Suspension upgrades for the 61 comet

61 comet

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Soon I'm going to be working on the suspension. I have v8 spindles and rear end from a 65 mustang. Drum brakes. From most of my research I can use mustang parts except for the drag link and that needs to be an early falcon v8. Is this about it? What other options are there? Or recommendations
Also thinking about 15 inch wheels
 

bubba22349

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The first major improvement in steering geometry was made on the 1963 1/2 Falcon & Comet V8 cars these parts were developed from what Ford learned from the Falcon Rallye race cars. Those V8 spindles, steering center link, and tie Rod parts were used only on the last half of 1963 these 1/2 half year cars were the first V8 cars so not as much of a chance to find them and their excellent matching 8 inch V8 rear axle that was also used only that 1/2 year its the narrowest 8 inch and fits into those early Comet and Falcon body / chassis' perfectly. Next improvement made was on the 1964 Falcon & Comet V8's with a newly designed set of spindles, center link, and tie rods. The Final design and having the very best improvement in steering geometry made for these early cars was for the 1965 Falcon & Comets new spindles, the new center link design is much different and uses very different length tie rods too but it's the best you can get with lowest amount of bump steer. For best results i also try to use their matching length idler arm and steering box arm for each year group . Here is another tip to make your non power steering car easier to steer at slow speeds like parking etc. you can use a roller bearing idler arm this really helps I have been using them for decades on many of my older Ford cars. Some people like a quicker steering ratio this can be done using the power steering gear box or its gears.

A very good handling upgrade is to convert the rubber bushed upper spring shock mounts over to use the roller bearings this gets rid of lots of binding friction. Its also a fairly easy DIY job that requires a little welding and fab work if you want to take it on. I can post the complete instructions on how to do it or you can also buy these roller upper mounts already roller-ized to bolt in. Some of the really early first year or two cars had the solid (greaseable type) bushings used in those upper spring shock mounts they are also a very good part to use and your Comet being a 1961 might of had them unless they got replaced with the newer rubber type mounts. Make sure the belly bar / crossmember is still bolted tightly in place under the engine. This ties the bottom of the two spring towers and the two lower A Arm supention povit points together often these bars are missing compromising some the rigidity of the chassis design and allowing to much flex in the suspension points, front chassis rails, and spring towers.

These next mods are compiled from what was used on the 1963 1/2 to 1965 Ford Falcon Rally Race Car Program and the 1965 & 1966 Street and Race Shelby GT 350 Mustangs and also the 1968 to 1970 factory Trans Am race cars, 1969 & 1970 Boss 302 & 429 Mustangs. Some of these are Optional but they all will also give an improvement in handling on all these car models using this type of front suspension.

First is to do the Shelby / Arning UCA drop is easy to do upgrade at no or very low cost mostly just your labor or if your are already disassembling the front suspension for rebuild, let me know if your interested and I will post the templet and instructions for you. Next is the main component of handling a good front end alignment at a very good ailment shop many now days don't know what's needed for good handling with these cars. I can also post the optimized alignment specs that they need to be set at if you want them.

Another coupe of parts that were developed during Ford's Falcon Rally Racing program were the Export Brace used to tie in the spring towers to the front cowl and firewall. If your car is still completely stock in that part of the chassis area you will have the welded in cowl to spring tower braces and they are decent so ignore this mod as there is no need to change those. The later model Falcon & Comet cars have the bolt in cowl braces and in that case the export brace is a big help to them to gain chassis rigidity. Next is the Monte Carlo Bar this ties the chassis together near of the spring towers so they stay standing up straight and don't allow excessive flex changing the front suspension geometry. This is a good upgrade and some people make there own bars, the V8 cars used bars their were a special bars made for the straight Six cylinder these bars have a small curve in them to go around the stock type air cleaners.

