How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

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BellePlaine
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How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by BellePlaine » Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:52 pm

It was my understanding that replacement Bay Window ball joints now-a-days are tight fitting and generally a major PITA to replace. It's also my understanding that one could extend the life of generally still-good ball joints by somehow replenishing the grease in the boots. One way is to tap Zerk fittings onto each ball joint, like this;

Image

You'll need a good variable speed drill, sharp drill bits ranging from 1/16" to 3/16", a punch, four straight 6mm X 12.8 mm Zerk fittings, thread tap for a 3/16th hole, a 6mm box wrench, and a hammer. Oh, and Gumout Carb Jet Spray, paper towels, and a shop vac. Oh, also, tools to remove the front brake caliper and the brake hose mounting clip. Sorry, I'm not certain if you have to remove anything special if you have front drum brakes but the idea is to give yourself room around the ball joints.

The first step is to remove the front brake calipers, or what have you. Carefully rest them so you don't piss off the brake lines too terribly. I set mine on small blocks of wood that I had lying around.

Then use the Gumout and paper towels to clean the tops of the ball joints. Find the center of the top of the ball joint, there will be a little divot. Use the punch and make an indentation in the center of the divot. Piece of cake.

Grab your 1/16" sharp drill bit and begin drilling into the top of the ball joint using the divot you made as a guide. Go slow and be sure to work your drill at an angle perpendicular to the plane of the ball joint top. Use spatial land marks to hold the drill straight. You are going to tip the drill toward the back of the car but also slightly inward as well.

Image

There are four ball joints to drill and the first one goes the slowest because you don't yet know how thick the steel is and you don't want to drill ball joint. Don't worry the cover is pretty thick but keep checking your work to see if the inside of your hole is all shinny silver metal or a black open space. Once you've broken through the cover it's time to get the shop vac out. Got a super sucker venturi attachment? If so, use it. Slowly walk the hole up to 3/16" vacuuming away the metal shards.

Take your 6 mm thread tap and make a few threads straight and neatly into the hole you just made. Good luck with that, especially on the lower joints where there is very little room to twist the tap using a handle. We made a set of chewed up ugly threads that served as starters to tap/twist/tap/twist/tap/twist the Zerk into the hole on the bottom joints. That is life. But the fittings hold tight so life's good. Note, and this is important, that you are not supposed use all of the threads available to you on the Zerk. See:
Image
When tap/twist/tap/twist become more difficult, stop there.

After the fittings are in the ball joints, take a small screwdriver and carefully pry the bottom of the boot out of its tucked-in home as you slowly pump fresh grease into the ball joint. It’s the spot where my pen is point to.

Image

We want to let out any schmuck and old grease and fill the boot with fresh grease. Be careful not to overfill the boot so it can't flex like it should. If your boot is old and cracked like mine and grease flows out of a small crack then put new boots on your shopping list and don’t worry.

Finish up all four ball joints the same way. Put everything back together and that’s about it. It’s suggested to get brake bleeder caps to put on the Zerks to protect them. I hope that this was helpful.
1975 Riviera we call "Spider-Man"

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satchmo
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by satchmo » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:25 pm

Excellent documentation and write-up. I'm going to nominate you for a "Chloe" (the award given for the year's best vw bus how-to article). :drunken:

Seriously, thank you.

Tim
By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest;
second, by immitation, which is easiest;
and third, by experience, which is bitterest. -Confucius

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BellePlaine
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by BellePlaine » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:32 pm

satchmo wrote:Excellent documentation and write-up. I'm going to nominate you for a "Chloe" (the award given for the year's best vw bus how-to article). :drunken:

Seriously, thank you.

Tim
Thank you.
1975 Riviera we call "Spider-Man"

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Bleyseng
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Bleyseng » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:23 am

Good write up as this is on my list of to do things. What grease should be used?
Geoff
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Amskeptic
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Amskeptic » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:15 am

Bleyseng wrote:Good write up as this is on my list of to do things. What grease should be used?
It is a "low shear" environment, but heavy impact loads. Any good grease should do.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 94,615 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,990 miles

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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Boxcar » Mon Jan 13, 2014 12:55 pm

nice inspiration BellePlaine!

just a thought?

its been long enough to basque in maintenance interval conclusion!?

Also who these days is good to source ball joint boots from?
I will look at Bus Depot.
1975 003 Auto Westy L90D

repair!!!!aug2015
Jan/16 Bumped mixture a few notches richer. finally developing HP.


