1965 Chrylser - Front Suspension Work

D Cluley

Active Member
Nov 19, 2010
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Lansing MI
I seem to have the time & budget to do 1 or 2 projects a summer, and this year it is the suspension's turn.

The lower control arm bushings have been squeeking for a while, and last fall I noticed that the lower ball joints had a little more play than I liked. They were fine side to side, but a little loose vertically, so more "Those are a priority" than "It's time to panic" Based on that, the plan is to start with the lower front suspension as the first phase. I think the upper ball joints and bushings are still ok, but if not, they will be dealt with after the lower part is back together. If somehow, that all gets done reasonably well, then I'll look at the rear end.

So, last Sunday I got the front end securely up on 4 jackstands & started taking things off. Some of this was apart last year when I had to pull the transmission, but some of it hasn't been touched in the 20 years I've had the car, and who knows how long before that!

By Friday evening, most of it was off the car, so I laid all the pieces out with the new parts to see what I still needed.



I got the inner part of the lower bushings off of the pivot shafts, and the old ball joints free of the control arms. Strut rods have been cleaned and I started to paint them along with some of the small hardware.

The big issue at the moment is that the passenger side torsion bar is absolutely stuck in the control arm. I have soaked it from both sides with PB Blaster for a couple of days & tried forcing it with a bearing puller without it budging. The plan at this point is to see whether any shops around have a big torch or a big press and are willing to try to pop it loose. I figure worse case scenario, I can hacksaw/dremel/chisel the socket on the arm and at least preserve the torsion bar.

I still need to undo the top of the shocks and drop those out, and after getting into it, I decided that the bushings that hold to sway bar links to the frame also need to be replaced, so those need to come out. At this point, the link to bar bushings seem pretty ok, so I may leave those alone.
If you need any of the Front End Components, I have everything Brand New, Top of the Line Quality, in Stock….

The Suspension —- Upper and LOWER Ball Joints, Upper and LOWER Control Arm Bushings…..

The Steering —- Inner and Outer Tie Rods and SLEEVES, Idler Arm and PITMAN ARM…..

The Rest —- Strut Rod Bushings, Outer ( Bar - to - Frame )Sway Bar Frame Bushings, Inner ( Bar - to - Strut Rod ), Upper and Lower Control Arm Rebound Bumpers….

P.M. me, as per forum rules , if interested …..

i had to remove a stuck torsion bar from a barracuda recently. i made two sets of clam shells by cutting two black iron pipe couplers in half lenghtwise. clamped them on to the bar back to back with inch and a half exhaust clamps. drove the bar out with an air hammer to the forward most clamp. threads in the couplers didn't mar the bar.
If I were you I would seriously consider doing the entire front suspension at the same time. You already have most of the toughest work done. It wouldn’t take that much more to disassemble the rest. Sure it will cost a little more for the parts but when the job is done, it will be done. Trust me, you will love the results of a complete front end rebuild. Craig @mobileparts from the previous post will have the quality parts you need. Good luck.
Although it doesnt help much now but for future reference I have found its easier to remove the torsion bars 1st with everything still in the car using a bar clamp and sledge hammer if needed. I would have to agree with mrfury68, the cost and ease of replacement for the UCA bushings and ball joint would be crazy to not do at this point for peace of mind.
Why not just leave the torsion bar in the control arm? It’s already off so just put it back together that way.

makes changing the bushing a bit cumbersome, but why fight it. And heat isn’t the greatest idea on a spring.
Concerning the rest of the front suspension:

All of the upper bushings, and at least one of the ball joints (maybe both, I don't remember) have been replaced since I have had the car, so they should be in much better shape.

I would like to have the car back on the road less than a month from now, so I want to see how long it takes to finish the first part before moving on.

It doesn't seem like it will be appreciably harder to do the uppers after putting the lower part back together, and in fact that will allow me to keep the brakes & spindles attached to one of the control arms at all times, so I don't have to support them separately.

I really, really hate hate hate dealing with those upper ball joints. ;) I remember on my Dart using the proper socket, a 3/4" breaker bar and enough pipe to get enough leverage that the car started to shift on the jackstands and the ball joint still wasn't coming loose. So, if they still seem good, I'd really rather leave them alone for now.

That said, if anything does look iffy, I will deal with it. :)

I appreciate the tips for moving the torsion bar. The problem here is that the bar was stuck in the control arm much more firmly than the pivot shaft was, so the only thing keeping the arm from moving with the bar was the strut rod. I suspect that the strut rod would have bent before the torsion bar came loose. Still not sure where I'm taking the control arms to get the bushings pressed in, so if whoever has a press tall enough to clear the torsion bar I am ok with leaving it in place. Just not sure if that will work. Reassembly would be easier with the bar separate, but it should be possible as is.

Yesterday was a nice quiet session. Did some more painting, picked up some of the mess I've made all over the garage & cleaned the thick layer of grime off the control arms. So much crud! Seriously, I think I got my hands dirty just by looking at them the other day. ;)
To do the uppers on a complete driving car:
1) jack up car under lower control arm
Put Jackstands under frame
2) remove front wheels
3) separate the upper ball joint from the spindle
4) remove the eccentric bolts.

that is pretty easy to do later.

a shop press has a pass through on the table for long items. Shouldn’t be a problem.
I finally got the outer part of the bushings out of the control arms and after 4 tries found a local welding & fabricating shop with a press tall enough to press the new ones in with the one torsion bar still attached. He said it would be a couple of days, so hopefully by Saturday. That really is just like a 10 minute job right? I did all of this on a Dart 15 years ago and just don't remember it being this much hassle.

