Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs. - Chevelle Tech
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Brakes, Suspension & Steering Conversion questions & more.

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  #1  
Old Apr 18th, 12, 7:30 AM
454thumper 454thumper is offline
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Default Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

I've been reading through these forms because I was doing Ball Joints on my 69... Uppers and Lowers. I use the Factory assembly manual as a reference for torques values. I Also have a chassis overhaul manual that I reference as well and everything I read when trying to figure out how tight the Ball Joint Castle Nuts were suppose to be was up to 115 ft lbs for the lowers and up to 90 ft lbs for the uppers (it seemed a little excessive to me) and yet from what I've been reading these forums I see 90 ft lbs for the lowers and and less than that for the uppers. Anyone shed some light on this for me? Thanks.
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Old Apr 18th, 12, 10:01 AM
oldtimeparts oldtimeparts is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Lou, I use the AIM and whatever it says for torque spec's, I USE
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  #3  
Old Apr 18th, 12, 1:05 PM
454thumper 454thumper is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Rudy,

Thanks for the reply. It does say up to 115 for the lower and up to 90 for the upper to get a pin in it but it just seemed a little excessive as I was doing it. Thought something else was gonna give way and break before the Torque Wrench had a chance to. Checked it at 80 just to make sure the Torque Wrench was working before going to 110 with it. I didn't see many posts on here reflecting those spec's/numbers. Thanks again.

Lou
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Old Apr 18th, 12, 4:01 PM
Schurkey Schurkey is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 454thumper View Post
Rudy,

Thanks for the reply. It does say up to 115 for the lower and up to 90 for the upper to get a pin in it but it just seemed a little excessive as I was doing it. Thought something else was gonna give way and break before the Torque Wrench had a chance to. Checked it at 80 just to make sure the Torque Wrench was working before going to 110 with it. I didn't see many posts on here reflecting those spec's/numbers. Thanks again.

Lou
Those would be the MAXIMUMS, and GM did vary that over the years. Proper procedure is to torque to a lower setting, and then tighten only enough more to align the cotter pin hole with the castellation on the nut.

MOST installations will not go as high as the maximums listed.

Posted long ago...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schurkey View Post
1. My 1968 Chassis service manual specifies 80 ft/lbs not 45 for the "spherical joint-lower stud nut".

1a. My reproduction copy of the '68 Chevelle and El Camino Assembly Instructions says "NUT--A torque of 125 lbs. ft. max. is permissible on nut when slot is in correct position for insertion of C. Pin." This is then modified by footnote 3 which says "70--95 lbs. ft." Be aware that this is very difficult for me to read as the font size is very small and poorly reproduced. Perhaps someone with better eyes--or a better copy of the book--will confirm.
For the lower, you'd torque to 70--90 ft/lbs, then turn only as much additional as needed to get the cotter pin in--but in no event torque more than 125.

Same deal for the upper joint:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr69 View Post
According to the 1969 Chevrolet Chassis Overhaul manual, the correct torque for the Spherical joint Upper stud nut is 50 ft. lbs.

Torque to this spec and then tighten nut to the next hole.

As was stated, never loosen to align cotter pin hole.
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Last edited by Schurkey; Apr 18th, 12 at 4:23 PM.
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Old Apr 19th, 12, 7:15 AM
454thumper 454thumper is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Ok I got it, thanks everyone.
Lou
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  #6  
Old Apr 19th, 12, 9:15 AM
GRN69CHV GRN69CHV is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Can honestly say, in the 35 years I have been wrenching, I have never tightened a castle nut on a ball joint with a torque wrench.
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Old Apr 19th, 12, 1:03 PM
454thumper 454thumper is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Ya know... I can say the same thing. I never have, but other than this weekend car that took me forever to finish and on the road, I really don't do much wrenching anymore. I probably used a Torque Wrench the first time when I put it together 5 or so years ago, don't specifically recall but knowing myself I probably did. And yeah oil changes, plugs and the like...I've gone as far as dropping fuel tanks for the pumps a couple times, ABS/Brake issues and some other things that crop up and where I can help the kids out, but when it comes to doing something on this Chevelle...boy I'm anal.
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Old Apr 19th, 12, 5:01 PM
dgcurrier dgcurrier is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GRN69CHV View Post
Can honestly say, in the 35 years I have been wrenching, I have never tightened a castle nut on a ball joint with a torque wrench.
+1 Ditto on the 35 years.
I tighten it to umphhhhh ft/lbs. Does the castle nut line up with the hole? If not another umphhhh is in order.
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Old Apr 20th, 12, 2:06 PM
Gary56 Gary56 is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dgcurrier View Post
+1 Ditto on the 35 years.
I tighten it to umphhhhh ft/lbs. Does the castle nut line up with the hole? If not another umphhhh is in order.
Me too. IMO, sometimes torque specs are critical. Other times the gootentight scale is fine.
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Old May 13th, 13, 2:30 AM
jullsplv jullsplv is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Ha ha... this is awesome... and I was busy searching the site for all suspension/steering torque specs...
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  #11  
Old Aug 20th, 13, 12:14 PM
cartrouble68 cartrouble68 is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

I'm doing something wrong. Need some input.

I had a lower ball joint fail two weeks ago, stud/ball pulled out. I had replaced all ball joints about a year ago when I did a front brake drum-to-disc conversion. No problems until recently.

