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FrankRizzo

Ball Joint Conversion

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I've been talking to Mike and Jason about their ball joint conversions and have some general questions for those in the know.

 

First of all - do I really need to do this? If I can get all the parts, I could just rebuild the king pins and the rest of the suspension.

 

I'm trying to decide on just rebuilding the original suspension or converting to coil overs. I know king pins are old school, and coil overs would ride better, but I dont have access to a welder and would have to take it to a local suspension shop to do the Beebani kit. I cant find any threads with pictures (that work) that I can show to the suspension guy on how to install it. if anyone has any pics, it would be super helpful. I know I have to buy the D21 hubs, tie rods and spindles.

I see that Mike's kit keeps the tension rods and basically bolts in with no welding.

 

Anybody that has done this, any insight would be appreciated...

 

Also - anyone that has rebuilt their steering box - did you send it out to a shop or is there a rebuild kit? Rockauto has a service where I have to ship it to Minnesota...

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Whats the end game, are you going to do FULL suspension work all the way around?  Back too?  IF yes, go with custom kit conversion with coil overs.

 

If no,  patiently wait for kingpin rebuild kits,  king pin a arms can fit coil overs, just need correct kit from Jason.  Either Mikes (fits most 14" rims) or Jason's (15 rims or higher)Disc brake kit. 

 

Just my .02

 

 

 

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Too many questions and too many variables. It seemed to me that I should be able to find parts!! That is certainly the magic trick.  Hang with me for a week or two, and I can tell you what I went through, and how much it cost to refurbish my 620 suspension. After hunting parts for 4 Months,  the truck is going into the suspension-front-end shop Monday. They want to have it done out of there by Friday. Good luck guys... hahaha... better them than me.

 

Mike did my front brakes quite a few years ago and the difference was mind blowing!  Have you watched Mike's YouTube videos of him attempting the Ratsun garage King Pin Bushing job? Some good TeeVee right there boy. He told me some day he is going to clean up all the King Pin clips and edit it into one tutorial. In your spare time, right Mike? 

 

If I had it to do over again, I would have chucked the king-pins and went with ball joints. But, I was only concerned with having front discs... and I was still running 14" American Racing wheels. Mike's brackets let me run the smaller wheels. I had not gone tire shopping at the time for 14" tires or I would have  chosen to buy bigger wheels and tires... which is what I did. I'm running stock '87 Pathfinder 15" x 7" chrome six spoke wheels. Tires are easy to get. I'm on 225/70s and it rides nice on the freeway, good grip in the wet... not too hard to crank a tight U-turn.

 

King Pin bushing kits are not that hard to find on E-bay. I sourced mine through Rare Parts out of Stockton. They charged way too much money, but the King Pin kit they sent me was quality Made in USA, new old stock. Later, I realized that could have bought Japanese Made new old stock from two or three overseas E-bay sellers for half the price even with shipping. It's not that hard to find good King Pin kits... you can get re-pop suspension parts from Tiwan from NAPA or AutoZone overnight. Some of the other parts like the Inner-Upper & Lower control arm links are crazy hard to find... I may have bought the last ones on earth!!! That is how hard and how many dozens of hours I spent searching online.

 

Here is the thread I started. I took a bunch of photos and hope to take some in the shop when they get it torn down. 

 

 

There is a thread I read not that long ago where one of the Ratsun Bros found a shop in Long Beach? I think? Where they rebuild all kinds of steering boxes. It was like a hundred and fifty bucks, he shipped it to them, got it right back. I'm not finding that thread right now. I tried to unbolt a nice clean steering column out of a '79 620 at the Pick 'n Pull in Sherwood. They want $60 for it. I couldn't tell if the Pittman arm was good or not. It was frozen stuck. I shot PB Blaster on it. Gonna try to go out this weekend and grab it before it gets crushed. Ain't seen a 620 in P 'n Ps for at least a year.

