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  • Front Suspension Overhaul

    Hi

    I am about to renew all of the front suspension installing a major overhaul kit from one of the specialist T Bird parts suppliers. Do i need to replace the anti sway bar.
    I will also be replacing the coil springs and shock absorbers. Is it worth fitting a disc brake conversion kit at the same time or do i just stick with the drums and overhaul these. Does anyone have any experience with this any help would be appreciated. I changed the full rear end suspension last winter and it turned out fantastic, i had the leaf springs manufactured in the UK and imported all of the fittings, im not sure if i will do the same with the coils or import from USA shipping is a massive cost for me though. I have the manual and it looks as though i will need special tools is this correct.

    Cheers
    Barry
    Baza

  • #2
    I would get discs. There is much to read about the subject on this site.

    Rick
    1960 HT
    Thunderbird Registry #35780

    Comment


    • #3
      In my opinion, suspension work is not for the faint-hearted, it is heavy bull work that you will fight the whole way. Having said that, you really don't need special tools other than a big hammer, pickle fork and some 2" pipe nipples.

      Jack the car high in the air on stands, remove the shocks and sway bar hardware, separate the lower ball joint and use a scissors jack under the "A" arm to lower it. You should not need a spring compressor because the arms are so long.

      Some of our members sent their "A" arms to a garage with a press for removing/installing bushings, but I'm a big guy and I did mine outside in the driveway using hand tools.

      The cheapest way to rebuild your suspension is to do it all at once. For instance, to change the sway bar, at least one lower "A" arm ball joint must be separated. If you are doing your urethane bushings, the ball joint will already be separated.

      'Disk brakes' is another subject that can be done independently. Do you already have a vacuum booster in the engine compartment? If so, you're in luck. For now, back to the suspension...

      None of your suspension parts pivot on steel. The urethane bushings have inner sleeves with teeth to prevent them from turning, so all the motion is done with the rubber. I use a steel stamp to mark parts and I take lots of pictures along the way. For instance, on the driver's side upper pivot shaft, I stamp 'LF' on top and at the front of the shaft. On your Ford it may not make a difference, but on my other Fords, that shaft is not symmetrical and it must be installed as the bushings are pounded in.

      Keep track of your shims. There are upper arm shims and lower arm shims. Strip all the rust off and paint your parts. Some of our members use the powder coat process on their "A" arms. Carefully inspect your ball joints. If they are even a little sloppy, now is the time to drill out the rivets and replace them. This work is far easier done on a bench.

      We now use 1-1/8" anti-sway bars (yes bars, one in front and rear). I recommend Lance Herrington as a good source for the bars at thunderbirdsouthwest.com. Just before you assemble that last ball joint, install the new sway bar.

      Many of our members have converted to power disk brakes using Scarebird brackets on their original spindles. There is much discussion on this subject regarding parts, wheels, tires, etc. Do a search to find these threads. Everyone says the same, once converted the difference in braking is so huge they will never go back to drum brakes.

      Even more information is reserved for paid members. Believe me, the twenty bucks for a year's membership is well worth the benefits you will receive. I urge you to join by clicking on the button labeled, "donate to site" in the upper right of your screen. - Dave
      My latest project:
      CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

      "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
      --Lee Iacocca

      Comment


      • #4
        X2 with Rick on the disc brakes - if you are planning on making the change it doesn't seem economical to renew the front drum system. Nothing you can transfer over to the disc system.

        Also as Rick mentions there is a wealth of info on converting to disc's here on the site.

        I would not replace the springs or the sway bar unless damaged - shocks yes. I'm of the OPINION that unless it's manufactured by a company that has a proven track record for good replacement parts - the new stuff (mostly made in India) is worse than good used parts. If you do replace them - keep the old parts so you can put them back on when the replacements fail - like I said - just my opinion.

        Probably the only special tools you would need for the front suspension would be a press for the bushings. I had mine done at a machine shop. You will need something to remove the rivets that hold the ball joints if original. They can be drilled or ground out. My new hardware to install the ball joints with looked questionable so I bought grade 8 nuts and bolts.

        Of course - you will need an alignment when completed.

        Good luck,
        Eric

        Comment


        • #5
          Disc brakes

          I changed to disc brakes last winter and very happy with the change. The trouble was well worth the effort. I used Scarebird brackets(no aliment troubles) with them.

