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1966 Chevy Chevelle Polygraphite Bushings - Beating Around The Bushings
Rebuilding A '66 Chevelle Front End With PST's Polygraphite Kit.
Mar 1, 2010
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Performance Suspension Technology
Montville, NJ 07045
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1966 Chevy Chevelle Polygraphite Bushings - Beating Around The Bushings
Here is the Super Kit (PN SPFEK00106) from PST with a few added pieces. The kit includes upper and lower ball joints, inner and outer tie rods, tie rod adjusting sleeves, upper and lower bump stops, sway bar links, idler arm, upper…
…control arm shafts, and of course eight polygraphite control arm bushings. Since this was going to be a full rebuild, everything had to be new in the front end so a centerlink and a set of KYB shocks was added to the order.
After securing the car on a lift, the wheels were ripped off and all the cotter pins pulled out. Then it was time to start pulling the steering components. The tie rods feature an interference fit so loosening the nut a little bit and whacking it with a hammer is usually all it takes to free the parts. Leaving the nut on does two things: It prevents the part from falling off the car once free and it protects the threads if you are reusing the part. If this procedure doesn't work for you, then you will need to pick up or borrow a pickle fork to separate the components.
Before trying to remove the ball joints make sure to have a jack placed under the lower control arm. The springs are under a considerable amount of pressure and can fly out when you pop the ball joint. The ball joints have the same interference fit as the tie rods. A few good hammer blows to the side of the spindle should send a healthy shock wave through the part to free the ball joint. Once free the jack was lowered slowly to safely remove the spring.
With the spindle out of the way the hardware holding the control arms on the frame was removed. The lower arms were taken to the vise so the ball joints and bushing could be removed. There are a few ways to remove the components, but an air hammer is what we had on hand. Using a blunt tip, it only took a few raps with the tool to drive the lower ball joint out.
The bushings took a chisel bit and a little more persuasion. Starting at a 90-degree angle, first dig the bit in and then rotate it to a 45-degree angle and push it out. The other way to get these out if you don't have an air hammer will be using a vice or press and some tubing. You will need to find a piece of tube that fits around the big end of the bushing and a piece that fits up against the small side. Put that contraption in the vise/press and start cranking down. The smaller piece will drive the bushing out of the arm and into the larger piece on the big side.
The upper arms are a little easier to deal with as the ball joint is either riveted in (stock) or bolted in (has been changed before) and the bushings are a little more accessible. To get out stock ball joints, just grind off the head of the rivets and watch the joint fall out. If they have been changed before then undo the hardware. The air hammer was used again to drive out the bushings, since there is a small amount of the metal shell sticking out the bit can grab right away making the job a snap.
With everything removed, the arms were scrubbed clean and all the parts, including the new tie rod and other components, were painted satin black. While the paint was drying, the new bushings were completely disassembled and coated in the supplied grease and reassembled before being installed. This will prevent any creaks or squeaks. A ball joint press was used to push the new bushings into the lower arms. A chunk of lead is used to keep the arm from collapsing during the process. If you don't have lead, find something that will fit in the area like a socket or a piece of wood.
The tool made quick work of the lower ball joint as well. Again you could use the vice and some scrap tubing, but there is something to be said for having the right tool for the job.
The PST kit comes with all the proper zerk fittings for the greasable parts like the ball joints and tie-rod ends. They self tap into the parts so all you have to do is make sure it's going in straight as it's tightened up.
Ripped or torn boots will let all of the grease leak out of the joint and increase the chance of failure. Luckily the kit comes with all new boots as well. The lowers are marked on how to orientate the boot. It's a good idea to pay close attention to these little details if you want the modifications to last.
The upper ball joint is comprised of three pieces, the joint, the boot and the retainer. The boot slips into the retainer before being installed on the arm. The kit comes with the proper locking nuts for the install.
The best way to install the upper arm bushings is to disassemble the bushing and carefully tap in the outer shell. Install one sleeve first and then slip in the new cross-shaft before beating in the other shell.
After the shells are in place, you can push in the bushing and the center insert by hand. Make sure to use plenty of the supplied grease on the inside diameter, outside diameter, and the face of the bushing again to prevent any possible squeaks.
New bump stops are also included in the kit. The lowers bolt to the control arm while the uppers twist into a hole in the frame of the car. These will prevent…
…metal-to-metal contact when you hit a hard bump a little too fast. A little spray lube will help twist in the upper bump stop if you are having trouble.
Before the freshly rebuilt arms are mounted on the car, all the contact surfaces of the bushings and frame were given a liberal coating of grease. This will not only aid in the reinstallation but also prevent the dreaded squeak.
The bolts on the upper cross-shaft were tightened down while the upper and lower pivot bolts were left loose. You want to wait until the car is set on the ground before tightening these. If you tighten them now, with the suspension at full droop the car will definitely squeak. Since this car is missing the engine, these will stay loose until there is a motor under the hood. The ball joints, on the other hand, were tightened up once the spindle was in place. Also make sure to have the springs properly seated in the upper and lower pocket before attaching the spindle so the car will sit level.
You won't be able to feel the benefits of the new bushings if the steering system is all sloppy. Now is the best time, budget permitting, to replace all the wearable parts like the centerlink, tie rods and idler arm. The centerlink and idler arm are best installed at the same time. Loosely install the idler arm and then attach the center link to the steering arm then to the idler arm, then come back and tighten the idler arm. There is a large protrusion on the lower crossmember that makes it pretty difficult to install the centerlink with the idler arm tight.
The best way to assemble the tie rod assemblies is to match the old stuff. One of tie-rod ends features a reverse thread while the other is standard. This allows the assemblies to be shortened or lengthened without removing them from the car to set the toe. If you want to turn the tie rod adjusting sleeves right to bring in the toe setting you will want to use the reverse thread as the inner on the right side or the car and the outer on the left side. Once the inner and outer tie rods were threaded into the new adjusting sleeves, the whole assembly was installed on the car.
The best way to install a sway bar by yourself is to grease the inside diameter of the new sway bar bushings and slip them over the sway bar. Put the back bolts into the sway bar mounts and let them hang. Take it to the car and slide the bushings into the hanging mounts and install the other bolts.
The endlinks come up from the bottom and should go like this: bolt, washer, lower control arm, bushing, washer, sleeve, washer, bushing, sway bar, bushing, washer, and nut. Get both sides assembled before tightening down on the bolts.
The shocks in the car were leaking fluid, a sure sign they are trashed. The new KYB Gas-a-Just shock absorbers from PST will keep the suspension under control and provide a more responsive ride. These are made as a stock replacement so they fit perfectly. After tightening the lower hardware the upper nut can be tightened down until the bushing crushes down and becomes the same diameter of the washer. With that the job was done and once the car is ready to drive the first trip will be to an alignment shop.
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