Azle, TX  forecast
Click for Azle, TX Forecast
Click here other forecasts!

Got News?
Send it In!!
Home Theater
The "Theater"
Adire Audio Speakers
Toshiba 65H80 RPTV
HT Flexi-Rack
Media Cabinet
Privacy Policy
About the Author
Contact Me via EMAIL
via Snail Mail
MONTAC Enterprises
ATTN: MTB Madness
Pending New...
Azle, TX 76020



Tubular Front Suspension: Part 1
Removal of OEM Suspension Parts


This is Part 1 of a multi-part series detailing the installation of a tubular front suspension into a Fox-body Mustang.  This installment covers the removal of  all the OEM parts.  I have probably "over-illustrated" the process, but for the sake of the folks new to tearing into a front suspension, I tried to err on the side of caution.    Speaking of caution:  I do not recommend that anyone attempt this project without the proper skills, tools, and some company.  Never work on an elevated vehicle alone!  Additionally, I do not guarantee that the procedures I have used are safe and/or correct.  Follow these procedures with caution and AT YOUR OWN RISK!  I will not be held liable, should you injure yourself or damage your car.  With that disclaimer covered, I will say that the following procedure was successful for me.

Note:  Click on any image to pop up a larger version.  If your browser "auto-resizes" it, you can hover your mouse cursor over the picture to bring up the "size-toggle" button in the lower right-hand corner of the image.  Click on that button to see the image full size.


Click for larger version...Here's my 1989 Mustang Coupe.  I have placed the rear up on jack stands which I have further elevated with concrete pavers (4 each side).  The jack stands are located under the axle tubes.

Up front, I used 3 pavers on each side to elevate the 6-ton bottle jacks.  The bottle jacks are located under the sub-frames just aft of the K-member rear mounting points.  I used bottle jacks in the front to make it easier to level the car from side-to side in an attempt to load the unibody equally.  Use a plumb bob to measure from the center of the head of the inboard k-member bolt on each side.  Use the bottle jack to raise the low side to equal the high side.

Ideally, you would use four (4) bottle jacks, so that you could level each corner to a flat reference plane.  The current work surface is no where near "true", so I am only leveling from side to side.  The critical suspension setup steps will be done with the car in the garage, using 4 bottle jacks, corner scales, 4 plumb bobs, et al. aids.

Note that the concrete under the car is relatively clean.  Keep it that way.

Click for larger image...Break torque on the lug nuts BEFORE you elevate the car.  Remove the wheels and get them out of the way.  If your wheel wells are abnormally filthy, you should consider cleaning them out before starting work.

Remove the caliper bolts. Slide the calipers off the rotor and tie them up out of the way in the wheel well. DO NOT let the calipers hang by the hoses.

Reinstall the caliper bolts into the spindle.

Remove the wheel bearing dust cover.  I'm sure there is a special tool for the job,  but I use an old screwdriver and a hammer.  Caution:  Do not drive the screwdriver too far or you will distort and/or perforate the dust cover.  Work your way around the cover trying to pull it off evenly.

Click for larger version...Next, remove the cotter pin that holds the stamped metal spindle nut cover in place.  NEVER re-use cotter pins.  Discard the pin upon removal and use a NEW pin if you are installing the same/same type rotor/hub.

Remove the spindle/bearing nut cover.

Click for larger image...After accomplishing the previous step, the image at right should be what you have in front of you.

Use a metric socket to remove the spindle/bearing nut.  It shouldn't be tight at all, but SHOULD require a socket/wrench to remove.  If you can remove it with your fingers, then it was NOT properly installed.

By the way, be sure to have several clean rags right next to you.  You'll need them.

Click for larger version...Nut removed...

Now, remove the thrust washer.

Click for larger image...Washer removed...

Now remove the outer wheel bearing.

Use one of those rags I mentioned to wipe the majority of the bearing grease off of the parts as you remove them.

It's also handy to have a Ziplock bag into which you can place the small parts to keep contamination away from them, especially if you plan to reuse the parts.  Mark the bags to indicate the side from which they were taken: Passenger/Driver (Don't use Left/Right unless you specify "as sitting in driver's seat or some other reference.)

