Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

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paulr
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Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by paulr » Wed Jan 27, 2016 7:41 pm

This is intended to provide extra information left out of the manual for those wondering about their leaf springs. If I can do it, so can you. I would not call this a difficult job at all; in fact, if I had a lift I would call this fun. This is written assuming no lift is available.

The order of steps is really important but some will notice that I prefer to use an order that is different from the manual--you might too. Always use jackstands and support the full car evenly with all wheels off the ground. In addition to four jackstands, I support the middle of the car with two 25-ton housejacks rear of the rockers just forward of the rear wheels. Overkill, I know, but they were my dad's. I like to think he would approve of me doing this job. :smile:

50 years' inertia means the U-bolt nuts will fight you. For the first spring I hit all the hardware with "penetrating" oil (Kroil) and let them sit for 2 days. Surprisingly, they moved ok but with some effort. A 4x6 block (& shims) supports the spring while taking the nuts off; then you can raise the spring a bit more using your jack, remove the block, and lower the spring releasing all tension.
photo 2 (2).jpg
A bottle jack may work better as the floor jack can get awkward and be in the way a lot. The '64 manual talks about removing an anti-rattle coil-type spring and a hook-type retainer but these instructions have nothing to do with the '64 HT...not sure what the '65/66 manuals say about that or what convertible drivers might find. For my second spring I was too impatient to wait, so I did not soak the bolts and instead persuaded them with a 24" breaker bar--worked just as well.
photo (1).jpg
The real bad-looking rust is where the solid rubber insulators trap moisture and restrict the steel from breathing.
photo 1-18.jpg
photo 1 (1).jpg
The factory U-bolts have flat machined tops. I could not find a source for these, and I tried. Maybe someone else here knows if they can be made today.
photo 3-13.jpg

My top retainer stuck to the axle so fiercely I had to check the manual to make sure it wasn't welded on. TIP: An easier method I used on the next spring was to remove the u-bolts and then place the jack under the axle close to the retainers, lift and pop! retainer loose.
photo-10.jpg
Here's where I strayed from the manual (I'll explain why later). Next, support the un-tensioned spring with a jack or block, and move on to the rear hanger. The shackle retainer can be removed now or later. Remove the three hanger bolts from the underbody. Two of them will come down with sockets and wobbly extensions, but I used a ratcheting wrench for the difficult third one. Bolts out, gently lower the spring to the floor. Finally, the front hanger has four bolts to remove. They will take deep sockets and extensions--you may have to first scrape out dried mud and spider remains in order to get a clean bolt head to grab. They are very hard to see; below are some "before/after" photos that will hopefully save you some time.
photo 3 (2).jpg
photo 3 (3).jpg
photo 1 (2).jpg
photo 2 (1).jpg

After the spring is all down, you can remove the shackle if you haven't already, and old bushings. If the ends of your bushings are kind of torn up, you will be noticing a new ride after the new ones are in. The front hanger bushings gave me the worst time. That nut is on there with 50+ lbs. of torque, rust, and inertia AND rubber bushings acting like a damper . Expect the hanger stud to spin when you put a socket on the nut.
photo 3 (1).jpg
TIP: The big round flat opposite end has nothing whatsoever to grab so I worked on separating it a bit and jamming an awl inside a bit...the awl held, and the nut turned off. Phew! Install new bushings and a new center stud into your new spring, put the hanger onto the spring eye, and turn the new nut on finger-tight for now.


TIP: The manual says to install the rear hanger first...I did that on the first spring. Later, I preferred going with the front hanger first by a long shot because those four bolts are so very hard to negotiate blind, and cross-threading one would be disastrous. But, you can choose. After installing the front hanger, I easily torqued the bolts to 50 lbs. per manual. Going to the rear now, mount the hanger to the underbody side rail using the three bolts torqued to 60 lbs. per manual. TIP: To make room for a torque wrench, the spring can hang down off the rear hanger at this time. Afterward, push the spring by hand up into position. (Sharp eyes will notice my shackle bolts are backwards in the second photo--learn from my goof! I corrected that mistake and installed the shackle bar nuts finger-tight.)
photo 1 (3).jpg
photo 2 (3).jpg
photo 1 (8).jpg

