For those who have been following my thread about the plights of rebuilding the front
end, here is the latest and last chapter. IT IS DONE!
The passenger side went well, but I do believe that most of the good fortune was due
to the mistakes and insecurity of what was tackled on the drivers side. Again, the
lower control arm bolt was the culprit that caused the most anguish. It seems that
someone had changed out the bushings more recently than what was done on the driver’s
side. I actually could have left them alone, but thought it best to end up this
project with all things equal.
As I may have mentioned, I used the all-thread method (thanks Colleen) to remove and
replace the springs. I waited to put the springs back in after all the other
components were in place. Figured that I would leave the most scary job for last.
As it turned out, putting them back in was 500% easier than taking them out. Started
with the drivers side and got the all thread in place through the spring pan. Put a
floor jack under it and used it to compress the spring until it started to lift the
car. That only left about 2" of wrenching to get the pan in place. Slapped on the
new shocks and off to the passenger side I went. First though, I did put a wheel
back on the driver’s side, as I figured that using the weight of the car, balanced on
the driver’s side drive wheel would be safe, and would allow my to crank up the floor
jack until it became ineffective in compressing the spring. I was right. I was
able, with all thread in place as guides, to get the spring pan within 1/2" of the
lower control arm. Plenty close enough to attach the shock mount bolts that run
through the stub end of the lower control arm, and to get a good bite on the 4 pan
bolts. Then it was just a matter of tightening and torquing. Shock went right in.
Slapped the passenger tire on and dropped it to the ground for the first time in 2
Then I fired it up (sounded good to ear it purr after all this time) and run it up on
a set of ramps to grease the lower ball joint and to bleed the brakes. Off the ramp,
and off I went to enjoy the first ride. Admittedly, tooling around the neighborhood
did not give me a real feel for the solidity of the R&R but, I was able to slalom a
little, and there are a few speed humps that I took at a fair speed, to assist in
settling everything in place.
Now, on the spacer issue. I was concerned that with the old bushings removed and new
ones in, that “if” I didn’t compensate with the correct removal of the spacers, that
I would not get the mildly racked looked that I wanted. After settling, I have
achieved about a 1/2" drop which is tasteful for this car. Handling is superb from
what I can tell right now.
This morning I took the Kitty up to the car wash and with a wool mitt, soap and
water, pampered her to a nice long bath. Dried her with a sham and I swear that she
wagged her tail a little for me. During this 3 mile drive, in 75 degree sunny, blue
sky weather, I had to make a maneuver to avoid running into the rear end of a citizen
that decided to stop for something in the middle of the road. SHE HANDLED LIKE A
DREAM. NO UNDER OR OVER STEER, TRACKED PERFECTLY AND THE LEVELNESS OF THE CAR WAS
AMAZING. I smiled and went on to the car wash, being all proud.
One little tip. On the lower control arm, you have a long bolt that runs from the
rear to the front where the threads are. There is one of those nuts on it that
allows for the passing through of a Carter pin. DO NOT GET THIS TO TIGHT! Line it
up just right. I had mine about 2 turns two tight and believe it or not, that
compressed the bushing end of the control are just about a 1/32", which made putting
the inboard pan bolt nearest this nut quite difficult. There is no room for sloppy
tolerances in this project - be prepared. Once I backed off that nut the pan bolt
went right in. Tightened the control arm nut on the bolt to the proper depth, put
the Carter pin back in and all was well. Took about 15 minutes of looking at that
situation to figure out what was stopping the pan bolt to line up.
In any case, I an on the road again and looking forward to the upcoming weekend so
that the spousal unit and I can hit the road north through the beautiful red rock
country and the winding roads to see just how good she feels.
I am far from an expert on this project, but Mrs. Smith did not raise any dummies,
except for maybe my youngest brother, and if anyone is going to attempt this on a
SII, I would be more than happy to be there for them to answer any questions.
Getting through this with only sore muscles and a few scraped up knuckles, makes me
knowledgeable and since Murphy’s law plays such a big part of my life, I figure that
I could be an asset to someone in informing them of some of the pitfalls that I ran
Another tip: When you get one side dismantled, make a trip to the nearest hardware
store and replace all the nuts, bolts and washers. Best to re-start with good
hardware. On the driver’s side, I spent an evening with a Dremmel and a wire wheel
cleaning everything. I went to American Hardware and replaced all the bits and
pieces on the passenger side. Not a big deal, but it is a bunch easier to deal with
fresh bits, than dealing with old threads and old compression nuts. Washer the heck
out of it in any case. Washers seem to disappear via P.O.'s efforts over the years.
Well, there it is. Again, thank those of you that inputted to this project. Thank
you for putting up with my endless questions. This by far has been the largest
project on a car that I have ever attempted and since I have come out of it
successful … I think I will crow a little.
Cuck a doodle do!
Smitty [`76 XJ12L]
L82 [LS9] 350ci. w/700R4
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