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!
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.
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.
We have been working on a complete replacement frame for the Studebaker coupe. We had built a complete frame for a customer a few years back where we integrated one of our Studebaker clips and an early C4 Corvette rear suspension. We also learned what does and doesn’t work to make a frame that fits the stock body without modification. Well, very few and simple modifications anyway. Those tiny foot-well boxes behind the front seat have got to go. What we are delivering is a frame with significant improvements in strength. And almost all the stock body mounts are located in stock locations and stock body rubbers are used. No need to alter your front fenders, stock components fit.
Straighter frame rails and more clearance for exhaust systems. We keep the entire frame profile slim for good ground clearance as well as give you room for future modifications. We made the rear kickup quite a bit different by utilizing more space under the stock floor. This gives us better places to attach the triangulated four bars and still not have to modify the floor. This rear kick up is also slightly narrower so that if you decide to do a mini-tub on the rear you have frame clearance to run up to a 275 wide rear tire on a 9″ wheel.