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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 07-02-2010, 05:16 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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540i/M5 wishbone ball joint press- now in affordable version!

The mission:

Provide a wishbone ball joint press tool for the e39 V8 cars that is not only affordable, but that one could build on their own for minimal investment from readily available materials. Buy it cheap, or build it even cheaper.

The e39 540i and M5 have a long tapered ball joint at the wishbone location. This ball joint is taller than most and because it is situated directly under the strut it can be very troublesome if not impossible to remove without a special press. This same ball joint on the I6 e39s is about an inch shorter for whatever reason. BMW offers a ball joint tool, for around 300USD. The BMW tool will open wide enough to remove V8 wishbone ball joints, but it is too expensive for those of us who will not use it more than once or twice.

I had purchased another similar press from ZDMAK for around 50 dollars hoping it would work. 50 sounds way better than 300. It does not open enough to remove the wishbone ball joints from a V8 e39 unfortunately. It now rests at the bottom of my tool box, waiting for me to find some other use for it.

Harbor Freight tools offers what they call an import ball joint press for less than 20 dollars. It is actually very high quality for the cost, I love it.
If you have a 525i/523i/528i or 530 you are in luck because that 20 dollar press from Harbor Freight will handle any ball joint on the front end of your car. Sadly, the harbor freight tool does not open up enough to remove the V8 wishbone ball joints.

http://www.harborfreight.com/3-4-qua...tor-99849.html

Unless we modify it. In thinking about a solution to my own task at hand I realized I could fabricate a new upper jaw for the Harbor Freight ball joint tool. In finding this solution I then realized any 540 or M5 guy might want to remove these ball joints without spending 300 dollars or beating the car with hammers and pickle forks for 3 hours per side. So here we are.

brainstorming:

Originally I drew up a taller top jaw for the HF press that was to be machined from a single piece of steel. When I submitted the drawing to a machinist friend he asked me to bring him the HF press tool so he could look at it along with my drawing. When I saw him again he had made me a new taller top jaw. It was just a few bars of steel welded together, he said it took him about 30 minutes. It was not pretty like my drawing, but it was sure beefy looking. If he were to mill the piece I had originally drawn out of a single piece of steel it would have taken him much longer- and he would have wanted more money. He gave me the jaw and asked me to try it. If it needed to be changed he would change it. Some pics of the tool:










The test mule:

The maiden wishbone ball joint I removed was attached to a 1997 540i auto, with a build date of 5/1996. As crusty and old of a ball joint as I could find. The wishbone appears to be factory installed. If it was replaced it was not any time in the last 5 years by the looks of it. I jacked the car and put it on a stand. No lift for this test. Just like anyone else might do it, in the driveway. After I had removed one end of the sway link and lowered the wheel carrier from the strut a bit the modified HF tool removed the ball joint in all of 30 seconds. I am quite pleased with the results. The wishbone in the video is the opposite side of the same test car.

If you are removing the arms for replacement it's really no concern but I wanted to mention that this tool removes the ball joint with no damage to the car or the joint itself. Some may be removing the arms to press in new bushings. The tool we made will make sure your ball joint can be reused, if you want to go that route.



So to duplicate this setup you just need to get the harbor frieght press, and make or buy the upper jaw for your wishbone ball joints. Pretty simple.

If you would like to build one yourself the dimensions are provided below. I can not be held responsible for any accidents or mishaps you might experience while building or using this tool. If you use good steel and can weld confidently you should have no issues. Note that the tool I had made was welded with a 240V gas shielded, wire feed Miller welder. To find the right drill bit to make the pin hole just compare it to the pin and try to center the hole better than my friend did!
The bottom bar in the stack that the screw pushes against can be any length, about 1" is fine. That part is essential since the screw is too short without it.




If you do not have access to metal working gear as most of us don't you may PM me and I will arrange for you to purchase the custom upper jaw for a VERY reasonable price. I told the guy that made it for me I may need a couple few more in the future. We have already discussed some very slight changes but overall the custom upper jaw will be the same cost effective design. I'm not looking to make anything here, I will charge his cost + shipping. I don't expect to sell many, but if you need one, just ask.

Little video demonstration. Note that the light tapping with the hammer would not have been needed had I loosened the bolt through the bushing side first. I was trying to think about 3 things at once and forgot to loosen it first.



And finally a picture of what your wishbone bushings might look like if they are original. This car had 160k miles on it.


Did you change your thrust arms only to still have the shimmy? Getting some nasty front tire wear? Look at the bushings in your wishbones. They might be trying to tell you something.

Thanks for reading/looking.

Last edited by Mark@EAC; 07-02-2010 at 05:47 PM.
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  #2  
Old 07-02-2010, 06:02 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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Yes! Put me on the list to buy one. PM me when you're ready to begin deliveries. I'm not in a hurry, but the tool looks like it s/b on hand.

