Suspension Overhaul

Before you think about overhauling the Jaguar suspension I strongly recommend you read through a vehicle manual (I used Haynes) to get an idea of what exactly is involved!

After putting the chassis on axle stands and levelling it, my thoughts turned to the suspension system. I sourced an old Jaguar XJ6 and had it towed to a scrapyard and offered them the car in return for them stripping off the axle parts that I required which left me with a big and heavy pile of dirty rusty metal. I got the axles home and started to strip them down to their component parts starting with the front. I took off the brake callipers first to get rid of some of the weight, then removed the shock absorber bottom plate, took off the hub, separated the upper and lower wishbones from the hub carrier and finally the brake disc from the hub. I binned the bits that I knew I wouldn’t need and put the rest to one side (ensure you read your build manual so you don’t throw away any parts that may be required later on!). Then I moved onto the rear, I removed the hubs from the driveshafts and lower wishbones, removed the wishbones and driveshafts from the diff and carrier and took off the brake callipers. I removed the brake discs and separated the diff from the main rear axle carrier, once again binning the bits I knew I wouldn’t need and kept the rest. The diff went to be fully refurbished by the one of the committee members of the UK Cobra club and I started looking around for someone to supply me with the parts I needed to overhaul the suspension parts. I knew I wanted my overhauled parts to look their best so went on the hunt for a good quality paint coating and came across KBS Rustseal and the UK distributor The Rust Shop. The products they sell seemed ideal and I bought the topcoat plus Aquaclean cleaner and surface prep/rust killer Rust blast. The delivery was very quick and it seemed the perfect package, just need to get the axle parts scrubbed to make a start! I laid all the parts together and made a list of what I thought I needed to replace to bring my axles up to an as new standard, this included exchange callipers front and rear, new discs all round, new brake pads and many, many seals and bearings plus a host of nuts and bolts. I’d been recommended a few places to buy my parts from and looked at the price lists from them all and although most were very competitive, some were very expensive so shop around! Or do what I did and buy all your parts from Ward Engineering. I wrote out a spreadsheet with all the parts I wanted and the prices, quantity etc. and e-mailed it off to Ed Ward, he responded very quickly with updated prices (his PDF price list is slightly out of date) and I phoned him and told him that I would send the exchange callipers off straight away. Less than a week later Ed got in touch to ask for payment and a few days later 5 boxes of parts arrived with all my new bits in them.

Time to do the actual overhauling! I had bought a wire cup for my 4” angle grinder and with adequate eye, mouth and hand protection started attacking the front axle parts. The wire cup soon got the parts down to bare metal and where the cup couldn’t reach I used a small wire brush on a rotary drill, it took me almost the whole day to do the complete front suspension but it was rewarding work, especially once the bits were painted.

I cleaned the workshop and made up a bucket of truck wash and started scrubbing the parts to get any traces of grease or dirt off them. Once they were clean I then went onto the KBS products. I started with the aquaclean which I sprayed on, left for twenty minutes then washed off, then the rust blast, left it on for fifteen minutes and washed it and finally applied the KBS topcoat in satin black. I left it to dry while I had dinner then when it was touch dry added the second coat. I’m quite surprised at how good the KBS coating is and the axle parts look amazing now!


I shall fit the seals and bearings when I come to fit the parts onto the chassis. The rear was a lot easier, the diff had been painted already by the overhauler and the lower wishbones and drive shafts had been exchanged with AK for shortened ones and they came back coated to so it was only the hubs that needed doing. The above method was used again to good effect and I painted the hub in satin black and the hub carrier and the brake callipers in silver. All in all I spent approx £1500 on the donor car, paint, diff refurb and overhaul parts from Wards, quite a saving if you look at manufacturer prices for supplying ready to use items, the only other thing I used was my own time and a Haynes manual.

Stripping the front hubs was easier than I thought it would be. The bearing races had come out when I removed the hub from the stub axle so it was just a case of removing the inner race tracks from the hub. Fortunately Jaguar, in their wisdom, had left little cut-outs in the hubs so that a drift could easily be slotted in, it was simply a case then of drifting the old ones out and after a good clean, driving the new ones in.

Once the race tracks were in I filled the bearing races with bearing grease and fitted the inner one first followed by the seal, then after greasing the stub axle I pushed the hub into place. The outer bearing was greased up and fitted followed by the slotted washer and the nut. The endfloat was set as per the haynes manual and the split pin and endcap fitted. Last job was to fill with bearing grease and that was one side completed! The other side was done exactly the same.

The rear hubs were a different matter! Trying to get the hubs out of the carriers was impossible with my limited tools so I had to take them to a local garage and ask him to press them out  and even so, it took them quite a time before the job was done! Next was the clean up, the hub carriers were very dirty and as they are alloy I couldn’t effectively use the angle grinder wire brush so had to clean them by hand.

Once clean they were painted with aluminium engine paint from the rust shop and and the inner bearing races were drifted out and new ones put in. The hubs had one of the races pressed on right to a collar so I struggled to remove that and again had to use outside help and have them ground off by and engineering firm. Once off the hubs were wire brushed then treated to a coat of paint using the technique as above. Once dry the bearing race was driven on to the collar then filled with grease and the hub was pushed into the carrier. This is where it gets a bit more difficult and I recommend that the directions in the Haynes manual are followed to the letter! Basically the inner bearing has to be driven onto the hub to a certain distance, then endfloat is measured to work out what size shim is required before the hub is fitted to the drive shaft! The last part to overhaul was the hub carrier bottom pivot bearings. I had bought an overhaul kit which had the bearings, some new seals and a selection of shims. I stripped each hub down and using my vernier measured the shims that were originally fitted,I made up a shim pack the same size and used that along with new bearings and seals. When I checked the endfloat it was perfect so did the other side exactly the same!

So was it worth overhauling the parts myself? Well financially, a definite yes. Timewise probably not. It did take a lot longer than I expected although some of the extra time was spent waiting for parts that I had forgotten to order! My tip is to thoroughly check that you have every bolt that you need, that they are useable and order ALL new nuts!

Just need to fit it all to the car now!