Footboxes and Suspension

Last weekend was a gorgeous weekend. The weather was in the 70’s, there was a nice breeze and it was sunny. It was quite the change from the flooding and freezing cold rain we’ve had the previous few weeks.

We took advantage of the weather to spend much of the weekend working on the car.

Saturday kicked off working on the sheet metal again. We got the drivers footbox floor permanently mounted in the car. This entailed first getting much of the drivers footbox mocked up so we could be sure the floor was going to fit in the right spot.

Unfortunately after the rivet holes had been drilled, I realized that it wasn’t seated quite properly because of some welds that probably should’ve been ground down. Some “adjusting” of the aluminum with a rubber mallet, a small notch cut to fit around a 3/4″ square tube and a handful of adjusted rivet holes drilled, we broke out the silicone adhesive and the air riveter and got it mounted.

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Jen had a good time getting to use the air riveter!

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When the rivets were done, some additional silicone was added to fully seal the edges.

The next step was mounting the firewall with cleckos and getting the passenger footbox positioned and drilled. This was a lot easier said than done, as these were all new parts unlike the drivers footbox which was mostly stock parts.

At that point Jen decided to work on some gardening and I decided to get as much of the front suspension installed as possible.

The problems started with the lower control arms. As one would expect on a hand crafted tube steel chassis, nothing is quite positioned accurately even if jigs are used. As a result the lower control arms didn’t quite fit. Factory Five includes 5/8″ washers to help shim things up, but the gaps I had were smaller than the thickness of the washers they provided.

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The washers are used on the rearward mount (to the right of this picture). Several hours of searching various stores for thinner washers turned out to be a bust.

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Sunday I got back to work on the suspension. I decided to ignore the washer issue, as it didn’t impact my ability to assemble parts, just to do final tightening of the bolts and so forth. The next step was assembling the shock assemblies.

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This was pretty straightforward. Shock assembly, threaded sleeve, spring, top cap. Not much to it.

The upper control arms were an issue, though. The drivers side went together fairly easily.

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The basic assembly is a ball joint screwed into the upper control arm, which gets bolted to the car. The shock installs though the opening in the upper control arm from the lower control arm to the upper shock mount. The ball joint has a spindle adapter installed on it, bolted down with a castle nut and a cotter pin.

On the passenger side, the castle nut, when torqued down, did not align with the hole in the taper for the cotter pin. I wish I had a close up for those of you who don’t know what these parts look like. Basically there’s a tapered bolt that goes into a matching tapered hole, and on the end is a nut that is shaped like the top of a castle, with six notches in it. When tightened down, the notches align with a hole in the tapered bolt so you can put a pin through it and keep the nut from turning.

Well, the nut was 1/12th of a turn off, and you can’t back the nut off to fix the problem, you always have to tighten. Unfortunately the nut wouldn’t turn. On top of that, when the nut was removed, it was impossible to break the ball joint out of the spindle adapter.

Two days of beating on it and swearing and eventually it was removed destructively and replaced. Thankfully the ball joint was a $30 part and easy to get. This evening I got the passenger upper control arm together and tomorrow I’ll get the rest of the front suspension installed. More pics will follow at that point.

We made lots of progress this weekend, but burned three days on this ball joint problem.