This past weekend I had the pleasure of installing a fresh set of ball joints in my D44 after my Synergy ones blew out after about 10K. After doing some reading, comparing, and contrasting I choose to pull the trigger on Rare Part's new adjustable Ball Joints.
Before jumping into the install portion of this write-up I wanted to take the time to highlight the some of the positive business practices I experienced when dealing with Rare Parts.
1) Customer Service
It doesn't matter what kind of product you manufacture or service you offer, if your customer service is lacking, and nothing changes, then the customers will quit coming. Glen Knowles is the gentlemen who I dealt with throughout my transaction and he not only answered all of my questions but also went above and beyond my expectations.
My first call in was to ask some questions and to get a set coming. After a pretty thorough conversation about how the ball joints were designed, Glen steered me towards Amazon because they were the original stocking purchaser and they have the best price on them. Moments before I clicked "confirm order" I received a phone call back from Glen. He further explained to me that the team at Rare Parts has been reworking the lower ball joint design and he would rather process the order in house to ensure I received the newly designed lower. Not to stop there, he proceed to price match Amazons price and give me free shipping.
The second call was during the install, which I will touch on more later. Since it was around lunchtime I left Glen a voicemail thinking I would hear back from him in an hour or so. Nope, he emailed me within 10 minutes letting me know he was on lunch but received my voicemail and would call shortly. I received a phone call back from him 15 minutes after I received his email. A+ for customer service in my book.
In the past I have installed a set of Mopar BJs and 2 sets of Synergy Balljoints, both of which came wrapped up and stuffed in a box. Rare Parts, however, is so influenced by quality that they ship their product in a gun case, with what other than a big ol' "Proudly made in the USA" sticker stuck right on the front. It just goes to further show that they've put so much time and energy into making these things, that they don't want anything happening to them between their shop and our door. Kinda reminds me of when I used to race motocross and the suspension company would send us a rifle case to ship the front forks in.
Now onto the install portion of this write up
Remove the factory brakes, knuckles, shafts and ball joints. I didn't take photos of these steps because if you aren't comfortable getting that far on this project, then this install probably isn't for you. Your canvas should look like this:
Using a ball joint installation tool configure it like I have below so the ball joint is pressed upwards. The Lower Ball Joint boot should be removed prior to pressing them in.
Here is what it should look like post installation. Note the zero fitting is facing the rear of the Jeep
Unlike the Synergy or factory upper ball joints the RP upper BJ is pressed upwards instead of downwards. Rare Parts machines the upper ball joint with an "outboard lip" that is used to not only delegate which direction the BJ is installed but also helps bring the back of the ball joint, closest to the C, upwards evenly. Sorry I didn't get a direct picture of it but you can see what I'm talking about in the picture below and if you buy some you'll definitely see it
Before pressing them in screw the top adjustment piece in just a thread or two and remove the orange safety cap before pushing it up through the upper ball joint hole and re-thread the orange cap back on so that the ball joint sits evenly in the hole, this will help the balljoint get pressed upwards evenly. Once it is even remove the orange cap and configure your BJ installation tool like I've shown below.
Note: I found it much easier to use a 1/2" swivel extension with my impact as the top of the installation screw rests ever so close to the spring. This picture is after it was pressed in
These things are VERY tight in the hole
and do not need to be knurled. After they were fully pressed in I took a chisel and hammer and chipped away the shavings. At this point you can re-thread on the orange safety cap and tighten it down
Re-install the shafts, knuckles, brakes, steering, and tires as well as install the zerk fitting on the lower BJ. For my application I am running RCVs & Reids and getting the Reid knuckle on the ball joints is a bit of trick since everything has such close tolerances. What we found was it was easier to press the upper BJ stud up through its housing just enough to get the knuckle on. This is the portion where I made my second phone call to Glen and he walked me through it.
Once everything is on and the Jeep is resting on its own weight screw in the top of the ball joint with the supplied T-Handle just until it starts to twist. This sets the "adjustability" to your set up. Now install the upper zerk fitting and your done!
I would not tighten it with anything but the supplied T-handle, but if you are in a pinch and don't have it DO NOT tighten more than 55 INCH/lbs.
With mine I had a decent gap between the top of the knuckle and the base of the upper ball joint. This is normal.
If anybody has any questions feel free to PM me anytime or call Rare Parts directly and ask for Glen. I can promise you he knows more on the subject than I do but I'm happy to answer any questions I can.