Sunday, April 24, 2011

We're Suspended

It took the better part of 3 weekends to tear the suspension apart at each wheel, rebuild and reinstall.  The first thing I want to say is that EA's manual references the Haynes manual to take apart the front suspension.  It involves taking the brake caliper and the the hub off which exposes the wheel bearings.  If you have a deep desire to check wear on the bearings it's a good idea, but it's unnecessary.  It was much heavier to keep it all assembled, but with the aid of my floor jack it was much easier to do the work on the passenger side than the driver's side.  Anyway, let's dive in.

This is the driver's side, I removed the brake line (and didn't do a very good job of containing the brake fluid) and pulled off the previously-upgraded BMW brake caliper.  I checked the pads carefully and they looked almost new with lots of material left.

Then I took off the hub nut and pulled the brake disc and the brake disc cover.  The ball joint on both sides was in excellent condition.

When I got to this place, I noticed that the tie-rod end's rubber boot was shot, so I ordered two new ones from Pelican Parts.  Here is the old and new:

I unbolted the top of the strut from the inside of the front trunk, pulled the strut down and levered it out of the fender.

Here are the old and new struts.  The old ones were shot - you can see that when the arm is pressed down into the body, it doesn't pop back up again.  They needed to be replaced anyway.

There's a rubber bumper-stop located at the top of the strut body.  Both sides had one of the three lobes badly disintegrated.  I searched far and wide on the web for replacements, to no avail.  I stopped in at SGS Motorsports (formerly Strasse) in San Luis Obispo and asked the expert there.  He said unless the car had been lowered in the past, it's safe to just cut off the bad lobe.  It's meant as the final protector when the car completely bottoms out.  So here are the before and after:

Next I moved on to the torsion bars.  In this car, the torsion bar slides into the long tube at the bottom of the suspension A-arm.  This is different from my Nissan pickup where the torsion bars are exposed and mounted rearwards of the front suspension.  Here are the old and new, and you can see the difference in thickness, which is needed with all of the extra weight.

Here are shots of the front and the rear torsion bar mounts.

Here is the A-arm, pulled from the driver's side.  You can see the collection of tools it takes to get the job done.

Now comes the hard part.  Getting the rubber bushings out of the A-arm was a huge pain.  They've been jammed into place for 38 years and I had to use two different puller tools and a lot of lubrication.

Now I moved over to the passenger side, taking the whole suspension out without tearing the caliper, disc and bearings apart.

Getting the torsion bars in and out was easier on this side for some reason.

I cleaned off all of the gunk, then sanded off all of the rust down to smooth shiny metal.

And now everything is back in.  It doesn't look like much, but we've got new torsion bars, new torsion bar bearings, full lubrication, new struts, cut-down strut bumpers and new tie-rod ends.

I then polished the strut-top hardware and bolted everything back in place.

Now moving to the back the job is a lot easier.  The new shocks and springs are near total replacements, but there is some hardware that needs to be swapped over.  I can't do this job myself, as the spring has to be compressed and bolted on to the new shock, so I took it over to Morin Brothers and they got it done in less than an hour.  The new assemblies went in smoothly.

Whew!  A lot of work for no real visible improvement, but I tend to focus on infrastructure so it's rewarding to me, and now the car will support the rest of the effort.