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T3TRIS Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:34 am

I've done some browsing around checking what people did with their syncro front end rebuilds and there certainly is some good information out there (including a super detailed step by step done by MsTaboo, which includes some of the rear too).

I'm about to tackle this job on our van as we're starting to hear some sounds from an outer CV joint and, (not) knowing the history of this van, I'm pretty sure none of that maintenance has been done. I'm making this post in an effort to have a clear list of parts and items that would be needed for the job. Our goal is to refresh the bushings, replace our front struts and springs (adding a 2" lift), replace the wheel bearings, replace the studs for longer ones and replace any hardware that looks like it has seen better days. Eventually we'll install a bigger brake kit as well.

So far, we've already done this:
- Syncro radius rod bushing set
- Steering rack bushing set
- T3 anti-roll bar
- T3 HD end link set
- 3x Syncro front differential mounts and plastic washers
- Driver side has had both upper and lower ball joints replaced (not by me, but not long ago)
- Front rotors
- Brake pads
- Stainless brake lines
- Steering rack boots

Parts we already have:
- 10x 55mm wheel studs
- Syncro front shock bump stop set
- Upper shock bushing set
- Syncro lifted Schwenk front spring set
- 2x 944 CV joints (inner front)
- 2x Rockford 100mm CV boots

Parts we need to purchase:
- Burley Syncro adjustable upper control arm set
- 2x Front outer CV joints
- 2x Rockford front outer CV boots
- 2x Syncro front wheel bearings
- 4x Syncro front wheel bearing seals
- 2x Front axle washers
- 2x Outer tie rod ends
- Front lower control arm bushing set
- 14oz Bushing snot
- LemfŲrder upper ball joint
- LemfŲrder lower ball joint lower (out of stock right now, still looking for a good source)
- Front lower ball joint washer
- 2x Early Syncro lower front shock bolt kits
- 2x Lower control arm bolt kits
- Front lower control arm bushing set
- 2x Old Man Emu front Syncro struts

Parts I think (or hope) are still OK:
- Ball joints adapter bolts
- Upper control arm bolt
- Eccentric washers[/list]

Wishlist but I don't think we'll do it unless parts look very bad:
- Powder coat everything!

That's all I can think of right now, anything I'm missing here?

pjn_wyo Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:40 am

Skip the upper burley arms and do the big brake kit while it is apart.

The go westy ball joint adaptors will fix whatever alignment issues you think you are going to have with a 2" lift.

They burley arms are nice but better stopping power is a better way to spend the money.

Also - what springs are you going to use? I don't see those listed. - edit now I see, schwenk...

T3TRIS Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:51 am

pjn_wyo wrote: Skip the upper burley arms and do the big brake kit while it is apart.

The go westy ball joint adaptors will fix whatever alignment issues you think you are going to have with a 2" lift.

They burley arms are nice but better stopping power is a better way to spend the money.

Also - what springs are you going to use? I don't see those listed.

Thanks for the feedback. I haven't really narrowed down which big brake kit we'd like to go with just yet and with the renewed disks and pads, we're braking decently well. Though I wouldn't claim that we're braking better than if we had bigger brakes.
For this go around, I think the upper control arms still make some sense, unless I'm confused about the parts. One reason I'm looking at the Burley UCA is to remove the need for the UCA bushings. I don't readily have the tools to press these in and out. To be fair though, I will need to find a way to press the front wheel bearings, studs and lower ball joint (if I find it) in and out. I figured I'd put the $$ for the UCA bushing sets and labor to press them into the Burley UCA and just buy once. Not sure if my logic is sound or if I'm convincing myself that I want the shiny red UCA's :P
As far as the adapter you're talking about, is it the Upper ball joint spacer kit? I've wondered about this part, but everything I read on the GW page is about 2WD. It'd make sense that a 2" lift on the spring would require a 2" lift on the upright to keep the geometry the same, but I'm not expert in that field.
Also, if that GoWesty adapter is needed, does adding the Burley UCA eliminate that need or would we be better off getting the GW adapter regardless?

Bman Tue Oct 13, 2020 11:52 am

i have my 86 Syncro parked and awaiting this project as well, so....following.

