Tension-Struts II: The Saga Continues!! - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-21-2010, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Tension-Struts II: The Saga Continues!!

Well, I FINALLY replaced this past weekend the cheap NAPA bushings/parts I installed on my front suspension strut-rods last year with brand-new Ford parts! However, like all work I attempt on my 1997 Thunderbird LX sport, this repair was not without great difficulty. It started right off the bat when I picked-up the second kit from the Ford dealer - take a look at these photos:

This is the first kit I ordered from a dealer in Omaha, NB

This is the second kit that I got from Mike Bass Ford in Sheffield, OH (fairly close to where I live)

Notice anything different between the two kits?!! That's right - the 2nd kit was missing two pieces (a washer and a nut), which I didn't discover until about 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning! I was supposed to go to my dad's house at 8:30 that morning to work on my car (I live in an apartment and have no place there to work on my car)!

Well, I call Mike Bass Ford on Saturday morning and explain that the kit I got from them is missing two pieces (to be fair, this wasn't Mike Bass Ford's fault - they ordered the kit from another Ford dealer who wanted to be difficult and refused to sell the kit to me for the $45 they were willing to sell it to Mike Bass Ford for). Well, the parts guy looks-up the washer and tells me it's, naturally, OBSOLETE!! However, he locates a dealer in Youngstown, OH (about 1.5 hours from my home) that shows they have one, so I call that dealer to verify that fact and make sure they're open until 4:00 p.m. So, my wife and I drive all they way out there only to find that the washer they have is the one I'm NOT missing (the nut isn't a problem; I can reuse my old one, but I threw away all the other parts last year when installing the NAPA parts)!!! So, irritated and crabby as hell, we drive all the way back home without the washer I was expecting to get.

Fortunately, the local Pull-A-Part is open 7 days-a-week, so I decide to go there on Sunday morning with my father to get the washer from a junked T-Bird/Cougar and expect to be there several hours wrestling with rusted, stubborn suspension components that refuse to budge! Well, get this (this is the only part of the whole ordeal that went smoothly!) - I walk around looking for what appears to be the least difficult candidate to work when I spot a '94 or '95 T-Bird that almost the ENTIRE FRONT SUSPENSION on the driver's-side ALREADY REMOVED - INCLUDING THE TENSION-STRUT!!!! The frame-side bushings, including the washer I need, are still sitting in the hole they go into in the frame, and I spend, like, TWO MINUTES with a tire iron before they pop right out and onto the ground!! The only way that could have been any easier is if someone had walked out to that car and gotten them for me!

So, off to my dad's house we go where I proceed to take the strut-rods and CHEAP-ASS NAPA parts off and replace them with the MUCH sturdier and better-designed Ford parts. The difficult part of this part was getting the stru-rods off! Even though I had them off last year, the frame-side nut on the INSIDE of the strut-rods (the one that you turn to adjust how far for-and-aft the strut-rod is positioned) was almost impossible to move and had to be heated with a torch. After I got them loose and turned them all the way in, so the strut-rods could be moved as far forward to clear the lower control arms, the rest of the work wasn't too difficult.

Now that I have the new Ford parts on and I got my front-end realigned, I can REALLY notice a difference in the feel of the car! It no longer feels "vague" on the highway like it has since I put all my other new front-end parts on when I installed the NAPA strut-rod bushings last year. It feels tighter and tracks straighter on the highway at 65-70 mph, and even has (noticeably) less impact harshness over bumps, too! I have long suspected this "vagueness" was caused by those cheap NAPA strut-rod bushings, and now I'm sure of it! The (almost imperceptable) feeling that the steering was "sticking" or "binding" seems to be gone now, too!

The only problem I can still see is that there seems to be a slight vibration in the car at highway speeds (65-70). It feels like a wheel balance problem, although I realize it could also be driveshaft/u-joint related, too. My tires (Continental ContiProContacts) were also bought at the same time I replaced all my suspension compenants last year and only have 10,000 miles on them. However, a young kid at Sears mounted and balanced them (I bought them at Sears because they were on clearance only in the size, 225/60R16, that my T-Bird uses and were almost half-price!), and I don't know if he did the balancing properly. The Goodyear store that did my alignment has one of those Hunter "Road Force" wheel balancing machines, so I think I may have my wheels and tires re-balanced there this weekend. We'll see if that helps!

Here are some pics that show how to assemble the Ford parts on each end of the strut-rods:

The nut on the right end of the strut-rod is missing in this photo.

The nut on the left end of the strut-rod is also missing in this photo.

It took me nearly a year to finally do this, but it was WELL worth the time and money spent!

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 07-25-2010, 10:46 AM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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Never, Ever, throw away any metal washers you end up with working on these cars.

I've always ended up needing them...

Red '96 Cougar XR-7 240k mi. '02 4R70W, PST DS : '03 PI engine, 04 maf, 24lb injectors, 2.5" exhaust, '02 4r70w + Jmod, DirtyD0g TC + cooler + 3/8" lines, 255 walbro fp. Alpine system.
Black '96 Cougar XR-7 (Lazarus) 210k mi PI Intake, '02 4R70W, Jmod, PST DS, GrogTune, Konis, Mark LCA+Poly, racecougar Custom Engine Chain, and JL and racecougar Bracing.
Black '97 Tbird Limited Edition, '02 4R70W, 255 walbro, PST DS, PBR Brakes&SS lines, Toicko Blues & Springs, GrogTune.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-02-2011, 02:06 AM
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Old thread, but great pics! Thanks for those.
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