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Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix??
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 12:45 pm    Post subject: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

I have aftermarket trailing arms fabbed by Dan's Offroad (not Dan's Performance Parts in California, but Dan's Offroad in Hemlock, Michigan).

I bought these at least 15 years ago, and ran into a problem, so I never ran them.

The problem: when the trailing arm tubing was welded around the bearing housings, it distorted the bearing housings, so now they are essentially egg'd in shape, and actually shrank, for the most part. Not by much, but enough that the outer race of the bearings deform when they're driven in to the housings. I'm talking like .007 undersize in one direction, and maybe .003 in the other (picture X and Y axes, up and down and side to side, for example).

So what happens? When I force it all together like that, ram a stub axle into it, and attach a hub and a wheel, then spin it.......the bearings emit that classic, low-pitched milling sound...it's hard to describe, but it's basically the sound of a bearing going bad. But this should NOT be coming from brand new bearings.

I know if I run them this way, it is only a matter of time before they self-destruct. I believe 2.440 to be the nominal I.D. of these bores. Does that sound about right? So one of mine measures 2.433 across, see what I mean?

Can I stress-relieve with the rosebud on my oxy-gas torch? Should I have an extremely capable machinist attempt to machine them open to round again?

Anybody ever experienced this? I can't imagine all the offroad trailing arms on the market right now have perfect bores.

Thanks in advance!
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

I would make a jig for the trailing arm and open the bore up on my mill. If you have a machinist friend, trade some work or pay him to do the work. That would be what I would do.

Not sure if using a rosebud would spring back the steel to its proper dimensions. But hey, what do I know? Hopefully someone with experience in this subject will be along soon.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 8:39 am    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

You definitely don't need an "extremely capable machinist", just a normal one like me would do, and they're cheaper.

I reinforced my own arms and made a similar mistake with similar results, and it was not hard to bolt the face of the the arm down to the mill table, indicated the inside bearing bore "average center" in, and then use my boring head to kiss it back up to a medium/light press fit, solving the issue.

If the outer bore is the one distorted it will be a bit harder to fix, just from a fixturing standpoint.

NOTE FOR FUTURE TRAILING ARM CONSTRUCTION/REINFORCEMENT: I machined a puck out of prehardened steel that presses into the bearing bore just like a bearing, and if you put those in before welding on/around the IRS arm bearing housings they don't distort. My current trailing arms are made that way and the dial bore gauge says .0002 out of round which I'm going to call okay.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:30 am    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

thatonedude53 wrote:
I would make a jig for the trailing arm and open the bore up on my mill. If you have a machinist friend, trade some work or pay him to do the work. That would be what I would do.
Yep...and I don't know that a "jig" is even necessary, just blocks and clamps, etc. I have no problem trading or paying (see below). Thanks dude.

jimmyhoffa wrote:
You definitely don't need an "extremely capable machinist", just a normal one like me would do, and they're cheaper.
Hahahaaa, you're right! Any machinist worth his salt should be able to do this. I said that because I suspect quite a few of them aren't. And I actually paid a VW guy here in my area $200 to clean them up, and I got the arms back completely unchanged. Guy claimed to be an off-road legend from the earliest days of Baja, seen and done it all. $200 down the drain, learned my lesson.

jimmyhoffa wrote:
I reinforced my own arms and made a similar mistake with similar results, and it was not hard to bolt the face of the the arm down to the mill table, indicated the inside bearing bore "average center" in, and then use my boring head to kiss it back up to a medium/light press fit, solving the issue.
YES! That's all I want. Just not oversize!

jimmyhoffa wrote:
If the outer bore is the one distorted it will be a bit harder to fix, just from a fixturing standpoint.
Totally agree. Yes, both sides on both arms.

jimmyhoffa wrote:
NOTE FOR FUTURE TRAILING ARM CONSTRUCTION/REINFORCEMENT: I machined a puck out of prehardened steel that presses into the bearing bore just like a bearing, and if you put those in before welding on/around the IRS arm bearing housings they don't distort. My current trailing arms are made that way and the dial bore gauge says .0002 out of round which I'm going to call okay.
Smart, and should be standard practice.

I am still wondering if I stress relieve it, and separately drop a puck in each side while they're still hot, if they won't go back to round. Thoughts?

I think I keep finding guys who don't really want to do it. They keep suggesting alternatives (such as the ones I mentioned).

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

Busstom wrote:

I am still wondering if I stress relieve it, and separately drop a puck in each side while they're still hot, if they won't go back to round. Thoughts?

I think I keep finding guys who don't really want to do it. They keep suggesting alternatives (such as the ones I mentioned).

Thanks!


I could definitely see that working to a degree, though probably not as sure of a solution is just machining it back to the size it's supposed to be. "Post-Weld Machining" is a pretty common phrase in my life, it's a fairly popular practice in industry (and in my garage) to do the welding, let the stuff change shape, stress relieve, and then machine the thing back to how you want, knowing ahead of time where to design in extra material based on how you expect the thing in question to wad up on you when you weld.

