Tunnel Cover, Brakes, Seat Belts

   Posted by: kdavis

I had a particularly busy weekend this weekend with family and work obligations, so as far as the car went, I didn’t get that much done. However, I did actually get a couple things finished up, so that was good.

Seat Belts:

I managed to get the is not a huge deal, but it did need to be done before I do the final installation on the seats. One thing I did that might help keep the belts looking nicer until I get things finished is that I taped over anything white, all of the sewn labels, with blue tape. That way my grimy hands won’t get them all stained.


Transmission Tunnel Cover:

Last week, I was able to get the vinyl all glued onto the main part of the transmission tunnel cover so this week was pretty fast. All I had to do was glue and wrap the sides of the vinyl. Unfortunately, I actually realized that this was not so good. A stupid mistake that I made was not predrilling the transmission tunnel cover before I glued the vinyl. What that means is that instead of a pretty easy “just stick to screw through the vinyl and through the cover on the side,” now becomes a more dangerous job. For the vinyl, that is. I now have to also drill through the vinyl. I did pick up some self tapping black anodized screws, which should simplify the job.

I’ll just need to mark the screw locations, and use the screws without pre-drilling. I’m hoping that it all goes through the vinyl well and cleanly. The screws will make it little bit easier should I ever have to remove the tunnel to get into the transmission. I also was able to get things mounted in the cover like my start switch, the heater switch, and the switches for the heated seats. All that I have left to do on that is to get the LED mounted for my alarm, add the shift boot, and get it all hard mounted.



Last week, I repainted my brake calipers red. Originally, the brake calipers were a Chevy orange to match the orange paint scheme I was going to go with, but now that I’ve switched over to a black paint scheme, I want a kind do the super car peekaboo red look.

I got those all finished up this week made sure that the bleeding screws were appropriately placed in the upright position (a little trick I picked on the forum,) and I got those things all remounted, the wheels back on, and the brakes all re-bled. I originally had some leaks, but thanks to new crush washers, so far so good. One note on bleeding those brakes using one of those one-man brake breed bleeder set ups: at least in my case. I didn’t realize on the one side was the fitting popped out and squirted brake fluid all over the shop. So, just word of warning with that there is quite a bit about pressure on those so if you use one of those just just can’t be aware of that, and watch the pushing force you use.


The SAI Kit really made a big difference in the front end alignment. I was able to notice right away, in terms of the angles, so this next week I’ll be able to get the rear end aligned, the pinion angle set, and all of that cleaned up. I also will do the initial front end alignment on it so that I can get things all buttoned up and ready to go to the DMV.

This week, I’m going to be getting the seat heaters installed into the seats so that I’ll be ready to get those drilled out and mounted to the frame. Then, the only thing left from there is to get the body put on, get the lights in, and go to get it registered.

SAI Kit Install, Parking Brake, Calipers

   Posted by: kdavis

Had a good day in the shop today, and managed to get some decent amount of work completed. A majority of the day was spent on the SAI kit install, but since I want to include a full install guideline with pics, I’ll post that information later in the blog entry. I also spent some time customizing my parking brake installation, repainting my brake calipers, and also putting the vinyl on the transmission tunnel cover.

Parking Brake:

The parking brake setup from the standard kit leaves a lot to be desired overall, but it gets the job done, and I decided, at least for now, to just use the standard setup, more or less. The 2 basic issues with the parking brake are that you can’t really actuate it from the driver’s seat when you’re fully buckled in (I haven’t verified this yet), and the way that the cables run from the rear brakes to the lever is a little wacky (it runs under the 4″ tube). I also had an issue with the T handle on the cable assembly hitting the mounting bracket, and a bit of an issue with the main spring itself.

The T handle issue was pretty straight forward. Due to the way the cables run, the “approach angle” of the cables caused the T handle to make contact with the bracket and the lower bolt, which would, in most cases, actually prevent the handle from actuating the parking brake. I addressed the issue by simply making a small bracket that I attached to the lower mounting bolt on the parking brake bracket so that it forces the cable to be offset by about an inch and a half, effectively holding the T handle away from the bracket and bolts. Although I haven’t fully tested it, this seems to be a viable solution, and since I had already made the bracket for another purpose that I didn’t use, it didn’t take much time at all to adjust it for this purpose.

Another issue I wanted to take care of was how closely the parking brake handle sits against the transmission tunnel. This was made worse by the fact that I elected to replace the existing mustang black handle with one from Mike Everson, which is polished aluminum for a nicer look. It’s a larger diameter, and also round instead of flat on that side, so as it was, it was pretty much hitting the tunnel, even before I add insulation and carpet. The fix here was equally as easy, just requiring that I enlarged/elongated the mounting holes in the parking brake bracket so I could just slide the whole assembly over away from the tunnel. Doing so did cause the assembly itself (the ratcheting wheel) to hit the bracket, so I had to also take my sawzall and notch the bracket for clearance. Moving the assembly over also improved the alignment of the parking brake cables.

There seem to be several ways to address the spring tension in the stock mustang parking brake, from cutting the spring completely, to some others. I discovered that the stock setup on mine at least (1990) was so tight that it was sort of binding. Rather than cut the spring, I decided that I could just change how much “preload” was placed on the spring and the T handle. I did this by pulling the spring tight and locking it in place with a nail, then completely removing the cable assembly, releasing some of the tension, and reattaching the cable again, effectively making it “one rotation less” of preload. It lengthened the cable by 3-4″.







