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MG MGA - Ball joint removal

I have seen there is some information about this on Barney's site; however when I was upside-down under the car last night I was not able to take off the steering ball joint of the steering arm.

The task I am trying to achieve is to change the steering boots and the ball joint rubber which are both perished, and then fill the steering rack with oil as it currently seems to be packed with grease...

Ball joint has no play so if possible I wanted to avoid taking it apart. My ideas was to take it off and count the no. of turns and then put it back exactly where it was.

So I took off the castellated nut (which the DPO had done up toooooo tight and with no cotter pin.
I tried using the double hammer (mallet) approach on the bolt that is left sticking out, but it seems to be rusted in place. I didn't want to bang too hard and bend/break the steering arm.
I used some penetrating oil but no success.

Any ideas? Apart from using a BIGGER hammer approach, or am I missing something?
G Ramos

Gonzalo -
See:
MGBTech: "ball joint removal" Bruce E Cunha
TD/TF: "Steering rack lubrication?" Mark A. Sherman

Sounds like the mechanic virus is well established!

FRM
Fletcher R Millmore

Gonzalo, you can unscrew the ball joint without breaking the taper on the steering arm. Slacken the lock nut a LITTLE then turn the steerng tie rod round and round until it unscrews from the ball joint. When refitting, simple screw it back to where you left the locknut and your tracking will be maintained. You may need to heat the ball joint where the track rod screws into it as they are often siezed up tight. Of course, you will need to remove the ball joint from the steering arm eventually when it is worn but this approach puts that job off until it is really necessary. Lindsay.
Lindsay Sampford

Gonzalo, just realized that you will have to remove the lock nut to change the boot, so just count the threads as you said. Lindsay.
Lindsay Sampford

Thanks, Fletcher all the info I need is in the MGB thread!
Lindsay, I will also try your approach!
G Ramos

As I understand you need to change the boot on the "track rod end" as we call it. So you do need to separate from the steering arm. You can get a ball joint splitter, something like this:

http://www.charliesdirect.co.uk/products/draper-ball-joint-splitter

I have had one very similar to this for nearly 30 years and it has never failed to separate a joint.

I usually tighten it up and give it a tap with a BFH (rather than try to use the screw to separate the joint, as it is usually too tight)

Neil
Neil McGurk

Gonzalo -
Tip:
Use a sharp small center punch to mark the tie rod, locknut, and rod end for alignment. A quarter turn off is enough to significantly affect final wheel alignment on reassembly. You need indelible marks!
Wire brush and lube the exposed threads and screw the nut all the way to the end of the threads.
Make sure the tie rod is free to turn in the rod end - sometimes they are not. Lots of penetrating oil! If you turn the tie rod, be sure to keep track of turns, using your marks.
All this is much easier while the end is still secure in the steering arm.
Now screw everything back to where you started, but leave the nut a quarter turn loose, by the mark.

Break the end taper joint loose, unscrew the end, and reset the nut the quarter turn so the marks on the nut and rod are aligned.
With your dial calipers, measure and record the distance from the locknut to the end of the tie rod.
This measurement <<A>> lets you set everything back exactly as it was on disassembly.
If your steering wheel was off center, you can adjust the centering by subtracting from <<A>> on one side and adding the same to <<A>> on the other side. Ideally they should be equal, and when I'm starting from scratch I set them up that way. This number is usually around 1.0 - 1.2". If the measurements are more than a turn or two uneven to get the wheel centered, something else is out of line.
There MUST be an absolute Minimum of .625" thread engagement on the rod end. I have taken cars apart where one side had two threads engaged and the other was bottomed in the rod end!

Use antiseize on all the threads on reassembly. NOT on the ball joint tapers - tapers are fitted dry.

FRM
Fletcher R Millmore

Get one of the splitter devices that Neil recommends, they are very easy to use. The two hammer method requires practice and, in my opinion, luck.

When you have replaced the gaiters, put the adjustment back as closely as possible and then take the car in to have it set accurately. You have no idea how good the tracking was before you started so now is the time to get it done.
Malcolm Asquith

That's the one I've got Neil, works brilliantly.

