This applies to my QA1 K and stock A-arms. Your process may be different if you are using another brand or tubular arms. There may be some other modifications you have to do to other parts, but this is all it took for mine.
1. With mine, the rear A-arm mounting holes were drilled relatively high. I believe this is an issue with all QA1 K members. It’s nothing major. The stock bolt has a round “flange” on it as part of the head. What I did, was grind 3 sides of this flange down to the flat sides of the head of the bolt. I used a bench grinder. I test fit it in the holes to make sure it fit properly. Grinding only 3 sides has the added benefit of keeping the head of the bolt from spinning when you re-install the nuts on the other end.
2. The “ears” on the inside of the stock A-arms need to be ground down. I took off about half an inch of material, using an angle grinder/ die cutter with a carbide bit. If you’re strong, you can use a bench grinder, but those a-arms are heavy. Every once in a while, test fit the a-arms to the new K-member. Put the bolts through the mounting holes and swivel the A-arms through their full range of motion to make sure they don’t bind or rub anywhere. Once you have them where you want them, I would suggest hitting the parts you ground with some flat black spray paint (you can use gloss, but why?) to keep them from rusting. You don’t have to do this, but IMO, it’s probably a pretty good idea.
3. Test fit the entire assembly together to make sure everything lines up and you can feed the bolts through the whole way. Disassemble everything again, and grab your friend for help.
Installing the new K
It’s all downhill from here. Now you’re just putting everything back together.
1. Take the new K over to the car with the 2 front mounting bolts in hand. Have your friend with the other two.
2. Lift the K up (you shouldn’t need a jack; it’s pretty light) into position and start your threads. The clips holding the nuts to the frame may need to be adjusted to line up; DON’T CROSS THREAD THEM!!!
3. Get the bolts all tightened up to spec.
4. You can now drop the engine back into place and tighten the engine mount nuts. It should drop right into the mounting holes; mine did. Remove the other jack.
5. Install the A-arms. Doing this before putting in the rear K mounting bolts makes it a lot easier to get the rear A-arm mounting bolts to slide through. Tighten the bolts to spec. You can use a jack near the ball joint to help with lifting the A-arm into position
6. Install the rear K-member mounting bolts. Once again, DON’T CROSS THREAD THEM!!!
7. Unhook the steering rack from your hangers and place it onto the front of the K. Guide the steering shaft onto the rack at the same time. My QA1 did not use the stock type, 6” long bolts. It came with two new ones that threaded directly into the new K’s mounting “pegs”. You may want to use a rubber mallet to tap the steering rack back into place.
8. Install and tighten the “pinch bolt” between the steering shaft and rack. Tighten the rack mounting bolts to spec.
9. Install the springs into their perches. (You did make sure you had spring perches on your new K right?)
10. Using a jack near the ball joint, swivel the A-arm up while guiding the sway bar links into the ends of the sway bar. Make sure the bushings are arranged as they were before.
11. Install the two nuts/ bolts that hold the strut to the spindle. Tighten them to spec. You can remove the jack, as the spring should be compressed, but the strut should hold it in place.
12. Place the tie rod ends into the steering knuckles on the spindle. Tighten the castellated nuts down snug and INSTALL A NEW COTTER PIN. The castle nuts don’t need to be extremely tight
13. Reconnect your brake calipers. Tighten any fasteners to spec. If you have Bullitt or Cobra brakes, make sure you use a new “E” clip on the end of the pin.
14. Go through and check every fastener. Here’s a checklist:
a. K member mounting bolts (8 of them)
b. A-arm mounting bolts (4 of them)
c. Strut mounting bolts (check both the 2 on the bottom and 1 on top)
d. Tie rod end jam nuts
e. Castellated nuts on tie rod ends (make sure cotter pin wont fall out)
f. Steering rack mounting bolts
g. Steering shaft “pinch bolt”
h. Engine mount nuts (2 of them)
i. Sway bar mounting nuts
j. Any brake caliper mounting hardware.
k. Make sure the springs have seated properly in their perches.
l. Anything else that you: loosened, turned, or changed.
15. Everything should be installed now. Turn the steering wheel to center, and lock it into position by removing the key. You can reinstall your wheels, and let the car down off of the jack stands. Before going anywhere, just take a look and visually inspect for anything that looks out of whack. Main things to look for are toe in and camber settings that are a little extreme. (If you can tell it’s off with just your eye...it’s off pretty big.) Also look underneath with the suspension loaded now just to make sure everything looks fine.
16. If everything visually looks good, move onto the next section. If not, you have some adjusting to do. Make sure the steering wheel is centered. Measure your toe-in using a plumb bob and tape measure. Mark the point from the center of the tire, straight down to where the plumb bob hits the floor. Do this front and back. I put some masking tape on the floor and marked an “X” with a pencil. Measure the distance between the points across the front of the car. The difference is your toe-in or out. IIRC, Ford specs call for 0.5” toe-in.
17. This is where the process really sucks. Jack the car up, remove the wheels, and remove the tie rod ends again. Loosen the jam nuts on the inner tie rods. One full revolution of the outer tie-rod equates to about 1/16th of an inch in or out. Do some simple math with your measurements to figure out what you need to do. If the steering wheel is centered, and your toe is fine, but the tires point slightly to the right, you need to adjust the passenger outer tie-rod in and adjust the driver’s side out the same amount of revolutions. Following me here? After every adjustment, you have to reconnect everything, install the wheels, put the car on the ground and re-measure. You aren’t trying to get everything perfect, but you want the car somewhat safely drivable to the alignment shop.
18. Reconnect the battery
1. Start the car up and back it out of the garage and drive it back towards the garage. Just rock the car, taking it about 10 feet at a time forward and back. You just need to see if it is severely pulling to one side or the other. Note: If you have a gravel drive, this doesn’t work...it has to be done on hard pavement.
2. If that seems fine, take the car around the block or down the street. Check the steering lock to lock and for severe pulling or dragging. The springs will probably pop a few times as they begin to settle into position, but this is normal. Take the car up to around 25 MPH
3. Once you pull back into the drive, get out and make any adjustments detailed in steps 15 and 16 above. If the car tracked pretty well, or even perfect, your next step is the alignment shop. THIS IS A MUST!
Go ahead, think the car is fine and drive it without an alignment...be ready to buy new tires every 3,000 miles.
4. Once you have the car aligned, you’re done. You’ll probably notice some noises here and there, but that comes with the territory for tubular K members.
As far as impressions go, I live in Ohio, so I haven’t gotten the chance to track test it yet, but on the road nothing much seems different. Its hard to tell for me, as I went from just BBK progressive rate springs, to a tubular K, Lakewood 90/10 drag struts, 14” 175# coilovers, and MM C/C plates. I’m sure other people can chime in with their impressions after their installs.
My little disclaimer
Remember...this write up is a general guide to how I did MY install. Yours may be different. I’m encouraging people to add to this write up with their tips, tricks, and corrections. Some of the things I have stated are matters of opinion. It all goes along with how you like to work. I’m personally concerned with safety, quality, taking my time, and organization, some people like to get the job done quickly and take shortcuts. Not that shortcuts are bad or wrong, but I have a truck for my D/D now, so I can afford to take my time to do things. If you see something that I completely misstated in your opinion, please don’t flame me. Kindly offer your method of doing something and say that is how it worked for you.