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TJ RE Control Arm Bushings

 

So, with a few recycled bushing at my disposal, I tossed them into the TJ and headed on over to my friend's place.  If you've read some of the other write-ups on here, you'll remember me talking about Alan.  He was up to his elbows in my 4:1 t-case rebuild and swap, not to mention and number of other things that have been done on my Jeep in the past couple of years.  Alan lets me play with his 25 ton press (with supervision of course) when I need to push stuff in and out of tight fitting places.  Although several good friends had given me a number of ideas on how to extract and install the bushings in the RE control arms, I decided to use the press and see how it worked.

After removing both of the the control arm bolts, I dropped the arm so I could get a better look at the bushing.  Remember, I mentioned that I had seem some rubber working its way out of the driver's side LCA so this was the first one I pulled off.

 

I was quite surprised to see just how badly the bushing was damaged.  Although the center sleeve did not come all the way out, I could push it about an inch back and forth.  It was all but ripped loose from the surrounding rubber bushing.  One thing for sure, it would have been little or no time before I would have heard this one clunking on the trail and then on the street.

 

Alan and I discussed what was available in the tool box (in the way of things to hold and push with for his press) and decided that a bearing puller would be about the best thing to use to remove the bushing from the control arm.  The above shot is a close-up of the bearing separator in use.  We loosely clamped it on to the small (but important) groove that exists on one side of the bushing.  

 

With something (the bearing separator) for the control arm to rest on, it was now just a matter of lining up the bushing under the press ram and pushing the old bushing through.  Alan has a variety of cylinder shaped slugs that he uses to between the ram and the work piece so as to effectively change the diameter of the ram.  We found one that would work and go it lined up so it would catch the lip of the bushing's outer shell as it was pushed down by the ram.

After the old bushing was removed, we checked the inner surface of the control arm end to make sure there were no foreign material left behind that would interfere with the insertion of the new bushing.  It looked good so we continued on with the replacement.  Half way done and half way to go.

Pushing the new bushing into the control arm was easier than removing the old one.  We had about 3/4 of the busing pressed in when we noticed a sharp increase in ram pressure.  We had been pushing about a ton or so on the gauge but now it was climbing up towards the 10 ton mark.  Neither of us could determine why the jump in ram pressure so we opted to stop the insertion and repeat the removal process (since it is non-destructive) and have a look at the bushing.

Sure enough, once we had pushed it back out, we noticed that the last 1/2" of outer shell, near the end of the bushing with the metal flange on it, was just a bit bigger in diameter than the rest of the shell.  Apparently, one side of the stock control arm has a slightly bigger I.D. as compared to the other side.

 

Not a problem....a quick stop at the bench grinder (see above pic) took care of that little shoulder.  I did not grind it down to the same dimension as the other part of the bushing shell, but rather took off a bit so that it would slip easier into the RE control arm.

I sprayed some WD-40 onto the outer shell of the bushing and we lined everything back up on the press.  The pressure went up to about 5 tons when we hit this last section, but it continued to push through and we finished the insertion with no more surprises.

 

Here is a shot of the finished arm.  It looks as good as when I put it on.  I made sure not to press the new bushing all the way flush to the control arm.  By doing this, I ensured myself that the little groove would be there for the bearing separator for the next overhaul.  (and hopefully that won't be for a while).

Since we had all of the tools out and I was already dirty from rolling around under the TJ, we popped the passenger LCA off so we could replace that bushing too.  Although it did not look "perfect", it was in much better shape than the other bushing was.  We went ahead and replaced it too.  Although we didn't keep track of the time, both Alan and I agreed that it probably took about 10 minutes from start to finish (which included torquing the arm back in place after the bushing was replaced).  

Note:  I have not verified this personally, but I saw a posting on a forum that states that Moog PN# K3131 will get you a pair of stock replacement bushings. Also, the NAPA part number for the upper is NCP267-1372 and the lower is NCP267-3409.

Another unverified part number:  I received an e-mail from a TJ owner who just overhauled his upper control arm bushings.  He said that TRW #12680 was a perfect fit and that there was no shoulder on the outer shell to grind down. 

 

 

 

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