When I originally painted the brake calipers, I was all about the orange car, so the calipers were painted Chevy engine orange, which has a little bit of red tint to it. Now that I’m going with a black color instead, a peek-a-boo red (ala super car) is a way better color. Since I had to remove the front calipers anyway as part of the SAI kit install, I figured I would also remove the rears and repaint them all. They turned out pretty nice, actually.


SAI Kit Install:

Most of my day was spent doing the SAI Kit install from Whitby’s. The purpose of the SAI kit is to correct an inherent flaw in the Steering Axis of Inclination in the front suspension of the car, which causes the steering and overall handling to be less than it can be. The kit from Whitby’s changes the overall setup of the upper control arm, and effectively changes the angles in the independent front suspension.

The kit comes with a copy of a ffcars.com forum post that’s a fairly long and detailed post, but it lacks pictures and also is a little difficult to follow. I’m going to simply take that post and insert some pics and add my own notes and emphasis (found in parentheses.) The original post can be found here.

Thanks for purchasing the FFR Front Suspension Optimization Kit commonly referred to the SAI Kit. The kit optimizes the front suspension geometry for better performance and steering feel on both track and street. It does this by bringing specific geometries inline with know standards.

• Lowers the SAI(Steering Axis Inclination) from 18+ degrees, to approximately 9 degrees. This will reduce camber loss during turn-in increasing front-end grip and reducing the need for negative static camber. In addition, it will have a positive effect on steering feel.

• Lowers the Roll Center from approx 5” to approximately 3.5” to better match the 3 Link and IRS rear suspension options. This will increase front end grip and reduce jacking.

• Brings Caster Trail inline with standard one piece SLA spindles increasing steering linearity and reduce steering twitchiness at freeway speeds.

Installation instructions.

1) Place vehicle on jack stands securely, do not attempt this installation on a jack or a poorly supported vehicle. Some of the installation requires high torque values and could cause the vehicle to fall. (I can attest to the high torque needed, at least 1 at 150ftlbs. I actually put my car on the lift, which makes the install that much easier.)

2 Remove new parts from packaging and verify the parts are correct. The most important are the two upper control arm relocation mounts (UCARM) and the SIA adapters. The parts are different side to side and should be mirror images of each other. In short 2 each brackets and SIA adaptors, 2 short and 2 long 5/8ths bolt, 2 5/8ths lock nuts, 4 each ½ inch short and long bolts, 4 lock nuts. Assorted washers. (The brackets and UCARMS are marked L and R).


3 Remove the front wheels and store under the vehicle.

4 Remove the cotter pins from the upper ball joint and remove the nut. A 7/8ths thin wall socket should be the right size. (I actually removed the nut and cotter pin, but then put the nut partially back on for step 5.)

5 While prying up on the upper control arm with a pry bar hit the old IFS bracket several times with a hammer. This should save the boot and separate the ball joint from the IFS bracket. Do not hit the stud on the ball joint; all that will do is damage the ball joint stud. If the parts will not separate use a ball joint separator and as a last resort use a pickle fork (this will ruin the boot). (This prying method was a complete failure for me, I could not get the parts separated. I also didn’t want to risk damaging the boot itself. Contrary to what the instructions warn, I actually DID hit the stud on the ball joint. However, I did so by using the nut on the end of it to keep from damaging the threads, and rather than hitting it directly with a hammer, I used the “jacking pole” from my engine hoist (a floor jack pole would also work) to hit the nut. A few good whacks with a hammer, and the stud/ball joint came right out.)

6 Tie a rag around the ball joint to keep the boot on the ball joint and to keep the grease off of everything else. (This wasn’t necessary for me since I had yet to grease the ball joints.)

7 Take care to not stretch/ruin the brake hoses. If the spindle is falling away from the car and putting stress on the hose remove the caliper and hang it with a zip tie, bungee cord or wire. (This wasn’t an issue for me since I had taken the brakes completely off of the car.)

8 Remove the two bolts holding the upper control arm to the frame. ¾ inch wrench and socket will remove them. These will be tight and will take a little force to undo.

9 The control arm is now loose and can be left resting on the lower control arm or shock/spring.

10 The upper control arm relocation mounts (UCARM) are different. There are two even holes and two offset holes. The offset holes go outboard and the even holes go onto (from above) the old upper control arm mounts. The offset hole lowers the front of the upper control compared to the factory location. The outboard rear holes are very close to the frame. Mock up the mounts with the bolts. Short bolts in from the top and long from inboard to outboard. Mark the frame so it can be notched to clear the bolt. An alternative is to remove a small (very small) edge of the rear mounting bolt so it will clear the frame.
(It’s possible they have update the design since this was written, but the TOP of the bracket was already notched to it cleared the welds on the frame. I actually followed a little different procedure here:
a) Once the UCARM is unbolted, I found it best to attach the new kit bracket to it (using the longer bolts in the kit) before attaching the whole thing to the frame.
b) On my car, the “rear” side of the bracket, caused the bolt to make contact with the mounting frame of the car. To solve this, I used a grinder to cut out about a 1/8″ x 1″ section of the frame so the bolt would clear and the upper holes of the bracket would line up.
c) After shooting a little rustoleum spray paint where I cut the frame, I used the shorter bolts to attach the upper bolts and nuts for the bracket





11 All of the bolts need to be installed in the UCARM including the control arm or it will not clear the shock/spring. Start with the outer bolts and mount the control arm to the UCARM and then the UCARM to the frame. (The third hand you keep in the toolbox will come in handy for this step.) Again, the shorter bolts go in from the top and the longer control arm bolts go from the inside of the car outboard to hold the control arm. Washers can be used as needed. Remember the front hole of the UCAM should be the lower of the two holes in relation to each other. Note: The front of the control arm is still higher than the rear. (See above for different steps here that I followed.)

