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1990 ball joint replacement

58709 Views 14 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  rkwaters
This is the edited version of my ball joint replacement thread - the "Official" version. I was learning what I was doing as I went along, so it took a while (3 weeks!) for me to finish up. There were a lot of questions and discussions, along with a lot of chit-chat, and I'd like to thank everyone that helped out.

I've included a lot more discussion than I originally intended - inserting it into the writeup when convenient; it just seemed to be good info for another novice like myself to have on hand. I did, however, edit a lot of the chit-chat.

For the full thread, with all the various conversations that took place, go here.

*EDIT* I've had several requests over the past year for info on the locknut socket, so here it is:

Posting this right up front for reference in reassembly. Thanks Steve.

Dana 44 IFSuspension

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This will be my feet first jump beyond simple "bolt-on" type automotive stuff. As I said in another thread, I've got X Man's writeup bookmarked, and I've got a Haynes manual and almost enough ego to think I can do this. :brownbag I've got a lot of basic tools, plenty of local stores if I need something, and I've got the ball joints in hand, so there's no longer any excuses; I have to do this.

I will try to remember to take lots of pics, especially when I run into problems, and hopefully I will chronicle enough detail that other novices will feel informed enough to do their own as well.

First few pics...

Spicer "Professional Grade" Ball joints.

I jacked it up and pulled the wheels tonight in prep to start in the morning. I spent a little time figuring out how to coordinate jacking up the truck, and placing the jack stands; I was thinking I needed to have the stands pretty far forward on a flat horizontal spot in the frame, and was having problems making room for the stands and the floor jack in almost the same place. I finally went with moving the stands back a couple of feet, and it still seems pretty solid. I slid some bags over the hubs just to keep the local kids from messing with anything this evening.

Ok, first problem... WTF happened here? Sway bar pulled loose on full extension? All I did was jack it up and pull the wheel!!

Does your truck have a sway bar drop bracket installed?
Yes, although it looks like a 4" extension on a 6" lift. :shrug


The patient is on the table, and been opened up. There no turning back now! :shocked.

First up, a pic of the rotor. The rigs been sitting for a substantial amount of time, and the surface shows it. Should this be resurfaced?

Ok, so... on with it. Like I said before, I'm going to detail things so that another novice like myself will know what to do; I'll try not to leave anything out.

The Haynes manual said to remove some of the brake fluid to prevent overflow when I compress the cylinder.

This is as far as I could go because of the filter in the top.

from the looks of the brake fluid you need to flush the system, if you havent used the truck in a while it probably has a lot of water in the system as brake fluid loves water. second i would take the time and remove the rust from the rotors , take the brake pads and rub them around on the cement then look at them ,for cracks ,even hair line i would replace. or turn rotors and purchace new premium brake pads :thumbup
Next, using a c-clamp (which I had to run out for; mine weren't big enough to fit around the assembly) compress the cylinder so that you will be able to pull it off the rotor. It won't move far; all you're doing is loosening it up.

Next, you need to take out these pins.

If you look at them closely, you'll see some bumps on each side that hold it in place; they need to be compressed to clear the edge, while at the same time pushed through. Squeeze them with some pliers, while prying at them like so. Once you've got both pins pushed in, push them through with a punch if you've got one - a big ass screwdriver if you don't. ;)

Now you can lift the whole thing off and suspend it out of the way. Careful with the brake line, and watch the brake pads; they fell right out. I looped the wire over one of the shocks; and yes, I tightened up the hook so that it wouldn't slip.

And this is what you have left.

Now's time to pull the manual Warn hub. Find the right allen wrench and pull the cover. Watch out for the spring that's behind the cap; it'll fall out while you're trying to keep the bolts in the cap. :rofl:

Next pull the axle shaft snap-ring and the hub lock ring around the inside edge. The lock ring took a little doing, but a small flat-head and an awl got it out (I'm not sure which actually got to it, but they were both in my hand at the time).

The Haynes says next to remove the stop screw next, and has a picture of where it should be, but after a close examination, I decided the Warn didn't have one, and just pulled the hub out. A couple of the Allen bolts helped out here.

Now you're ready to pull the Wheel bearing lock nut...

...with a tool like this.

There should be nothing else holding the rotor in place now. Pull it off, and watch for the outer bearing; it'll be loose and will likely fall out of the rotor if you're not careful.

This is what you should be seeing now; you just pulled everything off of the spindle. That's next.

Next, pull all those nuts surrounding the spindle, and take the spindle off. Apparently, a lot of people have serious problems here, and have to get a special tool to pull the spindle off.

Courtesy of X Man.. said:
Spindle puller AutoZone p/n 27104
Slide Hammer AutoZone p/n 27033
They ran me $45 for both pieces.
I, however, had no problems. I just used a hand sledge and a piece of plywood, hammered the outside a few times around, and started wiggling it back and forth 'til it came off.

Now pull the shield and set it aside.

Next up is pulling the axle shaft. I think the driver's side axle just pulls out at this point, but there's one more step for the passenger's side. It's mostly loose right now, but you'll need to crawl under the front end, pull the boot clamps...

I'm guessing these are single use items? Can I replace them with hose clamps? It would make replacing the axle on a trail a lot easier.

do not use hose clamps on the axle boot....replace it with the correct can pick them up at autozone....
zip ties work great
you can get those metal bands at harbor freight or home depot.
They're called "keystone clamps", and they're used because of their MUCH lower clearance requirement on rotating boots than a screw-type hose clamp needs. They also affect rotating balance less.

