Project F Word Receives a Bolt-In QA1 Suspension – Part 1

By now, you might be familiar with our newest project: Project F Word. The 1969 F-100 belongs to FordMuscle.com staffer Ivan Korda, and it was purchased with a “Pro Touring” type of goal in mind. The truck will be driven on the street, hauling stuff, and tearing up the autocross track. Last month, we chatted about the truck’s new Silver Sport Transmissions Tremec Magnum transmission, which makes the previously automatic truck way more fun to drive. This time, we’re tackling the front half of the suspension with help from QA1.

Here's what we were working with at the start of the installation. All of the old, original components would have to be removed before anything else.

Usually, those building F-100s would opt for the popular Crown Victoria swap. However, we really wanted to work with a kit that was ready for quick and easy installation without having to make any major modifications. QA1’s kit is powder coated and bolt-in ready. It’s super easy to install with no welding or professional-grade equipment required, and it looks great right out of the box, so we didn’t have to waste precious time reconditioning or restoring old parts (like we would with that Crown Vic transplant). This was super important to us when deciding which direction to go, as nearly every last bit of this project is being done in a home garage.

“Truthfully, both the QA1 kit and Crown Vic swap will provide benefits for a F-100 owner looking to modernize their suspension,” explained Dave Kass, marketing manager at QA1. “While there is no wrong way to do it, the QA1 kit does address some of the shortcomings of the Crown Vic swap since it was truly engineered for the F-100 truck. The Crown Vic swap is too wide for the F-100 and this results in a severe limitation to what wheel and tire you can choose. In addition, many forget about the welding and other modifications required to do a Crown Vic swap. The QA1 kit requires none of that and comes completely powder coated for long-lasting good looks.”

Keep in mind, our project is a ground-up build, so our truck was already completely disassembled for this installation, but you won’t have to go to these lengths for your own installation.

The new kit from QA1 is designed specifically for 1965 to 1979 F-100s and has an extensive list of features and benefits. It includes double A-arm suspension making the ride feel like that of a new truck, and its tubular front crossmember and control arms save about 150 pounds.

Included in the kit are coilover shocks, providing ride height adjustability thanks to various spring rate choices, as well as rack and pinion steering for comfortable driving. The kit also features QA1’s rebuildable low-friction ball joints, removing the possibility of binding.

It provides more ground clearance, is designed to fit extra-large wheels and tires (QA1 tells us it’ll fit up to 285/40R18s), and 7.5-inches of wheel travel. It has a hub-to-hub width of 63-3/4 inches – that’s 1.5 inches narrower than stock, and 3-3/4 inches narrower than the Crown Vic. The kit comes in either a 3-5-inch drop or a 5 to 7-inch drop – we opted for the 5 to 7-inch drop kit – and allow for eight degrees of positive caster adjustment with a wide variety of camber and toe adjustments (as opposed to the factory toe-only adjustment).

“When we first started talking to Ivan, it was clear he wanted a truck that was versatile,” Dave explained. “Something that would ride and perform great on the street, but was also capable on the track. The QA1 suspension checked all of those boxes, and with the wide range in adjustability for both comfort and track performance, we think he will be thrilled with the results.”

The Installation Process

Before installation could begin, we had a bit of work to do to get our F-100 ready. With the front body panels, cab, and bed removed, Ivan went ahead and pulled the engine and transmission. He prepared the chassis for its new suspension by pulling it outside for a good pressure washing to remove as much oil, dirt, and grime as humanly possible. Once back inside, Ivan read through the included QA1 instructions, and marked the parts on the truck that would need to be removed (like tons of factory rivets). He then removed the factory I-beam suspension and cut slits into the factory rivets that he could reach. Ivan didn’t have access to “fancy tools” like a plasma cutter or torch, so he had to rely on his trusty grinder.

“I quickly realized that the spring perches and factory crossmember were in the way of accessing some of the rivets,” he explained. And so, he moved to cutting the sides and top of the factory spring perches to make more room for his grinder. Some still couldn’t be reached on the back side, so he moved on.

“Before moving forward, I used a piece of steel to support the chassis, side to side, to make sure it would not deform with the removal of the other crossmembers,” he told us. QA1 also notes that this is of utmost importance. In order to make sure the finished product is completely square, a level working space and bracing the front of the frame is crucial. It is also recommended that the transmission crossmember is reinstalled prior to removing the factory crossmembers.

Working alone, Ivan had to flip the chassis upside down to cut the underside of the center support so it could be hammered out and removed. Remembering that he was only utilizing a grinder, you’ll notice that he couldn’t cut them flush to the chassis until he removed the main section of the center support. Finally, he removed what was left on each side of the chassis from the center support and was ready to get to work installing the QA1 parts.

