I next used a brass hammer to gently tap the ball assembly out of the control arm. Note that this can be done regardless of your removing the snap ring or not. Had I not removed the snap ring, I would have been doing it the same as shown in the photo above. As you tap, the ball will push the nylon block out the other side of the control arm.
With the one nylon block removed, you can easily inspect the ball and both of the nylon blocks it rides in.
Clean the ball and nylon blocks completely before inspecting them. I used some WD-40 to cut through what little grease there was (I think this is the one that was having trouble taking grease). After cleaning the components, check them thoroughly. You would be looking for scratches or gouging on the metal ball. If you see it there, you will certainly see them on the nylon blocks. Mine looked to be in good shape. Some of the grease/grime was really stuck on the ball. I soaked it a bit with some WD-40 and it finally cleaned up OK. I checked the nylon blocks and although they had a tiny bit of scuffing in a couple of places (this was where the that was stuck on the ball had been rubbing), they too were in good condition and would be put back into service.
Assembly is the reverse of disassembly. After everything was back inside (with a light coating of grease), I screwed the retainer back into place. I used the drift punch to gently tighten things up. How tight? I used the other assembled c-joint as a reference and just snugged the retainer ring down until both felt the same (amount of effort needed to rotate the ball) and the notch lined up properly so the set screw could be tightened.
Update 2/24/2006: I
received an e-mail from MarkO, a fellow Jeeper that is in the Navy. He
sent me the following information in regards to the maintenance and rebuilding
of the RE joints. He said....
I recently rebuilt my RE control arm joints, but since I didn't notice the write-up on your site, I called RE instead. Now that I've read the write-up, I'd like to point out some minor differences between what the RE tech told me and your procedure.
First is when tightening the joint after clean/rebuild is complete, he told me to get it as tight as possible. The inexpensive tool they sell to work on these has a 1/2" socket drive, and he confirmed I could use my impact to get it tight, just keep going until the setscrew holes line up. I asked about a torque spec, he said there isn't one. RE said I could tighten 3-4 times before rebuilding with new races, about $10 for a set. Of course I would recommend complete tear down and inspection, not just blind tightening. The part numbers for the joint tools are RE3771 and RE3772 for small and large joint respectively. About $20 each online from various retailers.
Second is about greasing, when tight and new, they should take very little if any grease. The soft material of the bearing race compressed against the smooth chrome ball is what provides both the lubrication and the correct amount of resistance. When it becomes real easy to grease, that indicates that the tolerance between the two surfaces has increased, thus indicating they need to be tightened again. This too was verified with tech support at RE. (The joint design is very similar to the ball valves in the old twin agent fire fighting system you may remember from your Navy days.)