front end rebuild. - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 08:13 AM Thread Starter
 
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front end rebuild.

I will be rebuilding my front end over the weekend and installing new springs. (fun, fun fun.) What pitfalls should I be looking to avoid? I have my pickle forks, spring compressor, ball joint press and a big hammer! I have ordered a rebuild kit from Ames and the front springs. Doing this while the engine is out. I hope everyone has a safe weekend! Thanks
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 11:56 AM
 
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If you have any intention of replacing your brake lines in the near or even far future, replace them while the front end it out of the car.

Be careful when working with the bolts that hold the upper control arms in. It's not difficult to strip the serrations in the frame bracket which then allows the those bolts to spin freely making alignment more difficult.

Try not to beat the bushings out. I've got some old Kent Moore tools that pretty much work exactly like the 2nd method described in this video. Squirt the bushing shells with some rust bust and let them sit for awhile before removing them. They should pop right out

Are you running headers? If so they may come close to the lower rear bolts so put the bolt head on the inside, leaving the threads and nut to go between the control arm bracket and frame.

When completed don't torque down the lower attaching bolts or the upper shaft nuts until the car is on the floor and settled. In your case not until the engine is in and there is full weight on the front end.

That's all I've got. Have fun
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2019, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the info. I am not running headers (at this time). I have a tool like in the video. The only thing I am missing now is ear plugs for any impressionable children that might be with in ear shot. I will post some pics.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-25-2019, 12:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by deanhickey View Post
Thank you for the info. I am not running headers (at this time). I have a tool like in the video. The only thing I am missing now is ear plugs for any impressionable children that might be with in ear shot. I will post some pics.


I don't care for front spring replacement as you can get severely injured, or worse, so be very cautious. Have help nearby or cell phone in the pocket for easy reach if you get into trouble. Some go in easy, others are a fight.

Make sure you set the front spring lower coil end into the stamped pocket on the lower A-arm. If you look, you will see it. This positions, or "clocks," the coil spring correctly.

There are a couple different spring compressors. Make sure you get the correct one for the "older" coil springs. Many auto parts stores rent them out, but they are made for the newer coil overs on the strut type suspension and will not work. Have been given the wrong ones myself and learned this. They do not grip the spring wire well at all. The spring should compress evenly and not begin to arc over at an angle or the compressing fingers just barely hang on.

I believe I used this compressor and you can remove the unequal length coil fingers and use a longer one to replace the short one, thus giving you equal length distance from center to each side of the coil spring. Remove the top hooks and you can see the nut end and washers. This is what I slipped down the shock absorber mounting hole. Then just use the base hooked to the coil spring. https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/...200/22981814-P

In my youth, I used a length of threaded rod and a two short pieces of a leaf spring that I had drilled a hole in for the threaded rod. Insert the coil spring into the frame pocket, then slip the leaf spring section through the coil at the top, slip the threaded rod up from underneath and through the open lower A-arm hole for the shock, and then attach a washer and double nut onto the rod going through the top leaf piece. Then slide the other leaf onto the rod at the bottom and put a washer & nut and tighten down with a wrench to compress. This would compress the coil and draw the lower A-arm up at the same time so I could bolt up the spindle to the ball joints. Occasionally I had to kick, bang, or pry the coil spring into position into the lower A-arm pocket, but no big deal, right? Looking back, might have been a bit crazy and dangerous, but I did not know it nor did my cars. LOL It worked many times.

I installed BB 454 springs in my '68 and it was a fight because they have a high spring rate and are a bear to compress. Had the upper & lower control arms attached to the frame. As I recall, I had the spindle attached to the lower ball joint. Upper ball joint was of course in the upper arm. Photo 1 enclosed prior to installation.

I could not use the compressor I got from the auto parts store as it was designed. I used just the base, had to drill the shock mount hole at top a little oversize, inserted the threaded rod with the nut end and washers through the shock mount hole and screwed the rod into the base of the compressor hooked on the coil spring rounds. Try to get that bottom coil wire into position so it will line-up with that depression in the lower A-arm pocket mentioned earlier. Make sure you have the ball joint grease covers (I replaced the black ones that came with the ball joints with the red ones in the photo) positioned & fitted on the ball joints before installing the spindle.

