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Don Plumley's Avatar
 
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Ball Joint split? Replace Shocks too?

A great day and a great way to start off the New Year - Working on the Porsche. Oil Change, replace brake hoses with stainless flex hoses, front pads and new drilled rotors. While I'm at it clean and repack the front bearings.

But as I inspected the front ball joints, the boot is split (as shown in the photo below). So that means I'm replacing the ball joints too, right?



And while I'm replacing the ball joints - should I go ahead and do the front shocks? I was planning to do this in March, but while I'm at it?

And...leave the brake shields off, right?

Thanks for the advice,

Don

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Old 01-01-2004, 05:28 PM
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I'm not sure of the age of your car, but everything you spoke about doing is pretty straightforward *except* for the removal and replacement of the ball joints. You will need the required tool for the job, heat and lots of leverage to get those off. If the boot can't be replaced or it the age and milage of your car requires replacement, I would do it. The ball joints don't really need to involve the shock replacement unless you need to do them. You may need some new ball joint swedge bolts if you damage them on removal.
Old 01-01-2004, 06:46 PM
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Replace the ball joints and consider not using the special socket in removing the large collar like nut that holds the ball joint. A Dremel tool with a cutting bit and a punch is the standard faire for removing this component. The special socket is required for proper reinstallation and torquing. As far as the shocks are concerned it really depends on what you plan to do with the car. The Bilsteins on my 77 are original and still working and this meets my needs, I'm happy. It's up to you.


Here's a pic to give you some idea what you're getting into....


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Old 01-01-2004, 08:25 PM
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I am sorry, but I strongly disagree with some of the statements made in the previous two posts:

1.)You ALWAYS use a new wedge bolt when taking the old one out.
2.)You don't want to use a dremel anywhere close to your A-arm.
3.)There is no heat required to remove the ball joint retaining nut.

The special balljoint socket tool is less than $50 new here at PP. There is NO HEAT required. Ever heard of an impact wrench? Go electric, if you don't want to go with compressed air. In the long run, if you work on your car a lot, get a compressor! One decent DIY job and you paid for it.

Of course you could wait until later with the strut inserts, but if you had them planned anyway, now is the time to do it. I think that you can do the strut insert without separating the balljoint from the A-arm. But will you have to get the wedge bolt out again (and replace it) to separate the struthousing from the balljoint / a-arm? That separation may damage the boot again too!

I am not sure if the boot is availabe separately, but if the rubber is cracked, it is old enough to toss the old one. $30 or less, I think. I did all my suspension all at once, so I am unsure what the tricks are to do them one step at a time. It is so convoluted, that a complete disassembly was the way to go for me. Mightaswell, right?

Good Luck,

Cheers, George
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Last edited by aigel; 01-01-2004 at 09:36 PM..
Old 01-01-2004, 09:33 PM
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So the wedge pin holds the shock insert?

Thanks for the advice, keep it coming!

Happy New Year,

Don
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Old 01-01-2004, 09:37 PM
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Don:

The shaft that comes out of the top of the ball joint has a groove which the wedge bolt engages to. This way the wedge bolt holds the strut housing to the balljoint. The insert is held to the housing by a rollpin, at least on the bilstein version.

I think that all strut housings are held to the balljoint with that wedge bolt setup, since there is only one type of balljoint. Here a pic of my pass. side before re-assembling... you can see the ball joint shaft, but the groove has to point to the inside of the car, so it isn't visible. You can also see the rollpin on the bilstein strut insert, further up from the hole where the wedge bolt goes. Consult a manual, if you have something else than bilstein. E.g. koni, I think is held in from the top with a big nut!



The roll pin has go go in with the joint / open section away from the strut insert shaft. Fatigue can kill it if the open section rides on the strut insert shaft.

I would recommend completely removing the strut housing to put new inserts. I have heard that it can be done by only disconnecting the top. But if your inserts are worn, and the rubber bumpers disintegrated (very likely), you will have to get at the housing more closely, turn it upside down etc. Here an example what I found after lots of shaking and help of the mighty coat hanger:



NO wonder the car was all over the place when i got it! A good thing, that really helped the price.

Good Luck,

George
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Old 01-01-2004, 10:14 PM
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One more reason to take the entire housing out (on bilsteins).

