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Old 08-01-2011, 11:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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DIY: Front end rebuild, Control arm bushings (With Pics)

Well, my truck has been eating front tires slowly over the last few years, but in the last few months it went from "slowly eating tires" to "Chewing them up and spitting them up in my driveway".

The passenger side has been the worst for about a year. Rather than fixing it, I simply rotated the tires on the front, which of course (duh!) eventually ruined both of them.

I knew the front end was getting loose (sloppy steering) but I also knew that my upper control arm bushings were screwed.

So, once again with the help of fellow DP member Racer55 (and his most excellent shop with a hoist!) we set forth to rebuild my front end today.

First things first, breakfast.



New parts all laid out - upper and lower ball joints, upper and lower front and rear control arm bushings, one new shock to replace the smashed/wrecked one in the passenger side tower.



So, some pictures of my tires, and how they were sitting on the truck. The one ton truck with the 6.5, coupled with the fact that my truck spends a LOT of miles with a trailer behind it has played havok with the front end. It's pretty clear (if you look at the angles of the tires) why they're worn they way they are.







On the hoist, and starting to tear down.



One of the worn (but not the worst) upper control arm bushing before removal:



After removal:



You can see some of the wear/slop in this one:



Control arm now removed from the passenger side as well. Notice the Diamond Eye turbo downpipe in the background.



These are the eccentric washers/bolts that hold the control arm bushings in place and are used during alignment to adjust caster/camber.



So, when we pulled the passenger side control arm off the major culprit of my tire wear issue was evident. This one was TOTALLY screwed:

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Mark - Courtice, Ontario, Canada.
'97 C3500 Crew Cab Long Box Dually 6.5 Turbo Diesel.
Rebuilt with Navistar 506 block spring 2012
Special thanks to Racer55 and WhiteK2500 for their invaluable assistance!
Commercial OTR Driver Since '95

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Old 08-01-2011, 11:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So, we set forth removing the old bushings from the control arms. Initially we tried to use Steves press to push them out but it turned out to be more challenging than initially thought. On a few we ended up just getting the rubber part of the bushing pushed out, but the metal part was still solidly in place. We then turned to the oxy-acetylene torches and quickly made short work of the bushings - a quick cut through the metal ring, and a bit of pounding with the hammer, and we had this:



The metal bushing ring after cutting and removal:



The rubber inside the bushings were in pretty rough shape in a few of the bushings, as expected.



Empty control arm:



So, time to press in the new bushings. Key word, "Press". This little critter made the job exponentially easier. A well equipped shop is essential for this sort of work.



So, here's the new bushings. After much discussion with several parts outlets I was told that there was two "separate" bushings - one 41 millimeters, and one 43 millimetres. (IIRC, forget the exact mm measurements, but there was supposedly a difference.)

We went at the them with the micrometer and couldn't find any meaningfull difference between the two, but upon installation we did discover that one seemed to fit differently than the other, and at one point we had to remove one we had installed and flip it to the other end in order to get the bushings to fit right. They are not marked, and although we couldn't seem to see any major difference between the two, there seemed to be a difference *somewhere* that effected the fit. Weird. They sure look the same.



Another view of my poor tires once they were off the truck:



So, Steve took a buffing wheel and buffed out the inside edges of the control arms in preparation for the new bushings to be pressed in.



I don't think I actually got any pics of the control arms with the new bushings in place. They went in fairly easily, although one *seemed* to fit rather lopsided, but after more discussion we agreed it must have just been an optical illusion. We also discovered that the front bushings must not be seated right to the flare otherwise the rear bushing is located too far forward to fit properly. We actually had to "reverse" the installation on the first arm we installed the new bushings in as we had pressed the bushing in too far and the arm wouldn't fit properly back into the frame mounts.

A press was essential. Trying to do this with a hammer or anything else would have resulted in damage to the new bushing, or at the very least, a lot of frustration and time spent hammering away. The press literally turned it into a few seconds per bushing once we got everything lined and and prepared on the press.

So, starting to piece things back together. You'll see that we also have the new upper ball joint in place in this pic as well:



So, if you do this job, here's something VERY important. From the factory, the upper control arm bushing mounts have punch-outs that were in place. When brand new very little adjustment was necessary to align the front end, so these blocks limited adjustment travel. As the truck ages more adjustment is necessary so these "nubs" are designed to be knocked out. BE SURE TO REMOVE THEM! We almost forgot.



You can see one of the (two) knockouts punched out and nearly ready to fall off in these two pics:



So, the job progressed. The new control arm bushings went into place with a little persuasion from the press, and some adjustments. They fit back into place on the frame and we bolted them up.

I had purchased upper and lower ball joints as well as the lower control arm bushings, just in case. Turned out the lower ball joints and lower control arm bushings were OK. Whew! Parts going back, money saved, and a LOT of labor saved - the lower control arm bushings are exponentially more work versus the upper.

However, when we started to eyeball the rest of the front end we quickly discovered the pittman arm and one tie rod end were also screwed. A quick trip to the parts store (which amazingly was open, despite it being a holiday today!) and we got back to the job after a quick beverage stop. New pittman arm and tie rod end in place. Lots of shiny new parts in these pics!