They CAN be reused if you're careful about straightening the keystone section, and then use the correct pliers (or small end-cutters) to re-crimp them.

...and slide the boot over onto the stub coming out of the differential.

Now you're ready to carefully pull the axle shaft out.

Next up, remove the tie-rod. Pull the cotter pin and take off the castle nut. Again, had a problem with this being stuck (rusted), and apparently it can sometimes just spin as well, but I didn't have any problems with the nut.

Getting it to come out though wasn't aparently optimum. Steve83 says to hit the joint on the side and it should flex enough to drop out, but I hit it hard enough to dent metal (which you can see if you look close), and nothing happened; so I did what X man did - flipped the castle nut over, screwed it back down some, and hit it with the hammer a few times. Dropped right out. :toothless

That was pretty much it for today. I'm at the ball joints themselves, but I've found out that my tools don't go up that size, so I'll be heading over to HD to get what I need.

I'm a little worried about getting a socket on that nut; it's awfully close to the spring.

This is your first time doing this? Great job and in 3-4 hours too! The ujoint looked pretty rusty, you DID inspect it while you were there, right?
Not really; I was more concerned with disassembly at that point. Aside from rattling inside the cups and needle bearings falling out, what should I look for?

make sure it moves freely. If it is even slightly stiff, replace it, unless it is greasable then regrease it and loosen it up. secure one end in the vise and twist the other end side to side to try and get movement, it can be slight so look carefully.
Looks good Iolaus.

Yes, PB blaster or any good super penetrating oil
Yes, as Six said now is the time to clean and grease the spindle with a synthetic, good grease. Also check ujoints, and the hub/bearings/racings. get all that old grease out and look over your bearings, if timken and in good shape you can re-grease with the synthetic and put them back in, otherwise spring for new timkens and knock this sucka out while you're at it.

when you go to reassemble stuff like spindle to knuckle, do you have a little jar of antiseize lube? This helps ensure that if there is a next time getting into this it comes apart just as easily as it went together. I even used a bit of this in the knuckle bores where you will be pressing your new BJ's back in.
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Well I finally got back to this, although it was late so I just finished disassembling the passenger side.
Last report ended at the ball joints, and I expressed the concern that I would not be able to get a socket on to the upper nut. I was right, there was no way I was going to get a socket on to it...

...but I didn't need to worry; I threw an adjustable wrench onto it and it broke free easily - a little too easily if you ask me!
I am still a little concerned with how close the nut is to the spring, but hey, it's a spring; it moves! :toothless I left it in place 'til I figured out how everything was going to come apart.

The bottom bolt was harder to break free. I had this breaker bar ready to go (yes, that's an extension that got hammered onto it years ago, that I could never get apart :brownbag), and I had a four foot cheater pipe just in case, but just a bit of effort, short of needing the cheater, was necessary to get it started. After that, I used the ratchet wrench to finish taking it off.

Like with the other nut, and by direction from the book, I also left this nut in place as well. The reason for this is because, as X Man warned, and as I've seen others warn as well, when you knock the ball joints free, the knuckle is free to fall on your feet and anything else in the way. Well, by leaving the nuts in place, it falls loose, but stays in place 'til you finish removing the nut. Much more controlled that way. ;) ...and really, it's only necessary to leave the bottom nut.

I tried pounding on the upper post like the book said, but nothing was moving, so I used the pickle fork and a small sledge on the bottom ball joint, and after a little hammering, it fell loose.

Then I just finished taking off the nuts while holding on to the knuckle.
For anyone else who's never seen it apart, here's a pic of how it comes out. As you can see, if the nuts are removed, it's just going to drop as soon as it breaks free.

Well, that was it for today; I'll start on the other side tomorrow. Since I know sorta' what I'm doing (and I won't be taking as many pics), it should go a lot faster.
I have a couple of questions.
#1) The camber/castor adjuster busted a tab; I'm assuming I should replace it? Where would be the best place to get one?

...and this seal is cracked and leaking. I don't know about the other side yet, but the two in the middle don't look cracked. Should I give some thought to replacing all four of the linkage seals if one of them is worn? Is it easy to do?

Do not remove or move the caster camber thingy, just leave it!
Making good progress Jeff.
Even though it's busted like that?
It's broken? If it's broken then remove it, but not until you get the new one. If you can get the new one in the same position, then you wont have to pay for an alignment.
1) No, it doesn't matter if that little ear broke off. It's just an indexing lug - not required.
2) If the actual joint is loose, replace that specific tie rod end. If it's just a torn boot, replace it, & repack the rod end with grease. I recommend poly boots.
Took me 1 1/2 hours to get to the ball joints. However, when I pulled the driver side axle I got gear oil coming out. The truck isn't perfectly level on the jacks; it's tilted a little to that side. I don't know what the oil level should be in the case; should I have expected this? Obviously, if I do the minispool I'll need to replace all that anyway. :shrug
This is normal. If you fill to the plug, a few ounces will drain out.
I found out that the upper BJ nut on that side is a step up from 1 1/4 - looks like 1 9/32 or 33 mm. I got it off with the adjustable, but I'll need to find another socket to torque it back. The lower is finally giving me a problem, and the cheap breaker I have is starting to bend instead of breaking the nut loose. I'm going to go get a decent one, and while I'm there I'll get the socket I'll need later.

