All of my suspension parts came in the mail and I was able to tackle the suspension Sunday as planned. It was a nice feeling clearing the parts, one by one, off my kitchen table. There were a few bumps and hurdles along the way. A drop light and a kitchen window paid the ultimate sacrifice, but #PoisonIvy now has an all brand new front suspension.

Words By: SPOOLIGAN | Images By: SPOOLIGAN 

I got out of work early enough Saturday night to where I could catch some Z’s before picking up my daughter Sunday morning for Fathers Day. I disassembled my spare hub assemblies from my 90 parts car and took them to Monro Muffler. We dropped them off, along with the new wheel seals and wheel bearings, then we ran some errands in town while they pressed in the new bearings in. 

The last time I took a wheel bearing up to them so they could press it in, they did it for free. But, there were also different people working there back then too. They ended up charging me a whopping $87 and change. This in itself was enough to piss me off but my daughter and I dropped everything off and came back a good two hours later and STILL had to wait damn near another hour for them to finish. Once they were done, the guy told me the outter seals were too big. 

So I asked, “So were you able to use the old ones?” 

He told me no. Now I am super confused. Well, their solution to the seals being to big was to simply not use any outter seal. I could have at least called around to the part stores and found the correct seals locally if they told me before they pressed the bearings in. But, now the bearings were pressed in so it was too late. 

The hubs seemed nice and tight at least. I was a little worried because I had no idea on what condition these hub assemblies were in. You can’t really tell until you press in some new bearings. There was some play originally with the old wheel bearings but I would guess that they were probably never replaced before and were very old. But anyway, I’m good to go at this point with them. I took them home, cleaned them up, and painted them. 

I began stripping each side of the car. Everything came apart very well considering I had never replaced anything on the front suspension of this car before period. I did have to cut one away bar end link out on the right front as the middle portion was rounded out and a wrench wouldn’t stay on. Another issue I had was the inner tie rod on the same side. The locking nut was froze and would not turn either direction. Which wasn’t a big deal because I was replacing both tie rods, but yet I found myself fucking with it for a good 20 minutes just because. 

Once I got everything out, I began cleaning the subframe, unibody, and everything in site up front. I soaked everything in Purple Power and wiped off all the oil and crud off the car prior to putting all my new, pretty parts onto the car. 

The first thing I decided to put back onto the car was the inner tie rods since I knew I would need to run out to AutoZone to rent the inner tie rod tool. It was about 7PM when I got there to rent the tool. I figured they would be open till 9PM, but they told me they closed at 8PM on Sundays. The tool cost me $90 but obviously I got my money back when I returned it. I wish I would have snapped a couple pictures of it because it is a pretty interesting tool, but very simple. It basically looks like a really big flashlight. 

You remove the outter tie rod and inner tie rod boot. There are “key” things that slip over the inner tie rod. There were about 10 sizes in the kit. Find the one that fits and slip it on. The key things look like the part of an open end wrench that would go over the tie rod. But, we can’t get a wrench on them, which is why we use this tool. Once the key is on, you slide the flashlight looking thing over the inner tie rod. It’s basically a hollow pipe. The end locks into the key. Then you use a 1/2″ ratchet on the outter part and break it loose. I swapped the tie rods on and returned the tool with plenty of time to spare before they closed. With the tool, it literally takes less than 5 minutes to change each inner tie rod.

I wanted to install my polyurethane Energy Suspension bushings before I put too much back onto the car. These things were a bitch. No matter what I did, I could not get the sway bar brackets bolted back in with the short bolts that were in it originally. I ended up using longer bolts to draw the bracket inwards and then put the shorter bolts back in one at a time. Which was still very difficult. I also had to shave down each square corner of the new bushings.

The next thing I put on the car was the new control arms. This was also a bitch and eventually led to the destruction of a drop light and kitchen window. When I put them in, the control arm sat too far forward and didn’t allow me to bolt in the front of the control arm. I tried putting the front part in first, then the back wouldn’t line up. No matter how much prying and hammering I did, nothing would line up. 

In the process, my drop light kept turning off when I bumped it. Topped with the anger from thinking that the control arms may not go in at all, I fucking lost it. The light shut off one time too many and I began smashing that sum bitch off the ground. Well now the bulb is in a million pieces. So I get up and walk towards the house. The cage section of the drop light that protects the bulb was now all fucked up. 

