Like most racers, I find myself doing my own work on my racecar. And that work has to be done with whatever tools I have in my garage. Unfortunately, I don’t have luxuries like a lift, a press or an actual mechanic on duty. Everything on my car has to be done by me, and I sort of learn as I go, using ingenuity, patience, and a lot of busted knuckles.
Recently I wanted to replace some rubber suspension bushings with polyurethane. Getting the bushings was cheap and easy thanks to Ebay and some overnight shipping. The hard part came when I realized I didn’t own a press to get the old rubber bushings out. I had a couple of choices to make: Run to Harbor Freight and buy a press, or go to a shop and have them do the labor for me. Neither option sounded good because I didn’t have the time or money for either one. The race was the following day and Harbor Freight was already closed. That left the job to me… and a torch.
Fire is your friend. When in doubt, make things hot. Using a small bottle torch, I decided to burn the bushings out of a lower control arm since I didn’t have a press. Pro tip: Put the lower control arm in a vice. Do not attempt to hold it in your hand while you are burning out the bushings. Metal transfers heat quickly and burns take a long time to heal. Once the fire really started cooking and the rubber got soft, all I needed to do was blast out the center of the bushing with a hammer.
That left the outer metal sleeve of the bushing still inside the lower control arm. Fire wasn’t going to help me with that. However, what fire can’t fix, a saw and a hammer usually can. I used a hacksaw to cut the sleeve, and then used a chisel and a hammer to deform the sleeve enough that it would come out.
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Once the old bushing was out, all I needed to do was grease up the new polyurethane bushing and place it in the lower control arm. A rubber mallet got this job done easily. The whole process only took me about an hour for one bushing. The good news is I was able to do it without any outside help or added cost. The bad news was the car had 11 more bushings. Oh well, I can sleep when I’m dead.