1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

The VW Beetle. Everything about bugs!

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby rrb6699 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:15 pm

im gonna have to get the old ball joints out myself. the ball mounted on the wheel -- how do I get that to a shop?

or what type of 20 ton press do I need to get & how do I set it up? I'd know if I could see one ready to pop a ball joint.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Ol'fogasaurus » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:25 pm

If you take the brake drums off you can back off on the jam nut on the grub screw on the trailing arms then remove the whole attached (trailing arms and spindles leaving the spring stacks in place) off than take it to the machine shop. It should save you from an outlay for pickle forks and 20-ton press which is an $$$ outlay... unless you want them.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Marc » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:09 pm

It takes a couple of special press tools to make it an easy job, but once they're out it's not too challenging to come up with something the right size to fake it for installation using a 12-ton press (they have to be pressed in ONLY by the flange, pressing at the center will damage them) - so removal is the hard part of the job. There's more than one way to skin this cat.

Some folks use a torch to heat the end of the control arm enough that the ball joint will come out with hammer/air-chisel blows. That works but it's pretty rude to the metallurgy of the arm, I'd only do that as a last resort. A variation of this technique is to chill the end and balljoint, then work quickly to warm the arm only with a torch to "only" a couple of hundred degrees, which won't be hot enough to soften the arm.

OTC used to make a nice beefy C-clamp tool capable of driving VW balljoints in/out, but ceased production >20yrs ago.
Another tool was the GP1006 "Time Pirate" from Grand Performance Tools - a little too spendy for the backyard mechanic, though. I say "was" because I'm pretty sure those aren't available anymore either.
The cheap Chinese balljoint tool from Harbor Freight might survive removing/installing four VW balljoints if you're lucky.

If you have access to a welder, even an old stick-welder, this is a safe way to "shrink" the old balljoint enough to make it come out easily: https://web.archive.org/web/20150106225 ... intrem.htm

You'll want to remove the dust boots on the new balljoints to assure that they won't be damaged during installation. Typically they come with a minimal amount of grease, this also gives you an opportunity to add more before you put the boots back on.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Ol'fogasaurus » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:46 pm

Pressing the new BJ's back in with a 12 press should be able to be done fairly easily but pressing the joints out can take more than the 12 tons of pressure. My first set of joints that I rereplaced a machine shop: the gauge on the press was 12 tons and a bit above when they let loose. After I got my 20 press and pressed out the joints the machine a couple of them, when they broke free, caused everything to jump like the other press did (not an import like mine), making a loud bang and sent the suspension components flying like the pro press did. Wear safety gear!

I have also heard of people having good results with the smaller hand operated units... go figure but they also had to take things to the pros too!
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Marc » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:19 pm

Pressing the new BJ's back in with a 12 press should be able to be done fairly easily but pressing the joints out can take more than the 12 tons of pressure...
Yes, my reference to 12 ton was for installation only - it shouldn't even take that much to put them in, if it does something's not right (e.g. the BJ is cocked or you've managed to get an oversized one - they make those). Removal's another subject - even pressing the camber eccentrics off of the upper BJ studs can be a dramatic evolution. And BUS ball joints, which are staked in place, may not even succumb to a 20-ton press.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Ol'fogasaurus » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:53 pm

Marc, my bus CVs were not staked nor did they have provisions for them? :shock:
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Marc » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:38 pm

What year was it? Might be a thing adopted in later years, or perhaps yours had already been replaced once. But I've seen many that were staked in (at six points, IIRC). Maybe the originals were not and the ones I saw were replacements? Another theory is that it was only done at the factory to balljoints that took less than a certain pressure to install. The tool used to do it is an "official" item, VW471...https://vw.snapon.com/SpecialToolsDetai ... d=11190008

All I know for sure is that if they are staked, they're a bitch to press out if you don't grind those points off first.

http://images.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/1115198.jpg
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Ol'fogasaurus » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:25 am

My goof! :oops: Had a long day and must be more tired than I thought. The beam build I posted was using Thing stuff not bus; it was the transaxle that was converted to bus. Been away from the garage too long I guess.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby helowrench » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:29 am

Whevever I get a "new" (to me) car it ~always needs 4 tie rod ends, 4 flex brake lines, usually all new brakes, including the blue lines to the reservoir, a new factory steering coupler, ball joints if needed, and a new steering damper.

Look at the front wheel bearings/seals and speedo cable and both grommets too while you are there.

The ball joints aren't coming out without the right tools, like a 20 ton press.
This mirrors my own experiences as well.

Add in that %50 of the steering gearboxes I see require adjustment.

Please, make sure your brakes are in good shape, and consider upgrades if you see 90mph, or even 60+ often.
Also, tire age and pressures are critical.

Rob
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby rrb6699 » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:49 am

yes of course. I only wanted to see what it would do on the highway. that's why I want to be sure all these components are right. then on to the rear suspension
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Ol'fogasaurus » Wed Feb 15, 2017 10:50 am

Be careful on adjusting steering boxes! As we drive most of the action, especially on the freeway, is straight ahead and with the ruts in the road from wear and heavy loads being hauled there are ruts that you climb on so you are usually sawing the steering wheel back and forth to keep centered in the road; add to that the normal "crown" in the road for drainage and you have that to add to cause the wear pattern. That makes a wear pattern in one area of the worm gear so when you adjust to the wear area then the rest of the worm gear and selector become too tight which can cause the case to crack. This is an area for experts and it is usually cheaper, and safer, to go with a quality new or professionally rebuilt steering box.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby ChadH » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:54 pm

..
If you have access to a welder, even an old stick-welder, this is a safe way to "shrink" the old balljoint enough to make it come out easily: https://web.archive.org/web/20150106225 ... intrem.htm
I did my Thing ball joints this way. It's easier than it sounds. The metal on the back of the ball joint is pretty thin, and a die grinder will take it off quickly. After the ball is out, a quick bead on the inside of the joint, and it will almost fall out.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Ol'fogasaurus » Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:51 pm

Hmmmmm...interesting.

Image

The one BJ that I had on the last beam I pulled apart had been so damaged probably because of a hard landing that the joint itself that it almost litterly fell apart but even with the BJ removed it was still wasn't real easy to press out what was left of the BJ housing I had to remove the bent over ends of the slot). I use the old BJ for the small radius doming of sheet metal when necessary (once so far but played with it a few times).

I wouldn't think that the ball part would be under that much stress and still work but then... who am I to argue with success. :wink:
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Piledriver » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:47 pm

RE: the ID welds
Works for valve seats too. it shrinks the parts.
I, for one, regularly embrace our new robot overlords, as I am the guy fixing the robots...
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Postby Marc » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:30 pm

Read part 10 of Bob Hoover's TULZ series (much of it's only pertinent to the pre`66 king-and-linkpin front end so you can skip over that). Under "SLOPPY STEERING" he covers how to properly adjust the steering box.

http://www.ghia.com/tech/tulzindex.html

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