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Baja Forums -:- VW Volkswagen Bug, Baja, Bus, Sandrail and Thing -:- VW Suspension, Brakes, Wheels and Tires -:- Ball Joint Suspension Question
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Ball Joint Suspension Question

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steve9107
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Post Post subject: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 01:15 PM
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I recently bought a 1974 Bug (in very good shape) that I am in the process of turning into a Baja. I want this machine to be good on and off the road. I plan on using this Baja to commute when it is below 100 degrees and to do some serious off roading with the wife and grand daughter.

I have talked with alot of VW folks, mechanics, parts people and VW nuts. I have read the "Baja Bug & Buggies" book twice and some parts three times. The car is in great shape however, it has a ball joint front end. I am getting advice that ranges from take it all out and make it a link pin system to just add an adjustable ball joint beam and good shocks.

I am confused as hell about which direction to proceed and not real excited about tearing out a complete ball joint front suspension that has many new parts from a recent overhaul and replacing it with a Warrior Link Pin Beam. I am looking for the best way to raise up the vehicle for good ground clearance and wheel travel and to also make it off/on road worthy at the same time. My questions are:
1. Should I convert to link pin?
2. How dependable is the ball joint front end when being used for serious off roading?
3. What are the problems associated with a ball joint front end when used off road?
4. If I stay with ball joint front end what exactly do I need to do and replace to assure that the vehicle is raised up for clearance and is built to sustain the off rooad punisment of serious trail driving?

Any help or advice that you can provide is appreciated.

Confused Baja Conversion Guy!


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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 02:27 PM
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this is my baja with a ball joint front end after a trip the back way up to crown king

[img][/img]

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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 04:12 PM
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I think LP is the way to go. I'm (haha- I mean Bajawarrior- I just stand there and look stupid) in the process of replacing the frame head on mine right now (it was already LP- just extending the pan a couple of inches and putting on a new aftermarket frame head). The fabricating skills don't appear to be anything insurmountable, honestly, and the man-hours don't seem like much either. I'm having a problem with my aftermarket frame head though- it's a POS (that's another issue).

I'm in Mesa, and you can have my OG frame head if you want it- it's perfectly usable. Scott did a nice straight cut too. If you want to lengthen your pan, you'll need to add material to it for the additional length, but if you just plan to go stock length, then it should be no problem.

NOTE- If you EVER plan to get longer front trailing arms for more travel, extend your pan a few inches now. It'll move your front wheels forward (may cause fender/tire clearance issues, depending on how radically you trim your fenders), but down the road it'll have been worth it. If you don't extend the pan and do opt for longer arms later, they move your wheels BACK, and then you'll probably have clearance issues if you don't move the beam forward now.


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steve9107
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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:46 PM
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Thanks for the info. I figured that the LP was the way to go seeing how all of the Baja Books only give advice on how to fix or maintain a Ball Joint Front End.

The thing that has been keeping me form charging head first into LP was the front clip. If you don't go after market it is becoming a hard used part to find.

I also live in Mesa and if you are serious I would love to have your old clip and put it to use. Who do you suggest to take it to have the welding done? I have not welded in probaly 30 years and that was in high school and I wasn't much good then so I know my talents has not improved. Also I just don't want to stick the money into buying a welder and then having to run a dedicated 220 circuit just to use the thing a couple of times. Does not make much sense and I am trying to ease the War Department into this spending money on something that does not decorate the house.

If you want I can come by and pick up that front clip. I am at Brown and Elsworth area. You can reach me at 480-699-7531 (home) and 480-225-6184 (cell)


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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 01:47 AM
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Steve9107, depending on your planned use, a ball joint front end can stand up to a lot of abuse when in good shape. The reason the book doesn't discuss ball joint front ends is when that was written the ball joint cars were still new and not being cut up to make Baja's.

A mid/long travel aftermarket link pin front end with longer trailing arms and coil overs look great, ride good, have good travel, but are expensive and you may never exceed the ball joint toughness.

A stock ball joint front end is stronger than a stock lin pin front provided they are both in good shape. There are several racing classes that run ball joint front ends.

In answering your direct questions...
How serious off road are we talking about. Daryll runs the "Rolls" with ball joints. Class 9 buggies and a lot of Class 11 cars raced the Baja 1300 with ball joints.

To prep, make sure the ball joints are in good ie new GERMAN ball joints, not clearenced chinese ones.

To lift, Several people here can cut and turn your beam, or add adjusters. Daryll aka Bugzylla and also Scott aka Bajawarrier are 2.

Another option is lift spindles from www.BlindChickenRacing.com

Ideally, I would conbine the cut and turned beam w/adjusters and lift spindles. Or if you can find them, Thing trailing arms and spindles.

Hope that doesn't muddy the waters too much.


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57baja
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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 02:36 AM
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steve9107 wrote:
I just don't want to stick the money into buying a welder

...You might want to find another hobby then. Please don't take that wrong. It's just that if you want to build a baja that you can run even FAIRLY hard, you're gonna be doing some welding. I built my whole car with a 120VAC welder and it works fine. BTW... you can do a king & link conversion without having to weld on a new frame head. I agree with the previous posts that it has its advantages to move the beam forward, but it does not have to be done. I didn't even think about it when I did mine and it runs just fine the way it is. I have 4" longer front arms and 13" of travel up front with no fenderwell clearance problems.



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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 04:00 AM
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Thanks to everyone who has replied. I really appreciate the responses. To answer a couple of questions about how I plan to use the Baja I will put is this way.

