Fairlane Front End

08/26/11

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1955 Ford Fairlane Club Coupe-

FRONT SUSPENSION / BRAKES / STEERING UPDATE

Since the plan calls for a safe dependable car, the first step is to address the steering, suspension and brakes.  The car has loose steering, and 4 wheel drum brakes that do a surprisingly good job of stopping the car.  The car does tend to float on the road, so new shock are definitely needed.  I am also going to replace the front coils springs since it will be apart.  I also plan to convert the car to disk brakes.  After talking to the guys on the H.A.M.B. and looking on some Ford sites, I decided to do a Granada spindle based conversion.

I contacted Brake Tech Solutions (704-509-9210) in Charlotte North Carolina for the front disk brake conversion kit.  I got a hold of the owner Anwar Karim and he was so helpful I would suggest them to anybody looking to update their brake system.  The Kit arrived and it contained the left and right brake kits completely assembled on the properly machined spindle.  The kit also contained a new dual circuit master cylinder mounted on a small vacuum canister with a proportioning valve already installed.  It was well packaged and arrived before the promised date.

Here you can see the master cylinder assembly as well as one of the side assembly which came as you see it with the rotor installed on the machined spindle with new caliper, pads, brake line, bearings, grease cap etc.  This was really a nice setup, and I cannot wait to get them on the car.

I called up Kanter Auto Products to get the rest of the stuff that I need (973-334-9575).  They are in New Jersey.  They supplied a deluxe front end kit, a new idler arm assembly, center (drag) link rebuild kit, new shocks, and well I was at it I ordered a rear brake kit which includes shoes, wheel cylinders, a new hardware kit and new brake hose. 

The picture above is a few of the things I ordered including the idler arm, upper and lower ball joints, sway bar links all new hardware, tie rod ends, and a drag link rebuild kit.

 

Now comes the tough part.  After who knows how many years the front suspension is not wanting to be disassembled.  She is being very stubborn, but I will keep after it.  You can see that I need to do some major cleaning as I pull it apart.

As you can see the front end is covered in mostly power steering fluid with some oil just for flavor.  The hoses near the power steering control valve have just coated the drivers side of the car.  To top it off the ball joints have been a bear to break loose.  I finally resorted to a mixture of heat and force .  The a arm bolts are a different story.  They were rusted solid, so I used tons of penetrating oil, an impact wrench and a 3 arm puller to force the issue.  She did not want to come apart.

As you can see I finally beat the car.  This was a messy, dirty job, but we are now moving forward.  I almost got the steering off, but I can not get the pitman arm off, and none of my pullers fit, so I have to go pick up a new one to finish the job.

The whole ram, tie rods, etc are all lose, and they are hangin' out waiting for me to separate the pitman from the Power steering control valve.

Now that the suspension is out of the way, I can start cleaning up the frame and the wheel well.  I am going to get this nice and clean and then throw on a some nice paint.

I gave up trying to nicely remove the drag link from the pitman arm.   I resorted to a 4 lb hammer, a torch and a trusty picklefork.  I banged the heck out of it and it finally popped.  With the last taper split I was able to remove the steering as 1 unit with hoses and tie rods etc.  This allowed me to really examine the hoses for the power steering and they were shot.  During all of this I was using GUNK foaming engine cleaner.  I was buying this crap 6 cans at a time and it would slightly soften the crud.  One of my buddies from Steve's BMW in Redondo Beach gave me a can of Zep 50 Foaming engine degreaser, and 1/4 of a can did what 12 cans of the GUNK crap would not do.  It actually removed the grease.  What a neat  concept.  I am adding this as a mandatory stock item in my garage.

With that removed (late friday, it was time to break out the degreaser and the sander, grinder, and wire brush to clean up the wheel wells.  This really stresses the arms, but it will be worth the final look.

No thru rust anywhere under here!

As you can tell this is going to be quite a few more hours, but in the end I will have a nice base for installing everything.

I took the A frames to Steves BMW service down the street and borrowed their 50 ton press to massage the bushings out.  Much easer than using portable arbor presses at home. 

------------Restart on the Project------------

After a long delay, I have found a few spare minutes, and I am finally making some progress on the Fairlane.  I have sanded the parts down to bare metal, put new bushings on and I have started to reassemble the parts to look like they actually belong on a vehicle.  I also managed to find some Power Steering hoses (which took longer than I thought it would).

Family help on detailing the suspension parts...

The lower A Arm detail shot

And an idea of what the wheel wells are starting to look like.

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