Or else!” she said, as the car rattled over some rough road on our street, and 1 had to admit those front end sounds had begun to get rather ominous. Since we had just received stock of urethane front end bushings and my good friend (I have to say that for reasons that will soon be obvious) David Eichelbaum, had just done the front end of his TR250, I was out of excuses for not doing my TR6. Front ends had always made me anxious. There are all those potential problems with frozen bolts, springs, alignment, pressed bushings But with some encouragement, I decided to do it.
So, one Saturday morning David came over to help and teach. I had already put the front end up on stands, pulled the wheels, and disconnected the sway bar: that’s right, the easy stuff! The plan was for us to work on opposite sides at the same time and replace the upper and lower A-arm bushings and the sway bar bushings. David attacked his side with a vengeance and while I was still working on mundane things like the brake caliper, he had popped the spring out and had the whole thing apart! With his encouragement and help I finally got my side taken apart. Actually, it was easier than I had thought. No frozen bolts, no stuck bushings, it all came apart very easily. But then I always could take something apart, it’s the re-assembly that hurts. The urethane bushings went in like a dream. No pressing, no fighting to align pieces just one, three! We replaced the ball joints on the theory that they were pretty worn and while we were in there we might as well do the job.
The best part was taking the car for a spin. It was quiet(!) and felt smoother on the highway. The amount of play in the old bushings and thus the front end was scary, almost as much as the rear end before I replaced the outer hubs.
Now this has been the Readers Digest condensed version. Reassembly did involve some care. Making sure we put things together in the right sequence and facing the right direction. Putting the trunnions into the wishbones did involve a little care: which was the front? which way is up? do those water seals really go that way? don’t bang too hard or you will bend the little flanges, etc….The lesson here is go slow or get a friend who has done it before to help; I recommend the latter. It was not a difficult operation, but care needs to be taken with the springs. The workshop manual method does not work, because the weight of the car will not hold the spring down as you jack up the spring pan: use a spring compressor! Pay attention to how things came apart: some people use a Polaroid camera to keep a record. To remove the inner wishbone bushing, we hacksawed through the mushroomed rubber section and peeled it off – do not cut through the metal sleeve. After the rubber is gone from one end, you can put a bolt into the bushing and pound on its head to drive it out.
Don’t forget to grease the trunnion and ball joints as you put them together. It would not hurt to put a grease gun to the fittings after you finish.
The last step comes about a week later. Re-righten all the nuts and bolts just in case they settle in or (perish the thought) you missed one initially. Also, if you continue to get some squeaking from the bushings, spay the areas liberally with spray white lithium grease. It has noxious fumes so, use caution and adequate ventilation, and it will silence the squeak.
Overall it was a good experience, the entire job took us six hours. I have talked to people who have run into frozen bolts – and my only comment is good luck! I hate it when that happens and am never quite sure what to do.
In addition to saving money by doing it myself, I also learned how the suspension functions which will help next time I hear a funny noise. But the best part of doing these jobs yourself is that you are more confident that it was done right. Many’s the time I have had to fix a repair done at an incompetent shop that said it was “no problem.” So from an admitted parts changer to you, the moral is: Once again into the breach!
By Peter Arakelian, Moss Purchasing