How To: QA1 Tubular K Member - Mustang Boards



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Old 04-22-2005, 11:16 AM
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Default How To: QA1 Tubular K Member

I figured I’d write a follow up to my how to install front Bullitt brakes. This one will entail installing a QA1 tubular K-member. Many people claim fitment problems with the QA1 piece. I must be one of the lucky ones. Mine fit like a glove. All the bolt holes lined up just fine and the whole K was centered. I did not install tubular A-arms with mine, but the install for those goes along with swapping the stockers over, so it should be pretty straight forward. I will do another write-up for my coil over, Lakewood strut and C/C install later on. Unfortunately, you can’t expect very many pics from me for my write-ups, as a lot of times I am working alone, and just plugging away at the install. I find I work much better if I don’t stop to take pictures. Plus I don’t want to have to wash my hands to use the camera.

Preface/ Things to know
The biggest benefit of a tubular K-member is weight reduction. The next is clearance around your engine. The stock K weighs upwards of 70 pounds, where as my QA1 weighed in at MAYBE 30 pounds. I didn’t weigh it, but I know it was a lot easier moving the tubular K around my garage than it was lugging the big stocker around. I can now change my oil filter by hand, and I don’t have to make weird contortions with my arm to do so. I can already tell headers would be A LOT easier to install.

The QA1s can be had with removable spring perches. I went to a coil over setup at the same time, so I didn’t need them, but I can see it being very convenient for upgrades down the road. Most manufacturers offer spring perches for stock, inboard-of-the-strut springs, but they are welded on. The QA1 spring perches IIRC are bolt on style.

An alignment is an absolute MUST after this install...don’t expect to change anything in the front suspension, including just springs, and have the alignment be the same as before. More on this later.

This is one of those installs that you will definitely need a friend to help you with at some points. Most of the dirty work can be done alone, but there are some places where it’s a must IMO to have a helper.

A K-member install is a little more involved than a spring install. Make sure you follow instructions to the letter when doing this. By no means should this write-up serve as the end-all be-all how to. Consult the instructions that come with YOUR K member, and research it before trying to tackle this yourself. (Good job...you already are )

If you plan on installing headers, long tube or shorties, anytime soon...do them during this install. It will make your life that much easier.

Tools required
• Jack
• Jack stands
• METRIC wrenches (don’t use SAE, the whole front end is metric)
• Wood block, at least 6x6x1”
• Crescent wrench
• Needle nose pliers
• Breaker bar
• Ratchet and assorted metric sockets, both deep and standard
• Tie rod end puller or hand sledge
• Coat hanger wire or mechanic’s wire
• Pry bar
• Angle grinder, or large die grinder with carbide bits. (if you are using stock a-arms)
• NEW COTTER PINS...for tie rod end “castle” nuts

Suggested tools
There really aren’t very many special tools, except for things like a lift and impact wrench, that make this install any easier.

Removing the stock K
I’m going to breeze through the first couple of steps without much explanation, as they are straight forward items.

1. Jack up car as high as you can safely get it
2. Place your jack stands. (Let’s use common sense...don’t place the jack stands under the K-member or A-arm’s here people. Use the sub frame rails behind and under the firewall.)
3. Disconnect battery
4. Remove tires
5. Remove brake calipers and hang them out of the way (use my how-to on Bullitt brakes if you don’t know how to do this)
6. The next step is to remove your tie-rod ends. This is much easier to do with the struts still installed. Turn your key to the “run” position and turn the wheel to full lock left if you are working on the driver’s side, and vice versa. Pull the cotter pin out with needle nose pliers and discard it. Take off the “castle” nut holding the tie rod in place. If you have a tie rod end puller, (10 bucks at AutoZone) pull the tie rod end off. Otherwise, you will have to CAREFULLY hit the top of the tie rod “bolt” on the flat end. You will have to hit it fairly firmly, but DO NOT glance off the side or hit the threads. They mushroom fairly easily. It took about 3 good strikes to knock each of mine out. Spin the castle nuts back onto the tie rod ends so you don’t lose them.
7. Remove the nuts holding the sway bar to the end links. The end links may spin when you try to turn the nut, so use a crescent wrench or vise grips on the “flat” spot about halfway up the end link to keep it from doing so.
8. Once the tie rods and sway bar are off, place a jack under you’re a-arm, near the ball joint. Jack it up just enough to take the load off of the strut mounting nuts. Remove the two nuts holding the strut to the spindle. An impact wrench does the job nicely if you have one. When you do this, the spindle is now free to swivel in any way it chooses, so be careful it doesn’t jam a wheel stud into your shin (I’m speaking from experience here)
9. SLOWLY begin to lower the jack; this will start unloading the spring. Be careful, as the spring can pop out pretty violently. Don’t sit right in front of it. Once the a-arm is as low as it will naturally hang, you will probably have to put some downward force on it to remove the spring. You may or may not need to use a pry bar as well. If you have lowering springs or coil overs, this will be much easier to do.
10. Repeat this process for the other side of the car.
11. Now that both sides are completely disconnected, you need to disconnect the steering shaft from the rack.. Turn the steering column until the “pinch bolt” faces outward. (its about 4 inches up the shaft from the steering rack) Mark the shaft’s position relative to the rack. You’ll probably need to use an extension to reach it with the stock K, but it comes out fairly easily. Remove the bolt.
12. There are two long bolts (like 6” long) that hold the steering rack to the stock K-member. You’ll have to keep the other end from spinning when you remove them. I used a combo of two ratchets, but a crescent wrench should work too. Remove the bolts.
13. The steering rack is now completely disconnected. You don’t need to disconnect the hydra boost (power steering) lines, as they are flexible. Slide the steering rack off of the mounting sleeves in the stock K member. This may take a little coaxing with a pry bar...just make sure you work both sides evenly; don’t try to disconnect one side completely before starting the other. Take your time and just work at it. Once it is off the K, use some bungee cords or wire to hang it out of the way; I stuck the bolts back through the rack and used them to hang two bungee cords from the “hood bumpers”
14. Disconnect the two nuts for the engine mounts. Once again, I used an impact wrench and an extension.
15. You now are about ready to drop the stock k-member. This is where you need two jacks. Take your first jack...hopefully a small one, (the $17 AutoZone special works good) and place a block of wood, or a phone book, on the lift cup. Place the jack so the handle points towards the back of the car, or at the very least, on the side, but pointing as far towards the back as possible. Jack it up until it meets the oil pan. SLOWLY, lift the engine. About 1” is all you need...just enough to hold it out of the way.
16. There are 8 bolts that hold the stock K-member on. Go around with your breaker bar or large ratchet, and break each of them loose, but don’t remove them much; just enough to break the bond.
17. Grab your other jack and go in from the front. Jack it until it meets the center of the K, where the oil pan sits. Just enough that it’s touching it is fine. Unbolt the rear bolts holding the K to the frame, and then attack the front; this is where a friend will come in handy. The jack will hold the K up, but it won’t balance it. Have your buddy hold onto one side to keep it from tipping, and lower the jack. The K should drop right out, and you can roll it out from under the car.
18. The stock K-member is removed. If you are installing headers at the same time, lower the engine where you need it, and install them. Jack the engine back up into position.
19. If you are reusing the stock A-arms, unbolt them from the stock K. The nuts may be fairly tight on the bolts, so use of a breaker bar on one end and a large crescent wrench or another large ratchet is recommended. Remove the mounting bolts and set the A-arms to the side on a workbench. Note: you can really see how heavy the stock K member is now, huh?
20. Take a break and relax for awhile
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Old 04-22-2005, 11:18 AM
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Modifying parts
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

