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Preparation 2

I started the big clean up operation with the rear trailing arms. These are very visible at the rear of the Firefox, so they'll need to be stripped, prepared and painted.

The inner (left) and outer needle roller bearings from the N/S/R trailing arm. Amazingly, the car had not failed the MOT on this item.

The cup on the bottom of the trailing arm that normally accepts the knuckle joint isn't used on the Firefox, so it's removed (I used an angle grinder) to give extra ground clearance.


After stripping, the arms and backplates were cleaned using an electric drill and various decoking brushes. They were then degreased with thinners and painted with Rust-oleum CombiColor. All nuts and bolts have been renewed - I bought a huge mixed tub of fasteners for the Quantum and had plenty left over.

Time now to start on the front suspension and steering components. These are mostly hidden under the bodywork of the Firefox, so I'll just be cleaning the worst of the muck and rust off with a wire brush..

The N/S/F steering and suspension partially rebuilt. New parts include top and bottom ball joints, steering rack gaiter and tie rod end. Most of the components appeared to be the original ones - the lower ball joints were still secured by the factory-fitted rivets. Only the N/S/F upper ball joint had any noticeable wear, but for peace of mind, I've replaced them all. I don't really want to depend on 14-year old components, especially on a high-speed race track. The upper arm inner bearings were in good condition and only needed cleaning and greasing. All disturbed fasteners were renewed. I haven't forgotten the drive shaft, I've temporarily assembled this much to make sure everything moves freely and without any play.

I came to a rather abrupt halt yesterday while attempting to do the O/S/F components. The lower ball joint I was sold was in fact another N/S one. I phoned the nice chaps at Millard's and they'll order the correct one for me to collect on Tuesday, as it's not a stock item. (note: the lower ball joints on Metros fitted with 185 section tyres are different to those fitted to cars with 155 section tyres. The wider-tyred cars' ball joints are slightly longer and offset towards the front of the vehicle. This gives slightly less positive camber and nearly 2 degrees more positive castor to the front wheels)

Unable to complete the O/S/F suspension, I decided to fit the new outer driveshaft joint gaiters. What a filthy task! After scraping off all the old oil and dirt, I cut the clips holding the gaiter on. A quantity of foul-smelling thick black liquid oozed out onto the garage floor and my shoes! After cleaning up the mess and the remaining gloop, the joint was removed and old new gaiter taken off. Before reassembly, the joint has to be refilled with the black grease supplied in the gaiter kit. This is almost as disgusting as the old lubricant. Definitely the worst job so far.

The driveshafts with their new outer gaiters. I've been working on sheets of polythene cut from a large roll I've had for years. Every so often, I lift the subframe assembly with the engine crane and fold up the polythene complete with all the rust, dirt, oily rags, disposable gloves and old parts. It's then thrown straight in the wheelie bin, resulting in a nice clean working area again.

The correct ball joint arrived as promised, so the O/S/F suspension has now been reassembled. Metro upper ball joints were also used on the Quantum's front suspension uprights, so the big socket I bought to install them came in useful once more.

Kit collection time is approaching, so I've dismantled the pedal box and gearchange assemblies. The three pedals, the lower steering column and the two gear change rods are all modified by Onyx, on an exchange basis, to suit the different driving position of the Firefox.

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