Friday, October 30, 2015

Power Steering linkage removal

Before I can put the car up on a frame jig (that I have yet to design and build), I need to get all the parts off the car that are attached to frame sections that will be replaced. With the suspension off, all that's left is the steering system.

All Mustangs had an older type of steering system called 'recirculating ball' up until 1974 with the introduction of the Mustang II when 'rack-and-pinon' steering became the norm. The vast majority of modern cars use rack-and-pinion steering, so most folks under the age of 50 who've never owned a car made before the oil crisis of the 1970's probably haven't seen the older recirculating ball-type, myself included. I'll point out the parts as they come off the car and hopefully give an idea of how it's supposed to work.

The factory service manual is invaluable in this effort - there's lots of good details in there that help spell out how all this fits together. And I hit all these parts with Liquid Wrench a day or so before starting.

67 Mustang power steering linkage
The overall view of the steering system, with nothing else in the way. On the right, the steering column comes in from the cabin and connects to the steering box.

67 Mustang steering box
Close-up view of the steering box. This is the part that converts a turning steering wheel into a left/right motion of the front wheels. The bottom of the box is connected to a pitman arm which ties the box and the center link (or 'drag link).

Here's a close-up view of the pitman arm on the center link. On my car, it's actually connected to the power steering control valve, which is mounted on the end of the center link.

67 Mustang power steering control valve
Here's a view of the other side of the power steering control valve. This guy is what directs the power steering fluid to a hydraulic control ram that pushes or pulls the center link left or right. The control valve sits out in the open wheel well near the drivers side wheel. As such, it's subject to lots of dirt and abuse as the car rolls along. These parts are also notorious for leaking if not properly maintained, and mine is no exception. So, after a while, a layer of power steering fluid and dirt turns into a grimy, nasty mess that is caked on not just the control valve, but all over the bottom of the engine bay.

This pic gives a nice idea of the state of the system and the bottom of the car as a whole. The leaking power steering has resulted in an oily grime layer over the entire area. It's also a good view of the intersection of the power steering control valve, hoses and ram cylinder.  Nasty, nasty, nasty....

67 Mustang power steering ram cylinder
Working down the center link towards the passenger side of the car, the power steering control ram is connected near the center of the control link. This is where the push/pull action of power steering is applied to the steering system. On the left and right of the control ram connection, you can see the inner tie rod ends also connected to the center link. Tie rods - as you might guess - tie the center link to the wheels.

On the far end of the center link is the connection to the idler arm. The idler is mounted to the passenger side frame rail and provides a stable rotation point for the center link as it moves left and right. It's also supposed to help provide some return-to-center force on the steering by way of the integral rubber bushings in the arm. Naturally, all these rubber bits are toast on my car.

My token sideways pic. 
All these pieces are held together with press-fit bolts and castle nuts with cotter pins. While some folks will suggest a pickle-fork to break these joints, I decided to use pitman arm pullers (on loan from Autozone) to reduce the chance of damaging any components. My plan to to have a factory-style steering system with newer components as needed - no rack-and-pinon conversions here - so I want to keep as much as I can for reuse. In particular, I want to be careful with the steering box, pitman arm, and center link.

67 Mustang removing tie rods
Using the pitman arm puller to remove the tie rods from the center link. The control ram came off in the same manner. Just seat the puller as shown, rotate the pullers' captive bolt to push the tie rod bolt out. Each of these bolts let out a 'BANG' as they let go because they're under some load by the puller. Be careful, wear eye protection. The hammer is there mainly to scare to parts into submitting to the pitman arm puller. I didn't have to use it...much.

Pulling the idler arm off the center link. Many turns later, there's a bang and a the arm is off. The idler needs to be unbolted from both the bracket and center link ends before the pulling starts. 

The idler arm bracket is mounted to the frame rail with two bolts through the rail. I think I get a new bracket when I order a new idler arm. But I'm keeping all of the old parts for reference as new parts come in to make sure they match. Good Lady Wife is starting to cast an impatient eye towards my growing pile of parts in the backyard....