When my ball joint failed I replaced all four ball joints, inner and outer tie rods and cut a coil off the the stock springs because I had been unhappy with the ride height. Brought it in for a front end alignment and was back on the road.

Yesterday, I had a lower ball joint nut come off. I heard a click on the way to work when I had to brake abruptly, was shortly at work and while in the parking lot had the ball joint come out and control arm come down. Bad luck... or good luck that in both cases I was barely moving.

So I must be doing something wrong. The cotter pin was broken and still sitting on the lower control arm. After reattaching, spinning a new nut on and using a new cotter pin, I checked the other side... missing the cotter pin but nut still in place! So I made sure to tighten and add a cotter pin.

Looking through the forums, I did not follow the torque specs listed in this thread, more like the "umphhhh" method and then a little bit to line up the nut. I don't think I'm nearing the 125 max for lower ball joints but I'll doublecheck them tonight. Maybe I've gotten stronger?

So my questions ... if you have not reached the 70-90 ft/lbs, should you tighten the nuts more even if you can already get a cotter pin through? or should you only tighten just enough to get a cotter pin through? I feel like if I tighten it too much then the cotter pin won't sit snuggly in the castle nut or maybe won't catch enough of the castle nut and maybe that little bit of play is causing pins to break.
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Old Aug 20th, 13, 1:45 PM
Schurkey Schurkey is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cartrouble68 View Post
I had a lower ball joint fail two weeks ago, stud/ball pulled out. I had replaced all ball joints about a year ago when I did a front brake drum-to-disc conversion. No problems until recently.
Ball pulled out of socket? Extreme wear, cheap-junk defective parts, or operating angles screwed-up due to excessive suspension travel. (Modified ride-height, and/or missing bump stops.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cartrouble68 View Post
When my ball joint failed I replaced all four ball joints, inner and outer tie rods and cut a coil off the the stock springs because I had been unhappy with the ride height. Brought it in for a front end alignment and was back on the road.

Yesterday, I had a lower ball joint nut come off. I heard a click on the way to work when I had to brake abruptly, was shortly at work and while in the parking lot had the ball joint come out and control arm come down. Bad luck... or good luck that in both cases I was barely moving.

So I must be doing something wrong. The cotter pin was broken and still sitting on the lower control arm. After reattaching, spinning a new nut on and using a new cotter pin, I checked the other side... missing the cotter pin but nut still in place! So I made sure to tighten and add a cotter pin.
Wrong torque on nuts, and/or WRONG TAPER ON BALL JOINTS or STEERING KNUCKLE. If the wrong taper was used, or the joint spent any time loose, the taper in the knuckle is now worn/damaged.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cartrouble68 View Post
Looking through the forums, I did not follow the torque specs listed in this thread, more like the "umphhhh" method and then a little bit to line up the nut. I don't think I'm nearing the 125 max for lower ball joints but I'll doublecheck them tonight. Maybe I've gotten stronger?

So my questions ... if you have not reached the 70-90 ft/lbs, should you tighten the nuts more even if you can already get a cotter pin through? or should you only tighten just enough to get a cotter pin through? I feel like if I tighten it too much then the cotter pin won't sit snuggly in the castle nut or maybe won't catch enough of the castle nut and maybe that little bit of play is causing pins to break.
Lower ball joint = 80 ft/lbs, plus only enough extra to line up the hole for the cotter pin. 80 is entirely sufficient if the cotter pin can be installed. As stated previously, other sources suggest a minimum of 70 ft/lbs, and a maximum of 125.

First Guess: your tapers are incorrect/damaged, and nothing is going to fix this until you get correct male and female tapers--which probably means replacing the knuckle(s) and maybe the ball joints.

There was a long thread a few years ago about aftermarket steering knuckles, and how the Communist Chinese couldn't cut the proper taper into them--and how the Communist Collaborators in this country couldn't do proper QA on the part.
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Old Aug 20th, 13, 7:03 PM
cartrouble68 cartrouble68 is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Thanks for the input.

Not sure if the ball joint that pulled out was Moog or not, will have to check receipts.

I will check the torque on the ball joints and see if I actually over tighten them and if so they will all be replaced again. They are stock spindles so hopefully the knuckle taper was not damaged from any over-tightening. The ball joints I just installed were Moog so I would assume the taper would be correct if my spindle was not already damaged. I did read the other threads about ball joints breaking due to incorrect taper of offshore spindles...

Driving the spare in the meantime.
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Old Aug 20th, 13, 7:20 PM
Schurkey Schurkey is offline
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Default Re: Upper/Lower Ball Joint Torque Specs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cartrouble68 View Post
They are stock spindles so hopefully the knuckle taper was not damaged from any over-tightening.
But the nuts were loose, one actually popped back out of the knuckle when the nut fell off. Those tapers are probably wiped-out now.

OVER tightening wouldn't likely lead to having the nuts end up loose, unless the threads were severely damaged--or the taper wasn't correct. UNDER-tightening could.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cartrouble68 View Post
The ball joints I just installed were Moog so I would assume the taper would be correct if my spindle was not already damaged.
But were they the correct part number for the application; were the wrong parts supplied in the correct-part-numbered box? One way or another, what you went through seems VERY suspicious.
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