Cowl body mounts, reinforcement plate installation:
Tools needed, minimum
Couple small C clamps
wire wheel on a 3/8" drill
Right angle grinder, carbide grinder tip air tool, or file
Use proper safety equipment!
1. Clean the bottom inside of the cowl mount bracket on the frame with wire wheel on a drill to prepare for welding..
2. Place plate on underside of frame mount and use a couple C clamps to hold the plates in place.
3. Tack weld plate to frame bracket in a couple spots
4. Run a bead of weld about 1" long on the 3 cut sides then plug weld (optional) the small hole. Allow cooling time between beads to reduce possibility of warping.
5. Grind or file off any excess on the plug weld so the body bushing will sit flat.
Pic below is just a demonstration of how to clamp the plate allowing access for welding, so it isn't clean for welding. Be sure the frame is clean metal before welding.
Lower control arm reinforcement installation instructions 2nd gen F body
Each side of each mounting point will have a silver washer against the frame and 2 grade 8 washers outside of them (4 gold for the early 1/2" applications) The larger silver ones will stiffen the sheet metal in that area of the frame and the grade 8 washers provide a harder metal that is now wider where force is transferred from the LCA mounting bolts to the frame.
It's not unusual at all to find some of the original mounting bolt holes in the frame have become slightly oblong over the cars life. This is due to bumping parking blocks, hitting pot holes and other things that put a lot of force on the edge of the frame sheet metal. Unless the holes are really oblong it's not a concern and installing the reinforcement washer kit will cure the problem
To line the washers up for welding you'll use the threaded rod with nuts tool unless any of the original frame holes are really oblong in which case you'd use the original lower control arms and bolts to be sure everything is lined up properly. The front of the engine cross member gets the silver washers with one cut side up against the frame and 2 gold washers on top of it (4 gold washers for 1/2" applications). Put the washer up against the frame and note how you'll want to bend the washer to get it to sit nice against the frame for welding. Using a hammer & vice gently tap the washer to bend it the way you want & test fit again.
Once you've got the washer bent the way you want install the threaded rod tool into the frame with 2 nuts inside the frame. Measure the control arm and use the nuts to spread the frame a little wider than control arms. The rear side of the engine cross member gets the silver washers with 2 cut sides against the frame. The 2 cut sides of the silver washer are slightly different so you can flip the washers either way to get the best fit for your particular frame. You can bend the silver washers slightly if you want then put 2 gold washers on top and then put nut on threaded rod.
There shouldn't be any reason to bend gold washers.The rear LCA mounts are simple compared to the cross member ones. All washers are full size with no cuts and no bends. Rear LCA mounts get large silver uncut washers against frame with 2 gold washers (4 gold for 1/2") on each one then install bolts and nuts.
Once you've got a mounting point ready with silver washers against frame and two gold ones on top of each silver one, snug the outer nuts and weld the washers in place. Let cool and remove threaded rod tool and go to next mounting point and repeat. Do not use the gold bolts or top lock nuts during welding.
NOTE: Due to differences in the length of the threaded section of the gold grade 8 bolts from different manufacturers some LCA kits will come with 18 gold washers and some with 24. If your kit has 24 gold washers you only need to weld a large silver one and two gold ones at each point. When doing final assembly use one loose gold washer under the bolt head and one under the top lock nut. Check clearance of the center link through the travel of the steering to be sure there's clearance. You can use both loose washers under the nut on the back side of the forward mounts for a little extra clearance to the center link.
When you install the lower control arms you may find you need to slightly file some of the holes in the washers/frame so the bolt slides through due to slight warping from the heat while welding. Only file just enough to gently tap bolts into place. Being a tight fit is a good thing here. If you find you need to spread the frame slightly to install the arms use the threaded rod tool with nuts inside the frame to spread the frame a bit.
Included with the new LCA bolts are top lock nuts which have a deformed thread and I only consider them single use fasteners. Do not use the top lock nuts until final assembly and torque to factory specs 70 lb.ft.. Use the regular nuts that come on the threaded rod tool with the gold bolts for fitment and mock up of suspension parts.
