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post #1 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-29-2018, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Replace rear shocks

I want to replace the rear shocks on my 1997 4.6L Tbrd. I peered into the wheel well at the top side of the rear shock but couldn't see the top shock nut fastener so I'm a little unclear as to how to access that for removal. Maybe remove back seat or go thru trunk?? Has anyone done this or know where to get some instructions??
Thanks for the help.
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post #2 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-29-2018, 07:34 PM
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Yeah you have to pull back the trunk carpet, there are push fasteners that hold it up near the hinges, but you don’t need to remove the rear seat.

-Matt
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post #3 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-29-2018, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Matt. I will check that out.
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post #4 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 09:24 AM
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The harder part will be finding good shocks. Not many available anymore.

Al

97 T-Bird LX 4.6 - 80k miles
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post #5 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. I pulled the rug back in the trunk per Matt's suggestion and attached what I saw. No problems here. BUT.. the reason I was interested in replacing the shocks was there is an annoying clunking sound from the rear mostly left rear at every little bump. I was expecting to see the rubber fitting (or bushing) at the top of the shock was compromised but the attached pics look pretty good to me. I tried moving the top bolt in the picture but its firm. No problem on the lower side of the shocks either. Also when i press on the rear fender the car comes back steady with no bounce so it doesn't look like I even need shocks. I just replaced both rear sway bar connecting links which were very bad and that quieted things a bit but didn't solve the clunking sound. What I'm looking for now is what to check next on the rear suspension that may be the reason for the clunking sound. Thanks for any suggestions on this.
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File Type: jpg Right.jpg (50.5 KB, 40 views)
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post #6 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 02:30 PM
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Sounds like you need rear sway bar end links. It is very common, and the most audible of any worn suspension pieces.

Al

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post #7 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 04:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by T6Rocket View Post
Sounds like you need rear sway bar end links. It is very common, and the most audible of any worn suspension pieces.

Al
See my last post #5 above where I said "I just replaced both rear sway bar connecting links which were very bad and that quieted things a bit but didn't solve the clunking sound."
I just replaced those unless the "end links" are different from the "connecting links". What I replaced is seen in the attached picture. I replaced both sides (rear). Other ideas??
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File Type: jpg Bar link.JPG (18.4 KB, 38 views)
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post #8 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 04:50 PM
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End links have several different terms which mean the same. The two most common are in fact, end links, followed by sway bar links.

Perhaps the noise is coming from a failing wheel bearing? Lift the car's rear end up in the air and grab the wheel at 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock and shake it back and forth. Do the same at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock. If there is any play in the wheel then you have bad wheel bearings which would be the cause of the noise.

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post #9 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 05:25 PM
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Or toe compensator links, which are quite different, and may well be the culprit.

-Matt
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post #10 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by T6Rocket View Post
The harder part will be finding good shocks. Not many available anymore.

Al
Rear ones are still easy, so far, see the Sticky on the rear shocks.

But, then you'll notice how bad the front ones suck.

Using the adjustable konis in the rear at least lets you match the rear to the front somewhat. But are fairly expensive.

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.
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post #11 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDsDontBurn View Post
End links have several different terms which mean the same. The two most common are in fact, end links, followed by sway bar links.
Perhaps the noise is coming from a failing wheel bearing? Lift the car's rear end up in the air and grab the wheel at 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock and shake it back and forth. Do the same at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock. If there is any play in the wheel then you have bad wheel bearings which would be the cause of the noise.
Quote:
Originally Posted by XR7-4.6 View Post
Or toe compensator links, which are quite different, and may well be the culprit.
I'll check the bearings and the compensator links. Hopefully i won't have to remove the compensator link to figure if it’s bad. I’ve been under their a lot lately fixing some other stuff and may need to look at something else for a few days.
BTW, is there a place in the middle rear to put my floor jack that will lift both wheels? I’ve always had to do one side at a time. There is a brace that surrounds the rear differential mount but I’m not sure if its beefy enough to support the car.
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post #12 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 06:31 PM
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Look closely at the rear bushings; the rubber will be sticking out, and look damaged, most likely.

The moog rear bushings are still available, last I checked, but most of us went Poly.

The toe adjusters, alignment tool, whatever that call it, has smaller rubber, but it was sticking out of mine when I looked.

I'd do it all at the same time.

