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Old 09-08-2006, 03:37 AM   #1
nhluhr
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Default Installation of the 6Gun Racing Ball Joint Extension Kit

More info on what this mod does, where to get it, etc, can be found in my review thread >here<.

The installation is straightforward and, taking your time, could take as little as 2 hours or as much as 4, depending on how stuck your balljoints and tierods are in the hub.

Tools required (for my install):
-low ramps
-rhino ramps
-jack
-jackstands
-1/2" air impact wrench with 12, 14, 17, 19 impact sockets
-air ratchet with 12, 14 deep sockets
-14mm box and ratcheting wrenches
-17mm box and ratcheting wrenches
-19mm box and ratcheting wrenches
-flathead screwdriver
-1/2" breaker bar
-large vise grips
-large adjustable wrench (crescent)
-rubber mallet (or deadblow)
-hammer
-anti-sieze
-blue loctite
-PB Blaster or other good penetrating lube
-brakekleen
-rags

This is the kit we will be installing:



Since we are talking about a lowered STI which will have a hard time getting the jack under, first step is to roll up on the low ramps. I used a homemade set that is just wood. You could also use the fancy plastic Takata LDS ramps (which I have also, but prefer the wood).


Then jack up the car by the front jacking plate, put it safely on jackstands, and remove both front wheels using the 19mm socket:


To make it easier to photograph, I removed the brake caliper and rotor. This is NOT REQUIRED for the installation. Repeat: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REMOVE THE BRAKES. Nonetheless, if you choose to do so, just to make the work area more open, this is how you do it. First, remove the two 19mm bolts holding the caliper on and lash it to the coil spring with a piece of wire or a strap. Use a couple spare M8x1.25 bolts with antisieze on the threads to screw into the threaded holes:


Gently turn both bolts, a little at a time, until the rotor pops off. Remove rotor and set aside.


Then remove the (3) M8 bolts securing the dust shield using your 12mm deep socket:


And this is what you're left with:
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Last edited by nhluhr; 01-06-2008 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 09-08-2006, 03:38 AM   #2
nhluhr
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Under the car, remove the plastic splashtray. It is held on by (5) 12mm bolts and (4) plastic pop clips. You will use the 12mm deep socket with air ratchet and a flathead screwdriver.

Also remove the subframe. This is held on by (6) 17mm bolts, (4) 14mm bolts at the back ends, (2) 12mm bolts across the front, and (2) plastic pop clips on the side in the wheel well, and (2) more plastic clips on the rearward ends. The only "trick" here is to remove everything EXCEPT the rear-most two 14mm bolts and one of the front 12mm bolts. Just loosen these. Once you are under the car with your legs pointing out front, remove the 12mm bolt, allow your legs to support the weight of the subframe (only 25lbs), and slide the whole thing forward off the rearmost bolts, then push it out from under the car. You can use the airgun for all of this except the plastic clips, for which a flathead screwdriver works.

Moving on, the next step is to unbolt the swaybar endlink from the control arm. Use your 14mm box wrench to loosen and remove the nut. If the stud starts to turn with the nut, use a 5mm allen key in the hole on the end of the stud to keep it from turning:



remove the cotter pin that secures the castle-nut on the tie rod end. Use a small pointed tool to straighten the ends of the pin, then a pair of pliers or a pin tool to remove the pin from the stud. Loosen and remove the castle-nut using your 19mm wrenches. Spray some PB Blaster on the stud and let it begin to soak in:


Now, we move on to the Ball Joint itself. As you see, I mistakenly loosened the castle-nut on the balljoint. DON'T DO THIS. You only want to remove the 14mm bolt that holds the ball joint in the hub. Once you remove the bolt, spray PB blaster in the split:


The rubber bushings that secure the control arm to the chassis do not slide. They only deflect. This means that you will not be able to pull the control arm down to get the balljoint out. You will use a pair of 17mm wrenches to loosen the forward bushing (bolt + nut) and for the rear, just use your 19mm socket on the impact gun to remove the two bolts. If your gun won't break it, use your jack handle on the breaker bar for super-human torque breaking. Alternatively, if you have a 22mm box wrench, you can just loosen the nut on the end of the rear bushing. I didn't have one so I had to do it the hard way. FWIW, getting to these bolts is the entire reason we had to remove the subframe earlier. It's a pisser, I know, but trust me, you won't get the balljoints in/out with the bushings clamped in place.

