I purchased a couple of extra materials from Lowes before starting the install. I bought 1” wide 1/8” thick steel to fabricate a backing plate (described below). Also, the nuts provided are Nylocks. I bought regular nuts so that I could test fit pieces during the install and save the Nylocks for final installation. Also, at least in my case, a windshield wiper removal tool also proved well worth the cost ($13).
The plastic covers over the windshield wiper area need to be removed.
The passenger side is easy enough. Loosen the plastic Phillips head screws in the two fasteners nearest the engine bay. Lift the front edge and pull gently. The fingers along the back of the cover will release. Now’s a good time to check your cabin filter.
The driver’s side is a bit more involved as the wiper arms have to come off first. Put a piece of tape on the windshield under each wiper blade. Mark the position of the wiper blade. This will allow you to reinstall the wiper arms in the correct position. The Ford manual implies it should not be difficult to remove the arms. At first, I had a horrible time trying to get the arm off the shaft. Fortunately, I discovered a specific windshield wiper arm removal tool at my local auto parts store. Remove the rubber cap to expose the retaining nut. Loosen the nut but do not remove it. The tool comes with a thumb wheel but I couldn’t get enough leverage on it to dislodge the arm. I bought a bolt that fit the tool so that I could use my ratchet. After a loud pop, I knew I could then pull the arm off. With the arms removed, the cover comes off the same as the passenger side.
I installed the brace onto the strut tower studs. The rear of the brace can move up or down a bit on the firewall. The backing plate that goes in the wiper well wants to sit flat at its rear attaching point. This means the backing plate dictates where the holes should be drilled. I took out the brace and bolted the backing plate on (using the regular nuts). I then measured the difference from the top of the brace and the top of the backing plate. I unbolted the pieces, put the brace back in and then held the backing plate at the proper height. I measured from the top of the plate to the top of the firewall. I then subtracted the previously noted difference and measured down from the top of the firewall to the top of the brace. Holding the brace at this height allowed me to know that the holes drilled from the engine compartment would line with the backing plate on the other side. I marked the passenger side hole.
I took out the brace again and drilled at the marked spot. An 18” long drill bit made this job easier. I put the brace in and bolted the passenger side. This allowed me to use the brace itself as a drill guide for the driver’s side hole. I placed rags on top of the plastic intake manifold so that the extra long drill bit wouldn’t scratch it.
Access to the driver’s side nut was very limited due to the wiper assembly. I removed the retaining bolts at the wiper motor and near the fender. This allowed the assembly to be pivoted on the remaining bolt at the center of the car. I was able to swing the assembly up to gain enough room to put on the temporary nut.
With the backing plate in place and acting as the guide I drilled into the sheetmetal at the bottom of the windshield. Attaching to this point is necessary because the firewall is not a structural element. It is just a flexible piece of sheetmetal that separates the engine compartment from the wiper area.
I took out the brace and backing plate. I cleaned up the metal shavings and painted the drilled areas. I had touch up paint but color isn’t critical since none of it will be seen.
I was concerned that the holes in the sheetmetal at the base of the windshield could oval over time. I made a small plate so that the sheetmetal is sandwiched between the backing plate on top and my new piece on bottom. Using the backing plate as a guide, I drilled two holes in the previously mentioned 1/8” steel. I traced the shape of the backing plate onto the metal and cut it to size. A Dremel tool with a cut off wheel worked well. I test fit the new piece and then painted it.
Once all of the paint was dry, I installed everything for the last time using the Nylocks. As before, the driver’s side firewall nut required me to pivot the wiper assembly up. It was also tough getting the nut and washer on the driver’s side at the base of the windshield. I put a couple dabs of Super Glue between the nut and the washer so that I could get them both started onto the downward facing bolt at one time. I had to pivot the wiper assembly down at this point to gain a little more room.
I reinstalled the two wiper assembly bolts, the driver’s side cover and then the passenger side cover. I put the wiper arms back in their proper position by lining them up with my marks. I then tightened the nuts down to 15 lb/ft as per the manual and reinstalled the rubber covers.
Obviously a bit more work and a bit more invasive than a simple two point brace but I’m pleased with the results.