I then tightened the nut at the top to compress/draw the spring up and into the frame pocket. Placed my floor jack under the lower control arm once I got the spring compressed enough to do so. You cannot jack the spring up and compress it because in my case, no weight from engine/trans to jack up against.

Problem now was that the spring wanted to compress at an angle, rather than straight up into the pocket. Out came my come-along which I hooked to a spring coil and tightened it to draw the spring over and straight. Compressing the spring more, I would bring the lower control arm (with spindle attached) up to the upper ball joint using the jack and drop the ball joint into the spindle hole. If the threaded end did not stick out enough to attach the nut, compress the spring more until you can get the nut on the upper ball joint. You may have to draw in on the come-along again to get it to line up into the lower A-arm pocket. Once you have it compressed enough to get the nut securely on the upper ball joint threads, I tightened the nut up to draw the ball joint into the spindle hole. You can torque all the front-end parts/nuts later, so just get everything tight and secure. Photo 2 shows the floor jack, come-along, and ratchet on the nut to tighten the spring compressor. I taped/covered the new spindle to protect it from any damage.

Once you have the spindle secured to the upper & lower ball joints, you can back off the spring compressor and remove it. The slightly oversized hole of the shock mount will be taken up by the rubber biscuits used by the shock, so not an issue.

May not be the way you do it or experience it, but this was how I got it done.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 04:26 PM Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by PontiacJim View Post
I don't care for front spring replacement as you can get severely injured, or worse, so be very cautious. Have help nearby or cell phone in the pocket for easy reach if you get into trouble. Some go in easy, others are a fight.

Make sure you set the front spring lower coil end into the stamped pocket on the lower A-arm. If you look, you will see it. This positions, or "clocks," the coil spring correctly.

There are a couple different spring compressors. Make sure you get the correct one for the "older" coil springs. Many auto parts stores rent them out, but they are made for the newer coil overs on the strut type suspension and will not work. Have been given the wrong ones myself and learned this. They do not grip the spring wire well at all. The spring should compress evenly and not begin to arc over at an angle or the compressing fingers just barely hang on.

I believe I used this compressor and you can remove the unequal length coil fingers and use a longer one to replace the short one, thus giving you equal length distance from center to each side of the coil spring. Remove the top hooks and you can see the nut end and washers. This is what I slipped down the shock absorber mounting hole. Then just use the base hooked to the coil spring. https://shop.advanceautoparts.com/p/...200/22981814-P

In my youth, I used a length of threaded rod and a two short pieces of a leaf spring that I had drilled a hole in for the threaded rod. Insert the coil spring into the frame pocket, then slip the leaf spring section through the coil at the top, slip the threaded rod up from underneath and through the open lower A-arm hole for the shock, and then attach a washer and double nut onto the rod going through the top leaf piece. Then slide the other leaf onto the rod at the bottom and put a washer & nut and tighten down with a wrench to compress. This would compress the coil and draw the lower A-arm up at the same time so I could bolt up the spindle to the ball joints. Occasionally I had to kick, bang, or pry the coil spring into position into the lower A-arm pocket, but no big deal, right? Looking back, might have been a bit crazy and dangerous, but I did not know it nor did my cars. LOL It worked many times.

I installed BB 454 springs in my '68 and it was a fight because they have a high spring rate and are a bear to compress. Had the upper & lower control arms attached to the frame. As I recall, I had the spindle attached to the lower ball joint. Upper ball joint was of course in the upper arm. Photo 1 enclosed prior to installation.

I could not use the compressor I got from the auto parts store as it was designed. I used just the base, had to drill the shock mount hole at top a little oversize, inserted the threaded rod with the nut end and washers through the shock mount hole and screwed the rod into the base of the compressor hooked on the coil spring rounds. Try to get that bottom coil wire into position so it will line-up with that depression in the lower A-arm pocket mentioned earlier. Make sure you have the ball joint grease covers (I replaced the black ones that came with the ball joints with the red ones in the photo) positioned & fitted on the ball joints before installing the spindle.

