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The Spooner

Ball joint splitters

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The last time I did the control arms/track rods on my E39 I ended up having to angle grind the spindles off, because the ball joint splitter I had didn't reach enough, and the pickle fork didn't work and I felt dirty for using it! So I'm properly armed for next time, can anyone recommend a longer reach ball joint tool? Last time as I was replacing everything it was easier to get the hub off the car, but if I only have to replace one set of arms I wouldn't necessarily want to take the hub off, and be able to split the ball joints in situ

Edited by The Spooner

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I did mine with no bother using a Franklin TA-330 but some guys have struggled and needed something bigger, I'm not sure if there are different styles of ball joint in use. the TA331 is the bigger brother and has an extension bit in the hinge so it opens wider.

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Te Franklin TA331 is the one to have on a value for money basis but unfortunately they have stopped making these for some reason. If you see a secondhand one for sale and don't buy it let me know!

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I'd just like to re-boot this thread... Anyone found a reasonably priced ball joint splitter for the lower control arms on V8 E39s? The best I've seen so far is the one Clavurion linked above, but wondered if anyone had found anything more reasonably priced before I shell out £150. 

 

I've seen this, but think the top arm may be too thick to fit in the gap between the head of the balljoint and the underside of the shock absorber:

 

5tlg Ball Joint Puller Ball Joint abdrücker Ball Head Removal Tool Ball Heads | eBay

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I have just changed a lower control arm on my 525d for the second time in 12000 miles using a cheap separator that I bought from Ebay because the trusty unit I have used for some 40 years did not open wide enough for the E39 ball joints.. I bought one with the widest gap and leaving the nut on the balljoint I broke the taper but with a struggle. I had to grind down the part of the unit which fitted between the joint and the hub unit to be able to hammer it in place. The unit you refer to looks interesting and I have not seen that arrangement with removabable arms. The gap it can extend to  is cerainly  enough to deal with the BMW joints but I doubt that the arm will fit over the top of the ball without having a bit ground off. The BMW tool is noticably thinner in this area.

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I did think about buying the one I linked and grinding it down to size, but not sure it would weaken it too much

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I have never found enough room to get a ball joint splitter in there without loosening the pinch bolt and sliding the strut upwards by at least an inch. It could be done with a fork type splitter but they are a bit brutal for use on alloy hub carriers. The taper joints are nearly always damn tight. Be sure to get the tool to support the back of the steel insert that is meant to stay firmly in the alloy hub carrier. Some people accidentally push those out still stuck fast to the taper on the ball joint.

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Always got on better with a scissors tool but last time I did this job some years ago I used one of the tools like you showed but an old one I inherited and just about .managed to get it to work while almost breaking it.  Couldn't get hold of a franklin.

 

I wonder if this would work:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Universal-Extractor-Lifter-32-80mm-Splitter/dp/B07TSBZG1V

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I think that most of the pivot units have to be set at such a steep angle to span the height of the ball joints on the E39 that they are prone to slipping off. A mechanic I know always uses the type that Duncan has but it all depends whether you can get the forked section properly into place on top of the ball. The unit I used with a bit of grinding was a slightly smaller version of  the one found by Dbcrd so I guess that would work.

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I ended up ordering the genuine BMW tool (312240) from the dealership. Was about £151 inc. VAT so pretty pricey but cheaper than I thought it would be tbh. At least I know it will do the job and should be a good quality tool. 

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13 hours ago, stevecvo said:

I think that most of the pivot units have to be set at such a steep angle to span the height of the ball joints on the E39 that they are prone to slipping off. A mechanic I know always uses the type that Duncan has but it all depends whether you can get the forked section properly into place on top of the ball. The unit I used with a bit of grinding was a slightly smaller version of  the one found by Dbcrd so I guess that would work.

 

The one i have was sold specifically for the e39 so does fit all three.

 

I think you're right about the pin length - i have three generic ones and one of those i butchered to see if i could make it work with limited sucess.

 

The one i link puts pressure square on the pin - just does the job no fuss.

 

Still makes me jump when they "crack" though :rolleyes:

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18 hours ago, duncan-uk said:


Pretty sure that type wouldn’t work on the V8 lower control arms. They are bolted the other way around with the thread/nut very close to the underside of the shock absorber, so I don’t see how you’d get that type in position with the shocker in situ. See photo. 

87100F71-D89D-4B0E-BC95-3E7B5D554A60.jpeg

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Not without releasing the shock no - doubt you'll get the nut of insitu either!

 

Similar on the 6 pots - Bentley manual suggests releasing the damper anyway for access even with the BMW official tool/

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Pretty sure I've done it in the past without lowering the shock, from memory I think the nut will just about make it off. I've slept since then though so I may be wrong :grin:

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Sorry if late to the party, the Franklin TA331 has done me well over the years on my e39s. I turned-down a little brass tophat to sit over the thread of the ball joint to prevent any slippage too:

 

image.png.b46f0342cd2aa92b882af3aea47537eb.png

 

Happy to lend this out if anyone needs it.

 

Cheers, Rob

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Yes that is the one to have but for some reason Franklin stopped making them more's the pity. The top hat is a good idea which I might pinch but leaving the nut at the top of the thread also helps to get a bit more purchase with that type of breaker.

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Yep, I did actually ring Franklin just to check if they had any left in stock but they didn't! 

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