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Discussion Starter #1
I'm going to do it in my company's shop under the supervision of our master machinist. How difficult is it to clamp the arm into a mill? Any custom fixtures needed?

Thanks!
Tom
 

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good luck! i can't recall anyone reporting doing the job themsleves.

have you already pulled the arms?
how much are you going to take?
do you have a supply of shims to get you back to a mid-point?
 

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Piece of cake. The worst machinist in your shop could do it. The machined surfaces for the ball joint stud are parellel so just clamp it in a milling machine vice, adjust it in the vice so the mounting surfaces are the same height relative to the end mill, and mill off the pads. I took mine down to the point where the end mill was starting to hit the boss for the ball joint stud (about .125"). I had a machine shop do it that I have worked with before and they did it for free. Granted they like me, but if it took more than 30 minutes they would have charged me something. If I had access to a milling machine, I would have done it myself.
 

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I'm going to do it in my company's shop under the supervision of our master machinist. How difficult is it to clamp the arm into a mill? Any custom fixtures needed?

Thanks!
Tom
Soooo refreshing to see your attitude. IMO you could do the mod with a file and old fashion elbow grease!! (joking)

If you have the master machinist right there, it would be an excellent opportunity to learn!

We need to see more of your kinda attitude in our country. Also, this might sound crazy, but you can YouTube machining. There are actually a lot of great videos by machine shops showing off what they do for a living.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ace, I haven't pulled the arms yet, and that's the part that I figure will be the toughest. Don't have my plan formulated for it yet. I like to be able to get to -2 deg with the ABS shims in place, so I'm thinking I'll take off 5mm. There are some shims in the mail right now, some generously donated by fellow LotusTalkers, and some donated by HRM (LOVE that place!).

ITA, thanks for the info! Very glad that the machining is straight forward as I'll only have one day to do the machining and then get her put back together for an alignment the next day.

Dmbrown, thanks for the compliment. I learned basic machining as part of the Mech Eng curriculum at MIT, and I've worked in R&D ever since, so I've always been involved in machining, though not actually doing as much of it as I would like.

So...any tips on getting the arms out? After reading a bunch of posts, sounds like I'll probably be using a pickle fork on the tie rod and a ball joint separator on the ball joint. Yes?

Thanks everyone,
Tom
 

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I had a LOT of trouble getting the tie rods out to have mine machined (and then to take the machined ones out). I could not find a big enough picklefork and tried the hitting it with a hammer routine. Eventually we got it, but it took hours of work from a couple people.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ugh...that's not encouraging. Thanks for the warning, though.
 

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I just had my control arms off so let me remember how I got the ball joint out.....remove the tie rod end ball joint from the end of the steering arm. Mine popped right out using the hammer method. Remove the two socket head cap screws that hold the steering arm to the knuckle. Remove the entire upper control arm from the car. This is a bit tedious, but not too bad. The trick is getting the rear bolt out of the car and not losing the caster adjustment washers. To remove the rear bolt, turn the steering wheel all the way in one direction so the end of the rack isnt in the way of the rear bolt as you slide it out. Remember the location of the caster washers so you put it back to the same location as before. I suggest you make a drawing. After you have the control arm out, adjust a vise so that the control arm part of the ball joint is between the jaws (loosely) and the steering arm is sitting on top of the jaws. Remove the nut and use the hammer method to remove the ball joint. Sounds long and tedius but if you use a pickle fork and tear the ball joint boot.....you will have to replace the ball joint which will be a bitch, cost a fortune, will never be completed in a day, and will still require you to remove the control arm. I hate pickle forks.

While you have the caster shims out, you could take the opportunity to dial in more caster. I adjusted mine all the way (3 washers in front of the ball joint and one behind....you have to use all 4 even if you have to wedge them in with a screwdriver and a hammer). I like it so far for the road but havent driven on track yet. I have no reservations so I fully expect to like it on the track.

One more thing, before you put everything back together make sure the nuts go back onto the ball joints easily. If you dinged up the threads, the nuts will turn the stud and you will have a heck of a time getting the nut tight without an inpact wrench. Use a file to straighten out the threads if you dinged them up.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
ITA66, thanks a bunch...that is INCREDIBLY helpful. I will definitely plan on using that method. I'm all for using a longer process if it makes things easier and reduces frustration and the likelihood of causing damage. I probably wouldn't have thought of taking the whole assembly off the car, but I can definitely see how it would be the way to go.

Just to confirm, you want more castor shims IN FRONT of the joint? You need to keep at least one in back?

In this picture, you want 3 item 26s in front of the front joint and item 27 in the rear of the front joint? You want 3 item 28s in front of the rear joint and 1 item 28 in the rear of the rear joint?



