Sunday, January 18, 2009

Control and Thrust Arms

Yesterday I decided to go ahead and put the Control and Thrust arms on the 95 BMW. Since I had done them on the 93 BMW a few months back, I figured it would take me a couple of hours.

There really isn't much to it. I followed the Bentley manual since I hadn't done it for a few months. When I replaced the arms on the 93, I had also removed the struts which made it a longer job. To replace the arms you don't have to remove the struts, you just have to remove the steering plate off of the bottom of the strut housing. Just three bolts for that. I loosened up the through bolts on the ends of the arms that attach to the undercarriage so I could move the arms around a little easier when I was trying to remove the ball joints from the steering plate.

I had purchased a universal ball joint removal tool a couple of months back when I bought some other tools. Here is a picture of the tool I used:

It seemed big and bulky enough to do the job easily. Once I had the steering plate free, I was able to access the ball joints. I was working on the drivers side first and chose to remove the Thrust arm ball joint first.

I installed the tool and started tightening the arm of the tool. I tightened and tightened, but nothing. I tried loosening up the tool, but it felt like it was binding. I ended up using my impact wrench to loosen it. Once I got it off of there, it looked like the threads on the bolt had stretched, they seemed farther apart than they should have. I lubed them with a small amount of grease and tried it again, no luck. I got my propane torch out and heated up the steering plate around the ball joint (that is the way I ended up getting the ones off of the 93). I went back to my pickle fork ball joint remover. After beating on it for what seemed like forever, all I did was bottom out the pickle fork, still didn't release the ball joint. I sprayed some penetrating oil on the stuck ball joint and went to work on the Control arm ball joint. I heated it up first, pounded the pickle fork in and it came right out.

I went back to the Thrust arm, pounded the pickle fork in several more times, heating it up each time, and nothing. My arms were starting to cramp up from swinging the mallet so much. I finally decided to take off the tie rod end that attaches to the steering plate (there are three ball joints on the steering plate, the Thrust and Control arms and tie rod end). I used the special tool I had purchased on it since the Tie Rod end ball joint wasn't damaged at all. The ball joints for the tie rods are quite a bit smaller than the arms. I put the tool on it and tightened it up and "pop" it was off. I was able to remove the steering plate along with the entire Thrust arm still attached. I took it over to my work bench, put it in my vice, heated it up again and then hit the ball joint bolt about 10 times before it popped out.

At this point, I was about three hours into a job I thought would take maybe two to three and I hadn't even finished one side yet.

Reassembly went quick, no problems. I started on the other side and it went like the other did. The Control arm ball joint came off quickly, but the Thrust arm was a Bear. I didn't spend as much time on this side before I removed the Tie Rod end from the steering plate. Took everything over to my work bench and this one came out much easier than the other.

Reassembly went a little slower on this side. I had some trouble lining the steering plate back up with the bottom of the strut, but it finally went back together. I followed the Bentley manual and tightened everything back up to specs, even got the right amount of weight in the car before I torqued the through bolts on all of the arms.

The entire job took me about 5 hours. I was pooped when I finished. I cleaned up the garage, went and took a shower and then went out for a test drive. Drives much better now. It felt a bit sloppy in some turns before and you could feel it sort of shift forward when you would come to a stop. That's all gone, a much more solid ride.

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