The Battle of the Bushings, part 1

Seemed simple enough – pull out the control arms, put in some new bushings, put them back in.  Doing new suspension bits on Betty – I had the new Billsteins to put in, which required pulling struts and such, and as long as I’m in there…. you know how it goes.  I had read somewhere that new bushings is one of the best things you can do for an ’02 – make it ride like new, they said.  So I ordered up the refresh kit – all new bushings, tie rods, center link, ball joints – the whole kit and the kaboodle, as it were.  Taking it out was pretty easy… got the control arms out, and the fun started.

They were apparently “the old style” – the ball joints were riveted on, the steering arms stuck to the ball joints, and indeed the bushings were a mess … old, hard and cracking – good thing I was doing this job, right?  Definitely.

First things first – how to get the steering arms off? Fortunately for me, I have know some great guys down at Sports Car Restoration – they do amazing work, really, and they always have time for me and my stupid questions.  Turns out that getting the steering arms off is pretty easy – put the whole thing in a vice, and smack it with a hammer.  If you’re lucky (or good) and you hit the ball joint dead on, it’ll drop right out.  Nate got them both with two smacks.  Easy enough, and I was on my way.  Check out those ball joints…riveted in there.  I guess you’re supposed to drill those out…. Nate saw the fear in my eyes, and he came through for me in a big way – found a set of refurbished control arms – clean, fresh, ready for new ball joints and bushings – and willing to trade them for my old bushings and a twelve pack –  I win.  Like I said, they’re really great guys.  All I had to do now as get the bushings in.  Should be easy, right?

I read up on the task – lots of articles in the archives about it.  From what I could tell, the best way to do it was by using threaded rod, some PVC pipe and a bunch of washers – you lube up the bushing and just pull it through by tightening down a nut.   So I gave it a try.   I used dish soap as to lube it up and started to tighten down on my contraption.  The bushing started to slide on in – no big deal.  I thought I was home free now, ha! It got about halfway in and started to stick… more soap.  Tightened down some more, but the bushing wasn’t going anywhere –  oh shoot – the threaded rod was spinning.  How I wish I had a bench vise now.   But I don’t, so I grabbed some vise grips, and clamped down on the threaded rod…. as I tightened down the nut again, the vise grips started to spin.  I clamped those down to the shelves that I was working on.  That took care of it, for the most part.  Tightened down some more, and the bushing started to go through.  I noticed it getting harder to get a grip on the nut – inspection showed that it was rounding off – despite the fact that I was using a box end wrench at this point.  I wrestled with it some more, and then loosened up everything to see where I was.  It was all the way through, but definitely not far enough in – the bushing hadn’t come through the other side enough yet.   My arms were scraped up from the spinning control arm, and trying to hold the vise grips which kept slipping.

Back to the drawing board, I guess…….