Reinstalling the front suspension:
I reinstalled the passenger's side bracket before reinstalling the diff. you can tighten the bolts while its in the car and the bushings are pretty tight in the chassis.
It was kind of a chore getting everything to line up. (yes, I fixed the serpentine belt later)
There is only 5mm between my oil pan and the front diff. Scary. hopefully now that everything is poly they wont come in contact.
service manual page
its been awesome having real GM service manuals. $25 well spent.
next. sway bar
using some new moog thermoplastic bushings, they seem to work well.
I had a ton of problems with moog parts while the front end was going back together.
first, I had to install washers on the new sway bar bushing brackets because the oe bolts were chewing through the brackets without them
However, the bolt spacing causes the washers to interfere with the brackets, so I had to grind down the washers.
not the end of the world, but wait, theres more.
next, the new moog lower control arms interfered with the frame bracket well before hitting the bump stop.
the oe control arm:
so then I had to go clearance the other arm while it was off the car
I hit them both with some VHT paint but i dont expect the coating to last long. Very annoying.
The factory service manual states to install the front leg of the LCA first and then the rear, and you really have to do it this way or it will be HELL getting the bolts to line up in the bushings.
the driver's side LCA went on pretty easy but the passenger's was a nightmare. the way I did it was the install the front bushing bolt loosely and then use a floor jack and a big rubber mallet to beat the rear bushing into place so I could drive a bolt through the chassis bracket. I would expect all chassis to be a little different, some more difficult than others.
Then, the new Moog upper control arms came with a rivet where the brake cable bracket was supposed to be (and curiously, a bolt where the speed sensor cable mounts, which is a less critical
super fun busting rivets out of brand new control arms. Funnily enough they come with both bolts, so its as if they expect you to remove the rivet if neccessary. maybe these arms fit multiple vehicles.
Here is my order of operations for installing the front suspension.
1) install LCA to chassis (bolts loose)
2) install torsion bar into LCA
3) install torsion bar into xmember by rotating loose LCA until it slides in (then turn the LCA until you can insert the t-bar bolt bracket and let it rest on the bracket)
4) install knuckle to LCA and torque BJ
5) install UCA to knuckle and torque BJ (do not bolt to chassis)
6) install axle through space between frame and LCA (with the knuckle tilted forward because the UCA isnt bolted up)
7) install axle into diff
8) bolt UCA to chassis
If you dont do it this way and you install the axle before the UCA (like I did the first time) you will have a hell of a time torquing the UCA ball joint. you can probably get it with a crescent wrench socket or something like that though.
SKF front hubs
I put some grease behind the axle seal in the knuckle, not sure if this was good or not but I figured it couldnt hurt anything
now I went to install some new MOOG HD sway bar end links and lo and behold, the washers didnt fit through the holts in the new MOOG lower control arms.
hardware store didnt have any good options so I got the flap disc back out and ground those down too.
again, very annoying.
And then I destroyed one of the shafts while torquing it
jokes on me because I ordered another set that has solid shafts, not these pos folded steel tubes but the new ones are also from moog
I was going to reuse the front calipers but they were only $25 from my friend's supplier so I picked some refurbished ones up. never heard of "Nugeon" but they work well so far.
I got a powerstop evolution kit for the front and rear from Rockauto for the car
This my first car that has speed bleeders on it and Ill never go back. I ended up ordering the wrong ones for the rear drums but I got some Dorman versions locally that seem to work fine.
I did not end up replacing the rear brake shoes and hardware yet as they have plenty of life left.
I ran out of time to do the rear wheel bearings and seals and I am going to look into getting a Posi put into the rear end so I will wait to mess with it until then.
There arent any awful noises coming from the rear end (yet) but there is definitely play in the wheel bearings.
There was a ton of black crud in the fluid reservoir that I cleaned out but with the speed bleeders I could flush it for quite awhile and eventually got clean fluid.
last step was torquing the axle bolts. 55 ft lbs. I replaced the bolts with grade 12 hex heads from ace as the originals were stripping.