Funny but I have determined that the RM 1/2" motor mounts actually dropped the motor down further than the 65' pedestal mounts (which are lower than the 66' style.) My first indication was when I couldn't install the radiator shroud as the fan was hitting the lower radiator hose. Thinking this was a good thing for hood clearance, I left the shroud off and maneuvered the motor and radiator hose around for additional clearance. I also removed the shims I used on the tranny mount. All of this gave me nearly 3/8" fan to radiator hose clearance. I would think that with the cross bolt RM mounts that should be more than enough.
Still using the frame's tubular cross brace under the oil pan with 1/4" clearance. I still need to verify that there will be no interference with the steering to the oil pan.
I can't believe that I have a 351w based motor using a Super Vic intake with a 3/8" carb spacer and there is still a full 1" of clearance from the air cleaner to the 67' Shelby type hood! A taller spacer will be tried in the future. The additional height will be welcomed when I do the planned head upgrade next winter.
Play doh was used to verify the clearance at the tightest known area under my hood:
Photo of the "as-is" 1/2" drop RM motor mount used on the RH side:
Photo of my modded version used on the LH side:
A few more motor shots:
It is nice to be able to install spark plugs and tighten the headers without some creative wrist movements. Six of the plugs can be tightened using a common plug socket, 3" extension, and a ratchet. The other 2 plugs are bound in the header's original design and no amount of engine compartment clearance will ever help them be any easier. They require use of a short socket and an open end wrench, just like always.
Installing the mini starter is easier now as it's possible to use one hand to jiggle the starter into place while starting to thread the upper bolt. The starter and lower bolt still gets installed from the underside.
I also believe that cooling will be much less of an issue as the engine compartment is no longer cramped. There is plenty of space now for air to flow around the header tubes--well at least until I upgrade to larger tubes . . . . .
The front cap was reinstalled:
I installed the 65' SS wheels and did an alignment. I do my own and had no issues dialing it in. The Moog 8306 coil springs haven't settled down yet so I will need to do another alignment after a few weeks of driving:
Although the wiring is not yet fully detailed, it was good enough to go for a shake down cruise:
I was quite impressed during the drive. Not so much with the handling (not surprising given that I have a heavy motor, light coil springs, 90/10 drag shocks, and no sway bar) but the car drove straight and true at somewhat unlawful speeds. I also noticed that the car was quieter overall and that I felt virtually no abnormal vibrations from the motor-especially around 3000rpm's where there was always an annoying harmonic shake. Somewhere between swapping out the 65' motor mounts, moving the headers away from the shock towers (so they didn't touch), and no longer needing a torque strap, the car is more pleasurable to drive at all speeds.
We still haven't made it to the track yet due to the crappy NE weather but I feel confident that my winter project has turned out very well. I expect to do a little more cruising this coming weekend before getting back into race mode. I still need to clean up the wiring, modify and reinstall the 65/66' Monty Carlo bar, and I am going to replace the camber eccentrics with drilled plates so it will better hold an alignment. Otherwise this project is pretty much done.
I feel that this was a good winter's project even though it took 3 months of holidays and weekends from start to finish. Swapping the basic towers, the strut rod support brackets and moving the sway bar brackets accounted for just over a month of my time. My fancy notching took nearly another month to devise and accomplish--a simpler basic notch could have been completed in a single weekend. The motor mount fiasco took a couple of weeks to overcome and I feel that I made the right choice in going the route that I did.
Total cost invested in this project was less than $1350 and all parts used were brand new. Included in that figure are the shock tower/strut bracket parts, 100% all new suspension parts from wheel to wheel, and the Ron Morris motor mounts. I reused my steering box, spindles, 65' KH 4 piston disc brakes, and the Calvert drag shocks. I did not buy a sway bar, although one from a 67/68' would be a bolt-on.
IMHO this project would have been easier using a good donor 67-70' front clip as one could have avoided some of the issues that I had, especially with the incorrectly stamped reproduction LH tower. Additionally, a donor could potentially provide some of the hard parts that I had to purchased new and it would provide valuable measurements of how the parts were originally installed. Even so, with a little determination I have shown that the project could be done with off the shelf reproduction parts.
I have put a couple hundred miles on the car now and I think that it still handles well for what it is. My only concern was that the 8306 springs didn't seem to be settling as fast as I had hoped. Since cold and rain has kept us from starting our racing season, I decided to further tweak the new suspension.
First I replaced the camber eccentric adjusters with camber plates that I found listed on ebay. The plates allow for a total of 5* of camber change in 1/2* increments. The old type adjusters worked OK but they can have the adverse affect of loosing adjustment from hitting pot holes, curbs or whatever (wheel stands????) Here is the old Ford style eccentric adjuster:
It was replaced with this:
Once the proper set of holes are determined and installed, one will never need to worry about accidentally loosing the alignment from a rotated adjuster.
The second mod I did was to install a better adjustable strut rod system than the stock type Ford rubber grommets. Although I still have the old set of adjustable struts for a 65/66, they are not compatible with the 68 suspension that I am using. The reason I wanted to update was to have a freer moving front end which will help my car better transfer weight at the track. I purchased the new adjustable strut rods from Rosehill Performance parts in Texas.
Rosehill vs stock Ford:
Much to my surprise, the effects of the new strut rods was quite evident before leaving the garage. The front end of the car dropped nearly 3/4" during the installation!!!
Hopefully it will drop another 1/2" with additional use.
Another thing that I did was paint the center of the style steel wheels semi-gloss black so they better matched the magnum 500's I will continue to use with the slicks:
I still need to repaint the new aftermarket 8" wide style steel wheels a matching black as, unfortunately, they only come with gold centers.
So far, so good. Prior to starting this project last year I used a heat gun and a rubber mallet to bend the lip at the lowest front of the fender so it was at least perpendicular or a little more forward than the outer cutout. Originally it extended toward the wheel. There wasn't a rubbing issue, but I wanted to ensure that I could get adequate caster dialed in for the track. Currently set at 3 1/2* in the last photo above. They are old Dynacorn reproduction fenders from the 90's before they stopped making them.
There was only a scant 1/4" difference on each side in how far the Magnums stuck out on the 65/66' suspension compared to the narrower SS wheels on the 67/68' suspension. The SS sticking out the farthest.
Car does seem to drive better with the later suspension. Hard to give a definite "for sure" with its race inspired alignment, 6 cyl coil springs, 90/10 shocks, and no sway bar,
As an update, there has been zero issues with the front suspension since the last write up. Only a handful of people notice the shock tower change but the work has impressed all that have asked about the mod. It has never been so easy to change spark plugs on a Windsor in an early Mustang chassis, whether the motor is hot or cold.