The top nuts came off surprisingly easily on the old shocks, so those are out. I want to double check the fit of the bottom eye into the control arms before installing the new ones.

Then things went sideways. The bushing kit for the sway bar links arrived, so I pulled that off the car, and went to test fit the new stuff onto the links. Went to put the new nuts onto the stud and they seemed a little stiff, but a little extra muscle on the ratchet got things moving.

The old ones are 5/16" coarse thread and the nuts they sent are 5/16" fine thread! DOH!

Time to put the tools down and walk away for the night!

Since the nut ends up well down the threads when tight, I'm hoping I can clean the chewed up end with a die enough to make these work.
I considered doing this work on my 65 NYer. Instead, I bought a US made parts kit on ebay for about $300, and had a really experienced guy here in Tampa do the work for about $700. As much as I enjoy working on my cars, I'm glad I farmed that job out.
I'm sure a pro could have done this much faster than me, but $700 still seems pretty reasonable.

The bushings got pressed in, and the shop that did it also pressed the stuck torsion bar out, so that will be easier to deal with. There was a little surface rust in the socket on the control arm, I suspect that the failing rubber in the bushing allowed water to get in from the front side.

Except for the sway bar, everything has been cleaned and painted, so I am almost ready to start assembling things.

I have successfully repaired the threads on the sway bar links, so next is splitting those to replace the rubber. That should hopefully be the last hurdle before putting it all back together.

The driver's side upper ball joint seems a little loose, so I am going to go ahead and do those and the upper bushings, but am still planning to mostly reassemble the lower stuff before starting on the uppers.
When it comes time for re-asembly, a couple of notes:
1) ANTI_SIEZE IS YOUR FRIEND. Slather up the T-Bar ends (both). You may have to take it apart some day and you will be glad you did.
2) Make sure that you do not mix the t-bars up. One end of the bar is marked with either a 'L' (drivers side) or 'R' (pass side).
I just did this last winter on the Party Barge. I also did not mess the uppers as they are still serviceable (if it ain't broke don't fix it.) Other than unloading the T bars the uppers are much easier.
Craig at mobile parts has whatever you need.
All good advice. :)

I marked most things L or R with painters tape and sharpie marker.

Control arms & strut rods are back on with all the hardware finger tight. My plan is to get everything in place and then go back with the torque wrench and do the final tightening. That way, if something has to come back off to get something else in place I'm not fighting the nuts.

One of the sway bar links is off the bar and split. Just needs a little grinding before painting. I started on the second one, but didn't get it done yet.
The 2nd sway bar link is finally apart. Just need to clean those up and paint them, then the sway bar can go back on.

Lower control arms, strut rods & torsion bars are all back in place. Still need to deal with the cotter pins & zerk fittings, but the heavy lifting is done.

Wonder of wonders, I was able to get both upper ball joints broken loose from the control arms. Used the special socket, 3/4" breaker bar & a 4 foot piece of iron pipe. Still want to know who thought that was a good design.

On the driver's side I also got the cotter pin out & the nut off with absolutely no drama. Should have know this was going too well. The ball joint stud does not want to come loose from the spindle. I'm thinking since I have to pull the cam bolts to do the bushings, I may just pull the bolts from the spindle and pull them both together. That way I can get easier access to the ball joint stud to get it loose.
Good Morning
If I have understood this correctly, the ball joint is loose from the control arm but it is still attached to the spindle?
There is a tool called a 'pickle fork' available in different widths, that essentially is a double wedge. Drive it in between the top of the spindle and the boot on the ball joint, use some PB Blaster liberally, and it will eventually 'pop' apart. The boot will be trashed but you are replacing it anyway.
Good Luck and God speed.
Are you planning on making the 127 tour?
I'm on day 2 or 3 of spraying PB blaster. Last night after getting the nut off I tried both a pickle fork & a 2 jaw puller.

The ball joint is still attached to the control arm as I only undid it about 1 turn so far.

I'm thinking with it all off the car, I can get a better swing with the hammer on the fork.

I am definitely planning to do at least some of the 27 Tour, just not sure how many days yet.
I'm on day 2 or 3 of spraying PB blaster. Last night after getting the nut off I tried both a pickle fork & a 2 jaw puller.

The ball joint is still attached to the control arm as I only undid it about 1 turn so far.

I'm thinking with it all off the car, I can get a better swing with the hammer on the fork.

I am definitely planning to do at least some of the 27 Tour, just not sure how many days yet.
be careful, I ended up marring my spindle pretty good where the ball joint goes thru on one side when I did my front end last year and in the same situation as you. I ended up getting creative with a balljoint/pitman arm puller kit to push it thru the spindle rather than the pickle fork after I realized I was starting to gouge the crap out of my spindle.
When you are all finished installing the new parts be sure you adjust the ride height as stated in the FSM, before you have it aligned.
There is also a tool that sits on top the the lower ball joint nut and pushes against the upper ball joint. Tool is called...wait for it...Upper Ball Joint Stud Remover.
Perhaps a combination of a pickle fork, the stud remover and PB Blaster will do the trick. Don't know if you get down to my neck of the woods much, but I have one that you can borrow.