I recently got an e-mail from a Jeeper, FrankT, who uses my site and frequents some of the same forums I do. He had recently done a ball joint replacement on a high pinion Dana 30 axle that he was prepping for a swap into his TJ. He noticed that I didn't have a ball joint write-up on the site and so volunteered his photos and text. While I was planning on doing some ball joint work later this year, I couldn't pass up these good photos and Frank's comments so here they are. A big thanks goes out to Frank for sharing his information with us. I'm sure many will benefit from it.....and I'll be referring to it when I get ready to replace mine!
So....here is Frank's pics and comments on his D30 ball joint replacement.
I just swapped in a HP30 and I wasn't going to rely on the 10 year old ball joints. I also wasn't going to swap over the 7 year old ball joints on my current housing so I did the only viable option, I installed new ball joints. Now, I apologize because I removed the ball joints a while ago and did not snap any pics. However, I just did a mock setup on my old housing to demonstrate how to remove them.
So, lets get started.
I would recommend doing this one side at a time; leaving the other side intact as a reference. Unfortunately all of my pics were taken during my axle swap. First, you will need to loosen the lug nuts, jack up the jeep, and then remove the tires. I prefer to support the Jeep via the frame since I will be messing with the axle itself. Better yet, put some jack stands underneath the frame and the axle. Once the tires are off, you will need to pull the brake calipers by removing the two 13mm bolts and tie them up. Next, remove the rotors and place them to the side. Oh, and don't forget to drain the gear oil.
Then get your 12pt 13mm socket and remove the three bolts that clamp the hub to the knuckle.
BTW, here is a useful link with some additional and helpful information.
Now, this is a real slick little trick devised by mrblaine. I cannot even explain how easy this hub removal method is, but you have to trust me. I used to beat on the hub with three long scrap bolts until I got the knuckle out, HA! Go to the hardware store and get a 2-1/2" long bolt and nut. Place it between the outer axle shaft ear and the axle housing as shown above.
A helper would be a good idea here as he or she can turn the steering wheel so you can get the bolt in there tight enough. Once it's in place, turn the steering wheel accordingly and the hub will honestly just pop right out. Its really an amazing trick. My hubs haven't been removed in 7 years in the rust belt and they just came right out. You can see my "puller" just fell to the floor once the hub was released.
(Stu comment: A short write-up showing Blaine's technique for this easy hub removal can be found here on this site.)
Now, you will need to get your TRE puller a BFH. Remove the cotter pins thru the TRE and the loosen the castle nut until it has a couple threads engaged. Hit the side of the steering arm on the knuckle a couple times, and it'll pop right out.
Finish removing the castle nut and take the TRE out of the knuckle and tie it up. I was doing a front axle swap so I removed everything which you can see in the picture.
Now, you will need to remove the knuckle. Once again, there are some cotter pins which need to be removed. If you had fun the first time, get ready for some more fun this time around. Living around here they tend to rust in place and I haven't figured out a good trick yet. Once the cotter pins are removed, you can loosen the castle nuts. I think the upper ball joint castle nut is 7/8" and the lower in 1-5/16". I opt to leave the nuts engaged a few threads for the knuckle removal just like the TREs.
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