Words: Erich Reichert
Issue 142 (September 2007)

For most, building turnbuckles can be the worst part of building a kit. Maybe it's because most of the car has been assembled by that point in the build, and it feels like a step backward. Or maybe you can never seem to get it quite right. Either way, it's one of those things that may not be all that much fun, but it can make a big difference in your car's handling, so buckle down and get it right the first time.

1. Most instruction manuals will tell you exactly how long your turnbuckles need to be, but if they don't, use your caliper and get an eyeball measurement by holding the suspension in position.

2. One of the most important yet often overlooked parts of assembling turnbuckles is grease. Spread a thin layer of assembly grease (diff lube if you don't have any) on the threads to be sure they'll adjust freely, and to keep the ballcups from popping off every time you try to adjust them on the car.

3. Twist a ballcup on each end slowly, making sure it stays straight and threads on smoothly. You don't have to crank it on very far; just make sure they're threaded enough to stay on.

4. Using a turnbuckle wrench (most kits include one) to hold the center of the turnbuckle, use a ballcup tool or pair of pliers (be careful, though) and crank the ballcup the rest of the distance. Be sure to do a little on one side and then the other so that the ballcups go on evenly.

5. You can determine the actual length the ballcup needs to go on before you start, but I prefer to check the length as I go. Adjust your cups in either direction as necessary.

6. Ballcups will usually pop on by hand, but for those hard-to-reach areas, use the flat side of a regular screwdriver to press the cup down onto the ballstud. You can even use a small piece of foam or a shop rag as a cushion for extra protection.

Check your cups
Your turnbuckles should be included in your regular maintenance list. Before you head to the track, make sure none of your cups are damaged or too loose. Also make sure that none of the linkages are bent and that everything is still the right length. Replace anything that may need it; a questionable turnbuckle is the same as a broken one in my book. Putting a new one on will keep you from dropping out of a race early.

Stick it
After a while, your ballcups may loosen up and be prone to popping off more easily. If you can't replace it with a new one, here's a handy little trick to get you through the day. Using a toothpick or something small, run a bead of CA glue along the inside edge of the cup. Once the glue is dry, apply a second layer. What we're trying to do is build up the opening of the cup to help it hold on tighter. Just be sure you don't get any glue down inside.

And...we're done! We haven't made building turnbuckles any more fun, but you'll get better results by taking your time, using the right tools, and paying a little attention to detail. Checking lengths and using a small amount of grease will make your life a lot easier down the road, and taking care of your ballcups will keep you on the track longer while others drop out early.