[Tech] Changing Superduty Unit Bearings and Ball-joints - Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum
 
Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum  

Go Back   Pirate4x4.Com : 4x4 and Off-Road Forum > Brand Specific Tech > Ford
Notices

Reply
 
Share Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-20-2007, 11:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
Registered User
 
xanthias's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Member # 20735
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 281
Send a message via ICQ to xanthias Send a message via MSN to xanthias Send a message via Yahoo to xanthias
Lightbulb [Tech] Changing Superduty Unit Bearings and Ball-joints

I took on this project last weekend and it is not for the faint-hearted. I wanted to post my experience, though, because it is a very expensive repair and one you can save yourself something on the order of $1000 if you do it yourself.

[History]
As many of you already know, starting with the 1999 model year, Ford went from the traditional hub/stub/Timken inner & outer bearing setup to a unit bearing setup:



I'm sure this saved Ford some money on the assembly line, but it makes for a bad day if you have to pay to have them replaced. Most dealerships will quote you about $2,000 for the hardware and labor to do the unit bearings and ball-joints. And they WILL wear out, because - yep -they are non-serviceable!

When you add these to a unit-bearing, ball-joint axle, it is a recipe for wear:



Those lead to this:



This view is after I had it loose from the knuckle, for clarity. But, stll the picture doesn't really do justice to the feeling in your belly when that whole assembly will rock in your hands.

This is one of several fun things that happen when you let them go too long:



That's what was left of my high-dollar, slotted and cryo-d rotor after digging into the caliper from shot-unit-bearing wobble. So, that meant I was in for an extra $140 for new front rotors. I had hoped to just machine my old rotors, but this one from the driver side was just too far gone.

This is what caused the rotor carnage:



You can see the contact point at bottom.

I guess I got lucky, mine lasted 159,000 miles - or, more accurately, about 155k and then we limped along for a little while.

If you are willing to drop the coin ($1600), then you can buy the Dynatrac kit to convert back to old school with the addition of 35-spline stub shafts with their "Free-Spin" kit:

http://www.dynatrac.com/products_freespin_ford.html

[Symptoms of the Problem]
When the unit bearings really start to go, you won't have any doubt. However, here are the indicators. First, a smart man (read: not me) will put the front end up on jack stands and put his hands at 12 and 6. If you get any wobble, they are on their way out. Now, if you're like me, you wait until other symptoms come up:

a. A grinding or squeaking noise, most particularly when you are making low speed turns (you are side-loading the bearings and they will wobble, which then will cause groans, pops, squeaks);
b. An unsettled feeling on the road, like the truck doesn't have power steering and is wandering (at highway speeds, your wheels and tires are acting as gyroscopes);
c. Braking performance goes down and your pedal might feel slightly soft, because your caliper is basically sliding back and forth on its pins as the rotor wobbles with the unit-bearing;
d. In very low speed turns, a feeling communicated through the steering column like you were driving over walnuts, a "lumpy" sensation.

[Parts]
These things are marvels of modern technology - with the sealed, non-servicable bearings inside, along with the ABS sensor. They are also god-awful expensive, running $300+ per side, depending on where you buy.

To add insult to injury, the unit bearings are only the start of what you need to do the job right, there are several seals, etc., that are OEM-only items. So, this is the pile of stuff you need in addition to the unit bearings:



These are Moog greasable ball-joints, left and right (the factory units are not greasable, all the better to get you in for expensive service!). In front of the Moogs are the studs and nuts for the unit bearings and then several sets of seals (not all pictured in this frame). You need 3 seals: the outer axle seal that presses on your stub shaft (pictured), the inner axle seal (can be put on by hand) and the O-ring for the unit bearing assembly.

I spent a long time pricing parts and getting anywhere from $330 to $440 per side from the usual parts houses (AutoZone, O'Reilly, NAPA) just for the unit bearings. I've heard wildly different numbers from other folks in different parts of the country, though, so it may pay for you to check with your local parts house. Maybe they can do better. In my case, I remembered The Powerstrokeshop.com:

Complete Front End Kit

This kit literally has everything in it you need except the tools. At $726 it is expensive, but beats the crap out of everyone else. Freight was $38 and shipping took 3 days.

You will also need to rent or borrow a ball joint press. I used O'Reilly's loaner program.

[How-To]

I followed this guide and I can't write it up any better myself:

Ball Joint Installation Article at The Dieselstop

I printed that out and all of the pictures and it walks you right through it.

