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

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

Post by Ol'fogasaurus » Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:58 am

I'm going to jump ahead on you on this but on your last post you talked about the rear being down a bit. There are many ways of raising the back up a bit... to a lot; not all of them are as good as they could be but the correct way is to add a bit of/reset the rear torsion bars' preload.

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

Post by Marc » Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:16 pm

rrb6699 wrote:...shims are probably what I'd do in that case. how many would be necessary? just a couple?
One pair of the common ~6mm/¼" thick caster shims should be all you'll need. Look at the back side of the frame head (ahead of the master cylinder) and see how far the lower beam attachment bolts protrude past the threads in the head - if it's less than ¼" now you should also pick up two longer bolts.
Note that doing this slightly changes the alignment of the steering box input shaft with the column, forcing the rag joint to flex more as the car is steered. To correct, loosen the bolts holding the box to the beam and realign it...you may find it necessary to remove the clamp half and file the locating notch out slightly. The clamp is made to work on Beetles and `Ghias which have a more-horizontal column, by flipping it 180° - if you remove it, pay attention to the way it came off. They're stamped "13>" and "<14" ...for Beetle the 13> points to the front of the car.

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

Post by rrb6699 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:41 pm

ok thanks for THAT. great info.

I finally got my ball joints out. let me say this. I'd rather do ones that popped out than intact BJs. if I did a youtube video of how I removed my lower ball joints I think it would border on comedic as each one came out a different way.

I popped the driver side out on the vehicle using the harbor freight tool and the AutoZone loaner.. I pushed the HF tool till I think it is gonna strip threads, then knock on the top of it's lever to finish the job. worked great on the spindle. if the had a tool that opened as this one closes they'd have BJs, tie rod ends all covered in two tools.

on the passenger side, I could not separate the right joint the same way the driver side lower did. so I popped it off the spindle first (hf tool). well that move required me to take off the control arm since the AutoZone tool didn't have a collette long enough. I had no leverage on the car.

Next I have no vise strong enough for the job, so on my bench vise I had my gf pull a 4' cheater bar while I held the control arm and AutoZone tool in the vise. after it got very tight I noticed the tool was bent from some previous user and with no apparent visible progress, I pulled it off the vise and saw we had moved the BJ some.

so decided to punch it out. but, the ball joint was still intact. so I get a high speed drill and metal bit. I drilled out the sides of the BJ carefully and that spun the ball inside the joint fitting while it ground down the ball inside enough to finally pop it out with a sledge.

then used a sledge hammer and breaker bar 3' long to hammer the press fitting through the arm and collett.
the control arm was braced on another sledge hammer to keep it level.

then, since the collette from AutoZone was really not the right size the press fitting lodged securely inside the collette.

I used the edge of my hi-hat stand and the sledge and breaker bar to free the joint fitting from the collette. don't think I cussed once. really. just kept winging it.

I cleaned the control arms and put everything together to press in the BJs in and noticed the tool is way too bent to align the right way to push the BJ in. that brings me to plan B. take the arms to the shop tomorrow to get the bjs pressed in and tell AutoZone their tool is only good enough to remove ball joints, but, too bent to install them.

I re-greased the beam and noted whats in the beam. splines and grease. I assume they twist and flex. I also marked the orientation and left/right sides of each arm. So, almost ready to put the lowers back together.

I'll be doing the uppers on a different day since they are still sound. but im not waiting too long to do it it. they are still original.

I hope this provided some entertainment for all. nothing like having good and/or the right tools.
RR

1972 Restoration Project.

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

Post by rrb6699 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:24 pm

ok I'm trying to put things back together but my right lower control arm wont seat back in the beam. what gives?
RR

1972 Restoration Project.

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

Post by Marc » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:00 pm

Only thing stopping you should be the spring stack, if it's spreading out or the beam tube is bent making it not concentric. Most of the time it just requires persistence and some wrigglin' (NOT a hammer)...be sure the arm is lined up with the stack, note the relationship of the grub screw hole in the arm and the divot near the end of the stack.
The three narrow leaves at the top & bottom of the stack aren't locked in place and can shift if you try to force the arm over with them misaligned - they can push the plug out of the other arm.
You may find it helpful to put an O-ring around the stack to hold the leaves together snugly if they're splaying out - it'll just shove down as the control arm goes over and can't hurt anything.

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

Post by rrb6699 » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:30 pm

I marked the control arms and realigned the marks to put them back but spent 45 minutes trying to fit it back. I could seat one side but the other side wouldnt seat.

so took the spring stack out. I could try the o-ring or small zip tie to put it back through. I may try feeding the small springs through fitst since they'll probably fit through. I removed the end cap on the other side so I can see whats goin on.

should I clean and grease this entire thing? the grease looks really old. but, if I feed the small springs through first wouldn't it be easy to put the large middle springs through last by sliding them in between the smaller outer springs? Well, I ran out of daylight so have to continue in the morning.
BJs:
I had no vice to hold the control arm to push in the BJs. So, I put them in the beam and pushed them on with my 36mm hub socket, a sleeve from the tool that fit behind it, andvjust used the open end of the press on the opposite side of the control arm. used a half inch drive socket (yes ratchet) to push it in then finished it with the socket and sledge hammer. wasn't too bad really.
RR

