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Thread: Prudence, my 87 Town Car

  1. #181
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    Thanks, Vic. I managed to get the spindle free and out of the way, still connected at the tie rod. Nearly got away with keeping the rotor on, but the dust shield seems to catch the lower control arm when lifting the spindle off the lower ball joint. Not a huge deal, and now I can compulsively clean the dust shield, which is the first '70s Ford part number I've noticed on this car.

    Both ball joints were completely encrusted in greasy dirt, and while I can't see any damage on the boots it must be there somewhere. The upper ball joints appear to be original, while the lowers have grease fittings, which I assume means they're replacements. Not sure how bad these joints were. The upper will move freely with little effort, while the lower is easily moved in and out, but gets hung up when pushed forward and back. Compared to the replacement Moog joints, they're a lot less stiff, which hopefully means they were wearing out.

    Right now I'm hung up on pressing out the lower ball joint. My Amazon press is maybe 1/4" too short to fit over the adapter cups it comes with. I'll see if I can buy some more adapters to get it to fit. At this point it'd probably be easier to just rent one from O'Reilly, but I've got money sunk in the one press tool already.



    The other thing I see is cracking on all four control arm bushings. If I did the lowers I'd have to buy a spring compressor. The shop manual shows one with two plates that sits where the shock lives and squeezes from the inside. Most ones on Amazon, though, seem to squeeze from the outside, which I believe would be blocked by the frame or control arm.

    The upper control arm could be done without messing with the spring, but it looks like the hinge pin runs through both bushings and would get in the way of a c-clamp style press. Is there some special tool for doing these?

  2. #182
    Lost and driftin' Arquemann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lutrova View Post
    The upper ball joints appear to be original, while the lowers have grease fittings, which I assume means they're replacements
    I think the originals might be the ones with grease fittings. On mine uppers and lower have the fittings, and I'm relatively sure they're original. Atleast they are all riveted in with those chunky rivets.
    1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS, "Maisa"
    2008 BMW 530d Touring, "Femma"

  3. #183
    2 decades of DDing Box Panthers, now in a Whale VicCrownVic's Avatar
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    +1 My original ball joints also had grease fittings ('89 and both '91s). The upper ball joints are usually bolted in if they are not original.

    Getting the ball joint press and right combination of adapter(s) figured out was a PITA. Even after doing one car then the next car the year after, I still had to futz around with it on the second car before figuring out a combination that worked.
    Vic

    ~ 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis LS - new DD
    ~ 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis LS "The Scab" - plenty of rot, backup/summer cruiser
    ~ 1997 GMC Yukon SLT - wannabe winter DD - many issues, returning sometime in the 2020s
    ~ 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis GS "The Ice Car" - Rotting Retired Winter DD
    ~ 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis GS - Rotting Retired DD
    Gone but not forgotten:
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  4. #184
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    The car had less than 70,000 miles when I bought it, so it makes sense that these would be original joints falling and not replacements.

    Just got the driver's side pulled apart. Same story on these ball joints. The lowers will move in and out with ease, but hang up going front to back. What's not the same is the upper control arm. On the right side I can lift it up its entire range of travel by hand. The left side won't budge without a jack. Would that be an indication that the passenger upper control arm bushings are bad, but not the driver?

    I've looked over my adapters long and hard and I just can't get a combo that works. Maybe my neighbor who lent me his pickle fork has a solution, otherwise to Amazon I go.

  5. #185
    Member Grand1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VicCrownVic View Post
    +1 My original ball joints also had grease fittings ('89 and both '91s). The upper ball joints are usually bolted in if they are not original.

    Getting the ball joint press and right combination of adapter(s) figured out was a PITA. Even after doing one car then the next car the year after, I still had to futz around with it on the second car before figuring out a combination that worked.
    I remember flailing around on my concrete for that job....got done just before sunset. My virgin ball joint repair got popped. I did all of them on my Expedition and it wasn't as difficult as the job we did.



    1978 Grand Marquis 460 2door "Blue Bomber"

    1987 LTD Crown Vic 351w aka the "MI Mountie"

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  6. #186
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    there is a special tool for doing the upper bushings, and yes the shaft does run through it. The tool looks more or less like the standard C clamp type, except the side opposite the screw has a slot cut in it like a flare nut wrench so it will go over the shaft. The cup goes against the screw.

    Most GM things from the mid 60s through the 90s that used a double A arm use this same setup. Only real difference is the GM arm mounts to the side of the frame and is adjusted with shims vs the Panther arms bolting to the top and using a slider. If you know anyone into GM stuff they probably have the tool.

    you'll want to cut some pieces of something to brace the open side of the control arm or it will just collapse when you start putting pressure on it. A bit of angle iron works nicely for this.