Great demo, too!
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  #3  
Old 07-02-2010, 06:38 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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PM received and replied, thanks Ed!

If anyone else is interested you can post here or PM me. I will be talking with the maker over the weekend again to confirm some details and we can go from there.


Have a great holiday weekend guys!
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  #4  
Old 07-02-2010, 07:36 PM
edjack edjack is offline
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BTW, what is the P/N for the HF tool? I have two tools that are similar, but they are shorter than the HF example. Your tool may not fit them, so I'll have to shag over to my (almost) local store.
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  #5  
Old 07-02-2010, 08:40 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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Hey Ed-

it's HF Item # 99849 if you need to grab one. Call ahead and make sure they have it. My closest store had what looked like a dozen or so in stock.
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  #6  
Old 09-24-2010, 12:45 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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OK guys I have done some further experimentation and we changed a couple things with the tool to make it a simpler design and easier to use. The entire tool is now made from 5/8" steel stock for all pieces. This greatly increases the stability of the top jaw when attached to the lower section of the Harbor Freight tool and improved the overall strength of the tool as it fits the HF tool much better. The tool also sits on the ball joint better now that the bottom block is 5/8" instead of 3/4" and provides a great bite on the top of the ball joint. I am very pleased with the outcome, the tool works a bit easier and looks a little less rough around the edges than the prototype pictured above.

This is exactly how the tool will ship.


These will be 50 USD shipped in the 48 states. That covers my cost of the tool, packing and shipping. Last I saw the Harbor Freight press was on sale for 16.00. So a 540i or M5 guy could have the tools to remove all the front end ball joints for less than 70 dollars. Not too shabby.

To order one PM me with your email address and I will send you an invoice you can pay with credit or debit card, or paypal 50 to me at mark @ eactuning.com (no spaces) and put "wishbone tool" in the payment notes. These will ship via USPS Priority Mail and delivery confirmation tracking will be provided. I currently have 6 tools ready to ship and will have more made as needed.

I can't wait to show you guys what I am working on next.

Last edited by Mark@EAC; 09-24-2010 at 12:48 PM.
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  #7  
Old 09-24-2010, 01:34 PM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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THAT is a very innovative solution to the ball joint removal issue. I have a Harbor Freight BJ tool and I simply cut the end of the ball joint bolt off so that the basic HF tool gets the proper angle and won't slip off the bolt. Same principle, different approach. My approach is a destructive solution as you typically don't reuse the control or thrust arm in a suspension overhaul. However, if you want to reuse your arm, THIS is definitely the tool solution of choice. Well done!!! And a very fair price, too.
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  #8  
Old 10-05-2010, 12:49 PM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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You could do that, sure. My way is cleaner and faster though, and you don't risk cutting something on accident, such as the wheel carrier or yourself.

All tools paid for as of this writing have shipped. Thanks guys. Have a couple left at the moment and more being made right now.
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  #9  
Old 10-20-2010, 11:12 AM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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Thanks for your orders guys! I picked up some more of these over the weekend if anyone else would like one.
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  #10  
Old 11-01-2010, 11:06 AM
vics vics is offline
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PM'd ya - thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@EACTuning View Post
Thanks for your orders guys! I picked up some more of these over the weekend if anyone else would like one.
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  #11  
Old 11-01-2010, 11:41 AM
Mark@EAC Mark@EAC is offline
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PM replied, let me know if you have any questions.
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  #12  
Old 03-10-2011, 09:11 PM
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pm'd you
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  #13  
Old 09-30-2012, 08:36 AM
H3adBussa H3adBussa is offline
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Would love to get one of these if they're still available. Was able to change out my thrust arms this weekend on my 540, but the lower control arm ball joints wouldn't budge, with a pickle fork, air hammer.....nada.

Have any?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark@EAC View Post
OK guys I have done some further experimentation and we changed a couple things with the tool to make it a simpler design and easier to use. The entire tool is now made from 5/8" steel stock for all pieces. This greatly increases the stability of the top jaw when attached to the lower section of the Harbor Freight tool and improved the overall strength of the tool as it fits the HF tool much better. The tool also sits on the ball joint better now that the bottom block is 5/8" instead of 3/4" and provides a great bite on the top of the ball joint. I am very pleased with the outcome, the tool works a bit easier and looks a little less rough around the edges than the prototype pictured above.

This is exactly how the tool will ship.


These will be 50 USD shipped in the 48 states. That covers my cost of the tool, packing and shipping. Last I saw the Harbor Freight press was on sale for 16.00. So a 540i or M5 guy could have the tools to remove all the front end ball joints for less than 70 dollars. Not too shabby.