Any thought to the Syncro front end carriage bushing set? By carriage I mean the frame that holds the front diff in place, I read a FB post that the stock or rubber replacement is better than the stiffer poly bushings.

T3TRIS Tue Oct 13, 2020 12:02 pm

Bman wrote: i have my 86 Syncro parked and awaiting this project as well, so....following.

Any thought to the Syncro front end carriage bushing set? By carriage I mean the frame that holds the front diff in place, I read a FB post that the stock or rubber replacement is better than the stiffer poly bushings.

Welcome. As far as the front diff mounts, I installed the poly ones last year (forgot to mention them, I edited the first post) and so far so good.

pjn_wyo Tue Oct 13, 2020 12:05 pm

T3TRIS wrote:
As far as the adapter you're talking about, is it the Upper ball joint spacer kit? I've wondered about this part, but everything I read on the GW page is about 2WD. It'd make sense that a 2" lift on the spring would require a 2" lift on the upright to keep the geometry the same, but I'm not expert in that field.
Also, if that GoWesty adapter is needed, does adding the Burley UCA eliminate that need or would we be better off getting the GW adapter regardless?

That is it. 2wd or 4wd. Not needed with the burley kit.

It isn't 2" thick. The geo isn't the same but adjusts the angle between the upper control arm and upright to make alignment easier when lifted 2".

As for all the press work:
https://www.harborfreight.com/20-ton-shop-press-32879.html
https://www.harborfreight.com/front-wheel-drive-bearing-remover-and-installer-kit-21-pc-63728.html

Will do everything but the lower ball joints easily.

T3TRIS Tue Oct 13, 2020 12:44 pm

pjn_wyo wrote: T3TRIS wrote:
As far as the adapter you're talking about, is it the Upper ball joint spacer kit? I've wondered about this part, but everything I read on the GW page is about 2WD. It'd make sense that a 2" lift on the spring would require a 2" lift on the upright to keep the geometry the same, but I'm not expert in that field.
Also, if that GoWesty adapter is needed, does adding the Burley UCA eliminate that need or would we be better off getting the GW adapter regardless?

That is it. 2wd or 4wd. Not needed with the burley kit.

It isn't 2" thick. The geo isn't the same but adjusts the angle between the upper control arm and upright to make alignment easier when lifted 2".

As for all the press work:
https://www.harborfreight.com/20-ton-shop-press-32879.html
https://www.harborfreight.com/front-wheel-drive-bearing-remover-and-installer-kit-21-pc-63728.html

Will do everything but the lower ball joints easily.

Ok, good to know. I think we'll stick with the BMS UCA for now but your argument for bigger brakes instead of that make sense too!

I've been wanting to get a press too. This one is large but it might be the perfect excuse!

4Gears4Tires Tue Oct 13, 2020 1:06 pm

pjn_wyo wrote:
As for all the press work:
https://www.harborfreight.com/20-ton-shop-press-32879.html
https://www.harborfreight.com/front-wheel-drive-bearing-remover-and-installer-kit-21-pc-63728.html

Will do everything but the lower ball joints easily.

It will do the lower ball joints too.

alaskadan Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:00 pm

Is there any bulge on the side of the frame above where the cradle mounts? If so it is rusting through from the inside, and is full of road grit.While the front cradle is off is the time to tackle it.

pbrown Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:37 pm

Here's some inspiration. I removed, cleaned, and either replaced or powder coated everything.




pbrown Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:45 pm

Quick note on the Burley UCA. They are very nice but, I had minor alignment issues. I go to a high end alignment shop in Seattle. They do a lot of German performance cars. They could not get the camber exactly right. It was within spec but the arms would need to be a bit shorter to get it right. I decided to leave it as is.

T3TRIS Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:03 pm

pbrown wrote: Here's some inspiration. I removed, cleaned, and either replaced or powder coated everything.

Wow! That is one very nice build. I saw your Flickr link too, good stuff!

Regarding your alignment, do you have a lift on your Syncro? And do you think that GoWesty upper ball joint adapter wouldíve helped?

T3TRIS Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:04 pm

alaskadan wrote: Is there any bulge on the side of the frame above where the cradle mounts? If so it is rusting through from the inside, and is full of road grit.While the front cradle is off is the time to tackle it.

