Category Archives: Suspension

January-May 2005 – IRS rebuild

IRS rebuild

I had read the an IRS rebuild is actually straightforward and not too challenging. I agree. I also have a new measure for how long it takes: in winter it takes as long as a thumbnail to come back in; in summer, probably considerably less. I know the thumbnail timeframe because I managed to pinch my right thumb while removing the differential on the first day of working on the IRS. Now, with the IRS back in place, my thumbnail is just about back to normal, having fallen off and regrown since January.

I had expected the refitting of the several washers, bearings, and seals on the wishbone assemblies to have been the hardest of the tasks. (I didn’t take on the differential, except to do a visual inspection.) It turned out that I’d have to rank redoing the “safety” wires to the drilled bolts as the most challenging part of the job. I spent more time figuring out how to cram my fingers into the tightest places. I still wonder how the work was done on the assembly line, though I believe that the least accessible bolts were finally fitted with lock washers in lieu of the safety wire.

With some solid work, I think you could take on an IRS in a full week. My rebuild took a little longer because I was working in winter, and I ordered parts over a period of time. Also, I mistook the number of parts I needed, making me halt progress while waiting for replacements.

Removal of the innards of the IRS is quite easy, if you follow the shop manual. I recruited my boys to help lift the entire assembly on top of a low shop table (and that was shortly before I managed to crush my thumbnail). After the components were apart, the weight no longer mattered, since every piece is manageable — though the differential itself is a heavy chunk of metal.

Rotor alteration. I ordered new brake rotors in March, and those presented me with the first challenge. Holes drilled through the rotors provide access to bolts that affix the brake caliper assembly to the differential case. The replacement rotors had slightly different hole placement than the ones that were fitted to the IRS. (I am very confident that those old rotors had already been replaced once already, so they were not original.) The new rotors had holes too far from the center, making it impossible to slip a socket through to tighten or loosen the bolts behind the rotor.

The fix was to shave about two millimeters off the semicircle toward the center of the rotor. This made the hole slightly larger in one direction. I did this to both holes equally, so that even this slight amount of weight difference on each side of the rotor wouldn’t cause a problem with balance.

If you check out the illustrations in the shop manual, it looks like the new rotors have more original placement and size of bolt access holes, since the shop manual shows the holes extending across the angled gradation from the bolt-fitting plane to the plane of the rotor-brake pad face. The rotors that were on the IRS had smaller holes placed on the plane for the bolts. See the illustrations below to see the difference.

The old rotors were the same thickness as the new, but they were quite rusty. I am tempted to bring them in to have them turned, just to see how much of the rotor had been consumed. There is a chance that they still could be used, though with the trouble of getting to them it would be silly to put old parts into the IRS.

Brake plating and renewal. Like the front brake assemblies, the rear brake assemblies needed plating. I did the nickel plating on my own, as I did with the front assemblies. I was a bit surprised by the size of the brake pistons, which were much smaller than I was expecting. I noticed that Classic Jaguar often uses the front brake slave cylinders on the rear, and I had mistakenly thought this was for some reason for wear or the like. But it turns out that using the front cylinders for the back amounts to an enhancement. (I looked at Haddock’s Jaguar E-type 6 & 12 Cylinder Restoration Guide later, only to see the difference in cylinder size documented.)

I was also expecting to see Dunlop castings, as appear on the shop manual drawings. Instead, I found what might be Girlings, at least that’s what I’ve assumed since the center of the cylinder casting shows a “G” with a centrally placed hand grasping the letter’s left edge (see the photos). I believe that Girling eventually came to be a supplier for brakes, but I thought this switch took place later in E-type history. From what I can glean from the web, it looks like Lucas and Girling began to co-manufacture in the 1950s or 1960s. I know that today they are considered one and the same, though it’s odd that there is no website for the company — at least Google doesn’t seem to report where it is. Perhaps they have consistent electrical problems and can’t keep their web server running. Perhaps Lucas-Girling no longer exists, except as a name.

As a side note, I had prepared for equal sized cylinders in my purchase of cylinder seal kits — so I had two kits well suited for the front brakes. The trouble was that the rear brake cylinders are actually quite a bit smaller than the fronts. I bought a kit for the rear brakes from Terry’s Jaguar Parts for more money than I spent on both of the front kits.

Popping the brake pistons out is a matter of firing up the air compressor and shooting air into the cylinder. Be sure to keep the piston covered, since it will really pop out. The cylinders and the pistons were in good shape, and the rubber seals and boots (manufactured in Australia, by the way) showed no signs of wear or cracking. This was interesting, since the rotors showed wear, but they had very nearly the same thickness as the new ones, something I attributed to the expansion that comes with rust. We replaced the seals and boots with new, of course.

The hand brake setup has a separate set of calipers and pads, and these fit on top of the regular brake caliper assembly. These were a bit of a challenge to bring back into shape. I sandblasted the setup, which was quite rusty, and then I waxed the metal in hopes that it would be protected from corrosion. I later decided that paint would be more protection, and so I cleaned them all up again and painted. They look good, and I don’t think they will suffer from heat, since they shouldn’t do much other than hold the car in a parking place or at a standstill. Given the function of the handbrake pads, I didn’t expect much, if any, wear. Sure enough, there was none. I really didn’t need to replace them, though new ones went in.

I bent and appropriately flared new brake line. It is easy to do good double flares and bubble flares with the right tools. I really don’t know why people buy prebent brake line. New fittings went on, too, and those I had to cannibalize from other brake lines I bought just for the fittings. There must be an easier (and cheaper) way to get those things!

Differential. There’s not much to report on the differential. We opened it up to inspect the gears. We checked for any lateral movement or looseness. Everything looked good and felt smooth and tight. The red-brown paint on the inside of the differential was unmolested, but on the outside it had seen the grit of the years. The consensus on this red paint seems to rest on a brand call “Glyptal” which is a very low porosity enamel that is used to seal inside machinery. It’s used to seal up passages inside of engine blocks, and it’s used by Classic Jaguar in their engine rebuilds, I believe. It is currently available from specialists. (Though I’ve never found it in a auto part store of a paint shop around here, I think I’ve seen it in the Eastwood catalogue for about $40/quart). It’s been speculated that Jaguar dippedthe differential cases in the stuff, though I think that’s probably not the case. Whatever the process, the case and many of its innards are coated with the stuff.

I used a Rustoleum recipe for the exterior of the differential case. It’s a 1:1 mix of Rustoleum “Rusty Metal” primer and Red. The color matches exactly what I was able to find under the grime, and the coating is tough. I didn’t redo any of the interior of the case or its contents. I think Mike Moore, a restorer in the San Francisco Bay Area, gave me the recipe.

One thing we did notice when we drained the differential was how horrible the oil smelled. It was truly awful, and I think the odor might have had something to do with the leather seals in the differential. I suppose this would be a puzzle for an organic chemist to ponder. Also, we ran into what might be some Whitworth threads on certain bolts going into the differential. Certainly they were at least among the few “NC” threads (the course threads) on the vehicle, but they seemed to have a bit of a different angular pitch on the threads. I didn’t tarry long enough to research the matter.

We didn’t replace the differential seals, though the fiber seal for the case access cover was replaced since we destroyed it when we removed the cover.

IRS housing (or “cage”). One of the nice design elements of the IRS is that the entire assembly fits inside a housing that is easily removed intact from the body. It’s really just a matter of supporting the IRS underneath with a hydralic jack, removing a few bolts and detaching a brake line hose. Then, with the body supported, you drop the IRS with the jack and roll it out. The disassembly is a matter of removing the pieces from the housing.

After the wishbones, half-shafts, hubs, coils/shocks, and the differential were out, we cleaned up the housing and painted it with epoxy black paint. I know many people go ahead and use a powder coat on the IRS (which was perhaps the original finish?), but I didn’t go that route. The epoxy is very tough stuff, and I think it’ll do quite nicely, especially since this car isn’t going to see any moisture or tough wear while I own it.

