About two weeks ago when we were driving the Healey, I heard an awful metal on metal noise, so I parked it in the garage and told everyone not to drive it until I could get a look at it. Well, work and what not meant that day wasn’t until today. I jacked it up, pulled the wheel off and found the upper shock/wishbone frame mount ripped up and broken, letting the shock slam into the fender! (It should be noted that the Healey uses an insane lateral shock absorber that is directly connected to the upper wishbone as one piece.) That was not good, if that mount had ripped completely out, that could have been really bad. I checked the passenger side to see if it had suffered the same fate and it had… about 35 years ago. Someone had already welded on an entirely new top plate, and it wasn’t us.
So, knowing that I have a ton of translation work slated for the next few days I had a choice. Either leave it like it is for another week until I can get back into it, or fix it today (well, yesterday to be honest). I had an idea on how to fix it, so I chose the today (yesterday) option. First thing I did was get the plasma cutter out and cut out the remaining bits of the mount. There wasn’t much holding it on, but enough to require a bit of cutting.
With the top cut out, I made a cardboard mockup and started working on the piece I’d weld back in. We had this massively thick sheet of steel hanging around, so I grabbed that and used the skill saw to cut out the rough shape. After that it was repeated back and forth with a massive angle grinder. Grind, check fitment, grind some more, check fitment again, and repeat for a few hours. I then ground the back side of the protruding front piece down a bit. The reason was because that front piece actually sits on top of the remaining metal, and I wanted the main body of the top plate to sit down inside the hole a little bit to give me a better seam to weld to.
Once I was happy with the shape, I measured up the mounting holes for the upper shock/wishbone, drilled those out, and welded on the encapsulated nuts on the back side. Then, after cleaning everything really well, I popped the new steel in place, using long bolts through the encapsulated nuts to hold it at exactly the height and position I wanted, and I welded it all in place. All in all, not the prettiest welds, but plenty strong with good penetration.
I put some undercoating paint on it, bolted it all back together and… then I fixed the toe. It had a massive amount of toe out. Not sure why as moving the top plate shouldn’t affect the toe that much. Then again, both sides have been cut and repaired, and I’m fairly certain the car was in an accident long before we ever bought it, so there’s no telling what was causing what to happen under there. I eyeballed the toe into place and then took her for a test drive.
My fix worked perfectly. I leaned on the old girl pretty hard, even hammered it up to a pretty good clip and aside from pulling to the left a bit, she drives great again. I think popping it on an alignment rack and seeing exactly what is where, and then adjusting it all into spec will make her handle better than she has in a long time!
What an interesting day, haha.