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TR2/3/3A Right Front Suspension Damage Repair?

71TR6

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Hello Forum members,
I have another dilemma I'd appreciate your input on, especially if any of you have dealt with this before.

Prior to starting any of my major body panel repairs on my TR3A that were done on-frame, I checked the frame squareness following the process in the Bentley book and confirmed the frame is straight, not hogged, and square. Now that I've finished this phase, I pulled the body off the frame and started addressing the frame and suspension where I came across another "surprise" during my restoration adventure (we all love surprises, don't we?).

What I discovered is that the front right rear lower wishbone mount is seriously bent out of position (circled in green in the image below)
TR3A_Rt_ShockTower_TopView.jpg

The front pin seems to be mostly parallel to the centreline of the frame although it is positioned about 0.10" inward from where is should be.

This car must have slid into a curb or something low to cause this without frame damage. There is some damage (buckled inward) to the vertical square tube that the wishbone mount passes through as shown in this image (buckled area shown in green) in the image below.

TR3A_Rt_ShockTower_LookingFront.jpg

SO, I'm open to suggestions on how to go about repairing this damage. Going with a RATCO frame, which would be great, is not an option - $$$ :fat:

In addition, what is the best technique to measure whether the repair is correct and what tolerance is acceptable. Aside from the centreline of the frame, there doesn't appear to be a more suitable datum as a reference. Referencing the pins to the centerline on the floor is a real pain so I'm open to other thoughts on this. Should I perhaps use the undamaged left side mounts as a reference? Do I just somehow bend the rear pin and take the bend out of it so it is parallel with the front pin (same dimension off frame centerline)?

As always, any suggestions and comments are greatly appreciated!

Cheers!
Ron

1971 TR6
1959 TR3A (in pieces)
 

sp53

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Frank C. went through this. I followed his frame work and was impressed. He will probably chime in and help out. From my view, I would look close at the lower wishbones and vertical link because they were probably bent also. It might bend back, but the area is so critical. I do not know if that is suggested. Me personally, I might try and heat and bend it, but again that is a critical area, so I would look for a more seasoned opinion other than mine.
 
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71TR6

71TR6

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Thanks for the quick response! The wishbones and vertical link are straight. All indications are that the DPO replaced those but didn't want to bother with taking the body off the frame to fix this issue. I discovered the right fender had a layer of blue paint on it so that obviously was replaced which should have been a clue to some potentially deeper damage.

Ron
 

2long

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So the repair to that part of the susupension is a major job. There are threads about the pins and how they are attached/replaced, and they all look very hairy and only experts need apply. That is my humble opinion if you want to keep this frame - find an expert and help them by sharing the information in the threads descibing the job and the trouble areas.

Dan
 

CJD

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Replacing that pin is, absolutely bar none, the single hardest job you can do on this car. It is welded internally, so cannot be driven out. Also, there is no way the pin is out without having the rear lower arm being bent. The tolerances are too tight for it not to be, so I garantee your lower arm that was attached to that pin is bent.. Here is a link where another member removed the pin and replaced it. I think it says it all if you follow it:

https://www.britishcarforum.com/bcf...wer-control-arm-pin&highlight=pin+front+lower

Option 2 is to heat the pin and hammer it back into place. I would cover it with a sleeve to minimize the damage from hammering. It will take care and patience. I would build a jig to reference straight, so you can see in a second what direction you need to go to reach straight. Just hold the jig up and see immediately.

Best of luck...we're here for moral support! Like Jim and Steve stated above...not a beginner's job. In fact, I would not even trust an average shop to do this. You would need one experienced in the nuances of these funny little cars.
 