12 In order to get the maximum range of motion, it may be best to flip your upper control arm over so that the angle of the ball joint mount is reversed top to bottom changing the angel of the ball joint. Note: If you swap your control arms right to left in addition to flipping them, your alignment will be closer to your final setting. It’s best to check it your range of motion before tightening everything up. Do this by marking your spring location and then loosening your spring perch. Jack the suspension up so that the lower control arm is approx level. Turn the steering from lock to lock and check for any ball joint binding or other clearance issues. One place to watch for is the brake to upper control arm ball joint area. Repeat this by measuring the center of the hub and then jacking the suspension up approx 2.5 to 3” Do the same, but at 2” of droop. If all is good you can proceed. If there are clearance issues, this will be the time to address them. Some may need to clearance a bit off the upper control arm ball joint mount. There is a rib of material that goes around the ball joint mount that may require clearancing depending on your brake setup. You will be asked to check this one more time at the end of the installation.

13 Remove the two factory bolts from the IFS bracket from FFR. These are the factory Ford spindle mount bolts and will not be reused. (I found it easier to do this up near step 8 and 9)

14 The new IFS bracket goes onto the rear of the spindle. The ball joint hole is to the rear of the spindle also. The dog leg, or elbow on the IFS bracket needs to point to the inside of the car. Refer to the pictures to make sure you have the correct IFS bracket on each side of the car. Temporarily install the new IFS bracket by using the new 5/8s bolts to mount the IFS bracket. Put the shorter upper bolt in finger tight and just slide the longer lower bolt in far enough to hold it in place, do not install the nut yet. Note: make sure your upper brake bracket bolt is installed before installing the new IFS bracket. (I missed this in the list and had to disassemble it. The “dogleg” statement here confused me. The brackets are marked L and R, so you can’t mess up the sides. The proper way to install it though is to have the L shape so that it “points” to the tire.)

15 Remove the rag and reinstall the upper control arm back into the new IFS bracket. Make sure to put the cotter pin hole where it can be reached. Tap (smack pretty hard) the control arm with a dead blow hammer to ‘set’ the ball joint into the new IFS bracket. Slide the lower IFS bolt out far enough to allow access to the ball joint stud. Install the castle nut and torque to the recommended torque of 60 ft-lb’s. Install the cotter pin after the torque spec is met.

16 Now install the IFS bolts for the final time. The upper should be thread locked in place. The lower should use the locking nut. Both should be torqued to approx 150 ft-lb’s. (I also had to “jack” the lower control arm so that I could get everything aligned with the bolts, this may or may not be necessary for you, I only did it on one side.)

17 Tighten all the upper control arm bolts to the UCAM and the UCAM to the frame. The torque on these bolts is 50 ft-lb’s.



18 The following is very important please read and understand the importance of these steps. Mark the current spring collar location and loosen the spring perch as far as possible. Using a floor jack with care not to break the grease fitting off, move the suspension through its travel while looking for interference and checking ball joint angle. If the angle is a problem (not likely) the cup can be reversed. The cup is welded on one side and bolted on the other. Now is also the time to turn the steering wheel through its full arc. Do this at both the compression and droop positions of the spindle. Depending on which brakes and/or spindles are on the car there may be interference with the bleeder screw. This is especially noticeable on the driver side with the ball joint cup mounting bolt. Remember the cup is welded on one side and bolted on the other. The interference will be at the bolt. Finding the interference now is better than breaking the bleeder and having no brakes!!!! Other cups are available without the angle so the bolts can both be on the front.

19 The alignment on the car has changed dramatically. Check the toe in and take the car to the alignment shop ASAP. The new SIA brackets allow for better caster and camber curves so we recommend the same 1 degree of camber for street cars and closer to 2.5 degrees for auto cross cars running radial tires. Caster should be between 3.5 and 4 degrees and up to 5 degrees caster is fine with power steering. (I have not yet finished 18 and 19 steps.)

Once my calipers dry, I can reassemble the front end and get the car aligned, and check the items in steps 18 and 19. Once the car is aligned, only a few small steps remain before I can get it registered and out ready to enjoy the nice weather when it comes.

More Aluminum, Audio, Body

   Posted by: kdavis

After a much needed 2 week vacation in Orlando, it was great to get back to the shop for a few hours this weekend and work on the car. With each session out in the shop, it’s becoming apparent that the day the body goes on is getting closer and closer.

Overall, not a tremendous amount of progress to be made, however, I did reach another milestone, the day the body came back off of the ceiling where it’s resided for more than a year.


