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  1. #1

    Default Strut removal question

    I'm wanting to replace the struts in my stock '84 Thunderbird but running into an issue trying to remove the first strut. I've already removed the nut on top of the strut as well as the two spindle bolts. I can't seem to remove the bushings on top of the strut tower and the dust boot is still in place too; both of which are preventing me from removing the strut. I thought the dust boot would come out with the strut but it's not. Even though the top nut is off neither the bushing or hardware is loose. Am I missing a step or is there something else I need to do to safely remove the struts from this car? Any advice or tips on how to proceed?

  2. #2

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    Place a 3/8" long socket extension on the tip of the strut shaft at the top. Hit the end of the extension straight down with a hammer, to drive the strut down out of the upper strut mount. The stub at the top of the strut shaft must be rusted to the metal sleeve that it slides through.
    Jack Hidley
    Maximum Motorsports Tech Support

  3. #3
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Sea Foam Deep Creep or Freeze All can help penetrate any rust or corrosion on the strut shaft and help to loose in. Good Luck!
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

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  4. #4

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    The strut shaft spins and moves freely up and down through the bushing assembly. My issue is I run out of room when the bottom of the strut hits the control arm. Does the shaft need to be compressed even further to exit the bushing assembly and clear the dust boot?

  5. #5

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    Unbolt the outer tie rod from the steering arm of the spindle (REQUIRED!!!). Loosen both FCA pivot bolts. Now the FCA will drop down as far as needed, to get the strut out, as you won't be twisting its bushings.
    Jack Hidley
    Maximum Motorsports Tech Support

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the advice! Unbolting the outer tie rod gave me the room I needed to remove the old strut. I've installed the new strut and started the shaft nut but can't seem to get it threaded any further without the shaft spinning. Others have said to torque the nut after the car is back on the ground so the weight of the vehicle will provide some additional resistance but I'd feel a lot better if the top of the shaft was at least flush with the top of nut before removing my jack from underneath the control arm. My DeWalt impact driver just spins the bolt and shaft and I also tried putting a box end wrench on the nut and using a large flat head screwdriver with a pair of vise grips on the handle for leverage but still no luck. Any other ideas?

  7. #7
    Moderator wraithracing's Avatar
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    Sometimes using a floor jack under the lower control arm and jacking the suspension into position will provide enough resistance for the shaft to stop spinning while tightening the nut. Same idea as putting the car back on the ground, but just a different way. I would give that a try and see if that works. Good Luck!
    ​Trey

    "I Don't build it hoping for your approval! I built it because it meets mine!"

    "I've spent most of my money on Mustangs, racing, and women... the rest I just wasted."

    Mustangs Past: Too many to remember!
    Current Mustangs:
    1969 Mach 1
    1979 Pace Car now 5.0/5 speed
    1982 GT Stalled RestoModification
    1984 SVO Still Waiting Restoration
    1986 GT Under going Wide Body Conversion Currently

    Current Capris:
    1981 Capri Roller
    1981 Capri Black Magic Roller Basket Case
    1982 Capri RS 5.0/4spd T-top Full Restoration Stalled in TX
    1984 Capri RS T-top Roller
    1983-84 Gloy Racing Trans Am/IMSA Body Parts

  8. #8
    FEP Senior Member Patrick Olsen's Avatar
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    I was thinking the same as Trey. Use a jack to push up on the spindle, which will push more of the strut shaft up through the top mount, making it easier to thread the nut on.
    '89 GT convertible - not a four-eye
    '82 Zephyr Z7 - future track car

  9. #9

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    Pushing up on the bottom of the strut housing can't do anything to create friction and stop the strut shaft from spinning. The bottom end of the strut shaft has a piston on it. This piston slides and rotates freely inside the strut housing tube. There is oil above and below it. No force can therefore be transmitted.

    If the strut shaft is fully extended from the housing and you are trying to tighten the nut, this can make the strut shaft spin sooner, because the nut has to twist the FCA bushings. The easiest thing is to loosen both FCA bolts, so that the bushings aren't "wound up".

    Virtually all struts have some sort of keying feature at the top of the shaft. Must Ford struts have a slot for a giant screwdriver. Bilsteins have a hex broached in the end. Konis have flats machined on the sides for a Crescent wrench. If your struts have nothing, that sucks. You can use a leather, strap wrench on the shafts to keep it from spinning.
    Jack Hidley
    Maximum Motorsports Tech Support

  10. #10

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    Sounds to me like the treads on the strut or that top nut are damaged. Your impact driver should drive that down with no problems. You should also be able to turn it by hand-tools, if need be.

