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© 1998-2008 Joe Weaver

 

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Front

Suspension

Part 4

Assembly & Installation

Front Frame Bumper

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Replacing the frame bumpers is not difficult as long as the front springs are removed, and the retaining nuts are not rusted. The bumper retaining nut is inside the shock tower and very difficult or impossible to get at with the spring in place. The red arrow in both photos above point to the approximate location of the bumper nut. It is easiest to get to this nut from the top of the shock tower on the engine compartment side. It is possible or even likely that the nuts may be rusted to the point they are unremovable. In such a case, if you can turn the nut hard enough with a ratchet or breaker bar to break the threaded stud, then the bumper will simply fall out; however, this would be difficult to do since getting a socket on the nut from inside the engine compartment requires the use of a universal joint and extensions and putting enough force on the nut to break the stud is unlikely to happen. If you can not get the nut off, you are left with no resort but to cut through the stud. I did this by using an old screwdriver to pry the edge of the bumper (green arrow in left photo above) down far enough to get a hacksaw blade in to cut the stud.  Both photos above show the upper arm in contact with the frame bumper (note also the angle of the lower control arm -- as will be seen later, although it doesn't ride quite this high, this is close to where the suspension will ride if the upper control arm mountings are lowered which makes the upper arm contact the bumper more often).

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Install the new frame bumper by inserting its stud into the hole (left photo) and installing the nut on the stud from inside the spring compartment (right photo). Replacement bumpers may look considerable different in size from the original stock ones.

Installing Control Arms and Spindle

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I chose to attach the upper and lower control arms to the spindle on the workbench and then install the assembly in the car; however, installing the individual components in the car is an equally desirable method. If you choose to assemble these three parts on the workbench and install them in the car as an assembly, and you are concerned about preserving the integrity of the paint or other finish on the parts, you will want to spread a blanket or other soft medium on the floor or workbench during assembly.

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One of the more common mistakes made on the front suspension is to over tighten the castleated nuts on the suspension and steering. As mentioned previously, the holes for the ball joints and tie rod end in the spindle are tapered, and the stud on the ball joints and tie rod end are also tapered. When these studs are inserted into their respective holes and tightened they bind against each other for a really tight and secure fit. In fact, they bind so tightly that a pickle fork or a special puller is needed to separate the two pieces later. When the nuts are tightened more than the specified torque the two pieces are pulled into an even tighter bind which is very difficult to separate. The shop manual specifies a range of torque for all tightening. All of these nuts are "castleated". When tightening them, use a torque wrench and tighten to the lower torque specification. Then remove the socket and see if one of the slots in the nut line up with the hole in the stud. If it does, install the cotter pin and move on. If it doesn't line up, use the torque wrench to continue tightening the nut just enough to line up a slot with the hole, then install the cotter pin. Make sure you use a cotter pin of the correct size for the hole and the castleations on the nut. A variety of cotter pins is usually available in a kit available at most auto parts stores.

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If you are installing the upper control arms in the stock mounting location you are ready to install the control arm/spindle assembly in the car. If you are lowering the mounting point for the upper control arm you will need to drill the new holes. The photo above shows the template and hole being drilled for the Negative Wedge Camber kit discussed previously. If you are only lowering the upper arms 1" try to find or have made a template similar to the one in this photo since getting the holes in the exact right place can be difficult without one. After drilling new holes, be sure to protect the new bare metal from rust & corrosion by daubing some primer (or paint that doesn't require primer) into the newly drilled holes. After the new holes are drilled and protected you are ready to install the control arm/spindle assembly in the car.

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The small arm on the spindle for the tie rod end goes toward the rear of the car. Although the control arm/spindle assembly is not overly heavy it can be awkward to lift it into place if the fender is installed. The place that painted the car offered to install the fenders at no additional cost so I decided to have them do it rather than risk damaging the paint while transporting them home separately and installing them myself. However, it would have been far easier to drill the new upper arm mounting holes and to install this assembly without the fenders installed. To install the assembly make sure the studs on the pivot arm are pointing straight out then lift the assembly up to the holes and slide the studs carefully into the holes so as to not damage the threads. Again, if you are using the stock mounting holes, before you tighten the nuts on the studs make sure to install the original (or cleaned up and refurbished) shims between the upper arm pivot and the frame so that the wheels will be at least somewhat aligned. If you are lowering the front end try to align the wheels as best you can as discussed later in this section. As seen in the right photo, after the upper arm is installed the lower arm will dangle free. Now position the lower arm frame bushing into its receptacle on the car frame and install the bolt and nut.

Installing the Strut Rod

If possible, it is easier to install the strut rod before installing the spring since it is easier to move the lower arm up and down which helps in getting the bolts in place.

