Well now that I’ve got myself a new job, I felt like I could devote some time to a project that’s needed done for a while now. Rebuilding the front steering on the Toronado. I got the driver’s side done today. If the weather holds out I’m going to tackle the other side tomorrow. I ran out of daylight, but mostly I didn’t want the neighbors complaining about me hammering on my car until the wee hours of the morning.
I tried to take a lot of pictures so I could possibly post a “How To” article on Oldspower.com, but I kinda got on a roll and in a hurry to get done for the night when I started pulling the axel out, so I’ll have to get pictures of the otherside tomorrow.
Pictures to follow are kinda close quarters, so here’s a basic image to give you an idea of how the steering linkage is laid out. There’s some difference because of the unique nature of the Toronado front wheel drive, but the parts involved and the principle are exactly the same.
Parts I'm replacing are the idler arm (opposite of the Pitman Arm) and tie rods. Not pictured, but I'll also be doing the drive axles and front shocks.
First I set the park brake and made sure the rear wheels were secure.
Jacked up the front of the car and removed the front wheels (realizing how much my cheap ass impact wrench sucks).
PB Blaster. Good stuff for breaking stubborn nuts and bolts loose.
First order of business was to tackle the idler arm. This is the part that is worn out enough I was afraid to travel too far from home. Two bolts are tucked inside the framerail.
Here you can see (sorta) the idler arm bracket bolted to the otherside of the frame. The bolts are a little tricky to get to, but the radiator hose has enough give to make it doable.
Once the bracket is off the frame, I took the cotter pin out of the nut that holds the idler arm to the center link. Work it PB Blaster!
And it's off.
But oh, that's not it. Now you have to hammer the idler arm apart from the center link. This part took me forever, mostly becase I don't have a BFH (Big F'n Hammer). So after an hour of hammering and coming at it from different angles, I finally got it off.
There we go! Old one off. New one ready to go. Very happy to see "Made in the USA" stamped on the new one. This one is a good bit heavier too. The old one you could grab the bracket and twirl the arm around like a noise maker. The new one is a lot more sturdy and should fix the main problem of wobbly steering.
Installation was just the reverse of removing the old one, only quite a bit quicker. It's so nice not having to work with rusty old stuff! But it's important to have the idler arm mounted at the correct height. Too high or low and it will make it difficult to align the car.
Alright. Drivers side and passenger side are lined up. Think of it like you're holding a broom stick level with both hands. If you move one hand up, it's going to push the other side down. You want the idler arm at the exact same height as the pitman arm on the other side so the steering remains aligned.
With the idler arm done, I moved to removing the tie rods on the passenger side. The idler and pitman arms hold the center link to the frame/steering box. The tie rods attack the center link to the spindle, which is what the wheels are actually mounted to and the part that actually turns your car. Removing these was much the same as the idler arm. You remove a cotter pin on the nut, remove the nut, and hammer them out with a pickle for. Fortunately these were much less stubborn!
Removing the outer tie rod end nut. You can see the brake rotor which is attached to the spindle by the hub. This joint is what "pushes" the wheel to turn when you turn the wheel.
Hammer those babies out now.
Separating the upper tie rod.
Old one out. Now for the new one. I tried to adjust the new one to the same length of the old one. This will help keep the car close to being aligned correctly. But it's going to have to go into a shop for a professional alignment after all this work anyway.
From this point on I kinda stopped taking pictures. But here you can see the finished driver's side. New tie rod, new drive axle, and a new shock absorber. I have to do the same thing to the other side, so I'll get pictures of the drive axle and shock installation tomorrow.