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Technical discussions specific to 1964-1967, 1968-1970, and 1971-1973 Classic Mustang. Discuss all tech related to in-line six cylinder and V8 powered Vintage Mustangs here.

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Unread 12-19-2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default 1966 mustang front suspension rebuild

Hi all,

I need some opinions--i'd like to completely replace all front end suspension parts on my 1966 mustang coupe--coils springs, shocks, tie rods, the whole ball of wax. I've never really done front end work before. I'm more of an engine, transmission type. But since this would be basically a parts changing deal, I'm wondering how complicated it is and if any special tools are needed. Is this something that I should attempt given my lack of experience, or should I take it somewhere and pay the labor costs?

Thanks.
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Unread 12-19-2010   #2 (permalink)
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My complete change out was my first one, and it wasn't all that bad. There are two things you must have. A coil spring compressor, a a pickle fork, for the ball joints, and other ball type joints the suspension has. Of course a good shop manual would be essential to

Be really careful with the springs, the tension that builds up in them when you compress them, is immense, and could kill you if they would pop loose while out of the car.

A couple things I did was to measure the old tie rods before I took them off, so I could get a fairly close alignment when I put the new ones on. Also when you take the upper control arm off carefully mark and bag the shims where each set went. This will also keep your alignment fairly close to what it was.

You will still probably have to have the front end aligned but it should not be to far off from what it was before you replaced the parts.

Hope this helps
Terry
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Unread 12-19-2010   #3 (permalink)
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I did the whole shooting match on my 66 a few years ago. It really wasn't too bad. Be careful with the springs. I found that a 3lb hammer was just about as good as a pickle fork for releasing ball joints. You'll definitely need a front end align when you're done, but it's really not terribly difficult. You may want to think about doing an A arm drop while you're under there. Again, a simple change.
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Unread 12-19-2010   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks Terry and Jahardy, you just about have me talked into doing it.
Jahardy, what do you mean by an A arm drop?

Also, can you give me a list of parts to buy?

Thanks,
Mike
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Unread 12-19-2010   #5 (permalink)
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Mike,

I found the best deal was to buy a complete suspension rebuild kit. They usually include all you will need, upper and lower control arms, tie rods, drag link and so on. I would do some shopping around because the prices on the kits, vary a lot between the different vendors. CJ's always has free shipping, and with the weight of a total kit, that may be a good deal.

I think he might be talking about lowering the upper control arm, buy drilling 2 new holes where it mounts on the shock tower. I believe that Carrol Shelby did it on the GT Mustangs because it greatly improved the handling of the car. There are several articles I've seen about how to do it and what measurements to use and so on

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Unread 12-20-2010   #6 (permalink)
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Here's a good front end article to read first and it explains the Shelby/Arning 1" drop which puts your tires flatter to the ground which is a big improvement for steering/handling due to tire technology improvements over the past 40yrs. Be sure to have them align it to the new specs for the drop if you do it or it'll steer like crapola.
DazeCars, Suspension 101

The template to do the drop is cheap, drill the holes slow and steady, too fast RPM on the bit and it just dulls it. The double walled steel at the mount is thick.

I rented the removal kit and inner spring compressor from the local parts store, you put down a deposit and get it back in full when you return the tools. I think I found the best kit at Advance, pics below. I also bought all my tie rods in MOOG brand from one of the parts stores. I removed the tie rods as one piece so I could measure the overall length and match it with my newly installed ones, close enough for the drive to the alignment shop.
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Unread 12-20-2010   #7 (permalink)
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This work is fairly easy. I did mine is about 3-4 hours. Work slowly and diligently. You'll need a good jack and some jack stands.

I made the spring compressor on the DazeCars website. I can ship it to you along with my Shelby Drop template and 17/32" drill bit if you'll ship it back when you're finished. This goes for anyone else on the Forum.

The 2" UCA drop is definitely for real. My car feels much more nimble and coupled with new carb and headers is much more fun to drive. I've had more fun wrenching on this car and it's awesome to hear about you folks wanting to get into it. You'll learn more about your car by getting up close and personal.
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Unread 12-20-2010   #8 (permalink)
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i did a suspension rebuild my self. its not very difficult. i changed the LCA's, springs, shocks, sway bar, tie rods. it defiantly takes at least a whole afternoon, but its worth it. like its said alignment is necessary, and if you do a shelby drop there is a pretty specific alignment you need to correct the geometry, you can find threads about it every where, just type in shelby drop or performance alignment. as for special tools, spring compressors (internal ones work alot better then external), pickle fork, big hammer. (btw i am 18, and did this about 5 months ago by my self)
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Unread 12-22-2010   #9 (permalink)
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I'm referring to dropping the upper control arm 1" by drilling new mounting holes (and plating over the old ones). It was a "stock" modification for 65-66 shelby racers. The drop improves the steering geometry on the car...= better grip through corners and more g force without breaking tires loose. Careful about dropping the upper A arm too much. Too far and you risk having the upper ball joint bind....Not good for handling. If you're using all "stock" parts, keep the drop fairly tame. If you're using new upper A arms with wedged ball joints, go for the gusto. There are lots of threads out about how much to drop, redrilling, etc.
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Unread 12-27-2010   #10 (permalink)
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thanks all, I appreciate the great info. Any suggestions on where to buy the front suspension rebuild kit?
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Unread 12-27-2010   #11 (permalink)
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I would try NPD (NPDLink | National Parts Depot)

or

CJ Pony Parts (CJ Pony Parts - Ford Mustang Parts)

or

California Mustang (DELUXE FRONT SUSPENSION KIT, 1967 Mustang and 1966-67 Falcon.)