This is another mod I have done on some of my cars and for others its stich welding the spring tower backing bracing to tower in the engine compartment first I check and straighten up the spring towers if they need it which is often the case after years of hard use. Then I weld the towers in the engine compartment side this can be done with even a V8 engine still installed though it's much easier with a Six or better yet with the engine out. Then in some cases if I want to go to the max in rigidity I will make reinforcement plates to weld in at the bottom of the towers on the inside of the engine compartment and also on the other side of the tower down to the chassis at an angle this was a Ford factory mod used on the their 1968 to 1970 Trans Am Race cars and was standard on the 1969 & 1970 Boss 302 & 429 street cars. First time I did this mod was on my 1966 Mustang Fastback 2 + 2 back in the later 1970's the car had been wrecked on left front corner of the body and chassis damage probably not long before I bought it. They had replaced the hood fender and grill and repainted the car again in Poppy Red so it looked really nice but the handle ling was just crap the camber and caster were way-out with no way to get it back into good alignment. Started looking over to find out what could be wrong and seen they had also replaced all the bolt on suspension parts on that side but made no effort to straighten or repair that bent spring tower damage. When I got done with the chassis work (using a Porta Power to straighten the towers up) had both of those spring towers standing up nice and straight just like factory new again and strengthening them with the stitch welding as a minimum rework or repairs of the spring towers in most cases. That Mustang was the best handling driver that I ever had up to that point, so ever since than checking or getting the spring towers standing up straight again is always were I start at, then stitch weld the towers so they are stronger that's going to give you the ability to have good suspension alinement through out it's range of movement and excellent handling the Boss tower reinforcement plates won't be needed for many of the street driven Six'es, but it won't hurt either it would be a good mod for a track or auto cross racer.

Many base model Six cylinder cars might not have a sway bar on them or they could be missing after all these years in that case a 1965 or 1966 Mustang 289 GT sway bar is a decent bolt on upgrade it's about a 5/8 inch bar. Or you can also go with an aftermarket sway bar like Adco of 3/4, 7/8, 1, or 1 1/8 inch bar depending on how stiff you want it to be for cornering in my opinion the last two are a bit to much for most of the daily street driven six cars and are better suited for racing. Now if you want even better handling then add a rear sway bar to and depending on how big you go on the front sway bar you could use a 1/2, 5/8, or 3/4 inch bar these need to been matched properly to the front bar stiffness to keep the right steering feel you like ie oversteer or under steer. Well these are about all the best in the lower cost upgrades using mostly stock type parts. There are some other things that can be done such as roller-ized lower control arms & upper control arms as well as custom front strut braces. Those mod's can remove lots of the friction in the front suspension operation for many types of racing or high performance street driving.

Last two items are the shocks, wheels & tires combos. The old style Koni's are good, and Gaberial adjustable or there are some more modern gas stocks that are also very good. Let me know what direction in performance you are heading. Hard to beat the newer radial tires for great handling I have some charts on 15, 16, & 17's inch Diameter wheels and how wide a wheel & tire that can fit on these cars. Best of luck
 

bubba22349

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Lol making these old Fords work the best they can has been my passion for decades I am hoping I can still get another one to build soon. But I picked up lots of this knowledge by reading the Ford manuals and other tech article's, experimenting, looking at or watching, and by talking to many of the best racers, mechanics, and so many other great people that I had the privilege to meet over the years.
 

61 comet

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Idk how I put this in brakes wheels and tires. Just noticed it was in the wrong place.
Does the v8 components sit lower than the 6 cylinder version? When the v8 was in there the drag link was maybe 1/4" to 3/8" from the oil pan. It was close enough that I shimmed the block mounts 3/8" just to have better clearance for the inner tie rod. Up in the air it mad contact with the starter. That was at max extension but even on the ground it was close
 