Thanks!
Tom
 

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Tom,
That is exactly right. Item 27 is a washer (just like item 26) with rubber bonded to it. It is supposed to be some sort of snubber for when the control arm deflects rearward. One other clarification. I said in the other post that you have to use all 4 washers. That is because the aluminum extrusion that the suspension bolts into is sized widthwise for the bushing and 4 washers and it is VERY STIFF. I first put mine together with only 3 washers (they were REALLY tight with 4) and I just kept tightening the pivot bolt as the aluminum extrusion squeezed in slightly (the width of a washer, which isnt much) and then POP! What the F was that??? As the aluminum squeezed in, it popped the glue joint where the bottom of the extrusion joins other extrusions. It is safe to say the glue is very rigid and doesnt deflect at all. I am hoping that doesnt cause a problem later! I then took it back apart and found a way to jam in all 4 washers. I would suggest not making the same mistake I made :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Great...thanks for confirming. That sucks about your experience. Can you have it re-glued?
 

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Can you have it re-glued?
In a word, NO. :eek: Technically, that chassis is probably "totaled" since it now has a weakened suspension mounting point... :(
 

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Although I would agree that it is "technically" totaled.....as in unrepairable, I am not worried about it in the least. I checked it out yesterday as I was removing camber shims and there a lot of glue joint in the general vicinity of my oops that was not effected and there are a bunch of rivets within 2 inches that connect that piece to the main fraim rail.

My day at the track (Beaverun) yesterday was fantastic and I am still in favor of running max caster.
 

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Although I would agree that it is "technically" totaled.....as in unrepairable, I am not worried about it in the least. I checked it out yesterday as I was removing camber shims and there a lot of glue joint in the general vicinity of my oops that was not effected and there are a bunch of rivets within 2 inches that connect that piece to the main fraim rail.

My day at the track (Beaverun) yesterday was fantastic and I am still in favor of running max caster.
This(running max caster) is something I have thought about. How was the arm load vs. previously? With the slicks I have, I don't know if I can turn the car! How was the quickness of the steering? For Auto-X you need to turn FAST! Thanks!
 

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For me, it just made the steering feel more "right". I have been disappointed since I got the car that my standard suspension and tire package didnt have more communicative steering. Beyond that, the steering always seemed a bit slow. FYI, I like a car to be slightly twitchy and quick to turn and my Elise failed to produce that sensation. The increased camber increased the feel a small amount. Significant, but not quite what I was hoping for. But that was on the standard tires. On Thursday, I installed my new track tires (15/16" Rotas with 205/245 Toyo RA1's) and set my new Ohlins DA dampers to the correct street setting (which were installed the same time as the caster increase and set to way way soft).

NOW WE ARE TALKING. I dont know if it was the damper setting, tire stiffness, or changes in scrub radius from the different wheel/tire sizes, but now the steering is FANTASTIC. It is much quicker to turn, more twitchy, and nicely communicative. The track day was fantastic. My shoulders hurt from the turning effort and they had not done that previously. Dont know if the shoulder pain is from the grippier tires requiring more steering effort or the increased caster requiring more steering effort.

Depending on how your caster is currently setup, you could make a smaller adjustment than I did. Mine originally had 1 washer in front and 3 behind the bushings. I went to 3 in front and 1 behind. You could go 2 and 2.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm going to post in a new thread as well, but here's what I'm thinking of doing for my alignment. I drive on the street with RE01Rs and do track and auto-x events with R888s.

Front:
Castor: Max
Toe: 0
Camber: 1.5-1.75

Rear:
Toe: 3mm IN total
Camber: 2-2.25

Sound reasonable?
 

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ITA66,
I am curious if you tried more toe out on the front wheels before going through the work you did to maximize castor. More front toe out should also give a quicker turn-in response and be more twitchy (and wear out tires faster, but it doesn't sound like that it is your concern).
 

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Chris,

I havent tried any toe out yet but I soon will. Traditionally, I try to keep my tires at zero toe because that creates the least rolling resistance and minimizes wear. Mostly I did the steering arm because it was off the car so I had a good opportunity.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Done and done. Everything went pretty well. The tie rods popped out with a couple of whacks with a rawhide hammer. The ball joint were difficult to break...once I had the arms out I machined a plastic slug to fit over the ball joint stud, put the A-arm in a vice with the steering arm resting on top of the vice, put some heat to the steering arm, and beat on the plastic slug with a 3 lb hammer. Took some really good whacks, but eventually they came free.

The machining went very well. I got the mating surfaces to within .001 and even the the two arms were within .001 of eachother.

The hardest part of the whole thing was getting the small castor washers back in. It is VERY tight and hard to do by yourself.

Thanks to everyone for the advice and help. Makes doing something like this so much less stressful.

Tom
 

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you dont need to take the arms out just use a ball joint press make sure you dont dammage the seal. its about a hour to remove and replace both after they have been milled.carl
 
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