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Poly Control Arm Bushings on 1st gen W-body

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Official Writeup is here:

http://www.w-body.com/forum/index.php?topic=80131.0

 

 

Alright, I figured it was time to start an official thread to show people how I did this job.

 

Let me start by saying that its been a bit frustrating so far. Refer to this thread to see why: http://www.w-body.com/forum/index.php?topic=74875.0

 

BOLTS

Basically, the OE bushings have an inner sleeve that the bolt goes through. The subframe mounts for the control arms are only big enough to allow the 12mm thick bolts to go through. On my car, the inner sleeves seized up to the bolts, and no amount of Bolt Buster or heat with a MAPP gas torch would loosen them, and I did try to heat the sleeve directly. I eventually concluded that my only option would be to cut up the bolts with a dremel.

 

The bolts needed are hardened bolts for automotive use, which I thought were available only from GM. However, upon calling a GM dealer, I found out that these are discontinued. I managed to find replacements here: http://www.boltdepot.com/metric-hex-bolts.aspx

 

The OE bolts are 12mm thick, 1.75mm thread pitch, and 92.1mm in length. There's plenty of excess thread left over, so I ordered the 90mm bolts and 12x1.75 hardened nuts from this place as well. The exact product numbers on this website are 6776 for the bolts and 12007 for the nuts. You can use the existing nuts if you wish to, but I bought a set of replacements just in case any issues were to arise.

 

 

BUSHINGS

Refer to this thread: http://www.w-body.com/forum/index.php?topic=65795.30

 

The bushings are part of Energy Suspension Part kit #3.3156R, with the R referring to Red bushings.

 

The bushings can be purchased directly from ES for $65 + shipping: http://www.energysuspensionparts.com/proddetail.asp?prod=3.3156

 

As of 01/02/09 the bushings can also be purchased from Amazon.com for $55 shipped (which is where I got them): http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000CN75XA/ref=ord_cart_shr?_encoding=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&v=glance

 

These are indeed bushings for an 88 RWD Cutlass, but they will work on a 1st gen w-body.

 

I am currently in the process of removing the OE bushings from the control arms, which I have been told can be done by heating the control arm with a torch, "melting" the bushings out, and sanding the control arm to remove any remaining rubber.

 

 

 

I will be taking photos of my progress some time today.

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I am really interested to see how this works out, because the design of the OEM bushing is not very optimal for Poly inserts. The stockers are contained in a steel sleeve so you can press them in and out of the arm. It doesn't look like the ES kit comes with any such thing, which would mean there is no support for the control arm because that steel sleeve acts as a spacer for the control arm channel.

 

Also the forward and rearward bushings are 2 totally different sizes... does the ES include 2 different sizes of bushing?

 

Jamie

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I am really interested to see how this works out, because the design of the OEM bushing is not very optimal for Poly inserts. The stockers are contained in a steel sleeve so you can press them in and out of the arm. It doesn't look like the ES kit comes with any such thing, which would mean there is no support for the control arm because that steel sleeve acts as a spacer for the control arm channel.

 

Also the forward and rearward bushings are 2 totally different sizes... does the ES include 2 different sizes of bushing?

 

Jamie

 

The bushings I purchased do have an outer and inner metal sleeve, which seems to be zinc coated. There are I believe 3 different sizes of bushings in the kit, since its made for the RWD '88 Cutlass. If you'd like, I can get you the dimensions.

 

As a bit of an update, today was a pain in the ass. My Dremel 300 smoked up and stopped working, so I had to take the time to find the receipt and get it replaced with a Dremel 400 XPR, since this one has a 2.0A motor as opposed to my 300's 1.15A motor. Conveniently enough, this one has started smoking up on me on 3 occasions. I'll be returning it for a replacement, as it seems that I've gotten a lemon of a dremel.

 

The front bolt is now cut, and the rear is half done being cut. Once I get access to this control arm, I'll be able to tell you exactly what's going on with these bushings and take some good pictures.

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Dimensions aren't necessary, I will take your word for it :lol: not all of us are total skeptics!

 

I don't even know if I would be doing it, just thought I would pose the question for anyone that might be interested... I am keeping an eye on those tubular control arms.

 

Would like to see pictures though!

 

Jamie

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Alright, well I burned out my new Dremel. Its robably the motor brushes, which Dremel sells replacements for. Oh well. I'll just take it in and get it replaced. I'm reading of a very high failure rate for this Dremel online, and that it heats up fairly quickly. Hopefully I can get this job done without burning through another dremel. These trips to Home Depot are getting a bit annoying.

 

I should have the passenger side control arm down today, so I'll be able to finally start on the bushing work.

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Do you have an air compressor and cut-off wheel tool? Works better IMO than Dremels.