1.8L/LJet/Pertron DVDA+PertronixCompufire 42/36Ham Heads/AA 93mm pistons/barrels.Porsc.Swiv.Adjusters/CromoSteel pushrds/ Web 9550Cam/55cc chmbr.,035 squish,8.6:1CR/German Supply VWCanadaReman Rods/Schadek 26mmPump/vdo dualOP8/10#low sender/Quart Deep Sump
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Amskeptic
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Amskeptic » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:21 pm

Boxcar wrote:nice inspiration BellePlaine!

just a thought?

its been long enough to basque in maintenance interval conclusion!?

Also who these days is good to source ball joint boots from?
I will look at Bus Depot.

Wolfsburg West, Corona CA. Try them for boots.

I have put over 80,000 miles on two VWs with this modification. Works fine.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 94,615 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,990 miles

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Happyfolk
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Happyfolk » Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:05 am

I just replaced all 4 torn ball joint boots and added grease zerks. My joints didn't have any play in them and from what I've read are probably better quality than any replacement joints available today. I replaced the lock nuts on the ball joints with new M18-1.5 nylon insert lock nuts (27mm wrench size).
I used a ball joint seperator tool from Harbor freight: https://www.harborfreight.com/3-4-quart ... 99849.html I've also used this tool in the past to replace my tie rods and drag link. It worked pretty good, but was a tough fit on the upper ball joints with the eccentric camber adjusting bushing in the way. I got it to work though, tightening it on the only way it would fit and then banging the joint with a hammer, tightening, banging, ... until it popped.
The big circlips at the tops of the boots were impossible to get on (ripped my only spare boot) so I used stainless wire instead and twisted the ends with a plier until snug. Seemed to work well.
I flushed out and filled the joints with Sta-Lube Moly-Graph grease, moving them around as I filled them so the grease would get distributed around them.
I feel a lot better about my ball joints! :compress:
79 CA FI Westy
Mexico Beige
"Sandy"

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Amskeptic
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Amskeptic » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:17 am

Happyfolk wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:05 am
I just replaced all 4 torn ball joint boots and added grease zerks.
The big circlips at the tops of the boots were impossible to get on (ripped my only spare boot) so I used stainless wire instead and twisted the ends with a plier until snug. Seemed to work well.

I feel a lot better about my ball joints! :compress:

Good for you! I was leery of steel wire, envisioning the wire sawing through the rubber each time the wheels turned for a corner, so I used some pretty cheapy plastic wire ties on Chloe, daisychained together, and they have hung on since 2012. Then again, NaranjaWesty's original boots are hanging tough at 41 years and 87,000 miles, and the BobD's original boots are hanging tough at 40 years and 110,000+ miles. I hope yours have a long life.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 94,615 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,990 miles

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Happyfolk
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Happyfolk » Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:18 pm

Before adding the zerks and greasing the ball joints there were creaks when I hit bumps in the road. Now the creaks are gone and the ride feels much smoother. I didn’t know where the creaks were coming from or that lubing the ball joints would get rid of them but now the bus feels like it is gliding down the road!
79 CA FI Westy
Mexico Beige
"Sandy"

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asiab3
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by asiab3 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:17 am

I am of the mindset that the ball joints should be greased with the wheels off the ground, much like the front beam... Any reasons why we should do otherwise? I personally think the joint is shoved upward in its socket with the wheels on the ground, and lifting the wheels will allow the grease to surround the ball joint itself better...

Robbie
1969 bus, "Buddy."
100k miles with me.
279k miles on Earth.

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Amskeptic
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Amskeptic » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:02 am

asiab3 wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:17 am
I am of the mindset that the ball joints should be greased with the wheels off the ground, much like the front beam... Any reasons why we should do otherwise? I personally think the joint is shoved upward in its socket with the wheels on the ground, and lifting the wheels will allow the grease to surround the ball joint itself better...

Robbie
Absolutely off the ground yes.
Naranja gets zerks when I get a chance. The northeast really did a number on my poor car.
Colin
BobD - 1978 Bus . . . . . . . . . . .111,130 miles
Chloe - 1970 bus . . . . . . . . . . . 206,787 miles
Naranja - 1977 Westfalia . . . . . 94,615 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . 55,510 miles
Alexus - 1991 Lexus LS400 . . . 72,990 miles

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Happyfolk
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Re: How To Tap Zerk Fittings in Bay Window Ball Joints

Post by Happyfolk » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:06 am

asiab3 wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:17 am
I am of the mindset that the ball joints should be greased with the wheels off the ground, much like the front beam... Any reasons why we should do otherwise? I personally think the joint is shoved upward in its socket with the wheels on the ground, and lifting the wheels will allow the grease to surround the ball joint itself better...

Robbie
I greased mine when I had the ball joints removed from the steering knuckles to replace the boots. So there was no weight on them and I could move them around by hand as I added grease to spread it around.
79 CA FI Westy
Mexico Beige
"Sandy"

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