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Old 08-19-2019, 10:19 AM   #1
alexiskai
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Default Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

While preparing to re-lube my springs (different post), I noticed that my front spring U-bolts are non-standard no hole for a cotter pin, no castle nuts and my crank bearing is missing.

Ideally I'd like to replace these with correct U-bolts and install a crank bearing while I'm doing that, but of course U-bolts are designed to be installed with the body OFF. It looks like at a minimum I'd have to remove the radiator to get at them properly. Is that correct? If so then forget it, I have bigger fish to fry.

I searched for earlier threads on this topic, but they all seem to be about the difficulty of swapping the REAR U-bolts, usually for stripped threads. I already know I'd have to clamp the springs while working on the U-bolts, that's much less of a pain than removing the radiator.
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

Alex,


Your correct, while some might boast about having done it with the radiator in place, I suspect it would be easier with it out of the way.


An addition to your first post; while our front spring is in a 'relaxed' mode being soaked, pump grease into the four zerks on the spring hangers. They will have swung into a 'new' position for additional grease.


While you are in there it wouldn't hurt to give those spring u-bolts a tug as well.


Give us the results of your next road test ! JB
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Old 08-19-2019, 11:59 AM   #3
Jim Brierley
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

Yes, the rad must be removed, however there is no need to switch unless you are going to have it judged.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:00 PM   #4
SSsssteamer
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

Alex, I have never had to remove my radiator to swap out my front U bolts. The u bolt holes in the cross member have enough clearance that one can lay the U bolt on their side and slide the u bolts over and into their holes. Likewise, the hand crank guide bearing easily slips into place too at the same time. With the front spring center bolt in place, there is no need to worry about it flying apart since there is hardly any tension on it anyway. The biggest problem that I have had with the front spring is getting the spring's center bolt head to align with its locator hole in the front cross member. There is one big advantage of removing the radiator though and that is the ability to examine the front cross member for stress cracks. After 90 years, most of the Model A Ford front cross members have stress cracks and they need repair to be safe for the road. Usually welding and a bit of grinding will put them in the safe zone again. ...And the repair will also permit the front u bolts and related parts to fit properly again.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:33 PM   #5
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

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Originally Posted by SSsssteamer View Post
Alex, I have never had to remove my radiator to swap out my front U bolts. The u bolt holes in the cross member have enough clearance that one can lay the U bolt on their side and slide the u bolts over and into their holes.
Hmm, I bet – and I should have mentioned this in the original post – you have a 30 or 31 with the curved bolts. I have a '29 with the right-angle bolts. Yet another reason the later models were better.

And I bet they changed this specifically because repair shops could not get the U-bolts out without major surgery.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

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Originally Posted by jb-ob View Post
An addition to your first post; while our front spring is in a 'relaxed' mode being soaked, pump grease into the four zerks on the spring hangers. They will have swung into a 'new' position for additional grease.
Great tip, I'll do that on front and rear.
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Old 08-19-2019, 12:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

It is certainly no big deal taking the radiator out. A few bolts two hoses two wires and it is out. No more than a half hours work.
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Old 08-19-2019, 01:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

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It is certainly no big deal taking the radiator out. A few bolts two hoses two wires and it is out. No more than a half hours work.
Yeah, but then you gotta get the darn thing back in!
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Old 08-19-2019, 01:15 PM   #9
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

It was quite the thrill to crank start my car at a party on saturday. Had an assistant run the choke and one try and it was running. Every one standing there cheered. The hood is much easier to remove with help. It is pretty quick to pull the radiator. Easier than laying on your back and cranking u-bolt nuts! The first time I tried to remove my hood I broke the stuck radiator rods. But got a set of stainless hot rod replacement rods for cheap. 4 screws to remove the grill shell. and two sprung bolt/nuts at the base of the rad. then the clamps and hoses. an afternoon. Put masking tape on painted areas at base of rad shell. to prevent scratching. If you try to remove the hood by your self expect a tank scratch and a wrenched back, at least thats my method. haha.
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Old 08-19-2019, 10:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

the later model A's are not better..28/29's use way more forgings for instance,as production of the car moved forward parts like front fender braces were changed to a stamping from a forging,for both cost and production expedience.
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Old 08-20-2019, 04:32 AM   #11
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

Before removing the radiator you might try to remove the u bolts. The technique described by Steamer worked easily for me on my 29 a couple weeks ago. Reinstall was a snap, too.
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Old 08-20-2019, 07:42 PM   #12
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

Radiator comes off by removing 2 bolts.
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

So this story has a classic Model A ending. I got the splash apron off and the nuts unscrewed from the U-bolts, and I tried to extract them, but I realized I didn't have enough "head space" to get them out.

Then I realized that the reason I didn't have space to remove them was that someone in the past had welded a thick strip of steel over the top of the cross-member. I assume this is because it had cracked, as several folks here warned about. Due to the presence of this steel, the standard crank bearing wouldn't fit properly (and no holes to put the tabs in) and the standard U-bolts wouldn't be long enough.

... so I just scrubbed the rust off everything with a wire wheel and put it all back together and now I'm gonna leave it alone.
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Old 09-02-2019, 09:35 PM   #14
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Default Re: Complexity of working on front spring U-bolts

Sounds like a plan!

Re "Radiator comes off by removing 2 bolts"
There is more to taking the radiator off then removing two bolts. Take the hood off after removing the rear retainer, loosen the two rods, pull the hoses then if you don't remove the shell first, fighting your way around it to those two bolts and hope the cotter pins are where you can reach them. Also the head light/horn wiring and conduits need to come out. Then don't forget a piece of card board between the water pump nut and radiator so you don't put a dent in the radiator. I take the shell off because it is just easier to get to the mounting bolts.

While over all it doesn't take long, there is more to it then the 2 bolts.
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