Upper control arm mount reinforcement plate installation
This installation can be done with cheap tools and even without a welder if desired. The pics in these instructions were taken of an install using only some of the tools listed, no files or hammer were necessary.
If you're going to have the sub frame media blasted do it AFTER any modifications. This way the media blasting cleans out the welded areas so the paint sticks better in nooks/crannies.
Use safety equipment! clear face shield for wire wheeling, gloves, welding equipment, etc.
Time required: Roughly an hour to an hour and a half mostly spent wire wheeling to prep surface.
Wire wheel on drill or air tool.
Maybe a flat file and round file
Maybe a hammer
Straight edge of some type
Welder MIG, TIG, Stick, or whatever
1. Clean area where the new plate will be welded on to clean shiny metal with a wire wheel on a drill, air tool or whatever. Remove factory installed UCA cross shaft mounting studs if they're still in place. To remove the studs put a nut on the end of the stud to prevent damaging threads and tap the nut pushing the stud out toward where the wheel would be. The original stud has a splined base that is pressed into the UCA mount creating an interference fit. Sometimes on cars this old you can just push the stud out with your hand due to wear from wiggling.
2. Using a straight edge, check to see if the area around the holes where the original mounting stud holes is deformed. Many times over tightening the original nuts during service or alignments has bent the holes. If they're bent you can give them a tap with a hammer or file them flat so the new plate sits flat against the original UCA mount. If you want to use a weld through coating, now's the time to apply. The UCA mount rarely ever gets wet and most of these cars live in a garage once rebuilt so zinc weld through isn't really necessary in my opinion. Notice how little the original UCA mount has rusted in the past 30-40 years including all the time it spent as a daily driver or sitting outside.
3. Install new plate on to the upper control arm mount with the bolts provided (don't forget there is a difference in right or left plates so they conform to the stock UCA mount.. Put the bolts in so the head of the bolt is on the side you're going to weld and the nuts are on the side toward where the wheel would be. This keeps welding splatter from getting in the threads of the bolt. All cars are slightly different and the rear bolt hole of the Lab-14 plate is slightly oblong to allow for minor manufacturing differences over the 2nd gen F body run.
If you can't put the bolts through both holes easily file the rearward hole a little to enable the bolt to slide in. DO NOT FILE THE FORWARD HOLE. The reason we do not want to file the forward hole is because all the forward/rearward forces of the G-Brace try to wiggle the forward stud. So we don't want extra clearance on the forward stud if you're re-using the stock UCA cross shaft studs or doing a coil over conversion that uses regular 1/2" bolts for the cross shaft mount. If you're installing our ARP studs it's not a big deal because you'll be drilling out the holes in the original mount and plate for the wider base of the ARP stud. The rear stud only sees stress in the direction the factory intended (compression/tension) so if any filing for fitment is needed we want to do it to the rear hole.
4. Tighten the bolts holding the plate to the UCA mount with a wrench. No need to make really tight, just enough to clamp the plate to the mount say 25 lb. ft. for you guys who want a "spec". Run several 1-2" beads several places around the plate. Don't try to weld right next to the bolts, it's not necessary and would probably require grinding afterward so the UCA cross shaft could sit flat.
OPTIONAL : You can use an automotive 2 part structural adhesive to attach the plate to the UCA mount instead of welding. Follow instructions for the adhesive as far as surface prep, drying time, etc. I would use several C clamps (along with the bolts) if using structural adhesive because the adhesive has particles in the formula that create the correct "gap" for the adhesive to function it's best. If the adhesive is "thick" it can't create as strong a bond. DO NOT use a combination of structural adhesive and welding the heat from the welding will ruin the adhesive bond.
5. With the plates welded or bonded and either cooled or dried you can remove the installation hardware check to see your welds don't interfere with the UCA cross shaft or alignment shims and do any cosmetic work before painting.
EXTRA BONUS POINTS: If you're feeling ambitious and have a cut off wheel tool you can cut off the stock UCA mount overhang on the outside of the frame rail (where the curve for the spring pocket is), tap it down to touch the frame, prep for weld, weld the whole section along the curve, grind smooth, paint to finish. This also stiffens up the UCA mount reducing flex.