Use the end of your breaker bar between the control arm and the hub, as shown, to pry the ball joint out. Use your rags to clean all the grit and PB out of the hole and off the BJ. Important to note, you do NOT want to harm the rubber boot, so make sure you clean the PB off of it and that your prybar doesn't tear it:


Apply a thin coat of antisieze to the male and female portions of the 6Gun balljoint extension and insert it. It's a tight fit, so you'll need the socket to be very clean and you have to insert it perfectly straight or else it won't want to cooperate. Use the OE bolt to secure the extension into the hub, and use the bolt that 6Gun provided to secure the ball joint into the extension. The torque spec is 37 ft-lbs. That's a little bit tighter than the exhaust bolts, if that helps. Once both are bolted in, it looks like this:


You can now bolt the control arm back up in the rear, and re-tighten the front bushing. The torque specs for the control arm are as follows:
Nut that secures the rearward bushing (if you loosened it): 140 ft-lbs
Bolts that secure the rearward bushing to body (if you removed them): 184 ft-lbs
Bolt/nut that secure the forward bushing to crossmember: 70 ft-lbs

Last edited by nhluhr; 01-06-2008 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 09-08-2006, 03:38 AM   #3
nhluhr
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Now that the balljoint is in, we need to put in the bump-steer corrector (aka, the tierod extension). By now, the PB will have soaked as well as it's gonna soak into that tie rod end. Preferably, this is done with a Ball Joint Separator but I didn't have one so I used the hammer instead. Furthermore, this is best done with a 2lb Sledge, hitting the rod-arm to avoid messing up the threads, but I didn't have that either. I used a couple sharp accurate strikes of the hammer to free the tierod-end from the hub. The only important thing in this step is that you DON'T mangle the threads on the stud. To prevent this, you can either put a junk nut on the threads to protect it, or just be VERY careful to hammer nice and flat. Personally, I used the rounded edge of a 17mm box wrench nice and flat on top and struck the wrench squarely with my hammer. It took several good blows. Also, you should avoid hitting the ABS Sensor with the hammer. Be careful.


Use Brakekleen and a clean rag to thoroughly clean the threads on the tierod-end. Once you have it nice and clean, apply blue loctite to the threads. Since loctite works best on clean threads, the cleanliness is very important!:


Remove the tiny fixing screw from the extension (2mm allen key), and then thread the extension onto the rod-end. Gently slide the dust-boot back and clamp the rod-end with a pair of large vise-grips. Use a large adjustable wrench to tighten down the extension. It is very important to get this as tight as possible:


Apply a bit of loctite to the fixing-screw and screw it into the extension tightly. This will help prevent the extension from loosening:


Here is the tierod extension installed. The torque spec on the castle nut is 19.9 ft-lbs, but you will want to go up to that spec, and then a little more to get the slots in the nut to line up with the hole in the stud so you can get the cotter pin through:


DO NOT FORGET to put the cotter pin back into the tierod-end. You'll have to line up the slots on the Castle-Nut with the hole in the stud, then push the cotter pin through and use pliers to bend the tabs like so:

Last edited by nhluhr; 01-06-2008 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 09-08-2006, 03:39 AM   #4
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Now that the kit is installed, you can put the car back together.

- You need to put the brakes back on if you removed them. Toss the rotor back up, put a couple lugnuts on to hold it in place, then slide the caliper over the rotor and bolt the caliper down. You may have to forcibly spread the pads apart a bit to get it on the rotor. Torque spec for the 19mm caliper bolts is: 114.3 ft-lbs for the STI (torque for the WRX is 59 ft-lbs).