1972 Restoration Project.

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

Post by Marc » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:26 pm

rrb6699 wrote:...if I feed the small springs through first wouldn't it be easy to put the large middle springs through last by sliding them in between the smaller outer springs? Well, I ran out of daylight so have to continue in the morning...
That'd be about the last technique I'd try, cannot imagine it working. I put the full-width springs through first; if they fight me for too long I'll take one of the ones near the middle out and put the others in, then spread them apart and slide the last one in between. The small ones I put in one at a time after the full-width stack is in place...but before tightening the center grub screw - that spreads the stack slightly making it harder to get the small ones in.
It's all done by feel - helps if you visualize the shape (and orientation) of the anchor point's cruciform hole.
Picture's of an Avis balljoint beam adjustable anchor but the hole in the stock one is basically the same. Image

Muck out as much of the old grease as you can. An expendable rag with a hooked piece of coathanger put through it can be shoved in with a long screwdriver/whatever and pulled back out with the wire. Once you're all reassembled grease the zerks until clean grease starts coming out at the ends of the tubes. Any space not occupied by grease leaves a spot for water to collect if it gets in.

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

Post by Ol'fogasaurus » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:56 pm

I agree with cleaning all the old grease off the springs in the stack;that is going to allow the stack to fit tighter together. Also cleaning out the old grease in the beam is never wrong... as Marc said.

Next wrap the stack fairly, but not too tight with a short narrow wire tie with the tail cut off. Place it about a half inch to an inch behind the end of the stack.

Notice where the dimple for the grub screw is in the spring stack and feed the stack in from the side the wire tie is on keeping the center but not the end dimple in line with the hole for the grub screw in the beam. It might take a bit of jockying around to get it in the fitting in the beam (similar to what Mark showed. It is where the pressed in dimple is in the area opposite the hole for the grub screw).

Once the spring stack end enters the piece in the center and if the tie-strap isn't too tight the stack should start sliding through the hole pushing the tie along. No harm is done with the tie left on the stack.

Sorry about being so newbie-ish but there might be some that are also reading this.

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

Post by rrb6699 » Wed May 03, 2017 6:14 am

update. I was able to press out the old bjs and found the loaner tool was bent. nothing like having a problem with the tool when u don't know the tool.

I took the driver-side control arm off but found out putting it back on with a NEW bj tool was easier to do. the bj separator tool from harbor freight worked to pull the ball from the spindle mount. they need to make this same tool so you can ratchet the bj apart. I'd recommend coarser threads and a little beefier, longer (better leverage) tool as the tool they sell probably will strip threads if I have to do another set of bjs.

upon driving I feel the car has a slight pull left while driving. I have been driving for a month now and see no tire wear. just wondering if I got the control arms set right or maybe didnt get the left camber nut back the same. how can I check whats causing the pull. I've been up to 65mph with no shake/shimmy. just a slight pull.
RR

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

Post by Ol'fogasaurus » Wed May 03, 2017 9:58 am

A slight pull could be so many things like alignment (all four corner alignment), brakes dragging, bearings, etc. Try this:

Grab the top of the wheel and push it in and out. Try it again with the car slightly hacked up. Loose/any slop?

With the front of the car slightly lifted by a jack grab the sides of the tires and move them back and forth. If you have slop then look at the tie-rods, the Pittman arm and (heaven forbid) the BJs for any slop.

Spin the wheels and listen for a slight about of drag (check the lug nuts for being loose at the same time) sound coming from the brakes. If it is more than a slight dragging sound then readjust the brakes as a shoe could be dragging.

Some of the simpler, no cost things to check.

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

Post by rrb6699 » Wed May 03, 2017 11:14 am

ok. just replaced the bjs. wheels have no drag when spun. ever so slight barely a wobble moving side to side. front to back no play.

the arm that attaches to the lowers went back on but it doesn't seem symmetrical. just slightly to one side.

what is the purpose of that bar? could the car be driven without it? doesnt seem to serve much purpose. On the other hand maybe that's causing the pull to the left.
RR

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

Post by Ol'fogasaurus » Wed May 03, 2017 12:32 pm

"the arm that attaches to the lowers went back on but it doesn't seem symmetrical. just slightly to one side.

what is the purpose of that bar? could the car be driven without it? doesnt seem to serve much purpose. On the other hand maybe that's causing the pull to the left."


It sounds like you are talking about the sway bar. Could it affect things... maybe, but probably not.

Are the wheel bearings in the front hub properly adjusted by the spindle's nut? Its funny that you got a bit of play in top/bottom direction but not the side to side direction. Did you torque the BJ nuts on?

Alignment: unlike solid rear axles in many American cars and trucks VWs require alignments front and rear. Also, since most roads are crowned some alignment shops will ask if you want the alignment to accommodate the crown (or they did so years ago). When replacing BJs (for street use) I usually had an alignment done as that was the way I was trained to do that kind of work.

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

Post by rrb6699 » Wed May 03, 2017 12:58 pm

sorry my play was slightly side to side. maybe a 1/32" play. up and down is good. I torqued the bj nuts on myself. not sure if I got that one caster nut perfect on drivers side.
RR

1972 Restoration Project.

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