I then tightened the nut at the top to compress/draw the spring up and into the frame pocket. Placed my floor jack under the lower control arm once I got the spring compressed enough to do so. You cannot jack the spring up and compress it because in my case, no weight from engine/trans to jack up against.

Problem now was that the spring wanted to compress at an angle, rather than straight up into the pocket. Out came my come-along which I hooked to a spring coil and tightened it to draw the spring over and straight. Compressing the spring more, I would bring the lower control arm (with spindle attached) up to the upper ball joint using the jack and drop the ball joint into the spindle hole. If the threaded end did not stick out enough to attach the nut, compress the spring more until you can get the nut on the upper ball joint. You may have to draw in on the come-along again to get it to line up into the lower A-arm pocket. Once you have it compressed enough to get the nut securely on the upper ball joint threads, I tightened the nut up to draw the ball joint into the spindle hole. You can torque all the front-end parts/nuts later, so just get everything tight and secure. Photo 2 shows the floor jack, come-along, and ratchet on the nut to tighten the spring compressor. I taped/covered the new spindle to protect it from any damage.

Once you have the spindle secured to the upper & lower ball joints, you can back off the spring compressor and remove it. The slightly oversized hole of the shock mount will be taken up by the rubber biscuits used by the shock, so not an issue.

May not be the way you do it or experience it, but this was how I got it done.
Had good luck taking the springs out. A quick question on control arm bushings. on the passenger side I have one oval bushing on the lower control arm. the drivers side are all round bushings. is this normal or did someone do a swap?
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 07:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by deanhickey View Post
Had good luck taking the springs out. A quick question on control arm bushings. on the passenger side I have one oval bushing on the lower control arm. the drivers side are all round bushings. is this normal or did someone do a swap?
Normal. Seems you got whatever you got for that day on the assembly line. Have read several other accounts of the mismatch and they both work, so not a concern. Problem becomes that when you buy a kit, it either has round or oval, so now you may have to buy 2 kits or source out a matching control arm.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-30-2019, 08:29 PM Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by PontiacJim View Post
Normal. Seems you got whatever you got for that day on the assembly line. Have read several other accounts of the mismatch and they both work, so not a concern. Problem becomes that when you buy a kit, it either has round or oval, so now you may have to buy 2 kits or source out a matching control arm.
Bought the kit and will have an extra oval bushing and have ordered round ones. Glad I decided to rebuild the control arms one of the b I was able to push out one bushing with my finger. The deeper I go the more things I find to do. Thanks again and have a great weekend.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 03:26 PM Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by littlericky View Post
If you have any intention of replacing your brake lines in the near or even far future, replace them while the front end it out of the car.

Be careful when working with the bolts that hold the upper control arms in. It's not difficult to strip the serrations in the frame bracket which then allows the those bolts to spin freely making alignment more difficult.

Try not to beat the bushings out. I've got some old Kent Moore tools that pretty much work exactly like the 2nd method described in this video. Squirt the bushing shells with some rust bust and let them sit for awhile before removing them. They should pop right out
https://youtu.be/su--wUHEgJQ

Are you running headers? If so they may come close to the lower rear bolts so put the bolt head on the inside, leaving the threads and nut to go between the control arm bracket and frame.

When completed don't torque down the lower attaching bolts or the upper shaft nuts until the car is on the floor and settled. In your case not until the engine is in and there is full weight on the front end.

That's all I've got. Have fun
Took your advise on the Brake lines.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-20-2019, 10:29 PM Thread Starter
 
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Have been feeling like a fool. Have installed new steering linkage and after getting the idler arm (Moog) in place then attempting to install sway bar (factory) only to find that the new Idler arm blocks the sway bar. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. I have probably made a mistake at some point but can't see it myself.
Thanks,
Dean
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