Jim Smart
August 1, 1998

Step By Step

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This damage is typical of a lot of shock towers on classic Mustangs and special-interest Ford compacts. Someone torched this hole in the right-hand tower to gain access to the upper control arm bushings. The left-hand tower (not pictured) cracked as a result.
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Carefully remove the coil spring from the upper arm perch as shown using a coil-spring compressor. Keep your feet and body clear of the spring just in case the compressor should fail.
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The upper control arm is retained with two pivot bolts through the shock tower.
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It’s a good idea to remove the brake lines around the shock tower to prevent any damage during replacement.
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Next, remove the bolt-on crossmember that’s underneath.
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All of the spot welds that fasten the shock tower to the framerail must be drilled out, as shown, with an Eastwood Spot Weld Cutter.
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The shock tower support has been separated from the framerail.
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An air-impact chisel rips through where the shock tower is welded to the framerail on top.
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Separate the tower from the bottom of the framerail as shown.
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Drill out the spot welds where the shock tower joins the inner fenders.
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Mustang Village set us up with a ’67 shock tower assembly for each side. All we had to do was clean up this assembly and remove the inner fenders.
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Our shock tower was so badly cracked that it came out in pieces. Talk about unsafe!
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With the old tower removed, we’re ready to clean up the mating surfaces with a grinder.
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When you’re cleaning up the replacement shock tower assembly, don’t forget to drill out these bottom spot welds (arrows).
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Separating the inner fenders from the replacement tower requires drilling out all of the spot welds involved. Then we grind the mate surfaces smooth.
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Our replacement shock tower is installed by West Coast Classic Mustang. The tower is fitted in place and adjusted.
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The shock tower is adjusted and bolted in place for precision welding.
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Jerry Choate of West Coast Classic Mustang MIG welds the tower in place using the old welding points. Rosette welding is the best type of welding when you’re seeking originality
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The new shock tower is rosette-welded to the inner fenders as shown.
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Then the rosette welds are ground smooth for a flawless finish. Look, Ma, no evidence of replacement!

Name a sound we associate with classic Ford compacts more than any other. That's right, the unpleasant sound of squeaking upper control arm bushings. We've shown that you can do something about noisy upper control arm bushings by replacing the upper arm or installing grease zerks to lubricate (and quiet!) the pesky things. But did you know that noisy and binding upper control arm bushings are the greatest contributors to cracked shock towers? The bushing binds and the tower does the flexing instead of the arm. The stress of all that flexing leads to cracks.

Another problem common to classic Ford shock towers are the holes lazy mechanics cut in the towers to access noisy upper control arm bushings instead of installing 90-degree-angle grease fittings. These holes have also contributed to cracking and fatigue problems.

Our '68 Mustang project mule was plagued with damaged shock towers in need of replacement. So we turned, once again, to our friend Jerry Choate at West Coast Classic Mustang for advice. Jerry looked at the cracked shock towers and concluded that replacement was the best solution. Before you panic about the complexities of shock tower replacement, please understand that they're not that hard to replace. And replacement will pay big dividends in the peace of mind that comes from knowing the structural integrity has been vastly improved up front.

We picked up the phone and called Mustang Village out in Fontana, California, for speedy access to solid shock towers for our driver coupe. Mustang Village is our source for rust-free southwestern iron and steel for classic Mustangs.