 

 

 

For what it's worth, link to my Beebani bracket rear disc swap..

 

 

Edited by Figbuck
figbuxia a condition not unlike too big a bong hit

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Balljoints are a big improvement over kingpins. They offer a smoother ride with less shudder.

 

I have done balljoint conversions on Datsun 320 pickups (which share the same basic kingpin setup as the 620), but i used a complete frame clip from a 720. The suspension and steering geometry were improved on the 720, and the steering box had a splined output as opposed to the enclosed column. It was a lot of work and took about 100 hours to get done, so this probably isn't for you.

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I am NOT a fan of king pins. I'll just say that rather than two paragraphs about my experience with them.

 

Coils don't 'ride better' I believe, BUT you can change them for firmer or softer where the torsion bars you can't really. The removal of the torsion bars lessens the weight and makes more room. You should be able to run coils with the king pins if you choose.

 

 As to the steering box, it's often blamed for sloppy steering. The 620 box steering ratio is something like 19 to one. So any slack in any part of the steering reverse multiplies 19 times. So if the wheel bearings are badly adjusted, The king pins worn, the 6 ball joints have wear as well as the idler arm... and it all adds up to 1/8" and the steering box play is zero the steering wheel will move 2.4 inches back and forth. So before you pay anything to have it rebuild be sure all the steering components are good first. 

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10 hours ago, Farmer said:

Whats the end game, are you going to do FULL suspension work all the way around?  Back too?  IF yes, go with custom kit conversion with coil overs.

 

If no,  patiently wait for kingpin rebuild kits,  king pin a arms can fit coil overs, just need correct kit from Jason.  Either Mikes (fits most 14" rims) or Jason's (15 rims or higher)Disc brake kit. 

 

Just my .02

 

 

 

Thanks Farmer. I started out wanting to do the front and rear 4link. Its a lil bit too much money. I already have 16" wheels. 

 

 

9 hours ago, Figbuck said:

Too many questions and too many variables. It seemed to me that I should be able to find parts!! That is certainly the magic trick.  Hang with me for a week or two, and I can tell you what I went through, and how much it cost to refurbish my 620 suspension. After hunting parts for 4 Months,  the truck is going into the suspension-front-end shop Monday. They want to have it done out of there by Friday. Good luck guys... hahaha... better them than me.

 

Mike did my front brakes quite a few years ago and the difference was mind blowing!  Have you watched Mike's YouTube videos of him attempting the Ratsun garage King Pin Bushing job? Some good TeeVee right there boy. He told me some day he is going to clean up all the King Pin clips and edit it into one tutorial. In your spare time, right Mike? 

 

If I had it to do over again, I would have chucked the king-pins and went with ball joints. But, I was only concerned with having front discs... and I was still running 14" American Racing wheels. Mike's brackets let me run the smaller wheels. I had not gone tire shopping at the time for 14" tires or I would have  chosen to buy bigger wheels and tires... which is what I did. I'm running stock '87 Pathfinder 15" x 7" chrome six spoke wheels. Tires are easy to get. I'm on 225/70s and it rides nice on the freeway, good grip in the wet... not too hard to crank a tight U-turn.

 

King Pin bushing kits are not that hard to find on E-bay. I sourced mine through Rare Parts out of Stockton. They charged way too much money, but the King Pin kit they sent me was quality Made in USA, new old stock. Later, I realized that could have bought Japanese Made new old stock from two or three overseas E-bay sellers for half the price even with shipping. It's not that hard to find good King Pin kits... you can get re-pop suspension parts from Tiwan from NAPA or AutoZone overnight. Some of the other parts like the Inner-Upper & Lower control arm links are crazy hard to find... I may have bought the last ones on earth!!! That is how hard and how many dozens of hours I spent searching online.

 

Here is the thread I started. I took a bunch of photos and hope to take some in the shop when they get it torn down. 