 The power steering ram cylinder mounts to the frame via this bracket. Two bolts connect the bracket to the frame via captive nuts. Be careful unbolting the bracket or you could twist the captive nuts out of the frame rail. That's bad. Remember - Liquid Wrench is your friend! Above the bracket you can see the three bolts that hold the steering box to the frame rail.

Blamo! The steering linkage is out. I don't have a pic of the pitman arm coming off the steering box because it was the hardest part of this whole effort to get off. Patience pays off, and it made a bigger bang than all the others.

67 Mustang stock power steering linkage
Here's the linkage out of the car, minus the pitman arm and steering box. Also notice the sway bar and brackets at the top that I pulled out - just about the easiest thing to take off the car. Interesting note - the sway bar measures 15/16" diameter which I think is correct for '67 Shelby GT350's or Competition Handling Package-equipped cars. I'm reusing the sway bar and the center link for sure. I'm still debating if I want to reinstall a rebuilt power steering system or convert the car to manual steering. I want to avoid the floaty, over-boosted feel of a 60's power steering system in a car this light. But I also need to be able to maneuver the car in a parking lot, so... 

Ready for some Heavy Metal R&R (Remove and Replace).

All of this took a solid single afternoon to get off the car. It's not really hard, but I chalk that up to using the right tools and the abundance of leaking hydraulic fluid all over the bottom of the car keeping things from getting rusted in place. I'm running out of parts to take off the car, so at some point, I'm going to have to start actually fixing things. 

Up next - steering column and steering box removal, and then frame jig design and build. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Front Suspension and Brake Removal.

Many, many pics in this post. Now that I have a bunch of bent and damaged metal to replace in the engine bay, all the parts that hang off the front of the car have to come off so I can get the car on a frame jig.  When considering whether or not to to a full teardown on this car, the entire front end was evaluated to see what could be saved. The short answer is "not much". So I kind of already expected to do this work.

Per the original owner, the car came with the Competition Handling package, which is even stiffer than the GT suspension, and naturally harder to get parts. So I plan on building the car back to an improved GT suspension package - same architecture as the factory, similar spring rates all around, but with improved and modern components in most cases. Call it "GT-plus".

The left and right sides are pretty much mirror images. I'll show the passenger side teardown, and then you can just hold your computer up to a mirror and play through them second time to get a feel for the drivers side teardown.

The front suspension and brakes, as they came on the car. It's easy to see that every rubber piece is cracked and worn, everything is covered in dirt and surface rust, and generally sad looking. Starting at the top, there's the coil spring which sits on the upper control arm, the spindle (where the brakes mount) and then a lower control arm. The hard-to-see pieces angled forward are the sway bar and the strut rod.

Here's a front-on look - this shows the lower control arm and strut rod better. The car came with disc brakes and you can see the calipers here. 

Drivers side is the same setup. Nasty.

All of this needs some degree of help. At a minimum, the brakes need rebuilt and the soft parts like the brake lines and the torn ball joints are in need of replacement.

The car needs to be up off the ground to remove all this obviously. But there's a bit of yanking and pulling involved in tearing this down, so I used a 2x1 bar of 1/4" bar stock under the frame rails held up by a couple of jack-stands to hold the car up. Nice view of the lower components here.

First up - coil spring removal. I rented the inner coil spring compressor from Autozone to get the springs out. You'll find lots of advice on the forums about this. All I can say is this method worked for me. Make sure the spring clamps are well seated on the spring, and the center bolt has room to move down as you turn the nut on top. And go slow...

Spring clamp positioning

Once the spring was able to clear the suspension, I pulled it out and set on the ground the undo the spring compressor. Treat this like a bomb - it's the textbook definition of potential energy at this point. It has hundreds of pounds of spring force in it - if the clamp slips or the nut shears, all the force lets go at once. That's bad. So be very, very careful. Faintly visible are the two color stripes of paint run down the springs at the factory - the colors indicate type/rate of the springs for a particular option package.

With the spring out, the lower control arm needs to be held up with a jack to help unload the rest of the parts for disassembly.