bubba22349

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If its still got all the 1961 supention parts ie the stock 4 lug spindles, center link tie rods ect than yes its not so easy to use with a V8 and in my OPIN a bit dangerous with a V8 swap. The later V8 spindles in 1963 1/2 were very different on the steering arm height. By 1964 this changed some more again on the steering arm position for both the V8 and six cylinder parts so they weren't so different becoming more like the V8 parts and in 1965 mostly the same parts used on both the V8's and Six'es. I try really hard to find and only use the 1965 Falcon / Comet V8 spindles and the same year steering parts (ideler arm, steering box pitman arm as a compleate install package. I don't have the part numbers or an interchange book to know if they happened to have the same parts used on other years though so that's why I try to get a compleate setup off one 1965 car. Check out the 1965 Falcon / Comet V8 suspension diagrams for how all the parts fit togeather that's going to be the ideal package. I have also used the 1964 parts too as a second best option never had the opportunity to use any of the 1963 1/2 parts yet but might if I found them. The steering arms can be bent to try to get better geometry and less bump steer this has been done with the Granada / Monarch disk brake spindle swaps so as to try and get the steering geometry better but that's not so easy to do and get them to match on each side.
 

61 comet

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bubba22349

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The first one Spindles and brake kit for the 1960 to 65 Falcon and Comets will defiantly work on your Comet. Not sure everything in that second kit is going to fit and work haven't tried to use it on a Comet / Falcon before, but there's no center link shown and I don't think a Mustang one and the tie rods will work on your car, but I could be wrong.
 

61 comet

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bubba22349

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There is definitely interchangeability of parts as the Falcon & Comet were built first then Ford built the Mustang using the same basic chassis design and modified some of the parts to fit into the Mustangs body. I am sure that there was use of as many of the Falcon parts as possible in the Mustangs design. This is were a Ford parts manual would come in handy to find out the parts numbers used and then checking if the same one were used in those two car model lines. I don't have those manuals so I just can't say with a 100% accuracy that all the 1964 1/2 to 1966 Mustang parts will work. Also though I have personally had both the Falcons and the early Mustangs and worked on many others for people I always sourced their steering parts by the year and model of the car I was working on, or sourced used parts from wrecking yards by pulling them from the same year model. I have also adapted many parts from different models such as brakes, steering boxes, rear axles, and on and on Fords, Mercury's, and even Lincolns will have a lot of interchangeability and the same years of Falcons & Comets are a direct fit. Unless we could set the 1965 Falcon center link & tie rods next to the 1965 Mustang center link & tie rods were I could see them or had the part numbers for all those parts at this time I am not able to know if they are the same. Update the Mustang Center Link and Tie Rods are a different width and will not work on the 1960 to 1965 Falcons all the other 1964 1/2 to 1966 Mustang Front Suspension Parts and the Spindles are usable in the Falcons. Edited
 

bubba22349

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Sure that might be helpful! Ok that's also what I though I remembered on them so than with the center link being different than the tie Rod total lengths would be different too. However the tie Rod ends could all be the same and the difference only in the tie Rod tubes. I think I would try to get all those parts spec'd for a 1965 Falcon / Comet if you can. The upper and lower control A Arms are interchangeable, ball joints, shafts etc.
 

bubba22349

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That's a really great article and it goes into much more detail than my attempt, stating all the parts needed this confirmed much of the same as I was thinking and told you. But the better part is that its got far more details including the reassembly bolt torques, tips, and even further iD’e which parts will be interchangeable. So looks like most all the steering parts are the same for the Falcon, Comet, and the Mustang models as we were thinking the big exception is that you need to only use the 1965 Falcon / Comet V8 center link. I have read the complete article if you want I can give a full parts list of everything needed for all the rest of front end parts to make it work right and what else it takes to do this swap. Best of luck
 

61 comet

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I've read several places about the use of mustang suspension parts. But it was mostly forum talk. I run across that a couple days ago.
I'm still unsure about the 65 mustang spindles
 
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powerband

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I've only heard anecdotal info on the supposed weakness of the early suspension. Problems I've encountered were perhaps Fords' use of parts that needed more maintenance than 'modern' driving accommodated. Early greasable spring perches and smaller balljoints needed 'lube job' at suitable intervals.

I used 65 Mustang strut rod frame brackets and struts to replace smaller guage '61 setup destroyed by battery acid, other '61's front suspension components were still in excellent shape when replaced with '71 Maverick 4 lug spindles, 4 lug disc conversion and 65 V8 steering links.

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hav e fun

 
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