Click for larger version...Front wheel bearing removed...

Now, remove the rotor from the spindle.  Use care not to drag the rotor across the spindle threads, and guard against dropping the inner wheel bearing out of the rotor and onto the ground.

As a general rule, if I drop a bearing on the ground, it's trash.  No way to guarantee that you won't have sand/grit et al. in the bearing after it touches the ground.

Remove the inner bearing and place it in the bag with the other small parts.  IF you intend to reuse the parts, be sure to mark one of the bearings to differentiate inner from outer wheel bearing.

Click for larger image...Rotor removed...

Now, take one of those rags I spoke of earlier and clean all the grease off the spindle and out of the recesses in the dust shield.

Click for larger version...Here's a nice clean spindle...

As a guard against contamination/corrosion, wrap the "shiny" portions of the spindle with a CLEAN rag partially soaked in some sort of lubricant, like 30w oil.  use some sort of tie/band to secure the rag to the spindle to keep it from falling off and exposing the spindle to damage/contamination/corrosion.

Note: I did not immediately cover the spindle because 1) I am not re-using it, and 2) I plan to thoroughly clean the spindle with solvent, et al. to prepare it for recycling.

Click for larger image...Next, we move to the tie-rod ends.  You need to remove them from the spindle to make it easier to remove both the spindle and the rack.  Note:  DO NOT rotate the tie-rod end.  Leave it exactly as it was installed to maintain your reference for toe adjustment during re-installation of the rack.

First, remove the cotter pin from the castellated nut.

Click for larger version...Pin removed...  Once again, discard the old pin. Do not re-use cotter pins... ever.

Now... there are a couple of ways to do this next step,  But I prefer to use the right tool for the job.

Loosen the castellated nut until it is flush with the top of the ball joint.

Click for larger image...Note the nut is flush with the top of the ball joint threads.  This does two things: 1) it keeps the tie-rod from dropping out on separation and possibly damaging the threads, and 2) it protects the threads should the tool pop off the indention in the tip of the ball joint.

Separate the rod end from the spindle with a tool like this.  I prefer to use a socket to tighten the tool rather than a wrench...  Wrenches (for me) seem to cause the tool to pop off prematurely.

These tools can be had at almost any auto parts store for a reasonable price. There are several sizes, so be sure to get the right one. AutoZone generally has a loaner set that you can sign out.

Once the tie-rod end is separated from the spindle, remove the  nut completely and pull the tie rod down and away from the spindle.  Replace the nut onto the threads flush with the top again to protect the threads.

Click for larger version...Once both tie-rod ends are free, disconnect the steering shaft from the rack.  I didn't illustrate this step because I use a Flaming River steering shaft which uses universal joints rather than the OE rag joints.  No need to breed confusion here.

Remove the two rack bolts, and then remove the rack from the vehicle.

NOTE: if you still have a power rack, you'll also, of course, have to disconnect the hydraulic lines.  This is an great time to flush your power steering pump, lines, adn rack.  Better yet, use this opportunity to dump the power steering altogether and install a manual rack.

Click for larger image...Manual rack is removed from the car...  Looks like I have some clean up and painting/plating to do on this rack as well as the steering shaft.
Click for larger version...Front side of the k-member with rack removed...
Click for larger image...Next, you need to remove the sway bar links...  Use a socket on the nuts (top and bottom), and back yourself up with a crescent wrench on the flat located at the center of each link.

Be sure to re-assemble the link/bushings, nuts in the same orientation off the car if you plan to reuse them.  My bushings are trash, but i replaced the nuts to protect the threads.  I may or may not be re-using the link hard parts.

Click for larger version...Break torque and loosen the front bolts in the control arms. These bad boys are on tight, so use some penetrating spray on them; let them soak; and save yourself some heartache by using a breaker bar on them.

Do NOT try to remove the bolts!!!  Just loosen them a bit.

besides being a futile effort, if you WERE to happen to get them out, you'd likely get a broken hand/arm/leg when the spring popped out on you.