 

Wish I did, but I don't. I'm 100% sure it would work better than a Dremel, since Dremels are made more for high speed than torque. That's the main reason I got the 400XPR instead of the 300.

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Alright, I've got some progress.

 

I managed to cut up the bolts and separate the subframe mounts enough to wedge the control arm out with a screwdriver and hammer. Still haven't gotten it off the balljoint yet. I'm not really sure how to do that yet, as I've already removed the nut from underneath the control arm.

 

Anyways, I have pictures.

 

IMG_1113.jpg

IMG_1114.jpg

IMG_1115.jpg

IMG_1117.jpg

IMG_1118.jpg

IMG_1119.jpg

IMG_1120.jpg

 

In other news, the bushings I have don't look like they're going to fit without some cutting, and unless I can get the outer sleeves from the OE bushings out of the control arm, I may have to melt the poly bushings out of their sleeves to make this work. I'm not exactly looking forward to that.

 

In addition, I have another problem. As you can see from the picture of the bushings, I have a few different sizes, one of which has a much bigger bolt hole than the others. Unfortunately, this was the one I was planning on using for the front.

 

The piece of turd you see there is the cut up bolt with the OE bushing inner sleeve covered in rust. Trust me, that's not melted rubber on there. I'm willing to bet that when I had the subframe replaced, they didn't replace the control arm, because I don't see how that much rust could have siezed up on the bolt in just two years, one of which didn't even see much Chicago winter, and cars don't rust in southern California. I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that I won't have this same problem working with the other control arm.

 

My next step is to heat up the control arm in order to melt the original rubber out, and take some measurements to see how I can make these replacement bushings work. This entire project will be completed within the next 5 days, as I have to drive out on the 12th and move out of my old apartment on the 8th.

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Don't melt the poly bushings out of the sleeves 'cause that'll ruin them. :eek: What you really need to do is get the old bushing pressed out, and the new one pressed in.

 

Don't really have that option here buddy. If I have to remove the sleeves, so be it.

 

It has to be an option, that outer sleeve is structural to the arm, it HAS to be pressed out, no other way to get it out of there.

 

The only other thing I see working is if you melt the rubber bushing out of that sleeve and then modify (not melt) the poly bushing to fit inside that sleeve. The ONLY way you should be modifying that poly bushing would be on a lathe, you want it to keep its center otherwise its going to mess up your entire front end.

 

Jamie

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insert new rubber bushings. Reassemble.

 

Or modify the poly bushings on a lathe to the dimensions of a brand new rubber bushing, and have them pressed in with an arbor press or hydraulic press.

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I don't have a press. I don't have access to a press. The only way I could get to a press is to find a shop that has one, and that would cost me more cash and more time, which I'm trying to avoid since this project has cost me more than I had expected to begin with in both arenas. Would any regular automotive shop have a press?

 

I just rented a ball joint removal tool, so I'll be using that soon to get the control arm off. I'll take some dimensions of the outer sleeve to see if I can somehow get that one out and hammer in the new bushings intact with their own sleeves, or find someone with a press to do it for me.

 

I am under the assumption so far that the diameter of the new bushings is correct, but that their length needs to be adjusted. All I was referring to as far as cutting goes was in regard to the length.

 

 

 

Edit 1... I just checked Rockauto.com

 

ACDELCO Part # 45G11059 (BUSHING,FRONT LOWER CONTROL ARM -; LOWER FRONT) fits both my 1995 Regal and a 1988 RWD Cutlass.

ACDELCO Part # 45G11058 (BUSHING,FRONT LOWER CONTROL ARM -; REAR) fits both my 1995 Regal and a 1988 RWD Cutlass.

 

Therefore, since I know that I bought the correct bushing kit from ES, 4 of the bushings I have here should be a perfect fit. The other bushings, which have a larger diameter, I have confirmed are the upper control arm bushing for the '88 Cutlass.

 

K6176_TOP.jpg

 

I should be good to go pressing out the original sleeves and pressing in the new bushings intact. I'll let you guys know as soon as I get that control arm off.

 

 

 

 

Edit 2:

 

Alright, I went out and measured the control arm's bushings. The bushings I have are indeed too long, which can be easily cut straight with my dremel or even a hack saw. The front has the exact same diameter as the OE sleeve, and the rear might be just barely 1mm too thick but I honestly can't tell yet.

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Just called the nearest auto repair place, and they would charge half hour of work per control arm, which for them is $42. That sets me back $84 for both control arms, unless I can find a place that can press out and press in bushings on two control arms in half an hour. If there is any way that I can avoid that cost, I'd do it. I'd rather hammer out the original sleeves to have them do half the work of only pressing in the new ones. I'd really prefer not to put another $84 into this project. Is this something I might be able to do with a large C-clamp and some heat? Or perhaps something I can buy off the shelf at a Home Depot?

