yes, it's the exact same model I used last year but this time it's not borrowed... :D
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Here's the master schematic...
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And here are the problem areas:

Lower ball joints:
these riveted types are of course factory OEM!
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They have some looseness, it's about time they got replaced.
Image

Here are the new ones.
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Yes, the grease fitting is included (not shown)
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Obviously the upper control arm bushings are also shot...
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...and as a consequence this upper arm is a bit misaligned (see front bushing washer).
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New bushings.
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Apparently the idler arm has a little play and needs to be replaced.
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The new one.
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While everything is disassembled, it's a good time to replace other parts as well:

Lower control arm bushings:
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Outer tie rods (how could I even skip these, when they were only $6 each!)
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Notes:

*The upper ball joints have been checked by several inspectors and seemingly DO NOT need replacement.
This is also why I'd rather avoid detaching them altogether while replacing the upper arm bushings.

*Same for the inner tie rods, which usually don't wear out as fast as the outer ones.
Plus if needed, I can easily replace them as a separate job.

*The idler arm and tie rods have been deemed "much simpler" to replace, so I'll be doing them after
the suspension parts, whose replacement is roughly drafted below:

Image

And for the upper area:
Image

And finally of course, reassemble everything. :D

So there. I'll definitely be updating this thread as I go.
I'm open to all tips and suggestions at this point! :P
Last edited by denizen44 on Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:58 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby Dan Szwarc » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:35 pm

You will need a shop to press out the old upper control arm bushings and press in the new ones. You won't be able to do this at home, unless you own a press.

The best way to remove the rivets is to grind them off and punch them out. Do not bother with drilling.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:06 pm

Thanks Dan.

Made some progress in the last few days.

Jacking up the car took much of the prep time.
Image

The first support I built restricted access for the JACK too much,
because it needs to lay just under the lower control arm pivot.
So I had to rebuild a thinner, one-brick wide support (lower photo).
Of course there were 2 more supports behind the wheels.
Image

After the car was safely raised, it took me about 5 hours (including setup) to get the suspension disassembled.
This is the starting point.
Image

Shock absorber off, stabilizer bars detached, lower arm pivot/bolt is off,
just about to ease the pressure.
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I took a short video at the moment of release!
https://vimeo.com/232407903

The outer tie rod, which was among the parts flagged for replacement,
was stuck on the spindle, but some modest hammering got it out.
Image

Everything is off!
The caliper is sitting nicely on the bricks.
It may not seem like it, but there is very little stress on the brake hose.
Image

I put the parts in the trunk and all the nuts&bolts in ziploc bags.
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Now I can work in the basement.
I didn't want to remove the rotors to avoid messing with the bearings at this point.
I took this photo with the new parts laid out in front.
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These castle nuts were just slightly too big for my largest socket and box/combination wrenches.
Besides this adjustable wrench, I didn't have any large enough tools.
But it worked. :D
No special assistance other than levers (the long tube) was needed.
To compensate the torque from the wrench, I pressed the spindle against the table and/or my belly :lol:
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Next the lower ball joints will have to be detached from the spindle.
There might be some hammering involved, I'll see.
For now, I'm letting the oil do its job. ;-)
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Dan may be right, I'll probably need the help of a press for these,
and even more so to get the new ones in.
I'll see when I'm there.
Image
Image

Last edited by denizen44 on Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:06 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Sat Oct 31, 2015 6:23 pm

After some hammering (mostly on the spindle), the lower ball joint studs finally detached from the spindle:
Image
Image

Then I managed to get both lower ball joints off, despite the tough steel rivets.

The first one took several hours, because it became a laboratory for "experimenting" several removal "techniques".
But after that was done, I got the second ball joint off in less than 5 minutes.

When I started, I wanted to preserve this part:
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Hence the need for 'experimenting'.

So grinding the rivet heads off (from the top) was nearly impossible to do in a decent amount of time,
without damaging the thin plate in question:
Image

Which meant I could only work from underneath:
Image

Grinding carefully in this recessed area required a very small grinding apparel, and I did want to try that,
but I decided to try drilling a pilot hole first, as per suggestion by the shop manual:
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But the exit hole was slightly off center... :doh: :cry:

My drill press is way too small for comfort so it was slightly tedious to hold or lay down the large control arm flat enough to drill on the small drilling table.
At that point I didn't want to risk enlarging the mounting holes, so I made my bigger hole 5/16" instead of the recommended 3/8", and didn't drill all the way through either.
Image

But then of course the hole wasn't big enough to be useful, so I decided to start doing some confined
grinding (with a dremel).
I slowly chewed down the rivet head using a heavy-duty cutting wheel, doing all kinds of angle cuts,
until the rivet stud became flush with the ball joint's surface, and even a little beyond:
Image

Then I hit the darn thing endlessly with a hammer and some punches / steel rods but it never gave out.