 

 

There is a thread I read not that long ago where one of the Ratsun Bros found a shop in Long Beach? I think? Where they rebuild all kinds of steering boxes. It was like a hundred and fifty bucks, he shipped it to them, got it right back. I'm not finding that thread right now. I tried to unbolt a nice clean steering column out of a '79 620 at the Pick 'n Pull in Sherwood. They want $60 for it. I couldn't tell if the Pittman arm was good or not. It was frozen stuck. I shot PB Blaster on it. Gonna try to go out this weekend and grab it before it gets crushed. Ain't seen a 620 in P 'n Ps for at least a year.

 

 

 

For what it's worth, link to my Beebani bracket rear disc swap..

 

Fuck dude! Thanks. I have some reading to do now. Long Beach is an hour away (well 4 hours in traffic...).

Thanks for the long detailed response.

 

 

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9 hours ago, datzenmike said:

I am NOT a fan of king pins. I'll just say that rather than two paragraphs about my experience with them.

 

Coils don't 'ride better' I believe, BUT you can change them for firmer or softer where the torsion bars you can't really. The removal of the torsion bars lessens the weight and makes more room. You should be able to run coils with the king pins if you choose.

 

 As to the steering box, it's often blamed for sloppy steering. The 620 box steering ratio is something like 19 to one. So any slack in any part of the steering reverse multiplies 19 times. So if the wheel bearings are badly adjusted, The king pins worn, the 6 ball joints have wear as well as the idler arm... and it all adds up to 1/8" and the steering box play is zero the steering wheel will move 2.4 inches back and forth. So before you pay anything to have it rebuild be sure all the steering components are good first. 

 

I seriously thought you were going to say there was nothing wrong with king pins (aka drum brake discussions) - so I'm surprised and it carries a lot of weight. Ive seen dozens of your posts saying the same thing about box ratio...so it is drilled into my head. I just think "while you are at it" why not get it rebuilt while everything else is getting refreshed.

 

The think with QA coilovers is I can pick the spring rate...and if I use D21 drop spindles I would have full suspension stroke. I dont want to go lower than 2" anyways.

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9 hours ago, Stoffregen Motorsports said:

Balljoints are a big improvement over kingpins. They offer a smoother ride with less shudder.

 

I have done balljoint conversions on Datsun 320 pickups (which share the same basic kingpin setup as the 620), but i used a complete frame clip from a 720. The suspension and steering geometry were improved on the 720, and the steering box had a splined output as opposed to the enclosed column. It was a lot of work and took about 100 hours to get done, so this probably isn't for you.

 

Several suspension shops Ive stopped by in LA that do "custom" work have no idea what king pins are...they are all about jacking up vehicles with quad shocks. A straight Beebani conversion is only 3-4 hours (according to Jason)!! 

Woodland Hills to Cool is ~425 miles. Hmmm wonder what shipping costs are? It was $1250 each way to take it to Oregon....hmmmmm...

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As luck would have it...I found a guy semi-locally that has  an uninstalled Beebani kit and his selling his truck ...and wants to sell the kit with spindles incl.!!

 

I might pull the trigger next week. Not sure if my existing brake brackets will work. Im concerned that it will push the wheels out and rub the fenders...only one way to find out I guess...

Edited by FrankRizzo
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I happened across this thread while looking for something else. lol  I haven't read it closely, but I thought I'd add a couple of things.  This will probably be more for the newer readers than those that have been here awhile.

 

I noticed above a comment about my brake kits fitting "some" 14" rims.  They actually fit all 14" rims, including the stock steel factory rim....which is the hardest to fit behind.  They do push the wheel mounting surface out 5/8" on each side do to the use of the disc brake hubs.  The kit can work with Toyota 5 lug hubs, too(little known info I don't typically promote, lol).