Sway bar bracket install:
Figure an evening to do this with minimal equipment, take your time and don't rush. Although I have fancier tools I only used basic cheap tools to do the job in the pics shown below. Other than a welder, the tools are what most DIY guys probably have or should. The step bit, wire wheel, and C clamp are all just Harbor freight stuff and can be purchased cheap.
Something to make right angle location marks, square, triangle, piece of paper, whatever
Marker of some type you can see on whatever color your frame is, grease pencil, black marker, chalk, crayon, whatever
3/8" variable speed drill
Step drill bit that can drill hole 1-1/8" or bigger
Cutting oil, WD-40, or whatever to make drill bit last longer and cut better but you could do this using a dry bit
Metal 6" clamp of almost any type, C clamp, bar clamp or whatever, just no plastic or rubber that welder would melt
Welder, MIG,TIG, Stick, your choice
When you receive your Lab-14 sway bar plates test fit the plates using the sway bar frame brackets and bushings you will be using on the car to be sure they fit your application. Some aftermarket sway bar brackets for thick anti-sway bars may need slight modifications or you may need plates from us that have the bolt holes set much wider than stock. The Lab-14 plates have a wider hole spacing than stock but it may still not be wide enough for some brands of aftermarket Anti-sway bar bushing brackets.
Before starting, if the frame is out of the car get it up off the floor and weighted down to hold it stable to make the job go smoother and easier. In keeping with the DIY concept I just put the frame used for the demo pics up on crates and 4 X 4's with a couple bags of mulch on it to dampen drilling vibration and keep it from moving around while drilling, welding, etc. Be creative! If you're doing this on a sub frame still in the car, I'm glad I'm not you. I hate welding overhead!
1. Mark the locations of the rivnuts or original threaded holes in the frame in two directions before removing the old rivnuts. Be sure the marks are far enough out of the way so they won't get scuffed off when cleaning the frame for welding. You can use any type of right angle 90 degrees from the inside straight edge of the frame rail to mark the locations. If you don't have a tool for a square, even a piece of paper will work. See pics
2. Drill out the original holes/rivnuts with a step bit. They work well and you won't need to grind, just run the drill slow, use a cutting oil or some type of lube, and don't let the bit get too hot. Drill out the forward hole large enough so it's almost flush with the edge of the frame. Be careful not to hurt your wrist as the drill bit catches a bit each time it get to the end of a "step".
3. Clean (wire wheel, right angle tool with sanding disc, or whatever) areas to be welded to shiny bare metal, including the edge of the plate.
4. Install the threaded studs (included in the plate kit) into the threaded holes of one plate to act as a heat sink and keep weld splatter from getting in the threaded holes while welding. They only need to be threaded in far enough to just go through the nut and will leave over an inch sticking out. Thread a nut on each stud about half way on. see pic with C clamp
5. Clamp the plate in place on frame with C clamp using the marks you made in the beginning as a guide. HINT: If you move the plates (both sides) so the new forward holes are slightly forward of where the original ones (going by the marks you already made) were you'll get a little extra clearance for the gap between the sway bar and Idler arm. That gap gets very tight when using the fatter modern Afco idler arms with fat sway bars. Moving the plates so that the forward holes are 1/8" - 3/16" forward of where the original holes were won't affect performance of the sway bar.
Because the Lab-14 plates have the holes slightly farther apart than the originals were to make modern fat sway bar installation easier the rear hole may be even or slightly rearward of the original rear hole even with the plates pushed forward to move the front hole forward. This is fine, the sway bar bushing brackets all use slotted holes and when the sway bar is installed during final assembly push it forward so you have the most sway bar to idler arm clearance.
Plate should be set up with studs & nuts as shown in the pic below before welding.
6. Weld plate to frame, remove clamp, plug weld the middle hole if you have later 2nd gen F body frame. No plug weld hole on the early style 2nd gen frame sway bar plates.
7. When cool remove threaded studs. You may need to use the two nuts provided to lock together for stud removal if a little too much heat warped the nuts welded to the back of the plate slightly. Proceed to other frame horn and repeat.
