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Jaak's (Jason's) 1968 Dodge Charger GENERAL LEE Project


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  • 1 month later...

Been a while since I done any work on the Charger, it has been a busy Summer at work, and other things going on too. After selling some spare parts/items on eBay, I decided it was time to tackle the front suspension. After inspecting the front suspension, I found several worn bushings, on upper ball joint was completely wore out, everything was just plain sloppy. I began searching the net to find the best deal on the parts needed. I found Summit Racing carried a front suspension kit by Right Stuff Detailing for $188. It is a basic rebuild kit with factory style rubber bushings. For the money it is a decent kit, has all the wear items and bushings... there are better kits out there, but for my driver, it was just what I needed. The parts are typical 'Parts House' replacements (in fact I looked on AutoZone's website, and several of the items where the same part number). The only thing I am not to crazy about is the tie rod sleeves, I may pony up for a better set. I did this my self in my driveway, the only special tool I needed is a ball joint socket (which I have), and you need access to a press to press in the lower control arm bushing, then shaft. When totally disassembling the suspension you don't really need a torsion bar remover and some of the other special tools that are out there. I will share some pics, tricks and tips on rebuilding the front suspension on one of these old Mopars.

I decided I wanted the car in my driveway and do this job outdoors. I began by jacking the car up, placing on stands, then using a pressure washer to clean the K-frame, and other front suspension components.



Begin on the suspension by removing the brake drums and hubs. Before taking anything apart, you need to remove all the tension from the torsion bar, by backing out the adjusting bolt (located on the bottom of the lower control arm). Next I removed the old tie rod ends, then unbolt the spindle/brake assembly from the lower ball joint, then separate the spindle from the upper ball joint. Next separate the lower ball joint from the lower control arm. Then unbolt the shock from the lower control arm and remove sway bar end link from lower control arm.



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I find it easier to take the upper ball joint out while the upper control arm is still mounted on the car. You need a ball joint socket to do this. I have had this one for several years, When I was in my early 20s, I worked in a Machine Shop, I handed the night shift foreman a new ball joint and asked if he could make me a tool to use on it... this is what he made me....


Although I didn't take a pic during removal, next I removed the upper control arm. It's pretty simple, you just unbolt the to cam bolts that attach it to the car. Before removing, I made a note of how the cam bolts were indexed. I plan on having a front end alignment done before driving the car, I just want to get it in the 'ball park' when I reassemble it.

Next was the lower control arms. These are the steps I take when totally removing/replacing the suspension. Doing it this way you don't need a torsion bar tool or anything... it is done with common hand tools.

Start first by removing the front strut rod nut. Drive out the roll pin then remove nut, washer and old bushing. Then remove the rear strut rod nut (located on the rear of lower control arm). Then remove the nut for the lower control arm shaft, it is the 15/16" nut near the old fuel hose in this pic...


Next remove the clip at the rear of the torsion bar crossmember, and remove the seal at the front of the torsion bar cross member (just slide the seal toward the front of the car around the middle of the torsion bar, to keep it from being damaged when torsion bar is slid back). I plan on reusing the clips and seals because they are still in good shape. I don't know if these parts are available at local parts stores. I only found NOS mopar and reproduction sets on eBay and restoration vendors and these run about $40-50 a set! OUCH!!! So if these parts are in good shape you might want to reuse them to save some $$$$.



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After all that is done, you can simply place a long pry bar between the K-member and the lower control arm, pry back and the torsion bar will slide back and the lower control arm will fall out of the K-member. You may have to smack the lower control arm a couple of times to knock it off the torsion bar. Repeat all the steps on the other side of the car and your ready to start rebuilding.



To me the hardest part of the job is removing the old bushings/sleeves from the control arms. You can probably go to a shop and pay someone to do it for you, but I like saving money so I tackled it myself. On the upper control arms, you can push out the inner sleeve and rubber bushing just using a long bolt of piece of all thread to use as a 'jack screw' to push it out. After that you got to beat/bang the outer sleeve from the control arms... out of 4 only one gave me a fit, It was siezed up pretty good, I had to beat on that thing and heat it up to finally remove it, but it finally came out. The other 3 came out by simply tapping them out with a hammer

Old bushings/sleeves removed...


Installing the new bushing was easy, I simply used a long bolt, a couple of washers, and a large socket to press the bushing in place. Installing new bushing....


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While the control arm was still chucked up in the vise, I went ahead and installed the new upper ball joint....


On the lower control arm, it was fairly simple to remove the shaft from the arm, because the rubber bushing was wore completely out (in fact on the passenger side arm, the rubber bushing was all gone). The inner sleeve will still be attached to the shaft and the outer sleeve will be inside the lower control arm. The inner sleeve can easily be removed from the shaft by simply 'scoring' it with a cut off wheel on a die grinder, and knocking it off with a chisel. (Note in pic, new lower contol arm bushing, and old inner sleeve removed from shaft)...


Now to the outer sleeve still inside the lower control arm, this had to be the toughest part of the job. I used a small chisel and a hammer and kept chipping away at it until it finally broke and I could pull it out with a pair of pliers...


