Ball joint - Upper

This area is for posting questions/information concerning 1961-63 year Thunderbirds NO FOR SALE POSTINGS

Moderator: ABQTBird

Post Reply
User avatar
Posts: 865
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:03 pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Ball joint - Upper

Post by Karl »

I changed the r/h upper ball joint over yesterday.
As far as I am aware off, the ball joint has to be pressed into the upper control arm so some years ago I purchased a press so the job can be done on the car without removing the control arm.
The one that I put in a number of years ago pressed in quite good. when I removed it yesterday it was a press fit to get it out.
When I went to press the new one in, it just fell in - so to speak. I didn't need the press. The only thing holding it in was the nut on the top.
In my mind this is not good because the point where the 5/8" threaded top mount and the nut holding it into the thin upper control arm will act like a pivot point and the ball joint will move back and forward under load. This could flog out the socket for the ball joint and possibly ruin the upper control arm.

As I live in Australia I like to carry my own spares so when I want to replace a part I can do it at any time. Over the years I have accumulated Quite array of spares

Sizes of the ball joints that I have :-
The one that came out of the car 1.907"
New replacement from Bob's Bird House, 1.899"
New replacement from Rare Parts (Diamond series) 1.898" yes dearer maybe not necessary better.
There is 0.009" difference.

On the old one that came out, the part that goes into the upper control arm is one diameter, the replacement ones that I have, have a step in them, I thought was to help start the ball joint when you go to press it into the socket. Not needed, it just falls in.

Have anybody else came across this problem?
Replacement ball joint.
replacement ball joint.jpg
Old ball joint.
Old ball joint.jpg
1963 Thunderbird Hardtop
User avatar
Posts: 51
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 3:07 pm
Location: San Diego, CA

Re: Ball joint - Upper

Post by TheThunderbird »

Hi Karl,

I replaced the uppers on my '63 back in July, and ran into the same thing. Bought mine from Bird Nest, but unlike the ones in your pic, they weren't marked on the box or the part itself. Just a plain white box. I don't think they were made by Rare Parts, and came with metric hardware which makes me think they may be Indian-made like some of the parts for Mustangs I've seen. Same was true for the lowers (plain white box), and control arm shaft and bushings came in a plastic bag, and were not marked.

But same thing, I thought they needed to be pressed in. Mine slipped in easily, although one would not take grease initially. The other developed a pinhole leak in the boot when I went to grease it the first time, but I was able to patch up the hole up with some RTV. They seem to be OK though and the car is driving great.

I just had the car in for the post suspension rebuild alignment, and I mentioned the ball joints to them. The shop looked at them and said the joints looked like they were installed properly and there was probably no need to press them in. The joint that wouldn't take grease did take grease, but they had to use their air grease gun. Time will tell I guess, but so far so good.
1963 Thunderbird hardtop. Raven Black
User avatar
Posts: 865
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:03 pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: Ball joint - Upper

Post by Karl »

Thanks for that.
I ended up wrapping some shim steel around mine to take up the slack and then pressed them in.
The weight of the car will hold the ball joint in place unless you go over a bump and the suspension travels to the bottom of its stroke. But then the nut on the top will hold it in - hopefully -.
I still reckon they should be pressed in.
Sent a email to rare parts in California, see what the outcome is.
1963 Thunderbird Hardtop
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:48 pm

Re: Ball joint - Upper

Post by Aaron65 »

I replaced all ball joints on my '63 in 2019; I think I got my new ones from Bird Nest. They were a press fit; in fact, I pressed one back out again for some reason I can't remember.
1963 T-Bird Hardtop
1965 Mustang
1965 Skylark
1965 Corvair Monza
1965 Dodge Dart wagon
1953 Buick Special Riviera
1974 Firebird Esprit
Cliff Rankin
Posts: 318
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:24 pm

Re: Ball joint - Upper

Post by Cliff Rankin »

Karl , I had the same thing happen a few years ago , but
It was on my car I drive to work. 2002 Grand Marquis.
Car was old 300k on the clock and I was not planning on keeping it much longer. The cheap ball joint I purchased
Did the same thing. I had to go back and purchase a quality
Part , So it’s not limited to bird parts. Quality is getting harder to find. I suggest you find another one soon.
User avatar
Posts: 865
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 6:03 pm
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Re: Ball joint - Upper

Post by Karl »

I sent an email to All American Auto Parts here in Victoria Australia to see what they have.
This mob is really good to deal with, I have purchased parts in the past and quick and easy to deal with.
This was there response.

Hi Karl,
Our joints are 1.898 too. Rare Parts show this as being correct and we have sold 100’s without this issue?

Brad Mende.
(03) 5339 6533

Somehow I thought that I would get that response.

I still believe that they should be a press fit. - However,

I had a look in the workshop manual and it doesn't say anything about the ball joint. The 62 book covers the ball joint but the supplement only covers the spring removal and replacement.
In the 64 manual it covers replacing the ball joint and it says to remove the old ball joint you undo the retaining nut and drive the ball joint out of the suspension arm. To install the new ball joint you position the ball joint in the recess and draw the ball joint into place using the nut.

Can anybody elaborate on this?
Any engineers that want to throw in their two bob's worth in the ring?
1963 Thunderbird Hardtop
Posts: 1557
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:33 am

Re: Ball joint - Upper

Post by RAVEN »

New to this topic, but not new to the BIRD.
I am in the process of doing my Landau over and one item in the list is a full resto of the front end.
Has anyone heard of, or used "KANTER" suspension parts. On my triple black "RAVEN", which I did front end work about 20 years ago, all is still functional and working well.
Kanter advertises in various publications, and may sell quality parts and kits, but I still question things. I am satisfied with RAVENs front end but times have changed and the quality may have reduced. I would like feed back and comments before I buy. Do understand, almost every TBird supplier is selling the same parts, but under their name. What ever you get from one supplier, possibly came from the same manufacturer as the other Bird supplier.
CDN Member since 1975 #2086
Flock: 1964 Landau Original Family Owned
1964 Sr Convertible "RAVEN"
Past: 2003 Blk Lab "RAVEN" "RIP"Nov 15/17
1964 Lincoln vin4Y86N00007
1964 Red Convertible
User avatar
Alan H. Tast
Posts: 3334
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 10:52 pm
Location: Omaha, NE

Re: Ball joint - Upper

Post by Alan H. Tast »

Sounds like I need to measure the outside diameter of a set of old-stock TRW-made joints I have on the shelf that were sold to me as being ordered for a '64 but never installed (I knew '63-'66 uppers were the same) for comparison when time permits. Otherwise, as Karl noted, I'd suggest wrapping thin metal shim stock to decrease the clearance. Then again, I still want to invest in a 20-ton hydraulic press to disassemble/reassemble the spare sets of upper and lower arms I have, along with get the rivets/bucks and torch to OEM-style install the lowers.

When I rebuilt my '63 hardtop's front end in 1990 the go-to manufacturers were Moog and TRW, but we all know that today it's a different ball game.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
Technical Director/Past President,
Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
1963 Hardtop & 1963 Sports Roadster
Post Reply