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Rusted Rear Crossmember Needs Replacement


giganto
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Terry, I thought I'd file this subject in your forum since your local climate (and local government) seems to promote rust on rear crossmembers. I got my '96 Mystique in Chicago, and now that the Voltour is almost complete (well, it has gone 4000 miles, but I still haven't worked out the tach) I can address the issue before the cold weather comes. The crossmember and all the supporting hardware have rusty flakes peeling away. Since I live in the South, I have access to plenty of less rusty alternatives in the junkyard. You mentioned in another post that the OEM replacement has been upgraded a bit, so I was wondering what would be the best thing for my project...a project that may one day become an "Electrique" and totally ignore the rear GAWR.

 

I have also come across an alternative to PB Blaster called "Aerokroil," and was told it made PB Blaster look like WD-40. Knowing this project was coming, I bought a can and set it to work on some stuck door latches. I had to open three doors from the inside handle because the outside handle wouldn't unlatch the door. I sprayed some "Aerokroil" around the latch, worked the latch a little, and all three were working properly in five minutes. Last time I had this problem, I had to swap latches from the junkyard and discovered that the outside door handle mounting screws had rusted solid. I'm still looking for a blue plastic piece to go around the outside driver door handle.

 

I'm probably going to drill the holes in the trunk to get the crossmember bolts a good soaking top and bottom before I whip out my impact wrench. I'm just wondering what would be the best source of a replacement crossmember, arms and bar. I've been pleased with my "Monromatic" struts in the "Voltour," so I may replace them while I'm under there already.

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I'd discovered and bought Aerokroil a few years back. My brother is a fan of PB Blaster. In the usual brotherly manner, we bet each, was better than the other..... By mail, we exchanged a can of our fave and set to work trying both in our daily mechanical work. After several months we mutually agreed that PB Blaster was the better of the two. AeroKroil also has a smell or fume that seems to sicken me. I don't use it any more.

 

Gar

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I've found that the "Front Rear Suspension arm and Bushing" is no longer available from Ford. The eBay in Europe is swarming with new bushings and bushing replacement tools for the Mondeo; do I need to order some of these to make the junkyard arms perform like new?

 

The "Rear Suspension Tie Rod and Bushing" is $131 each, and the "Rear Rear Suspension Arm and Bushing" are $127.82 each.

 

The Ford OEM rear cross member (F5RZ5035B) which I suppose is the one with reinforced mounting points is $211.92.

 

I'm wondering if a welding shop could reinforce a rear crossmember like the "new" ones from Ford. As I recall, the junkyard would sell me the rear end of a 2000 Cougar [with knuckles, disc brakes, struts and four-bolt hub :(] for only $300 or $350.

 

I've also discovered that the Rear Spring Seats (F5RZ5793A) are no longer available. Does anyone know a good aftermarket replacement since I'm pulling all this stuff out anyway?

 

I also ordered some sub-frame alignment pins for the '96+ Mondeo, so I hope they work with my '96 Mystique. The Ford Shop Manual calls for the T94P-2100-AH Sub-Frame Alignment Tool, which Rotunda has renumbered 502-002; however, they were back-ordered and unavailable until mid-January (and $108.11 + $15 shipping)! There seem to be two styles of sub-frame alignment pins for the Mondeo which use a slotted plate instead of a hitch pin to hold it in place. The pins I ordered from Europe is called TA32 FRANKLIN SUB FRAME ALIGNMENT TOOL - FORD (180545684528) and is said to be equivalent to 205-136 (15-097A), and cost $89.19 with shipping and conversion.

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British American Transfer lists some of the items you are looking for:

 

http://www.batinc.net/main.htm

 

I purchased new rear spring seats from them a few months ago. They also list the reinforced rear subframe. The Ford OEM subframe by itself has not been reinforced to prevent breakage of the swaybar mounting tabs. I think the BAT subframes were reinforced by ATI (a company that did a huge batch for a Group Buy on the CEG forum many years ago). A good welding shop could reinforce a subframe that you provide them as long as you give them enough information to do the work properly. Call BAT and see if they still stock the reinforced subframe. If BAT still has this, then it is a matter of weighing the cost of getting one already done properly (and rust free) vs. digging-up a used subframe that will have some degree of rust and then searching for a welding shop and waiting for them to get the job done.

 

Rock Auto definitely has a listing for the rear strut mounts and the rear-rear control arms but not the front rear control arms. There is a guy on CEG that is developing billet front rear control arms but if this does get off the ground, they won't be available until next year and they will not be cheap.

 

Many people say that a 15 mm deepwell socket works well as an alignment tool; I can't speak with experience on this short cut. Keep and eye on Ebay. Very often, you can find these Ford specialty tools there because there were many dealerships that went out of business. Vendors accumulate the stock of old dealership specialty tools and resell them on Ebay. Here are the alignment pins you are looking for:

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/OTC-Rotunda-Ford-Focus-Sub-Frame-Alignment-Pins-/390337014056?pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools&vxp=mtr&hash=item5ae1e62928

 

The Ad says there are 3 but do they mean 3 pins or 3 pairs of pins? I don't know.

 

A specific tool set to keep an eye out for is T94P-1000-FH / FLMH. This is a master tool kit that contains the alignment pins but it also contains the alignment tools for the shifter cables, the powertrain-to-subframe alignment tool and a ton of other useful stuff. I think I got my set off of Ebay for around $50. Some tools may be missing from these kits so make sure you inquire before spending. There is one kit right now on Ebay but it is missing way too many tools (pins are gone but the powertrain alignment tool is still there).

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I already spent $80 on the powertrain alignment tool. I wish I knew about this stuff sooner. Is there a kit for the 2 liter engine?