The insert does not come out easy. You can pull on top. But better, you can use a punch and hammer it out from the bottom. That hole is only accessible, however, if you remove the balljoint.

George
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Old 01-01-2004, 10:26 PM
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I just replaced my ball joints and shocks this evening.

Quote:
So the wedge pin holds the shock insert?
Not sure ... do you have Bilstein front struts? If so, then there's a roll pin that you will need to remove to get the shocks out.

The ball joints have their own pin that needs to be removed. You'll need to pound out these pins. Be careful; if you damage the pins or their nut, you'll need to replace them. On mine, I removed the nut (it's a specialized nut), then screwed on a generic nut to protect the threads on the end of the pin, then used a punch to pound out the pin.

Don't worry about damaging the strut pin (if you have Bilsteins). Your replacement shocks should include a new pin.

Are you also planning a realignment?

If so, then depending on the age of your car I recommend:

1. Replacing your A-Arm bushings (don't forget to grease them).
2. Replacing your sway bar bushings.
3. Cleaning then re-greasing you torsion bars.
4. Replacing torsion bar foam seal.

Other tips:

1. I couldn't get my car high enough to use an impact wrench on the castellated ball joints nuts, so I completely removed my A-arms, put them in a vise, then got them off with the impact wrench.

2. It's very easy to damage both the castellated nut AND that special socket that gets them on and off -- Hold the socket on firmly and don't let it slip.

3. Get Wayne's 101 Project book and the Bentley manual

Good luck.
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Old 01-01-2004, 10:37 PM
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Boogie has a lot of good points!

Quote:
Originally posted by BoogieOnSkis
I just replaced my ball joints and shocks this evening.

The ball joints have their own pin that needs to be removed. You'll need to pound out these pins. Be careful; if you damage the pins or their nut, you'll need to replace them. On mine, I removed the nut (it's a specialized nut), ....
That's the wedge bolt. And the nut is indeed special: It is a locknut, a full metal one. And just like the nylon locknuts, that's why it needs replacement, always. Check the Bentley, I am pretty sure it says it in there too.

Cheers, George
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Old 01-01-2004, 11:14 PM
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Also, be sure to align the notch on the new ball joint to the notch on the A-Arm

The big ball joint socket tool works well, but sometimes one needs a 3/4" impact with a snap-on, mac, or Matco 3/4" to 1/2" adapter

Also a good time to inspect the A-Arm bushings. They can be replaced with a good poly type bushing or the bearing type bushings. Of course then it is time for the old T-Bar upgrade and turbo tie rods.
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Old 01-02-2004, 03:15 AM
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And I have to strongly disagree with you, George. Respectfully. The last thing you want to do with that special ball joint castle nut tool is to put it on an air tool. The special tool is soft, and an air tool will ruin it quickly. The method you want to use, if you want any hope of reusing either the tool or the castle nut, is to use a floor jack to hold the tool FIRMLY against the nut and use a long breaker bar. Frankly, I like the idea of cutting the old one off carefully and discarding. Similarly, wedge bolts usually do not survive this operation. So now your ball Joint ($42.50, not $30), plus the wedge bolt ($15 or so) and special nut ($5!) and castle nut ($15) makes ball joint replacement roughly an $80 operation. Still, if the boot is torn, the joint is toast, or soon to be toast.

As far as the Bilsteins go, Bilsteins are almost certainly the longest-lasting shocks available. Nevertheless, they do wear. At 230K miles, mine are pretty tired and I plan to replace them. Everyone who has replaced them has reported a MAJOR improvement in handling.
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Old 01-02-2004, 06:54 AM
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The ball joint should be replaced if the boot is torn. More hassle than it's worth to try and source a boot and then repack the joint (with how much grease is appropriate I don't know). Best to bite the bullet and get a new ball joint(s). Plus, you can sometimes tear a boot when trying to separate the stubborn joint shaft from the strut bottom with a pickel fork. -------------> Like I did.

I agree that the special socket on an impact is not the best way to remove the notched ball joint nut. Kinda marred the socket teeth when I went the impact route. Even Otto shamed me for not using a hammer and chisel.......... Nut threads are probably going to be damaged from removal even if they do come off cleanly by using the impact. So new notched nuts are on the list of replacement items.