Frank Canale

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1960 TR3A starting chassis work this is my documentation to the repair I did to my frame. As stated above it is not an easy repair. I used a self leveling laser to establish the corner pads that I used to level the frame and story sticks to continually check the frame for level. The service manual is what I decided to be the road map to the information to repair the frame. The drawing of the frame gives all the dimensions necessary to completely rebuild the frame. There are also drawings of additional suspension parts that can be used to determine if they are bent. As far as tolerances, John help me decide that no dimension is off more than 1/16" that is + or - 1/32. Once the frame is level I used another laser on a tripod to establish the centerline. Gravity is your best friend to continue to check the laser. Use a plum bob hanging in front of the laser to check that it is vertically true. The laser will light up the string and it is easy to true the laser when the string is lit from top to bottom. I used a string dimension of 12 inches to true the laser. I used multiple points along the frame to establish the center line. There is a hole in a tab at the front cross bar, the frame ID tab on the cross member, measuring between the transmission mount bolt holes( put a piece of tape across the holes and you can measure and mark the centerline)unless the car has been wrecked the transmission mounting bolt holes should be very accurate. Then to the rear cross tube, same thing put a piece of tape and measure between the frame rails and make a mark. The dimensions for the body mount pads are helpful to help establish centerline. A piece of flat bar drilled for the mounting holes in the pad makes for a good reference. mark the center between the mounting holes. Use the laser and see how all the marks line up. This is where you will have to decide how many times you do this to decide on what you think is the true centerline. Centerline is a good start but you also will need to confirm that the spring towers are correct as well. I can not emphasize how important it is to continue to take measurements, check and recheck. I would say my repair was 50% measuring and 50% fabrication and welding. Good luck and take your time. Frank
 

Graham H

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I had damage to the right front suspension that had been very badly repaired by the PO so with my Son as the welder we rebuilt it. When it came down to the lower wishbone pivot pin, I didn't have the use of a laser like Frank but I was confident the left side was undamaged so I took many measurements heat and hammer to get the front and back the same distance apart. I must have got it right because it drives like a new one so I would go ahead and straighten it just be careful not to damage the thread on the end.

Graham
 

Frank Canale

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In my case I had no choice but to repair the damage to my suspension. The only way to determine the repair method is to do extensive measurements to know what is bent and where it is bent. I was amazed at how the entire suspension works together. You get one area correct only to find you have affected another area. I feel that the lower pin is bent and true it can be straightened but I would make sure that everything else is correct as well. This is the best opportunity to make sure your suspension is correct so you can have an enjoyable driving experience. Nobody wants a car that pull one way or the other or having to saw on the wheel to keep it in-between the lines, not to mention future wear on tires and suspension. Looking forward to following your approach and only a successful repair. We all learn from different problems and solutions as one approach might apply to a different problem in the future. Frank
 
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71TR6

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Wow Frank! A very impressive piece of work you did rebuilding your shock towers. Thanks so much for taking the time to document the process- it is extremely helpful to me to see the task ahead of me. I'm fortunate that there is very little rust on the shock tower so I don't think I'll need to replace any major structural parts due to rust unless they're bent. Based on what you did, it is obvious there's a few more measurements I need to check based on what you've outlined.

I followed a similar approach to you in checking out my frame using a laser reference to set level and lots of plumb bob work to transfer points to and that worked out great. It surprisingly shows my frame is pretty close to spec and square as outlined in my Bentley (Section J pages 1-7) but this brings up another question- when you mention the "service manual", is this the same as the Bentley manual? I notice in the Bentley diagrams I have, the towers are located in the top view and the side view only and there is no front view reference dimensions. If this is what you used, then I'm safe to move ahead knowing that there are adequate dimensions to locate the tower.

I'm going to be taking a closer look at what I need to dissect to repair this. Before I start I'm going to need to get the entire frame stripped of 60 years of gunk so I have a better idea of any hidden surprises. In your opinion, is it reasonable to separate the shocktower welds to the frame to pull the tower off in one piece, replace the entire lower fulcrum, fixture it into position as you did and reweld to the frame in the correct position? Does that sound doable or am I over simplifying? On the other hand, I may try Grahams approach and use a little heat and beat on the fulcrum if the damage is only isolated to the fulcrum pins (I can dream, can't I?:smile:)

Thanks for your and everyone else's comments and guidance!

Ron
 

Graham H

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Unfortunately I didn't document my repairs and you can't see how much damage there was to start with but I do remember I had to cut the weld on the outer support brackets for the lower wishbone pivot shaft and re weld after they were in the right place.

