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Old 02-09-2008, 09:15 PM
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Separating a stubborn lower ball joint taper

Anyone got any handy tips for separating a stubborn lower ball joint taper? I'm working on a '55 Mercury and every other taper has gone smoothly, I'm attempting to use a pickle fork and a sledge hammer, I've loosened the nuts and have the spring pressure helping, but at this point the end of my pickle fork (which I bought new before starting on this car, so it has only separated 3 other ball joints and 2 tie rods) is severely mushroomed and the fork part is bent. (The upper is separated but still held on by the nut)

The factory shop manual, of course, says to separate the ball joints using tool 3006-A, which I'm pretty sure I don't have. The illustrations appear to be some sort of hydraulic tool to push on the threaded ends of the upper and lower ball joint.

I plan on replacing all ball joints, and obviously the seal is already destroyed. Any sure fire tricks that can do the trick on this one? Speaking of fire, would it help, and if so where should it be applied? Preferably, would a propane torch help... I don't have an oxy-acetylene torch nor is it in the budget for a while.

I have it soaking in penetrating oil, and on that note, is that going to do anything for me? I figured it can't hurt, but I'm also figuring it probably isn't going to work into where it would be needed.
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Old 02-09-2008, 10:52 PM
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i have used pickly forks but here is a much better way that is commonly used:

get the brakes, hub and backing plate off of the spindle so lhe only things left are the control arms and the bare spindle. loosen the nut on the lower ball joint 2-3 turns but don't take it off. (or you could get a mouthfull of spring) right where the tapered hole is in the spindle that the ball joint stud goes through whack the side of the spindle with a 4-6LB hammer, this will distort the hole in the spindle and the stud will pop loose. get a good swing and hit it as hard as you possibly can, don't worry you won't bend/wreck anything. a lot of spindles actually have flats forged in them for this purpose. a lot of times 2 or 3 wacks will knock it loose, if it doesn't come loose you are not hitting it hard enough. i did a 64 chev with origonal ball joints a couple of months ago and had to hit it like 15 times before it poped loose,nothing was damaged. it works, we did them in the shop this way for years.
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Old 02-09-2008, 11:57 PM
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I dont remember if the 55 merc has opposing ball joints, but this cheap-O homemade ball joint spreader tool might help you if techrons method doesn't work...I do it that way as well, but I seen some that don't budge without some extra help...

I just use a 5/8 or bigger NF thread coupling nut, and a couple of bolts to go in each end. I spot the bolts on top with a big drill to keep em on target, then put the spreader in between the ball joints studs and crank on it some.

Some tapping with Techrons BFG and some heat will help...Propane won't do much though.

Tool


Spotted ends


Installed tool.


I'm not really trying to push out the ball joints with the cotter pins still installed and nuts tightened down...I was doing a fraudulent recreation of an actual use of the tool...totally posing for the camera...


Later, mikey
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Old 02-10-2008, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerrodsmike
I dont remember if the 55 merc has opposing ball joints, but this cheap-O homemade ball joint spreader tool might help you if techrons method doesn't work...I do it that way as well, but I seen some that don't budge without some extra help...

I just use a 5/8 or bigger NF thread coupling nut, and a couple of bolts to go in each end. I spot the bolts on top with a big drill to keep em on target, then put the spreader in between the ball joints studs and crank on it some.

Some tapping with Techrons BFG and some heat will help...Propane won't do much though.

Tool


Spotted ends


Installed tool.


I'm not really trying to push out the ball joints with the cotter pins still installed and nuts tightened down...I was doing a fraudulent recreation of an actual use of the tool...totally posing for the camera...


Later, mikey
mikey, with all due respect, my method works--(by the way, it is not my method, it was tought to me by some old time mechanics who were much wiser than me). i've used this way of popping ball joints loose for 30 years. it is faster than walking to the tool box to get a pickle fork. as you know, making money is all about beating flat rate. a BFH will beat flat rate.

OH,and by the way---BFG is a tire....a BFH is what you use to to knock ball joints loose!!! you must have had beers with your wife and the taco lady, i just was enjoying cognyac in front of the fire... .. congrats mikey for becoming a mod... please...DON'T BAN ME. i tryed to post a more elequoint response last night but it dissapeared into cyberspace,.

yours truely (and jokingly) techron.
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:08 AM
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No disrespect taken, I know your way works..almost every time.