Don't forget to make sure you get the right upper inner bushing.

All that's available for the knuckle is poly or delrin.

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.
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post #13 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Grog6 View Post
Look closely at the rear bushings; the rubber will be sticking out, and look damaged, most likely.

The moog rear bushings are still available, last I checked, but most of us went Poly.

The toe adjusters, alignment tool, whatever that call it, has smaller rubber, but it was sticking out of mine when I looked.

I'd do it all at the same time.

Don't forget to make sure you get the right upper inner bushing.

All that's available for the knuckle is poly or delrin.
Will do and thanks for these pointers.
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post #14 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 06:46 PM
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I always lift my car from the rear differential mount(frame side, not the differential itself!!!), it’s perfectly safe and strong for the task.


The toe compensators are likely bad(or will be) if the boots are bad, as they’re constructed actually more like ball joints than bushings. You could clamp on a vice grip and try wiggling it around to see if there is play as well, even more if you unbolt them from just the arm side, which is easier than the pivot.

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post #15 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 06:53 PM
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If they've never been serviced, I'd say they're toast at this point; The 97 tbird was well taken care of, and they are going in it.

I just started rebuilding the set I took out of Lazarus, to go into whichever car needs them next.

A piece of all thread, a couple of pieces of steel with a hole in the middle, and some select lengths of Steel or PVC tubing in various sizes (or a 3/4" or 1" drive socket set) will take those out in minutes.

A seal driver set made of thick metal works really well, and won't damage tool or bushing.

I have some pieces of ACME thread allthread, which makes it really easy.

1" ACME thread will move anything, lol.

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.
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post #16 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks XR7 and Grog6. Sounds like we’re on to something; I’ll check this out. The car has 230k miles on it and these are original so maybe it’s time. I attached a picture of what I found at Rock. They call it a toe adjuster. I assume this is the same as the toe compensator link we’re talking about, right?? Where do you buy the bushings? Why not just replace the whole link? Is it due to cost or something else?
I don’t think I’ve done anything to the rear suspension though I’ve done nearly everything on the front suspension.
I also looked at the sway bar bushings. There are some little flakes of rubber on the outside but I don’t feel any free play on the bar so I figure this is not the problem.
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post #17 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-30-2018, 08:31 PM
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Thanks XR7 and Grog6. Sounds like we’re on to something; I’ll check this out. The car has 230k miles on it and these are original so maybe it’s time. I attached a picture of what I found at Rock. They call it a toe adjuster. I assume this is the same as the toe compensator link we’re talking about, right?? Where do you buy the bushings? Why not just replace the whole link? Is it due to cost or something else?
I don’t think I’ve done anything to the rear suspension though I’ve done nearly everything on the front suspension.
I also looked at the sway bar bushings. There are some little flakes of rubber on the outside but I don’t feel any free play on the bar so I figure this is not the problem.
The rear is likely in the same condition as the front was; on the pic you posted there, the blue rubber was sticking Out of my 'adjuster', lol.

Rock auto has the three stock Rear bushings that Are available, "Lower inner bushings, set", "upper inner bushing".

Moog=trw=stock.

ACDelco=raybestos=better, imho.

Make sure the upper inner is two pieces; see TM's sticky. They're still out there. apparently.

I would personally buy the parts myself, even if you're taking it somewhere to have someone install them. They charge more, and won't warranty them, but buy good quality parts and that isn't a problem; they buy the cheapest thing available from whoever delivers them parts.

Why don't you take some pix under your car of the offending bushings, and we can do before and after photos.

Accuracy counts; mark how they are aligned going in, and put the new one in the same way.

You have to support the upper arm to put the bushing back in; cut a piece off a 2x4 the right size if nothing else.

Fuck using a press to remove it, Getting the upper inner bushing out is easy with an air hammer; punch a line of dimples in it from 3 sides, and it will fall out.

The knuckle bushings are not available stock, see the thread about poly knuckle bushings if those are bad.

If your wheel bearing is bad, it's a Timken "Set49" at rockauto, they're in everything's front wheels.

Don't buy cheap ebay or amazon.

They won't be the right bearing, as straight axles are different; they are paired rollers, not Opposed paired tapered rollers.

"Same as set49" for $10 is probably not correct.

Our wheel location is set and maintained by the preload on that bearing, so it's tight. Search for a thread on replacing it.