The Spicer BJ's come witha new 1 1/8 nut. I have to redo mine so they are sitting in the garage.
:shocked :doh0715: :banghead I even took them out of the box to take a picture of them! :banghead
When I took the hub apart, the center gear piece was sliding loose, there were pieces of a ribbon spring that had self destructed (not the one I expected to see; that one's sitting in the cap) and a coil spring that was loose, unlike the other side. Is it toasted?
If the outer knob is ok, most of the inners are the same, You can pick up a pair at the JY for $25. The last few I took apart getting the D44 chunks were Warn inners. I may have to grab a few the next trip to the JY. Was the ribbon spring the one attached to the "Lock-Free" knob?

Is it the "wave spring" that is sitting in the cap that destructed? The wave spring is what is in Warn's premium hub. That may have bit the dust with the toothed gear coming apart somehow. The inner part of the may have had a snap ring come loose in order for that toothed ring gear to come out.
No, that one appears to be fine. The one that destructed is sized to fit the same shaft that the gear fits over - it's a little bigger than the snap ring. What's left of it is sitting under the coil spring in that picture. I'll take some better closeups after I clean things up a bit.

Ok, that bigger floppy spring came out when that toothed ring came loose. Clean the grease out of the inner hub dial and see if you can see anything else broken. all this junk is usually retained by a snap ring or something to keep it as one unit, though you can disassemble them (and buy any new parts you might need if cost effective).
Well that lower nut was a bitch with cheap tools, but with a good craftsman breaker bar, a four foot pipe, and some constant pressure (no jerking) it came right off! :toothless

Same as before, left the lower nut on and used a pickle fork to separate the joints, then took off the knuckle after.
Ok, so here's what I have left of the hub...

Here's what's left of the piece that was in pieces...

...and here's where I think it was originally.

I figured out where that fragment came from; turns out it isn't a fragment, but it is deformed. It's the ring that holds the gear on; it fits into a slot cut around the shaft. Unfortunately, it's too stretched out and deformed to stay in place, and the gear itself is sorta trashed as well, though the chips seem to be just along the edge. Is it still salvageable? Where would I find one of these rings? I wonder if I can find my old set of hubs for the time being. :scratchhe

First pic is the good one for comparison.

(Making it clearer for someone) It's the retaining ring. If you look at the this pic, you'll see the blue arrow pointing to the peice I'm talking about, and the black arrow shows how tight it ought to be to securely fall into the channel cut for it. ...and it's not just stretched out, it's also not flat anymore - even when squeezed closed. I need a new ring.

Jeff, I'm pretty sure what happened is that you went to lock your manual hubs and the one side with the bad retainer....well you didn't get it locked in. So then you put it in 4wd and the shafts start turning, but on this one side the tip of the stub shaft was turning against the back of the inner gear and that retainer. A stub shaft 19 spline tooth grabbed that retairner along the way and stretched/pulled it out. So then later on when you turned your hub dials back to open, the gear and the little retainer were left to just sit there apart from the rest of the hub.

Not quite sure how you didn't get your full engagement on that damaged side, but that appears to be the story from what I see.
Now that I have it all apart I'm ready to start cleaning things off in prep for repacking with the synthetic grease. Am I thoroughly cleaning everything I've taken off? I figured I'd do like Sixlitre said and clean the stuff with gas, then I'll get what I can't reach and finish cleaning it all off with the spray bottle of brake cleaner.
Im no safety Nazi by any means but, if youre going to clean the parts with volatile liquids, I'd suggest diesel fuel. At least if theres a pilot light or spark in your work area, you wont end up in the neighbor's yard. Also, add some transmission fluid to the mix to both add detergent to the mix and keep from drying your hands out. :beer
Better to use deodorized mineral spirits.
Obviously the synthetic bearing grease is going into the bearings; what type of grease will I be topping off the ball joints and tie rod ends with? I have a grease gun hanging on the wall of the garage, but I'm not sure where it came from or what's in it. I would assume, given the fitting on it, that it's for lubing joints; but I just checked it and it's pretty much empty, so I can clean it out and put whatever I need into it.

you're going to kick me for not showing you this before your last trip to the parts store, but this;

makes packing bearings easy as pie. Got mine for $8.00 IIRC.
To be truthful you only really have to clean the moving or contacting parts. If you want to clean rusted steel castings that don't contact anything else, then you as a Californian may do so. Me, in the rust belt....uh, uh.
How about some useful shots of those inner spindle bearings as you clean, grease and reassemble them.
if you don't drive this Bronco all that often, IMO I'd leave the rotors unturned and just lightly sand the pads and re-grease(with brake lube) the sliders, caliper points and call it good.
ALL grease will be synthetic (or at least that is my suggestion). whet
her you bought a tub or not, now go buy the grease gun synthetic tube insert and use this for all steering and BJ's. I hope you will be able to get at your "greasable" BJ's later. Don't neglect those or they won't last nearly as long as the spicer sealed originals (which is what I like). Also make sure the nipples clearance the yokes/ujoints.
What do I do about the grease that's already in them that I can't easily get to? Will the synthetic be compatible?
Why use expensive grease for a component that doesn't see excessive heat or wear? Despite never using synthetic myself, I can see it being used in the wheel bearings, but don't see the need for it in the BJs and steering components.
Should be compatible. trying to remember again now the grease that is not compatible with.....what is long as it's lithium based, it will be compatible?

waltman, think about it this way:
while your wheel bearings clearly see the heat AND the non stop movement and really require the best stuff out there possible, why buy a different grease for all your driveshaft Ujoints, steering, and BJs? Grease is pretty darn cheap, even the tubes of mobil 1 synthetic. these compenents can see significant water/mud penetration and daily movement, and critical daily movement at that, so why not just use 1 best synthetic grease for all of it and be done?
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I cleaned up everything as best I could, but I didn't realize I needed a puller and a slide hammer to pull the inner bearing, so I cleaned it as best I could while it was in place. Any shortcuts here? ...or do I need to get something special? ...and I notice the book also says to use an "appropriate seal driver" to reinstall a new grease seal. (I don't have either)
Me either, and I've changed a BUNCH! ;) I use Craftsman's 12' tapered alignment tool (they quit calling it a drift so they wouldn't have to replace so many).
BTW, these pics are after the mineral spirits but before the brake cleaner.

