**** Ball Joint install **** Hi, my name is Brandon, AKA ftn96. When I first logged onto CK5 I was green as green could get when it came to K5's. But over the past few months I have gained a wealth of knowledge. So I'd like to share with some of you who need a little guidance on the install of ball-joints on these old beasts. while every vehicle differs in its attitude and measurements and mods, this article is for the new comer with a basic knowledge of mechanics and has a basically stock setup K5 with a 10 bolt front end. So hold on here we go. 1> your gonna need to jack the front end up and secure it up on jack stands. While jacking it up try, if you can to make sure you get the axle up high enough to make yourself comfortable. As this job will take a little while. 2> After you have it secure on the stands, you'll need to get your tires and wheels off, set them to the side. Now before we proceed to the next step, your gonna need to get your self some coat hangers on bungee chords or what ever you can think of to hold your brake calipers up. 3> Take an allen wrench appropriate to your trucks specs, and take the two allen bolts out from the back side of the brake caliper, then gently pull the caliper straight up and back, carefully not to drop the brake pads, that is, if they are still good. Then you can use that hanger to secure the caliper to the frame or anything there in the wheel well to keep it out of your way. 4> Next your gonna need to remove the hubs, 1st by using torque tips or allens wrenches, which ever your rig has and take the hub cover off, then remove the large retainer ring using a scribe or something of comparable size. But the point on the scribe will get in there nice and sweet. Next is the axles snap ring and then slide the hub out. Then the outer spindle lock nut. Which will require a special socket that you can get from Autozone or where ever. Then remove the lock ring and then the inner bearing spindle lock nut. Then you can go ahead and pull the rotor/bearing hub off and set it to the side. 5> Next we have the spindle itself which is retained by six retainer studs and lock nuts. Remove these nuts, then you will need to get some 2x4 or a good dead blow hammer with some weight to it, and proceed to beat the spindle off (carfull not to destroy the threads or the surface where the bearing rides). A good note here is that if it hasn't been off in a while its going to be tuff, so work it from all sides. Once you get some gap between the spindle and the knuckle you can use a flat head screw driver and wedge it in on the opposite side from which you are hitting to keep it from walking back in. Once off, set it to the side. Then remove the brake caliper backing/mount plate. It slides right off. 6> Next we gotta pull the axle out. While sliding toward you try to support the inner side thus trying to keep the axles splines from dragging across the axle seals at the pumpkin. As they should be replaced while your in there, but this about the ball-joints. 7> Once you have the axle out go ahead and remove the tie-rod end. The best way I've found is to take your floor jack and jack it up under the ball joint just enough to apply pressure to keep it from spinning and remove the cotter key, then the back the nut almost all the way off, just enough to protect the threads. Then take your hammer, not the BIG F'ing kind, but just a nice size hammer and tap the tie-rod down till it breaks loose. Then remove the nut and it falls right outta the knuckle. Secure it outta the way. 8> Now we're ready to remove the ball joints. Remove the cotter key from the top nut and loose it. As I always like to replace my cotter keys as they are cheap and I like the added security it gives me to know that there are new ones. Next you need to loosen the lower nut almost all the way to the top of the stud, the remove the upper ball joint nut. Then you can take a ball-joint separator and proceed to wedge the forks in there with the influence of the hammer. It will take some work to get it loose. Once it does, you'll see why we left the lower nut on. Thus to protect those toes from that heavy knuckle. Then go ahead and remove the lower nut and remove the knuckle. 9> Then you need to get another special socket to remove the adjusting sleeve that you will now be able to see down inside the upper hole from which the upper ball-joint stud just came out off. Which would be called the axle yoke. This tool looks just like a socket only that it has 4 teeth sticking up that fit down into this sleeve, which has exterior threads. Scrap the sleeve, the new "MOOG" ball-joints your about to go buy have the new sleeves. 10> While your out getting the new ball-joints you might as well take the knuckles with you and have the old joints pressed out and the new ones pressed in. This is way easier and less time consuming. KEY NOTE HERE: When your having the guy at the parts place pressing the new ones in make sure to have him press them in so that the holes for the grease fittings are facing out, pointing to the rear of the knuckle, as if the knuckle were still installed on the truck turned and pointing toward the inside of the truck as if you were steering the truck. This way the fitting will be accessible after everything is fully installed. 11> While you have the front end ripped apart, do yourself a favor and check the wheel bearings and all those related parts you just took out and make sure nothing needs to be replaced. You dont want to have to take everything back apart again, to replace something you could have "while you were in there". If you cant afford it, well, look at it this way, least you'll get some more practice tearing down and rebuilding the front end. 12> Now we are ready to put it all back together. But before you do, take a little time to clean those axles tubes out. So when you go to install the axles you dont push all that dirt into the axle bearings. There are a number of ways to do this. Any method using a little common since will get the job done. I used a coat hanger with a rag attached to it, running the hanger in along the top of the tube, then taking my 3 foot 3/8 drive extension and setting it in there on top of the rag, and together, pushing down on the extension while also pulling the hanger out. This may need to be repeated several