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How to make your bus swing lever bushings real tight, no play

If you have a split bus, use the proper repair kit and opt for reaming of the bushings after they’re installed with the proper reamer. Some repair manuals suggest machining the bushings a bit bigger than they come out of the box in lieu of a proper reamer. Either step is necessary because as they come in the box, the pin will not go through the bushings so they must be either machined or reamed. Only opt for the reamer method with the reaming done after installation for zero radial (sideways) play. Adjustment of end play (axial; up and down movement) is dependent upon how far the upper bushing protrudes from the top of  it’s bore. It’s just a tiny bit by the book but a bit more to cure end play is ok. When VW supplied parts, there were shims to adjust this end play. You may find one or more of these shims upon disassembly  – see if you can manage to make it or them fit. Upon assembly, use anti seize compound flooded with WD-40.

Be certain to remove the grease fitting before you remove old bushings. Install after installation of the new ones.

For bay window buses, everything is the same – even all the the parts  … almost. The bushings are different. Thing is, if you use a bay swing lever kit, you don’t even have to ream the bushings  – the pin goes right through them unlike those pesky,  recalcitrant split bushings. Nice, huh? Not really – you’ll wind up with wiggle – translates to play in the steering. You can’t ream them in-situ since they’re already “Big”. And you can’t make them any smaller than they come outta the box so you’re stuck with wiggle.  After all, if the pin falls through the bushings as they come outta the box, they have to be even looser than they have to be because after intallation, – they both have to be loose enough to line up imperfectly in the bore with each other  (which they will in our far from perfect world) and still offer free movement of the pin. So you are guaranteed to have play if you use one of these kits.

But there is a solution. Buy a split bus kit – everything’s the same except for the outside diameter of the bushing but you don’t get the  bonus protective cap for the bottom to hold the water in. Hmm? (re-use the old one – remove with water pump pliers or vise grips – twist)

So for your bay, use the split bus swing lever kit and turn the outside of the bushings on a lathe down from about 29.7 millimeters  in diameter (as they come in the kit) to 28. 7 millimeters in diameter  – the diameter of your old bushings.

But do measure your old bushings – don’t take these figures as if written in stone. You’re supposed to use a centerless chuck but any method will work – no centerless chuck required.  Since bore diameters in the beam may vary and measuring tools may vary and  the weather may vary (When my machine shop told me my new wrist pin bushing wiggle was due the the increase in ambient temp in their shop between 9 AM and 11 AM causing my early morning zero play bushings to transform into late morning wiggly bushings and “they’d be fine”,  I found another machine shop) and you’re lathe operators’ skill may ebb and flow with the hour of the day and interference fit is hard to measure, it’s best to trial fit  (interference fit means bushing outside diameter must be slightly bigger than diameter of bore it presses into so it fits tight – trial fit, trial fit, trial fit!!!

To check for proper interference fit, see if it taps in a 1/4 ” or so. If it’s possible to move it in that far and it’s tight but still possible to push it in that far without using a massive sledge hammer, it’s fine – that’s the size you want.  Start on bushing number two, but again – trial fit, trial fit, trial fit as you go along so as not to end up with a bushing that’s  just slightly smaller than what enables you to need to force it into the bore. It has to be tight enough to need to be hammered into the bore but not so small that it falls into the bore. It’s a real fine line – be careful. Don’t assume measuring with NASA tools will enable you to measure bore then measure bushings as you turn them without trial fitting – you’ll probably fail and have to buy another kit because once you turn bushing too small, you can’t go back.

Install your custom bushings by flooding the bore in the beam with with anti-seize compound and WD-40. Use a socket just slightly smaller than bushing diameter to push them in persuading  the socket with a good size hammer and a good golf swing. As the socket goes too deep to make hammer contact, add an extension to the socket to increase reach. Or find and  appropriate piece of pipe.

One bushing at a time with the open part of the grease groove pointing at the grease fitting for both bushings.  Then ream.  Assemble. Use anti-seize compound on the bolt and swing lever splines and flood  with WD-40. Don’t mess up the threads. A giant pair of waterpump pliers can help. Or long metal bar, maybe a piece of wood to lever against the bottom of the bus against the swing lever. A jack pushing up on the pin positively seats the pin and the washer at the bottom bringing the pin up as high as possible making assembly easier.

If you feel you have end play (up and down play), you can tap the upper bushing up a bit more. By the book, the upper bushing is supposed to stick out of the top of the upper bore a bit. To measure this, find an object that’s as thick as the amount the bushing is supposed to protrude -a washer or something. Hold it up to the side of to the protrusion. When their surfaces are flush, it’s the right amount.  You can use a punch to tap the upper bearing up a bit more to cure end play if you have no appropriate washers to cure it. You may not be able to put the pin back in due to a burr created by hitting the bushing with the punch. Use the reamer to clean up the burr. End play also contributes to play at the steering wheel.

When greasing, you may find the grease only comes out the  bottom or the top. It should come out of both. If it only comes out the bottom, put a jack with a piece of wood under the bottom of the pin. Lift. This will perhaps close the exit for the grease at the bottom and it’ll come out the top. D0 this before you put the protective cap over the bay pin. If this fails, keep greasing. Beside, you liberally grease the pin before you put it in, including finger application between the bushings, right?

If you have a 79 bus, it may not even have bronze bushings – they’re teflon. The split bus kit will work in yours too.

That’s as good as it gets.

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