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Thread: Control Arms, Sproings, and other useful bits (front end)

  1. #1

    Default Control Arms, Sproings, and other useful bits (front end)

    Well, I got home and finally got everyone to leave me alone with the car for a few hours.

    Rear shocks and springs are done.

    Front shocks are done, but the control arms aren't happy. Some meatball must've used an impact to install the lower shock bolts, because they were ground smooth and they'd dropped a couple 1/4-20 bolts down through and made the nuts up to them. It worked, but it didn't appeal to me.

    I did the same thing, though; but I used 5/16-28 (fine thread grade 8) bolts, pointing up, with serrated lock nuts and a dab of Loc-Tite.

    I didn't replace the springs; if I have to yank the control arms I'm going to replace them with ones that aren't stripped.

    What brand of lower control arms work well? Can I use later control arms? It sort of looks like the 79-92 version and the 93-2002? versions use the same arm with different ball joints. It also looks like the ball joints are the same as the Mustang ball joints; I have stacks of Fox and SN95 ball joints.

    Are the Dorman/Mevotech control arms solid enough to be worth buying and pressing the bushings out of for decent bushings? I can't find Motorcraft or Moog control arms...should I just keep looking?

    I've got a clunk on the 4-3 downshift. Pretty sure it's not a u-joint. Adjust TV linkage? Flush and refill (going to do that soon anyway)? Ignore it until it gets bad enough to worry about a rebuild? It's more annoying. Motor mounts?

    Also annoying is the steering column squeak. I'm assuming I just pull the wheel and get some fresh grease into the upper column bearing and maybe the lower column u-joint (sounds like it's higher up, but noises on shafts do weird things). Any other possible culprits?

    The fan sometimes taps on the lower part of the fan shroud. The shroud should be lower, but it's screwed into the radiator at the top and sitting in the clips at the bottom. Motor mounts again?

    The motor mounts don't seem bad; the motor doesn't move much and the pry bar trick doesn't make it shift around. Still, they're 30 years old. What brands do people like?

    Lastly...harmonic balancer. Again, doesn't seem bad, and only 77K miles. But, 30 years old. I'd like to have the replacement handy so I don't have to wait. I'll do it when I throw in the 3G alternator, just because. Any preferred brands?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    all the CFI are belong to me
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    As for lower control arms, I bought Dorman arms for a 98-02 brake swap hence equipped with the newer ball joint. I had no concerns about the arms at all, but the ball joints got noisy within a year, and aren't greasable. Recommend you buy ball joints you trust and install them along with the bushings you trust. The metal itself is perfectly fine though. And indeed the same actual arm works through 02.

    I will note: the Dorman arms (and I don't think any others) do not come with the shock holes tapped. The bolts originally used were self-tappers and it seems as though maybe the factory threaded the holes with the bolts. I, on the other hand, did run a tap through the holes before using the original shock bolts in them.
    Last edited by kishy; 12-30-2018 at 07:52 PM.

    83 GM 2dr | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards

  3. #3
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    Those holes strip out all the time. One of mine failed and I installed the bolts by hand. Fixed it with a speed nut, the speed nut failed and the other hole stripped out. I looked under the car and the shock was just sticking down. Its got two 5/16 speed nuts in there now.

    Honestly I'd just find someone to weld a couple of nuts to the inside of the arms when you have them off to rebuild things.

    Arms all the same, lower joint not the same. Box vs not-box essentially. No idea if Mustangs use the same ball joint.

    The AOD is clunky by nature, so there is just an amount of it you'll have to put up with. If the motor or trans mounts are in sad shape it will tend to be worse though.

    The squeaky column sounds like upper bearings or maybe the slip rings behind the wheel. There is supposed to be a light coating of grease in there, and if it dries up the contacts squeak. Spark plug grease works fine to fix this, don't need much of it, just enough of a wipe to give a thin coating to the contacts.

    Fan hitting the shroud could also be its not clipped in properly. Or the mounts sag. Not a lot of choice on brands, I think Anchor might be it. They're an absolute bastard to do with the suspension assembled though. I'd advise doing it when you have the lower control arms out. Its pretty simple at that point. And do not attempt to re-adjust the shroud while the engine is running. I did that once and it nearly cost a finger. I kept the finger but it was several thousand dollars when I had no insurance.

    Used to be able to get Ford Racing balancers, which were just OE Ford replacement parts. No idea if they are still an option but thats what I went with on mine.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  4. #4

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    Sounds like I'll buy the Dormans or the Mevotechs. I'm going to do a little research, but if the ball joints ARE the same as the Mustang ones, I'll just use the metal arm and install my Ford ball joints and Moog bushings. I'll set them up, then dismangle the whole front suspension when the arms are ready.
    Sounds like I should do the motor mounts then as well.

    I did PEEK at the spinning fan but once I realized where it was hitting I shut the engine off to move things. The shroud is in the bottom clips, and the fan is just touching on the bottom, so I'm leaning (pun intended) more and more toward the motor mounts. I'm planning to remove the fan clutch and put in an electric fan (I have a spare Mustang electric fan in my useful junk pile) when I do the 3G alternator, which will be in the next few months, probably.

