Now that the rust sealing and paint work has been completed I’m free to start working on reassembling the front suspension with some new parts! I can tell ya that it’s much nicer working with fresh new parts for a change instead of having to fabricate something or dealing with nasty rust repair 🙂
Before starting on the front reassembly I needed to complete two outstanding items. First was replacing the passenger side drum brakes (internal & external) and installing the new 14 ft emergency brake cable that I had a local company fabricate.
The new cable works great and gives me the length I needed to get all the way from the passenger rear drum up to the front of the driver’s seat. I did swap in the shorter spring from the previous emergency brake cable just to make sure that the same springs were used on both sides.
On the topic of rust removal, I scraped off as much rust as I could from the front sway bar bushing brackets and then submerged them in a nice bath of rust remover. I’ll let them soak in there for at least 24 hours. That bath did wonders for the front lower a-arm nuts and bolts!
As I mentioned in a previous post, I decided to buy new inner & outer tie rod ends along with new sleeves since the existing ones were all fused together with rust. I simply used the old tie rods as measuring sticks to ensure that the initial length used for the new ones matched. That will give a good starting point for a future alignment.
The new lower A-arms were a little bit stubborn to get back in place, but after adding a little bit of grease to the outside faces of the bushings they finally were able to be knocked into position with a rubber mallet. The upper A-arms were much easier to get into position and the new grade 8 hardware from Brafasco worked great.
I also made sure that I reused the previous shims which I saved from when I removed the old A-arms. Everything was torqued down as much as humanly possible and I added a dab of anti seize on the lower bolts so that they wouldn’t need another 3 days of soaking in WD-40 if I ever need to get them back off again.
The last part of the day was re-fitting the front air bags from Air Assisted. I ordered a new roll of 1/4″ air line from Kevin which he had shipped out right away, which was perfect timing for today’s install.
The air lines are run through the top of the spring opening in the chassis and down into a push-to-connect fitting on the top of the air spring. The Ridetech kit for the Caprice/Impala also have plates that go on the top and bottom of the spring. It takes a little bit of positioning to make sure that the plates are sitting properly and the spring is properly located where it never touches any of the chassis or suspension at any point in its travel. These air springs also have a threaded rod that goes up through the chassis where the old shock mount used to be. This allows for a nut to secure the air spring to the chassis and hold it exactly over the old spring perch. It also ensures that the air spring doesn’t fall out of place when deflated.
I did trim the new bump stops to the same height as the old ones to allow the car to sit nice and low when the suspension is fully collapsed, but it looks like I might have to trim a little bit off the side of the bump stop as well. When I pushed the lower A-arm all the way up to where the bump stop touched the chassis it looked like it also slightly touched the air bag. Once I get the passenger side installed and the spindles back on I’ll see where I sit with those bump stops.
Sometimes you need to get everything together, and the vehicle sitting on its wheels, to see exactly how everything works together and check out your final clearances. Worst case scenario is that I unbolt the bump stop, trim it and bolt it back on. There’s no other points of contact throughout the suspension travel.
This afternoon will involve getting the passenger air spring installed, both of the spindles installed and hopefully some more work on the steering 🙂