 

As mentioned above, king pins are perfectly fine, but they're a pain to rebuild compared to just replacing a ball joint.  If you're looking to daily drive a truck, the conversion might be worth it, but I daily'd my wife's 521 for a couple of years on the freeway 3-4 days a week at 70-80mph, without issue.  A lot of the slop can come from the idler arm.  They're available still...as are the tie rod ends.  The stock rubber uca to dogbone bushings are easy to get and cheap, but they wear out quickly.  I make urethane options for them since the rubber ones were toast after 6mo on my wife's truck.

 

The inner LCA bushings are rubber. They're available, but royal PITA to replace. I have a vid or two about these.  I've never actually found bad ones on the trucks I've had, so check them closely before starting down that path.  The bigger issue is getting the sun bolt out that connects the LCA to that bushing.  They're hard to come buy. I'm working on getting some out of Mexico.  I'm going to see about making a removal tool that will help get them out.  The bolts are fairly soft, so the threads get destroyed when they're hammered on. Wayno double nuts them and has had pretty good success getting them out that way. The HB sun bolts are available, but they're too long and about $30ea.  Seriously, if you're not converting to ball joint, check them very closely before you tear into them.  

 

The other pivot points are called bushings, typically, but they're steel on steel pins and cups.  I think the inner UCA ones can be found still. You'll get the cross shaft arm and the cups. The lower dogbone to LCA connection is called a fulcrum pin and is harder to find.  I think the pins are the same between the different years, but the cups change.  I'm pretty sure I did a video showing the differences.  This is another PITA to deal with, so, as with the inner LCA bushing, check these closely to make sure they actually need replaced. 

 

The kingpin kits are getting a lot harder to find and the price is going way up!!!  I keep seeing a guy in Cyprus that wants over $200 for kits.  I'm currently in talks with a couple of companies in china that can supply them.  I've gotten samples in and have a preliminary price. I have to order 50 sets and the shipping more than doubles the cost.  I may see about posting a group buy.  At the price I've received, I know I can sell them at around $110 shipping in the US.  I hesitate to go much below that until they arrive since the shipping is an estimate.  One of the samples is nearly a perfect match. The only issue is that the hole in each bushing is in the middle of the length and needs to be offset a bit to line up with the grease fitting on the spindle.  The bushings aren't very hard, so a file, dremel, or die grinder can easily elongate the hole to where it's needed.  There's a small chance that I may modify them before reselling them, but that will mean the price will definitely stay at the $100 mark...possibly a hair more.

As mentioned, I do have "A LOT" of videos on rebuilding kingpins on my YT channel.  It's certainly possible to do them yourself, but I'd highly recommend finding a shop with a Sunnen hone to have the bushings fitted to the pins.  It runs me about $60/set to have them done here.  

 

I'm currently working on a group buy on facebook for the ball joint conversion arms that will maintain stock track width.  Getting ball joints on the trucks is pretty easy with a custom uca, but it will push the wheels out 1.25" per side if the LCA's are not shortened.  I don't want to turn this into a sales pitch, so msg me and I can answer questions and send a couple of links.  If I get many pm's about them, I may put a thread up here.   

 

Wow....this has gotten way longer than I had planned. LOL 

 

I don't follow much on this forum any more, but I'm still here.  You can pm me here.  My youtube channel bluehandsvideo has lots of datsun stuff and how-to's from previous years.  The last few years are more machining.  You can also find more info on my site www.bluehandsfab.com. The factory manuals are on there if you want to download a copy.  I'll get any replies to this, so if you have questions, you can ask them here.  I'm guessing the thread is old enough that Frank won't mind much. :)

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On 5/17/2019 at 9:17 AM, FrankRizzo said:

As luck would have it...I found a guy semi-locally that has  an uninstalled Beebani kit and his selling his truck ...and wants to sell the kit with spindles incl.!!

 

I might pull the trigger next week. Not sure if my existing brake brackets will work. Im concerned that it will push the wheels out and rub the fenders...only one way to find out I guess...

 

Aaaannnd this ^ was the start of my problems... Funny to see it in print now.

 

Hi Mike!