The plan was to remove the cage part and then hopefully get a new bulb in there. In the process of trying to break off the cage section completely, the bastard shocked me as it was still plugged into the extension chord, even though my hands were nowhere near the bulb section. So, I got pissed again, and whipped the light against the house. The kitchen window just happened to be there and the outside part of the window shattered. 

Anyway, I brought a new light outside, smoked a cigarette, and took a look at what was going on with this control arm. I noticed that the groove on the rear bushing was narrower than the old factory ones. This made it difficult for the bushing bracket to slip onto it thus making it difficult to bolt it in after bolting the front section in first. I also noticed that the bushing on the new control arm was longer than the old bushing. So I popped the bushing off and swapped the old bushing onto the new control arm. And wah-lah, it went in easily. This issue was the same on both of the new control arms and I had to use the old bushings on both sides.

This is where the rear part of the control arm mounts to the chassis.
Old bushing on the left, new bushing on the right.
As you can see, the new bushing is narrower and shorter.

Somewhere in the middle of installing the control arms, my good buddy Michael showed up to help. Then a girl I work with showed up as well. This put me in a better mood and ensured I didn’t have any other crazy moments. Everything else went back onto the car pretty easily. We eyeballed the alignment and I dropped the car back onto the ground for the first time with its brand new front suspension. 

I had my co-worker ride with me for the first drive. I drove her pretty easy down the road initially, swerving back and forth to make sure nothing was making any noises or anything. Everything seemed and felt great, so I got on the highway and opened her up. Everything was still fine. So I hopped off the first exit and got back on the highway to go back towards home. It was about 3AM so there wasn’t any traffic. It seemed like a waste not to take advantage of an empty highway so I stopped and did a launch. 

When I was in forth gear and going pretty quick, I noticed some sparks flying out from the right front wheel while turning left. I probably should have been very concerned, especially at the speed I was going, but I knew what it was so I didn’t panic. My old hub assemblies did not have any brake dust shields on them, the new ones did. I remembered that the bottom part of the shield on the right front was slightly bent. I pulled over at a gas station on my road to inspect it and it was indeed just the dust shield throwing sparks as it rubbed off of my brake rotor. 

I drove #PoisonIvy to work the next day. I wanted to really drive the car and get a feel for everything. The car pulls to the left but the right front needs to be turned toe out slightly. I will adjust this myself before taking the car to get an alignment. But the car rides so much smoother now. Both front struts were absolutely shot, which I knew damn near a year ago. The one had decent rebound but absolutely no bump. The other, you could literally just pull the strut up and push it back in as if you were pumping up an air pump to inflate a bicycle tire. The old ball joints were shot as well. So as you can imagine, the ride is greatly improved after replacing everything. 

I also have some updates on my turb-sky situation. I promised myself I would replace my front suspension prior to upgrading the turbo. Well, just like that, the front suspension is replaced. After speaking to Justin Whitesell, I have decided to go with an HY35 over the HX35. 

The HY35 has a single scroll housing whereas the HX35 has a twin scroll housing. I dont want to spend more than $1,000 for the entire turbo upgrade so a twin scroll setup, while it would be nice, just isn’t in my budget. Using an HX35, I would have to buy a separate housing in order to go single scroll efficiently. That would drive the cost up. So I am going to be using an HY35 to avoid any additional costs that would come with using an HX35. I should be able to hit full boost by 4200RPM.

Justin found me an HY35 already. When it gets shipped to him, he will begin getting it ready for me. I will be using a cheap Ebay T3 cast manifold that has proven to do very well and only cost around $117 shipped. That is expected to arrive in the mail on July 2nd. I will be sourcing out a good 2 bolt 38mm external wastegate. I also purchased a BSFab front bumper exit exhaust. It comes with the vband o2 housing flange. 

Aside from buying the proper oil feed and return lines, I will also need to convert to speed density. I will need to get a -AN bung welded onto my spare oil pan to accept a new, larger return line. And I will need to upgrade my clutch. This is the reason I wanted to keep my turbo upgrade under $1000. The shootout is now less than 60 days away so I need this to be as cheap as possible in order to fund everything else I need, along with the turbo itself, find it all, and have time to get it all on the car before the end of August. 

One last thing that I would like to add. After work yesterday morning, I decided to drive #PoisonIvy down to the rail yard where I usually load my sand from. Obviously there is a scale there to weigh the trucks before and after we get loaded. I asked them if they would mind if I weighed my car and they said the scale was all mine. The car weighed in at exactly 2600lbs, which is also exactly what my goal was prior to putting a cage in. Pretty neat.

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