Ball Joint Going?

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vwlover77
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Ball Joint Going?

Post by vwlover77 » Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:27 pm

There is an intersection with a high crown near my house. At the "launch" point of crossing it, I hear a mild "clunk" from the front suspension, which seems to come from the passenger side. I always assumed it was the torsion arm hitting the bump stop, but tonight I crawled under and examined the ball joint boots.

The passenger side upper joint boot has torn partly away at the bottom and grease is coming out.

Is it likely this joint is the sound of the "clunk"?

Steering and ride seems fine otherwise....
Don

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78 Westy
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Amskeptic
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Re: Ball Joint Going?

Post by Amskeptic » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:07 pm

vwlover77 wrote:There is an intersection with a high crown near my house. At the "launch" point of crossing it, I hear a mild "clunk" from the front suspension, which seems to come from the passenger side. I always assumed it was the torsion arm hitting the bump stop, but tonight I crawled under and examined the ball joint boots.

The passenger side upper joint boot has torn partly away at the bottom and grease is coming out.

Is it likely this joint is the sound of the "clunk"?

Steering and ride seems fine otherwise....
Potholes and other rapid down movements are the usual triggers for a ball joint clonk. Shock absorber bushings can squirt out of the shock eye and give you an acceptable appearance when in fact there is metal to metal contact between the stud and the shock.

I lived happily with ball joint clonks for a couple of decades before I replaced the ball joints to forever ruin the feel of the car. I did keep a grease "plug" between the environment and the ball joint'w working surfaces. The Bentley procedure is the only way to truly test ball joint wear, there is a lot of preload between the torsion arms.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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vwlover77
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Post by vwlover77 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:48 pm

The crown on this intersection definitely results in a rapid down movement of the wheel!

So, it sounds like it could be a good long while until this becomes a safety issue. True?

What is the best way to protect the joint with the boot torn? I think the good news is that the tear is on the bottom, and facing the rear of the Bus. Hopefully that means that water will not be driven into the joint by driving in the rain, and what water does enter can drain out.

Is it worth trying to install a zerk fitting on the top of the joint to allow the grease to be purged occasionally?
Don

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78 Westy
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"When we let our compassion go, we let go of whatever claim we have to the divine." - Bruce Springsteen

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Post by ruckman101 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:43 pm

Smear a gob of axle grease onto the hole to keep the water and dust out.


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Amskeptic
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Post by Amskeptic » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:10 pm

vwlover77 wrote:Is it worth trying to install a zerk fitting on the top of the joint to allow the grease to be purged occasionally?
Yep. That's what I wouldcouldashoulda done in 1980.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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vwlover77
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Post by vwlover77 » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:09 pm

The grease is smeared over the hole and I'll put the zerk fitting install on my to-do list.

Thanks!
Don

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78 Westy
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"When we let our compassion go, we let go of whatever claim we have to the divine." - Bruce Springsteen

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Manfred
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Post by Manfred » Wed Sep 30, 2009 8:25 am

vwlover77 wrote:The grease is smeared over the hole and I'll put the zerk fitting install on my to-do list.

Thanks!
Did this work? I have a torn boot on my upper ball joint passenger side. I was planning on replacing my ball joints until I just learned what a labor intensive job it is. Nothing seems to be wrong with them. I'm not getting any noise at all, but the torn boot has me concerned.
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Post by Amskeptic » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:30 am

Manfred wrote: Nothing seems to be wrong with them. I'm not getting any noise at all, but the torn boot has me concerned.
Glob the interior of the boot to the hole-opening with grease as you decide your course of action. Be tidy.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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vwlover77
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Post by vwlover77 » Sat May 08, 2010 8:05 pm

OK, I put a zerk on my ball joint today, but I have a sinking feeling that I did something really wrong.

I expected that when I got through the cap , I would feel it. But I didn't, and I kept drilling thinking that the cap must actually be a solid metal plug. I drilled deep enough to tap the resulting hole and install a zerk fitting, which threaded in until it was flush with the cap.

