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1955 Ford Part 6: Sway Bar, Shocks, Engine Cleaning, & Oil Priming

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

(Note: You are reading the progress from a project that began in August of 2014. This information was originally dated from February, March, and April of 2015.)

Sway Bar, Shocks, Engine Cleaning, & Oil Priming

Today I had some time to install the sway bar with the new Energy Suspension brand polyurethane bushings and the stabilizer hardware kit to attach the sway bar to the lower control arm. I had snapped more photos but my camera went haywire when I got back inside the house and my SD card was EMPTY! go figure. The nice things about these ES bushings are: polyurethane, the 7/8" size was in stock, they come with new brackets, and the bushings are greasable! I used a synthetic grease from Super Lube. I also like the small plastic caps that cover your Zerk fittings but I don't know how long they will last. No modification needed for the brackets - they fit the frame perfectly. Basically, I laid the sway bar in position and let it rest on the lower control arms. I then slipped a bushing on each end (I greased them inside first too) and slid them into position on the bar so that they would go right up the frame. Next, I put the brackets on loosely and checked the fitment. Once I was satisfied with it I pivoted the bar in the bushings back and forth to get the grease worked into the bushings and bar real good. Then I installed the hardware kits on each lower control arm. Notice that the hardware kits were not cinched down too tightly. I think it will be best to tighten those down once the weight of the car is back on the front end like it should be. I did cinch down the brackets to the frame however, and after doing so I greased them with synthetic lube. The sway bar is a station wagon sway bar with a 7/8" diameter. I think I got it from a 56 Ford Ranchwagon. The hardware kit and the bolts that attach the brackets to the frame have a 9/16" head by the way.

On to the Backing Plates and the Spindle Arms: they cleaned up nicely. I only put one coat of Rustoleum on the inside of the backing plate. Not too sure how the paint will hold up in there anyway but thought it would be good to at least try to control some of the rust. I use silicone brake fluid anyway so we should be ok. I think it worth mentioning here again about the location of your bolts that hold the castle nut and cotter pin. I like to make sure I have mine oriented all the same way and in a location that I can get to just in case I have to start fishing those cotter pins out again anytime soon. I face them up so I can find things easily and see how to twist/turn the ears made by bending the cotter pin so as to get the cotter pin back out more easily next time. I also used a little anti-seize on the threads. You will need a 3/4" and a 9/16" wrench to tighten them down, but only one each... the grease guard plate acts as a head stop on the front side.

A quick word about hardware and an explanation of what to do. I like using as much of the old hardware as I can, provided it is in good condition. Two reasons... odd ball sizes as far as lengths can be a pain to locate at the local hardware store and it saves money in the long run. A while back I started using a small Ultrasonic Cleaner to degrease hardware and parts. You would not believe how well it does with carburetors!!! I stopped using solvent and Berryman's a long time ago. Basically a bottle or two of the $ store "Awesome" brand cleaner and some water in the tank. Heat it up with the touch of button, set the unit to run for several minutes and you are good to go. Take out the parts, rinse, dry, and then over to the blast cabinet. Blast cabinet you say? what about all those washers and nuts that fall through the cracks? Well, here is the answer - a cricket tube from Wal-Mart. It is the perfect size to hold in your hand. You can rotate the tube while you blast and you can see everything in it. There is no way for any part to escape. Shake the tube when done and all the media falls out and you are left with clean hardware. I like it and it has served me well. Bolts that need to be chucked because of wear or corrosion show up pretty easily.

A set of KYB 4503's is on its way to my house this week. I reckon they will fit the front end well. I have to thank the fellow classic car nuts like myself for the leads... I was hoping to be able to rid myself of that crazy bracket and just use mounting tabs from the shock itself. No problem

Been down and out the past few days with a serious sinus infection. I started antibiotics yesterday and only just a few hours ago have I felt any better. At any rate, my KG4503 KYB front shocks finally arrived so I was a little motivated to move out to the 18 degree garage and install them up front. I must say, those things are gas charged and tight! It took me quite a bit to force one in on itself to bench test its "action" The shocks came with new washers, nuts, and rubber grommets of course, but they also had instructions written in about 57 different languages with plenty of "well duh!" diagrams so you get the mounting correct. What in the world could be the issue with mounting shocks you ask? The only thing I see that someone could goof up would maybe be the grommet positioning? Either side of the grommet is different as you can see in the photos. The larger lip goes towards the washer and the smaller diameter lip goes toward the bracket or the shock tower mount on the frame. I assume most people know this but I thought I would point it out. I had already cleaned, blasted, and painted the original brackets even though I thought I had a lead on shocks that had its mounting tabs on the lower end that would work for the lower control arm. So, I simply pulled them back out of storage and mounted the brackets on the bench, making sure I did not get the "grommet bulge" past the washers. As you can see in the photos the shocks came with two nuts per stud, so I assume that one is to lock the other down. To be honest, most of the stud shocks I have ever seen only had one nut, I am not sure why this came with two unless there is something for a different application or what have you. I obviously decided to use the extra nut as a lock nut on each stud. I must admit that I cheated when installing the shocks. I used my floor jack to raise the bracket into position after I had attached the upper stud to the shock mount on the frame.

I also decided to replace the lens in my bead blast cabinet from TP tools. Some subscribers have asked about the cabinet before so I think it a good time to show some of the maintenance work that needs to be done from time to time.

