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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All

I'm reassembling my front end today. The factory manual doesn't seem to differentiate between the L/R ball joint on the center link. Does it matter which is driver/pass side?

The manual does say "LH side rod" "RH side rod" but since I disassembled and painted mine, I'm not sure which is which. Does it matter? My instinct is no, since these parts are not rotating, but itd be reassuring to hear this from someone whose done it before.

Thanks
 

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1966-2013
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Its considered proper to put the LH threads on the left end of things and the RH threads to the right.

Going opposite or mixing up from section to section won't make any real mechanical or handling difference, other than mabe when getting it aligned and the shop starts leaning hard on fixtures trying to turn them the wrong way because they expected left to be left and right to be right.

Like your front wheel spindles.
The RH threaded one goes on the right, the LH threaded one on the left.

Or further back, LH and RH lug studs/nuts being on thier given side.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Fair nuf, thanks.

Speaking of alignment, how do you go about 'baselining' the alignment when you've disassembled the entire front end?

Its considered proper to put the LH threads on the left end of things and the RH threads to the right.

Going opposite or mixing up from section to section won't make any real mechanical or handling difference, other than mabe when getting it aligned and the shop starts leaning hard on fixtures trying to turn them the wrong way because they expected left to be left and right to be right.
 

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1966-2013
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If you check in your book/CD, or for threads here and in the spider subsection for 'vehicle trim' there's some references. Likely you won't find it in the books under front suspension stuff as its more relevant to dealer/port pre~sale inspections.

There's some specific length range #'s to set the inner and outer tie rods to to start and relevant to each other, (they are not the same length when done), then overall final toe is done exclusively with the center link.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thanks everyone. It's a GTV but I found a similar doc in the "front end" directory of my CD.

Next question - how do you know when you have a ball joints pressed all the way "home"?

I just pressed in my A arm bushings, and its very obvious with them. The ball joints are much harder to install (i'm using a C-clamp style universal tool from Autozone). The boot of the ball joint makes it hard to see when it's fully installed and the resistance from the tool is really high from the first turn so I can't really "feel" when to stop. Any tips?

EDIT - actually if anyone has a pic of how they pressed on their ball joints I'd appreciate it. Not convinced I'm using this C clamp thing correctly... can't figure out what to do with the hollow round "receiving tubes"
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Umm wait a minute are you saying that you can assemble a ball joint to a knuckle simply by torquing the castellated (or lock) nut to spec?!

I've read all sorts of descriptions of people snapping studs and of the need to c-clamp, brass hammer, c-clamp again, freeze, heat, etc.

I even put mine on my 6t press and found it wasn't seating past ~60% with some serious pressure.

Does the torquing method seat the ball joint fully or just "enough" whatever that is...?

If the tapers for the balljoint and knuckle are clean, torquing to spec will take care of seating it automatically.
Clamping it together with some kind of tool then torquing is wholly un~neccisary.
 

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Umm wait a minute are you saying that you can assemble a ball joint to a knuckle simply by torquing the castellated (or lock) nut to spec?
That's all that I have ever done, and I haven't died yet.

The new-fangled nylon locking nuts - as opposed to castellated nuts - can require additional torque to install. Sometimes - especially when you have smeared antiseize on the taper - turning the nut will rotate the shaft instead of of installing the nut. In that case you need to press the rod end into the steering arm just to prevent it from turning. I do this with a simple scissors jack under the tie rod end and not a lot of lifting force.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Very interesting. So you consider the job done when the nut is torqued, not based on how far the shaft is into the steering arm? I'll give it a try.

That's all that I have ever done, and I haven't died yet.

The new-fangled nylon locking nuts - as opposed to castellated nuts - can require additional torque to install. Sometimes - especially when you have smeared antiseize on the taper - turning the nut will rotate the shaft instead of of installing the nut. In that case you need to press the rod end into the steering arm just to prevent it from turning. I do this with a simple scissors jack under the tie rod end and not a lot of lifting force.
 

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I even put mine on my 6t press and found it wasn't seating past ~60% with some serious pressure
Hope the ball and/or socket didn't get damaged as it was being shoved into itself with that kind of force.

As to the seating by torquing, I myself haven't read where hammers, freezing, sheared studs or whatever were needed to assemble. I've simply assembled a lot of them using the nut torqued to spec and watched a lot of them being installed in shops the same way. Never had a failure yet.

Stuff might break/shear/whatever when its being taken apart, but otherwise I seriously doubt it would ever happen during assembly using correct install proceedures.