I did receive the new subwoofer and was able to get the custom box built and covered. I covered the bottom with carpet to keep it in place better, and used some vinyl to cover the rest. I’m pleased with how it turned out. I also built the box so that the amps are mounted on each side, and my power inverter is mounted on one side as well. The inverter is small, and also includes a 5v USB port directly on it, so that I can power the Ipod Dock right from the trunk. I’m a little concerned that my small battery will be inadequate for any real use of the inverter while the car isn’t running, plus the amps (although they are small), but only time will tell on that.





Aluminum and Parking Brake:

Most of the remaining aluminum has to wait until the body has been mounted for a proper fit, but I was able to get the last of the rear trunk panels in place, drilled and riveted on. I also finished up the cockpit, some of which is riveted in, and some is just temporarily attached using screws. Final placement will be completed after the body is mounted.

I need to get the vinyl on the tranny cover top, and mounted, which can be done after the body is on.

I learned a valuable build lesson also, which is that you really want to get the parking brake in place and secured prior to transmission installation, it will just allow for more room. I’m having some spacing issues with the parking brake cables, and still need to work through some changes in the parking brake handle itself to get it finished up. I’ll be working on that soon now that the car is back on the lift again.


Body off the Ceiling:

Another build milestone came and went this weekend, as the body came back off of the ceiling, from where it’s called home for the last year or more. This involved a little creativity, as did getting it up there in the first place, especially by myself, but it didn’t fall, crack, break, or fall on top of me and kill me, so I would call that a success.

The plan is to drive the car this summer in gelcoat, so very little body work is to be done. All I need to do is bump the seams a little to soften them up a bit (they are sharp), and I also need to research a little on the gelcoat seams themselves to make sure the work the previous owner did on it (he ground down through the gelcoat) won’t create any issues long term if I don’t cover them up. All in all though, I won’t be doing much work to the body before setting it in place.



The next steps in the build are to get the SAI kit installed, front sway bar adjusted, right height set, and brakes bled again, plus repaint the calipers (they are an orange instead of red.) Getting closer each weekend, and the excitement is building!

Banana Bracket Weld, Fuel Tank, Vapor Canister, Fuel Lines, E-Brake Cables, Rear Brake Lines, Reservoir Lines

   Posted by: kdavis

Long Holiday Weekend = Lots of Progress!

Banana Bracket Weld

After really doing some research on this whole weld-or-not-weld thing with the 3-link upper (banana bracket) bracket, I decided to go ahead and weld it in.

Thanks to a nice mig/flux core welder loan from my brother in law, I was able to weld in the bracket, so no more worries there, and I can add as much horsepower as I want. Having never welded before, the welds are butt ugly, but I ground them down, and they are good welds from a structural standpoint. A little grinding and some paint, and they actually look fine. If I were fussier, I could have cleaned them up even more with the grinder, but I chose not to. Other than one missing bolt that’ll be here Friday, and the final adjustments, the 3-link is now officially installed.


Full Album

Rear Brake Lines and Reservoir Tubes:

Once the 3-link was in, I could mount up the rear calipers and discs and finish up running my rear brake lines. I took some time pondering the routing, especially from the master cylinder down to the 4″ tube, and think I found a good route that will be hidden and look nice and clean.

I ended up doing a couple of double flairs on my own tubes (left over bits that I had broken from a longer bit), so I was able to get the lines right where I wanted them. I’m still waiting on my bulkheads (the part between the flex line and the hard line), and I need one coupler, then it’ll all be done and ready to bleed. I ordered a self-bleeding kit from harbor freight that another forum member recommended. We’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed for no leaks.

I also measured and trimmed up the rubber hoses from the master cylinder to the remote reservoirs in their new permanent position. The fittings on the m/c are simply pressure fit, so a little work with a pair of pliers helps get them into the desired position. I left a nice loop, cut them to size, and clamped everything down.

Note about caliper positions: I found it suggested on the forum that you put the calipers on the front of the discs (vs. the rear as my pics show.) This is apparently more suited for IRS applications, and I found it unnecessary. This was especially true given that I already had my differential cover on, and filled, and swapping the brackets side to side would have been a HUGE pain. If you want to put them there, MAKE SURE you do it before you put the axles in since you have to switch the brackets.


Full Album

E-Brake Cables:

The emergency/parking brake cables are a bit of a pain, but nothing that couldn’t be dealt with. I’m currently just planning on using the standard parking brake position. Everyone complains about it since you can’t get to the brake while you’re strapped in, but frankly, I kind of like it out of the way, and I don’t really want to drop another $200 on a lokar handle, new boot, and all of that. Additionally, I like the idea of having my transmission tunnel top as clean as possible.

The main issue I had with the cables was a lack of c-clips for them, and the fact that the whole they run through in the caliper was too deep to get a clip on anyway. I took the grinder and opened up the notch a bit, and then fabricated my own c-clips with some washers. More work than I thought, but better than a trip all the way into town. They’ll work fine just like this.


Fuel Tank and Fuel Lines:

I had already painted the fuel tank cover with some rubberized undercoating, so it looks pretty OEM, and should blend in nicely underneath the car. The install wasn’t bad, but I didn’t realize most guys are using a spacer on the passenger side strap because it’s simply too short to work effectively. After a little rework loosening the bolt, and then some more of my handy galvanize pipe, and I had a nice spacer that worked fine. I elected to use longer bolts as well, which made getting the nuts on easier as well.

The whole process went pretty easily as well thanks to the old standby ratcheting straps (you can use those things for anything,) and the lift.