    Also, are you sure the threads on the top of the strut are long enough to pass through the strut mount bushing? (Is there a space under the top nut when you push the strut all the way in the strut mount sleeve and try and install the nut?
    83 TC "Clone"
    85 Marquis LTS

  11. #11

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    Most strut nuts (Ford, Bilstein and Koni included) all have some sort of locking feature on them, so that the nut can't be turned easily. The shaft must be held somehow.
    Jack Hidley
    Maximum Motorsports Tech Support

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hidley View Post
    Pushing up on the bottom of the strut housing can't do anything to create friction and stop the strut shaft from spinning. The bottom end of the strut shaft has a piston on it. This piston slides and rotates freely inside the strut housing tube. There is oil above and below it. No force can therefore be transmitted.

    If the strut shaft is fully extended from the housing and you are trying to tighten the nut, this can make the strut shaft spin sooner, because the nut has to twist the FCA bushings. The easiest thing is to loosen both FCA bolts, so that the bushings aren't "wound up".

    Virtually all struts have some sort of keying feature at the top of the shaft. Must Ford struts have a slot for a giant screwdriver. Bilsteins have a hex broached in the end. Konis have flats machined on the sides for a Crescent wrench. If your struts have nothing, that sucks. You can use a leather, strap wrench on the shafts to keep it from spinning.
    I'm replacing the original struts with KYB Excel Gs and they have the same slot at the top of the shaft as the Ford pieces did. I can confirm Jack's statement that jacking up the control arm does nothing to help. I jacked up my control arm until the car started to come up off the jack stand and still couldn't tighten the nut.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hidley View Post
    Most strut nuts (Ford, Bilstein and Koni included) all have some sort of locking feature on them, so that the nut can't be turned easily. The shaft must be held somehow.
    True. Both of my shaft nuts are damaged. While great from a safety perspective, they make replacement frustrating to say the least.

  14. #14

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    Get a very large flat blade screwdriver. Grab its handle with a large pair of Vise Grips or Channel lock pliers. Put the screwdriver into the slot in the top of the strut shaft. Put an open end wrench on the strut nut. That should give you plenty of torque to tighten it.

    If the nut has a locking feature, you can normally disable it by running a tap through it. For this application, the nut will normally have M16-2.0 or M16-1.5 threads.
    Jack Hidley
    Maximum Motorsports Tech Support

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hidley View Post
    Most strut nuts (Ford, Bilstein and Koni included) all have some sort of locking feature on them, so that the nut can't be turned easily. The shaft must be held somehow.
    Yes, but even fresh, they should be able to be installed with hand tools. The slotted-top struts are the worst, though.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bird of Prey View Post
    True. Both of my shaft nuts are damaged. While great from a safety perspective, they make replacement frustrating to say the least.
    This is probably your issue. How are they damaged? Did the new struts not come with new nuts?
    Last edited by Chuck W; 09-17-2021 at 10:09 AM.
    83 TC "Clone"
    85 Marquis LTS

  16. #16

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    With respect to installing and removing PITA parts....
    Fwiw, now, I avoid screwing around.
    I'm older, and I have more money.
    When needed, I use my induction heater to remove rusty parts.

    And, when needed, I have an Irwin Vise-Grip Original Chain Clamp.
    (It could be used on the shaft that is just under the top bushing/CC-plate.)
    https://www.amazon.com/IRWIN-VISE-GR.../dp/B00004SBCB







    It reminds me of the following movie clip....
    (Plus, I like Kristen Wiig. )
    Fried Green Tomatoes (7/10) Movie CLIP - Parking Lot Rage (1991) HD
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx0z9FjxP-Y



    .

    Good Luck!

  17. #17
    FEP Power Member plumkrazy's Avatar
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    You also may want to hold the top of the struts, so as to match up to the new sometimes a spacer is needed. Also use the old nut if the right thread pitch
    1 of 3 1985 Silver Grand Prix Capr's
    My first New car and still own 1986 Capri

  18. #18
    FEP Senior Member Patrick Olsen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hidley View Post
    Pushing up on the bottom of the strut housing can't do anything to create friction and stop the strut shaft from spinning. The bottom end of the strut shaft has a piston on it. This piston slides and rotates freely inside the strut housing tube. There is oil above and below it. No force can therefore be transmitted.
    I guess we're not talking about the same situations, because what I was suggesting has worked for me every time I've installed struts on one my cars.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Hidley View Post
    If the strut shaft is fully extended from the housing and you are trying to tighten the nut, this can make the strut shaft spin sooner, because the nut has to twist the FCA bushings. The easiest thing is to loosen both FCA bolts, so that the bushings aren't "wound up".
    Or, alternatively, jack up the control arm so the act of tightening the nut onto the strut shaft is only doing that (threading the nut onto the shaft), and not simultaneously having to fight the FCA bushings to pull the strut up through the top mount. That's what I was referring to.

  19. #19

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    Thanks for all the comments and suggestions! I was finally able to tighten the nuts using a 1/2' drive impact flat screwdriver bit on my breaker bar to hold the slotted end of the shaft. This approach was much more effective at keeping the strut shaft from spinning while tightening the nut.

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