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Mopar1973Man

Ball Joints - Nightmare!

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Well gang... I started down the long rocky trail of doing ball joints on my truck. Took me over 12 hours to do just the passenger side. As for getting every broke down for removal was a snap. Now the hub nut on the spindle is 1 11/16 nut and had to drive to town and get the right socket. ($14) as for getting the wheel bearings out snap to with a partner there to help out. The socket extension trick does work but not as documented. My buddy James used a longer extension and allow it to push off different areas of the axle tube.Other than that no problem. Take a 8# sledge hammer and nail the top of the knuckle near the upper ball joint and off it came. Now as for using the Harbor Freight ball joint press tool. Well it works but you got to be creative with it. We started with the lower ball joint and with even using a cheater pipe on the ratchet we couldn't get it to move. So after calling a few local tire shops most suggested heating and beating with a sledge.

Danger Icon DANGER!
At this point we broke out with the torch and heated the knuckle up good and hot. I took a good swing at the ball joint and BOOM! The ball joint exploded! Seriously! When it exploded it sound like a 30-06 going off! The actual ball stud came out in serious force chipping the concrete and hit by buddy James which was standing at the front of the truck and was struck in the thigh.
James is alright and not hurt. No bruise even... But very scary... Well as for the lower joint we weren't out of the woods yet. So now the guts are gone in the joint we fire up the torch and burn a hole through it. Then using a hacksaw cutting release points in the ball joint. Now taking a large chisel and collapsing the ball joint inward we gain some slack to get it to move. Now using the HF ball joint press we got the lower ball joint out. Now with the upper joint we too freaked out after the explosion we opted to us the HF tool again but go full torque pray the tool held up. Using a 4 foot square tube over the ratchet handle I pulled like rowing a boat. I had James standing in front of me for a base to push from. BOOM! The tool held up but ball joint exploded again popping out of the upper hole. I landed flat on my back from pulling so dang hard... :stuned: At this point we grabbed a bit to eat here at the house. But went back to reassembly of the passenger side. I use a chainsaw file to de-burr the holes and makes sure the holes where clean. Using a generous amount of anti-seize on the holes and proceeded to use the ball joint press and drive the new joints into the axle. This point thing seem to go good and re-assembly was fine. My day ended at 11pm...:stuned:
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Wow Mike,Sounds kinda like the fun I had last year! The way I ended up getting my ball joints out was tightening up the press on the joint as much as I could and then beating on the knuckle with a 5# hammer. The combination of pressure and vibration popped them out with a very loud bang. The bearings however were incredibly difficult to remove.GB

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Funny part the wheel bearing came out easy because they where done last year in Ontario, OR so I got lucky on that... I'll tell you I'm one sore person this morning... Swing sledge hammers and pulling on a 4 foot bar does a number on a person...

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sounds like my experience except no explosions. i did not have to struggle with the knuckles to much, but those lower ball joints were a pain. my press had nothing to pres them out with. we had to pound them out. the passanger side was much easier. i only had to hit it 150 times. the swing arc at that yoke aint real good. did you check and see if there was any up and down play in those ball joints after install?

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mine came out in one piece but were just as useless. got a little more scrap metal though.

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I'll give you a neat trick if you anyone else does their ball joints in the future. Put the new ball joints in a freezer has soon as you get them, overnight works best. To remove your old ball joints NEVER heat the ball joint! Instead heat the outer flange on the bottom of the a-frame around the ball joint. Then you should be able to use the ball joint press to remove the old joint or a 5# sludge hammer as a last resort. If the old joint does not want to come out reheat using the technique above then pour cold water on the a-frame. The heat will expand the metal and the cold water will quench it helping to break the bond between the ball joint and a-frame. The use of Kroil penetrating oil will help also. Then reheat and try to press it out again.Note: Clean the ball joint pocket using a Scotch Brite Pad only and brake clean. The use of files, sand paper or buzzer rolls will remove material and make the pocket oversized!To install: Heat the inside of the a-frame ball joint pocket, remove ball joint from the freezer (one at a time) and install into the pocket. You may not even need the ball joint press as there is only a .003 press fit between the ball joint and a-frame pocket. This is how I would install sleeves in blocks with up to .005/.008 press fit and they would just drop in. A ball joint however is a lot thicker and will not shrink as much as a sleeve will. I hope this helps anyone in the future.Don

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I talked with JL Welding about this I guess one of his friends was working on a ball joint heated as well and it exploded and went through the shop roof 22 feet above them! So... People be careful heating ball joints up they can and will become projectiles...

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i heated the the yoke around the ball joint and not the ball joint. i gues thats why i had no explosions. but that is good info to have.

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It is good to have others who are willing to put their pride asside (when others might be inclined to hush up) & tell of their MISADVENTURES as well as their successes! Thanks Mike!

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eeeek :thud: <=== james after a near 'nad' death excursion ..........

At the time it was rather serious note watch poor James holding his thigh and limping out the door of the shop. Now looking back on it... It still rather scary but funny too... :lol: One of these days I got to do the driver side... :sofa:

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I dont know what i did wrong? I did both sides with an otc ball joint remover kit and no heat. My ball joints were in there for 10 years. You guys seem to have more fun than i do.

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I feel your pain Michael, I did mine 2 years ago about 3 days before leaving on vacation. The best I could get locally was all 4 Moog. Truck is still solid. I figured the job would be done in a day. At the end of the first day my Bro-in-law did come over to help w/ the heavy stuff, tool runnin. Some over size sockets I didn't have. It took me every bit of 2 1/2 days, start to finish w my wife chirpin at me, that part was no fun! But she did take care of the farm so I could get 'er done!:banghead: Everyone tells me about having to keep replacing ball joints when these trucks are kept for the long term, that's why I went w Moog but even they break down. I don't get it everyone ******* ';bout Dodges, I hear they should have put that engine in a Fjord. My friends ball joints in his E350 went out at 90K. Mine stock ones were almost twice that! Make mine Dodge! Keep 'em Cummins,:hyper:Dave

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I got 185K on the clock before changing my bal joints. I'm still running factory brake pas after 185K miles. My VP44 injection pump has 136K miles on it.. :shrug: What are you talking about...

That's what I'm saying!:ahhh:

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i went about 220k on mine. the truck was interesting to drive to say the least.

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Well today I finally finished this project. Month later... But I got James back down here and we figured out a whole new game plan and managed to get them pressed out without even using heat. Still used the Harbor Freight Ball Joint Press but when you get some pressure laid to it take your shop sledge hammer and smack the knuckle with a good hit. I didn't hit the tool or the joint just the side of the knuckle ears and BAM! It would jump. Start wrenching down and it continues to press out like it should. I've taken a short test drive and it seems a bit tighter for steering but good. So more to come later... :thumb1:

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i think if i had been James i might of insisted on a slightly differant than the first time.:smart:

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