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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-03-2015, 08:22 AM Thread Starter
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Preferred remanufactured racks

I noticed a small leak in the casing of my rack last night. So a new ones in order.

Been doing some reading here and it seems like folks have had some fun with fittings

I do have a rack with 178,000 on it. It hardly seems worth bothering to yank it out of the parts car only to put in in and have problems going to the hassle of swapping it.

The car I'm putting it into has 150,000 miles but the majority of the undersides quite clean so I'm guessing the hoses and fittings will come off cleanly. And hopefully go back on

I've read mixed reviews on A1 Cardones failing. I'm curious what people experience are regarding the rack they purchased. Rack Doctor seems to be the preferred choice.

What rack would you buy? And is this something you would instal yourself or have done? I have a reasonably priced mechanic but there's normally about a two week lead time.

The car it's going one will hopefully be my DD for the next 3-4 years. It also needs inner tie rod ends which is a deciding factor in my considering a rebuilt rack vs swapping in my used one.

Advice?

Last edited by 97CatMan; 10-08-2015 at 10:29 PM.
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-03-2015, 08:49 AM
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http://www.rackdoctor.net/ - I don't have any personal experience, but I've heard really good things about them.

They're a few bucks more than the Cardone or Atsco racks, but the quality is way better.

I would install it myself, but I have a lift in my garage, so if it was on my back with axle stands - no friggin way.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-03-2015, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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http://www.rackdoctor.net/ - I don't have any personal experience, but I've heard really good things about them.

They're a few bucks more than the Cardone or Atsco racks, but the quality is way better.

I would install it myself, but I have a lift in my garage, so if it was on my back with axle stands - no friggin way.
I'll order one tomorrow then. See if I can't get it in to my mechanic. I have a lift I can use on the weekends. But all the mechanics tool boxes are locked up. So I'd be having to load up my large toolbox on a truck with a lift gate and drive it there. And it's 53 miles each way. Forget something and it's 53 back

I've done a few racks in the past. Just not on a MN12. So I'm kinda leaning towards farming this out.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-03-2015, 07:19 PM
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Did my 96 on my back. NEVER AGAIN! I'd spend the money to farm it out next time. I installed a cardone unit and put 30k miles on it and never had any issues. From what I read I guess I was just lucky. Make sure you change the bushings too. I also reused my Motorcraft tie rod ends (don't trust any others) they were almost new.

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-03-2015, 09:01 PM
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I would do it again. Only I will be prepared with a grinder to trim away the hole a little more so the fittings can be removed and installed with the rack.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-03-2015, 10:25 PM
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Also, while the rack is out, is a prime time to do the motor mounts since they're "right there".

And for a 4.6, I'd look at the oil filter adapter gasket, again "since it's right there".

Be sure to flush the pump and hoses well.

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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-04-2015, 09:04 AM
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It was one of the biggest PITA jobs I have ever done. There is one spot where there is literally no space between the parts and a very thick part of the sub-frame.

When estimating time to complete, multiply the hours X 3!

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-04-2015, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah I was planning on flushing the pump and lines. The fluid is pretty murky.

Should I use Mercon V or Dexron with the new rack? Or ask the rebuilder what he recommends? Does the pump care what fluid you use?

I hate to think what installing this is going to cost as far as labor.

This is a car I just bought. I had the mechanic give it a quick once over and it needed a drivers upper control arm which I've done. The remainder are moog. A front hub which I had already diagnosed and I've replaced. The left inner tie rod end needs done and the right inner and outer are a little shaky but not awful. He recommended all four tie rods since the car will need a alignment. Which makes sense. Especially since I'm doing a long rack. It needs sway bar links which is a bi annual rite around here it seems. While the springs seem good the shocks seem a bit soft. And the strut rod to LCA bushings have seen better days. Since the racks a unplanned expense and I'm going to have to pay to have it installed and will be having an alignment done afterwords my new game plan is to install new strut rod bushings. And loaded struts myself. I'll get the front sway bar links the next round along with the rear bar links, rear springs (which are broken) and rear shocks. My understanding is that if the new front springs raise the the ride height it will change the alignment. So best to do those before the alignment.