To order one PM me with your email address and I will send you an invoice you can pay with credit or debit card, or paypal 50 to me at mark @ eactuning.com (no spaces) and put "wishbone tool" in the payment notes. These will ship via USPS Priority Mail and delivery confirmation tracking will be provided. I currently have 6 tools ready to ship and will have more made as needed.

I can't wait to show you guys what I am working on next.
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  #14  
Old 09-30-2012, 03:00 PM
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This thread needs to be referenced in the bestlinks!

I'm not sure where to add it, but is this a good spot?

- How to make your own ball joint replacement tool (1) (2) & what balljoint tools to use for the I6 & V8 (1) (2) (3) (4) & where to buy a front wishbone (1) or rear ball joint press (1) (2)
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See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #15  
Old 09-30-2012, 04:51 PM
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Kbsilver on the other site has the correct tool for rent dirt cheap
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  #16  
Old 09-30-2012, 05:15 PM
H3adBussa H3adBussa is offline
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Thanks for the tip. I've hit him up, on the "other" site. ;-)

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Originally Posted by Topaz540i View Post
Kbsilver on the other site has the correct tool for rent dirt
cheap
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  #17  
Old 10-01-2012, 03:57 AM
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Topaz540i Topaz540i is offline
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It took some arm strength but thats to be expected when everything down there is salt oxidized. Other than that the tool was a breeze.
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ESS Tuning m60 version software
m60 intake manifold
a.f.e. c.a.i.
3" obx catback
full powerflex urethane setup
545 ssk
cdv delete
m5 rear sway bar
M5 chassis rods
M5 3.15 lsd
Bc-r coilovers w/ swift springs
Akebono=suck
ss braided brake lines

coming soon:

Jb lwfw

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  #18  
Old 04-28-2013, 08:39 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Dunno where to cross reference this but this thread updated today has information on what ball joint removal tool to use:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bennt771 View Post
Read a few articles on the replacement of the control arm and have a quick question.
Everyone seems to be using a "speciality" tool.
Can you not use a ball joint separator "fork" tool?http://www.ebay.com/itm/BALL-JOINT-S...item1c17cbcd02
I am replacing the whole arm with two new ones complete.
Is that tool used http://www.ebay.com/itm/AK381-SEALEY...item53f7daa10a so you can reuse the joint end?
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Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #19  
Old 08-02-2014, 06:09 PM
1hander 1hander is online now
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im removing my wishbones again but they are new so i dont want to beat them out or some crappy mtthod, i want eoither the right tool or one of the these in this poast should work, can i still buy one, does eac carry it... my welder is crapped out ..so i cant cant weld right now... id like to buy one
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Old 08-02-2014, 07:42 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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I just ordered this one from Jegs on eBay



Here's a video of it in use:



I was hesitant, but one of the commenters said it was the only one that would open wide enough for his E39. Mine should come in a week or so. I'll let you know how it works.
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Old 08-02-2014, 08:56 PM
1hander 1hander is online now
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please let me know if it opens wide enough, im sure it will work on the e39 but the wishbones balljoint on the 540i and the m5 are much taller, i noticed it when i was buying the wishbones for mine that there were two different lengths
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Old 08-18-2014, 01:39 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Originally Posted by 1hander View Post
please let me know if it opens wide enough, im sure it will work on the e39 but the wishbones balljoint on the 540i and the m5 are much taller, i noticed it when i was buying the wishbones for mine that there were two different lengths
Well, bad news. It still doesn't open wide enough to accommodate the tall ball joint nut on the front control arm of the 540. I called my indy shop (Bavarian Professionals in Berkeley), and they said they use an air hammer and a blunt bit to hammer on the bolt from above, which pops out the ball joint. I'm hoping to borrow a portable air tank and air hammer to try it out.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:26 PM
1hander 1hander is online now
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i was afraid of that...i think were gonna have to just modify one like the above post...
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:05 PM
bobdmac bobdmac is offline
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Originally Posted by 1hander View Post
i was afraid of that...i think were gonna have to just modify one like the above post...
After having no luck with a borrowed air compressor because it blew out circuit breakers when it got to 55psi, I resorted to a pickle fork--and it worked great. However, I'm in the S.F. Bay Area, and the car has never seen snow or road salt. In any event, I had ordered all new suspension parts and didn't mind destroying the boot on the old ball joint. I removed the ball joint nut and sprayed it liberally with WD-49 and let it sit for a while. I then disconnected he bushing end of the control arm before attacked (and I do mean "attacked") the ball joint. To my surprise, it came out pretty quickly--after about 10 whacks. I guess you could say I used the pickle fork with relish.
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Old 08-24-2014, 11:31 PM
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good deal
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