Front Suspension Installation

This morning I bolted the front suspension components, which I assembled yesterday, onto the frame. In the process I installed the new shocks and springs. I used all new bolts which I acquired from Pat Mahoney.

In the top of the shock housing, in the area where the spring seats at the top, originally was a rubber spring isolator that cushioned the spring against the metal frame. I obtained some new urethane spring isolators from Energy Suspension that are a close fit to the originals (pictured below left is the new one with the original one). I bought these from Suspension Restoration, part #9.6114G for $9.00 for the pair. The spring isolators went up into the housing with their raised lip facing down to ride along the inside edge of the top coil on the spring.

Before beginning I checked the upper A-arm bolts in the frame and noticed that they didn’t want to go in because some of the powdercoating must have covered the threading. I used a 7/16″-20 tap to chase the threads.

Then I put the suspension assembly on my dolly and wheeled it into its general position.

I lifted the upper A-arm up over the shock housing and slide it into place so the holes on the frame lined up with those in the upper spindle.

I started the bolts by hand, and then tightened them about halfway using a 5/8″ socket.

With the upper A-arm fastened to the frame, I removed the cart and allowed the suspension assembly to rest on the floor.

My new front coil springs were Datsunsports competition springs I bought from Mike Young for $150. These are a fairly popular spring to use in the front. Compared to the stock springs, they are more than 1 1/2″ shorter, which will lead to about an inch and a half drop in the front end and a more modern sporty stance for the car.

I also bought new KYB Gas Adjust front shocks, which were part #KG4528. I got mine from Summit Racing for $29.95 each.

What I did was to place the shock, with the inner plates and bushings installed, inside the spring with the isolator on top of the spring.

Then I fed the shock and spring up into the shock housing so that the shaft came through the hole atop the housing. I put on the upper rubber bushing, metal plate, and added the nut onto the shock shaft to hold it in place.

Then I pivoted the lower A-arm upwards so that the spring plate caught the bottom of the spring, holding both pieces in place. I rolled my floor jack underneath the lower A-arm to hold it at that height.

Using both hands, I temporarily lifted the lower A-arm up so that the lower shaft of the shock protruded through its hole in the shock plate in the middle of the arm. Quickly, I popped on the bushing and plate and threaded on the lower shock nut to hold the lower A-arm in position.

Using the jack to raise and rotate the lower arm into position, I then inserted the first of the bolts that connect the lower spindle to the frame.

Then, with a little more positioning, I was able to add the remaining bolt on that side and the two on the other side. I tightened them using an 9/16″ socket.

With everything in place, I torqued down the two upper A-arm frame bolts to 80 pound/feet and the four lower A-arm frame bolts to 50 pound/feet.

I tightened down the upper shock nut and added the lock nut on to of it, using a 9/16″ socket for each.

Then I did the same on the bottom shaft of the shock.

Here are a couple of shots of the assembled front suspension.

Here is the opposite side and a shot of the front end.

Misc Parts Cleaning

This afternoon I cleaned up some miscellaneous parts that were laying around the garage. Some of these will be rebuilt, some painted, and some eventually sent off for powdercoating or plating. I used Simple Green and scouring pads.
Here are some body-frame clips and the bracket from the differential onto which the emergency brake mounts.

Here is the driveshaft and the two steering columns.

And here are the front hubs, wheel spindles, and calipers.

Powdercoated Frame & Suspension

I picked up my frame and suspension pieces from the powdercoaters in Mexia. The name of the place that did the coating is Craftmasters Powdercoating, Inc. Overall they did an excellent job. The frame looks awesome. All of the pieces were sandblasted and coated in gloss black; they actually did two coats on the frame.

Here is a shot of all of the stray pieces that bolt to the frame, including the exhaust and bumper brackets and the front anti-sway bar and gravel shield.

Here is a shot of the rear suspension pieces. Not that on the u-bolt assemblies they masked off the threads. I’m told that powder is thick enough to impede a nut from threading on and does not simply scrape off when the bolt is spun on like paint would.

Here are some pictures of all the front suspension pieces.

You can see on the spring plates how smooth the upper surface is relative to the underside, from the sandblasting.

The frame looks tremendous. It is hardly recognizable given the dirty, grease-caked monstrosity it was when I pulled the body off.

Then VIN is now clearly visible on the frame: SRL 311-01633.