time to get all the dirt out. But another great idea I learned from Grim-Reaper or Depdog, I cant remember, was to take a piece of 1 1/2 inch or maybe 2" PVC and cut it the length of the tube, then take a jig saw or skill saw and cut it in open length-wise. Then slide it in there without pushing the dirt, and let it rest on the bottom of the tube then slide your axles right in (providing that you cleaned them off before you put them back in). Then leave the PVC there, so if you come across a broken axle on the trail you can pull the PVC out and clean it up, and use it to install your replacement axle. Pretty freaking guiness a??? ***** BUT DONT PUT THE AXLES IN YET******* 13> On with the ball-joints. Now that you have the new ball-joint installed in the knuckle, the next thing is to insert the sleeve into the upper axle yoke hole. Do yourself a favor and dab a little bearing grease or no-seize, whatever, on those threads. Run the sleeve down to where the top of the sleeve is about 2 threads deeper than the top of the yoke. Then insert the knuckle using the bottom joint nut with some thread locking compound or lock-tight and torque it to the specified rating. If Im not mistaken the torque for this is 75 ft pounds. 14> Then you need to use that fancy new socket and adjust the sleeve to 50 ft lbs., but while you are torquing it down keep the knuckle moving left to right. 15> Then you will need to apply the upper ball-joint nut and torque it to 100 ft lbs., also while keeping the knuckle moving back and forth. This will help the ball-joints to seat properly. If not you may find that you knuckle is going to be way to hard to turn after you get it all back together and this will be very hard on you tie-rod ends. After you reach 100 ft/lbs. of torque you may or may not have your cotter key holes lined up. Be it the case, tighten the nut to the next available hole, not loosen. 16> You know have all new ball-joints. Now we get install all that other stuff. So get yourself a smoke and a beer, if you like and a big breath and here we go. 17> Now you can slide those nicely "cleaned and inspected" axles back in the housing using those guiness PVC tracks. 18> Next put the brake caliper mounting/backing plate back on, being careful not to damage those spindle/knuckle studs. They are $5 a piece and hard to come by. I had to call 6 Gm dealers before I found some. Also make sure you have it lined up in the correct position for the caliper. As the opening for the caliper will be toward the rear of the vehicle and at the 10 o'clock position. 19> Then apply some grease to the bearings on the inside/backside of the spindle and a generous amount to the axles shaft. Its best to replace them but this is a ball-joint article. You can get a bearing seal kit for the spindle for like $12-15 dollars at Advance or Autozone, or NAPA if you hate AutoZone. Anyway, new bearings or old, grease them then slide the spindle on. Then apply some lock-tight on those studs and tighten the lock nuts hand tight, then torque them to between 40-60 ft lbs. The reason for the gap is that most of the Haynes manuals say 20 but this is not enough, and the specs for the 3/4 ton axles are set for 60, so after long discussions, Grim and I have agreed that 40 to 60 is about right. I out mine to 40, and have yet to have my front end fall apart on me. I have also over torqued one of these to 75 and stretch the crap-ola out of it. Thus the search at 6 Gm dealers. Anyway, go with 40-60, which ever makes you warm and fuzzy on the inside. 20> Now we're ready for the rotor/hub assembly. make sure you check those bearings and pack them good. I like to take alot of wheel bearing grease and pack it in from the back side of the hub and then slide it on the spindle. This way the hub is full of grease and it will help displace water when going through those deep bogs. You will however get a big glob of grease that will get pushed out the front. I would explain what it looks like but you'll see soon enough. (LOL!!!!) 21> Now push your outer bearing in there and take your inner bearing lock nut, the one with the pin sticking out. Run it in with the pin facing you. get it hand tight wobbling the hub in all directions to make sure you get the hub and bearings set. Then take your spindle/bearing socket and a torque wrench set to 50 ft/lbs. and proceed to torque it down to 50 while at the same time turning the rotor/hub. It helps to have an extra hand here. Then once you reach 50, then back the nut off 1/4 turn and then re-torque it to 35 ft lbs., while turning the rotor. 22> Now comes the fun part. Now slide the lock ring in there, through all that grease and with the tooth and keyway lined up slide it in there. If the pin on the lock nut is not lined up with any of the whole in the lock ring, first try to turn the lock ring around and see if any of them line up, if not, you then need to back the lock nut off "NO MORE" than 3/8 of a turn. Then try the lock-ring again. Both sides if need be. Repeat all this until the pin lines up with one of the wholes. Then take the outer lock nut and torque it down to 80 ft lbs. On this one you can go a little over if you like, but no more than 10 to 15 lbs. or so. 23> Now you get to install you lock out hubs. As this article applies to what I have. Which is a set of Warn (regulars). A: Slide the hub in, then the snap ring that goes on the end of the axle. Here you may have to use a screw driver, and stick it in from the back side of the knuckle and pry the axle away from the center of the truck, keeping enough pressure to hold it out there while you install the snap-ring. Once you have this installed, then you can install the hub cover and tighten the allen/torque tips to about 18 ft lbs. This torque setting you may want to refer to you hub installation instructions if you still have them. 24> Now take the caliper down from the hanger and install it with those 2 allen bolts and torque them if you like. I always just tighten them up as tight as I can by hand and then a few love taps with a rubber mallet. 25> Then re-connect your tie-rod end and then you should be ready to go. 26> Dont for get those new cotter keys. And go back and re-check to make sure everything is connected and to make sure you dont have any nuts and bolts laying around. 27> Be patient and good luck.