All I did was copy a tool design from a factory ford manual.

BFG......My keyboard has keys that move around on their own at nighttime...

Later, mikey
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:14 AM
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My ball joint pickle fork is all mangled up....spread a little. Because they are spread a bit, it goes in all the way (insert smart remark here, Mikey)................Anyways, I will also slip a large wrench in with it and give it a belt.....works every time. A bit of heat usually helps out too.
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Old 02-10-2008, 06:31 AM
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I use the same homemade tool as Mikey. I don't know where the heck I found the long hex thing. I made it for 63-87 GM trucks with tight tapers.

I got old somehow... I "rarely-sometimes" do the big hammer IF I can get a good clear swing without loosing skin off of my hands.

At this point, I let the young bucks work up a sweat...and I just plod along
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerrodsmike
No disrespect taken, I know your way works..almost every time.

All I did was copy a tool design from a factory ford manual.

BFG......My keyboard has keys that move around on their own at nighttime...

Later, mikey
mikey, i was suprized to see all you guys responded so quickly, my keyboard is covered is covered with grease. it's bad enough, but i have to stare through the grease to see the figurres on the keys. i type with one finger. but you must type with with 12 fingers to post all the info you do here. I SALUTE YOU MIKEY!! i could never be a mod because i just spend all my time in the garage or watching TV. I A'M retired so my time is my own.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:41 AM
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Just a thought , somewhere in a GM manual back when GM went to disk brakes they had a note telling you not to strike the spindle with a hammer ,because the new spindles were made of a different't material or process and were pron to cracking .??
This was a GM note ,I don't know about the other Big 2 of 3 .
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:36 AM
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For years, I mutilated old ball joints and tie rod ends and other taper joints and pickle forks until and experienced salvage yard owner told me to "git outta meh way, boy an ah'll sha ya th way to git thet thang loose". He grabbed my hammer and with one blow each, job was done. The battered pickle forks have been gathering dust since.

Mikey, we have a selection of home made spreader tools like yours and they are handy to have in the shop. For what ever reason, we have not thought to cup the ends. Thanks for sharing.

Trees
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Old 02-10-2008, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techron
........

OH,and by the way---BFG is a tire....a BFH is what you use to to knock ball joints loose!!! you must have had beers with your wife and the taco lady, i just was enjoying cognyac in front of the fire... .. congrats mikey for becoming a mod... please...DON'T BAN ME. i tryed to post a more elequoint response last night but it dissapeared into cyberspace,.

yours truely (and jokingly) techron.
You beat me to it,Maybe Mikey was meaning use a rubber mallet

Quote:
Originally Posted by powerrodsmike
......
BFG......My keyboard has keys that move around on their own at nighttime...

Later, mikey
That is a good lil tool I bet it would be awesome with a ratchet wrench on it

Shane
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:11 PM
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As an engineer, I can tell you what the flat spot on the spindle is really for... It's a machining datum, a reference point used to clamp the spindle for the precise machining of the 3 tapered boards and the wheel bearing interface and the brake attachments.

I haven't yet had success hitting the spindle on the side, nor has penetrating oil done anything (as expected) but I'll be trying later. I've had babies napping since the original post.
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Old 02-10-2008, 12:20 PM
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Is this tool 3006-a?



That is the tool I copied
It is about 4 dollars worth of stuff at the hardware store .

Later, mikey
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slipangle
As an engineer, I can tell you what the flat spot on the spindle is really for... It's a machining datum, a reference point used to clamp the spindle for the precise machining of the 3 tapered boards and the wheel bearing interface and the brake attachments.

I haven't yet had success hitting the spindle on the side, nor has penetrating oil done anything (as expected) but I'll be trying later. I've had babies napping since the original post.
hey slipangle, i also gratuated from college as an automitive engineer. but i became a lowely mechanic because i liked to work on cars. if you have babies napping you area youngin, where did you get your info??? beat the snot out of that spindle. that tapered ball joint will come loose. as an engineer you shouldn't have to ask me, but as a mechanic i responded.

OH, and slipangle, is that your relation to your wheels to your tires, the slip-angel of nascars will put them into the wall, or steer them out of danger. see you later.
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Old 02-10-2008, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerrodsmike
Is this tool 3006-a?