All of the fittings went in pretty well, although as others have encountered, my fuel pick up tube was a little long. I put a small s-bend in it to take up some slack, and all was well with it.


Full Album

DIY “Vapor Canister” for the Fuel Vent:

The fuel tank has a one-way valve for pressure release and to make sure you can put fuel in it with back pressure. Since I’m running a carb setup, there’s no return line, and some have reported getting some gas smell from this fitting. The solution that others have used is to put a charcoal filter on the end of this line to capture the vapors. I followed suit. Since I had seen anything from a cheap fuel filter, a keychain air filter, and a pipe-bomp looking sprinkler head setup, I figured pretty much anything goes. I had a GM fuel filter that had the wrong fittings on it laying around (wrong for the suburban), so I figured it would be perfect. I was also fortunate in finding parts to an old ice maker that had the exact size tubing and ports I needed, as well as an o-ring and even mounting holes. All I had to do was cut off one fitting, fill it with charcoal from an aquarium filter, and I was good to go. It should work perfectly.


Fuel Lines:

For the EFI guys or guys running an electric fuel pump in the tank, the preferred route for fuel lines is just opposite of the rear brake lines, running on the passenger 4″ main tube.

I’m running a carb with a mechanical fuel pump (on the driver’s side), so I decided to run mine on the same side as the brake lines, and ran down the driver’s side 4″ tube, just on the outside of the brake lines. I then crossed along the main brace behind the bulkhead. I connected this to the flexible rubber line, and anchored everything down with clamps. It’s not as pretty as some others I’ve seen, but it’s all hidden anyway, and should work fine, and it is well protected.

On the engine side, I basically just bent around the 4″ tube, then came up, and pointed right at the location of the fuel pump. I’ll just jump that gap with a small piece of flexible fuel hose (same as at the tank side.)

I still need to trim up the new OEM style fuel filler hose and put on the FFR rubber connector (to accommodate a different angel to the filler on top of the body.


Next Steps:

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my engine parts show up this week, and I know the last of the brake parts will be here. I plan on getting the brake system finished and bled next weekend, which means the tires and wheels can go on, and she’ll be a roller!

If the engine parts show up, I might start working in that direction, but it’s more likely I’ll concentrate on starting the wiring since it’s easier when everything is out of the way. With no EFI/Computer to worry about, the engine bay stuff is pretty straight forward, so I can run the front end items without the engine in.

As always, all pics can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/beartoothweb

3 Link Retro Fit Install, Last Step for Compressor Enclosure, Remote Brake Reservoir Mount

   Posted by: kdavis

I’m finding it’s great to do this blog entries, it gives me a chance to look back and get a real sense of what I got done over the weekend. I was thinking I didn’t get a lot, but looking back now, it was a pretty big weekend.

I had hoped to get both the 3-link installed and the fuel tank up, but alas, just the 3-link is in now…but…THE 3 LINK is IN NOW! ;-> That’s pretty exciting.

I’m learning more and more that with each step of this project, there’s always a step 1, step 2, etc, and between each of those, there’s this whole other set of steps a-z required to get it done. In the case of the 3-link, it involved modifying the chassis, fabricating my own spacers from pipe, a couple of trips to the hardware store (10 miles away), and some creative use of an angle grinder, drill, and ratcheting tie downs.

3-Link Install (Retrofit – Frame Mods not FFR Installed)

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The kit can be ordered from FFR directly for $550 plus shipping ($40 for me, the bracket comes in a HUGE box. It’s important to note that they also send you a battery relocation kit, additional limiting straps, and new axle mounts. In my case, none of this was needed since I had them all with my new kit, and at least for me, the brackets were the same (not sure why, the kit was ordered with 4-link.)

There is a great set of instructions from HOZR on the 3 link installation here. There are some missing pieces to it due to some changes, but it’s way better than the FFR instructions, which are also outdated. This document doesn’t reference the steps required for retrofitting a car that was originally setup for 4-link, either on the road, or new from the factory (like mine).

The pictures I used most, which were awesome were found here.

Between those 2, if you’re looking for instructions on installing your 3-link, you should be pretty well covered. The following were missing or different with my configuration, and probably for others whose car is originally setup for a 4-link solid axle:

1) Upper Control Arm Mounts – If you’re thinking about ordering a 4-link with the prospect of maybe going 3 link later…save yourself some trouble and just go 3-link. This was probably the hardest part of the process, and also made me a little sad cutting up very nice welds and powercoating. You have to remove the upper control arm mounting bracket completely. The FFR instructions and other pics I’ve seen for the retro kit show the upper arm bracket for the 3 link as the old style, which just had the 2 bolts for the down-bracket. The new style weld in and retro bracket also attaches to the passenger side frame for additional lateral support. This means all of the 4-link bracket has to come out, and the welds ground down flat.

The main issue I faced was trying to get an angle grinder to the welds with a cut off wheel. My sawzall is an 18v rechargeable, but my metal blades weren’t sharp enough (too lazy to make another trip to the store). I ended up cutting the main parts out, then going back and cutting the smaller stuff out, then following again with the grinding wheel. Took me a couple of hours to get it all done and ready to go. I can’t imagine doing this while laying on the ground, and I was especially thankful for the lift.

I was originally going to take the DS one out too, but after all that, I’ll just use it for mounting position for brake and fuel lines, etc.


