Friday, November 26, 2010

Front radius arm brackets & torque box gusset done and in primer

The past week has been a busy one.  Building on the momentum of the successful repair of the driver’s frame rail, I set out to structurally finish the car from the firewall forward with the installation of the front radius arm brackets as well as the driver’s side torque box gusset.
I picked up the radius arm brackets from NPD and as expected, these turned out to be Dynacorn parts, and very nice I might add.  These brackets come completely welded up out of the box and the fit was very good from the off. 
The torque box gusset, on the other hand, was not as easy to find and needed a good bit of massaging to make it fit to my satisfaction.  I stumbled across a reproduction gusset in only one place; CJ Pony Parts.  I scoured all of my other supplier catalogs and they were the only place that I could find that had them.  Having just received my new catalog from CJ Pony Parts two weeks ago, I figured this part would be a good smoke test as I had never done business with CJ Pony Parts before.  As it turns out, I have mixed feelings about the whole experience.  Simply put, I was a little miffed at the price I paid ($17.95) when I ordered it online versus what the catalog price was ($16.95).  I know, I know…….I being a cheap, nit-picking sh*t, but this is the kind of stuff I hate.  Anyway, when I place my online order, I note the discrepancy in the notes attached to my order and request a price correction to reflect what my (then) week-old catalog shows.  Well… dice.  Not even a token “get bent” note as a response.  Figures…
Before I started working on the front end repairs, I took quite a few measurements of various original features of the car before cutting the damaged pieces out.  As such, I had reference dimensions that clearly defined the position of the radius arm brackets on the chassis.  After about an hour of carefully laying out several reference marks, I mocked up the brackets and traced around them with a permanent marker once I was happy with their position in the car.  These reference lines make lining them up again much easier work.  Next, I marked the location of each spot weld with a paint pen and headed to the drill press to drill the holes for each plug weld.  Once that was done, I cleaned up each hole with my air grinder and prepped each surface for welding by removing the primer from the areas that required welding.  Once that was done, I clamped the brackets into place using my reference marks, quickly checked the dimensions with a tape measure and set off to weld them in.
It’s worth mentioning again how well these brackets fit the chassis.  The mating faces clamped up nice and tight and the welds penetrated very nicely on all locations.  Using my body assembly manual as the reference, I added 16 spot welds and 8 short stitch welds to each bracket.  The results were quite impressive as the strength of the assembly is apparent.  Finally, I ground all of the spot welds smooth and touched up some of the nastier factory spot welds on each bracket to help avoid unnecessary future blood loss as I work on the car.
Next, I moved on to the torque box gusset installation.  As I mentioned before, this part required quite a bit of massaging to get to fit as it should.  Once I had the fit nailed down, I marked the spot weld locations and drilled them in the drill press.  I dressed the holes with the grinder and at that point, decided the “coating” that was applied to this part was anything but e-coat, so off to the blast cabinet I went to remove every trace of it.  With a nice, bare metal part in hand, I clamped it into place and welded it in, again using the body assembly manual as the reference for weld number and location.  A few minutes after the welds had cooled, I ground them all flush as a final operation before the prep work and priming could begin.
As you might expect, weld heat will damage the primer in the immediate location of the welds.  To remedy this, I lightly scraped the loose material off with a putty knife them wire brushed the surrounding area with a cup brush mounted in my hand drill.  Then I lightly sanded every surface that would be primed to remove any gloss and prep the surface for primer.  With all of the sanding complete, I wiped everything down with DX-330 cleaner and let it dry.  Next, I recruited my Dad to help with mixing the DP-40LF primer while I tacked off all of the surfaces.  I decided to try the faster curing DP-402LF catalyst this time (thanks Alex!) as it has been a good bit cooler lately and I wanted something that cured quicker and that didn’t require the 30-minute induction period that DP-401LF catalyst requires.
Using my nifty little 8-ounce touch-up cup attachment on my turbine HVLP primer gun, I set off priming all of the sanded surfaces.  Although this was my first time shooting primer catalyzed with DP-402LF, I have to say I preferred its spray characteristics over the DP-401LF for this type of work.  I thinned this mixture exactly the same as I had done before (about 10% reducer) and it really flowed out nicely.  There really is a certain satisfaction that comes from having everything in one solid color. 
With this work complete, the next series of steps will address making a bracing structure for the body to allow the cowl to be replaced while on the rotisserie, replacement of the cowl structure itself, and to tackle the repair of the trans tunnel/firewall damage caused by an apparent clutch explosion (maybe two) sometime in the car’s history.  Lots of work that should carry me deep into the dead of winter.  Thank God for a heated shop!
Mock-up installation was referenced against measurements I had taken from the original brackets.

Once the position was determined, I marked around each bracket with a red permanent marker to make repositioning the brackets easier after the weld prep was completed.

Spot weld locations are cleaned up with the sanding disc in preparation for welding.

Weld locations marked.

Each bracket is welded in using the Ford Body Assembly Manual as a reference for the location and type of welds required.

One down, one to go!

Clamped into place and ready for welding.

Second bracket welded in.