I was able to pump grease into the joint and purge out grease through the torn boot.

But I'm wondering now what exactly I've drilled and tapped into. I don't think it could be the ball itself, as that has to be hardened steel that my bit would not have cut into very easily. I had no trouble with the drilling.

Is the "cap" actually a "plug", or have I drilled into a ball "seat"? There was no drama when I put the wheel back on and lowered the jack, and no drama turning the steering wheel. But I haven't driven the Bus yet.

Have I ruined the joint? :pale:
Don

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78 Westy
71 Super Beetle Convertible Autostick

"When we let our compassion go, we let go of whatever claim we have to the divine." - Bruce Springsteen

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Post by Amskeptic » Sun May 09, 2010 8:32 pm

vwlover77 wrote:OK, I put a zerk on my ball joint today, but I have a sinking feeling that I did something really wrong.

I expected that when I got through the cap , I would feel it. But I didn't, and I kept drilling thinking that the cap must actually be a solid metal plug. I drilled deep enough to tap the resulting hole and install a zerk fitting, which threaded in until it was flush with the cap.

I was able to pump grease into the joint and purge out grease through the torn boot.

But I'm wondering now what exactly I've drilled and tapped into. I don't think it could be the ball itself, as that has to be hardened steel that my bit would not have cut into very easily. I had no trouble with the drilling.

Is the "cap" actually a "plug", or have I drilled into a ball "seat"? There was no drama when I put the wheel back on and lowered the jack, and no drama turning the steering wheel. But I haven't driven the Bus yet.

Have I ruined the joint? :pale:
You hit the plastic socket, the equivalent to cartilage in your hip. Even if you dimple the ball with a drill, it is no big deal. Did you use 6mm zerks?

I am going to do the BobD before it gets worn out. I want those original ball joints to last, yes I do.
Colin
BobD - 78 Bus . . . 112,660 miles
Chloe - 70 bus . . . 206,845 miles
Naranja - 77 Westy . . . 121,400 miles
Pluck - 1973 Squareback . . . . . . 55,570 miles
Alexus - 91 Lexus LS400 . . . 92,435 miles

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chitwnvw
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Post by chitwnvw » Sun May 09, 2010 9:56 pm

This is good info, gentlemen. Thank you.

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vwlover77
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Post by vwlover77 » Mon May 10, 2010 4:46 am

That's a relief. When I looked in the hole after drilling, it appeared that everything I had cut was steel. The chips indicated that as well.

I'm wondering if the socket is mild steel instead of plastic? I found this photo on that "other site" that may support that conclusion.

I used 8mm x 5/8" overall length zerks that I picked up at the local NAPA.

I drove the car yesterday and it seems perfectly fine.

Image
Don

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78 Westy
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"When we let our compassion go, we let go of whatever claim we have to the divine." - Bruce Springsteen

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Westy78
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Post by Westy78 » Mon May 10, 2010 7:12 am

So where exactly is it that you're installing the zerk? Is this something that needs to be tapped after drilling or does the zerk have a press in fit? Could be a good preventative for risking crappy new joints.
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hambone
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Post by hambone » Mon May 10, 2010 7:34 am

Why didn't they come with zircs already installed? Seems like a maintenance point. Too late to worry I guess.
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vwlover77
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Post by vwlover77 » Mon May 10, 2010 7:41 am

I've installed the zerk on top of the joint. There's an indentation on the cap right in the center that I drilled into.

The early joints had a plastic plug that could be removed to thread in a zerk fitting. The later joints eliminated this.

The joints are supposed to be lubed for life, but if the rubber boot tears, there is a problem. That's what happened to mine. I don't think you'd want to install the zerk unless the boot is torn. Otherwise, there is nowhere for the purged grease to go.

The zerks I bought had M8x1 threads, so I tapped the hole accordingly.
Don

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78 Westy
71 Super Beetle Convertible Autostick

"When we let our compassion go, we let go of whatever claim we have to the divine." - Bruce Springsteen

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