8. TEST FIT & MOCK UP: Thread in Allen socket head cap screws for peace of mind and If you want to you can mock up the clamps for the sway bar bushings and use the clipped washers to check fit. Once you're happy with the mock up put the Allen head bolts and clipped washers in the zip lock bag and tape them to one of your sway bar brackets so you don't loose them before final assembly.
9. When the sway bar is installed during final assembly push the sway bar forward before snugging up the bolts then torque the Allen head bolts to 30 lb. ft.
Adjustable UCA stud support installation 2nd gen F body
drill & step bit, center punch & hammer, round file, magnetic tool
The brace can be used with or without a Lab-14 plate on the UCA. It can be used with the stock UCA cross shaft stud, a Lab-14 modified stud, or a 1/2" bolt commonly used when coil over conversions are installed.
The mounting hole that needs to be drilled in the left frame horn (drivers side) will be in the area where the unused mounting bolt is on the power steering box. The box needs to have the mount cut off. You can see in the pic below.
1. To mark the location of the hole you need to drill 7/16" in the frame for the lower bolt refer to the pics below and keep the hole up near the top on the side of the frame. Mark the hole with a center punch then drill a small pilot hole. Then drill the hole out to 7/16" with a regular bit or a step bit. You'll notice the head of the bolt has a flat side that will be at the top inside the frame. Drivers side measuring is important. Passenger side can be forward or back a little from what you see in the pic below but keep it up near the top.
2. Enlarge an opening on the outside of each frame rail enough so you can get a socket on an extension inside the frame where the hole you drilled is. You can see in the pics below which hole on each rail needs to be opened up a little designated by a white line around the opening. The holes in the pics have already been opened up, there's no need to make the openings as big as the white lines. Just enough to get your socket into the frame.
3. Install the bolt you'll need inside the frame pointing out toward the engine using one of those extending magnet things and a flashlight to look in the frame. You may need to file a rough edge or burr from drilling with a round file but don't file much, we don't want any extra play there. The bolt shouldn't have hardly any movement.
4. Slide the upper end of the brace onto the UCA cross shaft stud. Then swing the brace and align the bottom hole with the hole you drilled in the frame. Install the bolt from the inside of the frame using your magnet on a stick and nut the bolt finger tight.
If your suspension isn't on the frame you can do your mock up using astack of 1/2" washers on the UCA mounting bolt to simulate the thickness of the G braces and UCA cross shaft.
When ready to do the final install, full weight of the car should be on the wheels so the car is in it's natural state. If the car is on jack stands there may be too much preload pushing or pulling on the upper cowl when the car is set on the ground.
Final install. Slide an adjuster onto the UCA stud with your UCA's and G-braces in place. Then turn the turnbuckle so the lower hole lines up with the one you drilled in the frame. Then install bolt from inside frame and use the nut to secure the brace. The bolt and nut for the drivers side have been ground shorter for steering box clearance. Adjust the brace (making it longer) so it applies a slight pressure on the UCA bolt and tighten the lock nuts against the adjuster. Refer to pic that shows the direction to turn the center of the turnbuckle to make the brace longer and shorter. It's kinda difficult to tell once everything is assembled because the tolerance is tight if you've done this correctly and you want to make it longer to set a slight preload. If you're using adjustable G-braces, set the G-brace with a slight pre load first then set the Lab-14 brace pre load. If you have non adjustable G-braces just set the Lab-14 preload. Then tighten all lock nuts on the G-braces and Lab-14 braces.
DO NOT try to add a lot of preload to the G-braces or Lab-14 adjusters or all you'll do is deflect the subframe or cowl. All you want is a slight preload to keep the UCA stud from moving.
Keep in mind that when the car goes to alignment shop you will need to back off the preload on the lab-14 braces to allow shims for the UCA if necessary, then reset preload after alignment is completed.
Upper cowl Sandwich plates for use with G-braces
The idea behind these is to create a much stronger attachment point for the G-braces by reducing flex of the cowl lip and creating a thicker attachment point where the shear force wants to distort the G-brace mounting holes in the cowl sheet metal.
