[Vwdiesel] Ball Joint Conquered

Val Christian val at swamps.roc.ny.us
Fri May 9 22:00:34 EDT 2003


Last week, I posted a plea for help on a ball joint.  Ideas flowed, and
today I got a chance to go after the balljoint.  By way of explaination,
I'm doing the strut cartridges, and the brakes, before I tackle a
block problem.

-sway bar didn't appear to be problem with control arm movement.  Actually,
the swaybar bushing might be a little worn.  Disconnected it.  No luck.

-PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench, and other penetrants have been applied for
the last week.  Put some more on.  Hammered.

-beat on the knuckle clamp gap with a cold chisel, using it as a wedge to
open things up.

-With shields up, I applied heat to the balljoint and knuckle clamp fitting.
Stuck the torch tip right into the knuckle clamp and heated.  Several times, no

-used more penetrating potions.  Remember, the joint has soaked in penetrant
for one week.

-tried lifting the car up, by a tire iron, using leverage to pull the
knuckle clamp off the ball joint.  Allot of messing around, some hammering.
No luck.

-torched things again.  Did more prying.  No luck.

-stuck cold chisel on air hammer into knuckle clamp.  Buzzed for a while,
then tried prying things apart.  No luck.

-more penetrant.  Ate lunch.

-stuck tire iron into steering knuckle clamp.  Tried prying to open things
up more.  No luck.

-got "drag link" socket, mounted into 18" breaker bar.  Wedged into clamp
and applied force (FWIW, I'm 76" tall and weight about 265#).  Drag link
socket got munged (well, really bent to pieces).  Put jack tension on
the old tire iron again, and beat with a 3# hammer.  Knuckle starts
slowly sliding off the ball joint.  Since it's moving, I decided to not
apply harder hits.  I really don't want to hurt the ball joint.
A hundred or two hits later, the knuckle is off.

So, the people who suggested wedging a screwdriver or some wedge into the
clamp on the knuckle, were the ones who appear to have won the prize!
Except a simple wedge, like a cold chisel, was inadequate.  I haven't
used the drag link sockets often, but when I do, I usually damage them.
This was the case today.

So, I got everything far enough apart, so that I could replace the
strut cartridge.  Needed the torch several more times.  Most notable,
I found that the strut cartridge had collapsed internally, and the
walls of the cartridge looked like they had been pinched in a giant
pliers.  Later, I tested the strut for range of motion, and found it
to be generally good through its whole travel.  Perplexing.

Thanks again to all who mailed in their helpful hints.


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