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Front Suspension Cross Member Renewal


In 1987 Bessie failed her MOT test through rust in her front suspension cross member.
It was suggested that it would not be possible to repair.  I wouldn't accept that and started to make enquiries
about a new member.  I located one and it duly arrived, nearly giving the delivery man a hernia (it's quite a hefty lump!).

The work

I jacked Bessie up and put her on blocks over the pit.
I then disconnected the front brakes and steering.  The cross
member assembly was unbolted from the chassis and carefully lowered
to the floor.  The whole thing was dismantled and all parts serviced or renewed as
required.  The new cross member was painted and filled with Waxoyl to help prevent any
rust from forming.  All rubber bushes were renewed and the front suspension was reassembled.
The underside of the engine was cleaned and repainted and then the front suspension was carefully raised
into position.  Brakes and steering were reconnected and tracking and brake adjustments carried out.

A road test seemed to confirm that everything was fine.
When Bessie had her MOT retest I was called in and asked who carried out the work.
Fearing the worst I admitted that it was me and wondered what was wrong.  I needn't have worried as he praised
me for such a superb job and couldn't believe that I would spend so much time and effort on an old car.  I just said that
if a job was worth doing then it was worth doing properly, and besides, it was Bessie!


NewOldCrosssmembers.jpg (99992 bytes)

This is the upper side of the new and old cross members. The new one has been painted and applied with Waxoyl to prevent rust.

CloseupOfCrossmembers.jpg (90554 bytes)

Underside of new and old cross members.  This close-up shows the hole clearly.  It also shows the Waxoyl in the new cross member.

SpringsAxles.jpg (102263 bytes)

Coil springs, stub axles and brake parts have been serviced and painted ready for reassembly.  Note the chalk marks on the brake shoes.
They were in good condition and were just cleaned before being refitted.

AssembledCrossmember1.jpg (90575 bytes)

View of assembled cross member, ready for refitting.  All parts have been cleaned, serviced and repainted.

AssembledCrossmember2.jpg (89064 bytes)

Another view of assembled cross member, just prior to refitting.  Note the Waxoyl visible inside.

SumpBeforePainting.jpg (75084 bytes)

The underside of the engine before being cleaned and repainted.  The part of the engine sump that is normally hidden by the cross member
was gold.  In 1976 a "Gold Seal" engine was fitted.  (Gold Seal are factory reconditioned engine).

SumpAfterPainting.jpg (70096 bytes)

The underside of the engine after repainting.  Looks a bit better doesn't it?  Green is the original colour for a BMC engine.

RefittingCrossmember.jpg (85058 bytes)

Cross member being lifted into place using a trolley jack.  Note the cloth to prevent damage to the paintwork.

  The cross member is a very heavy piece of the front suspension assembly.
In the days when Bessie was designed things tended to be over engineered, and hence were more than adequate for their need.
This means that older cars were heavier than modern ones.  Bessie was typical of this.  A particular over engineered part on her was the
accelerator linkage.  This was very complicated, with rods, ball joints, split pins etc, when a simple Bowden cable would have achieved the same result.

For those who are saying "What the heck is Waxoyl?"
It is an anti rust agent that has a waxy feel and can be sprayed or painted on.
It is good for the chassis, under wheel arches, inside chassis members and just about anywhere else where rust can occur.
There are other similar products around, this just happens to be the one I chose and have used for many years.

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