 

Edit...looks like buying a half-ton arbor press from Sears for $65 would be cheaper. That's still a bit too expensive though.

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Alright, I rented a balljoint removal tool and got the control arm off. I measured the diameter of the outer sleeves and the front are good to go. However, the rear's sleeve on the poly bushing is 1/8" bigger in diameter than the sleeve of the original bushing currently on the control arm. I'm guessing my only option may be to melt out the original rubber (leaving the sleeve on the control arm), remove the poly bushing from its own sleeve, and press it into the original sleeve. I shouldn't need a high tech press to do this, and I can get the poly bushing out of its sleeve by cutting a straight line across the sleeve with my dremel. Shouldn't be that difficult to do. The inner sleeve holes seem to match up to the 12mm bolt size I purchased, so I shouldn't have any problems there either.

 

Both bushings (front and rear) are longer than they should be. I'll be able to figure out how much to cut off and where once everything gets pressed into the control arm. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not too worried about this part since cutting a slice off the length of the bushing with a dremel will be easy.

 

The only real problem I have here is pressing out the original bushings and sleeve, and pressing on the new bushing. In this situation, I have two options.

 

The first option is to press out the original bushing and sleeve, and press in the new one. I called a local performance shop and the owner returned my call on his cell phone saying he'll call me back tomorrow about pricing for getting those two bushings installed. I'm hoping he'll give me a reasonable quote. Either way, this should be cheaper since I really only need a press for two bushings instead of four.

 

The second option is to melt out the original rubber and do the same thing I'll be doing with the rear bushing; to cut a straight line across the outer sleeve of the poly bushings and insert the poly bushing itself into the original sleeve still on the control arm. Depending on the pricing the performance shop guy gives me, I'll figure out what to do.

 

I'm not really too afraid of heating up the OE sleeve, as I'll only be getting it hot enough to burn the rubber to the point where I can pop it out. This part really shouldn't be that big of a deal. I have a mini flap sanding wheel for my Dremel to clean out the inside of the original sleeve.

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I'm guessing my only option may be to melt out the original rubber (leaving the sleeve on the control arm), remove the poly bushing from its own sleeve, and press it into the original sleeve. I shouldn't need a high tech press to do this, and I can get the poly bushing out of its sleeve by cutting a straight line across the sleeve with my dremel.

 

I just thought of that method myself a few minutes ago! As long as all the diameters in question are correct, you should be able to do that. Just be careful when splitting the sleeves on the new bushings not to damage the poly with the dremel.

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I'm guessing my only option may be to melt out the original rubber (leaving the sleeve on the control arm), remove the poly bushing from its own sleeve, and press it into the original sleeve. I shouldn't need a high tech press to do this, and I can get the poly bushing out of its sleeve by cutting a straight line across the sleeve with my dremel.

 

I just thought of that method myself a few minutes ago! As long as all the diameters in question are correct, you should be able to do that. Just be careful when splitting the sleeves on the new bushings not to damage the poly with the dremel.

 

The diameter of the bushings is identical.

 

Yes, the bushings are pressed in. You need to press in the new bushings.

 

So I can't just do what I was thinking of doing and hammer in the new bushings with some grease and a mallet?

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Yes, the bushings are pressed in. You need to press in the new bushings.

 

So I can't just do what I was thinking of doing and hammer in the new bushings with some grease and a mallet?

 

You will be taking the chance of damaging the control arm (which is easier to bend than you think), and buggering up the bushings.

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It cost me $10 to have mine pressed out and new ones pressed in, it took the guy a whole ten minutes to do, that shop is ripping you off.

 

DO NOT HAMMER OUT YOUR BUSHINGS! the force you will have to apply with cause the walls of the control arm to collapse, then you will be into the cost of new control arms. When they press out the bushings they have a spacer that goes inside the control arm to stop them from collapsing.

 

Honestly, I'm with GOT2BGM press in new rubber bushings. Those poly bushings are not made for this application and with modifying them who knows what kind of mess it will create, if they are not modified perfect it will through off your entire front end.

 

Proper poly bushings in this instance would be cast directly into a sleeve to allow them to be pressed in. You won't get that kind of connection between the sleeves and the bushings you modify to fit them.

 

Jamie

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Yes, the bushings are pressed in. You need to press in the new bushings.

 

So I can't just do what I was thinking of doing and hammer in the new bushings with some grease and a mallet?

 

You will be taking the chance of damaging the control arm (which is easier to bend than you think), and buggering up the bushings.