Also, let me know if you'd like to use the internal spring compressor.
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Unread 12-31-2010   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hipcheck22 View Post
The 2" UCA drop is definitely for real. My car feels much more nimble and coupled with new carb and headers is much more fun to drive.
I do not recommend a 2" UCA drop for street use - you have to add a negative wedge kit and other issues need to be resolved.

A 1" drop should do fine.
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Unread 12-31-2010   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnguy1004 View Post
There are two things you must have. A coil spring compressor, a a pickle fork, for the ball joints, and other ball type joints the suspension has.
Terry - the pickle fork is a Chevy tool - you do not need them on a Ford.
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Unread 12-31-2010   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cobra6 View Post
Terry - the pickle fork is a Chevy tool - you do not need them on a Ford.
Sorry, but this is just bad information. To merely state that it's not needed without suggesting another tool to use implies that once the tie rod nuts or other ball joint nuts are remove the joint comes right apart, which is not the case. I'm sure what you're probably going after is that pickle forks were not recommended for use on Fords. If you have nothing else to use, gentle taps on the pickle fork will knock lose most, if not all, of the ball joint connections. It especially doesn't matter on the ball joint or tie rod anyways if they're going to be replaced, but is for sure less damaging than pounding on the stud with a hammer to knock the joint out.

To the original poster, I'd recommend polyurethane bushings with graphite. The graphite was initially intended to make them softer but it was found to be more beneficial in that it reduced squeak. Polyurethane is considered a 'performance' bushing as they are a little stiffer than rubber and they'll last much longer too. I went with polyurethane bushings all around and Moog joints.

You can get the bushings from Performance Suspension Technology or Suspension.com. Bruce at Suspension.com is a Mustang suspension expert who used to design sway bars for them a long time ago, and occassionally he'd bump elbows with Shelby and Arning. He is also the original creator of polyurethane bushings, when he originally started using the material as roller skate wheels. He's very helpful to talk to.

If I were to do it again I'd probably go with PST just because their package comes with everything you need and you don't have to buy the components individually like you do at Suspension, which ended up costing me a little bit more. But for my first suspension job, Suspension was probably best because I wouldn't have got the expert support from PST.

Anyways, components you will want to replace if doing a complete suspension job in the front:

--new tie rod ends, inner and out (pay the premium to go Moog here)
--New upper control arm shaft and bushings (the original one tends to oval out).
--new bushings for upper control arm coil spring perch
--new bushings for lower control arm (you can't replace the ball joint however, so you may be better of just getting new lower control arms that come with new ball joint and bushings)
--new upper control arm ball joint
--new sway bar bushings and endlinks (you should really consider upgrading to a larger sway bar too, it will improve handling substantially)
--new coil spring insulator
--new coil spring (620 spring 1" shorter offers some handling benefit)
--new shocks
--new front strut rod bushings

Whew...I think I remembered it all. Note the use of polyurethane bushings on the front strut rod bushings is a point of controversy because people contend that the bushing is too hard for the strut rod and will snap it. I would suggest anyone to give Bruce at suspension.com a call, and he'll give you an earful for an hour as to why this is completely substantiated. A mustang enthusiast himself, he wouldn't sell a product if it was dangerous, and still says to this day that if he sees proof of this claim, he'll stop selling it. The strut rod is spring steel and opposite force applied to it from a polyurethane bushing is is not mechanically strong enough on its own to snap spring steel.
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Unread 01-01-2011   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizer View Post
Sorry, but this is just bad information. To merely state that it's not needed without suggesting another tool to use implies that once the tie rod nuts or other ball joint nuts are remove the joint comes right apart, which is not the case. I'm sure what you're probably going after is that pickle forks were not recommended for use on Fords. If you have nothing else to use, gentle taps on the pickle fork will knock lose most, if not all, of the ball joint connections. It especially doesn't matter on the ball joint or tie rod anyways if they're going to be replaced, but is for sure less damaging than pounding on the stud with a hammer to knock the joint out.
Well.......... it's not bad information, maybe incomplete -I have completely rebuilt 6 front ends on '65 - '66 Mustangs by myself, and I have never used a pickle fork.
What I should have said is it's a lot easier when you have a good ball joint tool, instead of a "fork".

The forks always damage the spindle, a little, or a lot, depending on the design of the fork, and how hard you have to hit it. Aside from appearance (important on show cars) you need to file down any resulting sharp edges to avoid damage to the boot. The fork, of course, destroys the boot, while the OE style screw tool doesn't - (see picture below).

As mentioned earlier, when doing a UCA drop, you have a prime opportunity to rebuild the UCA bushing for better grease-ability and improved caster. The first thing you will need to do is remove the UCA from the spindle. The easiest way to do this without damaging the ball joint is to make a ball joint removal tool out of a couple ” bolts and a ” all-thread connector. I made one with two pieces of all-thread, two ” nuts and one all-thread connector. When rebuilding a UCA it really makes sense to replace the shafts and ball joints with new parts. The best source for new UCA rebuild parts at about half the price of normal is (that I have found) is www.opentrackerracingproducts.com
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Last edited by Cobra6; 01-01-2011 at 01:06 AM. Reason: added the pic in the next post
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