A Weekend Getaway for the Frame

This morning I got up bright and early and drove up to Mexia to drop the frame and metal suspension components to be powdercoated. When I got there the guys were very friendly and upon unloading the frame they asked if I wanted it “shiny-ass black.” I said that is exactly what I want. I got the frame pretty clean but they are going to sandblast it and the other pieces to remove and debris or surface rust prior to doing the coating. I took a quick tour of the facility and saw some completed pieces, and they do very nice work. The frame is going to look night-and-day better when I pick it up and it should be ready next week.

And, yes, you can fit the 12′ long roadster frame into a mid-sized SUV. I loaded the front (heavy) end in first so it could anchor the frame. The rear stuck out the back of the hatch a bit, but not unacceptably far.

Second Frame Cleaning

I spent today giving the entire frame a thorough second cleaning and de-greasing. I had washed the top of the frame once before, but it was so greasy that another washing was in order. I also cleaned the bottom side of the frame. I used undiluted Simple Green with rags, scouring pads, and a wire brush where necessary. After applying the detergent I scrubbed down the frame, one section at a time, and then sprayed with the hose at high pressure in order to clean away the debris.

I hauled the frame out of the garage and set it up on a pair of sawhorses.

As I was cleaning around the transmission mount, I noticed that there was a lot of grease in the area behind it. From underneath it was clear that there were six bolts attaching the transmission mount to the frame.

I removed the bolts using a 1/2″ socket.

The transmission mount was actually two pieces. The lower piece mounted to the frame, and the upper piece is made of rubber and is the piece the transmission actually attached to. I removed the two bolts that held the two parts together using a 1/2″ socket.

With the two pieces apart, I scrubbed the transmission mount with some more Simple Green. Both pieces came fairly clean.

Back in crotch of the frame’s “X” where the transmission mount had been there was a lot of grease and dirt built-up. Also, the four outside corners of the “X” where pretty bad as well.

After scrubbing and using more de-greaser those areas came fairly clean.

On the areas of the frame where the horsehair frame pads had been located there was some adhesive residue. I used a paint scraper to remove it.

The adhesive came off in clumps and the paint scraper was pretty effective removing it.

There were some remaining bits I had not removed from the frame. The first was a bracket that the exhaust had mounted to, located midway up the frame on the driver’s side. I removed it using a 9/16″ socket.

From right to left on the rear of the frame there were four brackets to remove. The first was on the right edge of the frame. The second was in the center of the frame. The rear bumper was mounted on these brackets, and I removed each using a 14 mm socket.

On the left end of the frame there were two more brackets. The first was oriented towards the inside of the frame; it held the exhaust. The second was another bumper-mounting bracket. I used the 14 mm socket to remove the bolts for each of these.

After a final rinsing I was satisfied that the top of the frame was clean. Here are a couple of pictures of the front of the frame.

And below, left is a shot of the inner corner of the “X” crosspiece of the frame, nice and clean. To the right is a shot of the top of the crosspiece, clean enough to almost see my reflection.

I used my hoist to turn the frame over so I could then clean the bottom. I hoisted the front (heavy) end up, rotated and lowered it onto its edge, and then put it down on the ground upside down. Next I was able to lift one end at a time back up onto the sawhorses, the same way I had originally done (only upside down).

The front and middle of the frame were pretty greasy.

The rear of the frame was dirty. I began by spraying the whole thing down with the hose. From the bottom I could access some of the areas that were difficult to reach from the top.

The front suspension housings required a lot of attention. I removed the upper spring gaskets. There was a lot of road grime and small pebbles up inside the frame, which had no-doubt been kicked up from the road by the wheels.

So I scrubbed inside with a scouring pad and more Simple Green. Then I used the wire brush to remove more grime.

After spraying at high pressure with the hose, the area ultimately came fairly clean. I moved on to the rear portion of the frame. Much of it was caked with dirt and grime.

With more elbow grease these areas came clean.

On the underside of the brackets where the steering and idler boxes mount where a couple of bolts that I removed using a 13 mm socket.

That completed my cleaning of the frame. Although there is some orange surface rust, the grease and dirt is largely gone.

The middle and rear look good as well.

Remember this???

After the frame dried, I flipped it back over and lowered it onto a mover’s dolly I’ve been using to cart it around, and pushed it back into the garage.

I think the frame is finally ready for sandblasting and then painting.