So guess my my game plan. I'd do the outer tie rod ends myself but I doubt having them done at the same time as the rack is going in isn't going to add much if anything to the cost of doing the rack. The sway bar links can be done at anytime without upsetting the alignment. Ditto on the sway bar bushings.

Does the sway bar need to come out to do the bushings? Or are they split? The bushing mounts look pretty easy to get to from engine compartment.

I had a terrible experience with a pair of Dorman lower control arms breaking the ball joints two years ago in January. So I'm planning on sticking with Moog for everything but the rack from RackDoctor. And the loaded struts from Monroe. Unless anyone has any better suggestions as far as brand. I want to do this once and be done.

It's going to be a driver. So this time around I'm not interested in suspension upgrades like poly bushings, sport springs, fancy shocks etc. I just want to get it safe and all the clunks and rattles gone.

I was planning on grabbing all of this from Rock Auto as they seem to have the best prices and stock status. I've never used them before but heard good things about them.

And if anyone has practical experience regarding Moog vs Mevotech vs AC Delco etc I'd love to hear about it.

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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-04-2015, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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What should I be looking for as far as diagnosing the engine mounts? I gave them the a visual once over while I was under the car and they seemed fine. No obvious signs of separation. No mysterious thunks going into into gear. I haven't tried loading the motor against the converter to see if there's any obvious engine movement going on. I assume that when they go it's fairly obvious? Like the old GM cars where the motor would just about flip over in the engine compartment

Knock on wood I've never broken a Ford engine or tranny mount. At the same time I've always installed new ones when replacing a motor or trans.

What should I be looking for here?
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by 97CatMan View Post
Should I use Mercon V or Dexron with the new rack? Or ask the rebuilder what he recommends? Does the pump care what fluid you use?
Mercon V is what the most recent Ford TSB recommends. Depending on what seals the rebuilder used they may specify another. Usually the biggest consequence with fluids other than Merc-V is a slightly louder pump.

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Does the sway bar need to come out to do the bushings? Or are they split? The bushing mounts look pretty easy to get to from engine compartment.
The bushings aren't split, but if you unbolt the mount and move the bar up a little, there's room to get a saw in there to cut the bushing so you can slide it off. That's what I did, anyway. It's an hour job for both sides, tops.

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Originally Posted by 97CatMan View Post
I had a terrible experience with a pair of Dorman lower control arms breaking the ball joints two years ago in January. So I'm planning on sticking with Moog for everything but the rack from RackDoctor. And the loaded struts from Monroe. Unless anyone has any better suggestions as far as brand. I want to do this once and be done.

[...]

I was planning on grabbing all of this from Rock Auto as they seem to have the best prices and stock status. I've never used them before but heard good things about them.

And if anyone has practical experience regarding Moog vs Mevotech vs AC Delco etc I'd love to hear about it.
Moog used to be one of the only "Motorcraft Alternatives" for suspension components, but in the last couple years there have been a few occasions where parts received were not quite as expected. If you get Moog, note the R series is service grade junk. Raybestos "Advanced Technology" branded stuff also has a good rep. but the availability has been inconsistent lately. TRW was the OE manufacturer for the suspension stuff, periodically there's a wholesaler closeout on some TRW suspension parts for cheap. Obviously if there's a zerk for grease, check/pack it every oil change. Also check the misc. section for the RA 5% off discount code thread.

As for the front shocks... I also used the Monroe "quick strut" coilovers. Pretty good ride for a DD. Not as stiff as the sport shocks (which cannot be bought new anymore, FWIW, and whose closest "available" aftermarket cousins are the Tokico "Blue" HP shocks). You're always welcome for a ride in mine so you can get an idea on how they ride.

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post #11 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 07:43 AM Thread Starter
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Mercon V is what the most recent Ford TSB recommends. Depending on what seals the rebuilder used they may specify another. Usually the biggest consequence with fluids other than Merc-V is a slightly louder pump.