Click for larger image...Break torque and loosen the rear bolts in the control arms.
Click for larger version...Break torque and slightly loosen the strut to spindle bolts.  Again, you'll want to use penetrating spray and a breaker bar.
Click for larger image...Now, here is where I take a short cut.  I do NOT recommend that ANYONE do this.

The PROPER way to do this step is to install an internal spring compressor on the coil spring to remove the spring tension from the control arm...

Orient a floor jack as shown in the photo, and slightly load the jack up against the bottom of the control arm.

Make sure it is securely located.

Click for larger version...Now, keeping your body, legs, and other valuable parts well out of the possible trajectory of a free flying coil spring, remove the nut from the strut shaft and place it somewhere where you won't lose it... preferably in its own little bag, labeled.

Now, go back to the jack, and VERY carefully ease the hydraulic release open on it.  Be prepared to shut the release quickly should the control arm start to descend too rapidly.

Lower the control arm slowly until the strut shaft clears the bottom of the camber/caster adjustment assembly (OEM or aftermarket).  Halt the jack to jold it in this position.  Now, cautiously reach up into the wheel well and compress the strut shaft sufficiently into the strut body so that you can swing the shaft outboard and clear of the wheel well.

Let the strut hand outboard.  Ease the hydraulic release open on the jack and continue to SLOWLY lower the control arm.  Right about the time the control arm begins to point to the ground the spring will pop loose and fall out...

Click for larger image...Coil spring removed. Put the isolation pad back on the spring top in the depression it inhabited on the car.  Relocate the spring assembly out of the way.

Now, use a couple of ratchets or a ratchet an your breaker bar to remove the control arm bolts.

Click for larger version...Control arm bolts removed...  Place the nuts back on the bolts and place them somewhere safe, preferably in a labeled bag.

Pull the control arm/spindle assembly free from the k-member.

Depending on whether you are going to reuse the spindle, strut, et al, you may want to remove the strut from the spindle now.  be sure to save the strut to spindle bolts.  You'll likely re-use them.

Click for larger image...Here is an image of the empty wheel well...  Finally, it's time to remove the k-member.  BUT, the k-member supports the engine, so you will need to use a hoist, cradle, cherry picker, et al, to support the weight of the engine.

Take the load off the motor mounts just enough to neutralize them.  Spray penetrating oil on the horizontal motor mount through-bolts and then remove them.

Use the lift, cradle, et al. to raise the engine just enough to separate the engine w/ mounts from the mount adapter attached to the k-member.

Now... finally...  Remove the rear k-member bolts.  Take the dual captive nut assembly out, reinstall the bolts into it, and place them in a safe place.  You will be re-using this hardware most likely.

Click for larger version...Rear k-member to subframe bolts removed...
Click for larger image...Here's a shot of the upper k-member bolt heads looking up from under the k-member.  Note the upper coil spring seat in the center.
Click for larger version...Here's an image of the tops of the upper k-member bolts.  Note the captive nuts.

Break torque on all the bolts.  Remove the forward bolt from each side.  Remove the rear bolt from one side and re-install it finger tight.  Remove the rear bolt from the other side. Lower that side of the k-member and let it rest on the ground (or prop it up to keep a bind off the remaining bolt/hole).

Remove the finger tight bolt from the other side and lower the k-member to the ground.

Click for larger image...K-member on the ground...

Pull it from beneath the car, and remove the motor mount adapters.  You will need to re-use them, even if you plan to replace the motor mounts.

Click for larger version...Motor mount adapters removed.  Reinstall the nuts on the adapters to protect the threads.

Gather up all the removed parts and pieces and keep them until you KNOW you won't need them again (essentially, until you have completed the installation of the tubular suspension parts and completed a successful test drive).

Well, that's it for the removal.  You can proceed to Part 2 now.

Let me know if you find this article useful!  EMAIL



Copyright (C)2003 MONTAC Enterprises.  All Rights Reserved©
Revised: March 03, 2006 .