Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The hard parts done

Well I have completed some of the things on my list. here was the original list I had:

1. Change the Transmission Fluid
2. Adjust the brakes
3. Replace the ball joints
4. Install lowered spindles
5. Grease the front beam
6. get an alignment
7. Adjust the valves
8. Change the oil
9. Check the timing and adjust the carburetor.
10. Wash and vacuum

I Replaced the ball joints, installed the lowered spindles, adjusted the brakes, and dumped the trans fluid but as of yet I haven't filled it. So here is the new list I have before the cruise down south.

1. Fill the Transmission with fluid
2. Grease the front beam
3. Get an alignment (which is set up for Monday)
4. Straighten out the fender
5. Adjust the valves
6. Change the oil
7. Check the timing and adjust the carburetor.
8. Wash and vacuum

Here are some of the pictures of what I have been doing.

So I figured crappy parts were to blame for my ball joints failing prematurely. I was sorta wrong on that part. I lowered my bug a little over 4 inches by just using adjusters and it messed up the engineering of the front end so it put the ball joints at a very tight angle.

 Here is what happens when you do that. I installed ball joints that were made for lowered bugs but I still was running them into the end and that it why the ball joints were really loose. Here you can see on this one it even cracked the housing. I was pretty lucky I didn't pop it out of there and crash. Not a good thing.
 Here is how I got the ball joints out of the arms. It worked great on these. They were easier then the last ones I changed because they were only in there a couple years.
 If they don't come easily have someone back up the other side with a bucking bar and that will help it come out.
 Here it is coming out. A big vice works great to keep it steady.
 You need to remove this from the upper ball joints and put it on the new ones. This is what adjusts your caster for your front tire alignment. When you install it on a new joint point the notch forward. That will get it set up so you can get it to the alignment shop and there they will adjust it if needed.
 Here are all 4 of the torsion arms with the ball joints removed. At this point the hard part is over. Now you just need to press the new joints on.
 If you are lucky enough to have a press available this part will be a breeze. Just get it set up right and make sure you have aligned your notches on the ball joints. If you need more info look at the post I did on ball joints last year. It goes into more detail.
 I got the joints installed and filled them with lots of good grease. I then put the boots back on ( you must remove them to press in the ball joints or you will tear them) and installed the torsion arms onto the beam.
 You want to install the grub screw first then tighten down the lock nut. Both torques are 36 foot pounds.
 I painted the dropped spindles. The lowered one is on the left and the stock one is on the right. I am installing these in hopes of getting my geometry for my front end closer to what it was when stock. I still am going to lower it some with the adjusters but it should be a lot better on the ball joints then it was. The spindles are 2.5 inches lower then stock and I made my beam able to drop 4 inches so that puts it at 6.5 inches if I leave the adjusters cranked all the way down. That's too low and my tires will rub. I have decided to lower the car 5 inches total. That puts me 1 inch lower then I was before but I am actually going to raise the torsion bars by 1.5 inches. I hope that will get me riding safely and at the same time it should look cool.
Got the arms in, spindle on and the dust shield and brakes installed. I then regreased the wheel bearings and put on the drums. 
 Here is my adjuster. This is the lower one and it's full of asphalt. I tried to dig it out but it's pretty mangled so I just used a pair of vice grips to adjust it up a little.
This shows my adjusters I installed a couple years ago. Looks like the welds are holding up good and I cranked them up a tad. Just need to grease the front end before I get it off the jack stands now.
 Here's one side done and ready for the tire to be installed. I still may have to adjust the front end after I get it on the ground. I just guesstimated where I thought it should be and I will fine tune it if I need to after.
I roughly beat out my front fender where it was caved in and I am going to hopefully get it looking a little better before I go. It was hitting on my tire and tearing it up a little bit.

 I think with a little more caressing with a body hammer and dolly and it should at least be presentable.
Hopefully I can get the sway bar clamps I need to install that before Monday so I can have the whole front end buttoned up before I take it to the alignment shop. Looks like I still have a pretty long list and not much time to get it done. I work best under pressure though!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To Do List

Well, I need to get a few things done to Ed before I take him to St. George for my works Mini Indy charity race. I don't want to break down on my way to or from there. Here is the list:
1. Change the Transmission Fluid
2. Adjust the brakes
3. Replace the ball joints
4. Install lowered spindles
5. Grease the front beam
6. get an alignment
7. Adjust the valves
8. Change the oil
9. Check the timing and adjust the carburetor.
10. Wash and vacuum

I started this list last week by draining the transmission fluid after I drove it home from work so it was warm.
I put it back up on jack stands and it will be there for awhile until I get the ball joints pressed out and in.

 It takes a 17 MM Allen wrench/socket to remove the drain plug and filler plug. Make sure you remove the filler plug before you drain the fluid because if you don't and have a problem removing the fill lug your hosed. The only way to fill up the trans then is to put your bug on it's top and fill it from the drain hole.
The fill plug is on the left hand side of the trans. It should be pretty easy to get to if your bugs on jack stands.