The bearings that I could inspect all looked pretty good though; and yes, they are Timken.

There was one weirdness though; one side had these, but the other didn't; I think they were in the grease on the back of the spindle. I just realized that the other set are probably still on the axle?

I think I'm going to pass on opening up the diff and installing the mini-spool; there's nothing in the Haynes about the front diff, and I wasn't able to find any write-ups. I don't even know what the inside looks like! I know enough now to be able to get to this point again within 3 or 4 hours if I decide to do it later.

Now, you're just getting LAZY! :smilie_slap All the threads about changing from D44IFS to D50IFS; changing the outers; interchanging U-joints; deleting the passenger C-clip; the auto hub lock noise TSB; adding a drain plug; my Diagrams album... You can find pics & writeups if you WANT to. :thumbup
I guess I need to go get the ball joint press in the morning. Y'all say I can rent it at Auto Zone, I think?

How about some useful shots of those inner spindle bearings as you clean, grease and reassemble them.
Were you talking about these bearings? I wasn't planning on pulling them.

Damn, with the shape those are in I would not either...just grease them up and install a new seal.
you have the good bearings in there too (expensive higher end ) , they look good , grease them and put them on . the les expensive have the least needles wich are not as durable . (napa carries the higher end bearings though) food for thought:thumbup

I got a ball joint press from Auto Zone and... :banghead:banghead I've been trying to get these ball joints out for two hours! I don't have a vice, and I've been trying to find some sort of jury-rigged way to hold it so that I can work my cheater bar, but no luck. I just can't get enough oomph on it to break them loose!

I even dug out the old porta-power that I inherited from my folks when they moved, to see if that would work, but apparently the seal is broke; it doesn't move.

you got wheels?...I have a press at work, you can always run up here tomorrow at lunch and I could press them in and out for ya....:thumbup
and if not, you GOTTA have a vice, and soak the old ones and keep soaking them in liquid wrench or whatever. Without a vice to hold the knuckle you won't be able to get leverage to make the tools work. Oh, and an old set of chevy flatops I had to use a big 3/4" breaker bar with 1/2" cheatdown to get the kind of leverage I needed.
Well it kind of goes against the premise I mentally started with - that this would be a writeup of how to do it yourself - but I think I'm going to have to have someone else do this part, and I do want to get the job finished before I go back to school next week.

Where will you be, and what kind of beer do you like? :thumbup


A huge thank you to Tim for helping out here. After watching him working it with a 20 ton press, I realized that there was no way in hell I was ever going to get it done by hand without a rock solid vise and a ten foot cheater bar.

Question before I do this because it isn't addressed in the instructions... I'm assuming I pack the boot with grease before installation. It looks like the bottom of the joint is already packed; will the fitting just not accept more grease if it's full, or can I screw up things by forcing more grease in??

no, install it and top it up after you are done
I nomally install the cap and start pumping grease will see the cap start to buldge when its full.

It flows through the joint that easily? Oh, I see. I didn't see the two channels in the cup at first. :thumbup


Like I said, install it and when everything is done and torqued to specs, grease everything then. Just make sure the grease nipple is accessible before you move on.
I have them finger tight right now, but not greased. Is the boot supposed to drop down around the largest diameter in post #1? Without any pressure, it sits perfectly above it, like it was designed to be there.

Here's a pic of what I'm taking about. I know it will be driven further down of the bare side as I tighten it, but is this how it's supposed to look at this point?

snap the boot all the way in place first...torque the ball joint nuts to their specs and grease the ball joints...remember to grease the upper joint before installing the axle shafts...
There's no ring or groove to snap into place; it looks like they're just supposed to sit in place. :shrug

The bottom joints look great...

...but the uppers are so cockeyed that the boot isn't sitting anywhere near straight. you can see in these pic how far off they are. ...and that's where they're supposed to be; I haven't moved the adjusting rings.

That's one more reason I prefer NONgreasable parts whenever possible: they're physically stronger, generally better-made, cleaner, and require less maintenance. Just make sure they're greased before installation, and then forget about them.

Yes, that boot will be cocked because of the way your adjustable cam is set. If you straighten it out, the boot will move back toward center. The bottom one looks straight because it doesn't have a cam - it IS straight. But the upper boot is designed to slide around & still keep most of the grime out - you just have to grease it more frequently if the alignment throws it offcenter.
My top BJ boot looked similar to that position when I installed it. No worries Iolaus, it will fix itself over time.
Got it, thanks. So I just go ahead and torque it down in the morning, and get started on putting everything back together. :thumbup

Steve can be such a PITA about stuff, but this is where I will always state the same thing:

Spicer balljoints
spicer non-greaseable.

I actually prefer their lifetime series non-greasable ujoints for driveshafts as well.

Torque NOTHING until you have your camber specs where you want them. Are you needing info. here Jeff?

They are exactly where they were when I took the knuckles off; shouldn't that be fine?