My lens protector on my TP Tools Skat Blast Cabinet was getting kind of fuzzy. I have to replace it about twice a year. I have owned the cabinet for about 8 years, and it works very well. I have only had to replace the nozzle 3 times, and I would imagine I use this cabinet about 4-5 hours a week on average. I have had to replace/refill media also on 3 different occasions. I have tried all kinds of brands from TP's glass bead media (the best I have used in my opinion), to Harbor Freight, to Tractor Supply Company. I have only ever used glass beads in the cabinet. I would like to find a way to put another light in the cabinet because of the "shadow" effect with just one light bulb in there. Sometimes it is difficult to see what you are doing in there. Whenever I replace the lens protector, I always get off all of the old adhesive. Goo Gone works the best for that job, and the new protector sheet always stick to the lens very well. It takes more work, but I never have my lens protector falling down on my gloves and I have never had to replace my lens!

Later on, I reinstalled the tie rods, idler arm, and drag link after a serious cleaning and installation of new seals and grease. The front brake drums and hubs were cleaned up and painted, and the bearings and seals cleaned, greased up well, and reinstalled. Nothing too exciting to show concerning installation, I guess this is all pretty boring material. I did not put in the steering gear just yet because I want to finish up that firewall. Hopefully the rain will stop coming, but it is April after all.

I did get in a brand new fuel line (tank to fuel pump) from Tee Bird Products. The shipping was outrageous - I will leave it at that. I also got a set of bushings in that shipment so that I can rebuild the shifter arms on the column. While I was at it, I ordered a set of brake lines (specific lengths all ready to go) from Jacksons' Auto Parts - the box showed up today, CRUSHED, and all of the lines in the box were bent at a 35 degree angle. They were all supposed to arrive straight. Now what? I guess I will contact them tomorrow and see what we can do. I guess I can bend them back but you know once a line is bent, it's bent. While the front end has continued to receive treatment, I have also been attacking the 292. I degreased it, removed quite a few bolt on's down to make the engine a "long block" so I could clean it up easier. The timing cover and water pump I just left on the block. I did put on another oil pan that was in much better shape, and I added a NEW gerotor oil pump. There are not many miles on the engine (just several hundred) so cleanup was not too bad and the parts are all in great shape.

The whole "wire wheel" episode was long, messy, and just downright tedious, but that metal was clean by jove! I am not going to reuse the pitted valve covers, so I left them on. I have rubber valve cover gaskets and chrome valve covers to install anyway. When I paint an engine like this, I like to put clean rags in the lifter valley just to keep out the crap. The engine paint is a simple Dupli-color Engine Red. I don't think it is 55/56 Ford correct but it looks good and it was available. The car is not a show car so what's the difference.

I have some of the bracketry and other parts on my paint rack so hopefully I can get to install those soon. I also have two good sets of exhaust manifolds that I just brought out of the blast cabinet, cleaned up, and then coated with the Eastwood Hi-temp coating. I have two sets because one is original to the 55 and the other is a 57 set. I will most probably use the 57 set depending on what I do with the power brakes situation. I have not decided what to do about that yet, but will most probably get an aftermarket set up instead of the original master cylinder and Ford's way of doing it in 1955. We want to put a dual master cylinder on it anyway.

Ok fellas... back at it again for the last two nights, cleaning things up, installing new gaskets and even had the chance to put the 292 on the run stand tonight before I got ready to turn in.

Next up I thought it good to cover something that gets asked quite a bit by those unfamiliar to Y blocks... "How do you prime the oil pump?" I don't know if my answer is the best but I will show you what I do when I get a Y block ready to go and then after that I will take you through what I do to get the distributor ready for initial start up.

Here we go: I did put an NOS oil pump (gerotor type, not the "spur gear" pump) on this Y block when I put a new gasket on the oil pan also.

Look to the left in the photo above to see what I am talking about here. The gerotor has a smooth cover, the spur gear has a sizeable "bump out" for the gear. When you put one in, the best advice is to submerge the entire pump and prime the pump itself before installation. Well... I'm pretty lazy and did not want to have to clean it up to paint it, etc. So I did put a little oil in the pump inlet just to make sure it was not dry at all. I then installed a new gasket after I cleaned the block surface really well. It is not recommended that you put any silicone or sealer on the gasket for the oil pump. However, I must say that I always use high tack gasket compound (the red stuff) on the gasket at the oil pump to get it to seal nicely. Careful - a little goes a long way here! After the pump was installed, I cleaned it up with acetone before painting. Another word on the oil pump and the oil pan tube that feeds the pump. There is a very delicate tube seal that goes on your inlet tube as it mates to the pump inlet. Be careful to get this situated correctly and do not over tighten or crush the seal. If you have a leak here after priming or after initial startup it will be a PAIN because you will either have to remove the oil pump or oil pan and then re-affix the seal. You really don't want to have to do either, trust me. Back to priming the pump. Make sure that you installed the oil pump drive rod (get a new one when you put in a new pump - cheap insurance!) correctly in the bore. The catch washer is used to keep the shaft from coming out of the pump when you pull the distributor, so the washer needs to go on the shaft BEFORE you place it up inside the bore of the block. Please don't leave it out - you will just be swearing like a sailor the next time you pull your distributor out and find that the shaft came right on out too... OUCH. That shaft is pretty thin but it is a hex. You can use a 1/4" socket to turn the shaft so that you can prime the pump. Get yourself a long 1/4" drive extension or two, and then a THIN-WALLED socket like the one shown. TAPE THEM TOGETHER so that you don't lose anything while you are messing around in there.

In the next blog post we will continue with priming the pump and get to setting the distributor with #1 cylinder ready to fire...

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