The plan was straight-forward. Spend a couple hours Saturday afternoon pressing in new bushings at the shop. Then spend the rest of the afternoon reassembling the front end in the driveway while P played out front. Five hours later, I gave up. I canceled my RADwood plans and promised P there would be no further car repairs during daddy-daughter weekend.
Race Cars and Restomods
I’ve never replaced bushings before. It’s one of those things you do on race cars or old restomods. I’ve never needed to replace anything more than a motor mount in 20 years, but I’ve seen enough done to know it’s not necessarily difficult to do. Access to the bushings and the right tools makes all the difference.
In the case of the gen 2 Montero, you gotta take the entire front end apart to get to them. Then you either use a hydraulic press or some combination of C-clamps, exhaust pipes, and impact guns to push bushings in and out. See also swear words. It’s depressing.
I didn’t want to replace the inner and outer tie rods and idler assembly, because I was short on time. But if the inner tie rod ends don’t have any identifying marks on them—or grease fittings—and I’m doing all this work to eliminate a loud creaking noise from the front end, and I have to get it aligned before I drive it anywhere, I may as well install new parts.
I didn’t want to replace the brake rotors, pads, calipers, and lines for the same reason. Turns out you have to disconnect the front brake lines to get the upper control arms out of an NL Pajero. Well shit. If I’ve got to remove the brake pads, rotors, and calipers and bleed the brakes, I may as well install new parts.
I started from a solid foundation. Fezzik’s already running a complete OME suspension. I’ve got Adventure Driven Design (ADD)’s chromoly upper and lower ball joints, and about a year on my 555 outer tie rod ends and Asin FHM-002 manual locking hubs.
This project adds to that all the parts to finish the front end right. All the Siberian Bushings, new Timken wheel bearings and seals, Safeco braided brake lines, R1 drilled and slotted rotors, Powerstop ceramic pads, powder coated calipers from Detective Coating, fresh Motul, OEM inner and outer tie rod ends, and ADD’s chromoly steering idler kit with the bronze bushings. (I replaced the pump, seals, and lines last December.)
My gen 2.5 Montero has its own flavor of Murphy’s Law. Josh at ADD and I call it “Fezzik Factor”, and it’s been around since the beginning. I could write an entire article on Fezzik Factor. This is not that article, but I can tell you it’s the reason why I didn’t go to RADwood LA. I ran out of time.
Instead of attending RADwood in LA last weekend, I spent most of the day back in the shop. Keith and I had to use every trick in the book to get the old bushings out and the new bushings in. We were successful in the end, but that 2-3 hours I planned on turned out to be more than 10. And I’ve still got to get the two in the chassis swapped out before I can start putting Fezzik back together again.
The Home Stretch
Generally speaking, I find myself losing interest in the whole car scene. I still love cars, but not like I used to. I look back on my life and see I’ve spent most of my automotive time fixing things. I hate the Fezzik Factor. I hate being up against deadlines, trying to figure out when I’m going to find another 40 hours to do some stupid little repair that should only take an afternoon.
The whole reason I switched from lowered sports cars to lifted trucks was so my family could enjoy cars with me. I assure you, they do not enjoy my spending multiple evenings a week out in the driveway. Or yet another 12-hour day at the shop fighting the stupid little SNAFU of the day. Fortunately, Fezzik’s almost done. There won’t be many more days like these in my life.
And on THAT bombshell…
Between now and April, I’m going to replace the bushings in the rear, pull the interior for more Noico and some lighting upgrades, and then Fezzik’s done. I might throw a roofbox up top to hold lighter camping gear and clean up some accessory wiring, but that’s pretty much it at this point. Fezzik’s going to be the winter beater; the family truckster that weathers the storms and the salt so the nicer machines don’t have to.
And if it turns out I don’t need the factory locker and all that jazz much in the coming year, I think Fezzik might be going to a new home in favor of something lighter, smaller, and more electric. We’ll see how the next six months go.
I love my truck, but much like the road to RADwood, I think we’re headed down a dead end together.
This is the gearhead project.