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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok this seems really stupid, and I'd laugh too, but I cannot for the life of me get the damn metal clips to go back on my new balljoint boots. I don't want to tear the boots since they're kinda pricey. I'm not sure how best to do this. If there were an easier way to keep them on, I'd be all over that. Maybe this is just me overlooking something, but I've fiddled with them for a bit and gave up not wanting to destroy them.

Basically I'm replacing both control arms with good used take-offs and GS bushings that I acquired from two of the members here. This is the only part that's really been any trouble, even when compared to pressing in new stanchion arm bushings.
 

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Circlip pliers, you use the circlip pliers, with the appropriate jaws in place, to both hold and expand the clip rings, maneuver them into position and then release the tension on the pliers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I know how circlip pliers work, thanks. The thing is, these aren't exactly normal circlips. The lower one looks like part of a spring, since its coiled up. And the top clip is nearly a full circle, except for one tiny notch in it.
 

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I know how circlip pliers work, thanks. The thing is, these aren't exactly normal circlips. The lower one looks like part of a spring, since its coiled up. And the top clip is nearly a full circle, except for one tiny notch in it.
Personally, the way I did it was by fitting the top ring around the top part of the boot, easy enough to do since the boot is rubber and flexes easily and I didn't even separate it's notch (I don't think your suppose to anyway).

Then I smeared a large gob of grease inside of the boot (big enough to fill it) and, centering the grease-packed boot over the mounting bolt, pushed the whole thing down onto the balljoint pinion until the the top of the boot (pre-fitted with the lock ring) came to rest atop the flange on the bushing that was fitted on the pinion (there's a bushing that sits on the pinion with a little lip around the top of it that allows the boot to only go down so far).

I then gingerly wiped away any excess grease that had oozed out during my seating the boot (avoiding the boot itself as best I could to avoid pushing out any grease other than what had to be displaced during the act of positioning the boot into place) and, pressing one end of the lower spring clip into place with a finger until I could position the hook end of a paint can opener (the ones with the bottle opener on one end and a little, flat blade hook on the other) in place on the end of the spring clip to hold it there by pressing firmly down on it (you'll find that the paint can opener handle makes for a pretty good lever to apply pressure with), I then worked the rest of the spring clip around the boot housing with my other hand by pressing down on it with my thumb while I was sliding/walking it along my fingers by applying upwards and outwards pressure all around the perimeter of the boot housing until I had fully seated the spring clip, remember, thumb DOWN, fingers UP and OUTWARDS.

After seating the other end of the spring clip I then walked the paint can/bottle opener around the perimeter of the housing, using it like a lever to press down on the spring clip all along its length to insure it was fully seated and, when everything was where everything needed to be, I then wiped away any remaining grease deposits with an old tee-shirt (because I didn't want any pieces of red colored tufts from a shop rag on the unit and I also didn't want to risk rupturing the boot or reducing it's integrity by using a rag dampened with some form of de-greaser).

Basically (if you can picture this), you're sitting there with one hand (the left for me) pressing down on this paint can/bottle opener while the other one works the spring clip around the boot.

It's hard, it's greasy, inevitably messy and will leave your fingers sore and potentially bruised for a week or so, but that's how I did it because I couldn't manage to find the right set of circlip pliers (the one with interchangeable jaws, one set of which actually does the pushing down with one jaw while the other jaw does the up and outwards thing for you as you slide them around the perimeter of the boots' housing) at the local auto parts store and was too damn impatient to wait for them to come in next week because I was buttoning up a engine swap I just completed and wanted to be done so that I could be back on the road.

A word to the wise: If I were you, I'd take the time to find the right set of spring clip pliers with interchangeable jaws.

Just remember, YOU asked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow, thats the most lengthy explanation I've seen yet for something fairly small. You've got a good memory for details. I'm going to see if I can't find the pliers, since that paint can opener bit seems a rough. Thanks.
 

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when i did it i just used a pair of needle nose pliers to get the first edge down into the groove and them used a flat head screw driver to work around the coil the rest of the way.
 

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Wow, thats the most lengthy explanation I've seen yet for something fairly small. You've got a good memory for details. I'm going to see if I can't find the pliers, since that paint can opener bit seems a rough. Thanks.
I had hurt my fingers pretty good doing it this way (and that's with a pair of jersey gloves on) and physically/emotionally (or both) traumatic events have a certain way of permanently etching themselves on you memory (but all of the Corona I drank in celebration of my accomplishment in overcoming this obstacle afterwards served to numb my hands for a while, ha!).

Seriously, the paint can opener was the easiest part as all that it did was hold the end of the spring clip in place while I worked the rest of the clip around the boot.

Honestly though, I'm thinking that the next time I find myself in this sort of predicament (which may be pretty soon) I'm just going to replacement the boot and grease with a polyurethane bushing with cap washer and see how that works out. I'll let you guys know how it turns out when I find out for myself.
 