Road testing
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.

Conclusion
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.
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Old 04-22-2005, 11:45 AM
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Sounds great man! If I had not pulled to motor to go through it at the time, this is how I would have done it!
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Old 04-29-2005, 12:51 PM
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Excellent write up. The question I have is, where can I get one (fairly cheaply). With spring perches (because I'm too cheap to do the rest right now)?
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Old 04-29-2005, 01:06 PM
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Dont know how to answer that, but I may be selling my UPR kit with the coil overs soon. I am not sure where I want to go with this car anymore, and I may put the suspension back to stock
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Old 04-29-2005, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fallstar
Excellent write up. The question I have is, where can I get one (fairly cheaply). With spring perches (because I'm too cheap to do the rest right now)?
Your best bet is used. Generally, most people progress with thier cars, just as you are planning. As they progress, they move up. (I.E. I went from BBK prgressive rate springs to coil overs) You should be able to find a used one online on the various message board classifieds. They really aren't a part the "wears out" so to speak. The paint may be a little chipped, but as long as it isn't rusty or bent, a used one is just as good as new.
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Old 04-29-2005, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMCstang
Your best bet is used. Generally, most people progress with thier cars, just as you are planning. As they progress, they move up. (I.E. I went from BBK prgressive rate springs to coil overs) You should be able to find a used one online on the various message board classifieds. They really aren't a part the "wears out" so to speak. The paint may be a little chipped, but as long as it isn't rusty or bent, a used one is just as good as new.

like the one I might be selling :angry3:
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Old 05-02-2005, 12:26 PM
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Holy smokes,,Im gonna get my printer fixed just so I can print this out and use it as a guide when the time comes for my K member swap. Mike, that was out-friggin-standing (better w/pics), but awesome just the same. I was wondering if the motor was in our out and later found out when reading this. I have a 95 and when the funds become available I am going to be doing a difft. motor. Wanted to do K member at same time and your guide will definitely help. Are the instructions you receive w/k member just as detailed as yours?
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wade95
Are the instructions you receive w/k member just as detailed as yours?

First of all, thanks for the compliment. Like I said, I'm not a big picture taker, lol.

I can't vouch for other manufacturers, but QA1's included instructions were one side of a sheet of paper. They just give you the very basics of how to do it. They rely on either a shop knwing what they're doing anyways, or someone figuring the little details out themselves.
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Old 05-05-2005, 08:08 AM
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Nice write up Mike. I had one on here but it got deleted I guess. Anyway, a K-member is one of those intimidating things. Its not a difficult task, just can be made much easier when things are done properly and in order. Just make sure you have enough jacks/jackstands to support everything.....and if your project has to sit overnight.....UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES leave your motor/tranny supported by a floor jack. Ask any jack manufacturer, jacks are made for temporary lifts, not 48hrs of support. Good luck!


Adam
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Old 07-05-2010, 07:06 PM
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Default K-member END LINKS?

What did you do with the sway bar and end links? I have a 94 and cant really tell if my sway bar and end links will be functional anymore.. i have dropped it about 1.5 inches in the front.. HELP!!!
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Old 07-08-2010, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 94stroked331 View Post
What did you do with the sway bar and end links? I have a 94 and cant really tell if my sway bar and end links will be functional anymore.. i have dropped it about 1.5 inches in the front.. HELP!!!
Holy old thread batman!

You will most likely need lowered end-links. http://www.maximummotorsports.com/st...roducts_id=426
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