The new shock on the passenger side is in place above, as well. The old one had actually broken loose at the top, had fallen down inside the strut, and had been crushed. In hindsight I should have replaced the drivers side as well since it appears to be rough as well. Oh well, another time - they're easy to do.
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Mark - Courtice, Ontario, Canada.
'97 C3500 Crew Cab Long Box Dually 6.5 Turbo Diesel.
Rebuilt with Navistar 506 block spring 2012
Special thanks to Racer55 and WhiteK2500 for their invaluable assistance!
Commercial OTR Driver Since '95

Find my list of reference information HERE
New members, please introduce yourself HERE
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Drivers side. Fewer shiny parts here, just the new control arm bushings and upper ball joint.



New pittman arm:



Closeup of new ball joint on P/S.



We had some problems getting the pittman arm off since we couldn't get it low enough to remove from the splines on the power steering pump. We ended up taking an "idler" (there's probably some technical name for it) off the passenger side frame which allowed us to lower the whole steering arm down enough (while the tie rod end was still disconnected on the passenger side) to get the old pittman arm off, and the new one on.

Here's the idler we removed. The bolts through the P/S frame:



This was a MESSY part of the job since a lot of the old oil and crud from my old leaking oil cooler lines was still firmly in place on everything in this area. No more leaks (Lubrication Specialist kit now installed) but the crud was still there.

So, piecing it back together, and we had to take an "Eat your heart out" photo of Racer55's hoist. Absolutely amazing piece of equipment to have in a home shop, and it made a job like this SO much easier. We didn't end up on our backs on creepers (or the cold cement floor) once. :-)



Giving everything else a cursory glance while under here. Driveshaft carrier bearing starting to show some wear as well.



The greasy side is up! (Good overview of the Diamond Eye 4" exhaust in this pic, as well!)



So, get it all buttoned back together, torque everything...stop for beverages...finish re assembling everything, clean up, and we're done!

The results:





There's still a tiny bit of negative camber in the passenger side wheel, but now this is a result of a very rough rebuild - Steve doesn't have an alignment rack, but almost everything else! I'll have it in for two new tires and an alignment on Wednesday- in the meantime, we just eyeballed everything, including the tie rod end. Other than a pull to the right, it actually drives better now than it has since I've owned it. I'm confident that it'll align perfectly this time, unlike last time when I was told "You're upper control arm bushings are screwed, we can't get it aligned 100%".

Once again, a huge thanks to Steve / Racer55 here at DP for his help, expertise, and the use of his most excellent shop. I can't begin to explain how much better this was versus spending two days in my driveway cursing and swearing and trying to do this job without all the proper shop equipment. The alternative would have been about a $1000 bill from a shop. Suffice to say, we did the job for less than a third of that.

It'll be nice to have a 6.5 that goes straight again, doesn't wander, doesn't eat tires, and only needs one finger on the steering wheel once it's aligned!
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Mark - Courtice, Ontario, Canada.
'97 C3500 Crew Cab Long Box Dually 6.5 Turbo Diesel.
Rebuilt with Navistar 506 block spring 2012
Special thanks to Racer55 and WhiteK2500 for their invaluable assistance!
Commercial OTR Driver Since '95

Find my list of reference information HERE
New members, please introduce yourself HERE
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
lost with out spark plugs
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Can I sue for being bilnded by who ever was in the pic standing near the rear axle. Of he had a hat on I wouldn't have had to tell a friend what to type here.


Once again nice shop. Mine isnt at my house but my stuff at a friends place. And I am thinking there will be a hoist withen a year. Buy in the mean time I am still sturbern enough to pull off any thing with jacks and stands. I just droped the engine out of a pontiac van . Seeing that it comes out the bottom I would loved to have a hoist. But to stuburn to turn down money.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Just a tip here Mark. The carrier bearing will go form slight play to total failure really fast.

Mine had a slight bit of play when i started my 1,100 mile round trip a few summers back. Figured i'd change it when i got home. Even had the part in the garage. On the final ~200 mile leg of the trip home the carrier bearing went bang at 70 mph.

By time i was able to pull over there was an inch of slop between what used to be the inner and outer carrier bearing races. No bearings to be found.

That was one expensive tow home.

Change the carrier bearing ASAP. Don't wait like I did, because the carrier bearing won't wait. It'll fail when your in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:22 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The carrier bearing degradation so far is mainly in the rubber support,no noticeable slop in the bearing itself yet but the rubber area is getting spongy.

BTW lost with out spark plugs-grass don't grow on a busy street,and it's been too hot for a toque around here these days!
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by racer55 View Post
The carrier bearing degradation so far is mainly in the rubber support,no noticeable slop in the bearing itself yet but the rubber area is getting spongy.

BTW lost with out spark plugs-grass don't grow on a busy street,and it's been too hot for a toque around here these days!
Sorry just pulling a chain which you got. Sorry I don't understand your chain pull.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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OT:but here's a good display of a toque(winter wool hat) often worn in the Great White North:
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:06 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I don't know what I'm more envious of, the nice lift or your lack of CV axles and torsion bars.

I love the way a truck feels after a fresh front end rebuild. Was night and day when I did mine a few months ago.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well documented day in the grease Mark.
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