2) Retrofit Bracket Installation – (this bracket is actually very well designed, and bolted up very easily, probably the easiest part of the whole prcess.) The instructions from the websites above are for cars that already have the main 3-link bracket installed, so they didn’t account for the installation of the 3 link bracket. This was actually pretty straight forward, but a couple of gotchas here as well:

a. Leave on the upper bolt locations (trunk area), it’s best to leave the front bolts out while you get the 4″ frame connection marked and drilled. This allows you to rotate the bracket against the 4″ tube, mark, then drill, then rotate back to bolt in. You can then easily put the other bolts in. The instructions say not to tighten these at that time, which I didn’t, but after it was all said and done, I didn’t really see why this was true, so either way could probably work.

b. I found it helpful to run a ratcheting strap around the 4″ tube bracket bolt location so I could force it into position to mark it. This allows you to get it into a position so you have easy access underneath for the nut, etc.


3) Banana Bracket Brace Pumpkin Hole and Bolt – That sounds like a messed up Thanksgiving dish… ;-> This is a common issue, but the hole in the pumpkin (if provided by Ford) don’t always line up with the brace from the banana bracket. It’s very easy to solve, all you have to do is enlarge the hole. The supplied allen head bolt is also both wimpy, and too sort. I just replaced it with a longer and better bolt.

4) Upper Banana Bracket Brace – Not really an issue for me, but worth noting. This is somewhat of a debated topic, both whether you must weld the banana bracket into the axle tube and/or add an upper brace to keep the bracket from slipping. For relatively low HP cars like mine, the brace and sandwich force should prove sufficient, but you can either fabricate a brace, or buy a nice heim-jointed one from VPM. It connects from the pumpkin ears to the banana bracket where the upper link connects (via a longer bolt.) It’s $115 though. The prototype for this was made from steel stock, however, so it might be possible to do that cheaper. I’m considering this still and talking to my buddy Mike about it since he’s had the 3 link on his car for 5 years now.

5) Shock Spacers – There are spacers used for the panhard bar and upper link that are included. My shocks (coil overs) also needed spacers (all do), but they didn’t come with them. So, I made my own. I went down to the hardware store and picked up a 12″ piece of 1/2″ steel pipe, and measured and cut it to size. I also beveled the ends where they connected to the heim joints to prevent binding. I made 8 of them for $3, so can’t beat that.


6) Limiting Strap – it seems that depending on your shock choice, these may or may not be needed. In my case, on the driver’s side, when the shocks were at full extension, the axle was actually resting on the 3-link bracket. Not a huge deal when your slowly lowering it on a lift, but a pretty big one if you happen to get airborne and it slams into it at full force. Unlikely, but since I had the strap, an easy solution. I used the upper shock mount bolt, then I used the original 4-link bracket itself as mounting points. I lifted the axle to the position I wanted (about 1/4″ of clearance so I could maximize suspension travel) with the ratcheting strap, and drilled and bolted it in. The space between the bracket and axle tube was too small, so I bent it out a bit, just enough for a nut. Then, I cut a bolt short to fit perfectly, and it all went in great.


Other than that, between the FFR manual, HOZR’s pdf, and the items above, the 3-link is pretty straight forward.

Final Product:

Again, all of the pics are here:

3 Link Install Pics

Brake Reservoir Mounting Bracket

I decided I simply didn’t like having my brake fluid reservoirs on the firewall. They just didn’t look right there, and I was worried they’d ultimately be in the way. So, after looking around, it seemed the next best location was right in front of the driver’s foot box. So, a very easy mod, measure and bend a piece of strong aluminum, drill a couple of holes in the 3/4″ tube, and there you go (of course, wait for the paint to dry too!)

I made mine so I can unbolt the assembly if I need to, even with the body on, and just used some screws and nuts to hold it in place. It’ll work fine, and I like how the tubes from the master cylinder to the reservoirs are short and easy to route.


Air Compressor Sound Abatement Enclosure – Final Addition

It occurred to me that in order to easily check and change the oil, and to clean the air filters on the air compressor, it would be way easier to have a trap door on the upper front panel. So, I took the panel off, took the jigsaw to it, added an old frilly draw pull and a couple of hinges, and there you go, instant trap door. So, the enclosure is officially completed now.


This is Thanksgiving week, and other than t-day itself, I’ll be here at the house by myself with the mutts, so I’m looking forward to continuing the build. Next on the list will be putting the rear brakes on, getting the fuel tank assembled and installed, and then running the rear brake lines and fuel lines. I’d love to have this all done this week. We’ll see how it goes. Mike Forte is supposed to be sending the rest of the engine parts, so before you know it, the engine will also be in!

Front Brake Lines Installed, Side Pipes Painted

   Posted by: kdavis

With the Halloween weekend, not much progress, but did manage to get the front brake lines installed, which included a fairly complex set of bends to get the 60″ brake line from one side of the car to the other.

I got a little fancy and tried too many bends, so consequently, I broke the first line. I can pick up an extra one locally, so not a big deal, and the 2nd one went in without nearly as much frustration.

I also got my side pipes painted with Rustoleum Ultra BBQ paint. It’s more of a satin/semi gloss finish than the flat black, and looks awesome. It’s almost a perfect match to the black powder coating on the chassis and the roll bars too. So much so, I actually did some touch up work on the DS roll bar. It had some marks on it from shipping boxes. It all looks great.