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Nice write up, I just replaced the boots yesterday...
I approached it a bit differently...

Since I had the sub-frame sitting on my workbench (just in the process of installing my engine I just rebuilt)...
I first filled the boot with Grease...
Then worked the boot over the flange (used a rag pulling the boot down in a circular motion) similar to putting a tire on a bicycle (this was the hardest part, for me anyway)...
Next, I grabbed the top of the large boot ring with a pair of vice-grips, pushed the lower part of the ring down as far as I could (this did not go over the flange initially), then while holding the lower portion of the ring down, I used a screwing motion to put the ring on...
This ring is very flexible and went on easily.

To put the top ring on, I just used a pair of needle nosed pliers.
Took me about 2 minutes total.

One thing I goofed on was the first ball joint cover, when wrestling the boot over the flange, I squeezed most of the grease out...
I didn't want to take the boot off, so I purchased a needle fitting for my grease gun for $5 at Car Quest...
I took the top ring off and slid the needle between the boot and shaft, then pumped grease into the boot.

I've just put the sub-frame back on, my only problem is the ball joint keeps spinning in it's socket while tightening the nut...
Any advise on the spinning ball joint is welcome.
 

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Nice write up, I just replaced the boots yesterday...
I approached it a bit differently...

Since I had the sub-frame sitting on my workbench (just in the process of installing my engine I just rebuilt)...
I first filled the boot with Grease...
Then worked the boot over the flange (used a rag pulling the boot down in a circular motion) similar to putting a tire on a bicycle (this was the hardest part, for me anyway)...
Next, I grabbed the top of the large boot ring with a pair of vice-grips, pushed the lower part of the ring down as far as I could (this did not go over the flange initially), then while holding the lower portion of the ring down, I used a screwing motion to put the ring on...
This ring is very flexible and went on easily.

To put the top ring on, I just used a pair of needle nosed pliers.
Took me about 2 minutes total.

One thing I goofed on was the first ball joint cover, when wrestling the boot over the flange, I squeezed most of the grease out...
I didn't want to take the boot off, so I purchased a needle fitting for my grease gun for $5 at Car Quest...
I took the top ring off and slid the needle between the boot and shaft, then pumped grease into the boot.

I've just put the sub-frame back on, my only problem is the ball joint keeps spinning in it's socket while tightening the nut...
Any advise on the spinning ball joint is welcome.
I do not understand why you "wrestled the boot over the flange" as it was my understanding that the 'flange' (which is part of the sleeve that sits on the balljoint pinion) is there to prevent the boot from fully compressing and, in the process, squeezing all of the grease out (which is what happened to you), or did I miss something?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
On mine, the boot at first didn't want to go over the flange either. But that helps keep it on. Or at least for the one. The second CA didn't want its new boot or clip. I got them on, using a butter knife, of all things. Not sure if that's how its supposed to go, but whatever, they're on there now.
 

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On mine, the boot at first didn't want to go over the flange either. But that helps keep it on. Or at least for the one. The second CA didn't want its new boot or clip. I got them on, using a butter knife, of all things. Not sure if that's how its supposed to go, but whatever, they're on there now.
I don't know, it occurs to me that, without there being any sort of a stop (the sleeves' flange) to prevent the boot from fully collapsing, it will do just that the very first time you tighten the bearings mounting nut/lower the vehicle to the ground.

Like I said earlier, if I have to ever do this again (which I know I will), I'm going to try using some polyurethane bushings in place of the boots and grease.
 

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To put the top ring on, I just used a pair of needle nosed pliers.
Took me about 2 minutes total.

One thing I goofed on was the first ball joint cover, when wrestling the boot over the flange, I squeezed most of the grease out...
I didn't want to take the boot off, so I purchased a needle fitting for my grease gun for $5 at Car Quest...
I took the top ring off and slid the needle between the boot and shaft, then pumped grease into the boot.

I've just put the sub-frame back on, my only problem is the ball joint keeps spinning in it's socket while tightening the nut...
Any advise on the spinning ball joint is welcome.
I used Jim's technique, after futzing with the circlip for about an hour using various failed approaches. Jim was right; 2 minutes and the circlip was in place. I would grease the outside of the boot to make the circlip go on a little easier and reduce the chance of it puncturing the boot.

To stop the ball joint from spinning while securing the lock-nut in place, put a floor jack beneath the ball joint and use it to put some upwards pressure on it. That will press in the conical stud into the hole in the steering knuckle with enough pressure to steady it while you secure the lock nut.
 

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While trying to get the main circlip over the boot, you will squeeze a good amount of grease out of the boot. So before securing the smaller circlip (which you can squeeze over the boot easily enough), do as Jim suggests. Get a needle fitting for your grease gun and squirt more grease in there. You don't need too much. Remember that when the knuckle is fully assembled, the boot will be compressed flat. So you don't need to overfill it with grease.
 
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