EDIT
Point of note:
Going by the visual of how much taper is sticking out the fixture at the boot end would be a bad plan.
The rubber dust boot will expand a bit to cover that anyway so its simply an illusion that its sticking out more than it should be and the taper fits together as a taper regardless.
ie: once it's in as far as it'll go, no amount of force will cause it to go deeper unless you apply enough that it literally starts to wreck things.

Stuff the taper up into the receiver by hand and look at the protrusion of the threads and how close the shoulder at the bottom of the threads is to being flush with the surface the nut tightens against. it'll likely be very close just by hand assembling. (the nut can't draw the taper in any deeper than the two shoulders lining up anyway, so applying further pressure to get the opposite end more squeezed or pulled up in is again moot)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This is all welcome news as it makes the job easier... but I just wonder: why do ball joint installers exist!?
 

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...why do ball joint installers exist!?
Ball joint installers allow removal/installation of ball joints that are pressed into the wishbone without having to remove the wishbone to use a press.

Thing is, Alfa 105/115 ball joints are not pressed into the wishbones. The upper joint is part of the upper wishbone and is replaced as an assembly. The lower joint simply bolts to the lower wishbone.

Using a ball joint press (or any press) to seat a taper may cause irreparable damage to the components.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thing is, Alfa 105/115 ball joints are not pressed into the wishbones. The upper joint is part of the upper wishbone and is replaced as an assembly. The lower joint simply bolts to the lower wishbone.
Okay that explains everything! Out of curiousity do 116 cars have the ball joints pressed in? Maybe I was reading a 116 thread when I read about all the force req to install them?

I mistakenly reverse computed that based on the amount of force required to pickle fork the ball joints apart from the steering arms, they must be pressed. I suppose time and corrosion is what I was fighting. Well I hope I haven't damaged anything - luckily I only pressed one joint and it was going to the pitman drop arm which I have several of, but it'd be a bummer if I destroyed a ball joint.
 

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...do 116 cars have the ball joints pressed in?
Well, I haven't done 116 ball joints in over 20 years so don't quote me on this.
Uppers; I think the OE ball joints were riveted to the wishbone. Replacement joints came with mounting bolts. Replacement involved removal of old rivets, tap out old joint, install new joint and bolt it in place. So no, uppers are not pressed.
Lowers; have threaded stud on top (opposite the taper side) and a single nut holding the joint to the wishbone. Might be a semi-press fit but I don't recall having used either a joint or shop press. A few light hammer taps to seat the joint comes to mind though.
 

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Guys,

Can someone tell me what the correct torque is required for the upper and lower ball joints. Just about to ea-assemble the front suspension on my 69 GTV.

Cheers,
Wazza.
 

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Sorry those ball joints that you used a press on now probably need to be replaced :(.

The whole point of a taper is that it takes a light load (tightening the nut) to pull the taper tight and once a taper bites it is way tighter and solidly locked than just the nut clamping force.

So no need at all for pressing (how did you even manage to use a press ... did you remove your steering idlers and hubs?).

My father taught me how to replace ball joints. My father is now in his 70's and spent all his life as a mechanic or service manager and he would have replaced thousands of them ... never ever used a ball joint splitter or a press. Once you know how and where to hit with a hammer to remove it is dead easy and also a quick thing to install.

Good luck
Pete
 

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Very interesting. So you consider the job done when the nut is torqued, not based on how far the shaft is into the steering arm? I'll give it a try.
Correct.

If the tapered shaft turns, just use a pair of polly grips to squeeze just enough so the taper grips, and then do up the nut.

Once the nut us correctly tightened, you are done.
Pete
ps: Think of the manufacturing process. To get the tapered shaft to fit exactly to a certain distance into the tapered hole would require rediculously close tolerances, something like what Nasa use. But that does not matter. As long as you have enough surface contact a taper locks very tight. Thus some ball joint tapered shafts will fit further into the tapered hole than others. As long as the nut is able to be properly tightened all is good.

BTW: 15+ years ago I did calculations and designed a taper for a shaft joint ... very, very large amount of torque can be transferred via a taper. Very effective.
 

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BTW: 15+ years ago I did calculations and designed a taper for a shaft joint ... very, very large amount of torque can be transferred via a taper. Very effective.[/i]
This is very true!
Industrial drills only use tapered shanks (though the taper angle is much less than a ball joint and so has a much better grip) to transfer the drive torque. Imagine a 3"/75mm diameter drill bit being pushed into a block of steel, with maybe a 3/8"/10mm pilot hole for the chisel point. That is a lot of metal to remove and a LOT of torque is required to do it. All of that torque is transferred via the tapered shank with no dog or key engagement (the tang on tapered shank drills is only there to facilitate drill bit removal).
There are also MUCH bigger tapered drives than that used in heavy industry :eek:
 
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