The bushings aren't split, but if you unbolt the mount and move the bar up a little, there's room to get a saw in there to cut the bushing so you can slide it off. That's what I did, anyway. It's an hour job for both sides, tops.



Moog used to be one of the only "Motorcraft Alternatives" for suspension components, but in the last couple years there have been a few occasions where parts received were not quite as expected. If you get Moog, get the "Advanced Technology" branded stuff, the R series is service grade junk. Raybestos Professional Grade also has a good rep. but the availability has been inconsistent lately. TRW was the OE manufacturer for the suspension stuff, periodically there's a wholesaler closeout on some TRW suspension parts for cheap. Obviously if there's a zerk for grease, check/pack it every oil change. Also check the misc. section for the RA 5% off discount code thread.

As for the front shocks... I also used the Monroe "quick strut" coilovers. Pretty good ride for a DD. Not as stiff as the sport shocks (which cannot be bought new anymore, FWIW, and whose closest "available" aftermarket cousins are the Tokico "Blue" HP shocks). You're always welcome for a ride in mine so you can get an idea on how they ride.
Given the DD status I'm fine with the Monroe shocks. When the car was brand new I always felt it was just a hair to firm between the sport shocks and lower profile sidewalls. Not that I didn't like the ride so much as you could feel every bump on the roads around here creating a new rattle with every pothole and expansion strip.

Did you go with the Monromatic or Economatic or the better OEM Sensatrac lifetime struts? I'm assuming the latter. It's hard to beat the Quick strut kits. Your essentially getting the bearing plates and spring insulators for free.

Thanks for the heads up on the RA discount.

I would LOVE a ride lol. You've seen my other car which is stock and I'm pretty much planning on leaving that un modded. I must admit though that I've been bitten by the MN12 bug now once springs here and the DD is all sorted out I'm going to have some fun modding. Depending on how the rocker repairs come out I may mod this one or more likely look for a cleaner bird to have fun with.

I managed to take my 78 Ranchero from the 148 or so factory net HP to 278 at the rear wheels according to my old GTech Analyst. Using swap meet and budget bolt on stuff. I'm looking to do much the same with a MN12. Of course 351W stuff was a great deal less complicated and expensive. I read your build thread and though it was very well thought out. I'm looking to do much of the same.

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post #12 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-05-2015, 02:55 PM
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I would avoid Monroe shocks at all costs. I installed a set, which made the car "float" going over dips in the hwy.

I returned them and got another model of Monroe. The car still floated, and let's just say that 50k miles later it certainly did not improve as they got worn!

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Previous Fords:
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post #13 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-06-2015, 09:42 PM
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I'm replacing front suspension parts/brakes and noticed the side with the warped rotor the last 15 years had a lot of oil at the steering rubber boot. Does this mean I need a new rack and pinion?
Can I dream it will go away with all the new parts up front?

Just what does it cost or what are the labor hours in the book for remove and replace steering rack?

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post #14 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 02:39 AM
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I'm replacing front suspension parts/brakes and noticed the side with the warped rotor the last 15 years had a lot of oil at the steering rubber boot. Does this mean I need a new rack and pinion?
Can I dream it will go away with all the new parts up front?

Just what does it cost or what are the labor hours in the book for remove and replace steering rack?
If you find any oil/fluid in the rubber boots of your rack & pinion..You're going to have to replace the rack at some point..That means the seals in the rack are toast..

One other thing is..While I think it's great everyone wants to install brand new front suspension components..

If you have any fluid leaks up front from say the engine/transmission/rack & pinion..It would be better to take care of all fluid leaks first and foremost..

Reason being..Those fluids destroy anything made of rubber in short order..That includes those nice new suspension components..

The book time to just replace the rack & pinion is 4 hours..

The cost will vary based on what your mechanic charges per hour..In most cases you're going to need an alignment afterwards..So plan on paying extra for that too..






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post #15 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-07-2015, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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If you find any oil/fluid in the rubber boots of your rack & pinion..You're going to have to replace the rack at some point..That means the seals in the rack are toast..

One other thing is..While I think it's great everyone wants to install brand new front suspension components..