Various notes. Bolt safety wire was a pain to install. I used 19-gauge stainless steel wire, and I didn’t bother to get a wire twisting tool. It seemed to me that the number of bolts I’d have to secure with wire wasn’t enormous, and besides that, many of them were very inaccessible. The safety wire was eventually abandoned and lock washers were used instead on the bolts that are accessible through the holes on the brake rotors. These are very nearly impossible to reach, and I can’t imagine how a production automobile could have used this tactic for securing bolts. (Of course, the run for the E-type was at one time only supposed to have been long enough to qualify the car for Le Mans — 500 copies.)

The wire twisting in the picture was comparatively easy to get to. Twisting it was another matter, as you can see by the less than perfect spiral. This bolt attaches the brake caliper to the differential and its safety wire goes through the other drilled bolt seen in the picture. The bolts that secure the differential to the IRS cage also use safety wire, and because it’s so accessible, it’s easy to do a nice job. That safety wire, I believe, has a certain ornamental value, too!

If you ever take a look at the “exploded” drawing of the IRS, the number of spaces, seals, washers, and such on the wishbone arms is quite formidable. I found out that the drawing is actually significantly more complicated than the reality, since the parts interlock predictably. I did wonder how to get the parts back into the right configuration and slipped into place before inserting the fulcrum shaft. I used multipurpose grease as a glue, and it worked very well. The IRS case with the differential and the yokes for the fulcrum shaft in place make for an exact fit. The wishbones with the various washers and seals just fit. I line things up and shove them into place. The last bit of adjustment was easy to do with a rubber mallet.

I had a bit of a time getting the last nuts off of all of the shafts — there are fulcrum shaft at each end of the wishbone and the shock absorbers are affixed to the wishbones with a similar shaft. Removing the shafts was easy, since you needed only to loosen one of the nuts, but getting the second nut off was significantly harder. After all, the nut that stayed on was more likely to be fusedon. I ended up soaking the shafts in kerosene, and then I used the air impact wrench to get the last nut off. All the threads were retapped and fitted with new bolts.

My shock absorbers (aka “dampers”) had waited some time in the parts bin — probably over a year — before they found their way into place. I bought Boge shocks, which are supposed to be suitable replacements for stock. The coils were in good shape, all with the correct height unloaded. I brought the old shocks and the coils to a shop to have them parted, checked and painted to coils, and then had the new shock fitted. (The bill amounted to $50, which seemed a little rich to me, since the job total took all of maybe fifteen minutes.)

The other work I had to have done in a (different) shop was pressing the big and little radius arm bushings in. I was able to remove them, but the big bushing especially requires some heavy pressing. After the IRS was in place, I installed the radius arms to the radius arm mounting cups, using plenty of copper paste to prevent the parts from seizing together.

So, two pictures to show the before …

… and after one more time.

November/December 2004 – Steering setup

Steering setup

Of course, the “upper” steering column — the one inside the car — was set into place back in October, but the front section of the steering needed restoration. This includes the “rack and pinion” steering assembly that is attached to the “picture frame” and connects to the suspension pieces. Although all of the rubber parts on the steering assembly were trash, the rest of the parts were in good shape. I had to replace the mounting brackets (a “Metalastic” rubber-and-metal assembly) as well, since the originals were a bit cracked and stiff. The tie rod ends, with their ball joints, were in good shape and had no evidence of bad wear or rust. The toothed rack was pure uncorroded steel. The tie rods themselves were in good shape, and the separated from the tie rod ends with a little effort, some penetrating oil, and some tapping with a hammer. Even though the previous owners of the car repaired rust poorly, they seemed to know how to keep things greased up. I think the grease spared the steering from rusting.

The tube that houses the rack and the pinion had been painted body color, and this paint protected much of it from rust. The aluminum fitting was also protected. I suppose that there is some merit to sloppy paint jobs — at least the previous paint job spared me from too much additional rust repair or part replacement in the steering assembly. I did have to replace the mounting brackets, since they were more exposed to the elements and are made up of rubber fused sandwich-style between steel parts. When I took off the original brackets, I completely destroyed a threaded post that fits through the picture frame. The nut was fused on with rust, and no amount of penetrating fluid would help to loosen it.

I did not replace the bearings in the lower or the upper universal joints. They felt quite smooth, and in case they fail getting to them is hardly a difficult thing. They don’t seem to be too stressed at any point, and so I think the original ones are going to be just fine. The ball joint pins on the tie rod ends can’t be attached until the torsion bars are in place and the hub and wheel assembly is up from its lowest position. Since the tie rod ends do have ball joints, it’s probably a good idea not to stress them too much so that you don’t risk distorting the housings for the ball joints. If that occurs, you pretty much have to replace the tie rod ends. There is one brass bush in the tube holding the steering shaft. That was in good shape, and I left it alone. It’s located at the end opposite the housing for the pinion gear. I don’t think it gets much wear as long as the steering shaft is well greased.

Color scheme on this assembly is simple. You only spray gloss black. I used pictures from Classic Jaguar as a guide, but it looks to me like you can shoot black where it feels right. The extremities, so to speak, stay clear unpainted steel. As with other exposed steel parts, I waxed the pieces to give them some protection. I should note that I am using anti-seize grease on many of the threaded connections, in part of keep them protected from rust but also to keep them manueverable should I want to remove them in the future. I do not think that the anti-seize makes the bolts and nuts any more susceptible to getting loose — except, of course, when you want to loosen them!

November/December 2004 – Front suspension

Front suspension

The front suspension waited since the basic installation of the bearings, brake rotors, and wheel hubs. I hadn’t done much of anything to the torsion bars, since the prospect of actually setting them up just exhausted me. But with work proceeding on the steering column and the rack and pinion setup, I decided it was time to do the front suspension pieces a bit more permanently. This entailed setting the torsion bars (Oh, joy!) and putting the steering rack and tie rod assembly into place. I also fitted the shock absorbers. So, the only part that is not in place yet is the brake assembly. I figured that I would hold off on the front brakes until I can see the status of the rear brakes, which accept the Dunlop brake slave cylinders, as I understand it. (Classic Jaguar frequently fits the front brakes on the rear and then replaces the fronts with higher grade brakes.) That way, I should be able to get the rear suspension done and installed before I have to make a decision on the front brakes. If I fit the front brakes on the rear, I can also avoid doing a lot more nickle plating right away, though of course there are parts in the rear that will require plating. At this point I might just do the plating in one fell swoop in any case — it’s not an important decision at this point.

Adjusting the torsion bars was not as bad as I had anticipated, though it wasn’t a piece of cake either. The key at this point is to bring the tension on the bars to zero, so that means loosening the upper ball joint pin and not having any of the other tension-causing connections in place either. The steering tie rod end should not be connected nor should the anti-roll bar linkage. Of course, the shock absorber needs to be out entirely. In order to make sure that the upright isn’t damaged by flopping freely, secure it by tying up or otherwise securing the upright through the upper ball joint pin hole. I just used some old brake line and loosely attached the upright to the upper fulcrum shaft. You just need to have the upright and the lower wishbone swing freely enough to lower the wishbone to the required level. The required length according to the Bentley manual is 17 13/16 inches from the centers of the upper and lower bolts for the shock absorber. The manual supplies the plans for a bracket to hold the lower wishbone in place while adjusting the torsion bars.

The work is in the putzing that the torsion bar requires to fit correctly. I suppose there is a methodical way of doing it, but fine adjustment requires playing around with the fit on both ends of the bar, since there are a different number of teeth on each end (24 and 25). This difference makes it possible to do some fine tuning of the fit. It took me about a half dozen tries on both bars to get the holes to line up on the rear mounting brackets. If you’ve done the filing and fitting well enough on the teeth, you shouldn’t have to do much more than slide or perhaps gently tap the bars into place. I do think that the anti-seize grease is a good idea to use on those splines.

After the torsion bar is secure, you can begin putting pressure back onto the bar by attaching the various parts: anti-roll bar linkage, steering tie rod end, upper ball joint pin, and the shock absorber. I saved the shock absorber for the end, since it was easiest to attach the parts that had the greatest flexibility first. I used a small hydraulic jack under the lower wishbone to push the assembly upward in order to get the parts attached. Even with the other parts in place, I had to sit on the frame in order to install the shock. By the way, you need to attach the lower end of the shock absorber first, and then pull it up to fit the upper end.

