Sunday, December 28, 2014

Rear Suspension and Axle Removal

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback rear suspension axle removal
Let me introduce the sickness known as the 'While-we're-at-it-itis'...this is where a job, no matter how simple, quickly escalates into a full-blown multi-day project. From what I gather, this illness affects all Mustang owners at some point. For me, it happens pretty much anytime I stumble into the garage.

For example - we have metal work to do on the floor. And we have to replace the exhaust system. So, after that's out, we might as well replace the rear springs while we're at it ('cause they're shot anyway), and since the rear end has to come out, we might as well spiff up the axle as well...

To be fair, all this stuff is on my list anyway. But it's amazing to me how quickly a simple task becomes a bigger job with a much broader scope. So, consider yourself warned!

The rear suspension on this car is worn-out and needs to be replaced. The bushings are all shot, the springs are showing age at all the connection points, and the shocks are bad news in general. None of the old parts will be reused. There are lots of choices on what to install in its place, but we're going to keep the basic layout the same. I'll get new shocks, springs and hardware to hold them up to the car and connected to the rear axle and detail what I purchase and why a little later on.


Drivers side suspension, complete with homemade traction bars (very non-stock). Notice that hard brake like all bent up? I'm betting it's because that's a '67 brake line on a '58 rear end. But that's another story/post.



Passenger side suspension. And it looks even worse in person.


In order to fully remove the rear suspension, the rear axle needs to come out as well. And once the axle is out, the car is essentially immobilized. So be sure you're ready to commit to this step before you get all 'go-fever' and rip it all apart. Also, Liquid Wrench every bolt and nut before starting. For the truly stubborn nuts, you may need to resort to a propane torch (a.k.a "The blue wrench")

My rear axle, like lots of parts of this car, is also 'special'. It's the storied Ford 9-inch rear end, but it didn't come on this Mustang originally, and this will present some challenges later.

Before lifting the car up, I removed the bottom nut on the shock absorbers and loosened the rear tire lug nuts. Below, you see the rear axle held in place to the car with the leaf springs and the old air shocks. For the record, those air shocks will be the source of a lot of the rework that I'll end up having to do on the rear floorpan area. Air Shocks + Unibody Mustang = Bad idea.


Get the car on jackstands - one set under the axle (unloaded) and another set up under the car near rear torque boxes. Use these to support the car. Disconnect the rear axle hydraulic brake line at the floor pan. Then remove the top nut on the shocks and pull the them out.

Disconnect drive shaft from the yoke on the rear axle. Don't forget to mark the U-joint/yoke orientation before removal.

The drive shaft comes out easily enough. Just pull the U-bolts off each universal joint. A jack will work if your Apprentice has gone missing. Protect the ends and store for a rainy day project.


Disconnect the parking brake cables from the handle/lever assembly points. Here are the cables connected at the joining bracket...[ you'll notice here the engine and drivetrain are missing - be assured that's just your imagination, as that hasn't been posted yet;) ]


...and then  I removed the lever arm (which I'm holding) which allows the cables to go slack....

 for removal at the frame rail connections - there's one for each cable....just pull the clip pin out....


...and pull the cable out towards the center of the car. Coil the cable and set it aside so it won't trip you up when moving the axle around.


Remove the nuts holding the shock plates to the axle U-bolts. This is where I had to make use of the handheld propane torch for the first time. Make sure there's not a lot of upward tension on the axle.



Lift the axle off the leaf springs and support the axles weight on jackstands. You can just see the stand holding the torque box here behind the stand holding the axle. There's also one holding the yoke of the rear end.


Remove the rear shackles holding the leaf springs in place. Respect The Spring: go slow and make sure you know where the tension is. Gently lower the springs to the ground. Then 'just' extricate the rear axle. There's several ways to do this - just be carefull! I used three people and a big furniture dolly. There are many ways to skin this particular cat. My advice here - really think about how this will go before you get under the car. The rear axle assembly (8- or 9-inch) weighs close to 200 pounds without wheels. Be careful!


Remove the front bolt holding each leaf spring in place. This bolt is notorious for being rust-seized in place and needing special persuasion to get out (read: Sawzall and carbide blades). Mine came right out with liquid wrench only. But, what can I say, I lead a charmed life.



(Extra Credit) Design and fabricate a dedicated wheeled stand for the rear end to free up your jack stands. Well done, my young Apprentice! The Force is strong with this one.



And remember, save all your old parts!






Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dual Exhaust System Removal

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback dual exhaust removal If you've been looking at the earlier pictures of the Mustang, you've no doubt noticed that it's generally in good shape, but everything on the bottom of the car is covered in decades of gunk. A lot of that gunk is from the slow leak of transmission fluid that was mixed with dirt and dust from from all those dirt roads in Colorado that the Previous Owner (PO) was driving on. As a result, the bottom of the floorpan and trunk, as well as the rear axle are in serious need of a degreasing and cleaning.

This also resulted in an exhaust system that, short of the exhaust manifolds attached to the engine themselves, is not worth saving. It's rusted through in several places, and the bends are more like kinks instead of mandrel-bent tubing that I want. Mandrel bends preserve the diameter of the tube through the entire bend, unlike a bent pipe which will pinch the pipe and introduce restrictions to the exhaust flow. Remember, an internal combustion engine is essentially a big air pump - unnecessary restrictions on the intake or exhaust side will reduce it's potential. 