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Well, I'm pretty certain there are other tool kits that cater to various service procedures on the Zetec engine. The T94P-1000FH / FLMH kit does contain the following Zetec-specific tools:

 

T94P-6256-CH Camshaft Alignment Timing Tool

T94P-6510-AH Valve Stem Seal Remover

T94P-6510-DH Valve Guide Replacer Adapter

T94P-6565-AH Valve Spring Compressor Adapter

 

Of course, the trick is finding a sufficiently complete tool set on Ebay (mine was missing the Zetec camshaft alignment and the CD4E Transmission Range Sensor Alignment tools)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got the rear end out of a Cougar (the only thing on the yard with rear discs) for $300. The crossmember is pristine, but there is light rust on the arms and heavy rust on the knuckles. I got some Permatex "Rust Treatment" which seems to be just a conversion, and a spray can of flat black for application 24 hours later. I've already begun spraying with the Aerokroil, since I need something that super-penetrates to get between my rusty crossmember and the frame.

 

My British TA32 Franklin sub frame alignment tools arrived as well, and test fit quite nicely; just wish I got one of those kits off eBay and save some cash, because it looks like some of the brake lines are corroded too.

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I got the rear end out of a Cougar (the only thing on the yard with rear discs) for $300. The crossmember is pristine, but there is light rust on the arms and heavy rust on the knuckles. I got some Permatex "Rust Treatment" which seems to be just a conversion, and a spray can of flat black for application 24 hours later. I've already begun spraying with the Aerokroil, since I need something that super-penetrates to get between my rusty crossmember and the frame.

 

My British TA32 Franklin sub frame alignment tools arrived as well, and test fit quite nicely; just wish I got one of those kits off eBay and save some cash, because it looks like some of the brake lines are corroded too.

 

While you are in the process of replacing the rear subframe, take a close look at the following:

 

1. The gas tank filler neck. Your filler neck may also be very rusty. There have been several instances of filler necks rusting out. There were three different filler necks on Ford Contours / Mercury Mystiques and all of them are discontinued. The production dates for filler necks (and the gas tank) are "beginning to 2-1-1998", "2-2-1998 to 5-2-1999" and "5-3-1999 to end". My filler neck was looking rather sad for a car with only 44,900 miles on it so I had it grit blasted followed by zinc phosphate pretreatment and then three coats of POR-15. The plastic lock ring and rubber seal that go on the neck for my car were still available through the dealership system earlier this summer but I don't know if they fit your Contours / Mystiques since yours used a different filler neck than mine. If yours is in bad shape, now is the time to take care of it since you have to pull the gas tank to do it (the rear cross member also has to be pulled).

 

2. Check out the evaporative emissions canister which is the metal box with all the hoses that lies directly underneath the spare tire tub. The bolts and stamped steel nuts may be corroded to the point of needed replacement (mine were). My evap control valve on the canister was horribly rusted so I replaced it at the same time (it was still working).

 

3. If you do pull the tank, inspect the metal locking ring that holds the fuel filter / tank level sensor assembly in the tank. The removable lock ring will likely be OK but the metal ring that is fused to the tank may be pretty rusty. If this is the case, remove the lock ring and pump assembly so that you can paint the ring with something like POR-15. All gas tanks have been discontinued by Ford and as usual, there is a minimum of three different gas tanks possible.

 

4. If the gas tank straps are looking really crappy, Rock Auto should have those in stock. They will come in unpainted condition so you may want to get them powder coated.

 

All I'm prescribing here is preventative maintenance to make the car last as long as possible. This maintenance is a lot of work but if it needs to be done, it will cause the least grief if you do it all at once.

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I'll look at some of these things while I'm there. When I converted the Voltour to electric, I couldn't get the filler neck out and ended up having to melt it with a blowtorch (after draining and removing the gas tank). The 1/2" tube going to the emissions control canister was rusted next to the brake lines. The unibody "frame" box bits on either side of the spare tire well also have major rusting around each hole. Maybe a welding shop can double up the metal to make things strong enough to support battery boxes in an upcoming conversion to an "Electrique." The gas tank straps also look okay, oddly enough. I'll have to look more closely at the filler rings in the morning

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I got out the rear crossmember today, and it was pretty bad. I've attached photos where it's leaving rusty flakes everywhere it goes, and the one I pulled from the junkyard (and treated for rust and hit with a rattlecan).

 

The straps and fill tube look okay; however, the brake lines have those big rusty flakes growing on them. How does this happen to stainless steel? Isn't it stainless? Anyway, it looks like I need to replace them while the crossmember is off. I've never done anything with brake lines; is this something I need to take to a pro, or can I splice in some nice pieces from the junkyard. It's only really bad about seven inches forward of the splices by the gas tank. It would've been better if the couplings and everything forward was good, but that's not my luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Brake tubing is not stainless, I'm guessing stainless would be too hard to flare properly.

 

If you can get to the remaining good parts of the tubing you should be able to cut out he rusty part and flare the ends to accept a coupling and a new section of tubing. It will take a double flare tool and pretty good access (this may very well be a show stopper) to the remaining portions.

 

If you do try it make sure to practice the flaring on some spare tubing off the car. I recently replumbed a boat trailer brake system and it took a few tries to get the flaring down. And again, unless you have very good access on the car or can completely remove things it may not be possible.

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...just a couple of points.The brake system fittings etc are all metric,watch out for that.Some of the original tubing was coated with a green finish to prevent rusting.On most all Contours the oem lines out of the master cyl have a flex braded section...it is there for a reason...Just take extra care with flares etc as the Contour uses metric/Euro shapes...Pay attention as you tear down brake tubing etc and you should be OK...

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