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Kingpins; to replace or leave alone? 53 Special


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Got the front suspension off a 79,000 mile car. Replacing springs and shocks are spent. Looking at kingpins. 1 has no play at all, the other has very little (holding it in my hand). It had no noticeable play while on the car. I had almost the same play in new kingpins the time I had them done on a Model A.

I am very rural (South Dakota) and 1 machine shop is backed up a month. Another says they'll give it a shot, but have never done kingpins before. Does the age and the little play warrant redoing? Or do I know what I got now and the chances of getting it worse in a re-do too great?

Any help is appreciated.

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I think I personally would leave them. Now that the front end is apart, it will be fairly easy to get it back apart to replace the kingpins once (if) they become worn. To me, "we'll give them a shot" is not the most positive recommendation.

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I agree with last two posts. The "loose" one is probably within tolerance. It takes a lot of wear before these things are too bad. Make certain the grease is getting everwhere it should. You should be ok. If you choose to replace them. and a reamer is unavailable, perhaps there is a truck shop near you. Most large trucks use king pins to this day.

Why are you replacing the springs?? They seldom "wear" out. If the car is bottoming out, it is probably the shocks.

Keep us informed, please. I like this kind of thread. Neat to see what others are doing.

Ben

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Thanks for the advice. I'm trying to make a driver. The front handled poorly on gravel roads to the point of being dangerous. And one front spring had 3 "spacers" or "fillers" in it.

Based on the condition of the brakes (literally fell apart when drums taken off, e-brake stuck and driven by previous owner, destroying rear drums), I figured all the suspension should be replaced.

Turned out the shocks were possibly good internally, but would not hold fluid.

I've only worked on 1 old car, a 28 Model A. Just used to assuming everything is bad. But finding there is still a lot of life left in this 53.

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Key thing would be to see if the "loose" one is "in spec", with the factory service manual's specs. A tiny bit of "loose" is probably fine, otherwise if it was too tight, it'd have too much resistance and later have related issues if it was not completely lubed all of the time.

Many of the king pin bushings are bronze. Being softer than the king pin itself, that's probably where the wear is rather than on the king pin itself . . . I suspect, hopefully.

The comment about truck front axles is correct. Everything with a straight front axle will generally have king pins in it, plus some of the earlier independent front suspension vehicles (i.e., pre-ball joint). Nothing "antique-only" about king pins--other than "simpler is better".

I'd lean more toward "replace when necessary", but as long as you've got things apart and plan on putting some miles on the car, this might be the time to get it all taken care of. This way, it'll be done and you can focus on other things. YOUR judgment call. Bad thing is that if you disassemble them for inspection, you might as well replace them both at that time--but nothing says that you have to do it that way, anyway.

The ill-handling on dirt roads could be due to alignment issues, as toe-in especially, rather than king pins. Possibly a little tweaking of the steering gearbox might be in order, too?

Enjoy!

NTX5467

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Appreciate the input. Will clean up the spindles and check again.

As for pics, I don't have much, but here's one of the car from a year ago before I got it. Most changes I've made can't be seen in anything new now anyway, except wheels, new grill tooth and hood ornament. Most work has been brakes and now suspension. Didn't think you wanted a pic of the kingpins.

post-75217-14313852769_thumb.jpg

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Nice car!! May I ask where you got the missing tooth? My '52 super is missing a tooth as well!

Appreciate the input. Will clean up the spindles and check again.

As for pics, I don't have much, but here's one of the car from a year ago before I got it. Most changes I've made can't be seen in anything new now anyway, except wheels, new grill tooth and hood ornament. Most work has been brakes and now suspension. Didn't think you wanted a pic of the kingpins.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Got the springs and shocks on the front. It sure rides a lot higher. I guess 58 years of weight made the old ones tired.

New ones were actually shorter, so installation wasn't bad. Doing the rear ones next.

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Sorry, didn't see your post about the missing tooth. Got mine from Moore's Auto Salvage in Rapid City, SD. They advertise in Hemmings, but I went there in person.

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