That is the tool I copied
It is about 4 dollars worth of stuff at the hardware store .

Later, mikey
As you can clearly see, the caption indicates some variation on tool 3006-a, but from the image the control arms are larger stampings which I don't know the history on the later Fords, but it is clearly later than '55 as the '55 FoMoCo LCA was a multi-piece weldment.

Which makes it a little odd that later Ford would switch to a screw operated tool, or maybe it might make since since it would be a lower cost service tool... My manual for '54 ('55 Mercury uses the '54 manual with a supplement to cover the model year changes) shows something like that, but hydraulic... Kinda like something you would use to straighten a bent unibody.


Quote:
Originally Posted by techron
hey slipangle, i also gratuated from college as an automitive engineer. but i became a lowely mechanic because i liked to work on cars. if you have babies napping you area youngin, where did you get your info??? beat the snot out of that spindle. that tapered ball joint will come loose. as an engineer you shouldn't have to ask me, but as a mechanic i responded.

OH, and slipangle, is that your relation to your wheels to your tires, the slip-angel of nascars will put them into the wall, or steer them out of danger. see you later.
I did my co-op at Meritor Suspension Systems, which has since been bought and is known as Arvin Meriotor and before that was under the Rockwell umbrella. The group I was in was primarily suspension springs and stabilizer bars, but I got interaction with other groups - mine was oriented towards consumer vehicles, and as it happens the projects I worked on were SUV's - the other groups were primarily commercial vehicle stuff - the bulk of their business at the time was semi truck axles and trailers. The site where I worked - their headquarters - has the world's largest brake dynamometer.

But where I really learned about the structural part of suspension components was at my first real job at American Axle. I worked on the Dodge Ram front beam drive axle. (This was business that was won that had previously been Dana's) If you think about it from a manufacturing perspective it makes sense. On spindles such as the first generation FoMoCo ball joint suspension design, you have tapers that are machined from opposite directions. You're going to be cutting your tapers in seperate fixture loadings, so you need a good reference surface.

I'm not saying it doesn't work well from the service side, and may well have been intended for both purposes, and we used side impact to break tapers in post-test tear-downs too - especially when we're interested in evaluating seal performance.

That aside, I'm 36 now. I forget when I got the Sun Valley I'm working on, but the hardtop I'm using as the body donor I got when I was 17 out of a junkyard in Pontiac, MI, and that's a whole other story. At the time I got that car, my dad had done at least 50 restorations, having started the hobby a couple years before I was born. Back in the day where the hobby could pay for itself!

And now I'm an engineer for hospital beds! (just had my first anniversary at this job) I miss having auto parts stores as close together as McDonalds, but even in Michigan that's not like it used to be with online stores and less and less user serviceable cars.

I had a fun afternoon running around on errands with our 1 year old girl while my wife stayed home as the 2 year old boy napped. Among the stops, I stopped at AutoZone hoping to find something like tool 3006A since they list something online among the tools they loan, I didn't find it but I found a pitman arm remover - which I need anyway and it seemed like it might do the job.

It didn't, the jaws openned up before breaking the taper, and I was left with an indentation in the end of the threaded stud of the ball joint - more on that later.

Whacking the spindle didn't break the taper - which I tried both before and after the pittman arm tool. I did finally break it with the pickle fork going from behind the joint instead of in front of the joint as I had before.

I decided to not go with whacking the spindle when distortion of the flat surface was apparent on the spindle. I know the taper is still likely to be just fine, but this is going to be a show car and as well as I know that a) this level of detail will probably never be scrutinized, b) I probably shouldn't care if it is and c) the powdercoating I plan on using isn't "correct" original anyway, and as such I'd lose points... Well, ultimately my goal is - for this car - a car that is as cleanly restored as possible, but with any improved technology available that can be done while maintaining the original function... Um... I feel like I can't define what I'm after in 500 words or less.

So now I'm just going to have to deal with the problems of the distorted threads that means the ball joint stud turns with the nut, and I can't get the nut off. I think I have enough space to use the 4" grinder with a cutoff wheel if I have to, for that matter I'll probably just end up splitting the nut, I have enough original hardware that I don't really need this one.
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