1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

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1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by rrb6699 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:17 am

I am looking at my front end. what I notice are suspect control arms and ball joints. I'm drriving this daily but since the suspension and bushings are original, its time to replace it all. my question is do the rack assemblies come with matched sway bars, control arms, ball joints, tie rods plus ends and all bushings?

the current setup has no shimmy or super beetle shake at any speed. I guess the beetle in this year had a stable steering. what I notice on youtube is no front ends look like mine in the videos.

how much can I get pre assembled or matched or will some of the bars and rack be ok still as long as I replace the ball joints, control arms, tie rod ends, etc....?

my sway bar is a rather thin looking bar that follows the rack and is attached by clasp clamps to the control arms on each end.

right now a ball joint failure at road speed is not something I want to experience.

since this is a German Bug, what parts do you recommend I get and will the new ones exceed stress tolerances over the originals?

I cant submit pics bcause there are too many hoops to jump thru on this site. I tried the lowest 640x480 resolution and it still says file too large. the site needs to at least accept this resolution of photo file.

thx,
RR

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by Piledriver » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:51 pm

125kb jpeg or png, 800x600 85% quality jpeg always works for me.
I think it can be up to 1000x1000 now, but that's an odd size, I use 800x600.

The 71/72 (1302) was the most prone to the shakes, if yours doesn't, that means you have straight wheels and decent tires.

The better (`73+) 1303 suspension bolts on a 1302.

Getting an idler arm bushing that fit was the only issue I ran into fixing my sons 71 to original condition, but I have modded a spare pair of the forged early lower arms to take Rabbit ball joints for an upgrade to 944 bits.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by rrb6699 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:25 pm

yea, I've had this bug up to 90 looking for shakes and shimmys but nothing. I dont want to change the control arms, ball joints and tie rod ends to find I've messed that up. if I change all these do you think leaving the rack intact and changing whatever bushings I can will be sufficient?
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by rrb6699 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:28 pm

oh I've tried every image size my cam can capture and it still says too large.

I have to edit it down to 100 x 100 to upload and dont always have time to do all that
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by Marc » Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:16 pm

Open a free account at a picture-hosting site like Photobucket.com - from there you can share the links to your pictures. If you include the IMG and /IMG tags before and after the link, and the picture is too big to display directly here you'll see a warning to that effect when you click "Submit"; delete those tags and leave just the url of the link, people can click on that to see your picture.

Is this a Standard Beetle or a Super Beetle? Looks more like the former in your avatar.
rrb6699 wrote:I am looking at my front end...what I notice on youtube is no front ends look like mine in the videos....my sway bar is a rather thin looking bar that follows the rack and is attached by clasp clamps to the control arms on each end.
You've referred repeatedly to "the rack". Rack & pinion steering came on `75-up Supers but never on any Standard or earlier Super, which leads me to believe that you have a Standard and the word you're looking for is "beam".

Standard front beams are seldom replaced as a unit unless you're buying a "narrowed" assembly; they can usually be freshened-up in place by replacing worn balljoints and steering components - and can be in positively suicidal condition without exhibiting the "shakes" that Supers are infamous for having when only the slightest problem is present.

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by rrb6699 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:29 pm

ok I will call it a beam. it's a standard beetle, but, it has some features of the super like larger tail lights, etc... mfr date was late 1971 on the trunk placard.

I called it a rack bcause of all the components that attach to it. the top ends of both sides are the top of each shock mount .

glad to hear that beam doesnt go bad really. I'll try to send some pics soon of the front end.

is there a clear multi- angle view of the front end suspension and steering components for my exact car? I keep looking thru pages and pages of diagrams but still havent found one that matches. I'd guess this Beetle was made at a very specific interval between the Beetle and Super.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by Ol'fogasaurus » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:58 pm

Image

This is a picture of a ball-joint beam on a '71 pan (ignore the body lift). Is this what you have?

(overly simplified) BJs are fairly easy to check: jack the front of the car up and put on stands or blocks. You want the front end off the ground high enough that you can put a board or something underneath so you can lift up on the tire (if the tire is off... the brake drum or spindle). The should be no slack or movement in either of the BJs when you lift up; e.g., the trailing arms should go up immediately as you lift. This means that the ball joint should be tight in its pivot mount on trailing arm that is connected to the spindle. If the boots are split or leaking you need to inspect them as they can be replaced but it gives you a better look at the condition of the BJ itself.

Wiggle the tires from side to side to check the wheel bearings, tie-rods and Pittman arm. No slack anywhere!