I don't know, were you having any unsual tire wear issues? Were the tires looking nice and strait vertically? NOW is the time to make changes if you have adjustable upper BJ bushings.
I never noticed anything off. My mechanic had worked on it several times before I parked it; he always test drives vehicles (which is how he noticed the loose steering, leading to him inspecting the BJs) and he's never said anything about alignment either.

Remove it & apply anti-seize lube to the camber cam, the BJ stud, and the boss in the axle beam before you torque anything. It wouldn't hurt on the lower BJ stud, either.
Thanks, that had slipped my mind.


Three items on the drive shafts - two rubber seals and a plastic plate. I assume I can keep the plastic disk; am I replacing both rubber seals? ...or just the larger one? I assume they are both part of the spindle bearing seal?

Also, is there a seal at the shaft/diff joint on the driver's side that I should be looking at?


Bought them separate at Pep Boys. I got the inner and outer seals for both sides - $23 and change. Didn't bother with the plastic piece; should I have?

Jeff you should not need the plastic spacer unless yours is damaged, and what ever you do, dont knock the slinger off the axle shaft...its a bitch to get back on.
Uh, slinger? ...and is there a seal at the shaft/diff joint on the driver's side that I should be looking at?

Metal ring attached to the stub shaft...check the link for Napa you will see it...everytime I knock one off, its a damn fight to get them back on...they stay on by pressure.
it is a pressure fit. I ruined one trying to press it on without a press. got them after that, but I forget now what I did to make the job easier.

Edit: go back to post 240 jeff. Stan shows Red's post about the napa link...blow that pic up once you open it, upper right corner is the metal slinger. I honestly and not sure now if that is the same thing needed for TTB's based on some other posts. Just don't remember anymore. maybe you don't have that?
Oh, it's the plate that the seal presses back against? ...goes between these two pieces in Steve's Diagram? I didn't realize it could easily come off; I'll be careful cleaning that part.



I don't recall anyone answering this... On the driver's side where the axle enters the differential, I can see all the way into the diff. I'm assuming there is a seal involved; is it something accessible that I should be inspecting?

Im pretty sure you'd have to remove the third to work on that seal.
Here is what it looks like. Almost, but not, impossibe to remove and replace. But it would have to be done with the knuckle removed.
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Ok, so I gave up trying to get the ball joints pressed out with that rental press from AZ, and after watch Tim work it with a 20 ton press, I'm glad I did. Again, a huge "thank you" to Tim.

Here's the new joints installed. Aren't they purty? :toothless

I installed the zerk fittings for the greasable BJs. I didn't put the upper zerks completely flush because I was figuring that I was taking them back out and I wanted it to be accessable; they are pretty tight though. Now that I'm looking at the setup, with that angle and the height above the hole in the knuckle, there may be enough clearance to leave it in place. If so, should I bottom out the fitting? I'm not positive that it will align all that well for future use if I do.

Steve reminded me to use anti-seize but I wasn't sure about how much to use, so I erred on the side of caution and just used a thin film on all the parts - the inside and out of the camber adjuster ring, and the contact area of the ball joint shaft. these pics have it applied, so you can see how thin I applied it. It's a little thinner on the joint shaft.

So then I lifted it up into place and put the top nut on to hold it in place. I had already had it in place once, so the ball joints were already lined up to just slip into place. I thought that was good, as Steve had warned me not to get anti-seize grease onto the area that was getting some loctite in the next step, and avoiding having to work the shafts into alignment minimized the contact.

I was a bit worried about how much of the joint was exposed from under the boot when it got into place, but was assured that it was normal, and that with regular maintenance it would be fine. You can see from these pics how far off it is.

Next, I applied the loctite to the threads of the lower joint and the nut. Again, erring on the side of caution, I didn't really goop it up; I just filled the threads. I figured the nut would push the excess in front of it as I tightened it down.

So, according to the Haynes directions, I tightened the lower to about 40 ft-lbs. At this point, I ran into a problem many have mentioned, and used the solution recommended. The ball was spinning in the socket, and not allowing me to tighten it up, so I removed the zerk fitting and applied enough pressure with the floor jack to immobilize the joint enough to let me apply some torque to it.

Next, I tightened the upper joint to about 90 ft-lbs; and then, using an adjustable wrench so I could see, further tightened it 'til the castle nut lined up with the hole for the cotter pin, and installed the pin.

Then back to the bottom nut for the final torque to 110 ft-lbs.

Finally, I topped off the grease in the ball joints. I kept pumping it in 'til the grease bulged the boot and started seeping out. I hope that wasn't too much.

That synthetic grease sure is a funky color.

With how the boot was sitting on the top joints, I never even saw it bulge; the grease just started oozing out the side, so I called it full.

So that's it for the ball joints; now I need to start putting things back together.

A couple of things Iolaus; you can keep those upper BJ zerks in there and run it like that. Check clearance with the u-joint/axle installed and the spindle bolted on, there should be plenty of clearance, but just double check. Be careful tightening those zerks in there. They are copper pieces and are EXTREMELY EASY to break... I speak from experience. If you feel they are tight STOP and leave a couple of the treads showing. I snapped one of my zerks in the upper BJ and had to take it out and take if back under warrantee (that was a PITA). Lastly, you'll be fine greasing everything up until the new grease gooshes out of the boot. It wont damage the boot, it forces the old stuff out, and you for sure know the joint is full (whether it be a BJ or TRE). Just wipe off the excess when you are done with the grease gun AND after you drive if for a while, go back and re-wipe off all of the joints because more grease will come out of the boots.
I generally install angled grease nipples FIRST, then use a cup (or socket) to drive the ball joint into the knuckle so that I can be sure 1) the nipple is fully tightened, & 2) it faces where it will be accessible later. If you're not comfortable doing that, fully install the nipple, MARK the ball joint housing, remove the nipple, drive the ball joint in, & put the nipple back facing the same way.

