I’ve Decided to copy the text from the photos so if they somehow get unhosted then your steps are still available.
1) This Post shows step-by-step photos of the recent ball joint replacement on my 1986 Nissan 720 2WD. I hope it inspires other DIY Backyard Mechanics to do the same.
Write-up By FastBoatman29212. Comments are welcome. I am not a trained mechanic, so please feel free to point out any errors I might have made. This thread is also meant to inspire other 720 owners to post instructional photos of the repairs they have made so the rest of us can learn from them.
2) Shows the upper and lower ball joints that are badly worn.
3) Shows the worn lower ball joint in relation to the lower control arm and shows what a castle nut is. The rubber dust cover is deteriorated and will no longer hold grease, ball joint is partly exposed.
4) Shows the worn Upper ball joint in relation to the upper control arm. Points out the castle nut there as well.
5) Shows New Ball joints in comparison to the worn out ones.
6) Shows jacked up and properly supported drivers side. Chock the Diagonally opposite rear tire. Properly jack the vehicle and place car stands and lower the jack until the vehicle is supported and give it a “Shake test” before getting under it. Remove the wheel.
7) Place a jack beneath the lower control arm. Then raise it about and inch for support. You will see the upper and lower control arms raise simultaneously.
8) Showing another view where the jack is placed beneath the lower control arm.
9) Showing another view of the jack position at the outer end of the lower control arm. Notice that the jack is placed under the ball joint. This will allow access later to the 4 bolts on the underside of the lower control arm. Also points out the cotter pin in the castle nut and the bolt position of the ball joint bolts.
10) Shows the Brake Caliper. Remove the two 12mm bolts, then carefully slide the brake caliper off of the rotor. Do not damage the brake hose, so use a hanger to relieve tension on the brake line and hang it out of the way. Do not allow the caliper to just dangle from the brake hose.
11) Show two bolts for the caliper bracket. Once Caliper is off remove these two bolts.
12) Shows the location of a brake bracket bolt. Next, Remove one final bolt, now the steering arm and brake pads can be removed from the knuckle. You should now be able to freely swing the knuckle left or right to gain access to the castle nuts.
13) Shows the current state of the front suspension assembly. Swing the steering arm towards the front of the truck and out of the way. Now the knuckle will swing left or right freely to allow access to the castle nuts.
14) Shows lower ball joint and castle nut with cotter pin. Rotate the knuckle left or right to allow access to the cotter pin inside the castle nut. Remove the cotter pin from the castle nut. Try to get new cotter pins to replace the old ones. You can reuse them if necessary, but not recommended. New is usually better.
15) Shows upper ball joint and castle nut. Removed the cotter pin from the upper castle nut as well.
16) Use a socket or beaker bar to loosen but not remove the lower castle nut.
17) Spin the Knuckle the other way, Loosen the upper castle nut, loose but still hanging on a few threads.
18) Shows socket on lower ball joint bolts. The lower ball joint bolts have nuts, loosen but do not remove all 4. You will need a 17mm and 14mm socket.
19) Shows how the Tension rod is connected to the ball joint at two bolts. The long rod connect to the under side of the lower Control arm is the tension rod. The tension rod is held by 2 of the lower ball joints. Wait until next step to remove these.
20) When removing the lower ball joint, keep at least one tension rod bolt in at all times, so you don’t throw off the alignment of the tension rod and the lower Control Arm. Photo shows also that one Tension rod bolt had a washer and one did not.
21) Shows one of the tension rod with out washer. Remove the other 3 bolts but keep this Tension Rod bolt/nut on by a few threads. By this point, the upper control arm and shock should have lifted the lower ball joint up off the lower control arm at least a few millimeters.
22) With one hand keeping the Tension rod bolt from falling, unscrew the last few threads off the bolt. The lower ball joint should now be free from the lower control arm. If you cannot remove it or don’t have enough clearance, replace the nut on the bolt and go to the next step.
23) Shows lower ball joint is off. Also points out the upper control arm is still connected and the bolt holding the tension rod in place.
24) Whether you were able to get the lower ball joint off the lower control arm or not – Proceed by removing the 4 upper ball joint bolt. These have washers but usually do not have nuts. Free of the weight of the knuckle and rotor, the upper control are will move upwards. Be careful that the knuckle and rotor assembly doesn’t come crashing down on your foot once the last bolt becomes loose. If necessary, finish removing the lower ball joint from the lower control arm, making sure not to lose the connection between the tension rod and LCA. A few taps from a hammer on the upper ball joint should help loosen it.
25) Shows the Lower control arm and tension rod, without ball joints. Carefully lay the knuckle and rotor assembly on the ground. Clean the LCA and inspect it for damage.
26) At this time you may need to adjust the jack position if the hole where the lower ball joint passes through the LCA. The new lower ball joint has a grease fitting that will be damaged if the hole is not open during installation.
27) Next you need to remove the ball joints out of the knuckle. With loose castle nuts, get the ball joints to back out of their spot with a hammer, ball joint fork, or C clamp. once they are about to fall out finish unscrewing the castle nuts.
28) Shows the knuckle with ball joints removed and a hammer/ persuader. AAAhhh!!! That’s better. They are out. The ball joints were in such bad condition it was dangerous to drive on them.
29) Shows Ball joint with grease fitting unscrewed. Don’t loose the fittings they are kinda small.
30) Showed the grease fitting screwed in and installed on the ball joint, ready for grease.
31) Fill them with grease before you install them. (We could elaborate on this later)
32) Showed the fact that the ball joint is tapered to match its position in the knuckle. Make sure you lower and upper ball joints are in the proper location or everything would be upside down. Yikes!
33) Once you find out how they should be oriented, screw the castle bolts on halfway. Make sure your jack isn’t going to impede the lower ball joint and the hole is free or you could risk damaging the grease fitting.
34) Shows the lower ball joint hole that you need to free up. Make sure your LCA is cleaned up and free of cracks and damage.
35) Have a helper hold the knuckle/rotor assembly in place while you bolt the upper ball joint into place.
36) Push down on the upper control arm to move the lower ball joint into position. The weight of the knuckle and rotor should make this easier. Slip the tension bar bolts up through the lower ball joint and tighten them halfway.
37) Shows what happens if the lower ball joint hole is blocked and bolted down all the way.
38) With the lower ball joint lined up and the hole open finish installing and tightening the bolts. Tighten the two closest to the ball joint first, then the other 2. That will help it sit evenly. Tighten the upper bolts up. Check and Recheck all upper and lower bolts are tight. Do not overtighten the bolts.
39) Now that all bolts are tight, check to be sure the lower ball joint is sitting down on the LCA properly. Next, make sure the knuckle swivels back and forth smoothly.
40) Using a torque wrench, tighten the castle nuts to the proper settings. I strongly recommend that you only tighten them to the lowest specs first, beginning with the upper castle nut. Once each is at the lowest torque, gradually increase torque and turn the nut until the notch lines up and the cotter pins slides back in. 84-86 models Upper balls joints- 58-72 ft.lbs Lower ball joint – 87-123 ft.lbs.
41) After the castle nuts are at the proper torque and you are ready to insert the cotter pins, check to be sure that the knuckle still swivels smoothly. If not, loosen the castle nuts and re torque.
42) Time to insert the Cotter pins and secure the castle nuts. Once again, Use new cotter pins.
43) Time to button it back up. Install the brake bracket, pads, caliper, steering linkage and anything thing else you took off. Make sure your brake hose is in good condition, free from cracks and twists. Bolt down to the recommended torque specs. Once the entire front end has been fixed up, go get an alignment. Congrats, that’s it.