Graham
DSC00285.jpeg
DSC00280.jpeg
P1010122.jpeg
 

Frank Canale

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Hi Ron, Yes I used the frame drawings in the Bentley service manual. The top view gives you your dimensions from center line so a front view would show the same dimensions. The front view might have been helpful but not necessary. I made extra copies of the drawings and also enlarged the drawings. That way I was able to make notes and use red and green high lighter pens to keep track of where I was on the repairs. Red indicated damaged needing repair and green indicated OK or already repaired. Yes it is possible to remove the spring tower but you will find there is an internal support bracket that the lower fulcrum pin goes thru that you will have to cut as you can not get to the weld to remove the entire bracket. I used a 4 1/2" grinder with a thin cut off wheel, Dremel with #420 heavy duty cutoff wheels. die grinder with pointed burrs, and a saws all with long and medium length Lennox Bi metal blades. You can use the saws all to get to welds the grinder can't reach, very effective at removing the welds. I am not sure if that bracket can be welded where it has to be cut, The inner part of the tower does not give you much room to do the welding. Almost all of my repairs were done using TIG welding but on the spring towers I used mig welding to weld the inner brackets because there is no room for the TIG torch. I have thought about your repair and if you can determine that the fulcrum pin is the only part bent I would straighten it. If that approach does not work then you can go the more extreme method and remove the spring tower. The fulcrum pin is turned from mild steel so it is pretty soft. Another option would be to sacrifice the fulcrum pin and cut what you can off and drill the pin where it goes thru the inner support bracket and remove the inner weld that way. Removing the pin will not be fun but might save you time in the long run. Getting the spring tower back in place takes time as it involves 3 dimensions, fulcrum pin height, front to back location and distance from centerline. This might be a little easier for you if the other tower is correct it will help you to locate the one you remove. One thing I would do before you cut or straighten is to make a template or a board that you can bolt to the diagonal body mounts that go from the spring tower to the frame. The drawing dimensions in that area are not real clear and really only mention what angle they are. Also before you start mark your plumb bob points so you can put the frame back in the same position as you work on it. As you cut, grind, and pull on the spring tower the frame is going to move around. The more reference points you keep the easier it is to know what has moved or not moved as you work thru the repairs. Feel free to post questions asking advice for this is a big undertaking. Doing this repair will give you a great understanding of the frame and the suspension and how it works. You will also truly know how good your frame is. I will be following closely, good luck Frank
 
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Frank Canale

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Thank you Lionel, great to hear from you.
IMG_0197.jpg Does this look familiar. Your explanation to the damage on your suspension got me thinking about mine. I could not figure out why they hacked out the pin and replaced it but I think I know now. My car was in an accident like yours only a harder hit that bent the pin and tore the support bracket off the frame so they hacked it out straightened it best they could and welded the pieces back in.
IMG_0263.jpgThis will give you a better idea of the inner support bracket that is difficult to get to the welds.
IMG_0994.jpgThis is what I believe you are dealing with. Since there is damage to the vertical part of the spring tower then the force pivoted on the support bracket and was transferred into the vertical tube ( dent in vertical tube) Keep in mind the vertical tube is only 16 gauge so it is the weak link that absorbed the force and not the heavy part of the pin.

You are on the right track by cleaning the frame so you can do a closer inspection to see if the support bracket is twisted, if the support bracket looks like it is still flat on the frame. The top of the frame that the support bracket welds to is also 16 gauge and easily deformed. Take your time to formulate a game plan. these are some initial suggestions. I would wait to use any heat at this point, protect the threads on the end of the pin. I would look at getting a heavy wall piece of tubing that fits over the bushing area of the pin. I would say 24"- 36" long. Ideally you want to apply pressure to the pin and to the dented area of the spring tower. ( you can use a stud welding gun to weld pins to the dented area and pull them or drill a small hole on the opposite side of the tube and insert a steel punch or steel rod to tap on as you apply pressure on the pin). Avoid over bending the pin the other way as that will stretch the other side of the pin. Once you get it close You can use some heat to the outside of the pin where the metal is stretched to shrink that area and bring it back to exactly where you want it. Avoid quenching the pin as this can make it brittle. Slow and steady wins the race. Frank
 
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71TR6

71TR6

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Thanks for the drawing and sketch Frank. That's exactly what I'm looking at. I got the frame back from the sand blaster this morning and set it up to take measurements. I went through the Service manual process twice to double check dimensions for the centerlines and to check diagonals. I found out the frame is surprisingly straight. I've got 1/8" twist down in the right front corner (not unexpected) and the frame just behind the shock tower is kicked in enough to shift the centerline by 3/16" when measuring frame side to frame side 14" back from front of L & R frame tubes (just in front of the jog out). All told, not as bad as I thought it was. I turned a pilot that fit into the top hole of the shock tower with a 1/16" hole that I used to drop a plumb bob to mark shock tower location. It looks like it is kicked in toward the center by only 3/32" so I'm not sure if someone repaired it or I lucked out and the pins took the bulk of the hit. I'll be setting up a laser tomorrow and will take additional measurements. If I remember to bring my scratch sheets up from the shop tomorrow, I'll post them.

