Ball Joints 2.0

In my last post, covered the Chrysler style screw in ball joints commonly used on Mustang II front ends. Today I want to talk about the Dakota ball joints and some misconceptions being run around the internet. There are a few generations of Dodge Dakotas now, I concentrate on the first two, being 87-90 and 91-96. Both are pretty much the same, the ball joints are exactly the same.

I have run across a few people trying to conflate the 97 up (3rd Gen) Dakota ball joint issues with the earlier First and Second generation trucks. In the 3rd Generation Dodge made quite a few changes to the Dakota’s front suspension. Almost a complete redesign. About the only thing similar is the lower control arm spacing and bushing size (yes, they will fit our kits) and the upper control  arm rear mounting bolt is in the same location. But that’s it. The rack mounting and angles are very different and the upper control arm became symmetrical for cost cutting reasons. The other major changes are in the spindle and ball joints. They bare no resemblance to the 1st and 2nd gen trucks. The ball joints became significantly smaller and the orientation of the lower ball joint changed from tension (pointing up) to compression (pointing down) making dropped spindles pretty much impossible.

 

Have a look at the line up of ball joints here. From Left to right, the 1997 and up Dakota/Durango ball joint, The K772 Ball joint used in most Mustang II type set ups, The K778 joint used in the 87-96 Dakotas (and many other full size cars and trucks) and then on the Right is the K7025 used on the Dakotas and several other full size cars and trucks. Visual confirmation would show you, this is robust stuff. History can confirm that these larger ball joints were not failure prone. Sure, everything wears out, this is why we recommend using premium quality repair parts when building your car or truck. Not only will you see a longer service life, you will get a better ride quality with parts like the MOOG joints and bushings we suggest.

I suppose shocks would be the next topic, stay tuned!

Ball Joint talk

What I wanted to discuss is regarding the screw in MOPAR style ball joint that is very popular with the tubular control arms for the venerable Mustang II suspension.

These two ball joints are very different in how they are supposed to be used

The ball joint pictured at the right is the commonly used K772 MOPAR screw in ball joint used on tubular control arms throughout the industry. If you look up that number you will see it is meant for MOPAR Upper Mid-Sized cars. It is not intended for use as a lower ball joint where it will see tension loads.

The ball joint on the Left is a K719. It has the same threaded body of the K772 but if you notice one very different difference in that body, it encloses much more of the ball stud. This is a true lower ball joint meant for the Mid-Size and larger passenger cars. While it will directly replace your K772 ball joint in the control arm, the stem is larger. This larger stem requires you to machine your spindle to accept it.

While many thousands of cars and trucks are on the road using the K772 as a lower ball joint without failure, we have seen a few. Granted, this is a very robust ball joint, and if you are using a quality joint like the MOOG Problem Solver line, you may never experience a failure. We have, on the other-hand, solved some driveability issues associated with the Mustang II suspension, mainly the nervousness out on the highway but replacing the ball joints with a true lower ball joint. Now don’t take this as the end all-cure all solution to your Mustang II suspension, it’s just something we have experienced. Because the K772 is not meant to be loaded in tension, it can be “sticky” and not let your steering wheel return to center properly.

All of our Mustang II based control arms feature the K719 on the lower, and we machine the spindles to fit. If this seems like an upgrade you would like to make, give us a call and we can take care of you.

LA Roadster Show 2017

We are in preparations to be at the 2017 LA Roadster show in Pomona, CA at the Fairplex on June 17-18th (Fathers Day weekend) in two locations this year. We will have our indoor booth again this year, but will also have a spot out in the swap area.

So far we plan on bringing out three ’32 frames with our full X members with show pricing. One will be pinched for 28/29 Model A use. We will also have our accessory K-member legs, stock style brake pedal sets and other bolt on chassis parts.

If you want to pre-order any of the product and have us deliver at the show, give us a call @ 866-553-8996

 

Quick hits from around the shop

New information regarding springs and brakes

I do my best to keep up with information on all of our products. I was recently informed that the earlier 1973-1982 Dodge D series rotors for the 3000 pound front axle take a different bearing and are not compatible with the Dakota spindles. I made a quick note on the D-series caliper bracket selection about this change and will soon update all of the information to reflect the correct interchanges.