    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

  7. #187
    fomoco panthers !
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    The passenger side upper control arm bushings on the boxes wear out faster than the driver side. I was told by a mechanic that it was due to the angle and pressure of sharp turning.

  8. #188
    Beater gonna beat sly's Avatar
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    Upper control arm bushing tool: Astro Pneumatic 7866 or similar like this knock-off on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/192838477022

    Spring compressor: OEMTOOLS 27035/37035 or similar like this one at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/OEMTOOLS-2703...dp/B003A18KCQ/ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08XQVWMN6/
    or something like this one: https://www.amazon.com/ATD-Tools-754...dp/B000OUXA0S/

    If you're careful about removing the lower control arm, you can actually get the springs out with just a jack to lower the control arm slowly and then a crow bar to pop the spring out of the pocket. The spring compressor makes it MUCH easier though. The easy way to do it is to get the shock out of the way, then lift the control arm back up with a jack with the compressor inside the spring, then snug up the compressor and release the control arm again and let the compressor "catch" the spring.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein
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  9. #189
    2 decades of DDing Box Panthers, now in a Whale VicCrownVic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grand1 View Post
    I remember flailing around on my concrete for that job....got done just before sunset. My virgin ball joint repair got popped. I did all of them on my Expedition and it wasn't as difficult as the job we did.
    Yep, so I could then make the 75 mile trip back home, LOL. Good times.
    Vic

    ~ 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis LS - new DD
    ~ 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis LS "The Scab" - plenty of rot, backup/summer cruiser
    ~ 1997 GMC Yukon SLT - wannabe winter DD - many issues, returning sometime in the 2020s
    ~ 1991 Mercury Grand Marquis GS "The Ice Car" - Rotting Retired Winter DD
    ~ 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis GS - Rotting Retired DD
    Gone but not forgotten:
    ~ 1988 Country Squire ~ 1987 Ford Crown Vic

  10. #190
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    I'm taking the upper control arms into the auto craft shop today to grind out the ball joint rivets. They don't have the special tool to do the upper bushings, but several shade tree videos have given me the idea I might be able to do the job with a vise, hammer and chisels, and maybe some heat. The man who runs the shop told me he's never actually done bushings on an arm like this. He felt it would be far better to just replace the arms outright. But if I'm anything, it's a penny wise and a pound foolish. It's currently about $45 for a Moog ball joint and bushings, versus $145 for a complete Dorman control arm. I guess we'll see how it goes.

    Lower bushings ought to be done, too, I suppose, but I'm hoping I can get away with leaving them for another day. I've got enough to do still to get the car back together before Thanksgiving when I'm hoping to take it down to Phoenix. If I can take care of the vibration I'll be happy, and considering how bad the lower ball joints were I think I've finally found the culprit.

    Thanks for the part links, Sly. I know I'll buy a spring compressor eventually.

    I did break down and buy another set of ball joint press adapters. If I can't find something that works after another dozen-plus pieces, then maybe I'm in the wrong hobby.

    What is the best grease to use for all of these new joints and zerks? I already have white lithium and some wheel bearing grease, but it looks like others use something that's more grey in color.

  11. #191
    Lost and driftin' Arquemann's Avatar
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    I've put some CRC universal / bearing grease in everything in put grease in. Lithium based and dark grey if thats what you want to know.
    Filled the front wheel bearings I did recently with it. Same stuff I've got in the grease gun to grease joints.

    I'd need to do every goddamn joint, bush and rubberpiece on my car at some point, it's all original. But that is such an ordeal I really don't want to do it. All balljoints except inner tierods are covered in a thick layer of crap. On upper balljoints like an inch thick...
    Can't even find rear control arm bushings anywhere.
    1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS, "Maisa"
    2008 BMW 530d Touring, "Femma"

  12. #192
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    I got some surplus Valvoline Synpower from work when we converted some stuff away from greased bearings. I'm really not picky about it though. Just pick something and stick with it. So long as the base is compatible anything works though. There are some specific greases that do not mix, most of what you'll find is a lithium base though.

    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

  13. #193
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    All four ball joints have been replaced. Used the air chisel at the shop to take out the upper joint rivets. Went a lot faster after I discovered you could up the chisel's intensity. Pressing out the old bushings on the upper passenger arm was a messy, violent job, but it worked out in the end. Installing new bushings was far easier. While I had the upper arms out I decided to throw some paint on them. The driver's side one still had most of its factory coat, but everything right around the ball joint was totally shot, probably because it's exposed to the elements in the wheel well. So that end got a new coat, while the passenger arm, which I had completely disassembled, received a complete paint job.