My manufacturer (Eaton) sent me center tie bolts that were not like the originals; they were short and absent bushings. PURIST DETAIL: Seriously, I think this is more than purity; I think Ford designed the center tie bolt the way they did for good reasons. I chose to get a new graded bolt the right length. Next I sought a source for bushings similar to OEM but, no luck. Fortunately one of our members had a quantity of these bushings milled to spec from stainless, and thanks to him, my center pin assembly is now like factory. You'll notice that the reproduction rubber insulators are cut to accommodate this bushing.
photo 2 (6).jpg
photo 1 (5).jpg
photo 1 (7).jpg
photo 1 (4).jpg

Fit the top insulator and bushing over the center of the spring, drop the bolt through from the top, fit the bottom insulator and bushing underneath and and tighten the nut on the bottom. Next, come the insulator retainers. TIP: If you blasted and powder coated yours, you may have trouble fitting them together since they both have a new thick coat of black. Sand the points of contact down a bit just so they partially fit--torquing them later will bring them together. Put the jack under the center stud and raise the spring carefully. Keep a close eye as the top insulator approaches the axle. IMPORTANT: The top of the insulator must fit into a snug opening in the axle mount--if you miss this and install the U-bolts to spec you could potentially crush the insulator retainer. I mention it because it is difficult to get eyes on the spot as the insulator and axle are coming together as in this photo (insulator and bushing are seen in the center).
photo 2 (9).jpg
IMPORTANT: Here, is where you find out that you must have both sides of the car up in the air, and level. If you are trying to do one side at a time (with the opposite side wheels on the ground), this will flex the opposite side suspension, and the side you're working on will not align properly. Place two blocks or jacks under the spring on either side of the insulator assembly, remove the center jack, drop in the U-bolts and torque the nuts to 60 lbs. EXTRA IMPORTANT: Torque in a cross-bolt pattern, slowly and in small, equal increments. Otherwise, to tighten each bolt completely one at a time will mess up your alignment, risking thread damage.
photo 3-1.jpg
Finally, tighten the rear shackle nuts to 16-22 lbs., the center tie bolt to 5-15 lbs., and the front hanger stud washer and nut to 50-70 lbs. This last one is a little difficult. TIP: Don't do the following: It's tempting to put a ratcheting box wrench on it, but you'll be sorry. As the nut tightens it draws the stud toward the frame, you won't be able to get the wrench off, and because it ratchets, you can't go back. I found that out just in the nick of time! However, for my novice effort and not owning fancy enough tools (my torque wrench has no chance of fitting in here), I have no assurance that my bolt is tightened perfectly to spec. I used an open-end wrench and cranked on it until both forearms hurt...it felt like 50-70 lbs. Fingers crossed.


I was coached to "just go slow", and in doing so I declare the job is neither difficult nor hazardous. The first spring took me a couple of days, not counting time for powder coating. The second one took me about 3 hours total. You wouldn't think these springs will make that much difference in your ride, but you'd be wrong. And, comparing this to the full front suspension replacement that I did first, this was a walk in the park. My car is a mostly stock driver, so this suspension is as close to factory as can be rebuilt. The ride is more than comfortable, there's an element of security to it. It's been a few months since I did this, but I can still remember the first ride...it was flippin' fantastic. Good luck!
Last edited by paulr on Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:29 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Paul
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60fore
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66

Post by 60fore » Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:54 pm

Great write-up and pics Paul!

I foresee this article being included in a future issue of the Scoop.

:idea:
Currently Birdless....we'll see how long that lasts!

Past Birds: 1962 Hardtop Corinthian White "The Survivor"
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66

Post by RAVEN » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:29 pm

And you have asked me about how things go together! It would seem you are now the teacher and I the student. Great write up.
CDN Member since 1975 #2086
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Alan H. Tast
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66

Post by Alan H. Tast » Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:18 am

60fore wrote:Great write-up and pics Paul!

I foresee this article being included in a future issue of the Scoop.

