Here is one of my favorite old school mechanics tricks. I have used this trick countless times to get stubborn ball joints installed and it just makes your life easier. Once you know it, I am sure you will always do it, even if you don’t necessarily have to do it.
Old School Mechanic Tip #3:
Before installing any pressed in parts, or anything that needs to fit inside something else and it is going to be a tight squeeze, freeze the part you will be pressing in. Freezing metal makes it shrink, and the bearing will press in easier if you do this fast. To freeze it you can either put it in a really cold freezer for an hour at least, use liquid nitrogen, dry ice, or an ice, water, salt bath.
Pro tip: some mechanics use liquid nitrogen to do this, but if you do not have access to nitrogen (I personally don’t) you can flip a can of computer keyboard cleaner compressed air upside down and it will get freezing cold! Just be careful not to freeze your hands on accident or hurt yourself.
If you do not have one of those compressed air cans for cleaning your computer keyboard you can also use a piece of dry ice and put it in a liquid that won’t freeze. People suggest online using mineral spirits in a bowl, place the dry ice inside (which is nitrogen), and let it cool the metal down. Do not TOUCH the part after, as it will be so cold it will likely damage your skin or worse. Use tongs and align it into whatever it needs to be pressed into and do it quick.
Another method that doesn’t cause as much shrinkage and is a home-method is to just simply place the part in a bowl of ice, water, and a lot of salt. Salt helps the ice get super cold, and the part will shrink some. But it won’t be too cold that you can’t touch it. I have used this trick when installing ball joints, CV axle seals, o-rings and anything else that needs to fit into a tight space.
How Much Will Metal Shrink When You Get it Cold:
0.001″ Shrinkage in Steel per 100F per inch of diameter. A lot of numbers that really comes down to, yes it will help you fit that bearing in that extremely tight space.
YouTube Video’s Displaying Freezing Parts in Action:
If you enjoy these articles about old school mechanic tricks you’ll love my article on real mechanic life hacks that actually work here. Or stay tuned for the next old school mechanic trick coming up.
Or if you’re just getting started with car repairs see if you have all the tools you need by checking my list of all beginner mechanic tools here. It is good to study these and make sure you know what they are commonly called so you can grab the right tool when needed.
Or, keep reading my old school mechanic tricks!
Old School Mechanic Trick #4 Read Here: Cut Custom Gaskets Like A Boss