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Upper Ball Joint Saga.... - Suspension/Brakes/Wheels/Hubs/Steering/Geo - The Lotus Forums Jump to content
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Upper Ball Joint Saga....

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I have spent a while Lotus grovelling. Needs new balljoints on the upper front wishbones. I'd run out of excuses...and had an excess of afternoon over activities. How hard can it be? Two nuts and bolts and the Big Nut that holds the joint to the upright... couple of hours, taking it easy.
Only imponderable was the left shoulder/arm etc. after recent dislocation. on regardless..

So we made a start. Loosened the front right wheel nuts, jacked her up, took off the wheel. During this procedure I found that I was still able to function as a mechanic...and it's a lot easier at 3 stone less than it was at 3 stone more!! A lot easier to get vertical again after laying on the floor, considering the reduced heaving ability of the two damaged arms.
Peered around the workshop to find the balljoint essential piece of kit!

Or so I thought....

Then got a second jack and put it under the bottom wishbone and got that supported. Got my 19mm spanner....I had checked the nut on the new joint, so I knew what size it was...
Wrong. The old one was somewhere between 17 and 18mm across the flats....bugger. So...back to the toolbox...returned with spanners. Put spanner on nut and gave a heave.
It laughed at my puny efforts. Bloody thing.

Can I get more leverage? A length of tube over the spanner to extend it? Searching workshop revealed that no such animal was showing a desperate desire to volunteer... Hmm. Stop being a wimp. Back to the a 17mm spanner on the nut. Heaved mightily. Bugger all. A bit of positive thought....imagine the nut undoing. "Zen and the art of Lotus maintenance".... Deep breath...HEAVE... and it MOVED!! Aha! problem solved.


Now to get the nut wound off....need a better spanner. A socket would have been nice, but you can't get one on the nut for all the other stuff around it....brainwave. Some years ago, I was seduced by a shiny set of C-spanners...obstruction thingys, bent so that they work around whatever's in the way. Never had a chance to use we go! Bit by bit the nut undid. Then it got tight. End of thread rusty and nut trying to cut through the corrosion.

Not a good idea...need to free it off. Did it back up a bit to get the thread clear. A squirt of WD40 and an attack with a wire brush on the exposed thread....then back on with the spannering. All going nicely...until......crack...and the balljoint male taper escaped from the embrace of the upright female taper and commenced going roundandroundandround....    Now, THAT'S a nuisance!!


So much for needing the ball joint seperator.

Tried to get the taper to grip again. No dice. A few more goes and it became apparent that the only way was to cut the thing off.

Fortunately, I have a Dremel fact, a genuine one and a couple of ersatz ones too...and boxes full of attachments. These came from my old chum Bonzo; they had been in his Dad's workshop...once he didn't need them any more, Bonzo gave them to me! It took a while to find the best cutting disc to use and the right pinvice and get it all put together and connected...then I got into the grinding. Cut through the nut and part way through the thread and it began to look hopeful. A cold chisel and a big hammer and a mighty WALLOP and the nut split; then it could be unscrewed easily!!

Thought I'd press on a bit more, and get the thing off the I undid and removed the two bolts holding the joint to the upper wishbone, and got the thing out. It was perfect...except for the split rubber boot around the balljoint. A comparison of new and old showed the new one was going to fit, too....!!

During all of this, I was beset by a black and yellow buzzything about the size of my thumb. Looked too dangerous to swat I opened the workshop door, and -in the end- it flew out.


It now being 1815 ish...(Battle of Waterloo, anyone?) ... I decided to stack and fit the new one tomorrow. Stand by for next enthralling episode....




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Nice John... I had to do the rubbers on mine for roadworthy.  Nuts came off fine, it was getting the taper out that took me a few extra hours.  A combination of 'freeze/release' spray and general walloping did the job in the end.  

Were yours worn, or was it just the rubber and a repack with grease needed?



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Just the rubber split...joints are fine. Easiest to fit new ones....

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A bright and brreezy day here at Mole End...that's a typo, but WHAT a good word..brreezy....a bit of a draught and not too hot!! Over here, if the met. threatens, they phone you up to tell you...we are expecting hail and winds between 80 and 100kph not the mention rain. At least...I think we are....could have been a message left yesterday, as last night was punctuated by mad thunder...but no flashes of lightning, although it's the discharge of leccy wot gives the bang. Anyway, still here....hopefully, shall outlast the night!

Back up from the workshop. Front RH balljoint is now installed, all torqued up, bolts loctited....and I spent a happy time sitting in the sun with the wheel balanced on a couple of jerry cans and a tube of Solvol Autosol...polishing the rim. Beats the bejasus out of laying down beside the beast in the usual draught....

The first thing was to clean the nuts and bolts that hold the joint to the wishbone. They are special bolts....and the nuts are something weird as I don't have anything that fits. SO...out with the ultrasonic cleaner...mix up some fluid...and stuck 'em in there. Turned it on...and the magic happened...wisps of ultrasonically released filth wafted through the fluid...gave it three minutes and dragged them out. Then they had a wipe over with acetone..the balljoint taper, too...and all was ready for the refit.


Since I had to reuse the nuts, I searched out the loctite.... Then it was back to grovelling. Got the balljoint fitted to the wishbone and the bolts slid through and anointed with loctite...on with the washers and nuts...tightened them up and got the little 3/8 drive torque wrench and torqued them to the book figure. Slid the taper on the joint into the taper on the upright....jacked up the lower wishbone so that the two bits fitted together enough to get the washer and nut on. Then did up the 19mm nut....of course, the stupid thing started it's roundyroundyroundy tricks again, but levering the top wishbone down soon put a stop to that...and the large torque wrench got the nut to it's appointed 40 lb ft. Jobs a good 'un! A bit of tidying and wheel polishing  before the siren song of six pm drew me back upstairs for food!!

Tomorrow I have to decide whether to change the steering lower U/J whilst I have the front wheel off....or wait until later on. I have done this job before ( about 25 years before!) and remember it as a miserable thing to have to do. Somewhere I have an upper balljoint it would make sense to change them both, which involves pulling the steering column out of the car. Darn sight easier with the aid of a Fitter's Mate....or even two fully working arms.....As ever, the really hard bit is deciding to do it!!

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Re nut/ spanner sizes, you're thinking too recent. These are old Triumph parts, so Imperial that 17-18mm will actually be 11/16.


Getting awkward nuts off where they cannot reasonably be undone- nut splitter. Great piece of kit (hydraulic ones), one split and you can open it up so as to unwind it with a lot less resistance, two splits and one part probably falls away, the other can be prised off with a small screwdriver.

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OF COURSE .... they are Imperial...DOH! What an idjit. And here am I with AF, Whitworth, metric, everything.... Dullard.!!


As for nut splitters...hydraulic or whatever...not going to fit on the upper balljoint nut, there's not enough clearance to even get a ratchet spanner on there. Too close to the upright....Sockets barely fit...and you need either a wobbly extension or a good U/J on the socket before you can get a ratchet or a bar on the extension. That's the trouble with useful things like nut splitters or fitall spanners.....they may go onn the fastener, but you can bet your boots that there will be something in the way!!

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