**The only real correction I would make is to note that it is very difficult to hold the knuckle in a bench vise to press in/out the ball joints. After a barnyard-stupid lot of trial and error, I figured out to just clamp the ball joint press in the vice instead!**

I also looked at this for reference:

Guzzle's Needle Bearing Lube Article

Note that the upper and lower ball-joint nuts are 1 1/8 and/or 1 5/16. So plan on having those monster sockets available.

Top before removal (Your new Moogs will come with new nuts, the old nut was 1 1/8, the new one was larger at 1 5/16):



When you reassemble the knuckle, DO NOT FORGET the alignment shim that seats in the upper ball-joint hole in the knuckle and through which the upper ball-joint stud passes.

Bottom before removal (I think both old and new were 1 5/16 size nuts):



When torquing the new one down after putting the knuckle back on, I had to put a bottle jack under the lower ball-joint and get some pressure on it to keep it from spinning in the knuckle while I was tightening the nut.

When you get done, this is your reward--



(Bonus points if you can tell what's wrong in that pic - and no, it's not that the assembly isn't complete. Hint: see mistake #3 below)

[My Mistakes]
1. I thought I could get away with pressing on the outer axle seals myself. You can't. Just trust me on this. If you don't have a real-deal hydraulic press AND all the right adapters - it isn't going to happen. What is going to happen is you will tear up your $30 seal and be stuck until you can get another one. I didn't tear up my seal, but I did have to stop work at the last minute to go get them pressed on when I realized my effort was going to fail.

You press the seal onto the stub shaft and then put the axle shaft back into the knuckle/axle tube:



2. Trying to finish it all in one day. I did, basically, with about 18 hours on the clock total (confession - tires, brakes and rotors removed Friday night, so call it 7AM to 11PM Saturday). This was working mostly alone with some help from my Dad. Why was this a mistake? When you get tired toward the end, you start making dumb mistakes, like --

3. Putting on the disk brake dust shield backwards on BOTH sides and having to pull the unit bearings back off to fix it. (At that point, I was verbally inviting both myself and my truck to do something physically impossible for both of us.)

4. Overlooking the keyways for my Warn lockout caps and sitting dumbfounded for about half an hour trying to figure out why the lockouts had a 1/4 inch of end-play inside the unit-bearing hub.

5. Not soaking the crap out of my rotors overnight with Liquid Wrench. Pounding and prying those damned rotors off the hubs was the single worst part of the job - not to mention how thrilled my neighbors were, no doubt, listening to the sound of me getting them off Friday night. SuperDuty rotors are "free-floating" meaning they just sit on the outside of the unit bearing assembly. Only the caliper, which rides on its own bracket mounted to the knuckle, holds it on when it is assembled new. However, with heat cycles and exposure to the elements, it will rust itself quite solidly to the hub. A 3' prybar is your friend. Some anti-seize on the hub mounting surface will prevent this.

6. Forgetting the inboard disk brake pad anti-squeal clip until after the caliper was torqued down, had to tear back off and re-do.

7. Forgetting the power steering pump will burp fluid if you turn the wheel back and forth lock to lock a few dozen times with the engine off in order to crank the knuckles over to get to the nuts holding the unit bearing studs. I should have just left the tie rod disconnected.

8. Forgetting that I was cycling the glow plugs, etc. every time I turned the key that few dozen times to unlock the steering wheel - which left me with dead batteries at the end of the day, denying me my victory test-drive until the next morning after some quality time with a battery charger.
__________________
[QUOTE=crawlmag;7589508]That reminds me, I need to cancel our 7 yellow stars. Useless.[/QUOTE]
[QUOTE=DJ404564X4;7589523]maybe with the money you save you can buy paper .... :flipoff2:[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE=Boheefus;8558601]I want to shit on your face...and not in a happy, hentai porn way either[/QUOTE]
xanthias is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2007, 12:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
Wheeler
 
xj4life's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Member # 38564
Location: Laporte, IN
Posts: 182
very nice write-up. i'll have to book mark this one
__________________
JEEPERZ CREEPERZ: COMPLETE LINE OF OFF ROAD PARTS AND ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR VEHICLE
xj4life is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 02-20-2007, 12:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
Well Done Man!
 
welndmn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Member # 398
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 17,576
Blog Entries: 3
Send a message via ICQ to welndmn Send a message via AIM to welndmn Send a message via Yahoo to welndmn
Looks fun!
If it makes you feel better the Dodge unit bearings cost about 140$ a side...........
Still, 150k seems like the unit bearings lived a good life.
__________________
Mark
71 Bronco. 42's and bolt on goats.
47' CJ2a, 302, C4, 33's. 2012, year of the flat fender.
welndmn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2007, 02:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Member # 33016
Location: Scenic Wisconsin
Posts: 216
Send a message via Yahoo to oppy
Nice writeup.

