My big goal today was to remove the front subframe and as many have said, it really was not difficult since I already had the engine and transmission out. Many people here provided great info on the subframe drop process, but I took a lot of pictures with the idea that I will post a brief article for those who want to do the same thing. The whole subframe with the steering box attached weighs about 90-100 lbs. It is not difficult to deal with, but you can't just let it drop either.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I write almost everything in this and other forums as either a question or an answer. I was in higher education for 30 years and it is a very old habit. Ask me about my Youtube or Instructible.com stuff if you want to be really bored. I digress.
Again, this was JUST for the subframe and front suspension. If you are dropping transmission, engine and subframe as one unit, you will need to disconnect a lot more pieces and the whole package will weight, what, about 525 lbs?
You will need 11mm, 12mm, 14mm and 17mm wrenches and sockets, a breaker bar, a large flathead screwdriver, a large pair of channel-locks, some paper towels (for wiping brake fluid), some baggies for your parts and (2) 2-3 foot long bungee cords (for the struts).
Here are the steps involved.
Jack the car up and put it on jackstands. Youcan either use thejacking mountpoints or in my case I used the inner body frame members because I already had the car jacked up using those.
Remove the wheels.
Put the key in the ignition and turn it to acc to release the steering column lock. You will need this to rotate the
With 2 13mm wrenches, loosen up the steering coupling joint and remove the top and bottom clamp bolts. (There is a groove in the splines so you have to remove them completely. Don't forget to bag and tag them.) With a wedge or large screwdriver, loosen up the joint and slide it up onto the steering column shaft. This took a little work but I was able to do it by torqueing a large screwdriver with a pair of channel-locks. The coupling must be completley clear of the steering box. Out-of-focus in progress and in-focus after completion images below.
Next, disconnect the brake lines from the front struts using a 11mm and 14mm wrenches. I chose to do disconnet the flex lines from the rigid lines on the struts. You will need to drain you brake lines if your brake system is intact. Mine was already partially broken down. Be prepared for brake fluid in any case. Oh, and be sure to save the connector pieces (two little pieces of spring steel) that will end up being loose.
Once you get the brake lines disconnected, take the bungee cords, wrap them around the struts and secure them to the suspension underneath. This will prevent them from dropping against the fender when they come free of the strut tower.
Next, with a 12mm socket, remove the bolts on top of the strut towers. They will not fall through (yet) and you do not need a spring compressor. Bag the bolts and washers.
OK, now we get to the fun part! There are only 6 bolts holding this whole thing on and they are only about 18 inches apart on each side along the bottom of the frame rail. These require a 17mm socket and will probably require the breaker bar to loosen, although once loosened, mine came out very easily.
I suggest that you initially remove the front and back bolts and just loosen the middle one on each side. Note that the front bolt is longer. There also isn't a lot of clearance to get a socket onto the rear bolt.
With that one bolt still attached on each side, place your floor jack against the crossmember slightly off center a little closer to the steering box. It might not matter, but I did this in an effort to maintain balance. Jack it up snug and orient it so you can hold one of the struts as you are lowering it. Now remove the last two bolts and slowly lower the whole assembly to the ground. Don't forget to bag and tag the bolts.
Surprise! It's done! Leave the bungee cords attached so that the assembly is easier to move without risk of a strut falling over.
The good news is that was pretty easy! Dirty, of course, but easy. The bad news is that now I have to dissassemble it, clean paint/powder coat and reassemble everything. And while it is appart, I will remember to weld a reinfrorcement onto the drivers side motor mount bracket. All of that will happen on a warmer day.
Many thanks to the BB folks who provided pointers and suggestions!
I will also try to clip this and make a how-to article out of it. (Done! )
Thanks for reading!