After seeing several videos of rivets popping out easily, I started regretting making that pilot hole. :cry:

But I was already in that boat, so I decided to drill another 5/16" hole completely through the rivet,
but starting from the other end.
However at the same moment I also realized something :icon-idea: :
I can simply smash the entire control arm, upside down on something hard, striking the balljoint stud first.

It worked: the ball joint popped right out.
The result, at last!
Image

The rivets also became easier to punch out at that point:
Image
No forget it, they can't be re-used. :-D

In recap, for this first ball joint, I used a combination of 30% drilling, 40% grinding, and 65% swearing :angry-cussingblack:


...But I did save that upper ring! :banana-wrench:

Alas as it turns out, it can't be used with these new ball joints. :(
Image
And even if I pop out the rubber cap to insert the plate underneath, the plate hinders its movement.

Sooo now, it suddenly became much easier to get the second ball joint off:
1. carefully grind off the TOP rivet heads with a standard-sized grinder;
2. swing the control arm upside down, slamming the ball joint stud on a hard surface:
the entire thing pops right out on the first strike.
There.
Image

This time the plate was expendable.
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Yes, I did scratch the control arm a bit.
:doh:
I should have been more careful.
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Since the first ball joint lost its bottom half, I decided to wash it off to see how it was constructed.
When I realized just how overbuilt these factory parts were, I started having second thoughts about replacing them.
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Even after 45 years, the wear(arrows) was BARELY noticeable (to the touch).
Despite their so-called 'slight looseness', there's no way in the world these balljoints were the reason I couldn't get the car aligned.
Image

Rather, the culprits were undoubtedly the completely shot upper control arm bushings:
Image

Back to the ball-joint, lower part. I expected more visible wear than this.
Image

Oh well...
Speaking of bushings, next up I'll try getting them off.
Last edited by denizen44 on Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:21 pm, edited 13 times in total.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby Dan Szwarc » Sat Oct 31, 2015 7:36 pm

When I realized just how overbuilt these factory parts were, I started having second thoughts about replacing them.

I think you are not comprehending the beating these parts see in real life. They hold a majority of the weight of the car AND move, and have to do so for 50 to 75 thousand miles or more without a degradation in performance until a certain point.

This is why I tell people not to replace parts that don't need replacing (unless you can estimate the wear or life left).

Unfortunately, the replacements are probably of an inferior design, but there's little you can do.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:06 pm

Dan Szwarc wrote:I think you are not comprehending the beating these parts see in real life.

You seem to imply here that the parts go through so much...
Well that was exactly my comprehension as well, when I started!

Dan Szwarc wrote:This is why I tell people not to replace parts that don't need replacing

But that's what I think right now!

These joints were flagged for replacement because some very small 'play' was detected in their movement,
so I decided to replace them.
But the wear I found was significantly less than I thought.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby Dan Szwarc » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:12 pm

Those bushings were definitely shot. The ball joints look OK. I don't know enough about ball joints to say how much play is allowable. I can see the grooves for the purpose of allowing the lube up into the pivot area. I think the shop manual has something about play.

Was there a spring under the ball inside the assembly? The would keep it under tension as it wore.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Sat Oct 31, 2015 8:19 pm

Dan Szwarc wrote:Was there a spring under the ball inside the assembly? The would keep it under tension as it wore.

Yes.

In some cases, there is even a wear indicator:
Image

But in this case there was no such feature, just the spring. The nipple on the right doesn't move.
Image

In any case, the play was signaled by two different 'inspectors',
but I was led to believe that the joints could be a 'security risk'.
Now I'm just saying they were FAR from there.

the replacements are probably of an inferior design

Maybe, I'm not sure... I would guess the biggest drop in quality would be in the rubber.
But I think the K8059s (Moog) are exact copies of the original steel design(rubber excluded),
same for the newer Mevotech MK8059s.
Last edited by denizen44 on Sat Nov 07, 2015 4:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby sauceman » Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:03 am

Some mechanics insist on zero play for front end parts, ball joints, tie rod ends etc. When in reality you should always check the specs. I know GM ball joints are allowed some vertical movement on an unloaded ball joint. I don't have my Lincoln service manual with me to check, but I'm almost sure some play in tolerated.

You might be able to replace the control arm bushings without a press, if you have a big enough vise. I do not recommend using a swing press (hammer) to get them in. If you have to you can get the old ones out and bring the control arm to a shop for them to press in the new bushings.


cheers.
Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement.

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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 2:36 pm

sauceman wrote:Some mechanics insist on zero play for front end parts, ball joints, tie rod ends etc. When in reality you should always check the specs...

Makes sense...
And yesterday morning I still had some hesitation to change the upper factory ball joints,
despite having no-issues with them (ya know, since everything is already dismounted and all)...
Plus, the new ones are so inexpensive, even some decent quality ones... No more than $50/pair, delivered!
That's well worth it if you need replacements.
But, after seeing the condition of the lower ones described above... :hand: These upper ones are definitely staying on!

