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removing front springs and shocks on a '57

This is a discussion on removing front springs and shocks on a '57 within the Mechanical and Engine Tuning and Mods forums, part of the Tech Forums category; Hi. I'm a new '57 TBird owner and this is my first visit to the TBird forum. I've just imported ...

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  #1 (permalink)   IP: 121.215.32.145
Old 12-18-2011, 03:30 AM
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Question removing front springs and shocks on a '57

Hi. I'm a new '57 TBird owner and this is my first visit to the TBird forum.

I've just imported a '57 TBird from Texas - very original and rust free, but it needs a fair bit of suspension work. Otherwise it's quite tidy. Right now, I'm replacing upper and lower control arm bushes and shock absorbers. My standard spring compressors don't seem to work on the front coil springs. I'm guessing there's no other way to change the lower control arm bush? Also, it seems that compressing the coil springs is the only way to remove the shock absorbers. Is that right? I'm use to driving old Dodges and Valiants which of course typically have torsion bar suspension.

Cheers,

Lloyd
Fremantle, Western Australia
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:27 PM
 
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The shock can be removed by removing the two bolts under the lower A-arm that holds the bracket that holds the lower end of the shock. The upper end is undone by taking off the two nuts that are on the top. You may have to put a pair of vise grips on the very tip of the shock to hold it while you unscrew the nuts. You do not have to compress the spring to take off the shocks.

Taking off the lower A-arm is quite a project. It is not an easy job for someone who has very little experience. I do not use a spring compressor but I know others do.

This is how I remove the lower A-arms.

You must raise the front end high enough so the lower arm can go all the way down. Put the car on sturdy stands, not the cheap three legged kind. It is also advisable to put something under the frame behind the front wheels as an extra safety precaution in case the stands fail.

Remove wheel, shocks and sway bar links.

Get a piece of chain and put it through two or more coils of the spring and around the frame. This is to prevent the possibility of having the spring take a trip through the garage wall.

Place a floor jack under the arm up to the arm but do not put any pressure on it. Remove cotter pin from ball joint and loosen the nut. Run the nut up only as far as having the top of the nut even with the top of the threaded part.

With whatever means you are comfortable with loosen the ball joint from the spindle. I usually use a pickle fork. You need two sizes for the TBird ball joints if you are doing both upper and lower ball joints. If the various spacers and seals get broken or distorted they are available from the TBird parts houses.

Now jack up the arm until all tension is taken off the ball joint nut. Remove nut.

slowly lower floor jack so the arm lowers and all tension on the spring is gone. Now you can remove the spring.

Before removing the arm, note all spacers and washers usually located at the front of the arm so they can go back in the same position. You will probably need lots of penetrant to remove the long bolts holding the arm to the frame. Start soaking these bolts prior to removal of the arm. The bolts are available from the TBird parts houses in case they get butchered up.

In reinstalling the arms I have found that they sometimes need to be slightly compressed to get them between the crossmembers. I use a rachet hold down to do this. When reinstalling, position the arm in a horizontal position (ride position) to properly locate the bushings and tighten to spec . Once set, the arm may be lowered for reinstallation of the spring. Or leave the front and rear mounting bolts loose and when the car is back on the ground tighten them to the proper torque spec. To prevent bushing failure, the bolts should not be tightened until the arms are in the correct position.

When putting the spring into position, be sure that the end of the spring goes into the "pocket" in the arm.

Raise the arm with the floor jack, guiding the ball joint into the spindle. Again, use the chain for the coil spring. Put on the nut and torque to spec.

Check all bumpers and replace where necessary.




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Originally Posted by Freoway View Post
Hi. I'm a new '57 TBird owner and this is my first visit to the TBird forum.

I've just imported a '57 TBird from Texas - very original and rust free, but it needs a fair bit of suspension work. Otherwise it's quite tidy. Right now, I'm replacing upper and lower control arm bushes and shock absorbers. My standard spring compressors don't seem to work on the front coil springs. I'm guessing there's no other way to change the lower control arm bush? Also, it seems that compressing the coil springs is the only way to remove the shock absorbers. Is that right? I'm use to driving old Dodges and Valiants which of course typically have torsion bar suspension.

Cheers,

Lloyd
Fremantle, Western Australia

Last edited by paul2748; 12-18-2011 at 11:42 PM.
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Old 01-03-2012, 10:59 PM
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Hi Paul. First let me apologise for being so slow to respond. All I can say is, it's that time of year where family takes precedence over secret men's busines in the garage. I managed to drop the lower control arms as you suggested, even better, without taking my head off with the spring. Because I didn't want to raise the car too high, I used spring compressors once the control arms were hitting the floor. Then they just fell out. The spring compressors wouldn't fit on when the control arms were in their normal position.

I've now got carried away and cleaned the 64 years of built up crud on them and painted up and lower arms black. And now I've thought, heck, they're out, do the upper and lower ball joints, as well as all the bushes, so I don't have to worry again. Most parts seem pretty cheap, except the ball joints.

Happy New Year from Down Under.

Cheers and thanks again, Lloyd
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:15 PM
 
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I would let a front end shop examine the ball joints. The ball joints used in the 54-56 sedans and 55-57 TBirds are almost indestructible. Checker cabs used these ball joints for years. If they got the minimum amount of grease they should last forever.

Besides my 56, I have a 54 sedan which uses the same ball joints. After i got both cars running, I had a front end shop inspect the cars to find out what needed to be replaced. I had to replace most everything on the 54 except the ball joints. The TBird was somewhat better (less had to be replaced) and again, the ball joints were in perfect condition.

As these are the most expensive part, it would be worthwhile to have them inspected before you replace them.

If you decide to replace them without examination, send the old ones to me
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Old 01-04-2012, 11:14 PM
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The only damage to the balljoints was the top domed metal covers. I damaged them when I used the pickle fork to separate the balljoint from the stub axle. I'm not sure if I can buy those separately. Alternatively, I could tap them back into shape as best as I could. There was no sign of any rubber boot on these. Anyway, thanks for the heads up on the balljoints. I won't replace them in a hurry, not atleast without my local mechanic inspecting them first. Only some of the control arm bushes were tired, but they're quite cheap so I may as well replace them all. The shocks don't seem that old either, they're Monroe's and still have a good coat of paint on them (not that that means much). My mechanic told me they'd need replacing when he checked over the car a few months ago (he didn't pick on the balljoints then).

Cheers,

Lloyd
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:36 PM
 
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CASCO, Concours Parts and I assume the other TBird parts house have separate ball joint seal kits which include the metal shields and a seal. relatively inexpensive. There isn't a rubber boot (only on tie rod ends) but there is a rubber or foam seal included with the kit.

Sounds like your project is coming along very well/

Paul
Quote:
Originally Posted by Freoway View Post
The only damage to the balljoints was the top domed metal covers. I damaged them when I used the pickle fork to separate the balljoint from the stub axle. I'm not sure if I can buy those separately. Alternatively, I could tap them back into shape as best as I could. There was no sign of any rubber boot on these. Anyway, thanks for the heads up on the balljoints. I won't replace them in a hurry, not atleast without my local mechanic inspecting them first. Only some of the control arm bushes were tired, but they're quite cheap so I may as well replace them all. The shocks don't seem that old either, they're Monroe's and still have a good coat of paint on them (not that that means much). My mechanic told me they'd need replacing when he checked over the car a few months ago (he didn't pick on the balljoints then).

Cheers,

Lloyd
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