Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Test fit of the valances

I finally blocked the rear valance down and got it 'good enough' (I'm not going to lie, I am not excessively picky about the valance being perfectly flat).  The most important part was to get them initially fitted to the car so I know they will go on when I'm getting ready for paint.

1. Rear valance

The rear valance was an 'improved tooling' piece I got through National Parts Depot.  It was supposed to be a better fit and have thicker metal than the other reproductions.  I got a GT valance with dual exhaust cut outs.  It's definitely wide enough and the fit isn't too bad on the passenger's side.  However, on the driver's side there is quite a gap between the valance and the rear of the quarter that is resulting from the valance having too much of an outward bow and not sitting flat enough.  I know if I try to flatten it I'm only going to create more problems than I'm trying to fix, so I'm currently contemplating just living with it.  I'm too the point where I want to finish this car the best I can but at the same time I'd like to be able to drive it before I die.

The gap on the driver's side isn't a game breaker gap but not necessarily something to be proud of either.

This is the best view of the mounted valance I could get since the back of the car is near the wall.

The passenger's side goes on quite nicely.

2.  Front valance

The front valance was one of those $33 reproduction cheapies I bought 3 or 4 years ago when I first bought the car and had no idea how in depth I would be going.  At that point I just wanted to start spending money on it.  Oh young love.  I had some oil can popping on it that I removed through a series of shrinks consisting of about 6 contacts with my stud welder.  I was ready for the fit of this thing to be an absolute joke.  I was absolutely ready to toss it in the junk and order an actual good one.  I'll be damned if this thing didn't go on almost as perfect as the Lord had intended it to.

I didn't put it on 100%, but enough to know that I wasn't in for any serious trouble, and certainly nothing that won't be fixed with some minor massaging.  The fenders aren't even mounted on all the way so I can't expect the front to fit absolutely flawlessly.  Though as you can see here it's not near as bad as one would expect.

The driver's side looks a little funky in this pic but I think it's the angle.  It was flush with the fender.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Upper control arms: [Shelby] Drop em if you got em

Today is as fine a day as any to discuss the 1" Shelby drop of the upper control arms I just completed.  It is an incredibly simple task, you just need a few items beyond your basic tools to get started.

First, order a metal template for the new holes to drill; I got mine from a guy who sells them on Ebay...it's a real nice template.  Alternatively you can get one from the guy at Daze suspension but I don't think it's as nice though it still gets the job done.  You'll also need a 17/32" drill bit.  It's an odd size but I've seen them at Sears, True Value, and of course, Ebay.  Just make sure you get one with a reduced shank to 3/8".  Mine was a 1/2" shank so I had to borrow a 1/2" chuck drill.  It stopped the project until I secured one and was annoying to say the least.  Do you know how many people DON'T have 1/2" drills?  Third, go to your favorite auto parts store and get a loaner spring compressor, but get the 'OEM style,' these have two hooks at the top and a large two-pronged fork that goes at the bottom of the spring.  Do not get a MacPherson strut spring compressor, or any kind of an an external spring compressor, or even the internal spring compressors with two hooks on the top and bottom; these bottom out on the spring perches.

The car is resting on jackstands and I've removed the shock tower cap and shock.  I have the spring compressor in place and am ready to begin wrenching on the nut at the bottom of the compressor to slowly compress the spring.

The spring is now removed.

This is a better picture of how the compressor tool is seated in the spring.  These are Grab a Trak 1" lowering 620's.  Handle this loaded spring like a BOMB.

I set it on the ground, stand off to the side, and keep my hands off to the side when decompressing so I'm out of the way if it were to pop loose.

Ball joint separator.  Toss the pickle fork unless you want to ruin your boot AND your ball joint.  The upper control arm needs to be removed and this contraption will be necessary to separate the upper balljoint from the spindle.  You can make nicer ones as I eventually will, or get a loaner tool from the auto parts store, but I was in a pinch and this demonstrates how you can scrap something together in a pinch to make your own homebrew balljoint separator tool.  I took a 3 or 4" bolt I had (don't remember the length), threaded a nut down on it, place a washer on top of that, and then a socket that will fit over the bolt threads.  The hex head of this bolt sits on the stud to the lower ball joint.  Thread the castelated nut on the upper  ball joint stud so the nut is flush with the bottom of the stud; the socket will rest against the bottom of this nut.  Now hold either the bolt head or the nut stationary with a wrench.  Whichever one is being held stationary, turn the other one such that the nut moves up the threads of the bolt.  This pushes up on the socket creating an elongating bar between the upper and lower ball joints.  Since the lower is bolted on and the upper isn't, the only one to break free is the upper.  Eventually it will pop loose and you've safely freed the spindle of the upper  ball joint.

Now take the bushing shaft, slide the template over the studs, and bolt it back to its original location in the shock tower.  You can see the small holes in the template right beneath the shaft which is where I'll start drilling for the drop.

Start with a small drill bit and slowly work your way up through sizes.  I think I stepped up through 5 sizes or so to get to a half inch hole, lubricating my drill bits frequently with motor oil.  Not only does this save your bits, it also makes it easier to keep the bit centered in the hole so you don't shift the hole over.  I was using high quality DeWalt drill bits, but still burned through my half inch bit before I even got the four new holes drilled in their entirety.  I had to go buy a second bit.  Finally finish the holes off with the 17/32" bit.  The bushing shaft studs will not fit through the hole if you try to leave it at 1/2", and even if you can get them through it won't be without damage to the threads.  You really need the 17/32" bit.  And be prepared for them to be a little spendy ($12 for the bit).  Now the second pair of holes are drilled exactly 1 inch below the originals.
While I had the upper control arms out I took the opportunity to tack weld the bushings to the housing.  I was originally planning on replacing both of the UCA's  because they were stripped out...a real bummer considering I had completely blasted them down and painted them (see Suspens(ion)ful entry a few years back), as well as replaced the ball joint with new Moogs, replaced the bushing in the spring perch, and replaced the UCA bushing shaft.

The control arms are bolted in place into their new location, 1" lower.  Torque the nuts on the shock tower to 90 ft-lbs.  Now I'll enjoy the significantly better handling, yet never know how much better it actually is since I have never driven this car.  Once I get the springs and shocks back in this will be complete.