There is a Car Quest about a half mile up the road from me, I buy stuff there all the time, and know those guys well. They have a press in their shop and let me press the new lower control arm bushing in myself at no cost. One thing to note, you need to press the bushing into the arm FIRST, the press the shaft into the bushing. I actually pressed the bushing onto the shaft first (using my vise), but when you try to press the bushing with the shaft into the arm... it damages the bushing. It just so happens this kit comes with 4 lower control arm bushings instead of 2 (I don't know why) so after damaging a bushing I had a spare one and did it right on my second try. I also hit the arms with a wire bush and a scuff pad, then hit them with some spray paint I had in the shop. Its note a detailed professional job, I just wanted to put a coat of paint on them to protect them, make them last several years. Bushing/shaft installed, arm painted....


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I did that with all the parts preparing them for reinstallation. I just used what I had in my shop... gloss black for the control arms, cheap flat black (looks more like charcoal gray) on the strut rods/hardware, and some cast iron gray engine paint on the new lower ball joints and tie rods.


I also Hit the K-member and steering box with some semi-gloss black, picked up 2 cans for $11 when I was at Car Quest when I pressed in my bushings...


A couple of things I replaced that didn't come with the kit, I replaced all the control arm bump stops. I actually had 2 NOS Mopar lower control arm bumpers in my parts stash, and one new upper contol arm bumper. I had to buy one upper, it is available at local parts store for $8 (Dorman Part number 31053). Here is a pic of the new bump stops along with one of the old upper bumpers, notice it is squashed and is broke in half...


I also replaced the sway bar end links. When I ordered the rebuild kit from Summit, I did a search for end links... bought the cheapest ones they stocked, they are MOOG parts and where only $4 each. Here is a pic of the new MOOG link next to an old original....


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Installation is pretty much reveral of removal. Everything went back together smoothly. Everything seems tight and smooth, but the real test will come when I get to drive it. Using a standard kit with new bushings, everything should perform like it did when it was new. So I got a new front suspension kit installed, few extra parts, and everything cleaned/ painted/ freshened up for a little over $200, not bad. Here is a couple of pics after rebuild...



Until next update, see you later,


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One more thing while I'm still in "suspension mode".... I didn't mention the shocks. It appears the previous owner replaced the front shocks, they look to be good so I just left them on and plan on using them. The rear shocks were missing when I bought the car. A few months ago I ordered a lot of stuff from AutoZone online, when they were having their 15% off specials, I had ordered some rear shocks then, so I went ahead and installed them to while doing my suspension work.

Every part installed is closer to the finish line, here's a pic of new rear shocks installed...



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Very nice progress. :tup:

Do you work as a mechanic that you know so much about the cars technique?


I did use to work at a couple of service departments at car dealerships when I was younger, don't do that now, now I am an Inspector for the State Highway Department. I just always worked on my own cars growing up, learning how everything works. After building my 69 and working on other Mopars I have had, I just learned these things and know a lot about the cars. When it comes time to do the body/paint on the Lee, I will do it too. I took body shop when I was in high school, and have just grew up around family and friends that did that type of work, learning tricks and tips over the years. Guess you can say I am a 'do-it-yourselfer', I like to take on projects on my cars, and around my house myself.... hate paying someone else, when I can do it myself, LOL.


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Ah, ok. that explains everything.

It's almost unheard of to hear people work on their own cars here if you didn't do an education for car mechanic. It's very hard to find a an old car here which has to be rebuilt.

There are no junkyards here with cars rotting away, only ones where they are crushed or almost flat because the next car has been throw on top of it waiting to be crushed.

Luckily we have a Dutch version of ebay here so sometimes there comes a nice charger past.

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  • 4 months later...

Well, some of you probably thought I have quit this project, lol. It has been so much going on the last few months I haven’t had time to really work on the ’68 much. Well, being off for the holidays, I had a chance to do a little work on the car and thought I would share a small update.

As you have seen in the photos, the Charger had been painted black when I bought it. It was a quick, shoddy paint job. Even though it was somewhat glossy, it had a lot of orange peel, and dust/trash in the finish. I stripped back a little bit to find the car was primed (with red lacquer primer), then painted black directly over the original factory Green paint. So, I decided to strip off all the black paint, and primer and start my work from there, in other words I am pretty much stripping this car to the original finish, not all the way to bare metal all over it. I have spent a few hours on it in a couple of days, and I have over half the car stripped. In the past, I have used chemical strippers, but on this car, I am using a DA sander to sand off the black paint. Hopefully if I can work on it a couple of days after work this week, and on next Saturday, maybe I can finish it up by next weekend. I still like half of roof, left door, left fender and hood.




On the left quarter panel, I did strip this all the way to the metal. As I have stated earlier in this thread, this quarter has been replaced sometime in the past (while the car was still Green), the quarter was from a Red car, so it had the original Red finish, bodywork/primer from installation, Green paint, then primed and painted black. That’s a lot of material on there, so I wanted to strip this panel all the way down and start fresh, plus I want to remove the bondo where the quarter was installed to see if any work or re-repairing needs done. I still have to break out my grinder and remove all the old bondo from this panel.