It can't really come out if the bearing fails, but the whole load right to left is held by those bearings, same as the front; straight rear axles usually have thrust bearings for the side loading.


Buy new axle nuts from ford, don't use the dorman ones.
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Truth Isn't Truth. - Rudy Giuliani, 2018 Award winner, “Most Outrageous Diversion” by MSNBC for this quote

Last edited by Grog6; 08-30-2018 at 08:36 PM.
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post #18 of 45 (permalink) Old 08-31-2018, 09:37 PM Thread Starter
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Here's what I found...

Thanks for this information Grog6. I got under the car today and here’s what I found. First lets discuss the wheel bearings. My ears perked up when CDsDontBurn mentioned them in post 8. About two weeks ago I noticed a kind of whirring groan sound from the rear sort of like road noise. I had a 69 Plymouth that had a louder version of that sound for years and I’m pretty sure it was the rear end so I feared the same in this case. I noticed this sound changes a little under load but still makes the sound even when coasting so I wasn’t sure what to think. I pulled the fill plug on the differential and found the oil looked and smelled clean and new so just decided to keep an eye out. The groan sound is not loud and I’m the only one who’s noticed it. Well, I think it’s the bearings but the clunk noise has been going on for years and the bearing noise is new so I’ve got at least two problems. I got the wheels off the ground and found there is about a sixteenth inch play in the vertical direction on both rear wheels. Easy to feel it. I don’t feel any play in the front wheels.
I can probably manage this job but it would be heavier work then I’ve done. I need to decide if I should do it myself or buy the bearings and pay someone to install them or let it die a slow death.
Question: Any idea how long it can be driven like this before the bearings fry?
Next, here’s what I found on the toe compensator links. Looks like they are both bad. Click here for some pics of the left-side link: https://imgur.com/a/Z6A2FgK
and here for some pics of the right-side link: https://imgur.com/a/PZlovJU
I could easily wriggle them about their front to rear axis but not move them perpendicular to that axis. My thought is the links are responsible for the clunking sound and they’ve probably been bad for quite a while.
Question: I could buy the bushings and install them or buy the whole link for about $35 each. Is there a reason to do this one way or the other besides the cost difference?
Question: This car has had an annoying pull to the right for so long I can’t even remember when it started. I gave up on having it aligned since alignments only partially corrected the problem and it would very quickly become worse again. What are the chances the root cause of this pull to the right is due to the bad rear toe compensator links??
Thanks for the help!
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post #19 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-01-2018, 04:43 PM
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Question: Any idea how long it can be driven like this before the bearings fry?
That varies on a whole different slew of environmental and driving habits before the bearings completely let loose. Replacing them isn't too difficult....except that you need a press for that. Take the rear knucle(s) to a shop to do that part for you. Check out this YouTube video I found a couple years ago on how to do the job. Pretty easy and straight forward, IMO.


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Next, here’s what I found on the toe compensator links. Looks like they are both bad. Click here for some pics of the left-side link: https://imgur.com/a/Z6A2FgK
and here for some pics of the right-side link: https://imgur.com/a/PZlovJU
I could easily wriggle them about their front to rear axis but not move them perpendicular to that axis. My thought is the links are responsible for the clunking sound and they’ve probably been bad for quite a while.
As for the Toe Compensators, yea. They're done. They're also the most likely reason why you're having the clunking noise at this point in time.

Quote:
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Question: I could buy the bushings and install them or buy the whole link for about $35 each. Is there a reason to do this one way or the other besides the cost difference?
Cost difference is the only reason why.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tweakit View Post
Question: This car has had an annoying pull to the right for so long I can’t even remember when it started. I gave up on having it aligned since alignments only partially corrected the problem and it would very quickly become worse again. What are the chances the root cause of this pull to the right is due to the bad rear toe compensator links???
The more likely reasons why your car pulls to the right even after an alignment is done would be because of failing hub (rotates slower and therefore pulls to the side that's failing), a sticking brake caliper, a defective tire (this happened to my wife's '13 Taurus after getting her the current set of tires she's on right now), or improper tires (mixed tires).

Failed toe compensator(s) could lead to pulling to the left / right, but I wouldn't rule it out as the only possibility.