The drain plug is right on the bottom. Try not to get the fluid on you because it stinks something awful and the scent will stay with you for awhile.

 This fluid isn't very old and I am a little bummed that the magnet on the plug had so much stuff on it. I don't feel like changing the transmission anytime soon.
 I am trying a new trans fluid. It's redline MTL. Jay Leno swears by the stuff and claims your trans will shift and feel like new. It's worth a shot I figured. I will let you know how it works when I get it back together. I still have the plugs out and I pushed some fluid through it to hopefully clean any gunk out. It's still draining in my garage and so the garage smells really good.
 This is why I am looking at the ball joints. The boots are trashed. I was really bummed seeing this. These ball joints are only 2 years old with 10,000 miles on them.
I hoped I could just put boots on them and call them good but they were shot. I couldn't believe they were so loose. Looks like I need to get new ones.
 I am going to install lowered spindles and I am hoping that with those they will put the ball joints at a more natural angle then they were before. Maybe I can get longer life out of the ball joints. It starts by removing the tie rod from the spindle. A rivet gun works good for removing them without messing up the boot. Then remove the ball joint nuts and pop them out of the spindle.

 I removed the brake dust shield with the 3 bolts and that allows you to remove it with all the brakes still hooked up. It's a piece of cake. You don't need to disconnect the brake hose just move the assembly out of the way
 Remove the spindle and disconnect the sway bar and shock.
  You can then remove the torsion arms so you can put them in a press to remove and install the new joints. 
 Here is where it sits now. I have the drivers side arms removes and I need to do the ball joints. I really dislike changing the ball joints on a bug because there is no lip to press them out easily. You usually end up beating them out with a rivet gun and that just plain sucks.
 I have felt pretty crappy the last 2 days so I haven't had the energy or motivation to change the joints but I have them ready for when I do. Maybe tomorrow or sometime next week. Check back then and see.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Honey, We need more jackstands!

Saturday started out nice and sunny so it was a good time to replace the balljoints in the neighbors S-10 pickup. Balljoints aren't the most pleasant job in the world to do but very manageable if you have the right tools and a good place to do them. Tools needed for this job are (2) floor jacks, (2) jackstands, a balljoint press (you can rent them for free at autozone), a set of assorted metric wrenches, a metric socket set with a big breaker bar, a set of allen wrenches, some side cutters, pliers, and a lug nut wrench. Tools that will make it a ton easier are a compressor with an impact gun, and a rivet gun with a chisel set and a flat set. 

 Here we are again with a bunch of duralast parts. I found this pretty amusing. They were bought at the same autozone and we had 2 upper and 2 lower balljoints. The funny thing was that although they were all duralast parts, I had 2 made in Mexico, 1 in the USA and 1 in China. Comparing all the parts, the one made in the USA was by far the best quality and the one made in China was the worst. The ones hecho en Mexico were the middle of the road. I think I would of made them check their boxes and tried to get all the ones made in USA.
 So I brought home 2 sets of 3 ton jackstands on Friday and Dixie asked why we needed so many jackstands. I told her to go out in the garage and she would understand why we have so many jackstands. I put Ed up on jackstands to get it ready for my annual trip to St. George. I dumped the tranny fluid while it was warm so it would hopefully get all the crap out of the trans with it. That's for another post though.
 So the first thing to do after jacking the truck up and removing the wheel is to remove the brake caliper and wire it up and out of the way with a coat hanger or safety wire. Next get a floor jack and put it under the lower control arm. This is very important because if you remove the lower ball joint without supporting the lower control arm the spring will most likely come out and hurt you.
 Next remove the cotter pins and nuts from the balljoints. Remove the tie rod nut also and remove the tie rod and separate the balljoints. I find this easiest by putting my rivet gun on the end of the stud and giving it a little tap. They come right out and save the boots if you need to reuse them like I did with the tie rod end. If you don't have a rivet gun you can use a pickle fork and a sledge hammer.
 Next you want to remove the steering knuckle completely from the truck. It will give you lots of room to work. If your doing only 1 balljoint you will have to work around the knuckle and try to make sure you don't damage the opposite ball joint. Here the knuckle is out and on the ground.
 Here is the rivet gun I use. If your going to buy one, I would get a RIVET GUN, not an AIR HAMMER. There is a difference. Air hammers hit very fast and light. Rivet guns hit slower and a lot harder. I have my flat set here to hit the tie rod and ball joints out.
 For some dumb reason, I never got a picture of the balljoint press. It's basically a big c clamp with a few different adapters for your balljoints. It's pretty easy to use and I wouldn't attempt to do this without that. On an S-10, the lower balljoints are pressed in and the uppers are riveted from the factory if they have not been changed before. If they have they are just bolted in. In this picture I have removed the lower balljoint and cleaned it up for the new one.
 Before I installed the lower joint, I decided to remove the upper one so I didn't get crap in the new balljoint. Here is my gun with the chisel set in it. It makes very short work for removing the rivets in the upper balljoints. If you don't have this, you can drill them out and that will work just as good as long as you can drill it on center. After the rivets are chiseled, just hit the joint out and pitch it.
Here is the upper control arm cleaned and prepped for the new balljoint.
 You just have to bolt the upper one in and put the grease Zerk in.
Here's the grease Zerk installed and ready.
 I had a bear of a time getting the lower balljoint in. The press would cock the joint and I ended up using the press a little, then hitting one side with my rivet gun, using the press and so on. After doing this back and forth I finally got it to seat fully. Both sides were like this and I guess it's better to be really tight then too loose. They make an oversize balljoint if your A-Arms are worn, but if your balljoints are original, You shouldn't need the oversized ones.
Due to my lack of picture taking, This is all I have of the pictures. The rest of the job is just the reverse of the things you took off. Install the knuckle and tie rod The upper balljoint and tie rod torque is 61 foot pounds and the lower balljoint nut is 83 foot pounds. Make sure that you don't loosen the nuts if the cotter pin holes don't line up. Tighten it until it does. Install the cotter pins and the caliper. Before you put the wheel on, make sure you grease the new balljoints and it's also a good time to grease the rest of the front end. Install teh wheel and the do the other side if needed. All 4 joints took me about 5 hours to do which isn't too bad. I only had to yell "Party On" a few times during this job!  The next post will be back to bugs. I have a list of things to do on my bug before this years mini indy race in St. George. That's next weeks project though.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Suspension, Suspension and more Suspension