You may have said this (ADD leaves me with a short attention span ), but you don't need to replace or even remove the ball joints to replace the unit bearing. Of course, it's a good idea to check them when you've got everything apart.

I bought a unit bearing from CarQuest last fall for <$200.

One issue those of us in the salt-belt might encounter is seizing of the caliper slides. I had to replace both front calipers because I couldn't free them up.
__________________
"I've now been in 57 states -- I think one left to go."
oppy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2007, 03:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
Wheeler
 
xj4life's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Member # 38564
Location: Laporte, IN
Posts: 182
i think i'll just drop the coin and build up a D60 from a junkyard axle.
__________________
JEEPERZ CREEPERZ: COMPLETE LINE OF OFF ROAD PARTS AND ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR VEHICLE
xj4life is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2007, 02:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
Zeus of the Sluice
 
WHITE RHINO's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Member # 71446
Location: MORGAN HILL, CA
Posts: 3,206
Send a message via AIM to WHITE RHINO
does anyone make a conversion kit to eliminate the unit bearings? and replace them with a spindle set up
__________________
(WHITE RHINO)88 Ranger, 2.9liter,1350/1354 doubler, HP 60 with Plated knuckles, chromos, PSC Hydro, 3 link, Rear H072 44" Pitbulls on H1's
Section8Krawlers.com
WHITE RHINO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2007, 02:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
Wheeler
 
xj4life's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Member # 38564
Location: Laporte, IN
Posts: 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by WHITE RHINO View Post
does anyone make a conversion kit to eliminate the unit bearings? and replace them with a spindle set up
yeah Dynatrac does

http://dynatrac.com/products_fordsuperdutycombokit.html
__________________
JEEPERZ CREEPERZ: COMPLETE LINE OF OFF ROAD PARTS AND ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR VEHICLE
xj4life is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2007, 12:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Member # 52361
Location: Tucson,AZ
Posts: 1,364
Nice writeup! Anybody had any luck greasing these through the ABS sensor hole? Seems like a couple shots of quality grease, maybe at every brake job would extend life. Looking at the dodge hubs it would be cake to grease them. I saw a write up on the GM hubs, saying to check the lock nut torque to prevent premature wear.
PROJECTJUNKIE is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-02-2007, 06:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: May 2003
Member # 19670
Location: Floyds Knobs, Indiana
Posts: 406
Quote:
Originally Posted by PROJECTJUNKIE View Post
Nice writeup! Anybody had any luck greasing these through the ABS sensor hole? Seems like a couple shots of quality grease, maybe at every brake job would extend life. Looking at the dodge hubs it would be cake to grease them. I saw a write up on the GM hubs, saying to check the lock nut torque to prevent premature wear.
Yes, greasing through the ABS port is the way to go. A "needle" that goes on a grease gun for greasing female zerks makes it easy.
You could also buy a brand new SuperDuty Dana 60 from me.....I have a bunch of them. 3.73 geared, 2003 models. 1K complete or 900 without rotors/calipers.
__________________
72 Bronco, 4BTA Cummins/W propane, D60's/4 wh steer, 3 link rear, NV4500, , lots of other junk
CumminsBronco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-03-2007, 02:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
RTM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Member # 44404
Location: Cape Coral, FL
Posts: 333
Nice write up. It's written very well.

I replaced my ball joints a year ago and I to thought I could put the seals on by hand so when I read that you did this by hand I read the cimplete article to see how you did it only to find out you had the same problem as I did. Well I ruined a Ford seal because I thought I could do it by hand.

I have since bought the correct tool for the job.
RTM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-04-2007, 01:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Member # 49074
Location: Springport, MI
Posts: 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by RTM View Post
Nice write up. It's written very well.