          I did have trouble finding 14" rims (disc brake ready). They are out there but you have to look for them.
          Larry
          _______________________
          1960 HT
          Thunderbird Redistry #39303

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by barry.wilkinson View Post
            Hi

            I am about to renew all of the front suspension installing a major overhaul kit from one of the specialist T Bird parts suppliers. Do i need to replace the anti sway bar.
            I will also be replacing the coil springs and shock absorbers. Is it worth fitting a disc brake conversion kit at the same time or do i just stick with the drums and overhaul these. Does anyone have any experience with this any help would be appreciated. I changed the full rear end suspension last winter and it turned out fantastic, i had the leaf springs manufactured in the UK and imported all of the fittings, im not sure if i will do the same with the coils or import from USA shipping is a massive cost for me though. I have the manual and it looks as though i will need special tools is this correct.

            Cheers
            Barry
            When I rebuilt the front end of our 58, I only sourced parts from a tBird house that I couldn't get elsewhere. My reasoning for getting the parts I needed from a local parts house?

            One, I was helping keep the money local, which I try to do unless the price difference is unreasonable. And if I remember right a lot of the parts were actually cheaper locally.

            Two, I know who made the ball joint, tie rod end, etc. I like to run Moog parts, and the tbird places wouldn't tell me who made the parts.

            And when I did the a arms, I took them to a friends shop and had him use his press.

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, I got the first front spring out without any drama, but having a ******* time getting the lower control arm out. Can't seem to get the large hex head bolts/posts to budge.

              Am I doing something wrong or is there a trick to this?

              Thanks!
              Attached Files
              Todd Gilroy
              1960 Tbird Convertible
              Thunderbird Registry #54651

              Comment


              • #8
                Spray penetrating oil (PB Blaster) on the nuts then turn them off first.

                Your bushings have steel sleeves that may have rusted to the bolt shoulders, so spray as much as you can inside after you get the nut off.

                Then, tap the bolt out with the nut loose at first so you don't mess up the threads. Once you get motion, the rest comes easier.

                When reinstalling the arms, I usually put a film of grease on the bolt shanks just to keep water out. The arms rotate on urethane, not on steel. - Dave
                My latest project:
                CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                --Lee Iacocca

                Comment


                • #9
                  Idler arm bushings

                  what is involved with replacing these bushings? Can the arm and bushings be removed laying under the car in the garage? Does it come apart easy? does it go back together as easy as this sounds "Just put the bushings & washers on the idler arm shaft and insert one end through the through the steering link and the other end through the bracket and tighten castle nuts to where the hole lines up and insert cotter pin."
                  I have read some post here that make it sound like a major headache getting the old parts apart (hammering, chiseling etc...). Concours sales the arm with bushings on it for $40 or just the bushings for $17
                  Attached Files
                  Yellow98Cobra
                  1960 Thunderbird HT
                  Data plt# 63A Z 56 15 H 3 4
                  There are 4 pictures of her here, plus a couple of my namesake.
                  http://squarebirds.org/yellow98cobra/resized/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It is not one of the easier jobs that's for sure. The bracket can be removed from the frame so that bushing is a little easier. It's the bushing that is in the steering link that is the real problem getting in and out. It would certainly be easier with the link out of the car if you want to do it that way. A good vice so you can press the bushings in and out helps.

                    John
                    John Pizzi - Squarebirds Administrator

                    Thunderbird Registry #36223
                    jopizz@verizon.net 856-779-9695

                    http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the tips, Dave. I got the rear one out but am still struggling with the one towards the front. I am going to let the PB soak for a while and try it again...and using a longer bolt helps to keep pushing it out once you get it started.
                      Todd Gilroy
                      1960 Tbird Convertible
                      Thunderbird Registry #54651

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Todd, suspension work is **** hard, requires big tools and is not a job for the weak (as you already know). Keep at it and you will get the bolt out. Once you do, remove all the rust so it doesn't fuse together again the next time your car splashes water.

                        Those bolts are available at some of the vendors but they are very expensive. I always reuse my old ones because they don't wear out.

                        Be careful because this work can hurt you badly. Follow your Shop Manual for proper assembly and setup procedures. - Dave
                        My latest project:
                        CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                        "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                        --Lee Iacocca

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well, I won that battle...sort of. Worked the lower arm off the stuck shaft by sliding it off and under the crossmember. Can someone tell me if the shaft in the 2nd photo is supposed to come out?
                          Attached Files
                          Todd Gilroy
                          1960 Tbird Convertible
                          Thunderbird Registry #54651

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Yes, the shaft will come out, not an easy task. Be careful if you hammer on the end, it is quite easy to deform the threads.
                            Carl

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I did not have to remove it on my '58 when I rebuilt the front end. The TRL has great pictures and info for rebuilding the front end

                              The only thing I can say is it's hard work but the drive will be worth it when done
                              sigpic

                              Comment

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