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post #20 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-01-2018, 06:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks CDsDontBurn for this great info, very helpful as is the video. You said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CDsDontBurn View Post
The more likely reasons why your car pulls to the right even after an alignment is done would be because of failing hub (rotates slower and therefore pulls to the side that's failing), a sticking brake caliper, a defective tire (this happened to my wife's '13 Taurus after getting her the current set of tires she's on right now), or improper tires (mixed tires).
Failed toe compensator(s) could lead to pulling to the left / right, but I wouldn't rule it out as the only possibility.
Not sure I have my terms right but I think the hub is what the bearing is pressed into so by hub you probably mean the (front) bearing and or hub. If this were the case wouldn’t the added friction from the bad hub/bearing cause a catastrophic failure before too long? This pulling has been going on for probably 150K miles and persisted through several new tires. Right now, I have Michelin Defenders with less than 5k miles and its still pulling. Yesterday I checked the front bearings for play and gave them a spin and they both spun fine without excessive friction. The rears also spin fine but have the 6 o’clock – 12 o’clock free play. Unless I’m missing something (wouldn’t be a first) I think this rules out wheels and breaks and leaves only suspension stuff. Do you agree?
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post #21 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-02-2018, 01:53 PM
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I would agree that it leaves suspension stuff. Start with the toe compensators. Look at other bushings as well. How about your inner out outer tie rods? What condition are they in? Those also affect alignment.

The free play with the rear tires at 6 and 12 o'clock likely means that the rear wheel bearings are shot. Someone else with more experience in this may have to chime in on that specific matter, but that is my experience.

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post #22 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-02-2018, 05:05 PM
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You need to look and see where the play is; play in ONLY 12 and 6 can also be the upper inner control arm bushings.

Look and see if the motion is in the wheel, or the arm.

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.
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post #23 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-02-2018, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CDsDontBurn View Post
I would agree that it leaves suspension stuff. Start with the toe compensators. Look at other bushings as well. How about your inner out outer tie rods? What condition are they in? Those also affect alignment.

The free play with the rear tires at 6 and 12 o'clock likely means that the rear wheel bearings are shot. Someone else with more experience in this may have to chime in on that specific matter, but that is my experience.
Thanks, CDs. The front inner tie rod ends were replaced 32k miles ago. I will check if the outers were also replaced or check them on the car along with other bushings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grog6 View Post
You need to look and see where the play is; play in ONLY 12 and 6 can also be the upper inner control arm bushings. Look and see if the motion is in the wheel, or the arm.
Good Point! I'm pretty sure it was in the wheel only and not the UCA bushing but I will take another look and check for any movement in the UCA bushing. I may need a 3rd hand to do this.. the tire is heavy! Maybe I need to take it off and then check.
FWIW, the picture below shows the lower CA bushing. I think all the CA bushings are in this kind of shape. Notice the cracks. The torn bushing at the top of the picture is part of the compensator link.
Thanks for the help!
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post #24 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-02-2018, 08:16 PM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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Yeah, those are trashed.

I'd go ahead and get the parts, then find a competent shop that can do the work for you, if you can't do it yourself.

It's not really that hard, you just have to watch the spring as you're letting the pressure off of it.

The easy way to disassemble that is to remove and tie up the brake caliper to the top of the shock, support the LCA with a jack, and unbolt the three knuckle bolts, and pull the knuckle and axle out.

You may need to pry gently with a screwdriver to get the shaft to pop out of the differential, but remember, there's a seal in there.

A three jaw puller will pop the axle out of the knuckle pretty easily.

Unbolt the lower shock bolt, and lower the LCA all the way vertical; grab the spring firmly, and yank it out.

They come out reasonably easy, except for sport springs; they needed the rear lca bolt removed for a bit more play, in my case.

Remove the LCA bolts, and you have it all loose.

A piece of all thread and some washers, combined with a piece of 2" PVC, will crank the bushings out, and you put the new ones in the same way. You don't need the tubing going back...

This is maybe a 4 hour job, not counting the knuckles.

To do the bearings; I'd take them to a shop.

I broke a knuckle in half with a press, not doing it correctly the first time. A support slipped, and ejected everything from the press. That sucked.