There has to be some guy somewhere around you that can do some basic machine shop 101 on a manual mill with a boring head. Aside from fixturing for the outside bearing, that is a pretty elementary operation even for a machinist just out of school. I'm 28 and have never been to machinist school and would be more than confident doing it on my banged out 1969 U.S. Burke in my basement. Based on your apparent understanding of the situation I'd bet you could too, if you just had access to the tools.

I think I could also do it in a 3-axis CNC mill setting it up the same way, and if I were extra clever I could even use a keyseat cutter (like a thick saw blade on the end of a shaft) on a long holder so I could reach through to the outside bearing bore and do it with the arm bolted outside-face-down to the table, and redo both bores in one setup. DONE! Very Happy As an added bonus, then you'd know they would both be in line too if they were done in one setup.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

In my business I do a lot of welding and fabrication. Metal always wants to stay the same dimensionally and return to it's original shape but when you weld the liquid metal solidifies and then shrinks and pulls on parts in strange ways causing the problems that you have. Rather than machining first, the first thing I would try is stress relieving. I'm lucky to have Missouri Heat Treat within a couple miles of my shop plus a couple of the guys are super cool and like beer and whiskey so bartering can get stuff done for me but I'd bet if you checked the phone book (or modern equivalent) you'll find a heat treat shop somewhere in your area. Take your parts there, tell them exactly what happened and ask to stress relieve them or take their advice, they know what they are talking about and what will and will not work. Around here they charge by the cycle so if you can give em some time to fit your parts in when they can I doubt it'd cost 40 bucks. I would try this first.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:12 am    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

Thanks for the input guys, Iím starting to feel better about this already. Iíve attached a pic of one of the arms in question. So Iím leaning toward stress-relieving in a furnace, then machine any anomalies remaining in the bores as necessary.

Iíve found at least three heat-treating facilities in my area, and already contacted Pacific Heat Treating in Sunnyvale: he quoted me ďno more than $130Ē over the phone without seeing the parts (I guess thatís probably fair, Iím sure thereís some regional pricing disparity when compared to other parts of the country). Interestingly, without provocation, he also suggested that I might try the rosebud first, said to keep the heat in the low reds, which would be around the 1,200F range, donít get into the oranges or that would be overheating. I think heís just trying to save me money, but honestly, Iíd prefer to just kick down the dough, have the entire arms heated at a controlled rate in a furnace, and cooled down at the proper rate as well, completely relax them from end-to-end.

Thanks again for your suggestions, Iíll update this thread as I progress through this saga. This has honestly been one of the more frustrating build issues that had me scratching my head 14, 15 years ago when I was motivated to get my Bus going (mostly from a cost standpoint: Iíve got $800 tied up in these things at this point). Well, in the mean time, I did buy a house and got a**-deep in alligators remodeling it, but I ainít gettiní any younger!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:00 am    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

I'd go see him, show him your parts and explain exactly what happened. Unless you have a lot of experience with a torch I wouldn't take that to it, especially the rosebud. Let the guy know you can wait till the next cycle and that you aren't in a rush, most likely it'll save you some coin. They always like to know what kind of metal it is and I'd guess that the tubing is 4130 and the housing is 4340 and was most likely welded with ER70S filler wire. I'm betting a stress relief will cure your problem, especially doing the whole part. Most Mfgr's these days don't stress relieve anything, parts get jigged up, welded, painted and sold. Let me know how it turns out OK?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 5:57 am    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

I'm gonna have to bow to liquidrush's experience, it seems like he has seen a more similar situation before. Now we gotta know how this goes! Take accurate measurements before and after if you can!

Bore diameter changes/distortions are not something I've repeatedly experienced besides my own experience on my own fabricated arms; more like large machine tables and bases and structures distorting during welding, coming slightly undistorted during stress-relieve, and then still needing machine work.

Good luck sir! Those arms are of a much different design than I imagined, I'm actually surprised the outer bores distorted so much based on how they're made.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

jimmyhoffa wrote:
I'm gonna have to bow to liquidrush's experience, it seems like he has seen a more similar situation before. Now we gotta know how this goes! Take accurate measurements before and after if you can!

Bore diameter changes/distortions are not something I've repeatedly experienced besides my own experience on my own fabricated arms; more like large machine tables and bases and structures distorting during welding, coming slightly undistorted during stress-relieve, and then still needing machine work.

Good luck sir! Those arms are of a much different design than I imagined, I'm actually surprised the outer bores distorted so much based on how they're made.

It's all good, jimmy, I'm using everybody's input here. And you've already been through exactly what I'm experiencing and addressed it, and have a solid understanding of the problem, so now I know I'm not alone with my situation. I have a few good machinist friends, but they don't have their own machines, and getting a big "G job" like this into the workplace is a challenge without getting someone into trouble.

I took tomorrow off work, and I've got three heat treating facilities within a 15 mile radius of my house (hell, one's 5 minutes away!). So I'm gonna run an arm over to these guys and check out their facilities, and get a quote from each of them. But it will be a couple weeks before I can get the arms ready for the furnace (paint and grease removal).