Radius arm brackets welded in and ready for grinding.

Welds ground smooth on each end.

Another look at the flush-ground spot welds.

I had to dress a number of the factory spot welds to remove a number of very sharp burs.

Same for the other side.

Driver side torque box gusset after quite a bit of massaging to achieve a good fit.  Here, I have marked the location of the spot  welds with a paint pen.  Off to the drill press to make some holes!

I was really unimpressed with the black coating on the part, so after grinding the holes smooth, I ran the part through my blast cabinet to clean it up.

Here is the gusset welded into place.

Welds ground smooth and ready for primer!

While dad stirs the primer, I tacked off all of the surfaces we planned to prime.  What a team!

Here is the bottom view of the repaired frame section before the primer was even dry!  I am very happy with how this repair turned out.

Right front radius arm bracket in primer.

Left front.

Here is the outer view of the repaired frame section and torque box gusset.


  1. As usual, your attention to detail pays off with factory-looking results. Nice work. In my prior comment (deleted) I wondered about the gussets, wondering why some 68's had them and some didn't and then realized yours is a 70 duh. :-)

  2. Thanks Alex. Just following your lead man! At some point I read a bit about the corner gusset installation on 67-68 cars and why some had them and some didn't. 69-70 models all had them, but the actual part itself was the same. I'll see what I can dig up and shoot you a note.

  3. I was just wondering the same thing about the gussets and would be keen to know the what and when they were put into the 67/68 models. Another great post thanks...

  4. Mike,

    I found the torque box gusset information I mentioned above in the CJ Pony Parts catalog (where I ordered my gusset). It reads as follows: "These were originally installed on the driver's side of 1967 and both sides of 1968-1970. For extra strength they can be used on both sides from 1964-1970."

    With that, seems like something to consider if you can.

  5. I have read your blog a few times in the past and as always have found it a wealth of great information. I work for CJ's and wanted to respond to a few of the comments that were made:

    Who did you email at my company? Please forward me the email to and I will make sure you get the $1 credit as well as find out why you did not get a response.

    Please understand that while you received the catalog only a week or two ago, these were printed in the spring. We try to hold our pricing as much as possible, but as manufacturers adjust our costs throughout the year we have to keep our retail in line.

    As for the black coating, we always recommend you sand this off before installing. The coating is in place only so the product doesn't develop rust after being stamped out.


  6. Jason,

    I can't thank you enough for taking the time to respond, especially for such a small-time dude as me. When I ordered the gusset, I included a message in the notes section of the online order form requesting the credit. So in reality, I did not email anyone specific and relied only on the order processing (person?) to read the request and either respond or make the adjustment.

    The fact that you have taken the time to respond makes it worth the $1 and then some. Obviously, for me it was more a matter of principle and I would (and do) accept and understand the cost variability explanation with no problem whatsoever.

    Unfortunately, the perception of having my card charged almost immediately and never getting a token response conjures up feelings of being just another number in a great big machine and there are a number of large Mustang resto parts suppliers out there who make no effort at all to make you feel good about spending your money with them.

    The simple fact that you have taken the time to address my petty little complaint has ensured you will have a return customer in me and I will be looking to CJ Pony Parts as a source in the future. Thanks very much for your time and effort.

    Sven Pruett

  7. Sven, Thanks for digging up that gusset info. Oddly enough, my car didn't come with them on either side with no evidence that they were ever installed. I just went looking through my 68 Weld & Sealant Assembly Manual and they were indicated as "(100A14-5) GUSSET - FRONT SIDE MEMBER EXTENSION, FOR MODELS 63-65". So that explains it a little more. "Model 63" is the Fastback, "Model 65" is the Coupe, and "Model 76" is the convertible. So, in 68, the gussets were only in Coupes and Fastbacks.

  8. Sven / Alex - thanks for clearing that up... it makes sense as when I was reading it I'm thinking to myself that maybe as an early 68 model the gussets weren't put on as there was absolutley no evidence that they were ever there. Read a little more, learn a little more... thanks again guys.

    I must say that I will be checking out CJ Pony Parts in any future orders I need to fill. Hope the international shipping is good!! Thumbs up guys...

  9. I'm glad that bit of info shed some light on the subject. I had to chuckle at myself a bit as in the past two days, I've crawled under one 67 and two 68's (all coupes) and found gussets on the left side only on both 68's and nothing on the 67 (Just as Alex said above). However, I expect my face on the local "most wanted" posters as the town's newest suspected car thief! LOL! Cheers gentlemen!

  10. Mike,
    As of today our website will accurately calculate the shipping to anywhere in the world. No longer do you have to place an order only to wait till it's been boxed up to find out your shipping charges.

    I just looked up your order and I see the note. Orders that are placed online are automatically imported into our order system, but we do have a system of checks that is suppose to catch customer's notes. I will speak to the person that is to be reviewing these and find out what happenend.
    Please don't hesitate to email me if you need help with anything in the future.

  11. Jason,

    Thanks again for your follow-up on this issue. As I mentioned above, I figure the fact that you took the time to respond previously makes you flush with the house. No worries at all!