3 Link Retro Fit Install, Last Step for Compressor Enclosure, Remote Brake Reservoir Mount

   Posted by: kdavis

I’m finding it’s great to do this blog entries, it gives me a chance to look back and get a real sense of what I got done over the weekend. I was thinking I didn’t get a lot, but looking back now, it was a pretty big weekend.

I had hoped to get both the 3-link installed and the fuel tank up, but alas, just the 3-link is in now…but…THE 3 LINK is IN NOW! ;-> That’s pretty exciting.

I’m learning more and more that with each step of this project, there’s always a step 1, step 2, etc, and between each of those, there’s this whole other set of steps a-z required to get it done. In the case of the 3-link, it involved modifying the chassis, fabricating my own spacers from pipe, a couple of trips to the hardware store (10 miles away), and some creative use of an angle grinder, drill, and ratcheting tie downs.

3-Link Install (Retrofit – Frame Mods not FFR Installed)

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The kit can be ordered from FFR directly for $550 plus shipping ($40 for me, the bracket comes in a HUGE box. It’s important to note that they also send you a battery relocation kit, additional limiting straps, and new axle mounts. In my case, none of this was needed since I had them all with my new kit, and at least for me, the brackets were the same (not sure why, the kit was ordered with 4-link.)

There is a great set of instructions from HOZR on the 3 link installation here. There are some missing pieces to it due to some changes, but it’s way better than the FFR instructions, which are also outdated. This document doesn’t reference the steps required for retrofitting a car that was originally setup for 4-link, either on the road, or new from the factory (like mine).

The pictures I used most, which were awesome were found here.

Between those 2, if you’re looking for instructions on installing your 3-link, you should be pretty well covered. The following were missing or different with my configuration, and probably for others whose car is originally setup for a 4-link solid axle:

1) Upper Control Arm Mounts – If you’re thinking about ordering a 4-link with the prospect of maybe going 3 link later…save yourself some trouble and just go 3-link. This was probably the hardest part of the process, and also made me a little sad cutting up very nice welds and powercoating. You have to remove the upper control arm mounting bracket completely. The FFR instructions and other pics I’ve seen for the retro kit show the upper arm bracket for the 3 link as the old style, which just had the 2 bolts for the down-bracket. The new style weld in and retro bracket also attaches to the passenger side frame for additional lateral support. This means all of the 4-link bracket has to come out, and the welds ground down flat.

The main issue I faced was trying to get an angle grinder to the welds with a cut off wheel. My sawzall is an 18v rechargeable, but my metal blades weren’t sharp enough (too lazy to make another trip to the store). I ended up cutting the main parts out, then going back and cutting the smaller stuff out, then following again with the grinding wheel. Took me a couple of hours to get it all done and ready to go. I can’t imagine doing this while laying on the ground, and I was especially thankful for the lift.

I was originally going to take the DS one out too, but after all that, I’ll just use it for mounting position for brake and fuel lines, etc.


2) Retrofit Bracket Installation – (this bracket is actually very well designed, and bolted up very easily, probably the easiest part of the whole prcess.) The instructions from the websites above are for cars that already have the main 3-link bracket installed, so they didn’t account for the installation of the 3 link bracket. This was actually pretty straight forward, but a couple of gotchas here as well:

a. Leave on the upper bolt locations (trunk area), it’s best to leave the front bolts out while you get the 4″ frame connection marked and drilled. This allows you to rotate the bracket against the 4″ tube, mark, then drill, then rotate back to bolt in. You can then easily put the other bolts in. The instructions say not to tighten these at that time, which I didn’t, but after it was all said and done, I didn’t really see why this was true, so either way could probably work.

b. I found it helpful to run a ratcheting strap around the 4″ tube bracket bolt location so I could force it into position to mark it. This allows you to get it into a position so you have easy access underneath for the nut, etc.


3) Banana Bracket Brace Pumpkin Hole and Bolt – That sounds like a messed up Thanksgiving dish… ;-> This is a common issue, but the hole in the pumpkin (if provided by Ford) don’t always line up with the brace from the banana bracket. It’s very easy to solve, all you have to do is enlarge the hole. The supplied allen head bolt is also both wimpy, and too sort. I just replaced it with a longer and better bolt.

4) Upper Banana Bracket Brace – Not really an issue for me, but worth noting. This is somewhat of a debated topic, both whether you must weld the banana bracket into the axle tube and/or add an upper brace to keep the bracket from slipping. For relatively low HP cars like mine, the brace and sandwich force should prove sufficient, but you can either fabricate a brace, or buy a nice heim-jointed one from VPM. It connects from the pumpkin ears to the banana bracket where the upper link connects (via a longer bolt.) It’s $115 though. The prototype for this was made from steel stock, however, so it might be possible to do that cheaper. I’m considering this still and talking to my buddy Mike about it since he’s had the 3 link on his car for 5 years now.

5) Shock Spacers – There are spacers used for the panhard bar and upper link that are included. My shocks (coil overs) also needed spacers (all do), but they didn’t come with them. So, I made my own. I went down to the hardware store and picked up a 12″ piece of 1/2″ steel pipe, and measured and cut it to size. I also beveled the ends where they connected to the heim joints to prevent binding. I made 8 of them for $3, so can’t beat that.


