CC Tech: 1965 F100 Front Suspension Rebuild

As long as I have had my truck this radius bushing has always been as pictured. Heard many a story on replacing them from easy to somewhat difficult but after hearing an easy way I thought I would try. Turns out it wasn’t so easy and on top of that led to a phrase some are familiar with called, “while I am in there”, taking effect.

In theory the easy way was to remove the shock and then spring on the affected side. One could then unbolt the radius arm, roll the tire forward, and pop the radius arm out along with the old bushing. Well I can tell you, from first hand knowledge and four hours dealing with it, that it doesn’t work smoothly that way time wise. Pulling the arm out the last inch was a monumental chore both ways needing a ratchet strap. I did finally manage to get the rubber Ford bushing in place.

(PN: I tried this too on my ’66 F100 specifically because it was recommended by you as an easy way to do this. Not. The very obvious thing is that the big bolt holding the radius rod to the axle (see picture above) needs to be loosened! No wonder it wouldn’t swing out easily. It’s so obvious that I’m a bit shocked that the procedure recommended by you was ever conceived of! And it didn’t take me four hours to figure that out.)


However, I was thinking…

What does the I beam bushing look like and with the spring out maybe I should try replacing it. So I pulled it down so I could remove it. This bushing has a rubber center and a metal sleeve so one needs to get the whole thing out to install a new one. Out comes my electric impact wrench as this bolt is up around 125 ft. lbs.

With the bolt out I can pry the bar down so I can start peeling away the ends of the metal sleeve. This is where things get interesting as you are working under the truck rather than removing the whole assembly to a work bench so some ingenuity is required. The rubber has a firm grip on the metal sleeve so it takes some doing to get it out as I learned. Then the sleeve would be left and how to get that out as seen below.

So pondering the issue while under the truck, laying on my side, I decided the deft use of a fine hack saw blade would do the trick and it did. I got through the rubber and just enough of the sleeve to pry it out.

However, I was thinking…

Getting this I beam bushing out is a real PIA when under the truck. I don’t think I ever want to do this again if I replace it with a standard Ford part. Maybe I should use a polyurethane bushing so it will last far longer. So I order the bushings and while I am at it I decide to redo the radius arm in polyurethane also. Imagine my surprise when I got them and read the instructions telling you to re-use the original metal sleeve that I had just cut out. Damn, now what!?

Ok, so I will push out the rubber portion of the Ford bushing so I can use the sleeve. Since I am on the USS Hornet every Saturday I bring the Ford part with me. Tom, and I, use the press to knock out the rubber leaving me with the sleeve. Now I can press this new sleeve into the I beam. But, how when under the truck? I ask Tom didn’t we take a couple of C-clamps off the ships in the mothball fleet back in 2012? So off to the uptake space across from the Machine Shop on 3rd deck. Lots of goodies in here if you are working on a ship. Sort of like a hardware store for a ship. Digging around we spot exactly what I was talking about. A big beautiful piece of US made iron. All 35 lbs. of it. We are not joking around with this baby. No, we mean business!

Lug the clamp home and get under the truck with it. At 35 lbs. it isn’t that easy to position and will need to balance and brace it so it stays it the position I need but manage.

See how easy that was.

Now that the first side was done I can move to the other side. Being much wiser this side should go a lot faster. The thing to do was remove the tire and then rest the drum which enables me to work both the radius arm and I beam with ease. Fast is relative since you can see I clean everything well, prime and then paint which does take time for the coats to cure. However, if I didn’t then I could now knock this out whole process out in one Saturday on Paul’s F100. Remove both tires, remove shocks and springs, disconnect brake lines, remove drums, and drop the beams and arms.

While at it I decided it would be wise to replace the springs given the rebuilt suspension. With the springs already out all I had to do was order a new set. When they came in and I looked at them I saw two different heights compared to my old two of the same height. Turns out the driver’s side spring is supposed to be slightly taller. So go figure why mine were originally the same height? Possibly replaced in the past?

Now that I have the springs and the other side went very quickly I am ready to put it back into place, put the tires back on, and lower the truck so I can set the suspension and torque the nuts.

However, I was thinking…

I know does he ever stop thinking? Not once I get into a project. So while waiting for paints to cure I decided to check my king pins for movement and there was some. Well, now that I know that I can’t just ignore so time to strip them down. I’m sure it is obvious that if I had made a plan I would have worked from king pins to the arms instead of the other way around. Nonetheless, it was a good learning experience and am ready for the next if ever.

As can be seen there was a fair amount of rust on the pins. On top of that the bushings were nylon.

With them out it was time to go down to my Napa store where I go when it is important to get it right. All the guys at this store are in their 60s and up. Tell them I need king pins with bronze bushings for a 1965 F100. The year is critical. When I picked them up and headed home, went to my bench, and opened the box. Oops, they aren’t correct so back down to correct the problem. Correct ones in 24 hours later and you can see how they compared below. Ford placed the groove for the locking pin off center in 1966.

While getting that straightened out I called the four machine shops that they recommended to ream the king pins. Well apparently this is now so infrequent that the first three no longer do. The last shop owner said he could as he has been doing them since a teenager. As luck would have it the small shop was a 10 minute walk from my house. Maybe late 60s and naturally he went into a long talk about stuff as I noticed all the bare engine blocks standing around. I leave the pins and come back two days later to pick up. He told me he took them to 0.001″ clearance and could ream both at the same time since he had to tool to do it. So perfect alignment and when slightly greased they dropped right in with no play. Nice!

Now the spindle is all back together.

Wait, there is still some essential parts to re-install. Know what they are? They are the drag link and new tie rod.

Now everything is installed the truck is ready for the tires, lower, and do the final torque with the weight now on the suspension. After that set the toe in. It only took a couple of months since I spend all Saturday on the Hornet no exceptions, deal with nine other vehicles on Sunday or Wednesday.

However, I was thinking…