This morning however, was a question about springs for the Dakota IFS kits with 302 Fords. This is a work in progress and as I gather more information about the spring selections I will add it to the list to help you guys get the most out of your front end. This new information about the spring selection is in the Dakota Tech section.

LA Roadster Show 2015, We Were There!

What a show. The heat had to be a factor in the low turn out. That and the guys that go in first roped off over 90% of the spaces, leaving many swappers to turn around and go home. I spoke to two guys that demanded their $70.00 back because there were no available spaces. Even on Saturday a large percentage of the “saved” spaces were still empty with yellow tape and cones and maybe a lawn chair and a small pile of scrap metal to guard the space. I cannot see this happening for much longer before they the LA Roadster guys start having to do assigned spaces or at least check that the guys that paid for one spot only have one spot and so forth.

We set up with Hotrod Ron and had a good selection of stuff. The reception to our new fully bolt together ’32 frame was encouraging. The SBC engine saddle was the hit of the show! Now I’m going to have to put them into the store. Look for those items in the near future, but if you’re impatient you can always give me a call.

IMG_20150619_135942We talked with several satisfied customers and even saw Tim Thompson and his wonderful ’32 3W with the first mail ordered Full-X member installed. Of course Dr Marvelus and I had to take the opportunity for a shot of us all together. 2015-06-19 13.55.22

It’s summer time and we are still at it. More new products are on the way.

Customer ride for sale: 1930 Plymouth Rat

Our bud Rick is selling his car and moving to Thailand, yes that place. We saved this rat’s nest from a sketchy death machine into a usable, daily driven art piece. I figured a post was due to give him a hand in exposing his sale, and interesting car from a good guy. IMG_20121210_163343

Check out his Ebay advert, CLICK HERE

Full X-member for 32 Fords

Full bolt in, actually stiffens the frame and allows for a transmission change. Now includes front frame horn liners and “bolt-in” front split wishbone mounts.

Available now, hit the store! 

2013-10-22 11.55.42 2013-10-22 11.55.05 2013-10-22 11.55.14 2013-10-22 11.55.24

Shop update: 10/04/2013

Been a busy few weeks, lots of jobs in and out and progress made on the more long term jobs. The good news is, as we clear out these jobs, the new Dakota Kits are eminent!

Just wrapped up a Vintage Air install on Ron Shives’ 1957 Chevy Hardtop. Such a nice car, we removed the AirTique unit installed a decade or more ago that never quite worked properly and installed a new Vintage Air sure-fit unit. In went a Vintage Air Front Runner package and radiator relocation to the 6 cylinder position so that we had room for a Volvo 850 two speed cooling fan. We also upgraded to a Borgeson Delphi 600 power steering box, Flaming River steering column and did some routine maintenance for him. Overall the car turned out fantastic, very nice daily driver now.

Dr Marvelus is going to town on Tony’s 60 Bonneville, pretty rusty car in all the structural areas, so look for updates on that soon.

Larry Ivy’s 34 PU is roller status, cab goes on and the controls are going in soon.

More importantly, Bob’s 32 5W chassis will be going together next week in preparation for the Deuce Day show. We are doing the second build out of our “Bolt – In” center X-member! These will be available in the store very soon.

And the news you are waiting for, the Dakota kits are in process as soon as Bob’s 32 frame comes off. First up will be the 65-66 frames and the 53-56 and 57-60’s immediately after.

1957 Oldsmobile build

Latest out of the shop is Ray Castor’s 1957 Oldsmobile. Ray brought us this car last year just before we got really deep into the 51 Chevy PU For Metro AA. It initially came in for some front suspension work. As we are to understand this car was purchased from Desert Valley Auto, same guys with the TV Show. It had already been sand blasted, painted and subframed with an early 80’s GM full-size clip. Most likely an Oldsmobile because ray told us it had an Olds 455 in it. He found a 1958 Olds 371 J2 engine and trans, had it rebuilt and installed by yet another shop. The problem came when he went to put his tires on it, they didn’t fit under the fenderwell very well at all. The tires actually stuck outside the fenders by a half inch or so and the front crossmember was less than 2″ off the ground.

Notice the hood fitment and tire locations.

 

So the first thing to determine was what condition the car was in and what we could do to fix the botched front clip installation. On tear down things became very evident that the persons installing the clip made more than a few mistakes besides choosing the wrong clip for the car.