If you have any fluid leaks up front from say the engine/transmission/rack & pinion..It would be better to take care of all fluid leaks first and foremost..

Reason being..Those fluids destroy anything made of rubber in short order..That includes those nice new suspension components..

The book time to just replace the rack & pinion is 4 hours..

The cost will vary based on what your mechanic charges per hour..In most cases you're going to need an alignment afterwards..So plan on paying extra for that too..






Rayo..
Good advice on the fluid leaks. Especially trans fluid.

4 hours. Yikes! And that's not including dealing frozen parts or rounding up lines or fittings. My lines appear to be in good shape. Should I be rounding lines too? Just in case? If so which ones and what brand?
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post #16 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-09-2015, 05:07 PM
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Good advice on the fluid leaks. Especially trans fluid.

4 hours. Yikes! And that's not including dealing frozen parts or rounding up lines or fittings. My lines appear to be in good shape. Should I be rounding lines too? Just in case? If so which ones and what brand?
Fortunately I haven't had the pleasure yet of replacing the rack in my car..The fittings you need to be most careful with are the "L" shaped fittings at the rack..

If you're going to replace any lines..Just buy new ones..It's not a must though unless yours are in bad shape..

When the motor mounts fail on the 4.6L engine in particular..I've seen them crush the power steering lines..

Check the condition of your motor mounts, and power steering lines that run under the engine..

It's not going to do any good replacing the motor mounts if you have any fluids leaking on them though..

Leaking fluids will deteriorate any rubber mount, or bushing in a matter of time..

So take care of any fluid leaks before you replace your motor mounts..

I haven't heard any complaints out of anyone using the Rack Doctor rack & pinion..






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post #17 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2015, 06:36 AM Thread Starter
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Fortunately I haven't had the pleasure yet of replacing the rack in my car..The fittings you need to be most careful with are the "L" shaped fittings at the rack..

If you're going to replace any lines..Just buy new ones..It's not a must though unless yours are in bad shape..

When the motor mounts fail on the 4.6L engine in particular..I've seen them crush the power steering lines..

Check the condition of your motor mounts, and power steering lines that run under the engine..

It's not going to do any good replacing the motor mounts if you have any fluids leaking on them though..

Leaking fluids will deteriorate any rubber mount, or bushing in a matter of time..

So take care of any fluid leaks before you replace your motor mounts..

I haven't heard any complaints out of anyone using the Rack Doctor rack & pinion..






Rayo..
The guy that I use for this type of work got back to me with a price I felt was pretty reasonable. He's basing it of of three hours. I told him books four. He's a younger guy who seems to like fixing stuff and has a decent shop. Wait times about 2 weeks. he'll stick to quote for labor regardless of how long it takes. I'm going to have the GF run the car out early next week so he can hoist it up and look at the lines. See what if any need to be replaced. Rack Docter needs to build one up for me which is going to take over a week.

The racks just seeping ever so slightly from a small crack in center of the housing.

Reminds me though I should by a case of MerconV for flushing the PS system and doing a trans drain. Just to pull the trans pan and see what's in there. I'm going to save the whole trans flush for a later date when I can do the JMod on the valve body. I do have a tiny amount of oil seepage along the oil pan rail but haven't had to add any oil yet. I'll have him check the torque on the oil pan bolts before I worry about that. At the moment it's just slightly damp along the pan rail and no signs of oil spray any where.


But I was pleasantly surprised at the labor quote. It's at least 120.00 less than I guessed.

Since I have a cracked housing that means I can't return the core. So I get to add 75.00 to the cost of the rack and eat it.

I budgeted for the front suspension work when I first looked at the car. But the racks my fault. When I was doing the left front upper control arm and right front hub I had the car on stands. I went to reposition the jack because it had creeped a little sitting in the drive. The drives asphalt and the Jack had sunk in and shifted slightly. I repositioned a jack stand and was getting ready to let it down when the Jack popped off the cross member. The car came down inch and landed on the stands but when the Jack popped out it landed on the center of the rack housing. Just enough to put a tiny crack in it. I'm still pissed about it. I'm pretty anal about having the car properly supported on stands and chocked. Expensive mistake. Had I not decided to reposition the Jack stand and Jack this probably wouldn't have happened. No one got hurt but the rack in this case and my wallet. Normally I put down some half inch plywood to keep the Jack and stands from digging in to the asphalt. But there just wasn't enough clearance this time to do that and fit the Jack under the cross member to lift the car.
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post #18 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2015, 10:03 AM
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^Regarding the pan, just wait until you do the j-mod to pull it. If the car is driving fine, there should not be anything substantial in the pan.