6) Limiting Strap – it seems that depending on your shock choice, these may or may not be needed. In my case, on the driver’s side, when the shocks were at full extension, the axle was actually resting on the 3-link bracket. Not a huge deal when your slowly lowering it on a lift, but a pretty big one if you happen to get airborne and it slams into it at full force. Unlikely, but since I had the strap, an easy solution. I used the upper shock mount bolt, then I used the original 4-link bracket itself as mounting points. I lifted the axle to the position I wanted (about 1/4″ of clearance so I could maximize suspension travel) with the ratcheting strap, and drilled and bolted it in. The space between the bracket and axle tube was too small, so I bent it out a bit, just enough for a nut. Then, I cut a bolt short to fit perfectly, and it all went in great.


Other than that, between the FFR manual, HOZR’s pdf, and the items above, the 3-link is pretty straight forward.

Final Product:

Again, all of the pics are here:

3 Link Install Pics

Brake Reservoir Mounting Bracket

I decided I simply didn’t like having my brake fluid reservoirs on the firewall. They just didn’t look right there, and I was worried they’d ultimately be in the way. So, after looking around, it seemed the next best location was right in front of the driver’s foot box. So, a very easy mod, measure and bend a piece of strong aluminum, drill a couple of holes in the 3/4″ tube, and there you go (of course, wait for the paint to dry too!)

I made mine so I can unbolt the assembly if I need to, even with the body on, and just used some screws and nuts to hold it in place. It’ll work fine, and I like how the tubes from the master cylinder to the reservoirs are short and easy to route.


Air Compressor Sound Abatement Enclosure – Final Addition

It occurred to me that in order to easily check and change the oil, and to clean the air filters on the air compressor, it would be way easier to have a trap door on the upper front panel. So, I took the panel off, took the jigsaw to it, added an old frilly draw pull and a couple of hinges, and there you go, instant trap door. So, the enclosure is officially completed now.


This is Thanksgiving week, and other than t-day itself, I’ll be here at the house by myself with the mutts, so I’m looking forward to continuing the build. Next on the list will be putting the rear brakes on, getting the fuel tank assembled and installed, and then running the rear brake lines and fuel lines. I’d love to have this all done this week. We’ll see how it goes. Mike Forte is supposed to be sending the rest of the engine parts, so before you know it, the engine will also be in!

New Air Compressor and Sound Abatement Enclosure

   Posted by: kdavis

Finally found a nice 60 gallon air compressor (Husky 3.2HP 60 Gallon from Home Depot, made by Campbell Hausfeld) for a decent price, so Kenzie and I got up way early on Saturday morning and made a 6 hour round trip up to Great Falls and back to pick it up.

The guy had been using it for a couple of months, so it’s basically a new unit. I changed the oil, cleaned the filters, hooked it into the Rapid Air system and fired it up. WOW, that thing is LOUD! Bummer. But, it seems unless you drop about $3k on a 2-stage very low rpm commercial air compressor, this is just the nature of the best. I had set my expectations too high.

Never fear, though, it’s nothing a few hours and some scrap lumber and carpet can’t fix!

Having already built a sound abatement enclosure for my generator, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to build for the compressor, so I went to work.

My major failure in my plan was that I neglected to account for the tank itself, and it’s ability to act as a giant speaker. Although I had enclosed the head unit of the compressor, which is the source of the noise, the tank itself actually transmitted that noise even with the head enclosed.

So…back to the drawing board and a full enclosure was built.

Here’s the summary of the final product. I am very happy with it, and glad it won’t make me pee myself every time the compressor kicks on.

I would call this a major victory.

Noise Reduction = SUBSTANTIAL

Cost – $0.00 (if you had to buy all new lumber, I’d figure 3-4 8′ 2×4’s and 2 sheets of 1/2″ 4×8 OSB, plus some 3″ and 1″ wood screws.)

Time – 3 hours (including rework, if i had done it right in the first time, it would have taken 2 or less.)

I finished up the rest of the enclosure last night, and tested it out. I’ll put all three videos in here just for easy comparison, but man, what a difference.

Knowing what I know now, the best way to build this out is to frame from ground to a couple of feet above the compressor head. If you’ve got the ceiling room for it, the easiest way would be to just use all 8′ pieces. Mine is in the corner, so it limits the back lumber.

All wood surfaces are lined with old carpet (which you can get free, check craigslist, or just call your local store, and go pick some up at the next install). I put in a trap door so I can still get to my drain. The floor is also sitting on a big piece of carpet and then additional pieces under each foot. The only surface not covered are the 2 wall surfaces.

The top has a hole cut out for the 110v kiosk fan, and I have holes for my Rapid Air piping. The fan runs all the time, but I’ll probably just unplug it unless I’m going to be doing a lot of work and the compressor will be kicking on and off. For a basic refill, it’s totally unnecessary.


Video: – Video camera is the same, with some variance in the distance.

No Enclosure:

Head Only Enclosure:

Full Enclosure: