1969 Triumph TR6 FRONT SUSPENSION RESTORATION PROJECT

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Part three Sway Bar & Radiator Shield Refurbish

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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH
SAFE HARBOUR STATEMENT: This “How I installed it” essay is presented as general information and has been prepared by a Triumph TR6 owner with very limited auto mechanic knowledge. The installation procedures shown in this document are not professional instructions and are not intended to be such. The front suspension of a 1969 Triumph TR6 was successfully refurbished with these amateur procedures and I was not injured during the process. The following brief essay documents the procedures used to complete the refurbishing of the front sway bar assembly and the radiator shield component. Therefore these procedures can be used also in the routine maintenance task of changing out the two bushings on the front of the sway bar or the vertical links. COMPONENTS REMOVED DURING THE REFURBISH PROCESS:

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As mentioned, for the average Triumph owner with limited or no mechanical skills, such as this author, rebuilding or refurbishing any portion of the front suspension on a TR 250 / TR6 is a daunting task. Refurbishing the radiator skid plate and installing new bushings for the sway bar generally fall under the routine maintenance category. Both items are rarely attempted by a non-mechanic Triumph owner because of the difficulty in accessing the four small lock nuts that secure the two U-bolts inside the radiator skid plate. Conventional Triumph knowledge instructs us the radiator, coolant, radiator shroud and top and bottom radiator hoses must be removed in their entirety in order to gain access to the four (4) sway bar lock nuts located inside the radiator skid plate and to remove the radiator skid plate piece. . This essay is written for the Triumph owners who might live in remote areas with no professional mechanics available, no other Triumph owners nearby or folks with limited budgets who cannot afford the professional mechanics.

The front sway bar assembly is secured against the radiator skid plate with two rubber or poly bushings that are housed inside thin steel covers. The two bushing covers are held in place with two U-bolts that fasten inside the radiator skid plate component. The ends of the sway bar are connected to the front suspension lower A-Arms with a multi-bushing vertical link and ball joint.

This essay is also written for the non-mechanic Triumph owner who simply wants to enjoy restoring the car himself or herself and take pride in their work. Following conventional instructions, changing out the sway bar bushings and maintaining the radiator skid plate are difficult and time consuming for the non-mechanic car owner to undertake. This essay will present an alternate method that is easily accomplished by non-mechanics with basic shop tools.
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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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Safety First:
SWAY BAR / SKID PLATE REMOVAL: It is possible to remove the front sway bar and radiator skid plate with all four wheels on the ground. It is much easier and takes much less time with the front end of the car up on jack stands. Place chocks at both rear wheels, pull the emergency brake full on and place the car in 1st gear.

TOOLS I USED FOR PROJECT: I replaced the two sway bar bushings, both vertical links and refurbished the radiator skid plate as the final item during replacement of the front suspension of a 1969 TR6. As seen below, the photos in this essay show portions of the front suspension removed. The sway bar bushings replacement and replacement of the sway bar vertical links can be accomplished without removing any suspension components. It was more convenient to take sway bar related photos before I reinstalled the new suspension pieces.

I always work with two jack stands placed opposite each other and an emergency hydraulic jack placed in my immediate work area. I use a fourth redundant jack when I am actually on my back, working under the car. TOOLS I USED TO INSTALL THE SWAY BAR BUSHINGS AND REFURBISH THE RADIATOR SKID PLATE: The removal and refurbishing procedures require the use of a bench grinder with wire brush wheel attachment, a torque wrench, 1/2” and 9/16” sockets and open end wrenches. An electric drill with 3/16” drill bit is also needed. . A tap and die set was used to clean up the U-bolt threads. The bench grinder with wire brush wheel was used to remove rust from the radiator skid plate. I also used the bench grinder to “shave” a 9/16” open end wrench into a slimmer end With pointy tips, shown with red tips in photos

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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH
As my final item in the complete refurbishing of the front suspension system, I removed the sway bar, and radiator skid plate, the two vertical link connectors and the two sway bar bushings and the two bushing containment structures and both U-bolts. I replaced the bushings with new and I replaced the two vertical links with new also.

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NEW BUSHINGS Project Parts Identification:
1. Front bumper attachment to frame arm 2. Radiator skid plate side edge 3. Sway bar - end section 4. Vertical link

VERTICAL LINK ASSEMBLY
The sway bars are connected on either end to the lower wishbone arms of the suspension. The connector piece is the vertical link shown above. The sway bar runs across the radiator skid plate front surface and is held in place by a pair of bushings and mounting brackets. The radiator skid plate is held in place on either end by two bolts that pass through to the frame. These two bolts are indicated No. 1 and No. 2 in the photo directly across. The front bumper attachment has been removed to show details of skid plate. The bumper arm does not need to be removed to accomplish the project.
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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH
OK, the car is safely on jack stands, the project parts are identified, new replacement parts are on hand and both front wheels have been removed and set aside. It’s time to begin taking things apart. It is human nature to do the easy things first, so lets begin there. Remove the vertical link assembly (2) on either side in the wheel wells.

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Great, one end of the sway bar is no longer connected to the car. Now move over to the other wheel well and remove the link assembly on the opposite end of the sway bar. Thrown that assembly and lock nut in the trash bin as well. Both ends of the sway bar are now free of the suspension system. Now it is time to remove the radiator skid plate. There is some controversy about this next step. The conventional Triumph mechanic knowledge base instructs us to now begin removal of the radiator, coolant ,the radiator shroud and the lower and upper radiator hoses. The rationale for this concept is due to one set of the radiator attachment bolts “appearing” to have no tool access with the radiator in place.

Remove the bottom lock nut and throw it in the trash bin. I NEVER use lock nuts twice. Bad business.

Bolt No. 1 is a thru-bolt that attaches the front bumper support arm to the car’s frame. Bolt No. 2 is also a thru-bolt that attaches the bumper arm and passes through and attaches the top corner, side piece of the radiator skid plate and then out through the opposite side of the car’s frame. Bolt No. 2 is the primary attachment fastener for the frame to skid plate. Bolt No. 3 is somewhat structural but primarily anti-rotational in design and placement, given the skid plate is greatly cantilevered.. Remove the lock nut that secures the link assembly to the A-Arm mounting bracket. This requires the use of two wrenches to keep the ball joint from rotating. Throw the entire link assembly and lock nut into the trash bin. We have two new links to install. Take a few photos so you remember how things go together. Bolt No. 3 is the problem child and the reason most folks believe the radiator must be removed to service the skid plate. Bolt No. 3 is NOT a through bolt. Bolt No. 3 terminated inside the frame and has no apparent access from the outside.

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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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RADIATOR SKID PLATE - SIDE VIEW As can be seen in the photos to the left and above, bolt No. 1 holding the radiator skid plate in place can be easily removed with a 9/16” socket on the outside and a 9/16” wrench on the inside; constraining the lock nut from rotating as the bolt is withdrawn. The 3/8” bolt assembly No. 2 appears to have no tool access to the bolt head. In the photo above, the lock nut freely rotates, as does the entire bolt/nut assembly. Once loosened, I could not tighten it again without access to the bolt head. The photo below is premature in our removal process but visually explains how the bolt No. 2 assembly is installed. It is not a thru-frame bolt but consists of a short 3/8” bolt and lock nut.

VIEW OF FRAME INSIDE- FRONT END: 1. Sway bar outer arm to link assembly 2. Bottom edge of radiator skid plate 3. Lock nut / U-bolt sway bar bushing attachment 4. Front vertical edge of car’s steel frame 5. Bolt No. 1 from top photo 6. Inside edge of car’s steel frame member.

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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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Put your car in a not very bright location- like inside your garage. Your configuration for Bolt No. 2 could be bolt head on the exterior or lock nut on the exterior. The configuration is not important. You need a 9/16" socket for the exterior and the rather short, modified 9/16" open end wrench for the interior. You also need a flashlight. Lie on your side and shine the light into the crack. You are able to see the interior bolt/nut, yes? If not, use a paper clip to clear away the crud until you can see the fastener. Slide the 9/16” open end wrench into the top opening of the skid plate and press it against the vertical side wall with your thumb and middle fingers. Let it slide downward until you can see the pointed tip of your wrench just touch the interior bolt/nut, thru the tiny hole.. SIDE VIEW OF RADIATOR SKID PLATE Ok, back to removing fastener No. 2 without removing the radiator. You will need to fabricate a special tool to remove fastener No. 2. This fastener is a short 3/8” diameter bolt with a 9/16” wrench bolt head and lock nut. The special wrench is a short, 9/16” open end that has been shaped on a bench grinder to sharp, tapered points. The thickness of the wrench has been ground thinner as shown in red in the photo below. Use the exterior 9/16" socket and slowly rotate the exterior bolt/nut until the inside bolt/nut is fully engaged by the 9/16" open end wrench. Hold the open end wrench tight and rotate the fastener off with the socket. Withdraw the bolt with channel locks, leaving the lock nut inside the frame. If you have bolt head inside, the frame, once the lock nut is removed, use a screwdriver and punch the short bolt inward into the frame interior. Install a temporary thru-bolt until you have all four bolts out. Since both ends of the sway bar are disconnected, loosen both remaining thru-bolts fastening the front bumper support arm. This will relieve compression upon the skid plate upper corner.
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FABRICATE SPECIAL 9/16” WRENCH I In order to remove the skid plate without removing the radiator, both fastener bolts must somehow be removed. The tiny crack in the folded edge is the key.

FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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The sway bar is secured to the radiator skid plate by two sets of U-bolts and four lock nuts. Two rubber bushings are contained with metal mounting brackets held in place by the U-bolts.

Give a good downward tug and the skid plate will drop off the frame. It weighs very little actually. You do not need a jack to support it.
SKID PLATE AND SWAY BAR ASSEMBLY SKID PLATE SHOWING U-BOLT AND BUSHING BRACKET

The photo above shows the forward end of the car frame where the radiator skid plate was attached. When you look at the short bolt inside the frame, you also notice a second drilled holed hole directly opposite. Therefore, it is possible to install a thru-bolt fastener which will be much easier to install and to remove for future maintenance work. Some concern has been raised that a thru-bolt might compress and warp the end of the frame. A structural steel partition wall is located directly behind the bolt. This will preclude and deformation due to compression by thru-bolt fasteners.

My initial sway bar project was a simple switch out of the two rubber bushings and replacement of the two vertical links. Once I had the skid plate off the car a quick inspection indicated the skid plate was in poor condition and required either replacement or a thorough refurbishing. I chose to go the refurbish route. Both U-bolt assemblies must first be removed in order to separate the sway bar from the skid plate. The two U-bolts are located at either end of the skid plate. Remove the four (4) lock nuts and washers and toss them in the trash bin. Now, pull the sway bar away from the skid plate.
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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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SWAY BAR REMOVED FROM SKID PLATE

BUSHING & MOUNTING BRACKET PIECES The deteriorated bushing can be seen in the bottom portion of the photo above. Throw it in the trash bin along with the two lock nuts and deformed washers. Retain the mounting bracket and U-bolt. Clean the U-bolt threads with the proper die and the wire wheel brush to clean metal. Clean up the mounting bracket with the wire wheel brush also. Repeat opposite end. BUSHING BRACKET - CLOSE UP It is apparent the bushing in the photo above is dry and cracked. Through years of use, the bushing is no longer in continuous contact with the sway bar. The bushing and mounting bracket at the opposite end of the sway bar were identical to this one. The sway bar steel is mildly rusted and requires attention. The U-bolt is probably stuck or pinched onto the bushing mounting bracket. A few gentle taps with a small hammer will loosen it up. Once you have it loosened up, grip the U-bolt with channel locks and pull it off the assemble. Do NOT toss it in the trash bin. It will be cleaned up and reused.

I coated the bushing mounting bracket and U-bolt with Rustoleum primer, two coats of color and a clear coat. I put red grease on the bolt threads to inhibit rust until the part was installed.

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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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SKID PLATE WITH PRIMER COAT.

RUSTED SKID PLATE BOTTOM

I began the refurbish of the radiator skid plate by stripping off the remaining black paint to expose clean metal and rust areas. I used small brass wire brushes to remove the paint from the corners. I coated the entire skid plate with a rust remover product and let it “burn for a while. I then gave it a clear water bath and set it in the sun to dry. I installed an 8” wire brush wheel on my bench grinder. I used the wire brush to remove the converted rust and bring everything back to shiny, bare metal. Then I gave the skid plate a good wipe with xyxol in a well ventilated, outdoor area. I completed the skid plate refurbish with two coats of car color red and a final top coat of clear polyurethane. All that remains now is to get rid of the rust coating on the sway bar and then reinstall the refurbished sway bar and radiator skid plate assembly.

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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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INSTALL RADIATOR SKID PLATE Sit in front of the car with the refurbished radiator skid plate in your lap. Have two 3” lengths of 3/8” steel dowel or 3/8” by 3” bolts - one on either side of the car front. Lift the skid plate and slide it between the frame member and the bumper support arm as shown above. The bumper arm bolt in the lower left corner must be loosened just a tad. As you slide the skid plate into position, look for the bottom fastener hole to line up with the frame hole. Push the dowel or bolt clear through to the other side of the frame. Repeat this procedure for the opposite end of the skid plate. Once the skid plate is temporarily held in place, install the 3/8” thru-bolt into the remaining hole in the bumper support arm, through the upper hole of the skid plate and out the other side of the frame. Do this on both ends of the skid plate. Do NOT install lock nuts. Remove the temporary steel dowel or bolt from the bottom hole in the skid plate and install the correct 3/8” bolt through the frame and out the other side. Do this for both ends of the skid plate. The radiator skid plate is now “dry fit” into permanent position.

BEFORE/AFTER SWAY BAR CLEANING Refurbishing the sway bar itself was very straight forward. I ran the sway bar through the wire brush wheel on my bench grinder until all the paint and rust was removed. The before and after cleaning was dramatic. I liked the color of the raw bar metal and therefore I did not coat the sway bar with the traditional black paint. Instead, I laid down three coats of semi-gloss clear polyurethane.

VERTICAL LINK PAINTED CAR RED
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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH
Well OK! downward was could so I could nuts?

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I got the radiator skid plate to rotate a few inches. The more important issue I get my hands and tightening tools inside install the bushing’s U-bolts and four lock

DRILL HOLE FOR PIVOT PIN The primary reason conventional has us remove the radiator to install new sway bar bushings is because the two bushingss U-bolt threads and four lock nuts are located inside the skid plate and cannot be accessed with the skid plate in final position. I decided to experiment a little and see if I could get the skid plate to pivot downward just enough to get my hands and a wrench or socket inside to tighten the four lock nuts. It appeared to me, I could make the skid plate pivot by drilling a small hole in the bottom corner and through into the frame and installing a temporary pin. This is shown in the photo above. Once I had installed 3/16” pin on both ends of the skid plate, I removed the four 3/8” thru-bolts and rotated the skid plate downward . The top edge will only move a few inches before the bottom edge catches the frame. But a few inches is all you need to gain access to the skid plate interior.

SUCCESS - ACCESS GAINED !!

Great news for me. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I am now able to change out the sway bar bushings, remove the radiator skid plate and remove the sway bar completely; without first having to remove the radiator and hoses. It also saves me the mess of coolant fluid running all over the place. In my specific case it also saved me two days of my labor. The 1st major failure on my TR6 was a blown up radiator the second day I owned the car. Because I am a non-mechanic car owner, it took me two full days to change out the radiator. My new concept has the skid plate off in about 20 minutes.
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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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Place the two sway bar bushings in a pot of boiling water. This makes them soften and easier to work with. Add flavoring as per your personal preference.

INSTALL SWAY BAR
Installing the sway bar requires a little finesse. Remove the loose lock nut, bottom retainer cup, bushing and the metal retainer cup on top of the lower bushing. Hold the remaining bushing and two retainer cups in one hand so they don’t fall off the steel pin. The sway bar is in it’s approximate position under the front of the car, also as seen in photo above. Lift the end of the sway bar with your free hand and maneuver it onto the lower end of the vertical link. ( this is why we installed the vertical link without tightening the nuts. Use the sway bar end to hold the upper bushing and two metal retainer cups in place. Now, let go of the upper bushing set and place replace the lower bushing set. The metal retainer cups on either surface of the sway bar flat tab ends are flanged to fit inside the hole in the sway bar. Do your best to align these retaining cups into the holes.

SWAY BAR VERTICAL LINKS Install the two sway bar vertical links onto the lower A-Arms brackets but do not tighten the lock nuts . Leave as much wiggle room as possible. Install the twin bushings and four metal retainer cups onto the lower end of each vertical link as shown above. Again, do not tighten lock nuts.

Now tighten the bottom lock nut just enough to hold everything in place. The sway bar and one vertical link should look like the photo above. All the vertical link fasteners are still loose fit. Leave then that way for the time being. The other end of the sway bar is a bit more difficult to fit and the loose fit helps maneuver it into position. REPEAT INSTALL FOR 2nd SWAY BAR END
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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH

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Well now- the two new sway bar bushings have boiled for almost one hour and should be done by now. They should be real easy to slide over the flattened ends of the sway bar with a little grease. It seemed to me after ten minutes of wasted effort and much cussing, that ten pounds of bricks just were not going to fit into a metal box sized for five brick and grease just made it worse.

Here’s my slit bushing sitting inside metal containment, mounting bracket. The blus line indicates my slit in the bushing.

I know I’m gonna get some harsh words from the Triumph gurus for this next step. But they are mechanics and I’m not. I slit the bushing lengthwise and fitted it to the bar with the slit against the radiator skid plate.

Push both threaded end of the U-bolt through the matching holes in the radiator skid plate and hold the mounting bracket in place with one hand. Reach inside the skid with your free hand and spin a lock nut onto each of the U-bolt threads. Finger tighten. Install second set of bushings and mounting bracket. Torque lock nuts to #3 or #4 in the same manner wheel lug nuts are tightened. Little by little on each nut.
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FRONT SUSPENSION REFURBISH
The car is still up in the air, sitting on jack stands. The suspension system is not yet loaded. But some things do need to be torque down at this point. The vertical link connection to the lower A-Arm bracket needs to tightened to it’s final Bentley Blue Book requirement of 30# to 38#. Move back and forth between the vertical links and slowly draw the links into final position. (1) You must use an open end wrench to keep the vertical link from rotating as the torque wrench tightens to the lock nut. (2) Tighten the front bumper support arm fasteners to 24# to 30# (3) Do not tighten the lock nuts at the bottom of the vertical links at this time.

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OK, almost there. Tighten the two lock nuts at the bottom of the vertical links (3 above photo) 11# to 16# torque . Put your torque wrench on fasteners 1 and 2 in the photo above to verify their torque after the system is under load. Lower the car off the bricks and the sway bar system has now been rebuild without removing the radiator. LOWER CAR ONTO BRICKS Now, almost completed with this project. The final tighten the sway bar requires the front suspension system by under compressive load. Place two bricks or similar strong, low height materials under each front wheel. As shown above. Now lower the car off the jack stands until the full weight of the front of the car rests upon the bricks. Some professional mechanics will protest this modified procedure. I ran this concept past three professional mechanics for their professional opinions before I proceeded with the install. This modified sway bar installation procedure is safe, accomplished the desired results, takes less time than removing the radiator procedure and does not require draining the coolant. And best of all- This procedure can be performed by non-mechanic Triumph owners just like me. Respectfully submitted, DTBanks 30 Sept 2007
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