Disconnect the brake hardline

And then unbolt and unscrew the softline assembly

Check 'em out - original Kelsey Hayes 4-piston disc brakes. A pretty advanced package for the day. There are two pistons per side pushing on a a brake pad, thus the term '4-piston'. All four clamp on the brake rotor when you step on the brakes. I'm going to keep this setup and rebuild as much as possible because it's original and pretty cool. In '68, Ford went to a single-piston design which is a bit easier to care for. In fact, the '67s are special in the brake and suspension department for several reasons. So if your working on a 67, you're gonna want to know your build date to help decode what your car is supposed to have.

Loosen the caliper bleed valve and squeeze the brake pad back with C-clamps to bleed the old, nasty fluid out of the caliper. For the record, new brake fluid should look more like a drug test sample than a pancake topping. Here, as seen in the Tupperware on the floor, we have a full-on Maple Syrup specimen. Naaaasty. I wonder what this means for rebuilding the calipers?

Backside of the caliper view - those two bolts are what holds the caliper to the caliper bracket. I show this because it surprised me that it was only two bolts. By design.

Here's a shot of the same bolts on the drivers side. Please note the safety wire holding the two bolts in place. This is apparently factory methodology. I haven't used safety wire pliers since my days in Naval Aviation. I find this kinda cool.

Caliper and pads. And maple syrup-like brake fluid. Ewwww...

Next up is the brake rotor. Pry off the dust cover cap, undo the spindle nut (say it again, but louder - SPINDLE NUT!) and set it all aside.

Rotor and hub hardware. Wheel bearing is two parts - one comes out with the nut, one is still in the rotor.

This leaves us with the exposed spindle (shiny!) and the dust shield.

Dust shield comes off with four nuts...

...and the brake caliper bracket comes off next.

Don't lose this. Disc brake caliper bracket - notice the 'K/H' marking on the spine. 

I skipped a pic here - but the brake spindle is connected to the upper and lower control arms via a couple of ball joints. I use rented Autozone pitman arm pullers to break them free - apparently the old pickle forks are a tool of the devil and should be avoided. Anyway, clear view of upper & lower control arms still on car.

The upper control arm (UCA) comes off with just two nuts at the shock tower. Notice there are shims on the left hanging onto the mounting studs. Those are not supposed to be there on a 67 car. Probably there to compensate for the bent up front end I just discovered. The lower spring perch is still attached at this point on the UCA - right there in the middle.

On to the strut mount rod. Typically very hard to remove, as that nut has to go over all those exposed threads without jamming or stripping. I got lucky (and soaked all this stuff for a week before hand in Liquid Wrench) and they came off with just a breaker bar and a little PG-13 language.

All that's left is the lower control arm (LCA) and the sway bar. Just a couple of bolts and...

Blamo! This car is going nowhere anytime soon!

And here's the lovely collection of parts after we're done. Tip: keep everything and tag as DS or PS for later use.

Passenger side parts. Really just the same story again.

Passenger side, sans suspension and brakes.

Ditto on the right.

So, next up I'll get the steering stuff out of the car. All these springy bits need to get tagged and bagged for future use. When I'm done, I expect the suspension will really just look like a newer (and functional) version of what I just removed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Damage

With the engine out and the engine bay pretty much stripped out, I was finally able to start evaluating what was really going on in there. From talking with the original owner, I knew there was a little collision damage at the front passenger corner side. I found that. And it's a rare vintage Mustang that doesn't have a rusted out battery tray - I found that too. The rusted apron overlaps from the previous post are also par for the course. I figured I'd just make a quick cursory exam of the dirty engine bay, and get started on replacing the battery tray and radiator support. Easy peasey.

Little did I know what horror was waiting for me in that engine bay...

 See, I even have my new parts ordered and hanging on the wall, ready for me to figure out how to install them!  (a good perspective shot of my work space. It's small, so I try to keep it clean.)

First, because you care, I'm going to show you around the front end of a vintage Mustang chassis. 