 

All said and done what Mike says is very true. I dont have any regrets about my Coilover conversion (well...maybe a little, but related to other people, not the the concept of the coilovers), but it would have been much less cost/hassle/time to do what Mike says above (for me - YMMV) - especially because I already had disks in front.

 

Edit: Kingpin rebuild kit from Greece on eBay right now for $160.00!

...

Edited by FrankRizzo
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9 hours ago, ducky said:

Pretty sure I got a kingpin kit from Rock Auto last year for like $50...

Please try to find one now.  That one in Cyprus is $200 shipped and has rust.  The rust is on the outside of the bushings....at least in the picture they give.....and that wouldn't be much of an issue.  

I'd like to see you find a source.  I've been talking to a manufacture in china about ordering 50 sets in.  The kits themselves are cheap, but the shipping more than doubles the price.  If I order them in, I'll sell them for around $100ea.  I would need to get my money back from the first half sold since I doubt they will all sell.  I've been back and forth with them for about a month now.  I've gotten a sample from two companies, one of which is 98% correct.  The hole in the bushings is not located correctly for the grease fitting on the Datsun spindles, but everything else is good.  The hole will need to be elongated about 1/8" to work. A file, dremel or die grinder would do the job easily. If the customer wants to do that, I might lower the price a small amount......if I have to do it, it will definitely be $100 or slightly more.  Unboxing 50 kits and modifying 200 bushings is not something I want to do.

 

I'm waiting on a sample from the second company.  The first kit was incorrect, but they say they can get me the correct kit for less than the other company.  I've been waiting to post about it until I have the sample from them.  I have put it on my IG and shared that to my bluehandsvideo FB page.  The clip shows what would be needed to modify the hole.  For those of you that have IG.... 

 

I'm talking to the first company about people being able to order just one set each from them.  It's looking like it's possible.  It would make the kits a good bit less for each buyer since I would not be marking them up for shipping and to make a profit.  For anyone outside of the US, this would definitely be the best option since they'd only pay overseas shipping once.  If the kit comes to me first, it will be another $40 in shipping to send it back out of the US.  That's the price of a small flat rate box to Australia right now.  I hear that price is going up again, soon.  Certainly, the easiest, cheapest, safest thing for me to do is to simply put a link up to this company and the kit and let people buy them directly.  I wish the handler would have told me that was an option a month ago. LOL  Maybe I'll start a thread in the next few days, with this same info so it can be more widely viewed and commented on.

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Konig Ortiz just posted on FB this morning that he's getting in MOOG kingpin kits for about $120 shipped.  Had I know he was working on them, I wouldn't have wasted my time. lol

 

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11 minutes ago, mklotz70 said:

Konig Ortiz just posted on FB this morning that he's getting in MOOG kingpin kits for about $120 shipped.  Had I know he was working on them, I wouldn't have wasted my time. lol

 

 

Um.  I have facebook but do not excel in using it.  How do I find that?

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You might need to be part of his page....  I tried to post a link, but it's a private page, so it won't work here.  This is the name of the page.

 

datsun 520/521 owners registry

 

...he posted saying he's getting 4 kits.

 

 

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It's funny, that's what I posted above, but then I didn't know if they'd work for 620 so I deleted it...

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I'm pretty sure he got 521 kits......which will NOT work on the 620.  The top bushings are different and they're the ones that get all the wear.

 

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For what it's worth...

new-datsun-parts.com: out of Canada still has the

 

OEM king pin kits for $265 pair

He also has the OEM lower outer fulcrum kits for $310 pair

and the OEM upper spindle kits for $259 per side

 

$265+$310+$259+$259=$1,093 plus shipping from Canada

 

Expensive? Cheaper than a ball joint conversion...

 

Ive bought stuff from him before and it has always been as advertised OEM.

 

.

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Dang, you guys are right. These kits are nutso pricing. I'll sell mine if someone truly needs them, since I want to change out to balljoints. Send me a DM. Show special of $100?

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