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Old 11-21-2010, 04:53 PM   #1
lsejlowe
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C3 Control Arm Removal How-To

There's no rocket science to removing your control arms, but there are a few tricks of the trade and a few areas to pay attention to for safety. This should serve as a pretty good step-by-step on how to do it without getting too frustrated or hurting yourself

There are several ways to skin this cat, but this is my preferred method. I encourage someone else to make a similar thread using a different method.

I happen to have the front clip off my car which makes things a lot easier to get to, but hopefully will make it more apparent how it all ties together.

1. Break the lug nuts loose on front wheels.

2. Jack up the front of the car and support it securely on jack stands. It doesn't have to be exceptionally high, but you want it far enough off the ground that the lower control arm can swing down quite a ways.

3. Remove wheels.

4. Remove calipers and use a piece of wire to hang them from the frame to avoid undue stress on the brake hose.

5. Remove the shock absorber. Just remove the nut and bushings at the top of the shock and the two bolts holding it to the lower control arm.

6. I use a long 5/8" threaded rod and a sturdy steel plate to hold the spring pressure and secure the lower control arm. A lot of people chain the spring to the frame and use a jack under the arm to hold it up, but I feel the threaded rod is less risky and a little easier. Just insert the rod through the hole in the lower arm and up through the upper shock mount. Use a couple good size washers and a nut to secure it at both ends. Don't tighten it up yet, just get it in position and take out most of the slack.








7. Now you can remove the cotter pins on the upper and lower ball joints and loosen the castle nuts a couple turns. Do the same for the tie rod end.
upper ball joint nut: 3/4" wrench


lower ball joint nut: 15/16" wrench


tie rod end nut: 11/16" wrench

8. Now you're ready to separate the tie rod ends from the steering knuckle. If you're not going to reuse the grease boot a pickle fork is a great tool for this job. If you've never used a pickle fork before there isn't much to it. It's just a fork shaped wedge that you can drive between a suspension member and a ball joint or tie rod end to separate the tapered shaft on the stud from the tapered hole. I got a set at Sears that's made in the USA by Lisle for $40. Don't be shy about whacking the shit out of the thing to get it to pop the tie rod out of the hole.



9. Once you've loosened things up with the pickle fork, remove the nut and swing the tie rod down out of the way.

10. Now you're going to repeat the same procedure for the upper ball joint. Make sure you only loosened the castle nut a few turns and did not remove it completely. The only thing holding that coil spring in place is the connection at the two ball joints that you're about to break loose. Now insert the pickle fork and give it a couple good whacks to separate the upper ball joint from the knuckle. Be sure that the fork is lined up so it's not running into the frame or another part of the control arm and all the force of the hammer blow is being used to wedge the fork between the ball joint and the knuckle. You'll also notice that there are different sizes of pickle forks. I used the smaller one in my set for the tie rod end and upper ball joint, but that one wouldn't fit around the stud on the lower ball joint.




Notice how close the end of the fork gets to the frame:


11. Now you can tighten up the nut on top of the threaded rod to pull the lower control arm up and remove any tension on the upper ball joint. You can now safely remove the castle nut on the upper ball joint. Loosen the nut on the threaded rod to allow the lower control arm to droop and relieve the spring tension. Stock springs are REALLY LONG. I have the VBP 550# springs and they're much easier to install and remove.


12. Remove the threaded rod and lower the control arm as far as necessary to remove the spring.
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Old 11-21-2010, 05:03 PM   #2
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13. With the spring out of the equation you can lift the knuckle up to where it engages with the upper ball joint again and thread the castle nut on a turn or two. Let that hold the weight of the knuckle while you work on separating the lower ball joint. I used the middle size pickle fork from my Lisle kit on the lower with little success. So little, in fact, that after 5 minutes of wailing on the pickle fork I gave up and changed strategies. I got out the three-jaw puller and with relatively little effort had it separate.



I was actually rather surprised at how well it worked. I figured that with all the grease and uneven surface of the knuckle the jaws would be slipping off all over the place, but it worked like a charm. If you're trying to reuse your ball joint boots this would be an excellent alternative to the pickle fork. Probably non enough room for the three-jaw on the upper ball joint, but if you have a good two-jaw you might be able to go that route.

14. Remove the castle nut from the lower ball joint and then the upper ball joint to free the knuckle assembly from the car.


15. All that's left is to remove the few nuts and bolts that hold the control arms and you're home free! Don't forget to keep the shim stacks together on the upper control arm if you don't want to change your alignment.

Overall, I was rather disappointed with the pickle forks I bought. After disassembling just one side of the suspension the handle was much more mushroomed than I would have expected. Especially since I was using a measly little 12oz ball peen hammer.




The next step for me will be to install the poly bushings and MOOG ball joints:
Control Arm Bushing Install - Poly

Last edited by lsejlowe; 11-21-2010 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 11-21-2010, 07:44 PM   #3
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Where the heck was this when I was rebuilding my front end???

LOL!

Nice write up with some very good safety bullet points in there. I'll check back to see how its finished up.

I'd like to add;
If you are doing this with the front end of your car still attached, you will have to remove the fan shroud to completely remove the Upper A-arms! The large stock fan shroud has reliefs in it for the A-arm studs, but there isn't enough room to slide the A-arms off of the studs.
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*UNDER CONSTRUCTION*
1980 Corvette LG4
CA Edition 305V8 TH-350 Automatic
180hp @ 4200RPM 255lbft @ 2200RPM
Red w/Red cloth interior
Stock D44 with 3.54 gear ratio
 
Old 11-21-2010, 08:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SOMFormula View Post
Where the heck was this when I was rebuilding my front end???

LOL!
sorry I was a little late.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SOMFormula View Post
I'd like to add;
If you are doing this with the front end of your car still attached, you will have to remove the fan shroud to completely remove the Upper A-arms! The large stock fan shroud has reliefs in it for the A-arm studs, but there isn't enough room to slide the A-arms off of the studs.
Good call on that

The other option is to put a nut on the studs and tap them outward so they fall out. That should allow you to get the upper arm through the hole in the inner fender. When re-installing them, just be sure the knurls line up in the same spots. Otherwise you can damage the hole in the frame and the studs will start to turn on you when you try to tighten the nuts. And that can be a real pain in the ass
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:21 PM   #5
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unrelated

sorry to change subject but you said front clip was off, obivious front photos, good job on pics and instructions, im doing a frame off and now it looks like clip needs to come off to address birdcage issues, was removal difficult 1-10, how will you know how to postion when time to reinstall
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
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sorry to change subject but you said front clip was off, obivious front photos, good job on pics and instructions, im doing a frame off and now it looks like clip needs to come off to address birdcage issues, was removal difficult 1-10, how will you know how to postion when time to reinstall
it wasn't overly challenging, but it was outside my normal experience. I was a little hasty because 1/2 of mine is totally shot so I wasn't worried about saving it. Here are some pics and tips:
front clip removal pics
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Old 11-23-2010, 07:56 PM   #7
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Thanks for taking the time to show how to do this,i for one really appreciated it.Im going to be doing this,this winter.
And i have all the tools and gagets that you have shown.These treads like this is the best ones of all,it only helps out all us other vette owners that might have to do this some time.Thank you ,and it all looks good.
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Old 11-23-2010, 08:43 PM   #8
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Not to but in but but but a safety note. Be sure to down the edge to a bevel on the pickle fork handle before using it again or the edge will crack off and become an unwanted missile.

Nice write up Jason...
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:18 PM   #9
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just grind off the deformation you mean?
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Old 11-23-2010, 09:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
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just grind off the deformation you mean?
It should look some thing like this.

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