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1970 Bird. Has anyone upgraded to 17 inch wheels? If so...

Discussion in '1967 - 1988 Ford Thunderbird' started by jazbo, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. jazbo

    jazbo Active Member Lifetime Donor

    what width and tires size work well? I'm thinking of using 65 series tires if they won't rub on anything.
  2. 17 inch wheels is pushing it. You need to do some research. Wheel size, width, backspacing, center bore diameter (for the front wheels), plus the lug pattern and offset. A 17 inch wheel would probably fit, but your tire side wall is going to be thin giving you a rougher ride. Remember to factor that in. Also its going to change how your car brakes as well as handling.

    I suggest you do some google searching. I am guessing your lug pattern is the same as mine. 5 4,5 or 5x114.3. The backspacing should be somewhat similar as well as the offset and center bore diameter which I got one that was 3 inches and it fit fine. Offset was I believe -6 with 3 inches of backspacing, but don't take my word for it. It's been a bit since I got new wheels for my car.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018
  3. You could fit 215/65R17 in the front, and 255/55R17 in the rear.

    For your wheels you will need the 5 on 4.5 lug pattern, 7 (or close to this) inch width, zero offset on the front, 9 (or close to this) inch width and negative 4" offset on the rear. And yes, the center bore will have to fit.

    Those tires above are 28 inch diameter tires, which is very close to the stock diameters. The above are the widths of my tires on my 1970 and they fit fine. Note, however, I have different tires because I have 15" wheels, and my tires are 27 inch overall diameter because the tire I wanted wasn't available with the overall bigger (28") diameter. So my aspect ratios are different than above.

    You mention the "65 series" but that is just one measure of a tire. The width is in millimeters and the aspect ratio is a percentage of the width. So talking about a ratio doesn't mean much if you don't know the width.

    Use this site: https://tiresize.com/comparison/ and enter various tire sizes. It will give you the resulting diameters, and will show a graphic of the tires in various sizes. It will also show you what brand and model tires are available in that size.
  4. jazbo

    jazbo Active Member Lifetime Donor

    Thanks for the great info. I'll check it out when my front end rebuild is complete.
  5. You're welcome. Keep us posted.

    One of my main goals was to make sure my tire diameters were the same, or nearly so, front to back. Many years ago I put G60-14 tires (which is dating me, because tires aren't sized by letter codes any more) on the rear of a 1968 Mustang. The wide rear tires were visibly smaller diameter than the front tires, which looked wrong.

    I may pick your brain about the front end rebuild, which I need to do.
  6. If you need and help on a front end build let me know. I completely redid all the suspension and brakes on my 1969. I am assuming its pretty much the same as your car as well.
  7. Awesome, thanks. It's going to be a bit, I'm still working on the brakes. And then I have to fix a leak in the transmission cooling. And yes, I believe the 1969 and the 1970 front suspension are the same.
  8. Classic tube has the complete transmission cooling lines on their website if you need them. Pre bent and made out of stainless steel as well.
  9. Unfortunately, Classic Tube doesn't have the transmission cooling lines for the 1970 Thunderbird. They have the ones for your 1969. But thanks for the lead, I'd not heard of Classic tube before, and they have other pre-bent tubing for my car.
  10. If your car has the C6 with the 429 then I think its all the same. They didn't really change much in 1970 over 1969.
  11. I got all the pre-bent tubing for the brake system. It's about 85% correct. The lines at the rear are perfect. No issues. Lines for the front two wheels I had to do a bit of "convincing" to get the brake line to the passenger side wheel along the crossmember, behind the upper control arm and then down to the flex line. The bends were a little off. The lines that go into the master cylinder look good, but getting the old lines off the brake balance distribution block was not happening for me. The just wouldn't budge. Fortunately The were not rusted. The benefit of grease and oil being thrown everywhere I suppose. So I just left them on and kept the new ones as spares if I ever need to use them. I didn't use the long line that goes to the back as the previous owner already replaced that line with a stainless steel one. the lines are annealed stainless so there is quite a lot of flex if you are careful and need to get them to bend.
    Toothaker likes this.
  12. I will give them a call. Their catalog is very specific - it says it is for the 1968 and 1969. Their tube bending is all computer controlled, so if a tube set also worked for more years, you'd think their catalog would show that.