So, first things first, I got the axles cleaned up and ready to go back in.

I forgot to take a pic of this before sliding it into place, but the directions on the anti-seize grease said it would dissolve in all oils, so I put a light coat of it on the driver's side axle since it was going into the differential and I wanted to lube it for the oil seal. There was no way for me to access that seal easily, so I'm just going to have to assume that it is still in serviceable condition.

I should have put the anti-seize onto the knuckle where the spindle inserts before I put the axle in place; it was much easier on the passenger side when I didn't have to work around the axle.

Anyway, The axle is in place. I didn't have a lot of choices in finessing it in; fortunately, from the pic that Tony R supplied, it looks like it's designed to feed itself into place.

Next, the spindle seal is installed. Here's a pic of how the pieces are oriented.

So get them greased up and slip them on. Again, it would have been easier if I had pre-greased the surface before installing the axle. Working with those bolts in the way was a pain; an easier way would have been to moderately grease the surface, and then just top of the seals with grease after I installed them.

I didn't get these all done first and just install the axle with them already in place, because I didn't know how much handling it was going to take to get the axle in. It turned out that the driver's side was easy. However, when I got to the passenger side it took a bit more effort, and I was glad that I hadn't gotten grease all over everything yet.

You can put the brake shield on at this point.

I figured the axle would push a lot of the excess through, so I put the majority of the grease on the axle side of things.

I forced as much grease as I could into the spindle bearing, and left a solid coating of extra, but like I said, I was relying on the axle side of it to finish filling the cavity.

I also applied anti-seize to the outside contact areas of the spindle at this point

The Spindle slid into place easily

The Haynes said to tighten the nut to 40 ft-lbs, but I tightened them down to 50, just because 40 seemed so light. :shrug

How to break bolts in one easy lesson.
Nothing broke this time. :brownbag

...and 40 lbs did feel awfully light to me.

The passenger side just goes into the stub coming out of the differential. I removed the boot at the stub joint and cleand off a bunch of grease and road crud, and stuck a rag up into the stub to get out as much grease as I could, then applied some synthetic grease to the stub socket and replaced the boot. Next, I greased the axle the axle, slid it into place, and slid the boot over to cover the joint. I forgot to get those boot clamps; I'll have to get them tomorrow.

Like I said, this side took a little work to get it into place.

The spindle on this side gave me some problems, and I ended up using the nuts to slowly press it into place; it wasn't real hard to do, but hand pressure wasn't working. I just kept going back and forth and around the circle, tightening them a couple of cranks on the ratchet each time, and watching to make sure everything stayed level.

Then I threw some plastic bags over both sides (expecting rain again) and cleaned up for the night. :toothless

i hope you timmed the stub shaft with the axle , the u-joint s have to be aligned straight accross . maybe you marked it and i was not paying attention and just aligned the marks. food for thought
No. I didn't; how important is that?

if you dont , vibration will aventually ripp them apart when mudding or in the dirt off road . all types of drive lines need timming when dealing with a slip yolk at anyspeed/ just a fyi
Damn. :doh0715: It looks like I'm about 15 - 20 degrees out. :banghead So, I'll be pulling both spindles; one to grease the axle, and one to reorient the u-joints.
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Ok, so the last report was, I pulled both spindles again, greased up the axle on the driver's side and reoriented the u-joints on the passenger side so that they were in phase. I re-tightened the spindles to only 40 ft-lbs this time. :brownbag

On to the hubs.

I had cleaned up the hubs as best I could, but hadn't pulled the inner bearing yet, so they were only as clean as I could get them from outside; once I got them out, I found a bunch more grease to remove.

Here's the puller; pick the size that fits in and pulls flat against the bearing.

Tighten the nut against the bearing and attach to slide hammer.

Slide hammer up to knock the bearing and seal out of the hub. It took a little more force than I though it would, but once it popped out, I had this on the end.

Why use a puller for the inner bearing? Just pop the seal out with a seal puller and drop the bearing out.
I always used to just use a screwdriver, but a seal puller is about $5.

BTW, here's a pic of that seal puller I promised you;

Work's great. Never ruined a seal yet.


So, I cleaned the hubs and those bearings thoroughly, and moved on to addressing the surface of the rotors. Like I said, the truck has been sitting for quite some time...

So I grabbed the random orbital sander with some worn 100 grit paper on it and went to town. When I was done, I could still see where the rust had developed, but I couldn't feel the difference between the area where the pads had protected the surface and the rest.

One of the rotors was pretty grooved though, so I'm going to have it turned. That's ok though, I can still get the one side finished.

*Edit* I changed my mind about new pads and turning the rotor; they weren't that bad. I'll just plan on including that in the budget when I need to do the next brake job.

I repacked the bearings following mike's instructions in this thread...


(sorry, no pictures of this...) I coated the inside of the hub with grease, thoroughly coated the now packed bearing with grease, set it into place, and topped off the cavity.

Then I wiped my hands and took a picture. :toothless

Notice the cavity beyond the bearing; I'll get back to that in a second.

