Front End Disassembly

Today I disassembled the front end of the frame. This entailed removing the wheel assemblies, steering, and suspension components. It left the frame pretty much stripped. I want to give it one more good cleaning before painting.

Before I began I took plenty of pictures of the assembled front suspension for reference. Here are a couple from the left side:

And a couple of pictures of the right side:

And here is one picture from below:

First I broke loose the lug nuts on the front wheels using a 19 mm socket with the wheels resting on the ground and I then jacked-up the front end of the frame. I supported the frame using jackstands.

Then I removed the wheels. Here are a couple of shots of the suspension on the passenger’s side with the wheels out of the way.

My first move was to remove the gravel shield mounted at the front of the frame. It was mounted by two Philips-head bolts. One came out easily with a #2 screwdriver and the other one was rusted into place and broke off. Good start!

Then I removed the front anti-sway bar. The front tips of the bar attached to the frame via clips that were bolted into the frame by two flat-head bolts (one each side). I removed these and popped off the clips.

Then I unbolted the brackets that held the front of the bar to the frame. I used a 7/16″ socket on each of the two bolts on each bracket. With those bolts removed the brackets came free and the anti-sway bar sprung loose. The bar was wrapped in rubber bushings at its mounting points.

I haven’t decided whether I am going to use the stock anti-sway bar or acquire a thicker competition bar.

Next I went to work on the steering linkage. The steering system consists of the steering box on the driver’s side which is connected to the steering idler box on the passenger side by a cross rod. The steering and idler boxes each have mounted at their bottom a steering yoke bracket which snakes through the frame and connects to a rod (one on the right and one on the left) which connects into the wheel hub assemblies. Turning motion into the steering box move the cross rod left to right and that directs the front wheels, via the yoke and rods to either the left or right. I began by disconnecting the cross rod, which runs across the front of the frame, from the steering and idler box yokes. The pictures below illustrate that process on the steering box (driver’s) side.

This is the cross rod from the rear (picture taken prior to removing the gravel shield and sway bar).

The cross rod has a threaded, vertically-oriented bolt that mounts through a hole in the steering yoke. On the end of this bolt is a “castle” nut that is held in place by a cotter pin. I straightened the cotter pin with a screwdriver.

Then I pulled the cotter pin out using needle-nose pliers. I loosened the nut using an 11/16″ socket.

I finished removing the nut and the cross rod lifted off the yoke with a couple of taps from the mallet. On the opposite side those two pieces did not come apart nearly as easily.

The left-side rod, which connected into the rear of the yoke similarly to the way the cross rod connected to the front, terminated on the other end at the wheel hub. At the hub the connection was oriented upside-down relative to the yoke, with the threaded bolt pointing upward and the castle-nut on top. I removed the cotter pin and nut to free up the left rod from the hub.

Then I went to work removing the steering box. Here are a couple of shots of where it mounted to the frame.

The steering box was mounted to the frame by three bolts. I started with the one on the top, using a 9/16″ socket and a box wrench to hold the nut while I removed the bolt.

Then I removed the other two mounting bolts, also using a 9/16″ socket. Both bolts can be seen below on the left. Once I had the bolts undone I worked the box free from the frame and removed the left rod from its connection point on the rear of the yoke.

Next I proceeded to the idler-box side of the steering linkage, located on the passenger side of the car. I began by disconnecting the center rod from the front of the idler-box yoke.

Once the nut was off the center rod didn’t want to come free, so I moved on to removing the idler box with it still resting in place. The idler box was mounted opposite the steering box. It had a black cap covering the inner workings, which were full of grease.

I removed the mounting bolts from the top and side of the idler box using a 9/16″ socket on an extension.

With the steering linkage disassembled I then moved on to taking apart the front suspension on the passenger side. I began at the top, with the shocks and springs. The shock hardware consisted of two nuts on the end of the shock’s threaded shaft. The outside nut is meant to prevent the inside one from backing off the shock. If you remove the outer nut alone, when you go to remove the inner one it will just spin the shock and not want to come off. To get around this, the first thing I did was to align the two nuts by holding the inner one with a 9/16″ box wrench and turning the outer one with a deep 9/16″ socket.

Then, with the nuts aligned, I was able to drop the socket over both nuts and turn both simultaneously to loosen them. The two nuts provided enough friction against one another to prevent the shaft itself from turning.

Down at the bottom I removed the lower nuts from the shocks using the same technique.

Next I removed the right rod that connected the idler yoke to the wheel hub. Once again, I removed the cotter pin from the castle nut and loosened the castle nut using an 11/16″ socket.

With some taps from the mallet, the rod came free.

Next I removed the four bolts that connect the front of the lower A-arm to the lower ball joint. Those bolts, which also hold the bumpstops in place, I removed using a 1/2″ socket.

Then I was able to remove the bumpstop. The lower A-arm and ball joint stayed together because it was a tight fit.

I removed the bolts that connect the upper A-arm to the frame, through the upper spindle, using a 5/8″ socket.

After the upper bolts were removed I tapped the protruding top the shock absorber (the shaft) downwards into the A-arm. Then I pulled the upper A-arm up and outward and off the frame entirely. The result was that the suspension came “unhinged,” allowing the hub to rest on the ground, with the only remaining connection at the lower A-arm.

So next I removed the bolts that held the lower A-arms to the frame. For this I used a 9/16″ socket.

With those bolts removed I was able to pull the entire suspension/hub assembly free from the frame. I was also able to pull the shocks and springs off the assembly.

Here is the frame after I removed the passenger-side suspension and wheel hub. Note that the right steering rod is still in place because I couldn’t get it separated from the yoke right away.

Because I had already removed the bolts connecting the lower A-arm to the lower ball joint at the time I removed the bumpstop, removing the lower A-arm from the hub was simple a matter of sliding it back off the ball joint arms. I used a mallet for a bit of persuasion, but it came off without too much trouble.

Likewise the upper A-arm was mounted on the upper ball joint assembly. After bending the metal clip back, I loosened all four bolts that held it in place using an 11/16″ socket.

With those four bolts removed I pulled the upper A-arm off the upper ball joint piece.

I left the ball joint assemblies mounted on the hubs for the time being.

Enough for one day!

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