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Do top ball joints loosen up

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Now in the process of wrapping up the 4A's front end check and rebuild.  The steering always seemed heavy with the 195's, but had nothing to compare it with.

During the re-assembly and checking for possible sources contributing to heavy steering, the trunnion rotation is light and smooth so no issues there. however, the next component in the chain being the top ball joint requires 12 lb force to initiate and sustain slow rotation the vertical link.  This is with a new Amsteer ball joint, and I have no experience to determine how it should compare to to the 20 year old one of unknown make

To what extent will this contribute to heavy steering? Any advice on what I should expect would be welcome,




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I would suggest if you think it’s too tight it is.  I don’t think there is a force to measure / compare against.

you should easily swivel the upright with pulling and pushing the disc when set up. Especially if not connected to steering thus the other side.

I had nightmare top ball joints from rimmers when I changed / upgraded the suspension on my car.

admittedly I went to expensive high articulation versions 



My advice is not to wait for them to free up. 
it should be good out of the box literally. 

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There was an issue a while back with that joint, it didnt have the full articulation, with the suspension in droop, but I dont think this is your issue here?


Edited by John L
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Hi Alf,

looking at your photos the way of travel down of the hole issue could now be limited by the top ball joint?

Means the tapered pin with the ball on top could be in contact with the metal housing of the top ball joint.

My advice is to lift the trunnion by a piece of wood under the trunnions and try again.

Are the 12 lb the force before the movement brakes free and is it less when you turn the construcion?

Finaly you could connect the steering tie rods of the steering and turn the steering wheel (with the trunnions lifted).

But don't overdo, the way of careless movement is limited with the car lifted.

Easy to check the forces before would have been to drive with the car on a sandy road or place the wheel on 2 CDs (in the old days this silver plastik items with music on there).

Have much success.

Ciao, Marco

Edited by Z320
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Hi Alf,

the TBJ does loosen of very slightly with quite afew miles under its' belt.

Your 12lbs pulling force is at apprx 6" length. So this is about 6lbs.ft - this is not a great deal. I wouldn't panic.

You will have similar issues with a new Track Rod End.

The problem with the TBJ a few years ago (and possibly still now) was that as the suspension dropped the taper pin would press on the outer case and make the steering stiff.

This in reality is not a major issue as you would need to be airbourne for it to happen. However the better quality TBJ's do not do this .



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Many thanks for welcome responses

Hamish - great video, even my old joints are not that bad.  I am still unsure whether my old joints are are OK or not - will reassess as I tried the drill trick on one and it seems to spin a little easier than the new one.  I wonder if ball joints take on a wear pattern with time that makes it increasingly harder for them to turn

Marco - if I read you correctly, yes the suspension is at ride height with the spring compressor still in place.  The joint taper seems to be sitting correctly with a 16.4 mm gap between body and vertical link.




Roy - thanks, I tried you suggestion and gave the joint for the left side a good spin, so we''' see how that turns out. I did observe that the heat builds quite quickly and starts to slow the drill down. Will see how they are after cool down.


Roger - Yeh maybe I am being anal about this but I know we often experience heavy steering and attribute that all to the tyres. If I have to live with it,  there is 12 lbs (2 X 6lbs) ball joint stiction for the rack ratio to overcome, the how much effort would this resistive force translate to at the rim of a 14" steering wheel - what do you figure?

Sorry, I guess I also suffer from not being able to rotate images before posting - I did have them the right way in the pictures folder




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The Amsteer joints tend to be quite stiff when examined in isolation but they aren’t sloppy and feature the correct articulation. I don’t think that you will notice any extra turning effort required in use......I didn’t. They will certainly bed in a bit but hopefully they will remain relatively stiff and slop free in use. 
Getting them hot with a drill will certainly bu**er them up pretty quickly in which case you may as well have bought some for £20 a pair off eBay. 

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Thanks all,

based on the great feedback, I'll leave the passenger side as is then and move on to the left and see how that turns out with the only difference being the this one has been turned with a drill.  Will report back relative to the simple test noted following.

FWIW, I did try the torque -to-turn test on the bare joint using a 10" spanner for the arm - both the old and the new (after spinning) results within the accuracy  of this Heath Robinson technique, were as close as to next to nothing, i.e. 1.00 lb. using a better scale for actual reading














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I perhaps should have said ensure plenty of oil /grease 

I have had seized ones which shows our problems

when in Belgium one Tr specialist said they even use valve grinding paste on new ones . Just how you endure it is then all removed I do not know 


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Many thanks for guidance received - this is a wrap.

Following a gentle spin of the tight ball joint, the force has been reduced from 12 - 14 lbs registering circa 5 - 7 lbs to rotate using the steering arm (6").  I also like the feel of the movement and feel confident that ball joints should not contribute to heavy steering.

Both sides now registering 5-7 lbs installed and 1-2 lbs on the bare ball joint (10" spanner arm)

Roy - I note you reside in Leigh.  I have friends there on Woodcote Rd - really enjoy a prawn sandwich after a stroll through Old Leigh, 'tis a great spot!



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