Ball Joint and Tie Rod replacement - Update

2000 Dodge Ram 1500 Pickup 2WD V8 5.9l 137,000 miles
This past weekend I tackled the job of replacing the ball joints. I initially inquired about it here in a different post:
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.autos.dodge.trucks/browse_thread/thread/fdd050ddd7918f88 #
I followed the steps outlined by Tom Lawrence in the prior post and the repair manual (both basically match). I tend to agree with Tom's statement that it is a "pretty straight-forward job". I took pictures at every step along the way. If somebody is interested please let me know and I will be happy to pass the pictures along or point me to a good site to post them. And yes, drilling out the original rivets takes patience, but it is perfectly doable.
HOWEVER, here some real world experience and a problem left to solve which I need some advise for. I only had time to do the drivers side. 1st problem I ran into is that the steering knuckle did not want to come loose from the lower ball joint. Solution: you can take the lower control arm off with the steering knuckle attached as long as you get it loose from the upper ball joint. Once the lower control arm is off, it was as easy as two (2) gentle hits with a 3lbs hammer to get the steering knuckle to come off. 2nd problem was that the sway bar end link did not detach from the lower control arm even if the lower end nut was easy to be removed, but it did not come out. Simple solution, loosen the upper end. Again once the lower control arm is out you can flip it around and easily see what is going on to remove the sway bar end link.
Here is the big problem I have left: the inner tie rod end does not come out of the center link. I need some real world advise on how to get it off. The pickle fork does not do the trick. I was able to get some flat wood pieces behind the center link between the frame behind it so that I could hit the tie rod end bolt with a hammer without the center link swinging, but no luck. It is not screwed in there, is it? I put WD40 on it, no difference. It is stuck in there. I need some ideas of what else to do. It concerns me that even beating it with a hammer did not get it out. I don't really want to take the center link out as I think that the joints connecting it to the idler and pitman arm will also be stuck and I may be damaging those creating more work and calling for more parts. I wonder how difficult it is to get the pitman arm of the steering gear and the whole idler arm assembly detached from the frame to take the center link out. Any more ideas - real world ideas - on how to get the inner tie rod end out of the center link would be greatly appreciated.
Axel
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
axel wrote:

Tapered piece that inserts into a tapered hole.
Easy way to get them apart - Take two large hammers. Place one on one side of the center link, then use the other to give a solid hit to the opposite side of the link on the eye the tie rod goes through. Usually takes at most two good hits.
What happens is the sudden hit slightly springs the tapered hole and squeezes the pin out (sort of like toothpaste out of a tube). I have only had one tie rod not come out this way. That one had a major problem with damage. Works for tie rod ends, ball joint sockets, pretty much any tapered socket style mounting.
--
Steve W.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

No luck, tried what was suggested here. It is stuck. I need some other ideas. If you google this topic I am obviously not the only one who has the issue. I plan on trying to take the pitman arm off the gear box and the idler arm off the frame to get the center link with the tie rod ends out from under the car, assuming I am able to get the idler arm actually off.
But then what? Heat? Or anybody ever cut the thicker end of the tapered end? What I am thinking is that then I can put like a socket or piece of pipe underneath and whack it with a hammer from the top to get out.
Axel
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I gave up on getting the tie rods apart and brought it to the shop on the corner. This was the 4th time only in the 8 years that I have had the truck that it has seen a shop from the inside (1 time for evaporator replacement (dash had to come out), 1 time for a brake jop when I know I would not have time to do it myself, 1 time for a dash replacement as part of a recall). They agreed to put the parts in that I already had purchased (tie rods inner and outer). They did a fine job. I asked the tech who worked on the car how he got them apart. He was not very specific but stated that he used an air chissel and a big hammer. Anyway, they did an alignment also, my steering wheel was not pointing straight, so I bought it back and 15mins later I was out and it drives nice and feels stiff. Overall I still saved quite a bit of money by doing the ball joint myself as that was the more labor intensive part compared to the tie rods.
Axel
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.