I'll post up all the before-and-after measurements and results after the furnace work. Machining will probably be a bit down the road, I have a machinist contact capable of doing the job, but he's a few hours north of here.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

liquidrush wrote:
I'd go see him, show him your parts and explain exactly what happened. Unless you have a lot of experience with a torch I wouldn't take that to it, especially the rosebud. Let the guy know you can wait till the next cycle and that you aren't in a rush, most likely it'll save you some coin. They always like to know what kind of metal it is and I'd guess that the tubing is 4130 and the housing is 4340 and was most likely welded with ER70S filler wire. I'm betting a stress relief will cure your problem, especially doing the whole part. Most Mfgr's these days don't stress relieve anything, parts get jigged up, welded, painted and sold. Let me know how it turns out OK?


You're right...those were the dude's first questions. And I figured chromoly on the tubing, but I didn't know the number (he suggested that it was probably 4130). Thanks for the tip on the other material compositions. Is the 4340 for these bearing housings documented anywhere?

If you looked up Dan's Offroad in Michigan, you'll see the address is a farm house. Yeah, I doubt he sent his product off to a heat treatment facility prior to shipping to the customer. Oh well, I think I'm on the path to success!
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

4340 is probably the most common and widely used metal for large and small hard parts like bearing housings, axle and stub shafts and the like because it can be both welded on and heat treated and tempered to a wide range of hardness. That's my best guess if it's a quality part.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

So, I do alot of backyard smithing and heat treating with various simple steels. If you do go the route of eyeballing the color, what you need to do is look up the "Normalizing temperature" of the steel you expect the part to be made of and look up what color that temp should emit.

If it's anything like simple carbon steels, you'll probably need to hold it at the right temp for a minute or so and then let it air cool. Then do another heat about one shade of color darker, let it cool. And then a final heat to just barely glowing. This refines the steel grain in the simple steels.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 7:05 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

jimmyhoffa wrote:
You definitely don't need an "extremely capable machinist", just a normal one like me would do, and they're cheaper.

I reinforced my own arms and made a similar mistake with similar results, and it was not hard to bolt the face of the the arm down to the mill table, indicated the inside bearing bore "average center" in, and then use my boring head to kiss it back up to a medium/light press fit, solving the issue.

If the outer bore is the one distorted it will be a bit harder to fix, just from a fixturing standpoint.

NOTE FOR FUTURE TRAILING ARM CONSTRUCTION/REINFORCEMENT: I machined a puck out of prehardened steel that presses into the bearing bore just like a bearing, and if you put those in before welding on/around the IRS arm bearing housings they don't distort. My current trailing arms are made that way and the dial bore gauge says .0002 out of round which I'm going to call okay.


That's some good advice right there, and free Applause
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

Project Status

Well, it looks like these arms are going back on the shelf for now (and maybe forever).

You see, a funny thing happened: I was stripping the paint from them to get them ready for the heat treaterís furnace, when I decided to text a friend a picture of the arms. Next thing you know, weíre going back and forth about VW trailing arms and this crap situation Iím in. So I started googling IRS trailing arm pics to show him some other designs, and I stumbled onto a new arm that hit the market recently.

Iíve never seen anything like them. They've been out about 9 months, and they're made by Ron Lummus (RLR). They are more-or-less a ďstockĒ configuration Ė except for being narrowed one inch. Well hell, thatís perfect, I actually need them to be a bit narrower. (They also come in 3" narrowed.)

But hereís whatís so ground-breaking about these arms, itís rather ingenious: the bearing housings bolt into the arm, they are not welded in. So any potential welding distortion of the bearing journals is completely eliminated!

The only possible issue I may have (and this is only based on pictures) is that my 944 caliper brackets may have some interference at the parking brake cable entrance, where the protruding boss that houses the parking brake sleeve slips in. If they donít fit, Iíll look at other brake options, cuz Iím hell-bent on using these narrowed armsÖtheyíre completely sick.

I really dig the other arms (pictured above), but I'm already $800 into them ($600 purchase price, and the $200 I wasted on machining), and they're still not done. I'll have to spend a minimum of $130 to stress-relieve, and most likely another $200 that my machinist quoted me to clean up any distortion that stress-relieving may not fix. And then who knows, they may still not be right. Not to mention, I would've had to do some clearancing on the torsion housings to narrow the mounting points for the IRS brackets, to get that 1" clearance I was looking for (these new arms solve that).

Anyway, you can see RLR's new arms on the web (his pics on Facebook are of much better resolution), but I will post some pics right here when I get mine...I ordered a pair today.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2018 12:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

Holy crap! Look what I just found while cruising this guy's thread...these are the arms:

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His thread is here: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=8719503&highlight=lummus#8719503
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 7:15 am    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

What does the hub look like?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 12:26 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

pullstart wrote:
What does the hub look like?


Here's the 944 hub...gallery pics courtesy of "flat" and "jason," respectively.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 5:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

I think he was asking what the hub carrier looks like that bolts into the trailing arm.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Bearing Housings Distorted from Welding....Fix?? Reply with quote

Yes, what does bearing assembly look like?

Dale
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