The NPD paper parts catalogs have a great section that illustrates all the components of different exhaust systems of various years  The exhaust system appeared to be the correct dual exhaust system for use with a 1967 289 V-8, but the transverse muffler is date-coded from the early 1970's and the exhaust hangers at the back of the floor pan are just big lag screws forced through the floor pan (not the correct hangers I expected to find). These should be attached to a dual-bolt bracket that connects to a reinforcement plate inside the passenger cabin. I think this means that this was not actually a dual exhaust car from the factory - from what I have read, the reinforcement plates were installed at the factory for all dual exhaust cars. I find that confusing since all the other GT options are on the car (fog-lights, front disc brakes, etc.)  I will eventually install the correct reinforcement plates and use the correct hangers for a new dual exhaust system. Good Lady Wife has informed me that the car should have an exhaust note that is so loud and awesome that it'll wake the neighbors anytime it's fired up! As you wish, my love...

So, out comes the exhaust system. I removed the clutch Z-bar assembly in the engine bay to get at the left manifold bolts, but no luck. So I broke out my trusty Sawzall and cut the pipes. Even this is tricky as the saw was very awkward to get into position. And yes, I know it would have been easier to pull the rear axle first. This is, after all, my first rodeo.

Here's a shot of the rear end before the hammer (and Sawzall) came down:


There are hangers at the end of the floor pan that have to come out. I don't have a good shot of the hangers in place - it's a tight area to get into - so I'll just show you what it looked like after it's all out.

Drivers side - the two small holes are where the lag screws were holding the hanger. The big hole is where I removed the rear seat belt and found it was held in place by a few fender washers between the bracket and the floor. Yikes! It's a mess, no doubt, and there is some real metal work to be done here to get it back into shape.



And the passenger side - not a lot better. The holes on the right were where the hanger was connected - the large hole is for one of the seat belt brackets.  Notice the cracks in the floor (called the shock mounting reinforcement panel) and a bunch of screws that should not be there. Greasy, oily, spider-webbed, cracked and generally gross. Just another mess to fix.



There are also hangers at the end of the rear frame rails that come out. I just cut the rubber section on each one so I could control when it dropped out.



And that's about it. The system is really only held in at three locations - the exhaust manifolds, the rear floor pans and the rear frame rails. If the rear axle had been out I could have slide the entire thing out in one piece. Instead, I had to cut each set of pipes at the muffler and weasel each section out in pieces. This is fine is you're not keeping any of the old system.


The mistake I made here was getting in a hurry to recycle all this without cutting the exhaust tips off - they could have been reused, and that's an $80 mistake right there, and why I added the 'keep all old parts' commandment back in my earlier post.




Saturday, December 6, 2014

Front End teardown

1967 Ford Mustang Fastback remove fenders Removing the front end sheetmetal and associated hardware is well documented on the web and there are lots of videos and such that show how to get down to a bare front frame. It's a good thing, too, because looking back now I see that I took very few pictures along the way. This was clearly a case of 'go-fever', where it was easier to take the next part off rather than take the time to photograph and note what was happening.

I did, however, have a plan. After researching online the best way to do this, and reading through the shop manual, I made a list of the order of disassembly:

0. remove hood. I list it as zero because it's not required, but I was going to have to do it anyway.
1. remove front valance panel
2. remove front bumper
3. remove grill trim
4. remove grill (left the fog lights and lite-up horse corral in place)
5. remove stone guard
6. remove bumper-to-frame braces
7. lots of brackets and clips around the grill
8. remove rear splash shield hardware
9. and finally, all those bolts that you can see in the engine bay holding fender in place
9a. ...and the bolts you can't see that are still holding the fender down - two on the bottom at the rocker panel, one from inside the car down behind the kick panel, and finally the one at the top rear of the fender that you can reach only once the door is open.

I'm slow and this took me about an hour and a half. But NEXT TIME I'll go slower and take more pics. I'm positive I'll pay for rushing this step later.

 Pulling the hood - we used 3 people, two to hold, one to unbolt. I carefully drilled pilot holes through the hinge and the hood (carefully!) for registration marks for reassembly. We placed towels at the gap between the cowl and hood to keep any movement to a minimum.


Any monkey can take it apart....


The valance panel came off first, but that might be a bad idea, as I scratched it on the bumper guards on the way out.


 Front bumper and hardware. There are brackets at the ends that were pretty tricky to get off. In the end, lots of Liquid Wrench saved the day.


 Grill trim and hardware. Go easy - all of this is easily bent and scratched.


 Grill and fog lights. Don't ya just love that light-up grill?


 Bumper guards. Also very hard to get out. But surprisingly enough, no broken bolts in the whole process.


 Stone deflector. I have to remember to take all these pieces to the body shop when we get it painted, so I've started putting PAINT THIS on the boxes when I pack this stuff up.


 And now it look like this.


 I was going to leave these bumper brackets on for alignment purposes, but I ended up taking them off after repeatedly whacking my shins on them. I made some measurements of the brackets on the frame before pulling them off in case there's a lot of slop in the mounting bolts.


 The offending bumper supports and brackets, no longer able to eat any human flesh that wanders by at shin-height.


 Fenders are off and strapped up to the wall. The headlight buckets and front fender guards are still on there. Notice the 'Hi-Po 289' fender badges on there. They're not standard issue in 1967.


There's a good deal of rust hiding under the driver-side bumper bracket, which means I probably have more metal to patch later. 


Next up, the exhaust system has to come off so we can get the rear end out.