:idea:
So noted. I'll be expecting pics and write-up in my mailbox soon, Paul...
Alan H. Tast, AIA
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Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66

Post by paulr » Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:51 pm

Aw shucks, you guys. I'll send Alan a PM by weekend.

One additional note I forgot. My Eaton distributor told me that grade 5 steel was Ford's recommendation for hardware and U-bolt (called "spring clips" in the manual) replacement on my hardtop. Grade 8 would be fine, but not necessary. Convertible owners should confirm this for themselves. Curiously, as strong as that steel is, the threads are prone to damage by rough handling. Use care. I had mine made locally at a truck spring shop; after I messed one up they were nice enough to give me a new one; they called it "under warranty". :oops:

Center retainer insulators were made by Rare Parts in Stockton, CA, though I I've seen those sold by Bird Nest and they look exactly the same. Front hanger bushings were supplied with the new springs. My new shackles and matching bushings, shackle bars, studs and plated front eye studs and hardware were bought from Bird Nest. I reused all my hanger bolts as they were in excellent condition.
Last edited by paulr on Thu Feb 04, 2016 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66

Post by tbird » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:28 am

Great article Paul just did this on my 62 a week or so ago and read in the manual that they wanted you to install the front of the spring last, did not even give their instructions a moment of thought I just mounted my front bracket on the box frame first and went from there then installed the front bushings and bolt. Had to take some arc out of the spring to get the rear shackles done up as they would not reach have not had that happen in the past, long story on how we did that. Your springs should have came from Eaton with the bushings on them, every set I have bought did.
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton, Eaton Detroit Spring video

Post by paulr » Sun Feb 07, 2016 2:20 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKhWOIvvZmo
Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring goes deep into the mysteries of springs and how they can effect ride quality, auto stance and suspension performance. The video is not quick and snappy. At over 30 minutes it's highly detailed and probably interesting if you're questioning technical details about your coil and leaf springs. Also, common modifications are explained scientifically, including why some mods turn out to be big and/or dangerous mistakes. This video series is from some guys who specialize in Mustangs and a lot of muscle cars but I have learned a lot of common principles that apply to our Tbirds. Enjoy.
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by sseebart » Sat Mar 19, 2016 11:15 pm

Paul,

Thanks for the write-up! With this information, I was finally inspired to replace the bushings on my rear springs. I've gotten the passenger side done and today have the driver's side on the bench for a rudimentary cleaning before installation tomorrow.

A couple of notes on the process as I experienced it:

The trick you noted for getting to the bolts on the rear shackle also works for removal. I removed the nuts from the U-bolts and dropped the spring away from the axle. With it unweighted, I was able to move the shackle out of the way and get a socket directly on the bolts.

One of the reasons I put this off so long was the horror stories of frozen bolts, impossible to removed parts, etc. My car has seen a number of hard miles, but the U-bolt nuts came off (with some effort) using just a breaker bar and a little penetrating oil. The rest of the parts came off the car with no issues, even the "why-is-this-not-keyed" front stud washer nut and bolt.

To avoid the Rakos Paradox ("A bolt requiring a socket wrench only comes off when the wrench is trapped in place"), I torqued the front hanger on the bench, basically guessing at the correct final orientation. I missed by a bit, but was able to persuade it into place with a crowbar during installation.

I reused almost all the hardware that came off the car. (A number of lock washers were broken; the only replacements.) The threads on the U-bolts required chasing with a die to straighten them up. Quite a few of the nuts, especially for the rear shackles, needed to be tapped out, too.

I did not replace my springs, as the ride height is still good. I'm expecting that the new bushing will stop the rattling I hear in the back. Based on what I've seen, it appears that the U-bolts have been moving around on the axles, perhaps the source of my noise. Still, I used plenty of anti-seize on the threads of all the nuts and bolts, just in case I need to come back to this in the future.

~Steve

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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by tbird » Sat Mar 19, 2016 11:51 pm

Steve if you rethreaded the shackle nuts they may come loose on you, they are lock nuts likely the type with a slight crown on them the tap would make the thread loose.
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by sseebart » Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:19 am

Thanks, Jim. I only tapped one of the shackle nuts, but I did run a die down all the U-bolt threads--they were pretty beat up. I put new lock washers on all around, too. I'll re-torque things after a few hundred miles. If things loosen up, I'll, uh, "spring" for new U-bolts.

