Looking for front suspension rebuild write up

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jasons7

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The car I have is a 71 M code Mach 1. I'm looking for a good write up or article on rebuilding the front end. I have all the parts (shocks, control arms, springs, bushings, OT roller perches, sway bar, tie rod ends, idler, etc.) But I would like to check out a detailed procedural article on the work before I start turning wrenches. Can anyone point me to a good thread or site?

Also, I have the factory manuals too.

 

Don65Stang

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I haven't seen a write up on here but several have done it. Just do one part at a time & you'll get it.

 

turtle5353

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Where did you get all your front end parts? I am in the process of doing mine really soon. Also adding front discs off a 78 granada. If you dont mind me asking what did the front end kit cost you and what was included?

Thanks Kevin

 

jasons7

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I got all the stuff from mustangs plus. I bought their super starter package that included rear end parts (springs, shocks, shackles, bushings, u-bolts, etc). And, I upgraded the rear leafs, front springs, front shocks, Open Tracker spring perches, maybe the sway bar. I think to my door it was around $1300? I might have ordered a few more things at the same time. It was about a year ago, so this is all from memory. Unfortunately, I can't break out the front end costs since I got the package. I did the rear a while back and have put off the front. I have a few other cars that eat my time.

Speaking of Mustangs Plus, does their hammer method work for separating the front end parts?

 

droptop73

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Yes the hammer method does work. Never use a pickle fork on a Ford.

 

71coupe

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The car I have is a 71 M code Mach 1. I'm looking for a good write up or article on rebuilding the front end. I have all the parts (shocks, control arms, springs, bushings, OT roller perches, sway bar, tie rod ends, idler, etc.) But I would like to check out a detailed procedural article on the work before I start turning wrenches. Can anyone point me to a good thread or site?

Also, I have the factory manuals too.

I don't have details...but, I can tell a few gotchas....because I was the one that started turning wrenches right away. Was it a bad decision....nah...learn as you go is my motto, besides my car is not my daily driver so no worries on leaving it unfinished.

Well, I started by removing the fenders...first thing first! this gives you "plenty of room to work"...but...be sure to drill pilot holes on your fenders or your gonna have a heck of a time lining them up when you put them back on. I bought my parts at O'Reilly's..the upper control ball joint, lower control arms, shocks, and upper control arm shaft kit. The rest of the stuff looked pretty decent shape. I rented the spring compressor tool from them as well...they were by far the cheapest rental around. Here is one gotcha...when you rent the spring compressor tool...be sure you have the bolt pointed up towards the shock tower..this way you just have to use a long extension and socket and ratchet from the top...I made the mistake of putting the bolt end of the spring compressor tool at the bottom and started using an open end wrench....took way to long to compress the spring. Since, the motor is out of my car I didn't have any weight on the front end...so, it made things a little tricky...like the shock was lifted all the way up, so I had to be careful when removing. Here are some pics of what I did....all the pics you see are the passenger side

some other things to note: label everything! I had bolts everywhere! good thing I'm doing one side at a time...so, I was referencing the untouched driver side..which by the way is next! woo hoo!!!!

Also...if you have the fender off..scrape, clean and paint...great time to do this stuff....my was full of gunk...I had to power wash it many...many times...yeah I know...no one looks up in there and my car is not a "show" car...but, its my show car :)

last and least...you definitely need a front wheel alignment! Best thing I can about this..is...you will need to google front end alignment..so, you can at least "ball park" the alignment..this will let you get it to a shop to get it corrected. Be sure your shop does "old vehicle" alignments!!! most new shops don't.

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jasons7

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Thanks guys. The search results will help and thanks for the heads up on the gotchas.

About the fenders, do most people pull them to do this work? I wasn't planning on it, but I know I had read somewhere that it makes the work easier.

 

72HCODE

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If you will work alone pull the fenders. If you have a parner helping then you could leave the fenders on.

With the fenders off it will make it easier to see what you are doing and view any rust damage to the frame rails easier.

The hardest part will be using the spring compressor, and removing the spring.

If you have the engine installed you won't be able to use a impact wench to help you break the mounting bolts loose.

Never use a pickle fork on a ford, just the hammer method.

As for taking it apart.

Unscrew the large nuts on the front of the strut rods, do not move the inner nuts on the strut rods, so you can maintain some correct caster when you reassemble.

Pull the 4 cotter pins on the strut rod attachment to the lower suspension arms. Use a impact wrench if needed and remove the 4 nuts, then pop out the strut rods and remove them.

Loosen the 2 upper nuts on the upper suspension arms do not remove yet.

Use a spring compressor on the coils and remove them from the car.

You might want to uncompress them after removal to make them safe if this project is going to run long term, or this is your chance to install some 620lb front springs.

Once the spring is out.

Disconnect the brake lines and plug off the brake fitting.