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While stripping the car, so far no real surprises, I knew there are a few areas that need attention. Mostly a small patch of rust here or there that I will have to fabricate a patch and replace. The only area that was worse than expected was the right lower quarter. I noticed the paint was bubbled up here. Here is what it looks like after jabbing it with a screw driver….


Also note the arrow I placed in the pic, see how that looks like a solid, straight line? Well it is, sometime in the past this lower quarter was patched, but only from the arrow back. WTH? Why didn’t they do all of it, would have saved me some work now, lol. Since this area was so large I decided to just buy a lower quarter patch panel. Like always I searched the internet for the best price, I saw these things run anywhere from $90 to $105 (including shipping). Well come to find out, they are made by C2C fabrication (same company that produces the floor pans and trunk floor I used). You can buy directly from C2C, so I bought the panel for $56 plus $16 to ship, so that was $72 total, not too bad. Hopefully it should show up in a couple of days. Pic of quarter patch…


Here is another area that needs attention (hopefully the qtr. Patch will reach up far enough to take care of this too, if not, I may have to fab a patch). Right here is why you don’t bondo directly over rust, it will never last. This is near the right rear wheel, I didn’t discover this until after I bought the patch from C2C, If I discovered this first I would have probably bought a larger patch panel. No biggie tough.


When I finish stripping, I will begin rust repair. I will update with more pics and stories. The plan is to finish the stripping, repair rust, repair dents, and shoot the entire car with epoxy primer. Then I will begin all bondo work/surface prep.



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Well no updates. My sander broke (gonna try to pick up a new one later this week), And the lower quarter panel I ordered was damaged in shipping, they are gonna replace it, but will probably take another week to get here. Man, I am just ready to finish stripping this thing where I can start rust repair/bodywork!


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  • 1 month later...

Just wanted to post, to let you know I'm still around. Not much knew news, but I am working on some rust repair on the body, but will be posting that stuff when I finish and have all my pics.

The last couple of weeks I haven't been working on the Charger though. My wife was coming home around 8 p.m. one evening after running an errand, she was in her minivan, and a deer ran out in front of her. She hit it on the left front corner of the van, then it rolled down the side, putting a couple of small dents in the drivers door, caving in the rear sliding door, and leaving a couple of more dents in the rear quarter. The first estimate on the van was $3400 worth of damage, and they wanted to total out the van. I told them I planned on repairing it myself, so the adjuster worked with me on lowering the estimate to keep from totalling the van out (it runs good, and the damage wasn't that bad). Anyways, after my deductible, I wound up getting a check for a little over $2600 to fix my van. I installed new aftermarket fender, headlight , bumper cover, wheel cover, and tail light (tail light was already cracked before the accident). I repaired the doors and quarter panel, and I also repaired a dent on the rear hatch that has been on there for a little while. I pretty much had to paint the entire left side of the van, blending on the hood and quarter, and blending in the spot I repaired on the rear hatch. After parts, paint and materials, I spent around $600 repairing the van myself, so long story short.... I made me a little $$$$ to spend on the General!

Here is a couple before/after pics of my wife's van...





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Like I said, I started back working on the car, so hopefully some updates soon. The only thing right now to share is, I bought a push bar for the General. Since I had some extra cash after fixing the van, I saw an ad online the other day for the narrow type (used early in the series) , so I went ahead a bought it. Of course when It showed up.... I had to throw the bumper back on and mount it up, just to see how it looks. I am happy with it!


Another part I bought... A friend of mine who fixes up old trucks, told me he was at a junkyard a couple of months ago and he saw a set of 'General Lee' wheels on a truck there. Well he called the other day, and said he was back at the yard, and he described the wheel, and said it was on a Ford Ranger (which is the same bolt pattern as a Charger). Sadly the other 3 where gone, just one left. I went ahead and told him to get it for me since it was just 30 bucks.... Maybe I can luck up and find 3 more, if not, it will be good to use for the spare tire. Makes me wished I could have got the other 3.... that would have been 120 for a set of Vectors!!!

My one vector throwed on the car...


Until Later,


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Small Update...

After buying the one Vector from a wrecking yard, I scored me a set of 15 x 7 Vectors. I will probably keep the 14 x 8 I just got from the yard for a spare seeing as how I got it cheap. It will be a couple of weeks before I get the 15" set, because the guy that has them still has them on his car at the body shop, his car is being painted soon. They are the reissued set, and are used and in good condition, and I got a heck of a deal on them. I will post pics, and tell the story of how I got them, after the transaction is completed.


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I have been putting some time/effort/money in the General Lee Lately.... thought I would do something to my 69 R/T. I pretty much have not done anything to it since I finished it (other than a couple of needed repairs). I have been thinking lately I want a more aggressive sound. I installed a repo exhaust system with turbo style mufflers when I put the car together... well I installed a pair of Summit Racing's 2 Chamber Flowmaster knock offs today. I think the car sounds better.

Here is a quick vid (sorry made with my cell) of my 69 with its new 'Feaux'Masters on it.


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