35 years ago I built my first Baja from a 66 VW. I went all out however, parts were limited and I was taking a four hour sdvanced automotive course at Tempe High School and four of needed a project car and I donated my 66 as it was already in rough shape. The tchnology and avialable after market parts were really non-exsistent. So I spent a great amount of time in wrecking yards. The project Baja got us all an A+ for the class and was souped up with 911 parts and engine, converted to 12 volt system and raised the best we could with air shocks. It ran real fast with a turbo charger but, we kept eating up electronic parts. Sold it when I got drafted to serve uncle Sam.

I built another one in the early 90's for my daughter. It looked good ran on a 1600 engine with no real modifications and she wrecked it two months after I had it looking very cute. Never really stuck nay money into the suspension as I knew my daughter would off road the car that much.

I currently have a small sand rail (two seater) with a 1200 CC suzuki engine, It is real fun to drive and can do some serious trail rides. I am not afraid to take it in some real scary places. I have owned this China product for two years and we really love it. My problem is that it hold only two pax's which means someon has to stay back. I have my granddaughter every weekend so I decide to find and buy a 1970 to 1976 VW bug in as good of shape as possible and convert it to a Baja so the three of us can go play. I plan on doing some serious off road trips with it. I am not a sand lover so I will do the trails in the desert and mountains when it to hot down here. I also plan on using it as a commuter car for my 73 mile roundtrip for work.

I want some good low range power, good suspension, and great off road capability with a solid rebuilt machine. So I have been figuring the stock 1600 with some small power up items added to it. I really want to put most of money into doing the suspension as I really feel that this is the right sres to spend in. I hope this answers the off and on road part of desire. If I can get up a 45 to 55 degree incline and tear out my motor and tranny on the wsy up thst would make me very happy. If you folks think I can do what I what I want to do with retaing my ball joint front then I will do it that way, I plan on keeping this vehicle for the rest of life and having it as my off road, grocery store, every dsy transportation when it is cooler abd seat two adults and two children I will be real happy

I like thoose allday desert and woods trail trips and want to some day maybe run thr Laughlin to Las Vegas run at keast once and maybe the smaller Baja 500 in a stock class Baja some time in the futiure.

If I can do it with a ball joint front end that is great as all of front end parts are like new, The original owner drove the car from 1973 until 1975 and then parked it in his garage. In 2003 when his grandson was returning home from ih 28 month tour in Iraq his graand farth put in a new engine rebuil BUS tranny and had the entire vehicle gone over and anythik that questionable he had relpaced. Turned out that when his grandons got home and looked at the car he declined the offer and wanted a Notor Bike insteda. Gramps drove it for another 150 miles and then sold it a friend of nibe so he could a third vehicle for his daughter to drive. She scared the friend so bad after tge first three attempts of driving the VW that he parked it ib his garage and then started taking it apart to sand and prep it for paint. This lasted two years and his wife said move it or lose it as it is to hot for to park oustide of the Garage. I picked this little gem up for 1200 dollars with all of the parts and origimal paperwork including the rebuild tranny and motor docs. Right kow it has 223 miles on the completely rebuilt vehicle and has been sitty for two years in a garage.

I sm lookin for thr advice lesson learned so that I do not invest my captial into the wrong sres. Like I stated earlier I want to soup it uo a liyttle bit engine wise while keeping relstively quite so that we don't have to shout at each other because the dam engine is to loud. zAnd I wnat enough poer and clearance to do BOX Canyon and surounding trsil thst sre modt likry a 5 thru 9 on difficulty.

So What I need to know is the ball jopiny front end going to fill the tcket and how much clearance will I get from an adjustable front beam using coil over shocks?

Again thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this long explination ahd to respond.

Confused Baja Converios Guy


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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 06:41 AM
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First we need some pics of yerr baja.
im keeping my Bj, but im not gonna jump it at all. Lp is deff. the way to go.

PICS OF BAJA!


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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 07:16 AM
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ball joint is a fine option for a avid off roader you wouldn't honestly notice the difference... for anyone like me i would break a ball joint on every outing my cousin builT a fiberglass buggy on a 70 pan (i got the body free he got the pan free) and we have put many many miles on it since he got it done it has taken a huge amount of abuse!(no real jumping) recently i ran across a thing front suspension (ball joint) we put the thing arms and spindles on the car it gave it about 2.5inches of more lift and its a little more heavy duty!


thing spindles up front 1x arms in the rear full cage with custom 2inch body lift


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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 09:36 AM
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Thing parts are still out there at a decent price. I saw a set of spindles and arms at the VW Classic a couple of weekends ago for $150. Not a bad deal. In addition to the lift Things spindles provide, you also don't have to worry about the lower balljoint popping out of the spindle, like you do with Type 1 spindles.


Thing spindles and arms with 7.00x15 Yokohamas


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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 07:36 PM
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[quote="57baja"]
steve9107 wrote:
I just don't want to stick the money into buying a welder

I got your email and really appreciate you replying. Everything I have read staes that you have to cutoff the BJ Front Clip and weld on a LP Clip. Exactly how can you keep the BJ front end and avoid the cut and weld? Can you help me out here?

Thanks
Steve


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Post Post subject: Re: Ball Joint Suspension Question
Posted: Mon Jun 23, 2008 12:04 AM
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I think Bugzilla also makes a link pin set-up that uses the ball joint spacing. PM him.


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