Resurfacing swivel balls - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old April 13th, 2012, 08:48 AM
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Resurfacing swivel balls

After completing a rebuild of the front end of my '94 D90 I was surprised to find my truck was leaking like a sieve at the swivel balls and after some research, adjustments and testing I decided it was a result of the pitting on the swivel balls. I tried sourcing some replacements but after several failed attempts figured I may as well try to refinish them as I had nothing to lose! The disclaimer to this thread is if you are attempting this I assume you have already checked your bearings are tight, the swivel preload is correct and seals are in good condition...if not, go back and do those first!

Obviously you will need to remove the entire assembly from the truck so plan to have all the required seals for reassembly and I went ahead and changed the bearings in the swivels as I figured it was good insurance since I was already there. First step was a lot of cleaning as the JB Weld does not adhere well to oily surfaces. I used brake cleaner with a wire brush and paper towels as the first step, followed by going over it with a MAPP gas torch followed by a towel cleaning with PRE cleaner from Eastwood and another torch treatment. I read that some folks used their oven at low temp to bake the oil residue off but wifey was not a fan of that idea!

For application, I first tried using a cheap spatula I picked up at the store based on a recommendation of an article I read online but I can tell you that my experience is that while it will conform nicely to the curved surface, it is also not a precision instrument so you will end up with a lot more than you need on there which will equal more sanding. Speaking of sanding, I picked up a semi-flexible hand sander with various grits of paper. I would not recommend using any power tools for this process as it is just not necessary. After applying the JB Weld, I let it cure overnight and then made my first sanding pass with 80 grit...this was a mistake as while the 80 grit made quick work of the excess, it also dug in a little more into the pitted areas than I would have liked so I ended up needing a 2nd coat of JB Weld in some areas. For the second coat I actually used the back of a giant cleaning swab (q-tip) that I had left over from my Harley days (http://www.harley-davidson.com/gma/g...bmLocale=en_CA) and it enabled me to be a little more exact with placement. After letting the second coat cure all day, I sanded again but this time started with 180 grit, then moved to 400 grit and finally wet sanded with 1000 grit.

After completing all the sanding the swivel ball was wiped down with PRE again and then hit with the torch one more time in preparation for a coating of POR-15. I used a foam brush and hung the swivel ball upside down to paint it...follow the directions on the can for coats and cure time between coats. Overall I am very happy with the finished product and after re-assembling everything am happy to report no leaks after several hundred miles of driving. I apologize for the lack of photos after reassembly and while I tried to take a picture of the setting preload, I just ran out of hands!

As a side note, during the process I also took a few extra minutes to cut a notch in the top of the brake mount bracket so I can remove the caliper/hard line without having to disconnect the entire assembly from the flex line.
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  #2  
Old April 13th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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Great thread. Thank you!
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  #3  
Old April 13th, 2012, 11:38 AM
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Charles Galpin
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Nicely done!
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Old April 13th, 2012, 12:02 PM
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better than new!
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  #5  
Old April 13th, 2012, 12:18 PM
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With the POR-15 if you want a super slick and blemish free finish, try this:

Get a cheap plant mist sprayer and put some Xylene in it. As soon as you have the surface painted, lightly mist it with the Xylene. Then, hit the whole thing with a heat gun to set the surface.
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  #6  
Old April 13th, 2012, 01:37 PM
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It will be interesting to see how well the POR stays on.
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  #7  
Old April 13th, 2012, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red90 View Post
It will be interesting to see how well the POR stays on.
I agree but figure it is worth a try! I will try to remember to post long term follow up! has anyone ever powder coated theirs?
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Old April 13th, 2012, 02:58 PM
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jim pendleton
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Had a local guy try powder coating his swivel balls for a series. Did not go so well. Seal made an indentation in the powder finish when sitting. I do not think this will work out very well for you. I do not think the Por-15 will make a long term repair.

The hints about Xylene and heat have me interested though. I have noticed that Por-15 when applied on a heated surface makes a tempered version of itself. Something between powdercoating and ceramic. So I wonder about batsy's advice. Makes me want to give it a try on something.

Applaud you for your efforts though.
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  #9  
Old April 13th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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Well, FWIW, someone on the LRO mailing list used Devcon plastic metal with a top coat of blue 2 part epoxy on his swivel balls in '95 and as of last year it's still holding up well.
http://www.fourfold.ca/RoverWeb/lro/.../950713.html#4 - Subject: Swivel Balls
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  #10  
Old April 13th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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How about using Cerakote firearm coating, is very hard wearing & being oven cured should stand the friction of the wiperseal. As long as your filler material will stand the curing process might make a good alternative to air dry type paint.... worth a try

http://www.cerakoteguncoatings.com/
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Old April 14th, 2012, 05:23 AM
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Don't know the temp at which it needs to cure, but the Devon can take some heat. These instructions use oven curing.
http://www.lrfaq.org/Series/Drivetrain.SwivelBalls.html
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  #12  
Old April 17th, 2012, 07:44 AM
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I assume you already converted over to swivel hub grease instead of the oil"!!!!
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  #13  
Old April 17th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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No, actually I did all of this so I could keep running oil! The water holes at our favorite wheeling spot (Rausch Creek) are typically 3-4' deep so I have found it is easier to have the ability to simply drain and refill the oil than to mess with trying to flush out a watery grease mixture
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Old April 17th, 2012, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefhuf View Post
No, actually I did all of this so I could keep running oil! The water holes at our favorite wheeling spot (Rausch Creek) are typically 3-4' deep so I have found it is easier to have the ability to simply drain and refill the oil than to mess with trying to flush out a watery grease mixture
is that a true condition? I never considered that! I just switched to grease and although there isnt much water to run through out here, I will switch back if there is a disadvantage using grease.
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Old April 17th, 2012, 10:38 AM
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It only matters if you spend a lot of time in deep water. If your seals are in good shape anyway, then stick with grease.

But yes, it's amazing the lengths we'll go to to oil our balls around here.
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  #16  
Old April 17th, 2012, 10:50 AM
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Like Charles said, if your seals are in good condition and the water isn't too deep/frequent then I wouldn't worry too much. That being said, when I opened up the RH side to check the bearings and such there was more water/mud in there than grease! (admittedly, they were long overdue for service but...)
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Old April 17th, 2012, 12:20 PM
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Ok good! sounds like I'll just leave it, and rest easy that my balls will remain well lubed in shallow water! Thanks guys.
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  #18  
Old April 17th, 2012, 01:06 PM
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It wouldn't hurt to check them periodically, or after going in water of course.
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Old April 17th, 2012, 04:23 PM
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Normally good advice to clean and inspect after each use.
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  #20  
Old April 20th, 2012, 06:51 AM
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Does this mean our trade is off?
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