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  #2061  
Old 06-16-2019, 05:34 PM
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Thanks for explaining, small.

I can appreciate the layout, orientation, natural light and temperature concerns. (The majority of my windows face south/southwest... nice in the winter, not so nice in the summer. )

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  #2062  
Old 06-17-2019, 10:10 AM
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Spent most of my garage time working on the interior, smoothing dash, redoing tranny cover etc. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel but it's still a ways up the road! Probably change engine oil this week & spin the motor over while I still have the plugs out!

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  #2063  
Old 06-17-2019, 12:27 PM
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Default Went to a show, had catastrophic failure on way home.

When I built this car, I wanted to make sure it was dependable and safe to drive around corners at high speed, which is something I really enjoy. I put new everything in the Camaro suspension under my '56. New brake pads and rotors on all four wheels. New shocks on all four corners.

Sometimes things happen no matter what precautions one takes. I left my house at 5 a.m. Saturday and drove across Wolf Creek Pass as I usually do, pushing the limits of the car and myself. It's a good time for that, as there is almost no traffic. I had a great trip, took back roads into Ignacio, Colorado for a show they were having. Had a good time at the show, donated a couple books for their drawing, met some cool people. On the way home, I decided to take a different route.

I gassed up in Bayfield, debated on getting a burger somewhere, and ended up driving to Pagosa Springs. I searched on my phone for a burger joint, found only trendy pubs and such. Wasting this time and eventually pulling into a restaurant on the east end of town for a burger before the drive across Wolf Creek and home was crucial to what happened a little later.

The spring runoff from melting snow this year in Colorado is one for the record books. Flooding everywhere, washed out roads, mud and rock slides, you name it, it's going on. My wife had mentioned a waterfall (Treasure Falls) at the foot of Wolf Creek Pass, saying it was probably running at epic levels, so I pulled into the parking lot to get a picture.

After taking a couple photos, I got back in the Heathen for the drive home. I made it about a hundred feet. There was a loud bang, and a horrible screeching noise at the car ground to a stop in the exit of the lot. My first thought was that I had somehow driven into a huge pothole or something that I had missed seeing.

I got out, walked around the front of the car, and discovered that the right front tire and wheel were resting against the inside of the fender. The lower ball joint came apart, and the lower control arm separated from the spindle.

I carry a lot of tools and such in the trunk, along with a jack that works well for my low ride height, but this was beyond what I could handle. Luckily, a gentleman who had just pulled into the lot came over and offered to help. He was on his way from south of Houston to Utah with a trailer behind his SUV with a side-by-side ATV and a huge selection of tools, including a floor jack.

He climbed down on the ground and under the car with me, getting both jacks situated so we could get the ball-joint stem back in the spindle. The threads were nearly obliterated,but his kids had scoured the parking lot until one of them found the castle nut. It's threads weren't much better but I got it on about two or three threads. Just enough to hold things together long enough to push the car backward out of the driveway and into the lot far enough to allow folks to exit without leaving the wrong direction through the entrance.

I tried to pay this gentleman for his help, but he wouldn't hear of it. He was a true good Samaritan, and I hope he and his kids have a wonderful vacation.He also volunteered to call my wife when he got to a place with phone service, as this waterfall is located in a place with none (or so it seemed).

Here I was, over sixty miles from home with a huge, steep mountain pass between me and home, with no way to talk to anyone about what it would take to get the car home. I was seriously bummed out, to say the least

But I started thinking about all the things that had conspired to allow me to be sitting in a safe spot with a broken down car instead of at the bottom of a mountain dead inside the twisted wreckage of a destroyed automobile.

IF I hadn't stopped to take pictures of the falls for my wife, I most likely would have been traveling at high speed, maybe going around a corner on the pass when the ball-joint separated. Depending on where that happened, the immediate right turn the car took when the frame hit the ground would have sent me off the road into a guardrail or into space. In either case, the result would have been catastrophic.

IF I hadn't taken the time to search for a place to eat, and IF I hadn't actually stopped and eaten, the gentleman from Texas likely wouldn't have been in the parking lot with his tools and willingness to help.

