My Car: Day-Off Debacle

This one had been in the planning stage for months, and I finally got the chance to do the work. And it didn’t go well.

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Somewhere around $500 had been accumulating in my garage for months. The ultimate goal was to replace the rear trailing arm bushings because they’re old and cracking, causing noise. To accomplish that, the plan was to completely remove the rear trailing arms, which meant disconnecting the struts, brakes, and all 3 control arms on each side, giving me easy access to the trailing arm bushings. Because my car is 19 years old and from upstate New York, everything is super rusty, so to make things easier I bought all new suspension arms and bolts so it didn’t matter if anything was so seized that it had to be cut or otherwise destroyed to remove. To make things even more fun, everything had snow packed on it, so I was getting dripped on all day.

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I started by remove the rear drums and taking apart the left side brakes. I removed the short brake line that goes from the hose to the wheel cylinder, and started working on removing the bolts in the arms.

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Recently when I had pulled my parking brake it suddenly went slack and no longer worked. When I took the brake shoes out I immediately found where the cable had broken.

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Pretty much everything required liberal use of the acetylene torch to get loose, which is always a challenge when working around rubber and plastic components you don’t want to melt or catch fire. The parking brake cables ran up above the front of the gas tank and the plastic shield covering it, so to get to them I had to remove the shield. When I did, I found something that I am very glad to find.

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The gas tank is held up in the car by two metal straps. One of them was rusted through and just hanging, leaving only one strap, also rusty, holding the tank in place. I quickly ordered new straps and hardware, because I don’t want to wait long to prevent my tank from falling out, which could be very bad.

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By this point it was getting close to noon, so I abandoned the original goal of removing the entire trailing arms and changed to just replacing the control arms and struts so I could take it apart easier in the future. The strut was pretty easy, and I replaced it with a new Monroe Quickstrut unit.

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The lower control arm was a bit harder, the end connecting to the trailing arm took a while to get out. I had all new Moog arms to put in.

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This is why I got new arms and bolts. That’s half a bolt left stuck in the bushing on the end of the arm.

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The new suspension parts look so good, but unfortunately I ran out of time for doing suspension work and had to get on to rebuilding the drum brakes, because I knew that would take a while. It took even longer than I expected.

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The old brake lines came out surprisingly easy, probably because they’re not original, but I had bought new lines, and it’s never bad to have new brake lines. I bent them to approximately match the old ones using sockets to help make good bends.

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By 4:00, after about 7 hours of work, I got the brakes back together. I got less than half of what I wanted accomplished, and found even more work that needs doing, so the day was a bit of a failure. The good things is that I now have a parking brake for the first time in four weeks.

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By 4:30 I’d gotten the air bled out of the rear brakes and it was time to clean up. As with all big projects like this, both the top of my toolbox and my roll cart were just piles of tools. I always put everything away when I’m done, so that took a few minutes, because there was just so much I had gotten out throughout the day.

So when will I get to finish the suspension work? I don’t know, but hopefully because some special driving I have planned for next year. I was a bit too ambitious on this project; even though I knew it would be a big job and bolts would fight me, I didn’t think it would be quite this bad. If I had a second car and my own shop I could do a little bit at a time each day and get it done in a couple weeks, but I don’t get many chances to spend a day working on this.


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-Dan

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4 Responses to My Car: Day-Off Debacle

  1. Pingback: My Car: Gas Tank Straps | Mechanical Malarkey

  2. Pingback: My Car: Plans for 2017 | Mechanical Malarkey

  3. Pingback: My Car: Pre-Road Trip Work | Mechanical Malarkey

  4. Pingback: My Car: Sprung Drum Brakes | Mechanical Malarkey

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