As you can see, I have gone with “Boge” shocks all around. They have the same shape as the original Girling shocks, and they get good reports from people who have fitted them in a “stock” setup like what I have intended with this restoration. I suppose that if I wanted to look more “authentic” I could go ahead and paint these shocks the original Girling blue and they could pass for the old Girlings. Boge black suits me just fine, at any rate.

Fitting the shock absorbers did teach me the uses of being a part pack rat during disassembly. A small spacer that fits inside the bush-halves at the low end of the shock looked to me to be the kind of thing that many people probably toss. The piece looks like it might come shipped as part of replacement bushes, but that’s not the case. The part fits easily into the bushes, which you slide in at both sides of the shock. There is no need to press the spacer into place. The big end goes against the lower wishbone.

September/October 2004 – Clearcoat, boot lid, steering column, sundries

This entry begins the third year of restoration work on the old car.

Clearcoat and boot lid installation

The car body was completely sanded smooth with 800 grit sandpaper, and ripples and “orange peel” areas were smoothed out. The surface was then degreased and coated with another double coat of clearcoat. This final clear coat will undergo the “color sanding” process and then finally be buffed to a fine shine.

We painted and clear coated the door exteriors and the trunk (boot) lid, too. The boot hinges were painted some weeks ago, and they had been awaiting reassembly. I had a number of boot hinge springs that had broken, and I replaced those with new ones using a modification of the methods that have been described by George Cohn (on the Jag Lovers forum) and Classic Jaguar. They are good descriptions and entirely predictable, in that there aren’t very many ways to do the job. One thing I did do that wasn’t listed in the directions was grease between the individual springs. Although the springs don’t do an incredible amount of rubbing, I did notice evidence of wear on my old springs (which were not greased). I figured that adding a smattering of grease probably would alleviate a little friction over time, though at the expense of introducing grease into a storage area. I suspect that the original springs were not greased simply because Jaguar drivers didn’t really want luggage and storables stained with grease. And that would be a hazard of greasing boot lid hinge springs.

The E-type is not a remarkably wondrous vehicle for transporting much other than two passengers, so I wasn’t going to worry about an occasional grease stain.

Once you install the hinges and attach the lid, you almost have to install the latching mechanism. E-types have a release fitted on the rear bulkhead in the car’s interior. There was no lock on the early Series I cars — that was introduced, I believe, with the late 3.8 liter cars or with the introduction of the 4.2 liter engine. On my car, you just pull the knob and the lid pops up. As far as I can tell, there isn’t an easy way to release the trunk lid if the cable attached to the knob and the latching mechanism fails. You’re basically stuck, or you have to be very adept with needlenose pliers stuck through the holes for mounting the rear license plate.

My latch required little more than a good cleanup and a little black paint. The part of the latch that attaches to the lid itself was in exceptional shape, with the cadmium plate in fine polish. After all, it was protected from the elements and had been painted body color at some time.

Once the latch was fitted, the trunk could close and reveal some of the fine shape of the E-type. I couldn’t help myself — I had to attach the chrome surrounds for the license plate recess, just to get a little better picture of the rear. The doors, you might note, also are temporarily hung in place. I needed to get them out of the way, and the body shell seemed a good place to store them!

Steering wheel

Most car restoration, it seems to me, involves some form of rubbing. You can’t get away from it, even after having put in your time rubbing and sanding the body before and after painting. Even the steering wheel took its toll on my elbows, or at least required a bit of attention from my cloth polishing wheel and some compound.

The horn button comes off of the steering wheel by loosening three set screws. Once these are loosened, the horn button comes right off. Dissasembling the steering wheel from the “boss” (the aluminum cylinder that attaches the wheel to the column) means drilling out aluminum rivets. I do not plan on re-riveting the wheel to the boss, so I’m replacing them with screws and bolts. (This is a very common practice, I have learned.)

All of the aluminum on this car has some severe aluminum oxide corrosion, and the steering wheel seemed especially to suffer from it. I used 800-grit sandpaper to remove the bulk of the corrosion, and then I used a cloth buffing wheel with coarse grit to get the remainder cleaned. A single attack on the aluminum portions of the wheel was not enough. I had to go at the whole thing again with 800-grit sandpaper and buffing before things were in shape. Thet pictures of the horn button, by the way, show the wheel in mid-restoration, not final. I’ll update with other pictures, probably when things move along with the steering column and dash assemblies.

The steering wheel itself had some fairly severe cracks, and for the most part the varnish had deteriorated to the point that it had completely flaked off. I was thankful for the residues that remained, but it wasn’t entirely clear at the outset whether the wood sections of the steering wheel would be salvagable. At least the wood was very nearly complete — though a splinter of wood about four or five inches long and about an eighth-inch wide was missing between about 10 and 12 o’clock on the wheel perimeter. In this section, the aluminum steering wheel substrate was exposed. That section I chose to fill with “mahogany” wood filler, and the jury’s still out on what it will look like completely refinished. (I’ll post a picture when I get the polyurethane applied completely.)

For the crack repair, I used an approach that was suggested on the Jag Lover’s Forum: using cyanoacrylate filler to bond and fill steering wheel cracks. It worked nicely, and I just used the glue that I found at Lowes. Unlike the “Super-Glue” adhesive, this stuff was thicker than the watery stuff I’d used before as a cement. It flowed well enough into cracks, but it did bead up after I reapplied it to an already filled crack. The watery “Super-Glue” would just have spread. Because the adhesive bonds very quickly, I clamped the crack as tightly as I could before applying the glue. Even when the crack virtually disappeared under pressure of the clamps, the glue found and soaked into the crack quite easily. Because cyanoacrylates use hydroxyl ions (in water) to begin bonding, I used my breath to add moisture to the wheel before clamping a crack and applying the glue.

Sounds a little weird, but it works. (Arlene and my daughter thought it was strange for me to blow into the steering wheel.)

Cyanoacrylate is exceptionally tough stuff. It quickly soaked into the cracked wood and bonded. The areas that built up some glue were devilishly hard to sand down. After the sanding, I applied a coat of clear polyurethane, followed by light sanding and a reapplication of polyurethane. As of this writing, I’ve applied three coats of polyurethane in this fashion, and I believe that one more will be required. I’ve inserted a picture of the entire steering wheel, with the horn button laid in place. (Since it’s a large picture, I lowered the color palette, and that makes things look a little botchy.) The aluminum still needs a little work (already started, to judge from the scratches that are visible), and the wood needs sanding and another coat. By the way, the void that I had to fill is on the reverse side of the wheel, thank goodness.

Steering column and indicator switch

The steering column lacked a couple of items, and the indicator light switch was faulty. Beyond that, the indicator switch lever was badly corroded; what was originally chrome had become little more than a rusty stick with flakes of chrome loosely hanging on it. The larger picture shows the indicator switch — such as it was — on the steering column. It’s attached with a bracket setup that wraps around the outer tube of the column. The old switch clicked into place for left turns, but the right turns would not hold, making it necessary to hold the switch in place. The trouble was the nylon fitting that was cracked on the side that affected the right. We completely disassembled the switch and discovered some pretty badly burnt points and worn plastic (Bakelite?) housings. In short, the indicator switch is pretty much junk. It’ll be entirely replaced.

The steering column consists of two major parts: an outer tube and the shaft. The shaft is held in place by two bushes, one at the top of the tube and the other at the bottom. The bushes are available in felt or plastic. I went with the plastic versions, in spite of the fact that the originals were felt. The felt bushes are sandwiched by washers and held in place by a wire circlip that snaps into holes on the top and bottom sides of the outer tube. The plastic arrangement is much simpler, since the plastic ring simply snaps into place in the holes. (The holes for the upper bush are visible in the picture on the left.) The two bushes have unequal inner dimensions. The lower bush is smaller than the upper one, since the shaft tapers in stepwise fashion from top to bottom.

