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Shock Tower Alignment

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Shock Tower Alignment

Post #1 by Depulse » Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:27 am

Is there a way to check if the shock towers are straight/upright?

I am struggling with the alignment on my '65 Ranchero. The Ranchero is very honest/straight, but I did notice the backside of the driver's side front fender was a different color than the rest of the vehicle. The previous owner was clueless, so no help at all.

It all started with rebuilding the front end and doing the Shelby drop. I am still working through the change and one of my thoughts was the frame alignment.

Any help is greatly appreciated.


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Re: Shock Tower Alignment

Post #2 by mustang6 » Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:12 pm

Which alignment settings are you having trouble with? All of them or?

68 Mustang 200 ci, Aussie 250-2V head, Dual Headers, Comp Cams 252H, DSII w/MSD 6AL, T-5, V8 suspension.

65 Ranchero 200 ci, late 170 head, Autolite 1101, 3.03 3 speed, Maverick 8" 4 lug rear with 3.55 gears.

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Re: Shock Tower Alignment

Post #3 by bubba22349 » Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:19 pm

On frame alignment I do diagonal measurements of each side using the same factory punched frame hole in the matching locations for the complete chassis front to back. If the measurements are showing a problem as a way of zeroing in on were the problem is then measure again at front firewall forward and also the rear frame section. If I find that the frame is out of square to factory specs which on these old cars this was around 3/16 or 1/8 inch, on some my personal builds have used a much tighter spec. of 0 to 1/16 inch the straighter the chassis the better the handling is going to be. Once the problem area is determined I then use a porta power or jacks to bring it back to spec or as perfect as possible. I also will sight down the side of the car (setting on level ground) from rear to front aligning the face of the rear tire to the front (steering box set to the high point center). Other old school ways you also could use a straight board or a string line for this. This can show if the toe in is set correctly as well as seeing if one or both wheels are standing up straight or leaning in or out.

After 50 plus years of use chassis fatigue from weight and gravity, now with the better modern tires, the higher speeds that we are driving, on better roads too since these cars were built, so it makes a big difference if the frame is bent and the attachments points are off. Truth is if know what to look for you can even see this problem on many of the Cars on the road today, with a big stacks of shims to get the alinement somewhat close. There are also some that can't even be aligned right having excessive tire ware. Some old cars are also a lot of work to drive as you are constantly seesawing the steering wheel back and forth to keep them going straight, this is because of the chassis being so out of spec. On my 1966 Mustang Fastback that was exactly how bad it was when I started working on it, it couldn't be aligned and tore up a drivers side tire very quickly, after its towers were set back up straight again it was a joy to drive it tracked straight without touching the wheel for miles on the freeway

Boss 302 Towers ... sort=3&o=0 ... sort=3&o=1 ... sort=3&o=2

On checking out the spring towers with the chassis set level jack stands front to back and side to side I use a level, T Square, or plumb bob, at the frame rail next to the tower and measure over to the center of the upper shock tower mount on both sides and compare these measurements. On many of these Falcons, Mustangs, and other Ford's and Mercury's using this type of chassis design, you will find that the spring towers are leaning inward on one or both side they need to be pushed back straight.

Adistional notes on Tower Alignment and reenforcement
Having the factory specs and dementions is a great help they can be found in a set of Ford factory manuals for the year of your car. After doing so many of these cars over years I can see were they need to be. So I use a porta power to get the towers standing up straight again, these type front ends all seam to sag from effects of age and gravity. When you get them right reweld them good at all the factory spot welded seams in engine compartment side and also on the wheel well side. You can stitch weld them next to the factory spot welds it only needs about 1/4 to 3/8 inch welds and skip section or if you want a much cleaner stock look drill holes through top metal were the factory welds are then Rosette weld them and grind smooth, don't have any pictures of this as it was a long time back. It's very easy if the engine is out but it still can be done even if a six or V8 engine is installed. Then make the extra reenforcing plates and them weld in. Now days there are kits made for this if you don't want to take the time to build them yourself. If you need ideas look for pictures of the 1969 / 70' Boss Mustang spring towers (see above links to Boss 303 tower pics) to give you idea what the reenforcement plates would look like. On some very high Milage cars or Depending on condition it maybe also be of benafit to take the time to reweld the compleate chassis all spot welds to tighten it up like new. This will be the direction for me if I ever get the time and my Heath improves enough to build another unibody hot rod.

CoupeBoy did a very nice post on his reenforcement of the stock towers and since this is pertty much the same way as I did mine years ago I won't take the time going over this part again, take a look to get an idea of what's involved. Togeather with the Shelby drop mod, plus a few other mods like the correct Monto Carlo Bar for the Six'es (see picture below), an Export Brace (see below), and rollerizing the spring / shock perches (see below for the how too), togeather it makes a world of difference in handling for a performance street or combo street / track car. There are a few more mods depending on the planed use your of car too, sub frame connectors (I use to custom make mine see below), adjustable strut rods, roller idler arm, like a correctly setting up the upper arm bushings for less friction, or the full on Rollerized front suspension.

On the adjustable strut rods there are a couple of ways you can go from using the factory type off the 1963 Falcons that are adjustable and fit the early cars with the non ajustable bars or you could build or buy a set of adjustable CoupeBoy also did a nice job showing how he built his (see below link).

Alignment settings with or without the Arning / Shelby drop. 1960 to 1970 Fords and Mercury's
1. It is very important that you have no more than .25 degrees of difference from passenger to drivers side.
2 A. For a light weight small six car 144 to 200 1.0 to 2.0 degrees of castor but note that on non power steering street use car that the more castor you use the steering effort increases when going slow like parking so this is a good reason to use a roller idler arm for reduced steering effort. With power steering you can use the 2B specs.
2.B for a 250 six or V8's use 2.0 to 3.5 see the above note also
3. -.5 to 0 degrees camber
4. 1/16 to 1/8 inch toe in.
Addistional notes When setting these specs all up I also will use the drivers weight in the seat. On a drag race car I use a jack to lift front of car 1 inch.

The good thing is that many of these mods can be added a little at a time or as your budget allows, also many of these parts can be done or built yourself if you want. See below link for the details on spring towers repair / build up, hope this is of some help I will try to edit and add more detail to this post as I can, good luck and let me know if you have any more questions. Latter we can also get into sway bars and rear suspension mods too if you want. :thumbup: :nod:

Six Cylinder Monto Carlo Bar

Factory Type Export Brace ... ustang.axd

Building Adjustable Strut Rods

Subframe Conectors ... 70/p/SFC1/

Roller Spring Perches Mod ... /index.php

Spring Tower rebuild and repairs
A bad day Drag Racing is still better than a good day at work!

I am still hunting for a project car to build but with my current low budget it's not looking so good. My Ex- Fleet of Sixes these are all long gone! :bang: 1954 Customline 223 3 speed with O/D, 1963 Fairlane project drag car with BB6, 1977 Maverick 250 with C4, 1994 F-150 a 300 with 5 speed.

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Re: Shock Tower Alignment

Post #4 by Depulse » Thu Jan 03, 2019 1:02 pm


Thank you for your response. I appreciate your insight on the car of the era. I have done most of the modification you suggested. I am going to install the adjustable strut rods and roller idler arm. I have done additional modification, under engine support, slotted the lower control arm mounts and installed a receiver hitch with a square tub support bolted to the rear frame.

I am going to take my Ranchero in for a frame alignment check and hopefully it can be adjusted with everything I have installed. When I installed the Monte Carlo Bar, it was a tight fit.

I will keep you updated. Being from Flagstaff, you may know the Ranchero I bought. It was Browne's red and white '65.


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