- Replace the wheels. Torque for the lugnuts is at least 67 ft-lbs.

- You need to bolt up the swaybar endlinks. This will be easy if you let the car back down on tall ramps (Rhino) and then crawl under. The washer goes between the link and the control arm, NOT under the nut. Torque spec is 33 ft-lbs.

- you need to reinstall the subframe. this is done easiest by reversing the removal. That is, slide it onto those rearmost 14mm bolts, then put one of the 12mm bolts on the front. Now, finger-tighten all the bolts into place. Do not fully tighten any of them until you have ALL of them threaded in a bit. Once you have them all finger-tightened, torque everything down and re-insert the (4+) plastic pop clips. Torque specs are as follows:
(4) 14mm bolts - 52 ft-lbs
(6) 17mm bolts - 41 ft-lbs (yes, i realize this is lower than the 14mm bolts)
(2) 12mm bolts - 25 ft-lbs

- you need to replace the plastic splashtray. Just put it up in place. Pay attention to the two tabs toward the front that hook up over the lip of the subframe. Put the front bolts in, then the rear bolts, then the pop-clips, and then torque everything down. Torque for the (5) 12mm bolts is 10.3 ft-lbs.

Here is what the kit looks like installed, with the weight of the car supported on the wheels. Notice that the angle of the control arms is now significantly down from where it was before. This is what will give us the magical camber during bump and the entire reason we did this mod:


Here is the clearance between the control arm and the wheel, once the kit is installed. There is a good half inch of clearance between the close point on the stock BBS's. I imagine other wheels could have more or less clearance.


Before I installed this kit, I was running -2.0* camber on each front wheel, using the RCE Camber Plates. During the install, I brought the camber plates back a couple ticks to acheive -1.8* on each wheel. As a result, I had roughly 3/8" toe-out. To fix this, I adjusted each tie rod to be approx 2/3turn longer. This set me back to 0 toe. For the alignment steps, I used a SmartCamber digital camber gauge and a Longacre Racing trammel bar to measure toe. You will definitely need to do a front wheel alignment after this mod.

Luckily, you can do the alignment yourself with simple and inexpensive tools:
HowTo: 4 Wheel Toe&Thrust Alignment

Last edited by nhluhr; 01-06-2008 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 09-08-2006, 04:19 AM   #5
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nice write up. It's very thorough.

Last edited by jamal; 09-08-2006 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 09-08-2006, 04:37 AM   #6
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Great write up! Any review in the handling department yet?

Looks like it'd be a good idea to throw an ALK in there at the same time if you're going to loosen up the control arm, as well.
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Old 09-08-2006, 04:39 AM   #7
nhluhr
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drees View Post
Great write up! Any review in the handling department yet?

Looks like it'd be a good idea to throw an ALK in there at the same time if you're going to loosen up the control arm, as well.
Wanted to avoid the moderator fury so I put all my impressions over in the Car Parts Review forum:

http://forums.nasioc.com/forums/show....php?t=1085646
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Old 09-08-2006, 04:44 AM   #8
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Thanks, reading it now.
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Old 09-08-2006, 08:17 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
Now that the balljoint is in, we need to put in the bump-steer corrector (aka, the tierod extension). By now, the PB will have soaked as well as it's gonna soak into that tie rod end. You will use a couple sharp accurate strikes of the hammer to free the tierod-end from the hub. The only important thing in this step is that you DON'T mangle the threads on the stud. To prevent this, you can either put a junk nut on the threads to protect it, or just be VERY careful to hammer nice and flat. Personally, I used the rounded edge of a 17mm box wrench nice and flat on top and struck the wrench squarely with my hammer. It took several good blows. Also, you should avoid hitting the ABS Sensor with the hammer. Be careful.
I was always taught that you should never hit the tie rod end or the stud sticking up through the knuckle. Just take your BFH and give the knuckle/spindle a couple good whacks on the end of the steering arm and the tie rod stud will drop right out. Works every time for me, and (unless your aim is really poor) there's no chance of damaging the tie rod stud, the ABS sensor, or anything else.