  5. #5
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    I used extruded nuts (the clip on type) that fit those bolts when mine stripped out. No issues with those and I do NOT drive my car easy.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
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  6. #6
    GMN Regular slack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bgreywolf View Post
    Sounds like I'll buy the Dormans or the Mevotechs.
    Not sure if all Mevotech parts are the same but I've had really bad experience with Mevotech steering parts wearing out on me early and require being replaced within a year or so. I've sworn them off after using them in the past.

  7. #7
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    Bet way to test fan and shroud for clearance is with engine off and just spinning it around. You can drill a small hole in the shroud and the rad core support and use a zip tie to pull it down enough in the center to clearance the fan from it. But I second replacing the engine mounts while you have the lower arms out. Will make gaining access to the bolts a breeze.

    I too have speed clips/j clips/nuts etc on the lower shock mounts bolts. Havent though about the welding in a nut idea. So simple to do if you have the arm out. Would certainly give you more threads to fasten the shock to for sure.
    ~David~

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  8. #8
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    The best thing I ever did for cooling on my car was remove the electric fan and put the clutch fan back on. Too many headaches from that thing, it didn't improve fuel economy, and it failed once and caused me to blow a heater hose someplace where I had no tools. Repairing one of those with only a dime for a screwdriver and a borrowed steak knife to trim it *sucks*

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  9. #9

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    You cant beat the reliability of a mechanical fan. The po of my 87 installed an electric fan and I planned on keeping it but after thinking about how Im going to wire it and all that I decided to buy a stock mechanical fan and shroud and be done with it. If it worked when it was new itll work now. Really the only advantage is having more room to work on the front of the motor but it wasnt worth it for me to keep mine.

  10. #10
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    the e-fan in my 93 has beat the hell out of the reliability of mechanical fan clutches. I would be replacing the mechanical fan clutch every 6-9 months in my cars. The e-fan conversions have already paid for themselves.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
    rides: 88 MGM (SOLD), 93 Vic, 2000 Crown Vic, 2003 Expedition
    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73
    ... and it should all work like magic and unicorns and stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by dmccaig
    Overhead, some poor bastards are flying in airplanes.

  11. #11

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    I haven't had particularly bad experiences with fan clutches; nor with electric fans; on my own cars or working general service.
    Most modern cars use electric fans, and over a decade with my poor departed Mustang never revealed any issues with the electric fan (which is the fan and shroud I'll be using, if it fits). I'll be doing the 3G alternator (also from the Mustang) first--one major change at a time.

    I HAVE also had mixed results with Mevotech, they have a "good" line and a "budget" line. The budget line seem to be the same cheap junk that you get as the budget line everywhere--mostly that the rubber disintegrates over a year or so, wheel bearings poorly greased and seals fail. The higher line seems better, but they're generally priced so close to Moog and other known options, that I'd rather have the tried-and-true good part.

    Generally, I'd rather spend a few bucks and not do the job twice because I intend to own my cars a while. If Moog/Motorcraft/etc are not available, I'll buy the bushings and ball joints that I know will last and install them in the aftermarket piece, in hopes that the metal arm/shell/housing aren't the chintzy part. Fingers crossed.

  12. #12
    GMN Regular Giraffe's Avatar
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    In my experience, echanical clutch fans are reliable as long as it's a factory clutch.

    My car had a bad original fan clutch when I bought it. I went through two parts store replacements (one Murray brand from O'Reilly and one AC Delco Professional from Rock Auto). The first lasted about five months and the second lasted about one. I found a NOS Motorcraft clutch on eBay and it's been installed for a year without issues. Kept the car solidly on the "R" in "NORMAL" even when the temps were in the 110s this summer.
    óJohn

    1990 Mercury Grand Marquis LS (POTM March 2017 & May 2019)
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  13. #13
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    if you're pressing bushings into an arm, it doesn't make sense to buy a new one to do that with. The stock arm is fine, just fix the threads for the shock. Its a weak point in the design, and they all have that issue.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  14. #14
    PROUD DADDY OF JILLIAN PICKUP6772's Avatar
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    "Sounds like I'll buy the Dormans or the Mevotechs."
    Wouldn't touch Mevotechs with a 10 foot pole. I work for a fleet repair service, and we've wasted more labor time replacing Mevotechs, than anything. Dorman, on the other hand, actually makes some pretty decent stuff.

  15. #15

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    Since I'm pressing Motorcraft ball joints in, I bought the Moogs for a later 90s car for almost the same price as the others.
    Gadget, I normally agree with you, but I'm using a borrowed garage and I live in the northeast. I'm expecting to be cutting the control arm bolts off already. I can't leave the car on the lift, and I can't count on a ride if I need one more part. It makes way more sense for me to have the replacement control arms all ready.
    It's not the stripped bolt holes that concern me, it's that I can press the bushings in the new arms easily in my little workshop, and then have it ready when I get to my friend's place with the lift. I'm going to be doing control arms, springs, shocks, motor mounts and steering linkage, and I've got basically 1 afternoon to do it all.
    I'll rebuild the old control arms at my leisure, and then I can sandblast and paint/powdercoat them.

    Pickup, do you find it's the rubber/plastic on the Mevotechs that goes bad, or the metal? Again, I was going to buy them just for the metal arm, to press Motorcraft ball joints and Moog or Energy Suspension bushings into; so the parts that go bad would probably be in the trash can before the old parts were even removed from the car. I'm curious for future endeavors.

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