When we picked up the car, the steering column shaft was noticably shaky in the tube. This was because a previous owner didn’t bother to replace the felt bushes but instead rigged up a plastic arrangement. This “bush” was mounted centrally on the column (a great pivot, of course), fashioned from a plastic bottle cap, and affixed with electrical tape. In order to reduce drag, I suppose, the entire shaft was smeared with grease. It is actually amazing that the shaft didn’t bind firmly in the tube, because the electrical tape easily unravelled.

I took pictures of the plastic replacement bushes, but (alas) they are stuck on my digital camera. The dongle has disappeared from the household, and of course no one has any idea where it is. When it reappears (soon, I hope), I’ll post a photo of the bushes.

‘Til then….

June 2004 – Front suspension, part 3

This part of the front suspension story focuses on the wheel hubs, the bearings, and the brake rotors. Actually, the process is quite straightforward, and it is certainly easier than the installation of the wishbones. One thing that might look a little odd is that the hubs are both sporting “socks” — quite literally. The socks are there to protect the splines from damage. It’s a good thing to have on the hubs from the very first time that the hubs are exposed after removing the wheels. Hubs are very expensive little parts to replace, and damaged splines are a primary reason for replacement.

I believe the hubs on the E-type originally were plated, and there was evidence of plate (nickel?) on my hubs. I decided not to have them replated, since they are totally obscured by the wheels. In order to prevent rust, I am waxing the exposed steel and applying a “waxoyl”-like sealant. That, and the fact that the car is not going to do duty in bad weather, should keep the wheels in reasonably good shape.

The steering arm attaches to the central lock nut on the stub axel and to the upper forward support (one of four such supports radiating from the center of the upright).

Cleaning up the hubs was a chore. I had to sandblast the grime and fused rust-grease off. Then I polished the surface with a wire brush and coarse steel wool.

It’s important to install the correct hub on each side. Reverse them, and you might find that your front wheels won’t stay on. That is definitely a problem!

Here’s my experience. Take it as information from someone whose done the work. Remember “your mileage may vary” — use this narrative and the pictures to guide and inform your better judgment.

Install stub axel and the steering arm. The stub axel fits into the center hole in the upright. The steering arm fits between the upright and the stub axel nut and extends to the upper forward support, which is one of four such supports that radiate from the center hole. The rear pair are used to attach the brake caliper and the lower forward support is used to attach the brake line bracket.I found that all of the threads on all of these supports needed to be cleaned out, and now is the time to do the cleaning of all of the threads. If you wait to do the brake caliper threads until after you have installed the brake rotor, you will have a bit of trouble, since the rotor will get in the way. So, if you want to clean threads, clean them all before mounting anything on the supports. The threads on my uprights were 1/2 inch 20 NF threads.

The left side steering arm bears an embossed “R” that made me think it was supposed to go on the right. Apparently this is not the case, since the part only fits on the left side.

The four bolts that fit into the support holes are in three sizes. The two with holes drilled through the heads are for the brake calipers (the holes are for the wire lock), the longest one of the bunch is for the steering arm, and the shortest one is for the brake line bracket. All of the bolts should have split lock washers. I plated the bolts with zinc, as (I believe) they were originally.

I ran into a curious thing on one steering arm. The two arms are specific to a side, and they are not interchangable. Often the side is indicated on the part (as with the torsion bars), but I found that the steering arm that fit on the left side of the car has a raised “R” near the part number, and the steering arm on the right was unmarked. It could be that the “R” is actually unrelated to which side the part goes on, though it seemed an odd casting mark to use in this case. (The sidebar includes a photograph of the steering arm with the “R.”)

The stub axel gets firmly pressed into the recess on the outer side of the upright as you tighten the stud axel nut. The nut itself has a nylon lock ring. Inspect the nylon before fitting the stub axel with it. If the nylon has been damaged, it’s best to replace the nut. This nut, I would think, would have been a good candidate for something other than nylon to provide the locking.

Place the splash guard, rubber seal, and the inner bearings on stub axel. Now that the stub axel is in place, the process of fitting the various parts of the bearings begins. To put the bearings in, surprisingly enough, you practically don’t need any tools (except when setting the races and attaching the rotor) until the very end when you’re ready to set the hub into place and adjust the tightness of the hub against the bearings. You do need to get your hands greasy.

The inner bearing goes on the stub axel after you have put the stub axel splash guard (or “water deflector”) and rubber seal on. The rubber seal is a bit confusing to set into place — which side does the flat face go on? I tested the faces of the seal against the inner bearing and found that the flat face should go away from the bearing. The flat face of the rubber seal seemed to impede the freedom of the bearing, and besides, my recollection of the removal of the old seal had the flat face pointing away from the bearing. Before you put the bearing into position, liberally pack it with grease.

My bearing kits came with the rubber seal, the bearings and their races, a cotter key to lock the castellated nut, and a pillow-like tube of grease. The tube of grease was severely brittle, probably from long contact with the grease, and so it crumbled as I squeezed out grease to apply to the first parts I installed. The trouble was that I was afraid of introducing small bits of plastic into the bearings, so I threw the tube away and fetched a can of multi-purpose grease. My grease has a red color, as you’ll see in the pictures. I was able to reuse the splash guards (also known as “water deflectors”), even though these are frequently mangled when they’re removed. I replated them with zinc. There are two of these: one that fits around the inner end of the hub and the other that fits over the stub axel nearest the upright.

The order of installation over the stub axel is 1) the splash guard, 2) the rubber seal, and 3) the inner bearing. See the photograph for how the parts actually look when in place. Basically, the splash guard goes on the stub axel so that the concave sections of the ring will accept the hub-installed splash guard. (Yes, there are two splash guards that look quite different. One mounts on the stub axel, and the other goes on the hub.) The splash guard might fit in by pressing it firmly with your fingers. If not, a tap or two with a rubber mallet will do. The rubber seal fits easily with fingers. I was a little confused by how this seal was oriented at first. I tested it against the inner bearing, and I found that if you place the flat (more or less) side of the seal against the bearing, the bearing didn’t move freely. Putting the concave side against the bearing let the bearing spin freely. That concave side has a small spring fitted inside the ring — at least mine did. Grease the bearing well before slipping it on the stub axel. It will go on easily, though it’ll probably need to be well lined up. Making sure that the stub axel is clean will ease placement of the bearing. The bearing should be firmly placed, not sloppy. You should be able to slide it off, but you also shouldn’t be able to wiggle the ring that fits onto the stub axel.

Insert inner bearing race and attach hub to the brake rotor. Getting the bearing races out is no easy thing. Putting new ones in is a little difficult, but certainly easier. It is handy to have the old race to use to help drift the new one in place. You can set the old on on the new one and hit the old one with a hammer and not have to worry too much about damaging the new race.

This is the view of the inner section of the hub and the inside of the rotor interface to the hub. The “splash guard” and inner bearing race (inside the hub and well greased) are installed. I was careful as I removed the splash guards from the hubs, so I was able to reuse them after plating them with zinc. The guards are very easy to damage when you remove them.

But before you tap it in, clean the bore where the race fits. It is supposed to be tight, and so the presence of nicks or dirt will get in the way. I used some emery cloth and steel wool to clean the bores. I also place a smidgeon of grease (not much) into into the bore. At this point do notinstall the splash guard to the end of the hub. The temptation is great, since the splash guard is an easy thing to fit. The trouble is that the guard is soft, easy to bend, and quite easy to hit with a hammer as you tap the race into place. (Believe me, I know.) Wait until after the inner bearing race is installed; then install the splash guard.

Tap the old race as it sits on top of the new one, and be sure to tap in various places along the old race. This will ensure that the new race goes in evenly and won’t bind. I placed the old race on top of the new one with the thick side on top of the new race. This makes it easier to keep the old race in place, and if the race gets stuck in the bore, you have an edge to use to drift it out from the other side. Getting the old race stuck in the bore is a possibility. Once the new race is seated, it is recessed about two or three centimeters into the bore. Of course, if you’re using the old race to tap, that means that the old race is in the bore as well. Although I didn’t need to do it, I suppose that you could sand the outside edges of the old race to make it slightly narrower — making it looser in the bore as it pushes the new race into place.