So the car is hurt badly, I'm stuck and none of my friends know it. Nobody that cares knows where I am. I take off walking, hoping to find a spot with service so I an call my wife. No such luck. Walking back, I decide to get a video of the falls. Walking through the lot, I'm looking at my phone, hoping for the impossible when a tiny black speck appears on the screen where the service meter is. It is gone before I can stop, and I think I may have imagined it. I backtrack, walk in ever-widening circles, but no lack speck. I figure it can't hurt, so I try to call my wife.

The call goes through, and I tell her what has happened, and ask her to start calling friends to see if someone can bring a trailer to get me. She suggests, since I have service, to call them myself, as I know what I need. Good idea, except the way we keep losing each other, I'm afraid I may not get lucky enough to make another call.

I do make a few calls, without any luck, before reaching a friend with access to a trailer and the willingness to come rescue me. As soon as the car moves a foot or two, the nut pops off and we're right back where things were originally. My friend has a bunch of tools, a lot of straps, but no floor jack. I call a friend in Pagosa Springs at 10:30 rousting him from sleep to bring us a floor jack.

With the floor jack in hand, we again use both jacks to get the ball-joint shaft in the spindle. We use a 2" ratchet strap to pull the control arms together, put some washers and a cotter pin in place, just in case. After setting the wheel on the ground, the strap has stretched a little and the cotter pin is bent, but things are holding together, so I slowly drive the car onto the trailer, We strap it down, put all the tools away, and head home.

Between South Fork and Del Norte, my friend's diesel starts fogging up the windows and we smell antifreeze. In Del Norte, we pull into a closed convenience store lot and discover the thermostat is stuck shut. As we're letting things cool down, I call my wife and tell her where we are and that we're going to be awhile. She reams me out for not calling and telling her when we left the falls. I deserve it.

As we're waiting to see what things look like after the truck cools, a local cop drives up and asks us if he can help. We give him an empty antifreeze jug and he takes it to the station and fills it for us. I have a few bottles of drinking water, and between them and the water the cop brought us, it's enough. The thermostat is open, we drive to my house and drop off the trailer.

Oh yeah, before I forget, the strap has broken, so the frame is setting on the trailer. I don't care, We're all home safe and sound, the car can wait. I spent most of yesterday asleep, when I wasn't blaming myself for doing something wrong that caused the failure in the first place.

I checked that whole front suspension three times after assembly. I checked it again after the first 200 miles. I don't think I neglected putting a cotter pin in that ball-joint or missed a missing one, either. I can only guess that the cotter pin broke and fell out, allowing the nut to back off.

I know that sounds far-fetched, but what makes me think it's possible is something that happened last night as we were looking in my friend's toolbox for a cotter pin that would fit the hole in the ball-joint. They were either too small or too large. I found one that I thought would work if I pried the two halves apart and used one side in the hole. I pried the two sides apart with my knife, then grabbed each end with a thumbnail to spread them apart. When I had them at about 75 degrees, the cotter pin broke. This was a good-sized STEEL cotter pin, not aluminum. It had never been used before.

Needless to say, we were all amazed that a steel cotter pin would break by spreading it apart by hand. That gave me the idea that maybe the one in the ball-joint had done the same thing, either from vibration or the nut working on it.

Whatever the case, I am replacing the right upper and lower ball-joints, the tie rod end on that side, and every cotter pin in the car. No more aluminum cotter pins, no more old ones from the bottom of a tool box. I figure the shock will need replaced, too.

Sorry for the book, but when a writer starts telling a story, this is the result. I hope you all had a much better Father's Day Weekend than I did.

I was too keyed up to even thing about pictures...sorry.
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  #2064  
Old 06-17-2019, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by animal View Post
instead of at the bottom of a mountain dead inside the twisted wreckage of a destroyed automobile.
I'm glad it didn't turn out like that. (There's no fix for dead!)

No offense, Larry, but I'm having trouble believing a cotter pin is the root cause. I can't remember when I've replaced a ball joint or tie rod end where the cotter pin was sheared, nor have I seen a castle nut "work" itself off.

