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Ball Joints FAQ
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ranzuo
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:15 pm    Post subject: Ball Joints FAQ Reply with quote

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One of the items on my list of starting projects is gonna be the ball joints because I can see their worn out. However when I look on the Busdepot at ball joints there are two, regular and oversize. Does anyone know which my bus has?? It is a 79 regular Bay

Thanks
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All depends on how many times they have been changed. A 1 owner bus with full service history and no swaps would probably be OK with standard size, but if they have been pushed out a few times and the hole is oversized you'll need the big ones. Until they are out you can't say for sure.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2009 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

buy swap torsion arms with the new ball joints already pressed in. Trust me. Bus Boys, Wolfgang, German Supply - you just need to find a price and quality you are comfortable with or perhaps close to you so you can inspect them before swapping. Unless you have the special tools to press them back in you won't be happy trying to put in your own. I tried to get a local VW bus shop here in Sacramento to redo mine but the last set they did broke a 40 ton press. I think it was probably worn but if you search you will find that they can be a bear to deal with even with the proper tools and press.
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wvengineer
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in the process of rebuilding my front end right now as well. I'm hoping to continue dismantling it this evening. I decided to do it the hard way and replace the ball joints. d'oh!
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Buying the torsion arms with the joints pressed is the way to go. Saves you trips to a machine shop and worrying about if they are going to be able to press new ones in. Check out my gallery, I took alot of pics with notes this past winter when I did mine. Just don't forget to reinstall your eccentric bushing.
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Alan Brase
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've replaced several sets using a ball joint press I bought back in the 70's. I think it was made by Moog.
This made the job so simple. I'm sure I did a whole car in 4 hours or less. I'll probably do the ones on the Dormie sometime soon. I'll try to document it.
I think you can rent some kind of a ball joint press from Autozone and similar places.
Al
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ranzuo
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

im gonna jus go with new arms that have new joints in them. its not too much more and its worth saving the hassle. all 4 are blown and with my schedule it would take a long time to do them. ill just get the arms and do them in my garage.

thanks for the replies
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Alan Brase
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I think changing the arms is a good amount of work, too.
Let us know how it goes.
Al
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 1:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

69doublecab wrote:
I think you can rent some kind of a ball joint press from Autozone and similar places.
Al


And then rent a truck and forklift to get it home. Seems like a 20 ton and VW tooling is pretty much needed. Sometimes we hear stories about how it stresses a 40 ton press. The local VW shops in the area that have the equipment to do them charge around $125 or so to do the R and R of the 4 bus joints. It is one job that they don't like to do.
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Alan Brase
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Desertbusman wrote:
69doublecab wrote:
I think you can rent some kind of a ball joint press from Autozone and similar places.
Al


And then rent a truck and forklift to get it home. Seems like a 20 ton and VW tooling is pretty much needed. Sometimes we hear stories about how it stresses a 40 ton press. The local VW shops in the area that have the equipment to do them charge around $125 or so to do the R and R of the 4 bus joints. It is one job that they don't like to do.

Well, I've got the press and the tooling (I think. I have a lot of VW factory tools) I would not even bother using them though. I did several cars with my little Moog press. It was about 20 years ago, can't remember all the details now. It seems like the biggest problem was that one eccentric stuck to the old ball joint.
Al
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Dec 1955 Single Cab pickup WANT 15" BUS RIMS dated 8/55, thru 12/55
To New owners: 1969 doublecab, 1971 Dormobile
Vanagons:
80 P27 Westy JUL 1979, 3rd oldest known US
83 1.6TD Vanagon, 87 Wolfie Westy daily driver, swap meet home
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talk to bus boys and the swap ball joints it is easier for you and the head ache is less.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As previously stated I ordered ball joints from Scott to do it myself. I have a 15T press, and a friend of mine has a 50T. I don't have VW 459 for removing and installing the joints. Looking at the arms I could possibly fab the tools needed to do the job. The other option would be removing them with heat and a hammer then using the correct sizes Sch. 80 pipe to install them trying to make sure you get them indexed correctly. I've thought about this long and hard. My final decision was to go ahead and order the arms from Scott and have him cancel the ball joints. There is no way I can practically justify the labor doing it myself for one bus considering the difference in cost. I hate it because I would rather do it myself, but you have to pick your battles. Wink I think you've made the right choice.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm at the same point and just got refurbished parts from out west (where beams last a whole lot longer). Now that we are getting ready to put them on, anyone have a good link to info on replacing both sides at the same time? Most discussions talk about doing one side and then the other, but as you see, we are starting from scratch here...

