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Old 04-18-2018, 12:37 AM   #1
SaberLily
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Sealed Spherical Trailing Arm Bushing

Two of my friends own an E46 (330xi and 325i touring) and require trailing arm bushings. Having sold my Bimmerworld trailing arm bearing kit, it got me thinking that maybe there's a sealed spherical joint that would fit and is widely available.

From what I gather through looking at catalogs, the critical dimensions are:

bolt hole: 12mm
bolt sleeve length: 49-50mm
bushing OD: 60mm

Having owned a 2003 Civic, one of the most common failures is the vertical control arm bushing. MOOG released a sealed spherical joint that replaces the rubber bushing.

A quick look at their bulletin PDF gives various part numbers with their application. The closest fit is a Camry part number K200786 ($20 USD on RockAuto). MOOG does not provide dimensions but we know it's for a 92-01 Camry, and ACDelco 45G9207 is the rubber bushing for that application. It's dimensions are:

bolt hole: 14mm
bolt sleeve length: 50.04mm
bushing OD: 59.944mm

Looks like a match except the bolt hole is 14mm, and the OD is on the looser side. My experience with the MOOG vertical bushing is that it's on the tighter side of fitment. The stock bushing I can remove with threaded rod, nuts, and receiving cups, but the MOOG part required a shop press to install. Fair to assume its on the tighter side of tolerances. We would need to drill the trailing arm bracket for a 14mm hole and an M14x70 grade 10.9 bolt and nut.

For under $50 USD, you get a sealed spherical trailing arm bearing with lifetime warranty. I know Bimmerworld makes a kit, it's a damn good part, I bought it myself and sold it recently because neither friend could justify $200 on it and I will no longer own an E46. My qualms were that a) it's a bit pricey, and b) the joint appears undersized for the position.

I'll be trying this out within a week or two when they arrive. If anyone has any input it would be appreciated.
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Old 04-18-2018, 07:51 AM   #2
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Interesting.... Keep us updated.
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Old 04-24-2018, 11:04 PM   #3
cmstrilchuk
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Cool idea. Maybe you can sleeve the 12mm bolt to 14mm?
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Old 04-26-2018, 12:58 PM   #4
SaberLily
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmstrilchuk View Post
Cool idea. Maybe you can sleeve the 12mm bolt to 14mm?
Sleeving is more work than drilling a hole and using new hardware.

I've ordered the parts. Should arrive Monday. Hopefully I'll have time to install them soon.

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Old 05-07-2018, 11:48 PM   #5
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Got them in on Friday.

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Part number and the joint itself. It's hefty. It should be next to impossible to break.

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Finding M14 hardware locally is next to impossible. BelMetric sells bolts... for about $15 a piece. McMaster-Carr won't sell to me because I'm not a business. Brafasco didn't stock M14 hardware but they did have 9/16" grade 8 hardware. 9/16" is about 14.3mm and the bolt hole actually measures at 14.4mm. Ideally I'd like metric but this is a one off right now so I can tolerate it, and it's on the snugger side of things.

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The test dummy is my friend's recently purchased 2002 325i wagon. It has about 250,000km/155,000 miles, same owner for the last 9 years, cleanest I've seen. It came with Nokian winter tires on the wheels shown and Michelin Pilot Super Sport staggered on style 68 wheels. In addition to the Thule rack, it has Weathertech mats all around, the interior is beige sports leather with lumbar support. The owner took real good care of it. We snagged it for $1600 CAD/$1200 USD.

One repair the previous owner did was Powerflex trailing arm bushings according to a receipt dated December 2016. Unfortunately they are binding and squeaking. In addition they made an easy spring and shock change take the better part of 2 hours. The bushings would not allow the trailing arm to move low enough to remove and install the springs. Instead the trailing arm end was unbolted, the spring installed easily, then jacked up and carefully bolted into place.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:28 AM   #6
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IT WORKS! Even I was somewhat skeptical that it would work. Pressed in with some effort so it should be stuck there.

I test fitted it first. Had to spread apart the bolt holes. My guess is the bracket squished when tightening. The Powerflex sleeve isn't the whole length of the bushing.

The bushing installer/remover kit made quick work of installing. I assume a standard ball joint press you can rent will work just fine. I did not have the measurements for how deep it has to be installed, so I pressed it in until the sleeve was the same height as the Powerflex lip.

PROTIP: Make sure it's completely centered. It went off kilter and pressed the the inner portion of the joint, trashed it as I installed. My fault for using too small a pressing cup.