But hey, if an oil bath is your kinda thing, then go for it!

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 80k miles
94 Supra TT Auto - street/strip car
04 CVPI- Brenda's car - 76k miles
Previous Fords:
95 T-Bird LX 4.6 - fully optioned, owned 15 years, 220k miles
96 Cougar XR-7 4.6- Brenda's car, owned 11 years, 187k miles
88 T-Bird 3.8 - first T-Bird, owned 5 years, 206k miles
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post #19 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-11-2015, 10:17 PM Thread Starter
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^Regarding the pan, just wait until you do the j-mod to pull it. If the car is driving fine, there should not be anything substantial in the pan.

But hey, if an oil bath is your kinda thing, then go for it!

Al

That's on the agenda. I'll probably pull the valve body from my parts car first, mod that then swap it. Assuming they are the same. The parts cars a 10/10/96 and both of my others are from August of 1997. So double the fun. The trans seems fine. Maybe just the the teensiest tiniest detectable bit of converter chugging once and a very rare while. My understanding is you want to do the JMOD Before you actually have problems. The parts car had a slow trans leak repaired and it's probably half full of Dexron. And of course the trans in that car shifts absolutely perfect. Ignorance is bliss sometimes. This cars new to me and I'll eventually get around to changing all the fluids. Since the trans seems fine it's not a priority item on my to do list.
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post #20 of 23 (permalink) Old 06-20-2015, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
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Racks being shipped. Some questions on front end parts.

The Racks done and on its way. The car won't go to the shop for another week and a half at least so I've got time time to finish up my Rock Auto order and and replace the rest of the front suspension parts.

I'm installing loaded front shock and spring assemblies. Rear springs and shocks. These will be Monroes.

I'm planning on buying Moog branded suspension stuff unless I hear otherwise. I realize that that a lot of this stuff has been sourced overseas. Regardless of what brand it is. And that the contents of the boxes change all the time. But if there's a better quality part made by someone else that's on my list I'd like to know about it. I've had good luck with Moogs Problem Solver Series in the past. My orders going in Monday. This is a daily driver so I'm looking for top quality reliable parts. I've replaced the DS upper control arm with a American made Moog. The rest of the Control Arms have been replaced and are in good shape and all have grease fittings. The front strut rod to frame bushings are rubber and look to be fine. I'm guessing they are OE.

What I still need.

Rack mount bushings. I was planning on Edelman.

I need front and rear sway bar links. Moog Problem Solvers

Strut Rod to LCA bushings. Moog

Outer tie rods ends. Moog Problem Solvers. The reman rack has new inners.

Camber bolt kits. Moog. I don't specifically need these as far as I know but I'm ordering a pair to have on hand in case I do.

Thermostat. Motorcraft

A headlamp adjusting rachet. Lisle

The forums been pretty helpful so I'm hoping some one with recent experience will chime in. I'm sure there will be no shortage of opinions which I might add I appreciate.
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post #21 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-10-2015, 12:39 PM
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I'm planning on buying Moog branded suspension stuff unless I hear otherwise.
I don't know what they're up to now, but this was my experience with Moog when I bought the front end components for my '96 bird:
http://forums.tccoa.com/showthread.php?t=135405

I got OEM inner and outer rods from Amazon on sale at a huge discount. Folks who haven't already bought theirs would be advised to shop around, as they may be able to find OEM's for less than aftermarkets (even the cheapies).

Those inners were a [auto-censored word for female dog] to do on-vehicle w/o a lift using the inner rod tool (sleeve type). Also, the originals had pins that lock them in place, whereas my OEM replacements do not and the originals had smooth heads behind the nut flats that the tool couldn't fit over, whereas my OEM replacements fit in the tool perfectly. Moral of story: OEM doesn't always mean exact copy of what came off the vehicle in question.