Set the correct seal into place (either the AZ computer or my hubs are wrong, because they said the ones I had to match were for an auto hub) and carefully tap it into place with a hammer and the correct tool, or, as I did, with just a hammer. I was getting frustrated with this step, because as I tapped it in, another portion of it would pop out. A little patience and a lot of restraint got it in though. :toothless

I noticed that there was a change of sound when the edge was fully seated; listen for it.

Now back to that cavity inside the hub.... there was some discussion about the benefits of fully packing the cavity between the bearings with grease, as opposed to just packing the bearings themselves. Steve was the main proponent for filling the cavity, and I thought his reasons made sense. Air expands and contracts with temperature changes, and if that contraction happens when you're sitting in water, it will pull water into the hub; Filling it with grease prevents that. It may not be that important a consideration for a street truck, but it makes sense for an off-road vehicle.

So after I had the seal seated, I packed the back side of the bearing and the walls of the hub as far down as I could reach to about the thickness that the bearing took up, leaving a hole for the spindle to insert through (sorry, no pics). Then I made sure the seal was fully lubed, set the hub in place on the spindle, used the floor jack to hold it roughly in place, and finished packing the cavity from the outside with the grease gun.

Next, I packed the outer bearings using the same method, and pushed them into place...

...and the locknut followed that. I'll try to remember to get pics of this peice cleaned up when I do the other side, and I'll insert them here, but this is what the part on my truck looks like. The nut and lock washer are combined into one piece, and the installation and torques are different from the two-piece assemblies.

From the Haynes...

Using a torque wrench and a spanner locknut wrench, apply inward pressure to unlock the adjusting nut locking splines and turn the nut clockwise to tighten the nut to 70 ft-lbs while rotating the wheel back and forth to seat the bearing.

Apply inward pressure on the locknut wrench to disengage the adjusting nut locking splines and back off the adjusting nut approximately 90 degrees.

Retighten the the adjusting nut to 15 to 20 ft-lbs. Remove the tool and torque wrench.

Check that the hub assembly has no endplay.
My torque wrench goes down to 28..25......Stop, so I set it on "stop" and used that as approximately 15-20.

...and there it is. :thumbup All that's left of this part is installing the hub lock.

The following is specific to my Warns; others may have different details.

The haynes said to coat everything with a light coat of grease, so I tried to wipe out most of the excess with my fingers...

...and inserted the whole assembly

I ran into a problem at this point; the groove for the snap ring wasn't accessible.

I tried pushing the lock further in, but it was fully seated. I pulled the lock and tried pulling out on the axle, but it didn't budge. I finally went to the back side and pried on the u-joint to push the axle further out. That finally did the job!

So then I was able to install the snap ring.

After messing with the axle/snap ring BS for so long, I almost forgot to install the lock ring!

Now to install the cap.

If, like me, you find the spring is loose in the cap, put it in the right place. In this picture, you can see two tabs - one pointing up, and one folded over. Put the edge of the spring under the one and around the other, and use the one standing up to hold the spring in place while you install the cap. I found it was easier to get the spring in place while the lock was extended, but pull it back for the actual install or you will be fighting the spring while you tighten the bolts.

one other trick for ya...the warn dials are sometimes found to be difficult to turn. Once one is cleaned of any grease and junk, put a light coat of antiseize lube on the little detents on the inside of the cap that the wave spring moves up and down on. The freer this motion is, the easier the dial will be to turn. And the antiseize as you know does not wash out easily and stays very fluid under extreme temps.
I don't know if it was necessary, but I spread a very light coating of grease (what wouldn't wipe off with my finger) around the edge to make sure the o-ring was lubed.

Place cap on wheel and tighten allan bolts. I tightened them to "firm," but didn't actually torque them to anything. The manual says to tighten to 35-55 in-lbs.

Next, I cleaned both sides of the rotor to remove the grease that had accumulated during all this. It's now ready to reinstall the brakes; that, and the tie rod boots, and this side will be done. :thumbup

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Ok, so the last installment stopped at installing the hub locks. At this point I kinda' started moving faster, so there's not quite as many pictures.

In the interest of economy, and because the grooving wasn't radically bad on the other rotor, I decided to go ahead and reuse it as is. Economy was also the reason I went with reusing the pads as well; they still have lots of life left. :thumbup.

Ideally, I would have preferred to replace them as long as I had everything open, but now that I've done this and I see how easy it will be to do in the future, I'll just keep what I've got for now.

Since I had originally intended to replace them, I didn't really make an effort to keep them clean; they were pretty greasy. I sprayed them done with brake cleaner and scrubbed on them with a rag, and this was about as clean as they would get. After rubbing them on the concrete to break any glazing, that stain on the one disappeared.

So first, I put the smaller pad with the spring clip on it in place against the inside of the rotor, and pushed it flat (after I took the pic); the little spring should hold it in place while you get the rest on.

The longer pad fits into cutouts in the caliper (after you take it off your hanger :toothless)

The Haynes says to lube the groves with caliper grease, in the absence of thet, and figuring that any grease was better than none, I used the bearing grease and applied it as lightly as I could to both the channels and the pins.

Now set the caliper in place, aligning the grooves, and drive the pins in.

I initially thought I could help things along by setting one pin in place, and tilting the caliper into place...

...but the tolerances were too tight to do this, so don't bother.

I also thought that I needed to pinch the pins to get them started...

...but found it much easier to simply tap them in at an angle first, and let them find their own way once they were started. I'm pretty sure they'll only go in one way, but be sure to put the tabs facing away from the calipers so that they'll lock in place.