    I wonder if the radiator is different in the 1970. The two connections are on the left (drivers) side, and are 6 3/16 apart, center to center. Does this look like the 1969? 20190104_220504.jpg 20190104_220512.jpg
  13. Looks exactly the same. Lol you have the same overflow tube as mine does! Find a bottle for it. I got a scare one day when I got out of my car and saw a pool of antifreeze coming out. I had overfilled the raditor once and it spilled out the overflow. I don't have my car here to see (in storage), but tomorrow I'll take a few pictures. Also the frame on your car and my car, plus the 1968 are pretty much the same I would say (1967 I would think is slightly different as it was not offered with the 429 until 1968). The all use the same drivetrain. 429 with a c6 and the ford 9 3/8 inch rear (the Tbird had a quarky rear end). Heck the new panhard bar I got for my Tbird is from a Galaxie! the only issue with the transmission lines is they are a single piece. Pretty much impossible to install with the engine/trans pack in the car as you will play literal hell trying to squeeze those lines under the engine and past the cross member. Though I don't have the A/C anymore. That huge compressor was removed long ago. I don't want it anyway. Going to hot rod mine. I even found a possible candidate for a shaker hood scoop for our era tbirds.
    IMG_0306.JPG IMG_0307.JPG IMG_0310.JPG
    jon774 and Toothaker like this.
  14. Thanks for the information, much appreciated. I will definitely give Classic tube a call.

    I've given this a lot of thought, and you're right, it will be a pain. I plan to pull the radiator and grille and fish the transmission cooling lines in from the front. I need to get the radiator cleaned and rodded and have a pinhole (or three) fixed. So I'll just do all of that at once.

    I'm also going to do a leakdown test, replace the water pump and fuel pump and do a few other housecleaning things while I have the radiator out.

    I think we have completely hijacked this thread, and I apologize. I should start my own thread. Do people do "build threads" on this forum?
  15. I had one for my rebuild. Just search for it. I have all the pictures of the complete rebuild process of my 1969
  16. jazbo

    jazbo Active Member Lifetime Donor

    I have been watching this you tube series since this is not my core competency.

    One thing I found out already is re removing the OEM ball joint rivets. It is much easier to drill them out than slice and shear them off as some people recommend. I tried it both ways.
  17. jazbo

    jazbo Active Member Lifetime Donor

    On your rebuild, did you need a spring compressor?

  18. Yes on the front coil springs you will DEFIANTLY need a spring compressor. No other way to get the front coil springs in (or out) without one. Also I used a jack under the control arm to compress it enough to get the lower ball joint into the knuckle of the spindle. BE VERY CAREFUL! Those front springs have A LOT of stored energy and could hurt you REAL BAD it they pop out. Rear springs are cake. Just lower the axle enough and they simply fall right out. WARNING! remember to disconnect the rubber brake line coming from the frame and going to the axle when you lower if you do plan on reusing it. There is only so much it will go before you tear it off. Check and make sure the rubber pad is still okay for the top too. That cuts down on suspension noise, and just help protect the frame itself. Rear springs had a rubber pad on top and bottom.

    Drilling out the rivets on the upper ball joint was a PITA when I tried. I used a cut off wheel to slice off the top of the head enough to see where it went down through then drilled a hole and beat the rest out with a punch. Just cut into the old upper ball joint housing if you have to. It's not like you are going to use it anymore anyway. Lower control arms are actually still available to purchase complete with the ball joint and new bushing in it. Problem is reinserting it back into the crossmember. There is two washers on either side of the control arm (shims if you will). They are originally tack welded into the inside of the crossmember. The issue is when you try and wedge the new control arm (or old one if you manager to get the bushing out) those washers will most likely break free and fall out. Now on one side I spent a considerable time wedging it back in. The other I got smart and just sanded down the one side so it was slightly thinner and it slid right back in.

    If you need to know anything else let me know.

    EDIT: Oh by the way our cars don't use a double A arm system. They use an upper A arm on the top ( I believe 7/8 bolt holding it to the frame with the outer nuts being 15/16)with a single control arm and tension rod connecting to the front of the frame.

    EDIT EDIT!!: Lol after watching that video there is some thing'that are different. For one thing our ball joints are not pressed in. They are originally riveted from the factory. The new ones are bolted.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  19. jazbo

    jazbo Active Member Lifetime Donor

    Thanks for the info. I took a break from the rebuild but will be back at it in a week or so after the brutal cold dissipates.

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