The hood needs to be removed and although these can be installed with the wiper motor in place it's easier if the wiper motor is removed. Weight of car should be on the wheels, do not do this on jack stands or you risk having things not line up correctly when car is put on the ground. If the car's on wheel cribs, that's fine.
PASSENGER SIDE: Two thin plates are used for both the street and race versions. Use masking tape on the car finish, Lab-14 plates, and G-braces to prevent marking up the finishes during installation.
1. Set the passenger side PTFB G-Brace into position on the UCA stud and install a bolt loosely where it attaches to the fender mount on the firewall to keep it from flopping around.
2. Put a lab-14 plate on top of firewall and the end of the G-Brace on top of it lining up the holes in the center for the brace. The Lab-14 plate should lay up next to the small right angle lip on the cowl. The holes in the plate are slightly off center so the plate can be flipped over and also end to end for the best fit that allows it to be parallel to the cowl lip with the holes for the G-Brace lined up. Once you've got the G brace and plate where you like them mark and center punch the G-brace holes you'll be drilling through the cowl lip.
3. Drill two small holes through the cowl then open them up to a 7/16" hole with a regular bit or a step bit.
4. Insert 7/16" bolts for G-brace through the brace, plate, and cowl. Then fit another Lab-14 plate under the cowl lip lining it up on the G-Brace bolts. You may have to flip the plate and/or turn it end to end to get proper fitment. If you have smoothed the firewall and added thickness to it with sheet metal and body filler you may need to grind off some metal on one side of the Lab-14 plate so it will fit. Once you get the bottom plate fitted put nuts on the bolts and snug them up.
5. With both top and bottom plates in place center punch the 4 remaining holes then drill a small pilot hole for each hole and then drill them all out to 3/8". Install bolts and nuts.
6. Torque 3/8" bolts to 30 lb. ft. and 7/16" bolts to 45 lb.ft.
Drivers side upper cowl sandwich plates street: Same installation steps as passenger side. Be careful not to hit the wiper motor assembly with a drill bit. Wrap drill bit with tape to keep you from going too far and hitting the wiper motor assembly.
Drivers side upper cowl sandwich plates race: This uses 2 wide plates. Rectangular one on top of the cowl and the notched one fits under the cowl ledge where the wiper motor is. It's easier to install these if the wiper motor assembly is removed however it can be done with it in place.
1. First put the notched plate under the ledge and slide it to the drivers side till it bumps against the angle in the recessed area. Mark where the drivers side of the plate ends on the cowl lip. Set notched plate aside.
2. Put the top plate on the cowl ledge keeping it about 1/4"-3/8" from the mark you made and set the G-brace on it to line up holes. NOTE: The top plate on the drivers side only fits one way, see pics to be sure holes will line up. Once you've decided on plate position follow the same steps you did on the passengers side to install the plate. G-brace holes first then the smaller 3/8" holes followed by torquing all hardware. Two of the nuts get installed inside the cowl.
Upper control arm ARP stud installation
43/64" drill bit
The Lab-14 modified upper control arm stud provides a stronger more solid support for G -Braces by having a wider thicker base than the stock stud and being made of higher quality steel. The lab-14 studs should be used with our upper control arm reinforcement plates. You really only need them for the forward upper control arm studs where the G-braces attach but using them for all 4 upper control arm cross shaft mounting studs is stronger.
1. Drill out the upper control arm mount hole with a 43/64" drill bit.
2. The splined section of the stud is an interference fit so you need to stack some washers on the stud and use the nut to draw the splined section in to the UCA mount or tap the stud from the back side.
3 With new stud in place put the washer on the stud before installing upper control arm. Regular thread nuts are p[rovided for mock up and alignment.
4. After alignment is completed (with G-Braces and Lab-14 adjustable braces in position) install the distorted thread nuts and torque them to 80 llb. ft. THE DISTORTED THREAD NUTS ARE ONE TIME USE FASTENERS
Optional: If you want to be sure the stud hole is square to the UCA mount you can make a drill guide if you have a drill press by drilling a hole through a block of aluminum. Then clamping the aluminum block to the UCA mount as shown in pics below.