Time for new ones..... I went with RCV from Slee. Nice and quiet and tight now. I do very little offroad, so not a big deal to me to have the ultimate Birf's..... And I didn't get the shiny ones. I got the less expensive black ones. Just don't forget to remove and reinstall the ABS sensor rings from your old Birf's to the new ones..... I know because I now don't have ABS, but my light works!
No sure what caused it. I have done multiple rebuilds on several 80's and a couple of 60's. Whats interesting to me is that its the same on each opening all the way around. Almost the same spot but slightly different sizes.
No, that's not a lateral blow. That's from turning tight and accelerating. As the Birf's wear, that's part of the "clicking" you start to hear. The clicking is quiet outside, but if you were in there with it, it is very violent as they stick and release.
Definitely check your steering stop bolts. Adjust per FSM.