Front Suspension

Upon embarking on assembly of the front suspension, I realized that a lot of the spacers were raw steel. I took pause and hit them with some black Rustoleum. Looking ahead at “next-step parts” is something I will need to keep an eye out for. Nothing worse than carving out some build time and realizing that you want to coat some parts… paint doesn’t dry immediately. While the paint was drying, I assembly the Koni shocks for both the front and rear.

UCA with shortened aft adjustment sleeve

Next, I attempted to adjust the upper control arms for power steering alignment prior to mounting on the frame. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the rear arms short enough for the power steering caster specification and realized I’d have to shorten the sleeves and bolts… more time lost. I gave the sleeves to a fellow builder to remove about ¼” on either end on his lathe while I shortened the bolts by the same with hacksaw. Finally, I got everything mounted, greased, and torqued. Anti-seize was used on the upper control arms for ease of alignment in the future. My Lock-n-Lube Grease Gun made quick, no fuss work of all the bushings and boots using AtomLube red grease. The hub nuts required 250 ft/lbs. It wasn’t easy, but was made possible by my Tekton Split Beam Torque Wrench and Roguen as a counter weight!

Lower Control Arms and F-Panels

I got the lower control arms installed. This first step reminded me that this is not a production vehicle with tight tolerances. Those arms required some persuasion to get into the frame mounted tabs!

Next step was to prep and mount the f-panels. They required some deburring and trimming, particularly on the driver’s side top forward point, to get them properly aligned. I pondered long and hard how I wanted to tackle the aluminum in the kit… powder coat, leave raw, paint? Ultimately, I decided I wanted a brushed aluminum look. Taking some tips from the Factory Five Forum, I “brushed” the panels with some Scotchbrite pads using long linear strokes. After cleaning them up, I installed some rivet nuts on their trailing edges using a really cool wrench-driven tool. The rivet nuts will make attaching the f-panels to the adjacent panels easier in the future. To curb any oxidation or corrosion, I rubbed on a product called Sharkhide. It is usually used to preserve aluminum boat pontoons.

Finally, setting the first rivets was a family affair with my wife, Monica, doing a few while the kids watched. I used clear GE Silicon II between the panels and frame.