If you cut them off, then of course you gotta replace them. The cutting method has worked well for many people. Cut it partway down without going too far and touching the A-arm with your cutter/dremel. Then split the groove you cut the rest of the way open with a hammer and cold chisel.

It's most likely that Don's struts are Boge struts. A little cleaning around the middle, outboard side of the strut tube should help verify what kind he has.



See the markings just above the brake line in the middle of the glare on the strut tube? It says BOGE in big letters.

If his are Boge, these inserts are held onto the strut housing with a collar nut atop the strut tube. No roll pin is used on these. Also, some Boge struts are the actual damper casing. So when you pull the insert out of the strut tube, you have a shish kebob of piston, seals, o-rings, and whatever else in your hand. And you have to drain the tube of oil too. No big deal to get the oil out (bunch of paper towels or an old shirt) if the strut is still on the car. Sometimes easier to clean out the oil when you can dump it instead of soaking all of it up.

Boge Frt. Insert "Removal" Hang-Up

Front Boge "Insert" Guts

The new Bilsteins (for use with Boge strut housings) are held in place with a new collar nut. Torqued to spec. with a special "O" shaped crowsfoot wrench that should come with the inserts.

Another issue to consider about the wedge pin at the bottom. Put some antiseize paste on the new one before you put it in. Also clean the bores in the strut bottom so the pin and ball joint slide in there easier. Hunk of scotchbrite pad or a tiny wire brush (like the gun cleaning kind- got mine at Sportmart) works good. Helps out the next time you need to remove it. And just to be a pest, the wedge pin locknut doesn't necessarily have to be replaced. Deformed thread all-metal locknuts can be reused. They're more reuseable/retain their locking feature better than nylocks do without a doubt. This locknut is kinda critical so replacement is not a bad idea. $5 is kinda steep though! I think it's only a class 8.8 nut? Torque spec. is only 25Nm/18ft lb here isn't it? Can't remember, but will look it up and post if no one else corrects me.
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Old 01-02-2004, 10:07 AM
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THANKS - great info here.

Kevin is right, it's a Boge strut. Based on the feedback above, it looks like I'm in for replacing two ball joints. And that sounds like a much bigger project than I have time or motivation for today.

So my plan is to finish repacking the bearings, put on the new rotor and pads and flex line. If I have enough motivation I might replace my clutch hydraulics, but it's noon and I've not even started.

I can't have the car down waiting for the parts (ball joints and struts), so I'll add this to my Feb project pile. I need to be able to drive the car a little on the weekends, but it's low mile stuff.

Thanks guys, this really helped me.

Don
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Old 01-02-2004, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by KTL
And just to be a pest, the wedge pin locknut doesn't necessarily have to be replaced. Deformed thread all-metal locknuts can be reused. They're more reuseable/retain their locking feature better than nylocks do without a doubt. This locknut is kinda critical so replacement is not a bad idea. $5 is kinda steep though! I think it's only a class 8.8 nut? Torque spec. is only 25Nm/18ft lb here isn't it? Can't remember, but will look it up and post if no one else corrects me.
Spec book/Porche microfiche says this $5 nut is a "universal lock nut" property class 8. Replacement is not required. If necessary just replace it with a equivalent deformed thread/smushed top locknut from the local parts store and not worry about it. Can certainly reuse the old nut (but not the wedge bolt) as long as it's still got substantial resistance when tightening it. Torque spec. is 22Nm/16 ft lb.

Leave those clutch hydraulics for another day. Laying under the dash for the master and then jagging with the slave atop the trans. is not much fun. I say save that job for a time when you can do them all by themselves. Nothing hard about the job. Just kinda awkward working locations.
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Last edited by KTL; 01-03-2004 at 02:16 AM..
Old 01-03-2004, 02:13 AM
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Don, it seems most agree with me that once you get to these, the price and labor go up. As far as using a torque wrench, I guess maybe if you had one that can do 500lbs/ft torque, and even then is would be slipping off the nut. It took me and my brother, (425 lbs of force) a 3 foot breaker bar and then heat to break these loose. We were repainting the A arms anyway. Perhaps these were more corroded then others.

Old 01-03-2004, 03:45 AM
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