    All that's left now is reassembly and a test drive. I believe the alignment is controlled by the tie rod length and the position of the upper control arm relative to the chassis? If so, it would be best to reinstall the upper arms as close to their original position as possible?

    The one thing that still keeps me up at night is the thought that the lower control arm bushings are the source of my vibration. If it's one arm over the other I'd think it would be the passenger side. Visually, the rubber there looks worse than the driver's. I've just been reluctant to deal with the spring on my own, with or without a compressor. So if I get the car back on the road and things are still loose, I'll go into the shop this weekend and try to do the bushings there. They're certainly due. But with any luck they haven't given up yet.

  14. #194
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    yep, tie rods control toe, the upper arm does caster and camber. Put it back as close as you can and go get it aligned. There is actually a special tool to do the upper arms, basically it hooks in those two holes in the frame and hooks over the arm to slide it around, or another one is this air bag thing that goes between the frame and spindle so the weight of the car doesn't just shove the arm around when you loosen it. Its sort of a pain in the ass and not all alignment shops will bother setting it correctly. If you end up with a sheet that has the caster and camber out of spec but toe is dead on, they didn't do the job right.


    dead bushings usually aren't vibration, but it makes the geometry wrong and the handling gets even more mushy and vague. This suspension isn't completely terrible even when the bushings are toast but its definitely better when the parts are good. Fox cars drive like absolute garbage when the bushings are wasted.

    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

  15. #195
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    Well we'll find out soon just how much those lower bushings play into the ride. I can see a tear on one of them for the passenger lower arm. Driver's side bushings on both arms don't look nearly as bad, and the rest of the front end is pretty fresh now, so that's definitely the weakest link.

    I got the suspension put back together today. Made a cheat sheet of all the socket sizes and torque specs for everything I'd touch. That really sped things up. Trying to stick the caliper back on wrong and getting a pad stuck on the spindle slowed things down though, but it all worked out.

    Tomorrow is the day to put the trans back together and find out what random thing decided to break while the car sat for the last three months. We shall see...

  16. #196
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    Control arm looks real nice after a spritz of black paint.
    ~David~

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    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

  17. #197
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    Thanks. The guy at the Auto Craft shop said it looked like I'd purchased a new arm. I doubt the paint will hold up as well as something from the factory, but any rust protection is better than nothing.

    The car is back in one piece. After maybe four months of sitting, it fired right up. Idle was a little wonky while I ran new trans fluid through the gears, but it's been fine since. Smelled something burning and saw smoke come from somewhere under the car. I was worried it was the trans, but it seems more likely now that it was some coating burning off of the new catalytic converters.

    My alignment, unfortunately but not unexpectedly, is not good. It was late and already dark, so I only drove a couple blocks through the neighborhood, but there was plenty of squeaking coming from the tires. The nearest shop that does alignments is almost 40 miles away. Fortunately, I can get there without getting on the freeway. I haven't tried highway speeds yet, but I figure it's probably not terribly safe with the wheels pointed in random directions.

  18. #198
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    Made the trip to Barstow this morning for an alignment. They saw me right away. I watched from the parking lot, the guy doing it never touched the control arms. Caster came in just barely within spec, while camber was okay. The only real adjustment was to the right tie rod to get the toe right.

    Steering still pulls a bit to the left, but it at least feels like it's rolling smoothly. And more importantly, the vibration seems to be gone. So the culprit was either one or several ball joints, or the passenger upper control arm bushings. Probably the ball joints, though.

    At this point I feel confident enough in the car to take it to Phoenix for Thanksgiving. Once we're back I'll probably do the lower control arm bushings, or at least the passenger ones. The alignment comes with a 3,000 mile warranty, too, so I suppose I could take it back and see if they'll realign things.

  19. #199
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    Whats the caster like side to side? Forget if it pulls towards the low or high side but either way it pulls. Often they set the caster split slightly to pull a smidge to the left to compensate for road crown. Too much and it climbs over the crown though. Offhand I want to say book calls for no more than a half degree difference side to side but don't quote me on that.

    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

  20. #200
    Carthago delenda est Lutrova's Avatar
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    Cross caster is -0.6*. I think the spec actually allows for +-0.75* between them, and I'm sneaking in right on the lower limit. For each wheel camber should be 0.5* +-0.75* and caster at 3*, +1* -0.75*. I had set camber and caster at -0.1* and 3.3* on the left and -0.2* and 3.9* on the right, so just barely within spec. Would it pull less if both values were brought closer to nominal? I don't know. I also don't know whether the shop I went to would've adjusted the upper arm if they had been out of spec. I would've asked, but there was enough of a language barrier that it didn't seem worthwhile.

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