This isn’t a wonderful picture of the outer bearing race inside the hub. (I forgot to take a picture of the finished race in place.) You can just barely see it inside the hub. The outer race sits flush with the hub part, unlike the inner race, which is recessed within the bore into which it is seated. To get the inner race in place, I used an old inner race to protect the new one from blows of my hammer. I just laid the old one on the new one, and tapped the old one. The outer race I tapped into place by setting the outside of a closed face wrench against the race and tapping the other end of the wrench. I moved the wrench from place to place on the race, usually in a triangular pattern. This gradually “drifted” the race into place. You do need patience.

It’s hard to tell when the new race is completely seated. I used a toothpick to detect when the space underneath the new race was tight. I just put oriented the toothpick to probe behind the new race. If I could feel the toothpick move into a groove, I knew I had more tapping to do. Be persistent.

After the new race is in place, place the splash guard on the hub. It fits snugly, but a few taps with a rubber mallet should do the trick. You could place a wooden block on top of the splash guard and tap it in, too.

The next thing is the brake rotor. The hub and the brake rotor are connected with five nuts and bolts. The nuts are the self-locking type, though these do not use a nylon ring. They use a metal ring, which I believe is more durable. Inspect the nuts and bolts, and replace any that are damaged. The bolts are placed from in inner part of the rotor, and the nuts are exposed on the outer part of the hub. It is an easy install. The nut and the bolt are different sizes, you’ll note.

Insert outer bearing race, prepare outer bearing for insertion, mount hub/rotor. Inserting the outer bearing race is a little easier simply because the brake rotor stabilizes the hub. The rotor serves as a large stand for the hub, holding it in place. Getting the outer race in is simplified by virtue of its size. It’s quite a bit smaller than the inner bearing race. That said, you do have to set it down into the hub a little. Also, the trick of using the old race as a protection doesn’t work. (At least I couldn’t get it to work for me.) I used a stout crescent wrench with a closed end wrench on one end and the open (“crescent”) wrench on the other. The closed end wrench was smooth and, of course, the steel was tough. I placed the rounded surface of the closed end on the bearing race and tapped it into place. Again, move the wrench (or whatever you use to place against the race) to different places on the surface of the race so that it goes in evenly. This race fits evenly into the bore, so that the race lies flush with the hub when it is completely in place. (Remember, the inner race was slightly recessed into its bore.)

Underneath the coating of multi-purpose grease (which my wife says looks like blood in the picture) is the bearing surrounding the stub axel end and neatly fit within the race.

Once you have the outer race installed, pack grease into the outer bearing. Put some grease on the inner and outer races. Then guide the rotor and hub onto the stub axel. Things should go on nicely. You should be able to hold the hub and rotor easily in place on the inner bearing.

Place outer bearing, insert “D” washer, screw on castellated nut. Look into the end of the hub to see the outer race and the stub axel end. Take the greased up outer bearing and slip it over the end of the stub axel and into to outer race. You’ll probably have to hold the hub up a bit. You can press the bearing into place with your fingers. Holding the outer bearing in place with your fingers, you can spin the rotor and the hub quite easily.

The outer bearing — and indeed the whole hub — is held in place by a “D” washer, a castellated nut, and a cotter key. Grease the “D” washer before slipping it on. (As soon as you look at the washer, you’ll see why it’s called a “D” washer.) Screw the castellated nut onto the stub axel and hand tighten.

It’s a good thing that this is easy, because the hardest part of the whole operation is coming — putting the cotter key in to lock up the castellated nut.

Over the outer bearing goes a “D” washer and the castellated nut.

Adjust bearing fit, insert cotter key to lock nut in place. My shop manual gives two alternatives to adjusting the “float” of the bearings: one that requires a measuring instrument and another that uses “feel.” Of the two, perhaps the measuring procedure has been done a couple of times in the history of the world, but the adjustment-by-feel method is probably the most used. Adjustment-by-feel entails tightening the castellated nut to a certain point and then backing off of that point a fraction of a turn. The correct “float” according to my workshop manual is 0.003 – 0.005 inch (0.07 – 0.13 mm). The manual says that adjustment-by-feel entails tightening until there is no “float” — the hub feels “sticky — and then loosening the nut “between one and two flats” to expose the hole on the stub axel for the cotter key. (My workshop manual uses the term “split pin” for “cotter key.”)

The completed assembly. A few things are lacking for the front suspension, most notably, the anti-roll bar and, of course, the brakes. At this point it does in fact look like a front end again!

Actually getting the cotter key in place is a real trick. The cotter key that came with my kit was actually slightly larger than the hole it was supposed to fit into. I was able to narrow the key by some deft work using my wire wheel on my grinder. It didn’t take much, obviously. (I cleaned the hole, too, with a drill bit.) You will need to bend the cotter key at two points, roughly in thirds along the key.Make the bends about 140°. You can also gently bend the whole cotter key into a curved shape about a quarter of a circle. These bends will make it possible for you to get the key into the hole on the stub axel end. Once you get the key into the hole, you shove it through and straighten the key while it’s in place. After the key is in place, you bend the halves of the key around the castellated nut, locking the nut into place.

The first one is the hardest to do.

June 2004 – Front suspension, part 2

The heading says “front suspension,” but for all practical purposes it should read “torsion bars are the key — and the pain.” I have a vague suspicion that a great number of

restorations go swimmingly until torsion bars need to be dealt with. At that point, the would-be restorer throws up his hands in defeat and carts the car to a professional, or the garage becomes as silent as a crypt.

Like it or not, torsion bars and the parts that meet them make up a lot of doing the front suspension. As I found out, if you don’t prepare these parts before you assemble, you end up breaking things down and rebuilding. The truly bad thing about the torsion bars is that you’ll have to mess with them quite late in the game — when you have everything together and need to adjust them.

The shop manual I use has useful exploded views of many of the assemblies on the Jag, but it struck me as odd that the exploded view of the front suspension was spotty about the location of nuts and washers. The ball pins, for example, seemed to float freely without a washer or a means of affixing them to the assembly. I was thankful for my scrupulous photography during the breakdown of the car. Since the suspension was literally doubled — left and right sides — I could usually find a shot that showed what I needed.

I was fortunate enough to lurk on Jag Lovers E-type forum ( to read through active discussions of front suspension issues, and especially torsion bar installation. That helped greatly, though I didn’t find an opportunity to pose any questions. They were, for all practical purposes, already addressed by the assembled wise guys. Or my questions resolved themselves with some careful looking.

Perhaps you won’t make the mistakes I did.

— The Process, Distilled from Experience in the Garage —

The prepared lower wishbone assembly should look like this. When you are ready to install the brackets, tighten the nuts on each end so that the brackets fit snugly against the fulcrum shaft and the attached levers. This seems necessary in order to get the brackets to slide into their slots on the subframes.

This more or less distills the process of how I installed the front suspension. I have illustrated the text in the sidebar. This process comes after installing the front suspension (or at least one side of it) not once but twice. I managed to make enough mistakes to warrant dismantling my work and starting over. Overall, the key is to make sure you understand the subtle differences between the parts on the lower wishbone assembly. (Yes, the forged front wishbone levers do fit only on one side in spite of their seeming identity.) And the other big point is preparing the splines on the torsion bars and their splined fittings. Remember, you will be revisiting the torsion bars later when it comes time to adjust them. Later, of course, means after you’ve already got most everything else installed — and therefore haven’t much room left to fuss over the bars.Actually, I dread the thought of adjusting torsion bars later on down the road.Oh, and in all of this please note that “your mileage may vary” — use this narrative and the pictures to guide and inform your better judgment.

Assemble the upper and lower wishbone assemblies.

