Out sketched myself working on the Marquis

Apr 9, 2008
Central NY
It's always the stupid things that get me. Finally decided to throw my 3.55 rear axle in the car. What I thought would be a big project ... wasn't. I was able to swap caliper brackets, backing plates and ABS stuff over to the "new" axle pretty easily. Even the 24 year old suspension components came right out without issue. I even threw in new parking brake cables since I had everything apart.

Figured since I was on a good streak I'd continue on to the left lower control arm. I did the balljoint on the right side a few months ago and ended up having to weld the lower ball joint in because even the oversized ball joint is very loose in whatever aftermarket control arm is there.

Everything came apart very easily. Going back together ... no.
I have worked on cars with this suspension setup before. In fact a friend of mine who helped me pull the rear axle out of a 99 said it looked just like a big body GM in the front. That's accurate. Putting springs in the big body GMs seemed easy when I did it before - put the spring up into the frame and jack the control arm into place.

Unfortunately that's not the case for this car. The spring pocket on the control arm is shaped in such a way that the spring has to be raised up over it to get in. When the control arm travels down, it travels very far in. There isn't a way to get it to seat at all. Hours of beating on it, prying on it got me nowhere. I tried internal spring compressors and they wouldn't fit through the shock hole right. Plus, I couldn't get the spring in far enough to get them to work anyway. Then I tried external. There's no room to take them off once the control arm starts to go up.

There's a 98-02 panther specific set of spring compressors you need, apparently, and I couldn't find any for sale or rent. I was finding references to it on a crown victoria site.

At least I was smart enough to drop a bar in through the upper shock mount so each time the car spit the spring out at me , I didn't eat it.

After far too many hours I decided to try one last thing before sticking a small block of wood in there and calling a rollback to bring it to a shop. I used a small ratchet strap to try to pick up and in on the spring. That showed promise but the 400 pound ratchet strap ripped quickly. I grabbed the 3300 pound ones out of my car trailer and put them to work.

Cranked them as tight as I could and started pushing up. That did a pretty good job of getting it close to seating. Got it closer than before. I stuck a pry bar in and *boom*. The spring popped in and seated and proceeded to swing the prybar into my hand, and then my hand into the fender. Apart from a small dent, no damage to the car (thanks, hand!)

The right side is going to the mechanic!
Those have huge frame rot issues. I could stick my hand in where the idler arm is....other frame places too.
This one came out of NYC. Surprisingly clean - any rust on it is from the past 3 winters in upstate. But I did get it professionally fluid filmed. It does a good job ... I'm covered head to toe in the stuff after working on it ! I had extra sprayed in the frame .
The bar dropped into the spring did a good job of saving me if the spring popped out. Otherwise I wouldn't have done this.

Really wish I could have found a set of the ford specific 98-02 panther compressors.
This one came out of NYC. Surprisingly clean - any rust on it is from the past 3 winters in upstate. But I did get it professionally fluid filmed. It does a good job ... I'm covered head to toe in the stuff after working on it ! I had extra sprayed in the frame .
Make sure you embalm the passenger side frame by the a/c drier. It leaks into it. Maybe divert the condensate away.
You mean 80-02. All the same.
That's what I thought too and rockauto lists them as interchangable for all 02 and older panthers, but I was seeing references to CVN and on youtube where the older lower control arms have slightly different bottom pockets for the spring?
Glad you escaped with all your parts still attached. I still shudder thinking back to when I was a teen and rebuilt the front end of my 64 Fairlane and how much I compressed those springs, having no idea of what I was doing and how dangerous it was
I did a 64 Fairlane for a neighbor. Yes, that spring setup is scary. I made my own compressor for it, you pretty much have to fully compress those springs. And boy, until you get them secured, it's an exiting job.
Might have been easier to cut out the spring cup and weld a new one on around the spring. Oy, what a headache!
I actually thought about grinding down the middle of the coil pocket to get the spring to slide into place. But I figured that might cause some stability /rigidity issues on the lower control arm .
I did the drivers side many years ago with OEM lower control arms. It was scary easy. Mounted the arm to the frame using the two bolts in the hinge side. I stuck the spring into the top and had an assistant fold the control arm up, and place a jack under it. I got out of the way and just kept jacking up the arm until the spring seated and made a pop sound. Then I installed the ball joint nut and pin, follwed by the sway bar link, followed by all the other crap. Was easy.