Based on what I saw today, rather than trying to repair the existing pin, I went ahead and ordered a replacement from Moss. My game plan is to cut the welds on the outboard support brackets and then cut the pins off close to the shock tower welds to clear those parts out of the way. The step after that depends on the fulcrum pin construction - do you know if the pin is solid all the way through or are the pins pressed into the larger diameter tube that goes through the shock tower? If it is a tube, my plan is to drill out the tube with a Silver-Deming bit which should track down the tube nicely. That shouldn't be too bad. On the other hand, if it is solid, I'll probably still drill it out but will take a lot more work to make sure I center properly on the pin assembly during my drilling. Once that is cleared, I can work on the dent in the spring tower with a little more room to pull and prod it back into shape before fitting the new pin. That will also allow me to inspect and fix some damage to the top of the frame where the rear outboard bracket tore.

Sound reasonable?
 

DavidApp

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Sounds like you are thinking this through carefully before breaking out the cutting tools.

I am very glad that I did not face that kind of issues with my frame.

I will be following your progress with interest.

David
 

Frank Canale

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Hi Ron, great that your frame is back. Sorry but the fulcrum pin is solid but it is not hardened so if you are going to drill it I would start out with a 3/16" bit and mark center as close as you can on both ends and drill from both ends and try and meet in the center. Next drill with 1/4" then 5/16 from the other end till you have a hole centered all the way thru then you can move up to larger bits.One thing to keep in mind is that you will probably have to use a die grinder on the holes that the pin goes thru to get it aligned before it is welded so if the holes are drilled a little out of center it is not going to matter that much. Another thing I noticed that you have removed the upper fulcrum pins. I would reinstall them and check to see if the spring towers are twisted. measure distance between the upper wishbone mount and compare them front and rear. once the laser is set up then you can check alignment from centerline. I was amazed at the amount of flex there is in the frame to get any twist out of it. Mine was twisted in the back and it took several pulls with a bottle jack to get the twist out. It is not hard but takes time. measure how much you flex the frame then let it relax and see how much it moved. The hard part is securing the frame so you can flex only what you are interested in fixing without affecting another area. I feel very confident You can accomplish this and with very good results. Keep us posted , we are here to help you any way we can. Frank
 

CJD

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Drilling is worth a shot...but I've never had much luck drilling straight for that length. I even have trouble doing it using a dialed in lathe and a trued shaft. Your pin is bent. In the end I think you will have to resort to opening up the tower assembly.
 

Frank Canale

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I went out to the shop and looked at mine. drilling from the front is obstructed so this is going to be very difficult. You can cut away some of the pin to minimize some of the drilling but the center piece of the pin that is inside the tower is the problem. I also believe you will have to remove the rear support bracket to install the new pin because the shaft has a step in it so it is trapped between the support brackets. the rear one is easier to remove and put back. Good sharp drill bits are still an effective way to remove metal. I have welded extension rods on drill bits with pretty good success. lay the drill bit in the valley of a piece of angle iron and extension rod same and weld it , 1/4 ,3/8 and 1/2 work the best. I think this will be a trial and error type of repair. You have options. You can cut the pin out of the tower by cutting the supporting brackets and leaving the tower like the PO did on mine. and there is the last option of removing the entire tower. Frank
 

sp53

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No doubt you guys have more experience than I do with this frame and lazar stuff. From where I sit in my comfortable ignorant spot, heck I would put something over the pin end with probably a sleeve and duct tape and whatever fit nice then get about a 6 foot pipe on the end and try and straighten the pin with hillbilly force to what comes out and what moves and where. What is there to lose if you are cutting it out?

Years ago I worked for this local union contracting company, and the lazar got put back in the box up out of the way. We went back to transits and plumb bobs.

I really like the reinstitution of the upper pin idea to see the geometry. I am theorizing here, but would be advisable to set up the pan, vertical link, trunnion and upper and lower wishbones without the spring and shock to see the geometrical movement?
steve
 

Frank Canale

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I think I understand Ron’s approach. He has decided the pin is damaged and not willing to take a chance that down the road he could have a suspension failure. Error on the side of safety. If you are not under a time constraint then this is the route to go. Frank
 
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