6. Tightening the Front End

Tightening the Front End on my 1967 King Midget

By Gert Gehlhaar

Randy helped me with the ball joint part numbers from John Deere and I went to NAPA to order the following items:

Part Number and Cost:

Left Hand Ball Joint; AM100645 $17.50

Right Hand Ball Joint; AM100644 17.50

Total Cost $35.00

Three day delivery was promised. Two weeks went by, and no parts.

So, I went on the internet, Amazon.com, and found the exact some parts for the following prices:

Part Number and Cost:

Left Hand Ball Joint; AM100645 $5.20

Right Hand Ball Joint; AM100644 15.94

Total Cost $21.14

Why was the left one cheaper? No idea. I ordered a set on Monday and they arrived on Wednesday.

Now that I had the parts, I removed the tie-rod and the ball joint; all very simple. I found the tie-rod was bent in several places, so I straightened it out, hoping for better alignment between the two wheels. I had measured the old distance between the left and right ball joints and then installed the new ones the same distance apart, expecting a good initial adjustment. I checked the toe-in and found it very close to 3/8”, which I left alone for a test drive.

On that drive I found the front end fairly solid and steady until I got to about 30 mph and some shaking developed. Back home I made a little adjustment—one turn on a ball joint. A test drive showed that it was shaking worse. So I did a turn on the other ball joint and another test drive—even worse. “Hold on here, what’s going on!” Some more measurement revealed that I now had a half-inch of toe-in. Ooops …I was making my adjustments in the wrong direction!

So … starting over I got the toe-in to no more than 1/8” and went for another test drive. This was the best ride of all and the car cruised along at 45 mph with no wander and no shaking at all. Back home to clean the workshop and retighten all the nuts and bolts. I’m now happy with the front end of this KM and will most likely do the 1958 M3 next.

I hope this adventure will help someone else in doing the job.