I find your failure very mysterious and frightening to say the very least...

I've twice experienced wheel stud failures, both times on a front wheel bearing hub. (4WD) The parts (in both instances) were top shelf name brand parts. The lug nuts were torqued to spec and checked twice more at intervals. I cannot explain either failure, but common sense tells me the studs were inferior. In both cases, I still had the OEM hubs "in stock". I drove the studs out of the OEMs and put them in the replacement hubs... so far, so good, but I'm still scared to death of a wheel flying off at speed.

We shouldn't have to live in fear of Chinesium, but clearly, Moog, Federal Mogul and their like don't lose any sleep over it.

All I'm trying to say here is, you might have a ball joint that's "out of spec" with lousy tolerances and/or poor thread engagement... wrong nut, wrong installed height, wrong stud size, wrong taper? I know you didn't ask my opinion, but I'm intrigued to know the cause if you find it...

.
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  #2065  
Old 06-17-2019, 09:37 PM
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As my Mom lived in Pagosa for several years, I know Wolf Creek Pass well.
Glad you lived to tell about it!!
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  #2066  
Old 06-17-2019, 10:25 PM
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It just wasn't your time...
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  #2067  
Old 06-18-2019, 06:29 AM
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Wow Animal.... glad you're here to tell the story.
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  #2068  
Old 06-18-2019, 08:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Crankenstein View Post
I'm glad it didn't turn out like that. (There's no fix for dead!)

No offense, Larry, but I'm having trouble believing a cotter pin is the root cause. I can't remember when I've replaced a ball joint or tie rod end where the cotter pin was sheared, nor have I seen a castle nut "work" itself off.

I find your failure very mysterious and frightening to say the very least...

I've twice experienced wheel stud failures, both times on a front wheel bearing hub. (4WD) The parts (in both instances) were top shelf name brand parts. The lug nuts were torqued to spec and checked twice more at intervals. I cannot explain either failure, but common sense tells me the studs were inferior. In both cases, I still had the OEM hubs "in stock". I drove the studs out of the OEMs and put them in the replacement hubs... so far, so good, but I'm still scared to death of a wheel flying off at speed.

We shouldn't have to live in fear of Chinesium, but clearly, Moog, Federal Mogul and their like don't lose any sleep over it.

All I'm trying to say here is, you might have a ball joint that's "out of spec" with lousy tolerances and/or poor thread engagement... wrong nut, wrong installed height, wrong stud size, wrong taper? I know you didn't ask my opinion, but I'm intrigued to know the cause if you find it...

.
Doc, I hear you. I only came to the cotter pin as the culprit after breaking one with my bare hands by prying it open an inch or so. I also thought that maybe the stud was inferior, and the threads just gave up. But that would still involve the cotter pin being sheared off. A friend and I have talked about this to great lengths, and another theory was suggested...maybe the tapered section of the ball-joint stem was not exactly round, and after a few hundred miles it settled into the tapered bore of the spindle just enough to allow some slack. the resulting gap would allow the stem to move up and down in the bore, beating against the washer and nut. Enough of that could shear the cotter pin and shove the nut past the threads. Heck, I don't know. I spent all day Sunday in a prone position, recovering from lack of sleep and stress. Yesterday I talked to a man about a food truck he wants built and sat inside all afternoon watching it rain. I'm headed out to try to get everything lined up and stuck together by myself so I can get the car off the trailer.When I get the stem through the bore, I'm going to weld something to it so it won't come apart. Once in the shop, I'll inspect everything closely and report any findings I make. I have decided to replace everything on the right side, at least. Coilovers will replace the shocks and springs while I have everything apart.

Thanks for your comments and suggestions.
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  #2069  
Old 06-18-2019, 09:35 AM
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Can you take a pic of the side that didn't break and post it?
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  #2070  
Old 06-18-2019, 09:33 PM
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I'm with Doc on this.
I think it was a faulty ball joint. I have been hearing about this happening more and more , recently.
I've worked on old cars with the OG ball joints that look in better condition then some late model ones.
Real glad that nobody was hurt.
Torchie
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