Once I had both brakes done, I topped off the brake reservoir, started up the truck, and pumped the pedal a few times to get everything in place.

Someone suggested that the fluid was too dark, and that I should probably flush the brake system; what do y'all think?

I would Iolaus

Fluid much older than a year or two is packed full of water. It degrades the quality of the fluid (and it's stopping action) as well as corrodes internal parts and seals don't like water either.

Do it next time you're under there (like when you switch to urethane sway bar bushings;)), and bleed/flush the rears too.
Next up is reattaching the tie rods.

Since I was replacing the grease with the synth, I cleaned up the ends and flushed as much old grease out as I could.

Then I put the boot in place, coated the shaft and threads with anti-seize, put them in place, tightened them down to about 70 ft-lbs, and then continued tightening them 'til I could align the castle nut with the hole for cotter pin and installed it. The Haynes says to tighten them to 52 - 74, and after trying to go beyond 70 with my adjustable wrench, I would probably go with the lower part of the range next time.

So this is what it looked like when I was done. I was a bit skeptical about how it pushes against the arm, but the package specifically said that the boot was supposed to go down over the joint like that rather than folding accordion-like, the way the original one was. ...even said you might have to use something sharp to help get it started over the lip. :shrug

So once that was done, I topped off the grease in the joint, ran the tires over to the gas station to get them up to pressure, slapped them back on, and called it done!


Of course, I wasn't done. I still had those axle boot clamps to replace. They didn't have any in stock and I didn't feel like driving around, so I just dug out some zip-ties and used them.

And while I was finishing up this day's writeup, I remembered that I hadn't dealt with the sway bar end pulling out yet either. :banghead That's just little stuff though. I wonder if it might have popped back into place when I let down the truck off the jacks...nah, that'd be too much to ask. :toothless

*Edit* I took off the sway bar 'til I can get new bushings. I've driven it and it doesn't seem that bad; but they are supposed to improve control on the street, and that's 99% of my driving so I want to reinstall it.
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I've had several requests over the past year for info on the locknut socket, so here it is. The info has also been added to the first post.

hey guys, question....the locknut socket, says 86-96? same socket for my 85 or no? thanks
I can't answer that - don't know - and I'm not sure how many of the knowledgeable people are subscribed to this thread. You might want to post your question on my original thread; that way the people who were helping me will see it come up.

This is the link for the thread where I was actually getting help from people.
Just for a frame of reference, does anyone have any idea how long this might take - start to finish over a weekend - for a pretty good jack-of-all-trades type of guy who has done rotors and some bushings in the past...pretty good at fixing stuff?
the first time always takes longer. You need the BJ press tool. Once you've done it once, both sides can be done over maybe 6 hours taking your time and doing it right. Someone may say it can be done quicker, but when you factor in everything as far as taking it all apart and putting it all back together safely, I can't do it any faster. first time you probably should add an hour or 2 and post up here if you are having a problem.

Pushing out the old BJ and properly/carefully seating the new are probably the main part of the procedure. But you also want to take your time in tightening the bj bolts in proper sequence, proper torque so they feel right.
What sequence are you talking about? Also, can you explain what lining up the outer axle shaft u-joints involves? I re-built my entire front end and I know I didn't see that when I read X Man's write-up :banghead It was referred to here by Jeff as "In Phase"?? I'm guessing it could cause a vibration if I didn't do it? Thanks! :thumbup -Kevin-
There is a procedure that is usually outlined in the directions that would come with the bj's as far as install of the upper and lower bj and tightening the nuts and what you should be looking for in terms of knuckle movement when you try and turn it when done (it should have slight resistance and not just be easy to turn). I'd have to go dig up bj directions to quote you exactly what moog advised for the ones I installed.

As far as axle shaft Ujoints I have no idea what in phase means. This term is usually used when someone is putting a driveshaft slipjoint back together. You want the yokes at the ends of the driveshaft to be pointing the same way:

forget about the lines, the pic was actually used for something else.
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As far as axle shaft Ujoints I have no idea what in phase means. This term is usually used when someone is putting a driveshaft slipjoint back together. You want the yokes at the ends of the driveshaft to be pointing the same way:
This is the part he's talking about - at the end of post #5. We were talking about the passenger side axle - it has the two u-joints and a slipjoint.

i hope you timed the stub shaft with the axle, the u-joints have to be aligned straight across. maybe you marked it and i was not paying attention and just aligned the marks. food for thought
No. I didn't; how important is that?

if you dont, vibration will eventually rip them apart when mudding or in the dirt off road. all types of drive lines need timing when dealing with a slip yolk at any speed/ just a fyi
Damn. :doh0715: It looks like I'm about 15 - 20 degrees out. :banghead So, I'll be pulling both spindles; one to grease the axle, and one to reorient the u-joints.
Ok, so the last report was, I pulled both spindles again, greased up the axle on the driver's side and reoriented the u-joints on the passenger side so that they were in phase. I re-tightened the spindles to only 40 ft-lbs this time. :brownbag

On to the hubs.

This is the part he's talking about - at the end of post #6. We were talking about the passenger side axle - it has the two u-joints and a slipjoint.
Gotcha. That makes sense. He's basically suggesting the passenger side shaft be in phase just like you would do with a driveshaft.
Uhhh.... Make that "the end of post #5." :doh0715:
Just replaced the ball joints and spindle bearings on the driver's side of my 93... Oh what fun! Thanks be to this thread!!!! It answered many questions and helped me out immensely! I will be tackling the passenger side soon. You did a fine job putting this all together with the pictures and whatnot...
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