Remove cotter pins on the spindle, use a impact wrench to get the 2 large nuts off.

Remove the cotter pins on the outer steering rods, strike the rod connection on the side with a large hammer it should pop out of the spindle.

Strike the spindles on the side of each connection to the ball joints it should pop out.

I left the nuts loose but still on when I struck the connections, everything popped apart but was still connected.

Next remove the spindle, to the bench for more work if needed.

Remove the 2 upper nuts for the upper suspension and remove upper arm.

Unbolt the lower suspension cam bolt and hammer out the cam if needed carefully them remove the lower arm.

That is it for removal. I replaced my front end in one day having never did it before.

When you reassemble make sure you have the shop manual open to get the torque specs on all nuts and new hardware and new cotter pins.

You can shift around the order of disassembly however you need if you get stuck in one area.

For example my spindles were stuck on and I took the upper and lower suspension attached as one piece over to the work bench to really bust it apart.

 

72HCODE

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mostly you remove the fenders to protect them from damage and to give you more space.

the other benefit is close inspection of the top of the frame rail and the ability to clean the engine aprons and shock tower and repaint so it can last another 40 years.

granted removing the fenders is time consuming. you then have to deal with re-alignment of the panels and replacing hardware as needed.

if you feel your car is in good mechanical shape then you can do it with the fenders on, there is no interference between the two.

it becomes while your at it syndrome.

------------------

Now depending on how you decide to disconnect your front brake lines and how old the rubber hoses are will determine if your front suspension rebuild turns into a brake rebuild as well.

if the hard lines and hoses are rusted but you do not want to deal with the brake lines, then disconnect the brake line at the caliper bolt, and replace the 2 copper washers when you re-assemble.

if you need to replace the soft lines for the brake system and it is deteriorated there is a good chance the lines will snap when you disconnect at the frame rail mount. this will progress into at least changing out the front brake lines.

either way brake fluid is going to get all over, so you will need to clean it up make sure none gets on the fender paint and then touch up all the areas the paint came off.(dot 3 eats paint)

if you inspect the soft lines and they have cracks like a dry lake bed in the rubber you have to replace them and deal with the consequences.


as for reassembly, it goes fast, you get the upper arm all put together with new hardware and the spring perch, make sure you get the rubber isolators on the spring. compress the spring, install the upper arm leave the nuts a touch loose, get the spring seated, uncompress it a little, tighten up the 2 nuts in for the upper mount, torque to spec. get the lower arm on put the cam in leave it loose.

install the spindle, tighten up the 2 nuts for the upper and lower ball joint. get the strut rod installed, 2 nuts and into the cross member, and put the large nut on it from the outside. put the outer tierod on and tighten the nut.

now torque all to spec, and install the cotter pins, release the spring fully. eyeball the alignment of the caster 0 degrees and tighten up the lower arm cam to 80-100 foot/lb.

repeat for other side.

lower the car down a little to compress the suspension and install the shocks. double check all nuts torque to spec, make sure all cotter pins in place.

then re-install the shock tower covers(re-enforcement plates) re-install the shock tower braces.

take car for alignment.

done.



one more piece of advice, Stay far away from the Poly bushings, just get Normal Rubber bushings. the Squeaking among other things will drive you insane

 
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jasons7

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Thanks for all the details. I am doing this without a helper. I am sure I will get in there and find more work to do, I usually do. I will probably make a game time decision regarding the fenders. I have been curious to verify the VIN underneath, because this car had some kind of front ender. The bumper is now a chrome unit, and I can tell the bumper mounts came from another car (different paint). Also, I can tell the core support has been replaced. However, I can't find damage/repair any deeper than that.

 
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If you are going to do this when the weather cools off a little I would be happy to lend a hand. I have swapped mine out and have some wrenching experience.

 

jasons7

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If you are going to do this when the weather cools off a little I would be happy to lend a hand. I have swapped mine out and have some wrenching experience.
My goal was to have the work done by the time the weather cools off so I don't miss any good driving weather. I'm going to San Diego next week, I might try to start into it the week after that (just in time for the humidity too). I will try to update here when I start turning wrenches.

 

jasons7

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UPDATE..... So I have been pulling dirty parts off the car. I have the upper control arms, springs, shocks, strut rods, and sway bar removed. I am down to the tierods/centerlink/idler and the lower control arms. What is the best way to remove the inner tie rods? Is it easier with the centerlink in or out of the car?

Also, someone shimmed the passenger side upper control arms with modified (slotted) washers. I assume to change the camber. The car will get aligned after it is assembled, so I am *assuming* I should just leave them out?

The disassembly has been pretty easy. The worst part is, the boots are all torn so there is a thick nasty grime on everything. I spent a few hours just degreasing 40 years of crap off the spindles.

 

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If you remove the fenders make sure to lable all of your shims and where they go. You will spend so much time trying to align those damn fenders otherwise.

 
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