Saturday, January 12, 2013

Working on the new truck

Ahh, now we're caught up

So, we bought the new truck back in November. It's been pulling a little to the right so I decided to get the front end alignment done. Every little bit to help gas mileage. Anyway, they told me the right upper ball joint and right outer tie-rod end needed replacing. So I've been digging into that. I don't know whether it's because the previous mechanics used locktite or it's just that the truck is so much bigger than my old one, but I've had to use a cheater pipe on every major nut and bolt I've token loose. And then I finally got it torn down to the axle in the middle of the hub. Before you can take the hub loose, you have to get a snap-ring off of the axle. This ain't no standard snap-ring either. I couldn't open it my standard way (stick needle-nosed pliers in and spread them out by hand) so I borrowed a friend's snap-ring pliers. I snapped the end off. Then I bought some from Home Depot and bent the tips. Then I bought some from OReilly's and bent the tips on those as well.

Searching forums, I've found that the pliers I should be using are going to run $50-$80. So, I figured I'd try something else first. I got an old pair of wire strippers and ground the tips down so they would fit the snap-ring holes. Needle-nose would have worked, but the cutting surface was junked on these strippers anyway. Then I used a heat gun to get the handles off. I planned on drilling holes in the handles, but found that there were already holes. Since I didn't drill them, I didn't want to ream them out bigger, and I couldn't find a bolt or threaded rod small enough to go through that I also had nuts for. So I found a link of chain and cut it in half. I welded each half to a large nut (making sure they face opposite directions) and then I welded a piece of scrap iron over the hole on one of them, and then hooked the chain pieces through the holes in the handles.

I ground the threaded rod down on the end so the threads wouldn't be there to engage with the nut, and then threaded it through. As the rod screws in, the threadless end pushes against the scrap metal on one nut, while the threads pull the other nut in the opposite direction. It makes a spreader for the pliers. It got too hard to turn by hand, so I had to put jam nuts on the end of the threaded rod so I could get a ratchet on it. After that, it worked like a charm. Pictures are below, and more will be coming eventually of each piece in a step-by-step fashion later.

Just some notes:
  • The welds suck.
    1. I weld fine on longer runs, but my starts are almost always bad. I need time to see the puddle and make sure it welds right. The welds on these nuts are so short that they are basically all starts.
    2. A lot of these welds were done in late evening, and I didn't have a good light.
  • The threaded rod is massive overkill. I figured a larger rod would be easier to turn by hand, but it wasn't enough. I'm also of the opinion that you can always make a rope shorter, but it's a major pain to make it longer. I feel the same way about threaded rods, so if I don't have to cut it, I won't.

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