Thanks for the heads up. Iím not 100% sure I know of where youíre talking about but Iíll take a close look. Iíve spent hours under that van and havenít noticed anything like that but will keep an eye out.

Sodo Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:48 am

pjn_wyo wrote: Skip the upper burley arms and do the big brake kit while it is apart.
The go westy ball joint adaptors will fix whatever alignment issues you think you are going to have with a 2" lift.
The burley arms are nice but better stopping power is a better way to spend the money.

As a wise man once said..... "a Syncro front end rebuild is a like digging a hole so deep you try to toss dirt out of the hole and it just falls back down on your head."

Bigger brakes because you have bigger wheels. It's necessary.
But brakes are a completely seperable as a project.

Regarding the Burley arms, just "know" that if you spacer-up the Vanagon UCAs, and use Fox shocks, the UCAs will collide with the van underbody and dent it.
I don't know if "other brand" shocks allow this, I only know about Fox.

Pic from thread: Fox Shocks
One thing can be said.... the spacered UCA "making it's own clearance" may be OK.
My UCAs have clearanced the underbody and I havent noticed any downsides although I probably should fill the cracks in the body sealant.
An upside is a significant $$$ savings.

I decided on 19.5" ride height and the alignment shop was able to achieve "proper Syncro alignment" using the GoWesty spacered UCAs.

T3TRIS Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:47 am

Sodo wrote: As a wise man once said..... "a Syncro front end rebuild is a like digging a hole so deep you try to toss dirt out of the hole and it just falls back down on your head."

Bigger brakes because you have bigger wheels. It's necessary.
But brakes are a completely seperable as a project.

Regarding the Burley arms, just "know" that if you spacer-up the Vanagon UCAs, and use Fox shocks, the UCAs will collide with the van underbody and dent it.
I don't know if "other brand" shocks allow this, I only know about Fox.

Pic from thread: Fox Shocks
One thing can be said.... the spacered UCA "making it's own clearance" may be OK.
My UCAs have clearanced the underbody and I havent noticed any downsides although I probably should fill the cracks in the body sealant.
An upside is a significant $$$ savings.

I decided on 19.5" ride height and the alignment shop was able to achieve "proper Syncro alignment" using the GoWesty spacered UCAs.

Yeah, the bigger brake kit is definitely going on our "necessary" list as you say (especially since you might remember how our brakes got squishy on this super long off-road downhill we did with you earlier this year). Our current wheels are 215/75-R15 on steel wheels (27.6" diameter). I have to pick up a set of 16" CLK wheels down in SoCal in early November. I hope this will allow us to have slightly larger diameter wheels (not much though, trying to find an option that just around 29", maybe? Still figuring that one out) for similar or even less overall weight per wheel. I've also not figured out what the best big brake option would be. Picking wheels and tires is already hard enough!!

As you said though, it can be a standalone project. Right now I'm trying to get our front CV joint and other reachable-while-it's-apart items revamped before a road trip we had planned a while back, happening in a couple weeks.

So, in your opinion the GoWesty UCA adapter might be a worthy addition, at the expense of some "body reshaping?" We're probably aiming for a similar 19.5" ride height, that's about where we are in the rear with the lifted Schwenk springs. Our front end rebuild will also see the upgraded lifted Schwenk front springs but will use Old Man Emu shocks. Can't really justify much more.

4Gears4Tires Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:04 am

As long as that body reshaping is done while there isn't anything explosive (i.e. a battery) on the other side, what's the down side? Might be good to rotate the arm up, mark the spots, then smash them in with a hammer. Preemptively.

As for the redone pics, excuse me I'll be in my bunk...

valvecovergasket Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:53 am

pjn_wyo wrote: Skip the upper burley arms and do the big brake kit while it is apart.

The go westy ball joint adaptors will fix whatever alignment issues you think you are going to have with a 2" lift.

They burley arms are nice but better stopping power is a better way to spend the money.

