Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rogue RTABs

Recently while driving down the highway I heard the sound that a huge balloon would make if it got a small hole in it as a car passed by me. I thought it was them, however when I rolled to a stop I heard the sound of a flat tire. I knew it was getting bald however when I looked at it a few weeks earlier it wasn't nearly as bad. Now the cords were showing through!

I figure this probably had something to do with a bad rear alignment and/or worn bushings. I had some Rogue rear trailing arm bushings sitting in my garage for quite a while that haden't been installed due to me not wanting to pay for an alignment. Now was the perfect time to get them put in since I needed new tires anyway.

There are a few different types of RTAB you can purchase, Powerflex makes a popular urethane bushing that a lot of people like. There are also Delrin (which is a very hard non pliable plastic) RTABs however I wanted some dampening of vibrations for all my highway miles. There are also bearing based RTABs which are for full race and allow full articulation so the arm can twist and move eliminating bind. I would have preferred these however they are the most expensive and also would transmit every bump. I ended up going back to Rogue for my RTABs. I got the race (blue) harder urethane before I read about it potentially being noisier then the black 'street' compound.  The main reason I chose these over the Powerflex was the grease trap that is around the metal sleeves. Rogue says this is engineered to make sure there is enough grease to make assure there are no squeaks. I have been really happy with the FCAB's and there have been no noise issues so I had no reason to doubt their claims. I drive this A LOT so noises are not acceptable.

Here are the ones I got, taken apart

The first thing you need to do is jack up your car and take off the rear wheels. I did one side at a time, when you take the tire off and you find this

Uhh ohh, looks like my tire is rubbing a bit on my wheel well. I can't ever hear it rub so it must just barely with 275/35/18's. I used a bit of left over truck bed coating on the bare metal, we will see if it still rubs with stiffer bushings.

Next I marked where my carrier was located by drawing an "O" and lines around all the bolts and used my deep well socket to get the bolts off.

A deepwell with an extension got my ratchet far enough down so I could move it pretty easily. These bolts weren't extremely tight or rusted at all so it was an easy removal. Before I could remove the bolts I had to undo some wiring so the trailing arm could come down. 

 This box needs to be snapped open

These clips need to be undone and wires removed

And finally push the button at the top of this connector and pull the pieces apart to disconnect it. On the passenger side there are two connectors in this pack one blue one black. After this it is time to remove the bolts on the carrier and drop the whole assembly down as far as it will go. 

I propped some wood between the trailing arm and the car so it would stay low enough to wrench on easily.

The nut and bolt are the same size so I used a wrench on one end and my ratchet on the other. Turns out to break the nut off you just need to turn it so the carrier torques against the trailing arm.

At this point it is time to get the bushings out. I first thought I would be industrious so I decided to make a tool

I used 2 old pieces of exhaust pipe and cut them to make one big enough to fit outside the stock bushing and the other small enough to fit through the hole in the trailing arm

On the side to fit around the outside of the bushing i welded on a piece of angle iron

and the piece that would go through the arm I welded it on the inside of the tube Notice on my thumb where I decided to grind a divet out of my finger instead of the metal I was aiming for

Be careful, you can set your shirt on fire with an angle grainder! Someone should take that damn thing away from me before I kill myself!

To use my newly made tools I got out a big c clamp. I tried to tighten it down and eventually bent the c-clamp with the force I was using. The left side part was small enough to fit through the hole and on the right wasn't touching the bushing so I really don't understand why this didn't work. In the end I wasted 2 hrs making/trying to make this tool work which it never did. I had to use the only tools I had left which were brute force and ignorance! Out comes the drill and sawzall!

I started by using the biggest bit I could fit between the metal sleeve and outer bushing. I kept drilling holes around the center section. After a lot of drilling/twisting/etc I could pull the center metal sleeve out with some vicegrips. It came out looking like

Now for the sawzall! I cut out the rubber then cut a lot of slots trying not to go all the way through the sleeve. I eventually started cutting 'triangles' into it by changing the angle of the sawzall

Then I got out the 5lb sledge. Some people use a screwdriver and pound around the edge of the bushing benching it in until it comes out however mine easily popped out after I hit it a few times. After some whacking this is how it will look when it comes out

So now we are ready to re-install, time for some lube
 Did I buy it for just the name "Red and Tacky"? Maybe, however I rationalized my decision by the fact that it is marine grade with added anti-seize.I figure this is the best compromise from people who I have seen using marine grease and saying it has no squeaks and those that use copper anti-seize that swear by it.

I got a regular grease gun and slathered one side of the bushing with the grease. I found that the best way to install them is to position the outer bushing in the arm first and pound it in with the 5 lb sledge. Do it slowly and evenly. The inside bushing is the hardest but what finally worked for me was putting the metal sleeve in the outside bushing so it would center the incoming bushing from the other side, then putting a rag around it and pounding it home. These will NOT go in by hand. When they go in crooked (and they will) you have to take them out and use a razor to shave the boogered up area.

This part was a bit of a pain, I thought they would slide in much easier. Make sure you lube up every piece liberally before you put them in. I also made sure to sweep under the car since I had all kinds of rubber shavings from removing the old bushings. First time the new bushing popped off it dropped into all the shavings and was a pain to clean/re-lube

After all the exaserbation, this is what they looked like I lubed the bushings one more time on the outside and then lubed the inside of the carriers. Its as simple as putting the bold back in and tightening it up.

This is where I put the jack to position the carrier where it needs to be, match up the holes and circles you drew earlier. I got it up and tightened the bolts up to the point they touched the plate but weren't tight. Then I used a hammer to get the position exactly right (with light taps, if it wont move, loosen the bolts.) You *shouldn't* have to realign if they go back in exactly the same but some ruined tires aren't worth a few bucks for an alignment. As a note it is very important that the angle of the carrier is correct in relation to the trailing arm IF AND ONLY IF you use rubber RTABS from an M3/Z4M/Stock replacement suspension.

That's all there is to install, doing it a second time I would be able to get it done in about 2 hrs, I wasted a lot of time trying to make a tool. If I were to try and make it again, I would use a threaded rod like in the picture below. Drilling/sawzalling em out really didn't take too long, maybe 10-20min a side so the specialized tool is NOT worth it IMHO if you don't have the welder etc. to build one.

I will share some impressions after I have them installed for a while about ride quality/performance/niose