I replaced my ball joints a year ago and I to thought I could put the seals on by hand so when I read that you did this by hand I read the cimplete article to see how you did it only to find out you had the same problem as I did. Well I ruined a Ford seal because I thought I could do it by hand.

I have since bought the correct tool for the job.
How much was the tool and can you post a picture of it?
__________________
ASE certified mechanic.
91 Explorer with some stuff.
mechanix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-05-2007, 04:19 AM   #12 (permalink)
RTM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Member # 44404
Location: Cape Coral, FL
Posts: 333
I'll try to get the part number for the tool. The Matco dealer could not get it for me. I had to call ford and ask then where they had bought there tool from. I only bought the main part of the tool. There are two pieces to it but the second one can be replace with a large piece of black pipe or something of the same tubing which is used to slide over the axle and press against the main tool which presses the seal in, the right way.

The main tool piece was over $100. It's been a year since I bought it and haven't had to use it yet. Not even on a customers truck.
RTM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-05-2007, 06:25 AM   #13 (permalink)
Registered User
 
KNZRHOG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Member # 24973
Location: Stockton, Ca.
Posts: 100
Thanks for the great writeup. You've conviced me to go Dynatrac.
__________________
75 Bronco
02 Superduty
KNZRHOG is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 01:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Member # 65969
Location: jarvisburg, NC
Posts: 104
do i need to get the unit bearings seperate from the kit on powerstroke shop? im having this same problem, and my trans is out now too
__________________
-2001 f-350psd,-85 s10 blazer-sbc, 3/4t axles-74 Ford crew cab-85 yota- 63"'s, boggers
cool_racer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 04:44 PM   #15 (permalink)
Rock God
 
FF3PM's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Member # 46229
Posts: 1,081
cool racer I guess I don't understand what you are asking. The unit bearings do come in the kit from powerstrokeshop.com.
FF3PM is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-2007, 06:34 PM   #16 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Member # 84656
Location: Utah
Posts: 4
Great write up.

I did think about this though, and it is in no way a jab at you, just food for thought:

The Dynatrac kit is now $1800.00 plus shipping
The other kit you posted is $726.00 plus shipping
New rotors, pads, etc. give or take some but around $500.00 (or more if you want nicer rotors, pads, etc.).

Then lets assume you are building your Frod D60 up because you have tires taller than 35", SO MAYBE you want to change the r&p to something like 4:56:1, and diff bearings, seals, etc. another $300-$800.00 depending on part quality, and labor rate.

Consumables: (give or take) apx. $50-$75.00 (Diff fluid, brake parts cleaner, rags, grease, etc.)

Then the misc labor expenses IF you dont already own a hydraulic press.
(I dunno, dumb guess at cost) apx. $40.00 at your local six states.


SO in the end you could either spend apx. $3500.00-$4000.00 building your OEM D60, and like you said live with the frustrations, etc. OR you could buy an axle completely built, and swap it with your stock one for around the same price or cheaper if you are lucky, then just sell the stock axle to someone on a local rock crawling forum.
Swapping axles would save at the very least 10 hours labor too comparing to your labor hours posted. That too is relative, but I am sticking with your estimate because I am no master mechanic either.

I dont want to take away the fact that you did make a great write up, but the total cost just was hard to swallow.

I just dont think its impossible to find a built D60 with lets say, 4:56:1 gears, 35 spline shafts, Warn lockouts, built hub to hub, etc. for around the total net cost.......OR......Gross cost of rebuilding a stock one.
(Gross cost being higher if you put a price tag on frustration doing all the work yourself, trying to pry frozen hub bearings off is a real PITA).

I have never called Dynatrac myself but how much do they charge for a D60 hub to hub these days??? (Not a high clearance axle, just a similar oem replacement).

Or what about the other axle builders on the market??

Or, if push came to shove, there are always people selling theirs.


Just food for thought, not trying to be an ass.

Last edited by godless; 03-06-2007 at 06:38 PM.
godless is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-14-2007, 08:41 PM   #17 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Member # 53391
Location: Escondido, CA
Posts: 10
Send a message via MSN to ragingbull2k2
my truck has 53k miles and I already have some of those symptoms... and I just got the truck 3 months ago... yayyyyy, lol...

