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Old 11-04-2016, 09:09 PM   #1
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Spartan Ball Joints - How to tell if they are dangerous

I have a 2004 Dutch Star DP, with a Spartan Chassis Model MM. My front end is an IFS1370. How do I tell if my ball joints are becoming dangerous and I need to end my trip. I lubed them about a 1300 miles ago and have another 600-800 miles on our trip before I can get them replaced. They are due to be replaced in two weeks in Phoenix.
I can drive 4 hours and be in Phoenix, but want to go to Death Valley and a couple other places over the next couple of weeks, prior to getting them replaced. My front end is creaking a little bit and I here a pop occasionally on tight turns. But on the highway it drives straight as an arrow.
Your thoughts?
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Old 11-04-2016, 09:16 PM   #2
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Call the helpful folks at Spartan chassis with your coach VIN #.

They made it, they will let you know how far you can drive it.

Don't settle for anyone else's opinion. You will also be surprised at some of the service suggestions they can give you about your chassis.
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Old 11-04-2016, 09:31 PM   #3
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If it's " creaking a little bit and popping in turns" the time to replace them is either now or last week, don't delay.
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Old 11-05-2016, 01:49 PM   #4
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I doubt Spartan would tell you to keep driving it, if the joint failed the next day some people would want to hold them liable for saying it would make it.

Only way to tell is get the coach jacked up enough so tire is off ground, meaning suspension is unloaded, and using a large prybar see if there's any slop or movement side to side or up / down.

My $0.02 is get them replaced sooner rather than later
Also make sure that ball joints are source of popping noise and rest of suspension is good.
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mackwrench View Post
I doubt Spartan would tell you to keep driving it, if the joint failed the next day some people would want to hold them liable for saying it would make it.

Only way to tell is get the coach jacked up enough so tire is off ground, meaning suspension is unloaded, and using a large prybar see if there's any slop or movement side to side or up / down.

My $0.02 is get them replaced sooner rather than later
Also make sure that ball joints are source of popping noise and rest of suspension is good.
Good point Mackwrench, shouldn't go anywhere before getting it checked.

It made me think about a friend and co-worker driver that got killed by a BFI trash truck that had a cracked front leaf spring. That truck crossed the intersection and over a sewer cover, that was enough to pop the front leaf and cause the truck to drive into my friend's mixer truck.
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:09 PM   #6
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Section 3, beginning page 14 of the Spartan/Granning front end service manual describes how to check ball joints for excessive wear. The downside is, you need access to a dial indicator to check to their standard.
The rough way(like mackwrench said) is to jack up the front tires off the ground and use a large pry-bar under a tire to lift it slowly while watching for any movement and while "feeling" for any play through the pry-bar and with your other hand on the sidewall at top of the wheel/tire. If you can feel any movement of the wheel, it probably exceeds the Granning standard of 0.040" maximum.
You should not feel any side play in the wheel whatsoever.
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Old 11-07-2016, 04:50 AM   #7
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Whatever you do, go to a marine supply store and get a can of Boeshield T-9.

This is a lubricant developed by Boeing that has excellent wicking properties and will lubricate your ball joints and stop the noise that you are experiencing now.

Spray the upper and lower liberally.

You may have to go to Amazon or some other online vendor to get this product as you are in a landlocked state.
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Old 11-07-2016, 06:18 AM   #8
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Kano Kroil is also an EXCELLENT penetrating oil! It is probably the best that I have found. You can purchase at aviation supply houses or from Amazon.
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Old 11-07-2016, 06:33 AM   #9
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Did someone recommend their replacement or are you just guessing ?

A good sign of "bad ball joints" is tire wear on the inside tread of the front tires.

As the joint wears, the bottom of the wheels lean out. Poping and creaking could be anything.

If your tires are wearing even, I would say, your in OK shape to continue your trip. Even a little wear won't cause the joints to separate.

Only use grease in the front end components. Penetrating oils will dilute the grease and cause more or accelerated wear.
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Old 11-07-2016, 01:08 PM   #10
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They will make a lot of noise. I bought mine knowing the ball joints would need replacing. They tested good at 52k with the boots all crumbled. I got them replaced at 94k.
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Old 11-07-2016, 01:09 PM   #11
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Popping and creaking is the noise.
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Old 11-07-2016, 01:44 PM   #12
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Like others have said, get them done sooner than later. I had the same symptoms with mine as far as noise. They were not really loose but simply dried out because the boots were gone. I tried using a needle end on my grease gun to lube them but not too successful. Since there is no grease nipple, it is almost impossible to grease them properly.
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Old 11-07-2016, 02:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Did someone recommend their replacement or are you just guessing ?

A good sign of "bad ball joints" is tire wear on the inside tread of the front tires.

As the joint wears, the bottom of the wheels lean out. Poping and creaking could be anything.

If your tires are wearing even, I would say, your in OK shape to continue your trip. Even a little wear won't cause the joints to separate.

Only use grease in the front end components. Penetrating oils will dilute the grease and cause more or accelerated wear.

I agree completely, please note that Boeshield T-9 is quite different from pentrating oil:

From the Boeshield web site:

On the road or in storage, on large surfaces or inside the smallest spaces, even on slide outs, jack stands and steps, T-9 provides quick, easy lubrication and superior, long-term protection. The unique waterproof formula reaches deep into metal pores to displace moisture and stop corrosion, then dries to a clean waxy film that lubricates and protects for months. Use T-9 safely on all kinds of metals without harming paint, plastic, rubber, fiberglass or vinyl. This video shows you how:

My boots disappeared long ago, I have been able to maintain them for 8 years using the product and have no tire wear, handling or noise issues.
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Old 11-07-2016, 02:06 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by dennis45 View Post
Like others have said, get them done sooner than later. I had the same symptoms with mine as far as noise. They were not really loose but simply dried out because the boots were gone. I tried using a needle end on my grease gun to lube them but not too successful. Since there is no grease nipple, it is almost impossible to grease them properly.
Our '02 DSDP with '04 14,600# Reyco Granning front axle had zerks on the ball joints. Still had the original boots on the joints too.
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