Ball Joint and Tie Rod replacement

I posted this message here a while back http://groups.google.com/group/alt.autos.dodge.trucks/browse_thread/thread/fa1c0ca3313a19a1
Since then I have bought the parts and I plan on doing the job on one
of the coming weekends, but I am unclear what special tools besides a pickle fork I need. I am willing to invest in tools and as this truck is my only vehicle, once I have it apart and need to get something, I will rely on a friend or two to be on standby and drive me to the parts/tool store in case I need something.
Do I need a puller? Do I need a spring compressor? Especially latter I am not sure yet how to handle the spring. Also, I plan on drilling the original rivets out, just wondering if I will be able to get to the upper ones with the drill.
Bottom line, there should be someone amongst the readers here who has done this before and can share his experience.
Axel
2000 Dodge Ram 1500 2WD V8 5.9l 135,000 miles
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Probably the easiest thing to do is just remove both control arms, then remove/replace the ball joints on the bench. It's really not that much more work. Basically, here's what to do:
Support the front end on jackstands, from the frame. Pull the wheels off, remove the calipers (tie them up so they don't hang from the hoses) and caliper mounting brackets, then remove the rotor. Disconnect the tie rods from the knuckles (remove cotter pin, back off castle nut, whack with big hammer.... you're replacing them, so you don't have to be gentle). Disconnect the sway bar end link from the lower control arm.
Now, support the lower control arm with a jack (just enough to compress the spring about an 1/8" or so - not a lot). Then, separate the lower ball joint from the knuckle. Again, remove cotter pin, back off castle nut, whack with big hammer. A pickle fork may help here, depending on how stuck the ball joints are. Given that they're cheap enough, I'd say pick one up (the set I have has replaceable forks, one small for tie rods, one big for ball joints). With that loose, remove the lower shock bolt, and lower the jack slowly until you can remove the spring. Then, unbolt the control arm from the frame, and set it aside.
Next, separate the upper ball joint just like you did the lower. Leave the castle nut on a few threads to prevent the steering knuckle from falling on your foot. Once separated, remove the knuckle, then remove the two pivot bar bolts, and remove the upper arm.
Now you can easily drill out the old ball joints, bolt the new ones in, and swap your tie rods (use the old ones as a measurement for the new ones, so you get them the same length - close enough to drive to the alignment shop). Reassembly isn't anything special - just do everything in reverse.
Some torque specs for you:
Lower shock bolt: 105 ft.lbs. Lower ball joint castle nut: 95 ft.lbs. Sway bar end link: 27 ft.lbs. Tie rod castle nut: 80 ft.lbs. Lower control arm crossmember nuts: 125 ft.lbs. Upper control arm pivot bar bolts: 125 ft.lbs. Upper ball joint castle nut: 60 ft.lbs. Brake caliper mounting bolts: 24 ft.lbs. (these are the smaller slide bolts, that mount the actual caliper to the bracket that surrounds the rotor) Caliper mounting bracket bolts: 130 ft.lbs. (these are the bigger bolts that bolt the bracket to the steering knuckle)
Note for all castle nuts: tighten to torque spec., then if necessary, tighten until cotter pin hole lines up. NEVER back off a castle nut to align the cotter pin.
It's a pretty straight-forward job - not really any special tools required (aside from a pickle fork that might help out). Give yourself a good 4 hours or so to do the job - and I'd do one side at a time, so you have the other side as a reference.
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THANKS Tom, that makes it clear. One more question though: The bushings for the control arm, do they need to be replaced? I recall reading somewhere that they should be renewed with every disassemble. I have all the ball joints and tie rod ends but would need to order the bushings in case you recommend to replace them as well.
Thanks Axel
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Given the fact that you'll have everything torn apart, and the cost of all new replacement bushings isn't all that much, I'd definitely replace them. Yeah, they might still be usable - but when are you going to have such easy access to replace them? Not that it's a hard job, but once you do all the work, you'll be glad you won't have to touch anything for another 100K or so.
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That is exactly what I thought and what I will do. I will document the project most likely including photos and share. Axel
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