You might be able to replace the control arm bushings without a press, if you have a big enough vise..

I totally agree lol... Pretty much my conclusion at this time, details below.

If you have to you can get the old ones out and bring the control arm to a shop for them to press in the new bushings..

Unless I can find a bigger vise, that's pretty much what will happen on monday!

Anyways, this morning I managed (to my surprise) to get all six old bushings out!
Took about 4 hours,
but had I known then what I know now, it would have taken more like, 90 minutes. :D

So I was pretty resigned to have them removed with a press at the shop, when I decided to check out some DIY youtube videos on the subject. Of course, all sorts of silly methods out there, but several videos allowed me to judge just how tough typical bushings are to remove. :geek:

And they really didn't seem as tough as I expected: many DIYers managed to pop them out with hammers.
And since the old bushings are expendable, I decided to give the hammer a try.

So this is what I used: standard hammer, small steel rod(3/8") , large rod (5/8").
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I grinded the tip of the small rod, to be able to hit only the bushing's outer ring.
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First, the upper control arm bushings.

The first bushing of the pair is the tougher one to strike, because the inner shaft is in the way.
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Upon hammering the red areas through the large rod, I could tell when the bushing moved slightly, just from the sound and feel of the blow!
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At some point I started using the smaller rod on the outer ring, and it finally came out.
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Now the second one. Talk about off center, lol.
It's no wonder an alignment couldn't proceed.
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With the inner shaft out of the way, this one was much easier to hit.
Slowly but surely, it moved down.
Again, when it became flush with the outer lip, I started using the smaller rod on the dotted line.
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And soon after it fell on the floor.
Yeah! :)
No damage whatsoever to the control arm.
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Pretty much all four upper bushings went the same way.

Now for the lower ones.
I can already tell more brute force will be required here, these are a little more rusty and there is more contact area between the metal surfaces.
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Here's how I did it...
First, an improvised anvil (a solid steel piece I had lying around).
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Then, a section of muffler pipe which just happens to be the perfect diameter.
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Lay the part on top....
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Cut off some rubber...
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The flat surface of this second steel bar ensures proper seating where I hit... (the bushing's outer ring)
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After a few hard bangs(and changing sides) it had noticeably gone down.
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Then it was time to use this section of threaded steel pipe, which was just the right diameter to touch the outer ring of the bushing, but small enough to pass through the hole.
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Bang Bang.
Aw yeah that really did it. Not much left now!
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One last bang, and off it was!
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The whole dysfunctional family.
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Now, on to the new bushings!
First, I gently sanded off all the newly exposed metal surfaces, and greased them up good.
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I just happened to have a few pieces of pipe, including the previously used muffler pipe section.
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The thicker one was exactly the right inner diameter.
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I tried pushing them in like this, but I think the required push is just too much,
I'll probably break my "medium-sized" vise if I insist. :(
Image

Sooo, unless I can find a bigger vise, looks like I'll have to get these to a shop!
:smt011
I wonder if the inner shaft's own THREADS (and nuts) could actually pull these bushings in?



Last edited by denizen44 on Tue Dec 22, 2015 12:38 pm, edited 29 times in total.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 7:03 pm

Well I managed to get one of the upper bushings in... :D
Two large C-clamps and these flat steel blocks did the trick.
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View from the back...
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A few turns and... done.
Image

Now for the other bushing facing this one...
With the inner shaft in the way, it'll require an entirely different process.
Last edited by denizen44 on Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:16 pm

I'm still puzzled by this, so I'll ask away here.

Is it really true that the 'teeth' of the bushings and those of the inner shaft, are designed to
'grip' each other, in a way that will force the flexing of the upper arm to be absorbed by the rubber?

Image

It seems to me it would make more sense for the inner shaft to simply rotate inside the bushings,
instead of submitting the rubber to such a twisting stress... And for what reason anyways?
Won't this rubber twisting only lead to earlier bushing failure?
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby sauceman » Tue Nov 03, 2015 12:27 pm

Yes the teeth are supposed to bite into each other. And yes it's the twisting of the rubber that provides movement, that's how they end up wearing out, other than dry rot.

If you only have metal to metal movement why bother with a rubber bushing.


cheers
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby denizen44 » Tue Nov 03, 2015 9:55 pm

Since the hard pressed bushings pretty much lock the inner shaft in place,
how do you determine the exact angle of the inner shaft?
I suppose it should be level (straight) when the upper arm itself is level?
Or is there a standard angle?
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Re: Steering & suspension partial revamp (1970)

Postby sauceman » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:33 am

denizen44 wrote:Since the hard pressed bushings pretty much lock the inner shaft in place,
how do you determine the exact angle of the inner shaft?
I suppose it should be level (straight) when the upper arm itself is level?
Or is there a standard angle?


To perform an alignment you loosen the upper shaft mount bolts and move the control arm in or out as required.


cheers
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