ASSEMBLING THE FRONT SUSPENSION
With the entire front end out of the way it was easy to clean and prep the frame for painting. While we were blowing the thick, caked-up grease off the frame a large washer went flying. It turned out to be a hardened washer, about 2 in diameter with a flat edge on one side of the round inside hole. After further examination we found another one embedded in one side of the steering crank. These special hardened washers are used to prevent excessive wear between the crank arm and frame; the flat side fits over a flat spot on the crank, which forces the washer to turn, putting the pressure on the hardened washers instead of the softer parts.
Once the frame and all the parts were cleaned and painted, it was time to assemble the front end. It was easier to take it apart in one piece; but putting it together needed to be done one piece at a time, to make sure each piece fit just right. With the hardened washers locked in place and greased, we set the steering crank arm in place, then installed, torqued, and greased the pivot bolt, rotating it back and forth to ensure proper fit and to work the grease in completely.
Next we screwed in all four of the tie rod ends. When we unscrewed the old ones from the end of the rod, we stamped into them the number of revolutions it took, so we would know how far to screw the new ones back in. We put the rubber covers on the ends and connected the tie rod ends to the steering crank, tightening the castle nut and installing a cotter pin. Greasing a tie rod end at this time is important because the parts can rotate farther than they will be able to after the entire unit has been assembled, allowing for better prelube. Since the tie rods go through the torque arms, they were next. We stretched the round rubber bushings over the rear of the torque arm and lined up the rubber nipples with the holes and bolted the cover on loosely so it could still be moved. (Do not use soapy water to ease the bushing on, as the water has no way to escape and will cause unnecessary corrosion.) Then we pushed the front of the torque arms outward, slid The tie rod through them, and bolted the steering knuckles on.
After bolting on and bleeding the shocks we couldn t find anything wrong with them, so decided to use them as is. Now we were ready for the support arms; but we wanted to attach the king pins first. The new pins were 5/16 of an inch too long-- no problem! We cut them with a precision chop saw and beveled the edge with a fine wheel on a bench grinder. After pressing the new bushings in, Motorvation machine shop honed them with a precision honing machine so the bushings would be in proper alignment with minimum clearance. We then put the king pin on the wheel support with the roller bearing on the bottom to support the weight of the car and the hardened shim on the top (to separate the softer materials). After driving in the locking pin, the grease caps were pressed in, zerk fittings were screwed in, and the wheel support was bolted to the shock using new rubber bushings.
The lower support arms presented us with our next problem. The pin that connects the lower support arm with the wheel support uses needle bearings. The old bearings had one side encased with a hole for a zerk fitting; the new bearing was open on both ends. To cover the ends we drilled holes through disc freeze plugs and into the support arm, tapped the holes in the support arm (#8-32), and tapered the hole in the freeze plugs so the tapered screws would tighten flush. Now we were ready to press the bearings in and bolt up the inner end of the support arm keeping the bolts loose for flexibility. At this time, we pushed the studs located in the front of the torque arm through the holes in the lower support arm, put on the support arm bracket and started the lock washers and nuts.
Using a coil spring compressor for safety, we now compressed the coil springs and, along with the spring seats (bumpers), put them in place. With the springs compressed, there was not much pressure, so all we had to do to connect the lower support arm to the wheel support was install the thrust bearing and hardened shim, slide the pin in with the notch facing the lock pin hole, drive the lock pin in, screw on the end caps and zerk fittings, and grease the front and rear bearings.
Now all that was left was to tighten up the rear torque arm bolts, inner support arm bolts and front torque arm nuts, allowing us to release the spring.
Finally, once the stabilizer bar was bolted to the support arm bracket and the front of the frame, the front end was now rebuilt!
We ll continue later when we work on the brakes, since the bolts that connect the knuckles to the king pins bolt the brake backing plates on.
See you then keep em driving!