I haven't replaced the front sway bar links or bar bushings yet, but the IRS needs attention badly, so those will have to wait.

Btw, the Moogs and OEM's have given me no trouble years into their DD use, and we in the Houston area have more than our share of bad streets.

Quote:
A headlamp adjusting rachet. Lisle
Not needed. A standard 4mm socket on a low-profile ratchet driver such as the one in this kit fits back there and works fine.
If you don't already have such a ratchet, then the special Ford adjuster will be a slightly less expensive option, but it's a single-purpose tool. A micro driver kit is better bang for the buck and can be used in lots of confined spaces. I love mine.
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post #22 of 23 (permalink) Old 07-11-2015, 06:14 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Torque View Post
I don't know what they're up to now, but this was my experience with Moog when I bought the front end components for my '96 bird:
http://forums.tccoa.com/showthread.php?t=135405

I got OEM inner and outer rods from Amazon on sale at a huge discount. Folks who haven't already bought theirs would be advised to shop around, as they may be able to find OEM's for less than aftermarkets (even the cheapies).

Those inners were a [auto-censored word for female dog] to do on-vehicle w/o a lift using the inner rod tool (sleeve type). Also, the originals had pins that lock them in place, whereas my OEM replacements do not and the originals had smooth heads behind the nut flats that the tool couldn't fit over, whereas my OEM replacements fit in the tool perfectly. Moral of story: OEM doesn't always mean exact copy of what came off the vehicle in question.

I haven't replaced the front sway bar links or bar bushings yet, but the IRS needs attention badly, so those will have to wait.

Btw, the Moogs and OEM's have given me no trouble years into their DD use, and we in the Houston area have more than our share of bad streets.



Not needed. A standard 4mm socket on a low-profile ratchet driver such as the one in this kit fits back there and works fine.
If you don't already have such a ratchet, then the special Ford adjuster will be a slightly less expensive option, but it's a single-purpose tool. A micro driver kit is better bang for the buck and can be used in lots of confined spaces. I love mine.
The parts showed from Rock Auto and were all USA except for the sway bar links which were Hecho in Mexico. The new rack came with inners so that's not a issue I'm going to have to deal with

The racks leak is pretty minor so I haven't scheduled the appointment yet. It's been raining quite a bit here and I've spent the last weekend helping a forum member pull the trans and some other stuff from his parts car. So none of this stuff is done yet. Lol.

GFs aunts in the hospital and she's been using the DD to visit everyday. So once I get back from work I'm probably pulling the rear springs out of the parts car and swapping those into DD when she gets home. Since the racks going to require an alignment as is the front end parts those will probably go in next weekend. The guy doing the racks usually booked about one to two weeks ahead. So the plan is to do the front end stuff the weekend just before the car goes in. If I get rained out then I'll just have him do the springs and SRBs while it in the air and torn apart for the rack work.

Since I have the time I should measure the sway bar diameter and order new bushings for that. As far as I know you really have to disconnect both end links and unload the bar to check for slop. But I'm sure they can't be great. The rest of the CA's are greasable Moogs and tight. Really looking forward to getting the noisy front end in the car quieted down.
97CatMan is offline  
post #23 of 23 (permalink) Old 10-08-2015, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Garage
Finally had the RackDoctor Rack installed. I was pleasantly surprised that my mechanic managed to bring the job in under 200.00 I picked the car up after hours so I haven't had a chance to really go over it. But dang is it nice to have the slop from the inner tie rod ends gone

Last I checked this weekends supposed to be nice. So I can finish up the the Outer Tie Rod Ends, LCAs, Springs and Struts and SRBs. Then I'll have it aligned and be done. Hopefully all the rattles and clunks will be gone. I had been putting the rack off simply because I was expecting it to be way more expensive. It's feels good to have it out of the way and to be moving on finally.

Last edited by 97CatMan; 10-08-2015 at 10:33 PM.
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