There are a couple of tricks with the parts making up the lower wishbone assembly. First, the ends of the fulcrum shaft are not equal; the front end is slightly shorter — by about 8 or 9 millimeters. Second (and this is not immediately apparent), the forged levers that attach to the “upright” via the ball pins fit on a specific side of the car. On the end where the splines for fitting the torsion bar, there is about a 2 or 3 millimeter indentation that extends over the hole with the splines all the way to the end of the piece. The indentation should face forward. I didn’t see any other indication for right and left.

This means inserting the fulcrum shafts and loosely attaching the brackets with their bushings already inserted. For the upper assembly, you can loosely fit just the bush and bracket part of the front bracket. That bracket has two parts, one of which you attach to the picture frame separately. Both front and rear brackets need to be loosely fitted onto the lower wishbone. I had mistakenly assumed that I could attach the lower bracket on the picture frame (the largest of the front suspension brackets) and then slide the fulcrum shaft into place. I found out this is either impossible or, if not impossible, hard to do without chipping away at paint and otherwise furiously banging.

Lower wishbone assembly.

The lower wishbone goes together quite easily. Mind the washers, especially those that sit between the bush and the castellated nuts. These are very close to the size of the washers that fit the upper wishbone assembly. Closer inspection shows that the hole for the lower wishbone washers is slightly larger than the washers fitting the upper wishbone. I had to scare up one of the special washers from Stefan Roundy, who called them “distance washers.” I was missing one for the upper wishbone and another for the lower. These are quite thick and they sit on the side of the bush opposite the castellated nut. The lower wishbone, as far as I can tell, has only one of these washers, located at the rear end of the fulcrum shaft. The front lever of the assembly — the part to which the torsion bar attaches — apparently doesn’t have a washer between the bush and the cast wishbone part, which is quite wide and flat on the side facing the bush in any case.

The fulcrum shaft for the lower wishbone is not symmetrical. One end has a longer section for fitting the wishbone part and the bush than the other, by a few millimeters. The longer of the two ends goes to the rear.

Although the “rear wishbone lever” (the tapered bar extending from the rear of the fulcrum shaft to the front lever) is for all practical purposes identical on both sides of the car, the “front wishbone lever” is specific to a side of the car. The difference is at the end with the splined hole that receives the torsion bar splines. The front-facing side of the bar is machined to be slightly indented. If you put the lower wishbone lever on the wrong side of the car, the lever will bang against the subframe, and probably cause damage.

At this point you actually begin preparing for the torsion bar installation. Using a triangular file (get a new one so it’s sharp), clean out the splines on the lower wishbone levers, inside the fitting that goes on the rear end of the torsion bars, and on the front and back ends of the torsion bars. This is tedious but it made all the difference for me, and I believe it will pay off in future adjustments. I didn’t do the cleaning for the first installation of the front suspension, and I found that the torsion bar installation was simply too difficult. I could get them in place, but the thought of having to adjust them was a nightmare. I figured I’d break everything on the lower wishbones down and start over. (Jag Lover’s was helpful here, since discussion of torsion bar adjustment was active at the time.)

File the fittings and the bars until you can place the bars into the splined holes without having to use anything more violent than a rubber mallet. You do not want to do too much filing so that the bars fit sloppily. They should be snug, but adjustable.

Upper wishbone assembly.

Upper front bush and suspension bracket. This piece attaches to the picture frame, and the bush and bracket attach to it with three bolts.

The front mounting bracket for the upper wishbone has two main parts, one that attaches by three bolts to the picture frame and the other that holds the bush. These two parts are attached by means of three 5/16 24 NF grade 8 bolts. Shims may or may not sit between these parts.

The rear mounting bracket fits directly to the side frame with two bolts and nuts. On the inside of the frame, where you attach the nuts, there is a stiffener sitting between the nuts and the frame. This bracket might also have shims. You can tell the difference between the stiffener and the shims by noting their shape. At least on my car, the stiffener had squared corners and was noticably thicker gauge than the shims. The shims had rounded corners, were thinner metal (26 gauge, perhaps), and one of the holes for the bolt was in fact more of a open-sided slot, making a “C” shape. The shims, of course, fit between the frame and the bracket.

It is easiest to attach the rear bracket and bush and the piece that fits to the picture frame separately, since these parts are situated such that you can slide the remaining wishbone assembly into place. (This unlike the lower wishbone which needs to be slipped into the subframes with brackets already attached to the wishbone assembly.)

Upper rear bush and suspension bracket. This part can be installed onto the subframe and the fulcrum shaft can be slid into position without a problem. This bracket does not have any shims, though they may need to be fitted later.

Insert the fulcrum shaft into the wishbone by slightly loosening the adjustable holes on the wishbone (one of the holes is threaded). Do this by inserting a screwdriver into the groove and spreading the groove slightly. Make sure that your screwdriver doesn’t extend into the hole itself, since that can either obstruct the fulcrum shaft or even damage it as you are inserting it. The fulcrum shaft goes into the threaded hole first with the threaded section of the shaft going in last, of course. I found that applying a bit of grease to the threads was useful, though I was also careful not to smear grease on the shaft. You do need to exert some pressure to screw the shaft through the threads, and there is a period when you don’t have access to the notches on the shaft. Those notches are for using a wrench to turn the shaft for adjustment.

I brought the threads through the hole and didn’t pay much attention to how far. Fine tuning the geometry of the front suspension comes later.

Upper wishbone ball joint/pin installation.
The ball joint/pin fits into the top of the upper wishbone, with the pin extending down through the oval-shaped hole below the chamber that holds the ball-shaped end. The ball pin is held in place by a concave fitting pressed on the top of the ball and held in place by a spring. The spring is pressed by a disk covering the top of the ball pin chamber in the wishbone. The disk is held in

The kit and the upper wishbone. The shims are a bit different, perhaps because they are designed to fit on top of the cap instead of under it. The original shims had a smaller hole in the middle. The cap disk is the original, not a part of the kit.

place by a circlip or, also called an “internal retainer clip” or a “snap ring.” The pin part of the ball pin is threaded, and a rubber boot protects the pin and exposed sections of the ball recessed inside the wishbone. This boot is held in place with an external wire ring that wraps around the base of the rubber boot and presses it into a groove on the wishbone.

To begin, it’s best just to clean the ball pin chamber on the wishbone, especially the bore that will accept the circlip. This groove surrounding the upper part of the ball pin chamber has a tendency to get clogged with residues from plating, rust, and general grime. If you don’t get this clean before putting things together, it’s a little tougher to clean up without sliding everything apart.

Apply a small amount of grease either to the ball pin where the pin and the ball meet or to the inside portion of the oval hole at the base of the ball pin chamber in the wishbone itself. This should lubricate the lower section of the ball pin after it is placed into position. Then insert the ball pin into the chamber. The ball is pressed down by a short cylinder with one concave end. The concave space has a hole in the center of it. Grease the top of the ball pin or the inside of the concave surface, and place the concave surface into contact with the top of the ball pin. (My kit came with the concave fitting already coated with waxy grease, and I added some.)

The view of the upper part of the ball pin and the concave section of the fitting with grease smeared on it.

Place the spring on top of the concave fitting. Now comes the hard part. You need to press the cap down and insert the circlip. I used two small “Visegrip” welding clamps to hold the cap in place. I think the ideal would be to use a wheel puller-type tool to press the center of the cap, but I don’t have one … yet. I found that a key here was to make sure that the garage door is closed. I ended up losing a circlip because it flew right out the door and the only other one I had also sproinged into oblivion. As a matter of fact I had to order not one set of circlips, but two. I mismeasured and ordered the first set too large. They are 1 3/8-inch. (If you need some 11/2-inch circlips, let me know. I’ve got 25 of them.)

You can put the cap on anytime after you’ve installed the upper ball pin and associated parts. I installed the caps after I had fit the “uprights” and the torsion bars (basically everything else was done but the caps). I did that so that I could bear down on the cap. I can see that installing the caps before mounting the upright onto the upper and lower ball pins would make that installation easier. Once installed, the cap keeps the ball pin from spinning too freely, so it’s easier to get the lock nut on the pin.