Also - what springs are you going to use? I don't see those listed. - edit now I see, schwenk...



and for some pictures of pj's syncro - heres a few shots of some of the fun bits from a few years ago when he threw the kitchen sink at that van :)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/valvecovergasket/albums/72157690351551686/with/24382813218/

old bits





the front end, new stuff









just noticed this

T3TRIS wrote:
As you said though, it can be a standalone project. Right now I'm trying to get our front CV joint and other reachable-while-it's-apart items revamped before a road trip we had planned a while back, happening in a couple weeks.


that might be kind of a push depending on how much time youre devoting to this and what your workspace is like.
its a fair bit of work, not hard per se, but time consuming.
especially if you run into speed bumps with parts availability, or rusted hardware.

T3TRIS Wed Oct 14, 2020 4:54 pm

valvecovergasket wrote: just noticed this

T3TRIS wrote:
As you said though, it can be a standalone project. Right now I'm trying to get our front CV joint and other reachable-while-it's-apart items revamped before a road trip we had planned a while back, happening in a couple weeks.


that might be kind of a push depending on how much time youre devoting to this and what your workspace is like.
its a fair bit of work, not hard per se, but time consuming.
especially if you run into speed bumps with parts availability, or rusted hardware.

For sure! I've taken most of the front end apart at some point since spring already. The UCA, LCA and ball joints on the passenger side are the only things that haven't been touched. I'll make sure the PB-blast the whole thing. I'm mostly worried about being able to get the front outer CV joints off the axles (it seems like Sodo had some issues with that) and removing/pressing joints, bushings and studs. I have all the parts, I hope, on order already since yesterday. Everything I picked was in stock and I want to get started on Monday.

The most time consuming parts will most likely be chasing around tools that I misplaced while working on whatever project, that seems to be my everlasting problem!

T3TRIS Mon Oct 19, 2020 8:18 am

So it begins! So far Iíve taken most of the parts off the van. I still have the UCAís mounted and the driver side LCA bolt is not budging. The passenger side was quite rusted and I had to use a ball joint tool to pop it off. I put the driver side under pressure (using a big C-clamp) last night and soaked it with penetrating oil. I havenít checked this morning but I hope to find the c-clamp on the floor with the bolt popped! Otherwise Iíll have to get more creative.
As other have reported, doing the first side took for ever! The other side took half the time or less (minus the seized bolt of course).

Iím waiting for the orders to come in but Iím feeling decent about completing this relatively quickly. The most challenging decisions will be about how to treat the parts when removed/exposed, which treatment/prevention and finally if I can press stuff myself.


I got lucky a couple times on this one. First thing I did was raise the front of the van and get the wheels off. Then I started taking everything I could off, starting with the passenger side. When it came time to use a jaw puller to push the axle in, I curse myself for not having loosen the 350Nm nut!! I jammed a breaker bar between the studs and slowly started loosening the nut with a MASSIVE ratcheting 3/4 telescopic breaker bar. The nut just spun... turns out the nut was loose the whole time and was probably the source of the sound we heard, which means our front CVís might still be OK. The bearing feels a little loose on the passenger side though. I popped the wheel back on the driver side with a couple lug nuts, pushed a ramp under the wheel and broke that sideís nut loose before getting started!
The first side took a while to find the right angles and thread the front CV axle out. I found that disconnecting the inner CV and pushing it toward the back of the van with the upright hanging off the UCA and opened as if you were turning (full right on passenger side or full left on driver side) was the best way to get it out.
Still lots to do but on a fun note, we had a torn outer CV boot on the driver side. I taped a ziplock bag around it 2,000 miles ago and drove as if nothing had changed, including doing some heavy off-roading. The ziplock bag has ZERO tears in it, none!!! Who needs Rockford boots when you have a ziplock and duct tape, huh?!

Sodo Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:33 pm

Front CV axle nut loose is bad.
That destroys the bearing and the hub.
Bearing is replaceable, Syncro hubs are NLA.
Hard to find replacements, and expensive.

I had that same trouble.
Syncro front hub repair - anyone try knurling?

Every Syncro owner should check that nut to be sure its tight.
258 lbs on a one-foot bar = 258 ft-lbs
129 lbs on a 2 foot bar = 258 ft-lbs
190 lbs on a 18Ē bar = 258 ft-lbs



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