Gonzalo, missed the bit about the joint boot. I've usually found that if the boot on the ball joint has gone then the joint is usually past its best. Loss of lubricant and the ingress of moisture and grit brought about by a perished or missing joint boot give the joint a real hard time, but there again, you live in Florida! Are ball joint boots available there? They're certainly hard to come by here, and if they are, I bet they cost nearly as much as a new ball joint!
Lindsay Sampford

A fantastic article by Fletcher, spot on. However I would tend to agree with Malcolm and use this as an opportunity to reset the tracking.

You should also check that your steering wheel is straight when the rack is centred so that you have the same number of turns left to right.

You can get the setting quite accurate by eye and certainly make sure that the wheels are at the same angle (as straight as possible) relative to the rear axle when your rack is centred. The rear axle is 25mm wider than the front, so if you align your eye with the front and rear sides of the tyre wall on the front you should see 12.5mm of rear tyre side wall. Sounds a bit rough and there are other factors to consider, like the car should be on flat level ground and this should be done in several positions. But, if you set it while you have the front jacked up you, you will find it is still close when the weight is on the car and can be set accurately with small adjustments.

It's easier with a four post ramp, and is a bit fiddly at first, but you can always have it checked and verified afterwards. I did this the first time, but haven't bothered since.
Neil McGurk

Oops, this is the edited version!

A fantastic article by Fletcher, spot on. However I would tend to agree with Malcolm and use this as an opportunity to reset the tracking.

You should also check that your steering wheel is straight when the rack is centred so that you have the same number of turns left to right.

You can get the setting quite accurate by eye and certainly make sure that the wheels are at the same angle (as straight as possible) relative to the rear axle when your rack is centred. The rear axle is 25mm (22mm for wire wheels) wider than the front, so if you align your eye with the front and rear sides of the tyre wall on the front you should see 12.5mm (11mm) of rear tyre side wall. Sounds a bit rough and there are other factors to consider, like the car should be on flat level ground, tyres must be identical sizes and this should be done in several positions. But, if you set it while you have the front jacked up you, you will find it is still close when the weight is on the car and can be set accurately with small adjustments.

It's easier with a four post ramp, and is a bit fiddly at first, but you can always have it checked and verified afterwards. I did this the first time, but haven't bothered since.

Neil
Neil McGurk

Gonzalo - I agree with Lindsay - just buy a new track rod end complete with rubber on it. They are quite cheap - mine cost about 15 over here in UK - and that is the original style one with the grease nipple. Looks like you are really getting to grips with the mechanicals on your new toy - cheers Cam
Cam Cunningham

True, that I should also check the alignment of the wheels as I have come to the conclusion that the PO knew pretty little about this car's mechanics.
Just by feeling the alignment seems find, however the front starts to vibrate past 65mph, but I am blaming that on a badly balances wheel...

However, what kind of mechanic would be able to do that for me? do they need a special machine for this car?


I will follow your advise and order a new set of ball joints. I was just weary of that cos I read on Barney's site that the ones provided are too long so you end up having to add some threads on the rod. Maybe this is and old story by now. If I get it from moss or something like that they are probably fine, right?

I will buy one of these splitters too.

Cheers guys!
G Ramos

Help! I am having issues with loose inner ball joints on my '58 MGA and need to find out if the ball joints can be adjusted on the vehicle or off? or do they simply need to be replaced? pls e-mail me ....any help would be greatly appreciated as I am dying to get my car on the road for summer. Thanks
R.A Wally

R.A. If they are -- " loose inner ball joints " -- just replace them, immediately!

Barry.
BM Gannon

A way to break the taper on the ball joint is to jacup the front and let the bottom of the threaded end rest on a solid block, pref concrete, loosen the nut and release the jack a bit to put a load on. The whack the steering arm with your BFH.
Art Pearse

Inner ball joints can be adjusted. Make tighter by removing shims from the cap nut joint. See the Workshop manual for instructions.
Barney Gaylord

This thread was discussed between 17/03/2010 and 03/05/2014

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