The cap that came with the kit had a place for a grease fitting. That fitting was added for the Series 2, if I’m not mistaken. The original cap is slightly thicker than the replacement, and it has “A&A” stamped on it. The picture of the replacement cap that came with the kit includes the grease fitting and a shim. A nylon disk fits under the grease fitting to cover a small offset hole to release excess grease. The old shim I found during disassembly covered a larger area, sized as it was to the diameter of the cap but with a smaller hole in the center, perhaps 1/4inch wide.

The rubber boot goes on easily. Slip it over the pin that is now extending from the wishbone, and slip the wire retaining ring over it into the groove on the boot. I used a piston ring expander to expand the ring, though the tool probably wasn’t necessary.

The cap in place. I didn’t have to use shims.

Lower ball pin installation on the “upright”

Clean out the threads for the four bolts.

The lower ball pin fits into the bottom section of the so-called “upright” which is the part that connects upper and lower wishbones and accepts the stub axel and the brake caliper. It is slightly larger than the upper ball pin. The kit I used contained a steel alloy ring that fit into the large hole on the upright. It also contained a plastic retaining cup that really had no place to go in the assembly on my 1963 E-type. I assume it was used on other cars using the same type of ball pin setup. The installation process is similar to the installation of the upper ball pin, except it is perhaps a bit easier because the ball is held in place by a steel cap that is held in place by four bolts. You don’t need to fuss with a circlip.

Use a wooden tamper to avoid denting the surface of the alloy ring when you insert it. Notice the groove in the alloy ring to the left of the wooden tamper. This is not a flaw or damage. The groove allows the passage of grease to the upper section of the ball pin.

I cleaned up the threads for the bolts using a 5/16 24 NF tap and wire brushed the hole where the steel alloy ring was to go. I let the steel ring sit submerged in engine oil for a while before inserting it from the bottom of the upright. Using a small piece of hardwood as a soft “punch,” I tapped the ring into place without any problem. The ring should fit firmly. The ring should extend about three millimeters or so on the top side of the hole. There is a small groove surrounding the ring where the rubber boot fits.

Note the bendable bolt locking insert. (The zinc plated BEES bolts look good in spite of the fact that the picture is out of focus!)

Insertion of the ball pin is quite similar to the process used for the upper wishbone installation: you apply a small amount of grease and insert the ball pin. Noteworthy in the design of the steel ring is a small groove that extends in a curve inside the ring, on the face where the ball and the ring meet. When I first saw the groove I thought that perhaps I had received a damaged ring, but it turned out that the other kit had an identical groove. I then realized that the groove was an intentional design to allow grease to move from the lower section of the ball joint assembly — really where the grease fitting is — to the upper area of the assembly that is covered by the rubber boot.

Tin shims fit between the body of the upright and the conical cap. My kit included four thin shims and one slightly thicker one. I installed the shims one at a time, tightening the four bolts each time, until the ball pin was movable. One thing that got in the way of the cap installation resulted from the clear coating I had applied to the nickel plated parts. I had to sand off the coating so that the shims and the cap would sit true.

I used a piston ring expander to spread the wire retaining clip around the rubber boot.

When you have the correct number of shims in place, remove the bolts, place the bolt locking inserts, and reset the bolts. I didn’t bend the bolt locking inserts around the bolts (and won’t until everything is unambiguously correct). I put in a new grease fitting, too. It goes into the cap.

A small note: I was able to use the original BEES bolts on the cap, and only had to replace one of the bolts. I was particularly proud of my zinc plating job on those bolts. They really look quite good — too bad they’re placed where practically no one else in the world will be able to see them!

The last thing is the easiest. Slip the rubber boot over the pin that is extending from the upright now that it’s in place. Put the wire ring into the groove at the base of the boot. I used a piston ring expander to expand the wire, but this can probably be accomplished without a tool.

Joining the wishbones with the upright. This is, perhaps, the easiest of the tasks (and because of that, I’ve not illustrated this section with photographs). Basically the upright is attached by inserting the pins in the appropriate places. The upper pin in the wishbone goes into the hole at the top of the upright, and the lower wishbone has a hole into which the lower ball pin fits from below. The kits I used include new nuts with nylon “locks.” I found that the nuts went on nicely until the nylon hit the threads, and then the pins had a tendency to spin. Since the pins are (mostly) held in place by friction, I used my rubber mallet to tap the wishbones, thereby setting the pins more tightly into place. This firmed up the pins so that it was quite easy to tighten the bolts. By the way, there are washers for every bolt on these pins. My lower ball pin kits didn’t include new ones (the originals are quite thick); the upper ball pin kits included new washers.

A note on greasing the ball pins. I chose not to shoot grease into the upper and lower ball pins until after I had completely finished the assemblies. I did this because I wanted to be able to remove the upper and lower ball pins more easily if I needed to, and greasing them might have made removal more difficult because of spinning. I didn’t need to remove these again, but I think holding off on the grease is prudent. You just need to remember to grease before you do any sort of serious movement of the suspension.

Torsion bars. I have to admit, torsion bars are not my favorite things in the world.

Although the torsion bars are mechanically interchangable, they are intended to fit on a specific side of the car. They are labelled on the front end with an “RH” (right) or “LH” (left). Installing the torsion bars on the wrong side may make them fail, so don’t do it.

The torsion bars are labelled for right and left. You’ll see “R H” and “L H” on the front end of the torsion bar (the end with the groove crossing the middle of the splines). Although the right and left bars will indeed fit on either side, switching them may invite failure of the bars, so put the “R H” on the right and “L H” on the left. I believe this has something to do with the way that steel adapts to tension — as long as it is consistent, the steel holds, but wrenching the torque the opposite way (as when you put the right on the left, and vice versa) weakens the steel.

The key is to make sure that the splines on both ends are clean and rust free. They should slip into their receivers on the wishbone and on the rear bracket without too much whacking. As a matter of fact, being able to slip the torsion bar splines into these parts without a rubber mallet is desirable. But you do not want to make the match “sloppy.” I learned in getting my torsion bars ready that if you drop a bar on a cement floor, you can expect the splines to have been altered slightly enough to make refitting into a wishbone or bracket more difficult (though not impossible, thank goodness). The moral: If you drop it, check it. Also, any amount of whacking with a steel hammer is likely to change things, so use a rubber mallet whenever possible. If you must use steel to hammer, find the indentation on the end of the bar, insert a punch into it, and then “drift” the torsion bar back and forth into place.

The wishbone splines should look like this: clean and sharp. Note that the wishbone lever is recessed slightly over the opening for the splines. This recess needs to be orientedtoward the front or else the lever will not swing freely over the frame above it. Instead it will smash into the frame at that point and cause damage. The rectangular groove inside the hole is where the retaining bolt emerges to fit into the groove in the center of the front splines on the torsion bar.

Use a triangular file to clean up the splines on the bar and in the receivers on the wishbone part and the rear bracket. Insert the torsion bar frequently to test the fit, and be sure to rotate the bar in the parts, since you’ll be adjusting the tension of the bar by rotating the bar. It needs to fit any number of positions, not just one. A note on adjustment: the torsion bars can be adjusted very finely, it turns out, since both the rear and front splines can be set. There are 25 rear splines and 24 in front, making the adjustment possible to a tiny degree. Besides, you can’t accidentally insert the rear splines into the wishbone receiver — unless, of course, you really mess up the splines.

Before inserting the torsion bars apply an anti-seize grease to the splines. The stuff is like sticky mud with a brown coppery color. It’s also supposed to keep the meeting surfaces free, which is important since the torsion bars will need adjustment at least once more before the car is back on the road.

When you’re ready to put the torsion bars into place, fit the rear fittings onto the bars, so that they swing loosely around the bar in front of the rear splines. Then insert the rear splines into the large hole on the frame where the torsion bar fitting rests and move the front part of the torsion bar into place in the splined hole on the lower wishbone lever. I found that I could gently rest the bars in place without completely inserting them before putting some grease on the splines and the holes.