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The three photos above show three different types of strut rod bushings. The top photo shows one where the front bushing is somewhat cylindrical and the aft bushing is tapered. Although the supplier I got it from insists it is for a '64 Falcon with a V8, the bushing fits quite loose on the strut rod so I chose to not install it. The one in the left photo above consists of two approximately equal size cylindrical rubber bushings and this particular bushing is installed on my  '65 hardtop. The bushing in the right photo above is the one I installed in this car. The front bushing needs to have the metal sleeve (seen in the center of the right photo above) installed in it prior to installing the bushing in the car.

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I smeared some silicon grease (seen below) inside the bushing and on the sleeve and then put the two inside the jaws of a vice and slowly closed the vise until the sleeve was fully inserted in the bushing (as is seen in the photo above).

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Before installing the rod, apply some silicon lubricant such as a swimming pool-type lubricant as seen in the photos above. This will help keep moisture from getting under the bushing and rusting the bushing sleeve and the rod itself while not damaging the rubber as regular wheel bearing or chassis grease would.  

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The left photo above shows the silicon grease on the rod prior to sliding the bushing on the rod -- spread it around liberally. Although the right photo shows a different bushing than I installed, the procedure will be the same for any bushing. First place the thick metal washer (red arrow in right photo above) on the rod (one washer has a larger opening than the other one and is the only one that will slide all the way back on the rod), then place the aft bushing on the rod (green arrow in right photo above). Note that the bushing set you buy may include new washers, or it may only include the rubber bushings. As mentioned previously, I had my strut rods and large washers CAD plated and then I powder coated them for added corrosion resistance. These two things, along with the silicon grease, should protect these components very well.

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This view is looking the from the rear of the front wheel well inside the of the fender, and is looking forward between the lower control arm and the spindle. The green arrow is pointing to the forward mounting location of the strut rod to the frame. The red arrow is pointing to one of the bolt holes for mounting the strut rod to the lower control arm. You can either install the rod from this vantage, starting behind the spindle and moving the rod forward inserting the tip of the rod into the mounting hole, or you can start from the front pushing the rear of the rod into the space between the lower arm and the spindle till the rod clears the front mounting hole and then insert the tip of the rod into the mounting hole (again, where the green arrow is pointing). If you have refinished all the parts be sure to take care not to bang the strut rod (or any of the other components) into the other parts thus damaging the new finish.

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Before installing the front bushing and nut, install the rear of the rod onto the lower control arm as seen in the photo above. The red arrow points to the steering arm stop which mounts on top of the strut rod (this photo shows it below the strut rod which is incorrect). Its function is to limit the amount the steering can travel so the tires will not rub on the chassis or fenders. Be sure to keep left and right stops on the correct sides or the turning radius of the car will be much wider than designed because the stop on the wrong side will contact the spindle sooner in a turn than the correct stop will The green arrows point to the the two mounting bolts for the strut rod on the lower arm. Lifting the lower arm up (preferably with a jack), and pushing it toward the back of the car will assist in getting the bolts into the holes. The blue arrow is simply for reference and points to the mounting hole for the stabilizer bar link. As an aside, note also in this photo, just below and to the right of the red arrow, that the left outer tie rod end is not stock, it is a special one to use with power steering when the Granada disc brake conversion is made. These tie rod ends are easily available through most Mustang suppliers. As a point of interest, the right photo shows one of two identical strut rods that were on this car when I bought it in 1972; note that the steering stop was cast as part of the rod rather than two separate pieces as seen in the left photo. I have not seen this rod on any other Falcon or Mustang.

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The left photo is looking from the front of the car toward the left (driver's) side suspension. The red arrow points to where the strut rod tip is sticking through its mounting hole. Install the front bushing, washer and nut on the rod to complete the installation. With the stock bushings, the curved edges of the washer point in towards the rubber; however, as can be seen in the right photo, the bushing set on my '65 came with its own special outer washer and is stamped with instructions that the curved edge be positioned away from the rubber so be sure to check any installation instructions or markings that came with your bushing set. Note also in the left photo the angle of the front portion of the strut rod to the frame. This is because the lower arm is at its full down position. Tightening the nut on the strut rod in this angle is very difficult.

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As seen in this photo it is much easier to tighten and torque the nut if the suspension is raised with a jack. This lowers the angle of the front of the rod so a socket and extension will fit fully on the nut and also clear the frame (which is another reason for doing this installation prior to installing the spring). After the bushing and washer are installed, install the nut and make sure you torque the nut to to the proper specification.

This is the end of the Front Suspension Edition

Part 4

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Feel free to save this page to your computer for your personal use and future reference--no other use is authorized without prior written permission from me. All illustrations from the 1964 or 1965 Falcon Shop Manuals used pursuant to permission granted by Ford Motor Company. Disclaimer: This site is not intended to instruct or teach anyone in proper or safe methods of working on or maintaining any type of vehicle or use of any tool and the author takes no responsibility for the use of the information contained herein.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at joe@joesfalcon.com

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