Ivan started by enlarging the eight existing holes in the frame with a ½-inch drill bit where the crossmember had been removed, as well as the hole on the underside of the frame under the cab mounting bracket. He set the crossmember brace bracket inside the frame, lining up the mounting holes with the existing holes he had just enlarged on both frame rails.

A friend stopped by to help Ivan. Here, Chris Johnston drilled additional holes for the top crossmember and subframe.

He mounted the QA1 lower crossmember to the frame and inner frame brace bracket using only the two lower side bolt holes and existing underside mounting hardware, before drilling two holes in the bottom of the frame rails for the crossmember and fastening.

Next, the upper crossmember was set on the frame with the engine plate mounting tabs facing rearward and marked and notched the upper frame rail for the tabs to slide down over the lower crossmember. The upper crossmember was put into place, and a pry bar was utilized to slide the outside portion of the upper crossmember over the lower one, before connecting with hardware.

Upper and lower crossmembers in place.

Three 3/8-inch holes were drilled, and one existing hole was used to secure the upper crossmember to the top frame rail. The hardware was installed and evenly tightened. Then, the upper crossmember tabs were bolted to the inner brace bracket. All ½-hardware to 75 ft-lb and 3/8-inch hardware to 30 ft-lb.

The droop stop was then installed onto the rear of the upper crossmember, and the red lower crossmember brace was installed using 3/8-inch button head bolts, torqued to 15 ft-lb.

Johnston makes quick work of installing the upper control arms.

The upper control arms were prepared for installation by threading the 5/8-inch jam nuts onto the base of the male rod ends. Leaving two to three threads between the jam nut and the control arm assembly allows alignment with the mounting bolts. These rod ends can be adjusted during alignment for caster and camber adjustment.

Stepped spacers were installed into the bore of each rod end, starting with one spacer and two shims per side before adjustment. Using four eccentric spacers per arm, the upper control arms were installed with cam adjust bolts and Nylock nuts. The bolt head was turned to adjust the eccentric near the center of the range, and the nut was tightened to 55 ft-lb.

Then 3.1-inch sleeves were installed onto each control arm pivot point, and the front connection was installed first with a .120-inch thick washer between the front of the control arm and the crossmember bracket, and a 5/8-inch SAE washer under the bolt head. Then the rear connection was installed as well, and all bolts were torqued to 90 ft-lb.

The coilovers were installed with the adjustment knob facing outward, and the upper connection was installed into the crossmember with the small diameter facing the shock.

Coilovers installed.

A bolt was installed through the backside of the control arm to the lower shock, and on the front side of the control arm, a spacer was installed with a Nylock nut to secure, before being torqued to 60 ft-lb. However, since Ivan also opted to add on QA1’s front sway bar to improve the function of the kit, the endlink connection was installed on the bolt before installing the Nylock nut. This sway bar will help to reduce body roll and keep the F-100 glued to the ground in the turns.

Holes were drilled into the frame for the sway bar to be hung. Then, the endlinks were attached to the sway bar and connected to the lower control arms on each side.

When installing the lower control arms, two holes were drilled on the underside of each frame rail. Endlinks were installed on each end of the sway bar, which were then attached to the lower control arms.

Installing the lower control arms.

Before Ivan installed the spindle, he adjusted the coilover spring seat collars toward the spring until there was 1.5-inches of shock thread showing between the locking collar and base of the shock. Then, the spindle was secured to the upper and lower ball joints and torqued to 60 ft-lb. The steering rack (which is included in the kit and is an OE-type Fox-body Mustang rack) was attached to the lower crossmember. The rest of the power steering installation will take place in a future story.

Steering rack and spindle installed.

Then, Ivan made quick work of the tie rod kit. He installed jam nuts onto the rod ends before threading the tie rod sleeves onto the rod end. Then he installed the tie rod sleeves onto the right hard threader inner tie rod of the steering rack, and put a thin spacer on top of the rod end, and the remaining included spacers on the bottom, followed by a nut. The stud was tightened to the spindle to 45 ft-lbs.

Engine mounting plates installed and awaiting our Gen 3 Coyote Aluminator!

Finally, Ivan installed the QA1 engine mounting plates (not included in this kit) to get ready for our new Gen 3 Coyote 5.0L Aluminator engine.

The finished product!

Stay tuned for our next installment, where we will tackle the rear half of QA1’s F-100 coilover conversion kit!

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About the author

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff

Stephanie Davies-Bardekoff got her start in automotive media while attending Rutgers. She worked for Roush Performance for a while, before eventually landing here at Power Automedia. Her Coyote-swapped 1992 Fox-body drag car is her prized possession.
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