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theksmith

replacing/rebuilding control arm joints & bushings

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i just finished replacing all the control arm joints and bushings on a used 3" Teraflex short arm lift kit so i want to share some notes/tips while the process is fresh in my mind...

 

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i don't know if Teraflex's "Flexarm Joints" are really just Currie Johnny Joints or not (looks like them). however, i'm glad i ended up ordering the entire rebuild kit instead of just the urethane half-bushing pieces - i didn't realize at first that there were 3 different types of small flex joints plus the more standard looking large joints and of course the Clevite (rubber) bushings.

 

ter1952200_1

 

most important tip: be sure to remove the grease zerk before you try to take the flex joints a-part and leave them out until the new joint is fully assembled! otherwise you're working against hydraulic pressure/vacuum from the grease.

 

after you remove the old bushing, the best way i found to get the first new bushing half into the joint housing is to lightly grease it and the housing, lay it on the workbench, lay the housing/arm on top of it, then smack the back of the housing down onto the bushing with a dead-blow hammer.

 

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you need some large snap ring pliers (preferably angled). i used a large vice and some various sized impact sockets as pushers and receivers the last time i rebuilt Johnny Joints. you can also buy tools from Teraflex for working with the small and large joints... these don't require a vice to work, but it still makes things faster.

 

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it turns out the small joint tool is pretty much required. its pusher is stepped down and comes in 2 halves so it can wrap around the joint's ball ends and still allow enough room to get the snap ring in. for the large joints i was able to just use a socket for the pusher.

 

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make sure the groove for the snap ring is really clean or the ring won't fully seat. i even had to double check that groove after putting the 2 new urethane halves in as sometimes they would shave off a little material in there as they went in.

 

i had a snap ring plier kit from Harbor Freight and their Ball Joint Service Kit. while i don't recommend anyone try to use that ball joint kit on anything larger than a Honda Civic, its pieces did come in handy for this project. i was able to use them as receivers in the vice while pressing together the large flex joints, and as press dies for the rubber bushings.

 

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a while back i also picked up a Harbor Freight 12-Ton Hydraulic Press on sale for something like $85. those Clevite bushings are a PITA even with the press, though it does certainly help.

 

bushings step 1: remove the center metal collar to relieve some of the pre-load. you can burn them out by putting a torch to them (it's quite stinky). or if you have a press, just push them out - which ends up with something like this:

 

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bushings step 2: using a large hammer and a punch or chisel, fold in the metal on the non-flanged end. this gives you something to press against to push the bushing out, and loosens it up a little.

 

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i usually also fold in 2 edges of the flanged end of the bushing to give me a bigger edge of the arm to rest on the press (so it doesn't want to slip sideways with 12-tons of pressure behind it later). in this photo the bushing is already out, but you can see what i mean:

 

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bushings step 3: press out the bushing. i used the parts form that ball joint press i mentioned as my press die. it takes a huge amount of pressure and the first "POP" is loud enough you might soil yourself - well at least if you're using a Harbor Freight press like i was and expecting it to explode at any moment!

 

alternatively, you can beat them out if they aren't rusted in - but it takes several hours of cursing and a sore arm. heating the outside of the arm with a torch might help.

 

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bushings step 4: i used a scotch-brite type pad to clean the rust off the inside of the arm, which helps the new bushing slide in nicely.

 

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bushings step 5: press in the new bushings. here again i used parts from the ball joint kit.

 

you could also just place a small section of 2x4 against the face of them and then beat them in with a mini sledge. don't pound directly on the bushing or you might end up mushrooming it before you get it all the way in.

 

the press really makes this part quick and easy.

 

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that's it! there's plenty of videos and writeups out there with more detail on all this, but these were the highlights i remembered.

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Looking good!

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Glad to see you get some use out of that press! ;) I didn't know you were doing the joint rebuilds. I have the large Johnny Joint tool now. I would have let you use it. I use my Harbor Freight ball joint tool for putting in my upper axle bushings. It hasn't failed yet.

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