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
My final decision was to go ahead and order the arms from Scott and have him cancel the ball joints.
- wise decision.

It is a pretty straight forward repair. You will want to follow Bentley. I pulled the torsion leaves to be sure they werem't broken and then used an old spatula super glued to a stick of wood to get the old grease out of the tubes and to inspect the bearings. Getting the arms off just go slow and take pictures as you go. Follow Bentley. Use a long crowbar to release the torsion arms that are sitting on the stops. I lift the arm with the crowbar and then pull the bumpber stop out with long pliers so that I don't lose fingers if the crowbar slips. Then with it resting on metal and the less tension I use either a lead / brass hammer or a piece of oak and a small sledge to drive out the arms. Going back together is similar except you have to lift the arm a little with a jack and prybar. Do not hit them with a steel hammer. Use only a brass, lead or piece of hardwood to absorb the blows.

Those shots of arms look really nice. Where did you get them? They look like they are a 9 or 10 on a scale of 10 whereas the ones we got from Wolfgang were a 8 on a scale of 10 due to pitting and prior wear.
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Godspeed to all who undertake a journey with a VW Bus.

*You can do it right the first time, or do it over, the choice is yours. It is a free country. As to brakes, steering, tires, axles etc. - you may only get one chance at doing those right.

* VW Buses and VW cars share many of the same systems but if you haven't owned a bus and maintained it for awhile, you really don't know how different it is.

Bus Engine Cooling Issues? https://kentcomputer.com/77VW/BusEngineCooling.pdf
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Zed
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI Bus Boys is out of rebuilt torsion arms for the next 10 days or so. People haven't been returning the cores, so he's upping the deposit on that.

I am also dealing with my ball joints, trying to get my bus completely done for a camping trip on the 1st. Since bus boys is out of rebuilt torsion arms for the moment I am considering just having Painters Grinding in Denver take care of the machining.

One question I have, Does anyone have 1st hand knowledge of the quality of Nakata ball joints? Painters says they are of equal quality to German ones for 1/2 the price.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've used this method:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZLxPyRdAbY

On the bus ball joint, use a grinder to grind the top cover off the ball joint.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


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Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I used a tool similar to this to press the new ball joints in:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nakata is fine. Why not get a set from Scott at German Supply? I got mine at wolfgang. They were Ok but I had to clean and polish the races.

fyi - cherry red changes the temper of the arm and makes it more prone to bending under a hard jolt.
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Godspeed to all who undertake a journey with a VW Bus.

*You can do it right the first time, or do it over, the choice is yours. It is a free country. As to brakes, steering, tires, axles etc. - you may only get one chance at doing those right.

* VW Buses and VW cars share many of the same systems but if you haven't owned a bus and maintained it for awhile, you really don't know how different it is.

Bus Engine Cooling Issues? https://kentcomputer.com/77VW/BusEngineCooling.pdf
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
fyi - cherry red changes the temper of the arm and makes it more prone to bending under a hard jolt.


who said anything about heating them up till they're cherry red?
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SGKent wrote:
nakata is fine. Why not get a set from Scott at German Supply? I got mine at wolfgang. They were Ok but I had to clean and polish the races.


I started a thread several years ago about German vs. other ball joints. Search ball joints under my name--was a good thread with input from Ron at Bus Depot, etc.

Overall, I say go German. For a mission-critical part like a ball joint, I wouldn't skimp. Door seals & whatnot, who cares. I found German ball joints (Febi) at JustKampers in the UK. I ordered "German" ball joints from OEVeeDub that turned out to have been Brazilian, so carefully source the parts.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

56ovalbug wrote:
SGKent wrote:
fyi - cherry red changes the temper of the arm and makes it more prone to bending under a hard jolt.


who said anything about heating them up till they're cherry red?

Heating to cherry red might not be good. Lower temps would be less chance of changing the temper. I learned a little about heat treating and metallurgy in school a long time ago. I'd say that quenching in water is a no-no, too.
(like is shown on the Youtube video.)
These arms are alloy steel. Probably heat treated. Some of the strongest steel in the car, along with the crankshaft, rods, tranny parts, front and rear spindles and axle shafts and cv joints.
Al
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Projects: 67 sunroof bug, 67 Porsche 912 Targa, 70 Westy
Dec 1955 Single Cab pickup WANT 15" BUS RIMS dated 8/55, thru 12/55
To New owners: 1969 doublecab, 1971 Dormobile
Vanagons:
80 P27 Westy JUL 1979, 3rd oldest known US
83 1.6TD Vanagon, 87 Wolfie Westy daily driver, swap meet home
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