Finally got around to replacing the ball joints. The alignment shop said they were having issues aligning it due to them being too loose.
Then, I figured that while I was diving in to one side, had the tools rented, etc. I'd just do both sides.
Then, I figured while I had the knuckles off, I'd take the axles out and replace the U-joints.
Then, I figured while I had the axles out, I'd drop the arms down and replace the axle pivot bushings.
Then, I figured while I had all of that out, I'd replace the radius arm bushings.
Isn't that how these projects go?
Started in on the passenger side, since they said that one was the culprit.
I bought myself a slide hammer, since I have a few upcoming projects that will use it as well. However, it didn't come with the spindle attachment, so I had to improvise. This worked really well in a pinch, and with about 3 - 4 taps, the spindle was off. Both of these ball joints had grease zerts on them, so they had been replaced at some point.
To get the axle out on the '85, I had to remove this dust boot.
Afterward, the axle slipped right out.
Fortunately, the nuts were extremely easy to pop loose, and with a few taps and a ball joint wedge, they popped right off.
Both of these were completely shot. I could wiggle both of them back and forth just by shaking the knuckle.
Held the knuckle in a vice and popped the ball joints out with the press. Not too bad. I only had to be careful since my vice was WAY undersized for the job. Fortunately, it held up.
Since the axle was out, the arm dropped down and easily exposed the axle pivot bushing. I had tried replacing these before on my last Bronco, but could never get them to drop down quite far enough with the axles in to do it.
In this case, I purchased polyurethane bushings so that I wouldn't have to worry about replacing these again any time soon. Also, the hardest part about these is getting the metal sleeve out. I decided to just leave it in and reuse it (which is something you can't do if you purchase rubber bushings). The sleeves were undamaged, so I used the ball joint press and a big socket to press the rubber out of them. It wasn't too bad at all.
The polyurethane bushings are 5 pieces and easy to assemble. A lot of reviews said the instructions were very difficult to understand in how to put them together. I have no idea why. Once they were greased up, I was able to push them in mostly by hand and tapped them in the rest of the way with a hammer. Even if I do have to R&R them in the future, they'll be much easier to remove than the rubber ones.
Next, I used my tie rod press to pop out the U-Joint. It's not ideal, but it worked well.
After I had it all apart, I tried to do the radius arm bushings. I fought with it for a good hour and had almost everything disconnected (spring, shocks, sway bar, etc.) but could not get the arm out. I finally decided to give up on it since the bushings looked brand new
. Fresh bushings would be nice and all, but I don't think I would have known the difference. Oh well.
Got the dust boot put back in place and reinstalled everything.
Next was the driver's side... This was a nightmare!! The spindle was completely rust welded on to the knuckle. I soaked it with PB Blaster about 20 times, pounded on it for at least an hour with the slide hammer, tried tapping wedges between it and the dust shield, hit it from the back side, put a block of wood over the threads and smacked down on the spindle with a hammer, etc. etc. etc. My hands were bruised. Finally... after two days
a faint crack in the rust appeared. Another hour and it was finally off.
It was very rusty, so I cleaned it up with a wire wheel.
Next, as with the passenger side, the knuckle was really easy to remove after couple of taps and effort with the ball joint wedge.
Even though they were originals, the driver side ball joints weren't nearly as bad. The bottom one was worn out (but not toasted like the passenger side) and the top one was actually still decent.
Pressed some new ones in, and fresh ball joints all around.
Next issue I ran into was a damaged axle. I really fought to get the u-joint out and couldn't figure out why. Once I got it out, it popped out with a lot of force. After I couldn't get a new one in, I finally realized why. The "loops" that hold the joint in place were bent.
Fortunately, these aren't that expensive. It was $30 for a Spicer joint, and it was only $90 for a fully assembled Spicer axle (which included the joint). Just had to wait a day or two for it to ship from Summit (which is only a state away).
As with the passenger side, I slathered it up with anti-seize, to help alleviate having to deal with the seized spindles in the future. (I also did the driver's side axle pivot bushing)
Took the axle down to O'Reilly and found the proper seal. New axle in place and time to install.
Put the wheel bearings, brakes, locking hubs, and tires back on.
Front end is now as tight as a drum.