The short version of how to:
-remove old trailing arm bushing
-drill trailing arm bracket hole to 9/16" or 14mm
-press in new bearings as deep as trailing arm bushing should go (someone wanna chime in with a measurement?)
-reassemble and enjoy

First impressions compared to Powerflex is the car sits higher. It's actually less harsh to ride on. The rear end feels "solid". Before the rear end of the car would move into bumps, now it feels like the car is more level and the wheel is moving. Overall no negatives so far

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Old 05-21-2018, 02:49 PM   #7
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Very cool!
I may just do this during my rear end refresh instead of OEM RTAB and limiters.
If ride quality hasn't been hurt to bad, this seems like a no brainer.

Sent from my tractor.
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:05 PM   #8
SaberLily
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HayWagon View Post
Very cool!
I may just do this during my rear end refresh instead of OEM RTAB and limiters.
If ride quality hasn't been hurt to bad, this seems like a no brainer.

Sent from my tractor.
For ride quality: rubber > this > polyurethane

Hit a bump, there's a solid thud, and that's it. With the Powerflex in, it felt more like the car crashes into it.

Also can confirm it allows full suspension travel. With the poly, I had to unbolt the trailing arm bracket to do the springs. Stock rubber I can press down on the rotor enough to work it out. This setup let me move the spring even easier.
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaberLily View Post
For ride quality: rubber > this > polyurethane

Hit a bump, there's a solid thud, and that's it. With the Powerflex in, it felt more like the car crashes into it.

Also can confirm it allows full suspension travel. With the poly, I had to unbolt the trailing arm bracket to do the springs. Stock rubber I can press down on the rotor enough to work it out. This setup let me move the spring even easier.
Sounds perfect.

Sent from my tractor.
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Old 05-23-2018, 11:59 AM   #10
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Amazing. Thank you for sharing the adventure.
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Old 05-26-2018, 08:29 PM   #11
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Sealed, by moog, nice! Who's next up to try this? I'm not due for a replacement for a while yet.

I'm surprised more vendors haven't released a sealed monoball design other than bimmerword. (I'm looking at you Turner)
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Old 05-26-2018, 09:04 PM   #12
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Sealed, by moog, nice! Who's next up to try this? I'm not due for a replacement for a while yet.

I'm surprised more vendors haven't released a sealed monoball design other than bimmerword. (I'm looking at you Turner)
I've decided to go with them. But I won't have results for quite some time...
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Old 05-30-2018, 06:24 PM   #13
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Cool, keep us posted!
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:15 PM   #14
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Top solution. Looking to buy them in Holland. Just into changing all the bushings of the rear suspension.
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Old 07-03-2018, 03:14 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by SaberLily View Post
For ride quality: rubber > this > polyurethane

Hit a bump, there's a solid thud, and that's it. With the Powerflex in, it felt more like the car crashes into it.

Also can confirm it allows full suspension travel. With the poly, I had to unbolt the trailing arm bracket to do the springs. Stock rubber I can press down on the rotor enough to work it out. This setup let me move the spring even easier.
NICE!!
I've just installed new Powerflex RTABs, and heavily greased them, so hopefully I get a decent lifespan out of them and they don't bind like you've experienced. But hey, if they do, I now know what to replace them with.

Thankyou ^_^
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Old 07-03-2018, 12:26 PM   #16
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This is pretty awesome.
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Old 07-03-2018, 03:39 PM   #17
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NICE!!
I've just installed new Powerflex RTABs, and heavily greased them, so hopefully I get a decent lifespan out of them and they don't bind like you've experienced. But hey, if they do, I now know what to replace them with.

Thankyou ^_^
I've had them (Powerflex RTABs) in for probably 30k miles, zero issues. Rear is nice and tight.

I can't say I have any symptom of binding in any way. I just like the idea of a sealed spherical better than the thought of that arm trying to twist on poly.

But again, I've been very happy with my powerflex RTAB, I have no issues what-so-ever.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:02 PM   #18
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Nice find.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:36 PM   #19
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Working on this project now and wanted to let y'all know that hardware you want is M14x75mm or 9/16"x3". Just drilled out my brackets for the larger hardware and will be installing the ball joints this weekend.

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Old 08-17-2018, 04:32 PM   #20
SaberLily
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One thing to keep watch of is installation depth. A stock trailing arm bushing is the full pocket width. The MOOG part is not as wide. You want the bolt sleeve to sit the same distance from the pocket as a stock bushing. Attached is my crude MS Paint drawing of what distance is critical.

There's one benefit to this though. Say you're slammed, you could install the MOOG bearing further outwards. It would correct some toe in like the Garagistic units. Or maybe you're lifted, you install it further in. For stock application try and center it.
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