The Jag Lovers E-type forum mentioned the use of “anti-seize” grease for the torsion bars, and I decided this was the way to go. I have used a regular old lithium grease, but I believe I’m going to move toward a “multi-purpose” grease in the future. The anti-seize formulas include metals, and the one I got was based on copper, which I gather is common among anti-seize products. My guess is that one brand is as good as another. I applied the anti-seize grease to both the torsion bar ends and the fittings they were to go into. It’s quite messy stuff — as thick as glue or river-bottom mud. The bottle I got had a brush in the cap for applying the stuff.

After all of the Sturm und Drang of the first time I had installed a torsion bar without the preliminaries of filing and cleaning and fitting, the torsion bars went on neatly and quickly. I installed both bars in less than fifteen minutes, using only a rubber mallet for “convincing” — gentle at that!

The torsion bars fit nicely, without too much work. I used a rubber mallet to tap them into place from the rear, and then after the front fitting was secure, I moved the rear fittings into place. I have put a couple of bolts into the rear fittings just to hold them in place. The set up by no means is able to hold much weight, but that’s not a concern right now. I plan on finding my torsion bar reaction plate and putting it in place. I haven’t seen that part since I installed the new floors some time ago. I want to make sure that the reaction plate is in good shape with the new torsion bar set up. After that is checked out, I can remove the reaction plate for more permanent installation after the engine is in place.

I remember that getting the reaction plate out was an ordeal. I hope putting it in isn’t — though I have a feeling it will be a job that is joyful only after it’s complete.

I’ll return to the front suspension later, when I’ll take on fitting the stub axels, brake calipers, steering couplings, and all the rest. I figure this will take a while.

May/June 2004 – Color on front frames, suspension, part 1

Color on front frames

First, a larger picture than I usually post. I beg forgiveness for the size of the shot, but I figured the compressed GIF image sacrificed too much accuracy in color. Fatter JPEG format will do.

The picture shows the color a bit more clearly than the previous shot did, but still the photograph doesn’t quite do opalescent dark green justice. It is indeed more fiery than the flat web browser allows. You can probably see the strategy I am taking in rebuilding and spraying color. I am holding off with exterior sections of the car until the internal sections are more or less complete. This has the upside of allowing me to get a little better with the spray gun before I attempt shooting color on the parts of the car that are most easily seen — and therefore more sensitive to my ineptitude with the sprayer. It has the downside of making any painting a big deal, since everything needs to be masked and cleaned and fussed over. Doing the entire job in one fell swoop would be more efficient, perhaps.

But if I were worried about efficiency, I wouldn’t be restoring this car, now, would I!

The primed front frames were sprayed with sealer and then color was applied. They were sprayed separately and then assembled onto the firewall (front bulkhead). I had replaced most of the bolts and nuts with grade 8 hardware, replated with zinc and then treated with zinc blackener. The effect is quite nice. I decided to give the blackened zinc a try in spite of the hours I had spent doing the nickel plating the front suspension parts. The additional protection was nice, but using correct color bolts convinced me.

As a small aside, I should add that I have been seeking opportunities for practice with the spray gun. Well, sometimes they have found me, too. The boys managed to wreck the 1995 Dodge Ram pickup so that the insurance company totalled it — it doesn’t take much to total an old vehicle, even a truck. I settled for enough to get another old pickup (a Ford F-150) and I decided to keep the Ram. We fixed it with some pulling and sanding and new parts, basically the driver’s side front end. Mechanically the old thing is still in great shape, and the frame wasn’t harmed by the accident. This turned out to be a great opportunity to practice painting. It was, unfortunately, as hard as I remembered. The old truck looks good from 20 feet, but you do see a couple of runs if you stand much closer.

Oh, well, so long as it doesn’t happen on the Jag….

Front suspension rebuild started

I thought about calling this section “Sproing!” because of the trouble I have had with the upper wishbone “circlips” (also known as “snap fasteners” or “internal retainers”). I got new upper and lower ball joints/ball pins for the wishbones, and the upper kits were supposed to have included internal retainers. And one kit did, but the other replaced the internal retainer with an external retainer, which of course wouldn’t work at all. I fetched the old part that I removed that had the internal retainer and I figured I was set.

Never underestimate the power of tools that aren’t quite suited to the purpose.

I managed to let both of the good circlips fly off into the netherworld. In the vain hope that cleaning might scare up one of them at least, I grabbed the broom and swept the garage. No clip appeared. The second one flew off after I had opened the garage door to let light come in so I could search for the first lost circlip. Of course, it flew off into the rose garden and grape arbor with a sleek and fast zing. I told Aaron he could grab his metal detector and search, but he wasn’t motivated.

McMaster-Carr came to the rescue, and I will be expecting a box of 25 circlips sometime early next week, I suppose. That should give me enough circlips for, well, another eleven cars. Anyone need a circlip cheap?

Besides this little annoyance, there are others. I’ll be compiling tips for installation of the front suspension parts to publish later, probably in the next entry. It turns out that order of rebuilding and installation matters a bit, but it’s not complicated.

April/May 2004 – Small plating gets big

Plating saga

My intention in the beginning was to have a professional plater complete the nickel plating of the front suspension pieces. And, indeed, I made good on the intention on my side. I drove the parts down to a plater in Fayetteville, North Carolina — all sixty-some pounds of them. I was hoping that I’d be able to get an estimate and shake hands on the deal when I was there. I wasn’t in any particular rush, especially since I has seen on the web that this particular plater “took his sweet time.”

I ended up leaving the parts in the Rubbermaid container, because the fellow in back was mixing chemicals and couldn’t break away to look at the parts. The time for the project was “six to eight weeks,” a little longer than I had hoped but I would still have the parts in the summer. The estimate would be available Monday, I was told. It was Friday, so no problem.

Monday, I called. No estimate, but surely Wednesday. Wednesday, no estimate. Friday,nada. I waited another week for the estimate. Finally, thirteen days after I had dropped the parts off, I drove down to fetch them. The estimate wasn’t available, and there was mumbling on the telephone about the sandblasted parts being “too rusty.”

I figured that I would take a shot at plating larger pieces. If I messed things up, I could always send them off someplace other than Fayetteville.

Believe it or not, I was able to use the Caswell nickel plating kit that I had used for the smaller pieces. It was mainly a matter of finding plastic containers that were big enough for the part and that still did not have too great a volume so that my supply of nickel plating solution wouldn’t cover the part.

The toughest part to manage was the “upright,” which is a long enough part but also has a depth because of the fittings for the top and bottom ball pins, going in one direction, and the hole for the stub axel, going in the other.

I thoroughly cleaned the parts using the degreaser and removed any remaining rust — there was a little left, I must admit. I used the strong muriatic acid bath (one part muriatic acid to two parts tap water) and electrical charge to remove the remaining rust. The negative charge goes on the place you want the rust to go (the sacrificed steel part) and the positive charge goes on the part you’re cleaning. The top photo shows the upright being cleaned.

Plating itself was a little trickier, since I had to do the agitation of the nickel plating solution by hand. Since space was cramped, a bubbler or other agitation device wouldn’t fit. I used a plastic spoon or sometimes just jostled the part itself. The key is not to let any bubble form on the surface, since the nickel will then pit. Also, especially in the case of the upright, you have to place the piece in an orientation that will not allow the collection of bubbles, since the nickel won’t adhere to the section where the bubbles collect.

In the close quarters of the smaller container, you also have to watch out for “gassing” which seems to occur when the piece being plated is too close to the nickel anodes.

As for electrical sources, I used three AC-DC converters and, for very large parts, an old Sears battery charger. I doubt any other plating than nickel would have worked, since nickel plating seems to be pretty forgiving in matters of electricity. Zinc plating has been far fussier, I’ve found.

In the end, the nickel plate really worked well on the front suspension parts, but at the cost of considerable tedium and fussing with containers and chemicals. Plating took weeks. After everything was plated, I sealed the parts with a two-part clear coat made for bare metals. The suspension should be in good shape for a long while.

Pictures below show the parts as they looked in April before I tried to have them plated. The picture below that one shows the newly nickel plated parts. They shined up nicely!