Friday, 13 March 2009

know your trunnions

I hate specialised words, especially if I don't know what they mean. But I've had to expand my vocabulary recently, to account for the clunking I was getting in the front end of the car.

After taking the wheels off and poking around a bit, I found out where the problem lay. Let's try describing it without using special language. The front wheels are bolted onto vertical shafts which can swivel, allowing the wheels to turn left and right. The top and bottom end of the shaft goes into a cup arrangement which is swivel-connected to the bouncy-up-and-down bit of the suspension. So the wheel can go round and round, turn left and right, and bounce up and down when it goes over a bump.

The cup arrangement is called a trunnion.

Sometimes, I guess you just need special words.

Here it is, look. A trunnion, complete with rubber bushes that are completely worn away. Clunk, clunk.

...and here is the reassembled bit where the wheel goes. It took me about four hours to get this far.

The worst bit was the joints that haven't been apart since the car was built, and which needed a blowtorch, release oil, joint splitting tool, big copper mallets, and a nice cup of tea and a piece of chocolate before they finally gave in.

It can be a bit dispiriting, looking at something that you know you have to undo and yet which is refusing to undo. I suppose that strictly speaking, there is always someone else ready to take a job on, but I prefer not to give up on something. Back in the seafaring days, it sometimes really was a case of having to fix it there and then, no option. It could be quite a dreadful feeling, looking at something which is steadfastly refusing to do what you wanting to do and knowing that there is no-one else to do the job.

Here's someone fixing something on a boat (Condor 10, somewhere in the Mediterranean). The buck stopped somewhere else on that particular occasion.


  1. Reminds me of my dad, all the tools and a cup of tea. For me it's usually something which needs unscrewing that stops the work.

    When they had 'to chit' on 'Call My Bluff' I knew what it meant.

  2. I really admire your doing your own repairs...

    Like Anji, it reminds me of my father too... he and my mother owned and ran a garage... she made the tea... sometimes to a whole load of lorry drivers... and he fixed cars with whatever it took...

    I like walking past the small working garage on Kersteman Road just to get a whiff of the grease ...

  3. I think the tea and choccie appeals to me most....x

  4. This is a timely blog - my car has a major suspension issue - all four bushes need replacing at a cost of in excess of £400 plus - as well as other compounded problems, I am faced with the decision to sell and replace or repair - Dru - I cannot help but admire your dedication to your car and the work you put in - can you fix mine? Silly question. I have to cut my losses and opt for a replacement - a small hatch - economically friendly and so on - how long can you keep the Trav going?

  5. I've never seen one set up quite like it's usually ball joints on older stuff or a ball joint and MacPherson strut on newer. I've seen "kingpins" but not had to deal with one yet.

    Dad could always pop the taper joint in a ball set up with two in front, one behind, one rap and they'd seperate. Having watched him do it dozens of times and never even tear a grease boot, I've done it exactly the same way and never had it work...I've got "pickleforks" both hand and air, and some of the square sockets for the "screw in" uppers Chrysler used to use. Of course, the minute you slip one of those in you're replacing the joint, most of which have plastic in them now it seems!

    I just bought a spring compressor to change the MacPhersons on my son's Neon. There's always one more tool to buy it seems! If there isn't they'll change something so there is!

    Hopefully she's back together now and good as new!

    The chocolate probably did the trick!


  6. Further to my earlier post - I mean economically and environmentally friendly - I have decided to buy another car - there is no way I could even contemplate doing anything like the work you have done - I know what to do, but I am not willing to do it.

  7. I used to be a bit intimidated by mechanical things when my father was doing them; it all looked so dirty and unpleasant, and he used to leave the tool box out so that it filled with rain and everything was rusty. Enlightenment came when someone offered to help me fix mt first motorbike, and he started hitting it with a hammer and I thought, "I don't know much but I know you don't know what you're doing" -and it all followed from there. I even got to like the smell of enginey things.
    Choc's OK, Nicky, but I was really rather hoping for chocolate Hobnobs. Sometimes you've just got to busk it...
    "Ma foie, Anji!", as the french would say (I read it in a book, so it must be true. Biggles' french counterpart , Marcel Brissac of the Surete, was forever saying things like "Non d'un chien" and so on.)
    You probably don't want to know, then, Neil, that my new trunnion bushes cost a total of £6... although I have now spent a total of about ten hours overhauling both sides. Still, at least I know exactly what's been done. I hope to be able to keep the Trav running indefinitely. As time goes on, there are fewer and fewer bits of it that are unfamiliar to me.
    I thought of using the fork ends of a couple of wrecking bars, Alan, but I wanted to be kind to the car. Hence the new tool. I've just uploaded a couple of extra pics to show the damper arrangement, which you may be interested in.
    I know just what you mean, Neil; I am heartily glad that the spring weather has arrived, as I hate working in the cold and wet, but it's still quite a major swallower-up of time; the flat turned into a tip while I was tinkering with the car.