Next will be the rear brake lines and fuel lines. It might be time to put the car up on the lift so I can run those a little easier, and I can also finish up the foot box bottoms from underneath.





Dead Pedal Finished, Passenger Footbox Finished, New Air Cleaner, Firewall Brace Installed, Brake Booster and Reservoirs Installed

   Posted by: kdavis

Another good progress weekend and Wednesday night!

Dead Pedal and Throttle Panel Mods:

The mod is now complete, taped up and sealed on the outside, and painted. I’m not sealing the DS box until after all of the wiring is done, so the panels will be set aside. Pretty please overall with how it came out. The outside doesn’t have to be pretty, the body will cover it, and the inside is covered with carpet.

I also finished up pushing out the throttle side of the foot box. The panel is now riveted in place, and I made a patch panel to cover the open area around the 4″ tube and gap left by the bump. I will rivet it in after the floor goes in later.


Brake Booster and Reservoirs:

Jeff at Whitby’s sent me a replacement booster, so I got it painted and put in. All the firewall cutting I did made it nice and easy to go in. The one issue I had was the boot around the push rod housing coming off as the rod went in and out. I ended up just taking a big pipe clamp and putting it around the boot at the mounting point, and it stays right where it’s supposed to.

I also used the Whitby-suggested mounting bracket and location for the reservoirs, just to the passenger side of the DS foot box. It looks funky now, but once the body is on, it should be a good spot. I left the lines long for now. Once the motor is in, and I’m buttoning stuff up, I’ll route them and mount them in the best configuration.

Passenger Foot Box Mod

I finally got the new top cut and installed, and managed to get the whole foot box installed as well and sealed and riveted in. It looks 100% better than it did. If I were really anal, I would have cut a new piece for the motor side of the box, but I think it looks pretty good the way that it turned out, and once the motor is in, it’ll be great.

I ended up needing some additional bracing to get rivets in place on the bottom of the foot box on the motor side. Not a big deal though.



After: – You can also see the reservoirs.


Firewall Brace:

The firewall is flimsy, and once the heater is in and everything else, it’ll be more so. You can buy a brace, but I had the scraps and it took me less than 10 minutes to make this little piece. It really helps keep things in place, and it just feels better.


New Air Cleaner:

After reading all of the bad things about the cool Cobra Oval Air Cleaner, I sold it. I managed to find a used 14″ round one with chrome top and a brand-new 3″ K&N filter on it. It was a great deal, and looks awesome. Plus, it’ll breathe much better. I also no longer have any clearance issues with the E-Curve dizzy. It just clears the plug boot on the front of the cleaner.


We’ll see what this weekend accomplishes. I’m waiting for lots of parts, so I’m working around the manual a bit.

Driver’s Side Footbox Mods, Steering Shaft

   Posted by: kdavis

After I finished the weekend, it didn’t seem like I made much progress, but I’ll take it.

I was able to get the floor pan riveted in (partial), modified the throttle side of the footbox for a little more go pedal room, and I built the dead pedal insert on the other side of the box, which was a big job. It still needs to be riveted in.

Throttle Pedal Side:

There are a couple of ways to get more room on the throttle side, either build an insert/box so you have more space, or do what I did…push out the bottom part of the panel a bit and add some support to hold it in place.

I ended up just trimming the bottom of the panel slightly, and I pushed the panel bottom out (towards the engine) about an inch. This gets me more than enough room for my size 11 feet (with tennis shoes or driving shoes on) and it was a very low effort fix.


Dead Pedal Mod:

On long drives, you’ve got to have a place for your left foot, other than resting it on the clutch or shoving it under the pedal. Lots of guys have done the dead pedal mod, and I just copied one I saw on the forum. It’s 2.5″ on top and top front, 1.25″ on bottom front, and flush on bottom rear.

I basically just cut a whole in the side panel after marking the cross bar, then I measured my additions and the bends from there. The initial bends weren’t bad, but then putting the “ears” on those as the secondary bends were a pain. The first pic I saw I wondered why they looked kind of hokey (like they were bent with pliers…) I know now why they look like that…they WERE bent with pliers. That’s about as good as you can get.

The .040 aluminum is thicker than the kit stuff, and it’s an effort to bend it at all. I actually ended up a little aggressive, and the top of mine cracked a little. I added some angle aluminum I had around as a support.

All that’s left is to silicon and rivet it all together.


Steering Shaft:

I learned one of the downsides to buying someone else’s kit is you can never find the parts you’re supposed to have. I was missing my bellville washers (little spring washers), so I had to make my own. A couple of 1/4″ washers, the grinder, a vice, and a screw driver, and they were made. These are what takes the slack out of the steering shaft.

I moved the bearing on the footbox to the inside to keep it clear of the brake booster, which was easy. The rest went in without a hitch as well, so the steering shaft is in, and working and tight…


This pic shows some measurements a guy needed on the position of the shaft bearing assembly, and the angle at which it sits.

I hope to get my brake booster replacement soon so I can get that moving again. I also managed to sell about $300 worth of parts, so that’ll help pay for some more new parts.

Driver’s Side Footbox, Brake Booster, Dead Grinder

   Posted by: kdavis

Another pretty productive weekend with lots of different activities. It’s hard to concentrate on one particular area of the car as there’s always one thing that needs to be done while you work on other stuff.