 

I'm a bit confused here. What step in the process I am planning on taking is particularly risky? And how easy to bend can it be? I mean, the thing is designed to withstand quite a heavy force during very hard cornering, which I certainly do a lot of, hence the reason I'm doing this project.

 

I don't see any problems with the heat, as I'll be applying heat directly to the original sleeve to melt out the original rubber. As far as the bushings, I doubt I'll do much damage cutting a maximum of 1mm into the bushing itself if I'm particularly careless, which I'm not because I have some experience with this dremel.

 

The only risk I can really see is while hammering in the poly bushings, but given your warnings, I'm sure I could be very careful. The specs of the polyurethane itself (not including the new sleeve) match up perfectly, so they should slide right in with a little bit of grease.

 

I'd definitely press them in if I had the money to do so, but it seems that I'll be paying a minimum of $40 to get this done by someone else. If you can explain where I'd be creating a potential risk using my method, please do and I'll consider my other options more seriously. At this point I'm nearly 100% sure that I'll be doing it the way that I have figured out so far, and will have the bushings in place and control arm ready for reinstall by the time the bolts arrive. Hell, I'll probably even have time to sand down some of the rust on the control arm and give it a few new coats of paint.

 

 

It cost me $10 to have mine pressed out and new ones pressed in, it took the guy a whole ten minutes to do, that shop is ripping you off.

 

DO NOT HAMMER OUT YOUR BUSHINGS! the force you will have to apply with cause the walls of the control arm to collapse, then you will be into the cost of new control arms. When they press out the bushings they have a spacer that goes inside the control arm to stop them from collapsing.

 

Honestly, I'm with GOT2BGM press in new rubber bushings. Those poly bushings are not made for this application and with modifying them who knows what kind of mess it will create, if they are not modified perfect it will through off your entire front end.

 

Proper poly bushings in this instance would be cast directly into a sleeve to allow them to be pressed in. You won't get that kind of connection between the sleeves and the bushings you modify to fit them.

 

Jamie

 

I'm still not understanding something. I won't be hammering out the old bushings. I'll be heating up the outer sleeve with a MAPP gas torch, thereby melting the rubber inside, making it effortless to slide out. It will smell bad, but it will be a piece of cake. Afterward, I'll run my dremel with a sandpaper flap wheel lightly to remove any rubber residue left over. This would be done with the rear since I have no other choice. There's simply no other way to do it, because the diameter of the new bushing with the outer sleeve is 1/8" thicker than the OE bushing with the sleeve. HOWEVER, the actual polurethane material is exactly the same diameter as the original rubber itself not including the sleeve. I've already made the measurements and the size of the poly "rubber" is identical to that of the original rubber still inside the sleeve. This is my only option, unless I pay someone to slide in a piece of perfectly matched polyurethane into the OE sleeve after I clean it out. If I find that it requires too much force to "tap" it in with a mallet, then I'll have a shop press it in for me as a last resort. Keep in mind, in regard to the rear bushing, I've checked, double-checked, and triple-checked these measurements to make 100% sure that they are accurate.

 

I just went back to the garage to do some more measurements on the front. I discovered that the outer diameter of the front poly bushing including the sleeve is exactly the same as the outer diameter of the original bushing including the sleeve. However, the diameter of the polyurethane "rubber" itself is smaller than the inner diameter of the original sleeve. Therefore, I have no other choice than to take it to a shop to have them press out the entire bushing and sleeve and press in the new poly bushing and sleeve. I'm really not sure why, but the outer sleeves of the ES poly bushings are thicker than the sleeves of the original bushings.

 

I'm not modifying the diameter of anything here, only the length. The length is something I can play with very easily, as all i need to do is cut the bushing down to size.

 

As far as what the shop is charging, I agree, it is a bit of an asinine price to charge, so I'll see what a few smaller local shops will charge. Since I only have to press in the front bushings, this shouldn't be all that difficult.

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Alright, I have some pictures taken to make this a bit easier to explain.

 

 

To start, here's the rear bushing:

IMG_1125.jpg

IMG_1127.jpg

 

 

And here's the front bushing:

IMG_1130.jpg

IMG_1128.jpg

 

 

And here's the control arm:

Rear section:

IMG_1131.jpg

 

 

 

What you see on that control arm in the last picture is the outer sleeve of the original bushing going through the control arm. What I'll be doing is heating up that outer sleeve *only* and sliding out the rubber once it melts enough. Who knows how long this will take, but I'm fairly certain that it will melt enough for it to happen. Once that's done, all I have to do is cut a line down the length of the outer sleeve of the new bushing, and pop the polyurethane bushing out. I'm fairly certain that with some grease and a mallet, I can lightly hammer this new bushing into the old sleeve, once I cut it down to the correct length of course.

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