Front Suspension Components Disassembly

Today I finished taking apart and inspecting the front suspension pieces. This is necessary to see what parts need to be replaced before I clean-up and paint the remaining parts.

Yesterday I stripped down the front of the frame. Here are a couple of pictures of it totally bare.

I used a pulley puller to remove the left steering rod from the idler box yoke. Tapping with the mallet wasn’t getting it done, but this did the trick.

First I pulled the rubber bumpstops off the metal brackets they were mounted on. I used a 1/2″ socket on the mounting nut located inside the bracket.

Then I took the lower A-arms apart. I began by removing the plate that the springs rest on. I used a 9/16″ socket and wrench to remove the bolts and nuts mounted to the inside of the bottom of the plates.

I didn’t have a socket the correct size to remove the lower spindles, so I left them attached to the arms. I next disassembled the spring plates, which have a central disk bolted onto them. I used a 7/16″ box-end wrench to loosen the bolts.

Then there was enough clearance to use a 7/16″ socket to remove the bolts entirely. The disks came off the plates with no problem.

Then I went to work on the upper A-arms. The upper spindles have a metal tab that helps prevent them from loosening. I bent this tab free using a screwdriver.

Then I removed the bolts that hold the spindles to the arms. I used a 1 1/8″ socket, first on a breaker bar and then on a socket wrench.

The spindle mounting bolts had grease zirks which allow for lubrication of the spindles.

The upper A-arms also have small rubber bumpstops that I removed by pushing them back through the mounting holes with a screwdriver.

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!

First Frame Cleaning

This afternoon, after removing the rear suspension, I decided to take a first pass at cleaning up the frame. The frame was covered in dirt, road grime, and a lot of grease and oily residue in the middle. Before I paint the frame I will need to clean it up at least a couple of more times. I used a rag, hot water, and Simple Green, which in my experience is a good cleaner and degreaser (and it is biodegradable). I also employed a wire brush to get some of the caked-on grease loose.

I wanted to clean up the frame while it still had one pair of wheels on it so it could be easily rolled outside. I’m not sure how heavy the frame will be once it is fully stripped, but as of now I can wheel it around by picking up the rear end myself, wheelbarrow-style.

First I removed the motor mounts, which were mounted by two 1/2″ bolts.

After scrubbing for a while and spraying at high-pressure with the hose the frame came fairly clean. Not totally clean, but much cleaner than it started. As I said, it will take two to three washings to really get it clean. I tried to clean up the front suspension and steering components, which were covered in grease, while I was at it.

The “X” shaped crossbrace in the middle of the frame was very greasy, and still has some grease and grime caked into the nooks and crannies. But I did make a lot of progress.

Rear End Disassembly

Today I tore down the rear suspension and removed the differential and rear axle. Progress!

Here are some pictures of the rear suspension before I began. The rear axle:

And a couple of close-ups of the right rear suspension components from the front and rear:

The suspension is held together largely by a plate that bolts over the axle and through the leaf spring, and also bolts onto the rear shocks. Underneath this plate are the five primary bolts that hold everything together.

The first order of business was to remove the wheels. I broke loose the lug nuts using a breaker bar 19 mm socket with the car resting on the ground. I then jacked-up the car and supported it using my heavy-duty jack stands under the rear part of the frame.

I finished removing the lugs using a socket wrench and the 19 mm socket, then carefully lifted the wheels off the lugs and pulled the wheels.

Here are a couple of shots of the brake drums and rear suspension with the wheels removed.

The weight of the wheel assembly caused it to drop down, stretching and placing tension on the leaf springs. I used the jack to apply upward pressure underneath the suspension plate, and placed another jack stand under the leaf spring to relieve this pressure. I applied enough upward force to raise the wheel assembly but not enough to raise the frame off the larger jack stands placed at the rear. I then jacked-up the differential, but not enough to raise the leaf spring off its jack stand, and placed a final jack stand under the differential. This ensured that no matter what I unbolted, I shouldn’t have anything heavy falling to the ground (or onto my lower extremities). Safety first!

The plate that all of the suspension components bolt to is held to the rear axle by two threaded u-shaped clips that bolt over the axle and through the plate. Four nuts hold these clips in place from underneath the plate. I removed all four of these nuts using a 15 mm socket. I tapped the clips from below using a mallet to get them free.

I removed the clips and then was able to pull the bumpstops off the axle.