The entire clip besides being mounted very low on the chassis, was off center a bit and the right side spindle was a full inch behind where it should be as well as being a few degrees off, lower on the Left side. You can see just how high the engine was placed in the chassis. So high in fact that the installer trimmed the upper webbing out of the center X member for transmission clearance. The wobbly engine mounts were pretty comical too. It was about at this point we realized just how hard of a hit this car had taken at some point. There was evidence of a fairly severe diagonal in the whole car.

Next move was to get it on the chassis table and square it up, then start the decision making on what to repair this car with. Of all the choices available, one stood out as something new for me to try. The late 70’s to mid 80’s Jaguar XJ sedan. My friend Scott Zekanis did a similar installation on his 1957 Buick sedan a few years back and has had good success with it. I did my research and found that the Oldsmobile is less than 100 pounds heavier than the Jaguar and had very similar weight distribution. Plus the track width was in the range we were looking for. The stock Olds front had to be close to 59″ wide. The rear axle was right on the money at 59″ so it stands to reason at this point in automotive history that the track widths matched, that and a bit of careful tape measuring and internet sleuthing.

A few phone calls and internet searches, I had myself a line on a 1985 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas. Nice enough car and the price was more than good. Time to strip both cars down, Ray made the decision to use both the front and rear suspensions from the Jaguar (good choice!) as the rear axle in this car was also an unknown. It was stock but if the car was wrecked pretty bad, there might be issues with bent axles or what not. Besides, it just made perfect sense to do a fully independent suspension. Brian and Dr Marvelus AirArced the front clip off after locking the car to the table and Brian and I also disassembled the front and rear subframes from the Jag.

 

Pressure washed clean and time to start figuring out how to make this all work. This was more work that any of us figured. Still not sure if dropping the engine out the bottom was a good choice or not. Regardless, it came apart and the suspension was pretty decent.

 

 

Old clip off, Jaguar front mocked into place, I made my measurements and drew up new frame rails in my 3D software. Made the decision to use as much of the stock Jaguar suspension components as possible. This meant also rubber mounting the front and rear suspensions to give the old Olds the best ride quality possible.

 

 

One of the things that was going to make this a difficult build was the owners insisting on keeping the Factory AC and heaters in place. If you will notice the large black box where we would normally hang a power booster from, that is the AC Evaporator case. This didn’t cause us problems for the frame and engine placement.

Frame clip installed and ready for the engine and trans.

One of our Winged Early Olds engine mounts in place as well as the new shock mounts.

Front end finished to a stopping point, we turned our attention to the rear suspension. It really surprised us how well the whole Jaguar IRS fit while still in it’s cage. I determined that to rubber mount the stock Jaguar rear cage, a section of frame rail would need to be replaced and a bit of the trunk floor coped in for the new bit of frame rail.

 

Trunk floor coped and frame sections ready to install 

Frame rail sections installed and the rear axle assembled for mock up of the trailing arm mounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stock Jaguar trailing arms are critical if you intend on rubber mounting the cage like we did here. If you leave them out you will get some serious tire shake or worse. We also installed this rear axle with 3º of pinion up which goes against all the internet experts out there. I am not willing to just follow trends, so actual investigation went into doing this. The three degrees up not only allowed for a better driveline angle for our universal joints, it also gave us a tiny bit of anti-squat! Yeah, traction is cool!

 

The wrap up was fairly boring stuff, rush to finish meant the camera phone was in my office out of harms way for the most part. We had a custom made radiator done, rebuilt the core support, ran brake lines, installed a hydroboost system with the stock Jaguar master cylinder under the floor, built an exhaust system that snaked it’s way through everything and made engine brackets to hold the air compressor and alternator properly. Didn’t get any final pictures before it left, but if you attend the Goodguys shows, you are likely to run into this car.

 

almost done

Dr Marvelus working on the throttle linkage

Engine and brackets installed

 

Fired up and running, next stop is getting it tuned up! Noice the wheel placement now as well as the slightly lower ride height!

 

The little bit I got to drive the car was pretty darned cool. Very smooth, very controlled. I think once Ray gets the engine and transmission sorted out, he is going to have one hell of a daily driver on his hands. You can say I am a believer in the Jag conversions. Not an easy job compared to other popular choices out there, but for an ambitious home installer or a customer that wants pretty much the best of comfort and good handling this is a solid choice.