February has turned into a month of suspension work for me. I have 3 cars lined up to work on their front ends and they are all in a time crunch. The first one is a 94 GMC 3/4 ton pickup that needs inner and outer tie rods on both sides, a pitman arm, idler arm and idler arm bracket. The next one is a 90 Chevy S-10 truck that needs upper and lower ball joints on each side and last but not least is Ed the bug. I looked under it and the ball joints are shot already. I installed new ones about 2 years ago but I obviously got crap parts. We won't go there until I get a chance to work on it, then I will blog about my hatred for cheap parts. Anyways, I got the GMC done the last couple nights after work and it went really smoothly. I only ended up with one blood blister and the center link fell on my head but I said my new motto when things make me mad. "PARTY ON" I learned it from Cody Lundin (the guy from dual survival) and it seems to work. How can you not smile when you say those words. Try it and see if it works for you. I even have some guys at work saying it. It helps tremendously to lift your attitude. Here's the GMC. It has 180,000 miles on it and very few grease jobs so I guess it was due for some front end work. My truck has 174,000 miles and it's pretty tight up front so that should say something for greasing your suspension if you can.
 Here is the pile of parts that will go on it. I tried to talk him into buying Moog parts but He's a little on the cheap side. Hey, at least I got him to take back the valucraft parts (Autozones cheapest parts) and get the middle of the road stuff. I still am not a duralast fan but oh well, If they wear out in a year maybe I will charge him double the price for Moog parts to install them. I also installed a wiper motor he had bought awhile back and didn't get around to putting in.
I like to use Kroil on rusted bolts. It works awesome and you can see I put it on the tie rod clamps here. All the parts on this truck came apart really well with my rivet gun and the pitman arm puller I rented from Autozone. I have taken the pitman arm nuts off here also.
 Here's the idler arm. It was nice because he got a new idler arm bracket so everything was new that went back in.
Here's the new bracket for the idler arm. This one was cool because it had a hose attachment that went on so you could grease it really easy. These are usually a pain to grease because the Zerk is on top and hard to get to. I actually bought a special 90 degree grease fitting for my grease gun to grease mine in my truck. This hose is awesome and it didn't cost any more than the one without it.
 Here is the bracket and idler arm installed and you can see where I routed the hose. I actually ended up moving it after I put the truck back on the ground because it fit better on the forward side of the stabiliser bar when weight was on it.
 This shows the trick hose. You just hook your grease gun up the the hose and fill it up that way. Very Nice!
 Here's the new pitman arm. You need a good torque wrench to get it on because the torque is 194 foot pounds. You can see the center link without the tie rods hooked up to just after the pitman arm. That's the thing that fell on my head.
So here is the left side all buttoned up and greased.
and here is the right side ready to go. Now it just needs an alignment done and it should be ready for another 180,000 miles. well, it would of been good for that if he would of bought Moog parts like I tried to tell him, but he should get at least a year out of it. Maybe 2 if he greases it every oil change.
So now it's on to the S-10. That's tomorrows project. Hopefully it will go as smooth as this one went. If you walk by my garage and hear me hollering party on, you'll know it isn't going well. (I can think of worse things to yell).