I've receive a few comments raising concern about the article reprinted in the September-October 2012 Thunderbird Scoop (originally printed in the July-August 2007 issue) on front suspension replacement, primarily related to use of a front spring compressor not originally designed for the higher-rate spring used on T-birds (Mustangs used a lighter-rate spring that requires less force to compress). Regretfully I did not get a chance to review the article before it was printed/reprinted.
The Ford tool in essence uses a long Ajax-threaded rod/washer that bears against a cap with a thrust bearing that is bolted to the top of the shock tower, similar to what was shown in the article photos; the rod threads into a heavy metal casting that captures the bottom of a coil winding, much like what is intended by the modified upper suspension arm pictured in the original posting to this thread. Lacking access to the original tool (I've only seen/used one once, and that was nearly 24 years ago!), using a cut-up upper control arm from a '63-'66 and welding an Ajax-threaded nut in the center of the arm, in conjunction with using a thick steel plate with a thrust bearing and a larger-diameter Ajax-threaded bolt that's properly supported, along with precautionary measures like use of heavy chains to restrain the compressed spring, would seem to be a better solution. Mind you, I'm not a registered mechanical engineer, so before fabricating or using such a tool I would recommend getting in touch with one to check out what's needed for sizing of the plate, thrust bearing, rod, etc.
In light of this, I discovered the following tip, posted today on The Lincoln Forum/Lincoln Continental Owners Club, that may help those who are replacing their springs and installing new ones:
"If you are replacing the front coil springs with new ones, I'll give you a tip that I used to remove the old ones. If you heat them with a cutting torch they will shrink permanently and will be easy remove without any tension on them.
"I have done this job before on a GMC van and for the install of the coil springs I had them compressed and bound at a local spring shop (emphasis added). That way they are not under tension during the install. Once installed all I had to do was cut the metal bands and they popped into place. It was a lot easier that trying to fiddle with a spring compressor."
Obviously, great care must be taken when cutting the bands, and the spring must be seated in the suspension arm beforehand. If you have ANY doubt about R&R of the front springs or the front suspension, bite the bullet and spend the money to have a professional assume the risk and do the job.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
Technical Director/Past President,
Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"