A labour of love

Front crossmember and suspension rebuild

Front crossmember and suspension rebuild

With the rear end done, it was time to move to the front, and once again I had decided to deviate from standard here too. A long time back I had picked up the Moss coilover conversion kit during one of their sales for a great price, so this is what I’m fitting. I actually bought it well before I had decided to fit the Frontline kit on the back, and perhaps if I hadn’t then I would have opted to go with Frontline’s own front suspension kit too, since they are presumably designed to work well in harmony, but the Moss kit has been around for a long time and seems generally very well regarded, so we’ll see how it works out.

On unboxing it, my first impressions are good – it seems well constructed and contains everything you need to fit it (except for any “standard” parts that you should already have), including SuperPro poly bushes and even some thread locker, as well as very comprehensive instructions. Here it is all laid out next to my car’s front crossmember.

The crossmember needs to be modified to allow the new shock absorbers to pass through it, so I chose to make those modifications now, prior to having the crossmember recoated. The changes essentially involve drilling two big holes through the crossmember where the original hydraulic dampers used to be mounted, and the kit includes templates for this, which you simply bolt in place and drill through. You begin by drilling out the circle of small holes shown below, then remove the template and open them up with a larger drill bit so that eventually the larger disc of metal in the middle of the circle drops out (both drill bits are included in the Moss kit). I cleaned up the resulting sharp edges with a die grinder to make it look a bit more tidy. You could do this whole modification more quickly with a hole saw if you have one large enough of course, but using the template does guarantee precise positioning at least.

With that adujstment made, at this point I wire brushed some more of the old paint off the crossmember and sent it off to be sandblasted and refinished, along with a few other miscellaneous parts that we’ll see again in future installments. After much deliberation I finally decided to go with powder coating all of these parts.

And here is the crossmember again this week, back from sandblasting, freshly powder coated in satin black, all ready for building up.

First step was fitting new wishbone pivots onto the bottom of the crossmember. I went for new with these as the original ones were looking fairly pitted in places, and they’re fairly inexpensive to replace. They come in a natural metal finish, but I painted the exposed faces in satin black for consistency.

Then it was on with fitting the Moss conversion kit properly. As noted above, it doesn’t include any standard parts, so I purchased a new set of lower wishbone arms to go with it.

I also chose to go with a refurbished pair of stub axle assemblies (on a surcharge exchange basis, so they don’t work out too expensive). I fitted them up with a set of SuperPro poly bushes, matching those in the Moss kit so that the whole front end would be on the same bushes.

Having made the initial modification to the crossmember, fitting the rest of the Moss kit is a very easy bolt-on job that can be done on the bench without any trouble (although it gets very heavy, very quickly!). As anybody who has fitted front springs with the crossmember off the car before will know, it’s vitally important to fit the front crossmember mounting bolts and inner pads before fitting the springs, because you just can’t get access to them afterwards, hence you see those bolts already fitted here (using orange poly pads unfortunately as nobody had purple ones in stock). Observant readers might notice that I’ve fitted the new spring pans upside-down in the picture below – a mistake quickly rectified when I came to try and fit the stub axles later on!

Another little Frontline Developments mod I had been seduced by was then fitted at this stage. This is their Castor Correction Kit, which should make for much lighter steering response on the finished car. It consists of two aluminium wedges that sit between the crossmember and the shell, which have the effect of tilting the crossmember forward slightly. It’s a pretty simple and supposedly very effective modification, but it does slightly complicate the fitting of the steering rack, which will need to be shimmed later to account for the different pitch of the crossmember in relation to the shell.

The below picture shows the positioning of the wedges on the crossmember, ready to be offered up to the shell. Note how I have a screwdriver poked through the convenient hole in the front of the crossmember to prevent the mounting bolt dropping out before it can be fitted.

And a view from the engine bay of the crossmember all bolted in place.

Below shows the complete front crossmember sub-assembly all fitted, including the brand new anti-roll bar (which also has purple SuperPro bushes for good measure). This bar is quite a special item too, being a reproduction of the orginal MG RV8 bar, which as you can see is cranked in the middle instead of being straight like a standard MGB bar. This provides much needed additional clearance for the crank pulley at the bottom of the Rover V8. When I started this project these bars were unobtanium, but fortunately Clive Wheatley has had them remanufactured and brought back into stock just in time for me to fit one here!

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