Here's a thread where we swapped to Mark aluminum control arms; there might be some good info there.
The pix are MIA; they're supposed to be working on it.
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post #25 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-03-2018, 04:42 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for this great information Grog6! I have to decide how much of this job I want to tackle on my own. I may need to buy an air tool or two. Not sure how the neighbors would feel about that.
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Originally Posted by Grog6 View Post
...You may need to pry gently with a screwdriver to get the shaft to pop out of the differential, but remember, there's a seal in there.
A three jaw puller will pop the axle out of the knuckle pretty easily...
Does the axle need to be removed from the Differential to get the LCA out?
Videos I've seen show the axle just slides out of the knuckle easily but you say a puller is needed?
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Originally Posted by Grog6 View Post
This is maybe a 4 hour job, not counting the knuckles.
To do the bearings; I'd take them to a shop.
Trust me; I won't get this done in 4-hours!! And yes, the knuckles and hub are going to a shop! Though i have noticed some folks use pullers to RR bearings and separate the hub from the knuckle. Just curious as to why I've not seen this mentioned in the same sentence with Thunderbird?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grog6 View Post
Here's a thread where we swapped to Mark aluminum control arms; there might be some good info there.
The pix are MIA; they're supposed to be working on it.
I'd like to visit that thread but it looks like you forgot to attach it?
Thanks again for the help.
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post #26 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-03-2018, 09:26 PM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tweakit View Post
...Does the axle need to be removed from the Differential to get the LCA out?
Videos I've seen show the axle just slides out of the knuckle easily but you say a puller is needed?
The axle has Never came out of the knuckle easily for me; I've done 7 so far. And I'm in the South.

That's one reason I yank them out the way I listed, it's easier than doing it on the car.

It makes one fuck of a noise, (and falls out of the vise I use,) when it lets go, lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tweakit View Post
...Though i have noticed some folks use pullers to RR bearings and separate the hub from the knuckle. Just curious as to why I've not seen this mentioned in the same sentence with Thunderbird?
You need fine control going back together.

You could Probably disassemble the hub assembly with pullers; but to go back, you have to press the bearing in one way, then brace everything, and press the hub in the other way.

I've done 6 successfully, and one fail spectacularly as the hub went back in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tweakit View Post
I'd like to visit that thread but it looks like you forgot to attach it?
Here you go:
https://forums.tccoa.com/44-suspensi...-bushings.html

This is mostly about poly bushings, but all the info applies.
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post #27 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-03-2018, 09:31 PM
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In a pinch a BFH and a sacrificial nut partially threaded onto the end of the stub will knock the halfshafts out from the hub quickly.
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post #28 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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I've watched several videos on pulling the old bearings out and putting the new ones in. If you look carefully, it seems about half of them show pressing the new bearing into the knuckle by applying the opposing force on the inner race!! This applies the insertion force thru the bearing itself, across opposite races. Similarly I've seen videos of pressing the hub in by applying the opposing force to the outer race or half on, half off the outer race. This also applies the full insertion force across the bearing itself rather than just through a single race. I'm not sure the bearing is made for that. I'd be afraid to do it that way. Am I worried about nothing? Can the bearing handle the insertion force between opposite races?? I'd like to hear some thoughts on this.
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post #29 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 06:33 PM
No, Mr. Lemmywinks, No!!!

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I can tell you from personal experience, if you apply the force to the race, it will blow the guts out of the bearing, all over the garage.

They're these really cool ~3/8" tapered metal conic sections.

You have to support the race to prevent that; and the hub has to fit thru the support you use.

I did it taking a set apart, it wouldn't be as funny the other way.

BTW, the bearing is directional; the inside is two pieces, and one inner dia is about a half a mill looser than the other, and the smaller, tighter one goes to the lugnut flange, and the loose one tightens up to the axle, and preloads the bearing with the force on the axle nut.

Make sure you can see grease between there. Some Do Not include grease, Timken always has, but check.

This is also why you need to spin the wheel hub as you tighten the axle nut, to make sure it seats properly.

If it's loose at all, it will fail soon, and you don't want to do it twice.

And you recheck it after you drive it around the block; if it moves, it's too loose. (>250ft lb.)

I use a foot powered torque wrench; It's a 3/4" drive ratchet, ~24" long, and I stand on the end of it.

I weigh about two-fiddy, so it's tight.

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.
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post #30 of 45 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 06:54 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks! There's a lot to know about this! Maybe that's why the pros charge a lot. The local shop quoted $858 for both rear bearings. That included $220- for the parts. Don't know if they are using Timkins or not but if so, they marked them up by 500%
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