OK, so this is the inside of the engine bay, looking at the passenger side. Take a good look, we're going to spend a lot of time in here. Mustangs are uni-bodies, so this is structural metal as well. From far left to right, the vertical pieces of metal you can see the front apron (rusted from the battery), the shock tower (where the front suspension mounts and the engine mounts), and the rear apron (where the hood hinge mounts). 

All three of these pieces are mounted on top of the frame rail, which runs from the radiator support at the front of the car to underneath the firewall and floor as you move back. The diagonal piece is called a strut rod mount and it critical for wheel alignment and is welded to both the frame rail and the radiator support. The drivers side is basically a mirror image, but we'll spend our time on this side.

Let's look at what we have here on this particular automobile...

First up, the front apron. This is a top-down view. The battery sits here and inevitably leaks and rusts out the flat surface on the apron as seen here. Notice the gap on the right between the radiator support and the apron where you can see my jeans? That's not supposed to be there - that's collision damage.  No worries, both this apron and the radiator support are going to be replaced with shiny new parts that are hanging on the wall. I'm pumped! Let's do this!

Moving aft, looking top-down on the shock tower. Using a straightedge, I notice now that the protruding part facing up here (the engine mount) seems to be  bent a bit backwards. The drivers side does not look like this. This is...interesting...and a little troubling...

Moving aft again, now looking down on the rear apron. The hood hinge captive nuts are missing in 2 of 3 positions. No worries, I have one of these pieces as well. But look closely and you may notice (I can feel it too) that the apron is actually bowed inward towards the engine. How does that happen? Now I'm worried. The implication is that the piece has been compressed (collision damage?) and this is how it gave way. Not cool. Rust is one thing, but this is another kettle of fish altogether.  

Another view of the gap between the front apron and the radiator support. As I look closely, I can start to see where the parts have been beat back into position after a crunch. It's likely the crash had a lot more energy than I first thought, and that energy then moves through the whole side of the engine bay. Which brings us to...

...the Frame rail. This is 'the' strong arm in the front structure of the car. It's a foundational piece. And as I look at it here, I find a dent and a rough looking weld, circled in red. Tough to see this when the engine is in the way. Easy to see now.

The dent is evident next to a straightedge. This is not supposed to look like this. I also discover at this point evidence that a frame pulling machine was used on this frame rail at some point in the distant past and yet another welded repair on the outside of the frame rail at this same location, Ugh.

Moving back, where the frame rail is welded into the floor support, a piece that ties that frame rail to the floor. It's supposed to be a U-shaped tray that the frame rail sits in. With the engine removed, it's now obvious the floor support has a wrinkle in it - collision energy shoved the frame rail back and caused the support to bend.

And with the light shining just right, the outside of the floor support also shows a wrinkle. That's supposed to be a straight piece of metal.

So, after all of these discoveries, I cried, cursed the classic car deities, and had the car hauled off to a crusher - no reason to carry on, I'll just take up golf instead.

Just kidding. I had it towed down to a collision shop to get the frame checked out on a frame rack to get some professional measurements on my suspicions. Remember, I'm not the expert. Before I try to fix anything, I have to know where I starting. If this was just rust, it might not be needed, but for crash damage, absolutely.

Sure enough, the frame rack confirmed all my fears. Based on the chassis drawings from Ford, the frame rail was shoved back and down, and all the pieces touching it are in need of some sort of repair. Typically, you'd just pull it back into shape while on the frame rack. But the rail won't handle any more pulling due to the dents and the previous repairs. At a minimum, it has to go.

Advice from the shop - 
Replace the frame rail and the shock tower. The floor support is also bent, and both aprons are still shot. So this got much more complicated very quickly. The cost to have a shop do this work would be huge, likely thousands of dollars. I have a welder, and time, and I said I wanted to learn new I'm going to do the replacements.

My plan is to build a frame jig to hold the car while I take the old parts out and put new parts on. I need to design and build a custom frame jig, mount the car to it, then figure out how (and the order) of part replacement on the car, order parts, and learn how to reliably do structural plug welds that simulate the factory spot welds currently holding these pieces together. What have I gotten myself into? 

On the other hand, it's still better than golf. Let's get started.