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by Marc » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:05 pm

Supers and Standards are virtually identical, year-for-year, once you get back past the windshield and dash - and on the earlier "1302" `71/`72 Supers even those are like the Standards.
There's no such thing as a "Super Beetle" engine, or transmission, or taillight, etc., etc... It's sloppy shorthand for a dualport engine since those debuted in `71 along with the Super Beetle, but the same engine was used in the Standard. It's completely meaningless when applied to other components like transaxle & taillights. Just remember, same cars mechanically, year-for-year, except for the front suspension design. When it comes to FRONT body parts (and in the case of the `73-up "1303" Super, the windshield and dashboard as well) it's correct to differentiate between Super & Standard, but the rest of the body's the same. Standards were produced through 1978 in Germany (although the last ones we got here were `78s) and Supers ran from `71 through `75, with the Super Convertible hanging on until the last "1979" one was made in January of 1980. All Convertibles `71-up are based on the Super, before that they were based on the Standard - so you see, there's really no "cusp" between Standard & Super, they were made side by side.


The balljoint-type beam in your car debuted for the 1966 model year. They went from 5x205mm lugbolt pattern to 4x130mm for 1968 (US market) and in March of `68 some components were made a little beefier, but essentially your entire beam assembly is the same as mid`68 thru `77, and the major pieces (the bare beam, torsion bars, control arms, and steering box) will interchange all the way back to `66.

http://chircoestore.com/tech_articles/?p=231

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by rrb6699 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:12 pm

oh I just did that. the bottom driver side looks to seperate at any time. all the bushings and boots are original. I just want to make sure I replace the upper and lowers on each side plus any steering bushings I can while I'm doing this. any bump stops and even though the shocks look fairly new it looks like for whatever reason they didn't replace those bushings top & bottom.

does the sway bar run in fron of that and clasp to the lower arms like mine?

looks like mine does. I have the fromt wheels off and its in the air now on blocks under the beam.

I guess I'll be ready to start disassembly.
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by SC3283 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:21 pm

all the ball joints are replaceable...bottoms are the same side to side...tops are the same side to side..bottoms and tops are different
the sway bar you describe sounds stock...there are 2 bushings per side and 2 clamps per side to mount the sway bar to the lower arms
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by Marc » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:14 am

Balljoints can be replaced with the control arms still installed in the beam with the right tools, but most folks pull the arms and take them to a press for the job. That gives you the opportunity to inspect the arms where they ride in the bearings & bushings inside the beam tube, a good indicator of their condition. If you don't see anything too nasty on the control arm contact areas, just hit them with some polishing cloth and reinstall/lubricate. If they're heavily scored at the inboard bushing or brinelled where they ride in the outer bearing, the plot thickens (let's not worry about that for now, unless the beam is bent that's rarely an issue).

The arms have little notches (chisel marks, really) that show where the big notches in the rim of the balljoint go - be sure to observe that when pressing in the new ones, if not aligned correctly they'll cause the suspension to bind and they'll fail prematurely.

Removing/installing the stock swaybar clamps is a little tricky. A BIG pair of ChannelLock pliers is a huge help here. There are aftermarket screw-clamps that make the job easier, but unless there's a big rust problem the stock ones can normally be reused at least once or twice.

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by Ol'fogasaurus » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:54 am

viewtopic.php?f=28&t=136514&start=60

If you look at pages 5, 6 and 7 you will get an idea of playing with Ball-joints. This is an off-road type I ball-joint beam build (and in this case uses Thing [type 181] components on a type I beam) but it does show the notches on the trailing arms that Marc talked about and it shows the ball-joints being pressed in place.

This 0ff-road beam build does not use a sway bar but what you described is how the sway bar is attached.

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by rrb6699 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:58 am

ok I'll look at that. got bowling league this morning. my hunch is the control arms are not having problems and I have kept them greased since I got the car. but, if I were to remove them how do I do it? is there an allen nut somewhere on each.

Well, you gotta hear this. I went to move the driver side suspension up and down and the ball joint lower driver side popped apart. the ball part is on the wheel mount just sitting there. I cant pop it out even though I removed the nut. I tapped up on it but it doesnt budge. dont want to break the mount.

the bottom shock mount is off so shock just hanging. what all should I order? are there kits for ball joints and bushing kits for siuspension and steering you guys recommend with all the bushings or do I have to build a list ? what special tools do I need.you mention now that the ball of the ball joint is stuck in that mount? will the same tool work for all the ball joints?

I'm thinking all steering bushings, suspension bushings, upper/lower ball joints right and left sides. anything else a wise thing to replace while I'm doing all this?

tia,
RR

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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by SC3283 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:27 am

A Bentley repair manual will be your most valuable and used tool for your bug
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Re: 1972 Beetle - Want Advice on Replacing Front Suspension/Steering Linkages

Post by Piledriver » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:11 pm

Whevever I get a "new" (to me) car it ~always needs 4 tie rod ends, 4 flex brake lines, usually all new brakes, including the blue lines to the reservoir, a new factory steering coupler, ball joints if needed, and a new steering damper.

Look at the front wheel bearings/seals and speedo cable and both grommets too while you are there.

The ball joints aren't coming out without the right tools, like a 20 ton press.
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