Underneath, at the center of the plate is another nut that mounts on a threaded stud that protrudes through a hole in the leaf spring. I began to loosen this nut using a 12 mm socket and before it was off the plate came free and slid down the shock toward the ground.

Next I removed the nuts that secured the top of the shock. The nut was larger than my largest socket, so I used an adjustable wrench. With the nut removed I slid the shock and its bushing off the stud onto which it was mounted.

I then jacked up the differential about a half an inch (actually I just lifted it up using brute strength and raised the height of the jack stand) which raised the axle off the leaf spring.

I was then able to pop off the lower metal piece that bolted the leaf spring to the whole assembly, leaving the leaf spring mounted only to the frame at the front and rear.

At the rear the leaf spring is bolted to the frame by two bolts through a bracket. I unbolted the two nuts from the bolts using an 18 mm socket.

From the inside I then removed the bracket’s cover plate and from the outside I removed the bracket itself.

The leaf spring is the upper loop and is held to the frame by the lower bracket bolt through the lower loop of the scroll.

At the front there was a single bolt through the frame that mounted the leaf spring. I loosened the nut on this bolt using an 18 mm socket and then tapped the bolt out.

That released the leaf spring from the frame. I next removed the scroll-shaped hangers that mount the leaf springs in the rear. There was one bolt on the inside, which I removed using a 15 mm socket.

On the outside of the frame the scrolls were mounted by another bolt. I used a 15 mm ratcheting wrench on the nut and 15 mm wrench to hold the bolt.

On the passenger side only, later roadsters have a torque strut bar that helps to prevent the frame from racking when the car puts power to the wheels. I removed this, which is bolted through a bracket on the rear axel. I used a 19 mm socket and wrench to remove the bolt.

I unbolted the front of the torque strut bar the same way and pulled the bar off.

That concluded the disassembly of the rear suspension and I was able to roll the axle and differential away, leaving the naked frame.

Rear Brake Line Removal

This afternoon I removed the hard brake line that feeds brake fluid to the rear brakes. The brake line was composed of three sections: a front section that curved upwards into the engine bay; a straight middle section that ran from the front through the “X” cross brace of the frame; and a rear section that ran up over the rear axle to a soft rubber line.

I began by removing the front section of brake line from the mid-section. I used a 7/16″ wrench and a 9/16″ wrench to unbolt the coupling that held the two lines together. The midsection of the brake line ran the length of the frame, just inside the main frame member on the passenger’s side of the car.

The middle section was held to the frame by several clips, which could be bent down to free the line, and terminated at the beginning of the rear section of the brake line.

I removed the mid-section from the rear section of the brake line where they met through a bracket welded to the frame. To remove the coupling that held the mid-section to the rear section I used a 3/4″ wrench to hold the coupling and a 7/16″ wrench to loosen it.

The middle section went through the frame in some very narrow spaces between the main frame front-to-back member and the X brace. The gap between these was so small that it was impossible to pull the middle brake line section out due to the size of the couplings on either end of the line. So I resorted to cutting the middle section in order to pull it free. I will be fabricating a new middle section of brake line at a minimum.

The other end of the rear section connected to a soft line that fed brake fluid down to a splitter mounted on the differential. I freed the front of the rear section from the frame bracket by removing the clip that held the coupling to the bracket. The rear end of the rear section I had removed from the soft line several weeks earlier, in preparation for removing the body from the frame (in retrospect that was not necessary at that time).

With the front and rear of the rear brake line section free I just pulled it through the grommet in the frame to get that section of line off the frame.

I then removed the top of the soft brake line (the one that the rear section of hard line was previously connected to) by removing the clip and bracket that held it to small metal bracket welded to the frame. These pieces I just removed by prying with a screwdriver.

This enabled me to remove the top section of the soft (rubber) rear brake line.

The bottom of the soft line connected into a splitter that fed brake fluid to the drum brakes on either of the rear wheels. I disconnected both of the outbound hard lines from the two sides of the splitter, using a 7/16″ wrench.

Next I removed the bolt that mounted the splitter into the differential, using a 1/2″ socket.

The hard lines that went to each of the brake cylinders on the rear wheels were held in place with some more clips.

Those lines then connected to the rear brakes via some 7/16″ couplings, which I left connected for the time being.

I will leave those remaining hard brake lines in place on the rear axle, which I will remove all in one piece.