Most of the waiting time is for paint-related items. Lots of spray paint flying around the shop right now as I paint all of the aluminum panels for the engine bay, the rear end parts we’ve been working on, and the brake booster setup.

More detailed info:

Rear End:

I made the decision that for autocross (which I’ll be doing in this car), the 4-link suspension setup was going to be wholly inadequate. That means I need to upgrade it to a 3-link setup, which uses the original 4-link as the base. Fortunately, FFR sells a retrofit kit that includes the panhard bar, cross members, braces, and all necessary hardware. All in all, the upgrade is reasonable at $550. Considering the 5-link is $1700, this isn’t a bad option. This is going to be my birthday present this year (and probably most of Christmas!

Since the original 4-link was going in, the lower control arms are designed for it, and have brackets and perches we don’t need. We decided to be both anal and brave at the same time, and we broke out the grinder and get rid of the extra stuff. Michelle made quick work of it as a start, and I finished up the first one. We also cut off the quad-shock mounts from the axle housing and drilled holes for dv/dt’s possible bracing mode using the upper ‘ears’ on the axle.

Unfortunately, I also finished up my cheap grinder. A combination of using the wrong wheel, and not cooling it adequately…I let out the magic smoke.


Driver’s Side Footbox, Brake Booster, Pedal Box, Engine Bay Aluminum:

This is a multiple-personality set of projects. I’m putting the footbox together, putting the master cylinder and brake booster together, and putting the pedal box together as well.

Everything has to be painted before going in. I’m using Hammertone on the panels, and although it looks nice, I’m not that happy with how it all goes on. It does not touch up well as it more or less has engineer “orange peel” so you get high and low spots as you try to touch it up.

Other parts like the brake booster and pedal box are getting just a metallic aluminum paint, and I like it much better.


I decided after driving Mike’s non-powered brake car, I definitely wanted to go with the boosted system. Whitby Motors puts all of the necessary parts together for you, and the kit is top notch. Since you have to cut the frame to make room for the big booster (the car is designed for manual brakes), they even include a well-designed frame brace to make it possible. If you want power brakes, this is the way to go.

You do have to make room in the footbox metal to get the booster’s boot and push rod assembly through. This was a bit of a challenge for me, and I ended up kind of hacking it up a bit, using my sawzall. If I had it to do over again, I would have bolted in a piece of wood or metal as a backing, and simply used a large holesaw instead. You need the backing so you have something to guide the holesaw.

You also need to move the steering shaft bracket to the inside of the firewall. Despite the spacers, the booster will still hit. This is a very easy movement though, so not a big deal.

A bit of bad news, as I assembled the pieces, I discovered the booster is broken. The good news is as I was doing this entry, Jeff got back to me. I’m shipping him the booster and he’s replacing it. He’s a good guy!


Bench Bleeding – since I hadn’t done this before, I had to look it up. A lot of guys say it’s more trouble than it’s worth, but after doing it, I can see the value. This includes filling the reservoirs, hooking up the tubing, and then actuating the push rod piston manually until you get all of the air out (AIR IN YOUR BRAKES = BAD.) The basic procedure is to clamp the master cylinder in a vise, get it totally level so the bubbles will come out, and then push the piston in and out until it gets the air out (this primes the system). This is easier said than done. I ended up removing the plugs one at a time, and mounting the resevoirs to a board high above the bench. I used 2 3/8″ socket extensions to push the piston in. You’ll start with more than 1″ of travel, and eventually when it’s primed, you’ll get less than 1/8″. It took me maybe 100 strokes to get it there. Much better than doing it with the pedal and pushing air through the whole system.

Engine Bay Aluminum – This was a pain. The guy I bought it from was not going to paint his stuff, so the f-panels and firewall have all already been sealed and riveted into position. I’m doing all hammertone as mentioned already, so in order to paint what’s there, I could either drill out and remove the panels, or tape and mask around them. The 2nd was the lessor of 2 evils, but it took forever, and was a pain. The good news is that the frame (powered coated) cleans up easily with goof off (lots of over spray, despite my efforts).

If you want to see what white engine bay panels look like, see the in progress pics, the primer I’m using is white.


Pedal Box and Pedals
– I put in Russ Thompson’s go-pedal and brake and clutch pedal covers, which required a lot of cutting of the stock mustang pedals, but it came out nice. The throttle pedal is aluminum, so you have 2 options for paint (if you want them to match), either paint that one black, or paint the other 2 aluminum. I chose the latter. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it that way, it might be too much contrast on the back carpet, but I’ll give it a dry. It’s easy to brush on the black latter.

The main issue I’m facing now is my size 11 feet. The pedals are pretty close together like a race car, which isn’t a big deal, but the gas pedal is only about 1″ from the side wall panel. Greg M did a nice bump out to give him more room, and I’m waiting on measurements to do the same thing. Hopefully, that’ll give me the room I need.


Next Up:

I’ll wait for the new booster to show up, and work on the bump out on the DS box. I’m also going to mount the steering shaft in place so the booster will go in and stay there. I also need to figure out where to mount the reservoirs (probably on the firewall) and get the hole drilled out for the heater (actually need to modify the one that’s I did already for the ffr heater…I switched to a summit one instead.) So…big fun and continuing on…