~Steve

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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by paulr » Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:40 am

After 1,000 miles on the road following the leaf swap, I checked all torque specs. I found the driver's side U-bolt nuts had slipped somewhat and required re-torquing to 60 lbs. each. Owing to inexperience, I suppose this is not surprising. Probably, though, it occurred to me that with all the flex and absorption involved it was worth checking anyway. It can't hurt to add this to your list of safety checks. Good luck.
Paul
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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by Teeron » Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:11 pm

Thanks, great write up and it inspired me to have a go. Mine went pretty well as described. I'm pretty sure my car has never been apart before, but all the bolts moved easily, and most of them still had the original plating on them. Apart from a shackle bolt that had been bent and had to be cut off, the only difficult bolts were the 9/16 spring hangar bolts, and they took a lot of backing in and out and penetrating oil.

When refitting, I cut the head off a 7/16 bolt, cut a screwdriver slot, and screwed it in to the lower rear hole for the front bracket. Could use any hole, but this was easy to access. This made it easy to lift the spring up and get the front bracket in place while I got the other bolts in. I unscrewed the stud and fitted fitted the last bolt. I left the bracket very loose at this point. I bolted the rear hanger bracket on and left the bolts very loose too. I jacked the spring up and connected the shackle. It was easy to do when all the brackets were loose. I left it all loose and jacked the spring up just behind the axle to get it located in the axle register. This took a bit of persuasion with a large clamp for the fore and aft, and some prying for the left and right, but not too difficult. Then I put the u bolts and the spring plate on and snugged up the front and rear brackets before tightening the U bolts. On my first spring attempt, I'd fitted the shackle to the bracket, and bolted the front bracket up tight. I had a real struggle to get the rear bracket lined up with the holes. Hard work to get the spring located on the axle too. The second attempt, as described, was much easier. Thanks again for the original post.

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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by s1nemesis1s » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:09 am

I am about to do this job on my 64 - this is amazing and very helpful information. I wanted to ask - Where are the most solid points to support the car other than the rear axle? Are they obvious or marked? I don't want to move forward until I know where I should jack and place the stands to do this job, other than the rear diff - this is a big lady and she would come down hard lol! So to get the rear end up and to be able to do all these things with the suspension, where should I jack and put the stands at?

I know this is a basic question - kind of silly - but I really do not want to be turned into a puddle of goo. I appreciate the help folks, I just want to be safe.

Btw - I have been spraying all the bolts with atf and acetone mixture for the past week. Plan on doing it for another week as well - I want this to go smoothly.

AGAIN - WONDERFUL WRITE-UP!!!!

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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by Teeron » Mon Aug 19, 2019 8:11 pm

On my '63, just ahead of the rear wheels and inboard of the pinch welds on the sills is a flat plate, just over an inch wide and a few inches long. I used a ply wood packing strip between that and a jack stand. It was very solid. As a back up I also used a pair of jack stands under the cross member ahead of the rear bumper. The front pair of stands took all the weight, and the rear stands were just in case. I was working on tarmac so I had my jack stands on plywood squares. Probably wouldn't need that on a concrete floor. Whatever set up you use, give the car a good shake before you get under it.

I used a third set of jack stands to support the axle, and I did one spring at a time to avoid loosing control of it.
Ron

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Re: Rear suspension tips 64-66/EDIT Mike Eaton of Eaton Detroit Spring video technical info and mod mistakes

Post by RAVEN » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:31 pm

Not trying to be negative, but I truly think a good look in the SHOP MANUAL, would help you out. Look in section 17-1 pg 17.7 it explains lifting, Frame Contact points and such. It will give you the most supportive points on the car.
Secondly using Acetone as a solvent to desolve ATF for a penetrating oil in my opinion is a waste of time, it flashes off so fast, it will never really allow the oil to penetrate. Use a proper penetrating oil, will work far better. IMHO.
CDN Member since 1975 #2086
Flock: 1964 Landau Original Family Owned
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