Just an alternate technique to consider. Very thorough write-up.

Pat Olsen
'97 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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Old 09-08-2006, 09:08 AM   #10
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Dang, Nick!! Ours aren't even supposed to arrive until today, and you've already done instructions. I feel like a total slacker.

BTW, submit this to scoobymods.
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Old 09-08-2006, 09:11 AM   #11
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Very well done write up. Might have to try these out. I'd like to look at them next time you're at a meet with the car.
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Old 09-08-2006, 10:28 AM   #12
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Awesome writeup! Thanks for the work and the pictures

This certainly makes my instructions look like childs play.

-Tom
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Old 09-08-2006, 10:55 AM   #13
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And for those of you who live in areas where they use salt in the winter. You will be beating the hell out of everything trying to remove the ball joint. Don't worry, that's normal. Just don't break anything.
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Old 09-08-2006, 12:46 PM   #14
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Great write up....
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Old 09-08-2006, 12:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Olsen View Post
I was always taught that you should never hit the tie rod end or the stud sticking up through the knuckle. Just take your BFH and give the knuckle/spindle a couple good whacks on the end of the steering arm and the tie rod stud will drop right out. Works every time for me, and (unless your aim is really poor) there's no chance of damaging the tie rod stud, the ABS sensor, or anything else.

Just an alternate technique to consider. Very thorough write-up.

Pat Olsen
'97 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
Well, I don't have a BFH (aka 2lb sledge), just a Stanley Graphite hammer and rubber mallet. I did try whacking the crap out of the steering arm to no avail... I tried to stress the importance of not screwing up the threads though. Cause if you do that, you're S.O.L. until you can get a new rod-end. I do agree with ya, just didn't have a BFH.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:07 PM   #16
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Great write-up - nice clear pics!

Regarding the tie rod ball joint, you might want to suggest folks try one of these if they're concerned about damaging the ball stud:



It fits nicely between the rubber boot and the knuckle and doesn't tear the boots - unlike the 'pickle fork' separators. I keep the castle nut on a few turns as an extra precaution against mangling the thread.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:23 PM   #17
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Any more info on that tool? like, what it's called, where to get it, how much $$? I would imagine it is called a "Rod End Separator" and costs $texas from Snapon.
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Old 09-08-2006, 01:39 PM   #18
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I got mine from a local discount place... can't remember how much... probably $10-$15 cdn

Googled 'ball joint separator' and got

http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/shop/TA-61900.html
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Old 09-08-2006, 02:11 PM   #19
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Cool, added that to the installation how-to as a preferred method

And Patrick Olsen, I added your method as a secondary preferred method.
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Old 09-09-2006, 07:38 AM   #20
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First of all, great post nhluhr. I have a couple of questions for you, if you (or anyone else) care to answer them.

1. Am I correct in thinking that these ball joint extender also change the car's roll center? (in addition to the camber curve change)

2. Any thoughts on if they might work better with or without an ALK?

Thanks,
J

Last edited by Jeff B; 09-09-2006 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 09-09-2006, 10:38 AM   #21
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I assume that the suspension is at full droop in this picture. Since the angle between the strut and the arm is much smaller because of the extender will it not cause binding on the ball joint? In similar joint modifications I've seen, they replace the ball joints with those that have much more articulation... I suppose 6gun looked into this and made sure this wont be an issue(??).
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Old 09-09-2006, 11:02 AM   #22
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Yes that pic is with the front jacked up, suspension at full droop. Not to mention, the balljoint has a massive amount of articulation. That isn't even half of its range.
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Old 09-09-2006, 01:22 PM   #23
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achhh! now i have to buy this contraption.
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Old 09-09-2006, 06:52 PM   #24
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Nice write up Nick
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:14 AM   #25
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I take it this wouldnt be a street mod compliant mod since it chages the geometry of the front suspention and pickup points?
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