Upgrading suspension and brakes

With the 8 inch rear end done, the next step is to get it under the car. I thought I would do the front and rear as two separate projects, but circumstances pulled it into one mega upgrade. All good in the end though.

It turns out the hardest part of replacing the rear end is removing the original rear. I had a heck of a time getting the U bolts off. Along the way, I snapped 2 U bolts and eventually just went to a cut-off wheel to finish the last 3 bolts. Fortunately, the eye bolt and shackle bolts both came out with relative ease. With jack stands under the frame rails, I used the floor jack to hold the rear in place while I removed the leaf springs.

With the leaf springs removed, I pulled the U bolts from the drive line U joint to detach it from the rear. I had to unhook the parking brake from up near the transmission, then unclip the lines from the retaining clips beck near the rear on the under-body. The last piece was the brake hard line to soft line connection. I just couldn’t get it to budge, so I eventually ended up cutting the hard line. From there, I was able to pull the old rear out on the jack and make room to move the new rear in. If you would like to see pictures of the rear install, I did a more detailed write-up of that stage with my own 67 here: https://bapony.com/2016/08/07/rear-end-assembly/

It all went in pretty quick once the old stuck parts were removed. The hardest part was working under jack stands rather than a lift. The new 4.5 mid eye leaf springs went in easy, front first, move the rear in place on the floor jack, then shackled in at the back. U bolted, and done. I couldn’t get the brake lines hooked up yet because I had to wait a few days for the new hard line set from Summit. I was able to get the new parking brake cables back in place and adjusted pretty easy.

The last part to give me trouble was the drive shaft. I read that the 3 speed I6 had a smaller shaft diameter than the 8, but I couldn’t pin down details. Once I had the rear out of the car, I was able to confirm it. The U joint is smaller, and the U bolts holding the U joint down are also smaller. I thought I would see if my original 65 V8 Auto drive shaft would work, and what do you know, it was perfect. I had to buy a new pair of retaining bolts for the rear U bolt, but other than that, I had an end to end power train. Unfortunately, I now have yet another rear end in my garage to get rid of.

From there, I moved on to brake lines. Since I cut the hard line and had to replace that, I just bought the complete kit for only a little more, expecting more issues. Since I had them all, rather than waste time, I just went to the distribution block and cut them all off. This allowed me to remove the block and use a socket wrench (rather than my line wrench) to get the stuck fittings off. I did reuse the original distribution block, mostly because the one I had from my last project was for disc, which mostly means the wrong fitting sizes. I didn’t want to replace line fittings, so I cleaned up the original and put it back in.

The only lines I had to do any fabrication on were the ones to the new master cylinder. Dan at Chockostang sent me a master from a 74 Maverick since it originally had a no power front disc, rear drum, which is what I have now. The fitting size on the front was different, so I had to replace the end on the line, and do a little line bending to get it all working.

Continuing along, the front drums came off from the spindle. I was originally going to also replace the upper and lower control arms and spring perch, but opted to save the money and leave something for my son to do later if he wants to. If he wants to do the Arning drop, that will give him some additional incentive to replace things and gain improvements over 50 years of wear. Over all, things didn’t look too bad.

Side by side comparison. I will have to tear down the old spindles to keep those, and probably trash the rest of the parts. I don’t know if anyone has any interest in 4 bolt front drums these days.

With the new loaded spindles in place, I replaced the tie rod ends. I actually bought new inner tie rods as well, but they came later, so I went back under when they came in and replaced those too. With blown rubber caps on all the joints and grease everywhere, they are too cheap to not replace while in there. Plus the old ones didn’t have grease fittings like the new Moogs do. Makes for an easier time setting the steering alignment too.

My plan was to delay buying new wheels and tires for a bit. Again, leaving something for my son to do later. Since the tires that came with it were almost new, I thought I would temporarily use the original 65 wheels with those tires. Well, once I put them on the fronts, there was a slight rubbing on the passenger side caliper. Can’t have that, so I was forced to buy new wheels/tires/lug nuts. I spent a bit of time talking with my son and going back and forth with various pictures for him to decide on these Legendary 17 inch wheels. I opted for the biggest I was sure would fit the 17s at 225/50/17. I know a 225 will work at 15 since that’s what I have, and it looks like the 50/17 puts them in nearly identical geometry.

Rear stance with 4 1/2 mid eye leaf springs
Front with stock I6 springs after a quick run around the block

From there, the brakes were bled and the toe in was set close enough with a measuring tape to get it over to Randy’s for a proper alignment before I went on vacation. It should be good for driving around now. I want to spend a little time using it as a daily driver to see how everything shakes out. I am still not sure how it’s going to perform with the 2.79 rear and the 3 speed. I hope it’s not a total dog. I also ordered a set of speedometer gears to find the right one, once I shake out the other changes. Progress is progress. This should be almost everything to get it up to relatively safe and reliable so I can get it out to him in the next few months.

I’m really happy with the finished look. I am kind of surprised how much I like the 17’s on it even. The stance is nice and the wheels are a little more modern, but with a tribute to the era. Now about that antenna..

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