Joey
__________________
'98 Ford Ranger 4x4 3.0L, 4.10 LS 8.8"

Mods: 5" RCD C/O Lift, 15x8 Rockcrawler wheels
(3.75 BS), 31x10.5 Yokos Geolandar AT II+'s,
Live axles, chevy spring swap, 31-spline Exploder
rear end w/ disc brakes

'03 Ford F-250 4x4 Supercab 6.8L V10

Mods: None
ragingbull2k2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-15-2007, 05:32 AM   #18 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Member # 50628
Location: TX
Posts: 231
I bought a set of lifetime warranty hub bearing units from Oriellys a few years ago, mine first gave around 85k miles. They were $220 ea when I bought them. That and Moog ball joints and you can't go wrong. That is a good write up and has been covered very thoroughly on a few other sites as well.
Aggie007 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-2008, 10:05 AM   #19 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Member # 56693
Location: Columbia Falls, MT
Posts: 888
Nice tech article!


but i have something to add that gave me a bit of frustration, the outer axle seal.................the parts cost about $90 to replace both, and if they arent bad WTF! how do you get them out without the special tool or destroying them with a punch and hammer????????????? get a couple pry bars, or the always popular in my neck of the woods, the screw-pry-chisel. (a big flat head screwdriver) pry against the inner axle ears to the inner "C" wiggling the tools a bit. This popped the seal and axle assembly out without the use of some special tool or buying new seals. a little lubey-lube doesnt hurt either.


Thats my tech
__________________
[CENTER]"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the
system, but too early to shoot the bastards."
:usa:
'79 F-350 Crewcab, Cummins, 6spd. 37s
NPF chassis, 6.0, 4L80E, 404s, 42s, :stirthepot:
[SIZE="5"][COLOR="Lime"][FONT="Courier New"][B][url]www.nukeprooffab.com[/url][/B][/FONT][/COLOR][/SIZE][/CENTER]
montanatrout is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-11-2008, 01:30 PM   #20 (permalink)
Registered User
 
jopes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Member # 8469
Location: Douglas, Wyoming
Posts: 3,188
Send a message via ICQ to jopes Send a message via AIM to jopes Send a message via Yahoo to jopes
Quote:
Originally Posted by montanatrout View Post
Nice tech article!


but i have something to add that gave me a bit of frustration, the outer axle seal.................the parts cost about $90 to replace both, and if they arent bad WTF! how do you get them out without the special tool or destroying them with a punch and hammer????????????? get a couple pry bars, or the always popular in my neck of the woods, the screw-pry-chisel. (a big flat head screwdriver) pry against the inner axle ears to the inner "C" wiggling the tools a bit. This popped the seal and axle assembly out without the use of some special tool or buying new seals. a little lubey-lube doesnt hurt either.


Thats my tech



you can buy those seals from any dana spicer dealer a assload cheaper than the steeeler ships sells them for.
__________________
408ci SEFI, 70mm throttle body, 90mm mass air, stang harness, tweecer R/T waiting on a home.
jopes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2008, 05:06 AM   #21 (permalink)
Registered User
 
USMCNetzel21's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Member # 113119
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 82
Send a message via AIM to USMCNetzel21
Quote:
Originally Posted by jopes View Post
you can buy those seals from any dana spicer dealer a assload cheaper than the steeeler ships sells them for.
Yes we here at steeler ships call those money makers. Its not just the Super duty either, its Expeditions, Explorers, F-150's, and Rangers. In everything other then the explorers its all the older body styles and in the newer Explorers(think its 03 or 04 and up) its the bearings that always go bad. Either way its not cheap to fix any of them nor safe to ride them that way.
USMCNetzel21 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-12-2008, 05:47 AM   #22 (permalink)
Registered User
 
fastg60's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Member # 38567
Location: Fairbanks, AK/Dayton, OH
Posts: 490
Send a message via AIM to fastg60
nice writeup, thanks for taking the time to post this!
__________________
Still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up.
fastg60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2008, 08:48 PM   #23 (permalink)
Registered User
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Member # 124915
Posts: 55
Nice post.. I did mine last January and it was a chore.. mine only made it 64k miles with 38's
JGant84 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2009, 01:59 PM   #24 (permalink)
Rock God
 
1sicbronconut's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Member # 37866
Location: Rapid City South Dakota
Posts: 1,494
Good write up. I've been meaning to get back to this, you put the plastic thrust washer on backwards. The depresions go in towards the axle shaft, not a big deal if you have manual hubs but they need to go the other way if you want your vacuum hubs to work.
1sicbronconut is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:05 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0 ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.