Friday, October 18, 2013

Installing ball joints and raised spindles in the bug.

I finally had some time to work on the blue bug. I have had the raised spindles and new ball joints for a couple weeks now but just haven't had the time to do anything with them. I had a chance to do it today so here is the progress. I have to admit that removing ball joints from the torsion arms is not one of my favorite jobs. I have done many of them and I think this time had to be about the easiest I have done but they are still a little bit of a pain. This is what I started with. The spider web on the shock is fitting for being so close to Halloween. First start by removing the wheel, and the brake drum.
 The brakes are in good shape. They look to have new brake hardware on them and the shoes are in good shape. I guess I will find out how well the wheel cylinders hold up when I start driving it. I am trying to get this on the road for as little money as possible. Now is the time to remove the 3 bolts that hold the backing plate onto the spindle. You can leave the brakes installed.
 Just pull the backing plate off and let it hang or tie it up so it's not hanging on the brake line. I was lazy and just let it hang. Now is the time to remove the nuts that hold the ball joints and tie rods on. Remove the clamps that hold the sway bar on and pull out the speedometer cable from the spindle.
 I popped the tie rod out and pulled the spindle out of the upper torsion arm like this. I will use my press to remove the camber adjusting nut off the ball joint and the spindle off the lower arm. If you don't have a press life is going to be very hard for you. Use a pickle fork to remove these now if you don't have a press. I also removed just the lower mount for the shock and pushed it off the lower arm.
Remove the nut and Allen screw that hold the torsion arms on and pull them out. That is all you will need to do for this side so go to the other side and do it all over again.
 Here are the arms ready for some press work. If you don't have a press I think you are going to have to pay a shop to press your ball joints out and then put your new ones back in unless you can locate one and borrow it. Even with a press the lower ball joints suck to get out.
 I bought this 20 ton press awhile ago from harbor freight and it has worked great for everything I have used it for. It pays for itself every time I use it.
 The upper arm ball joints come out really easy if you have the right diameter tools for the press. Here I am pressing it out.
 The lower ball joints are a little trickier. I start out by cutting off the arm of the ball joint like this.
 If you look closely in this picture you can see the bottom side of the ball joint. There is not very much room to deal with when you are pressing out the ball joint. I keep any round metal I find to use with my press and I happened to keep the races I changed out on a friends trailer. The smaller race just happened to fit perfectly over the ball joint.
 It worked great. I used the narrow side of the race so the ball joint could slide down into it when I pressed it out.
Here it is set up in the press. It helps to have a buddy hold things while you get it set up because most of the time you have a few pieces together like you see here. I didn't have a buddy with me so it took a little bit of balancing to get everything set up before I pressed down on it.
 Here the ball joint is pressed out. You can see it in the race and the arm is pulled up on the socket for the picture.
 Here is the ball joint that I pressed out. I have beat these out with a rivet gun before but it takes a friend backing up the arm with a bucking bar to get them out. It is also a loud and long process doing it that way. I found the press worked a lot better and faster if you can find the right set up to press it out. I will definitely keep this race for future use.
 The new joints press in really easy compared with pulling the old ones out. It seems like common sockets work well to get them in. Here is the upper one pressed in. Make sure you take off the boot before you press them so you don't rip it. They come off really easy.
You also need to line up the notch with this tick mark when you press them in. If you don't you will not get the right movement out of your ball joint and you will have to buy new ones and start over. These marks are on all 4 torsion arms. I wipe out all the grease that the factory puts into the ball joints. It usually is not very much. I wipe it out so you don't have any incompatible greases mixed together. I then pack it full with a bunch of Mobil One grease and put the boot back on.
 Here is a comparison of the raised spindle on the left and the stock spindle on the right. I bought the raised spindles from Kustom 1 warehouse. They seem to be pretty good quality. I think I will be happy with them. They are a 3 inch lift which should be about perfect.
 Another shot of the difference between the 2.
 With the new joints installed it's time to install the torsion arms back into the beam. Grease them up really good before you put them in and make sure they seat all the way. Install the Allen screw and lock them down with the nuts and your good to go.
Here the new raised spindle is installed. Now you just tighten down the nuts on the ball joints and re-install all the  other stuff that was taken off.
 I have almost everything together here. If you run raised spindles, you will need to buy a super beetle speedometer cable. The stock one is too short now but a super beetles will be perfect. I still need to pick one up. I also need to buy a steering stabilizer because mine is leaking.
 I cleaned my wheel bearing and repacked them. They should be good for many miles now. I was able to save my rear seals so I won't have to buy new ones.
 I use one of these bearing packers to pack wheel bearings. I don't mind doing them by hand but I have this tool and it is so fast that I use it when I can. If you do a lot of bearings like I seem to, these are well worth the investment.
That is where it sits tonight. The front bearings are all ready to be installed. The previous owner had painted the drums red for some reason so I am going to strip them at work tomorrow and powder coat them black. I have all the engine tins that I am going to powder coat tomorrow morning. Hopefully I will be able to get them done so I can get the engine back together. I might be able to get this bug driving before the first snowfall.
So, until next time, take a road trip and check out the fall colors. The weather is beautiful!

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