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Thread: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

  1. #1
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    2002-2005 T'Bird question

    A quick question. I have seen a CAD rendering of the underside of one of the newer Thunderbirds that shows a light tubular X bracing hinting to the original X on the 1955-57 models. I am not sure if that made it to production or not. Can anyone tell me for sure? Thanks!

    Eric

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    Re: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

    The 55-57 T-Bird is a body on frame construction with a heavy X member in the middle for rigidity, similar to the fullsize Sunliner convertibles of the period. The 2002-2005 T-Birds are a unibody construction and if they have an X bracing underneath it is most assuredly not the same as the original T-Birds.

    As for whether it made it into production, I really don't have an answer to that. Hopefully someone else will.
    Last edited by 1957Birdman; January 24th, 2012 at 14:36. Reason: Add additional information.
    Lew Bachman
    1957 Thunderbird

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    Re: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

    Quote Originally Posted by 1957Birdman View Post
    The 55-57 T-Bird is a body on frame construction with a heavy X member in the middle for rigidity, similar to the fullsize Sunliner convertibles of the period. The 2002-2005 T-Birds are a unibody construction and if they have an X bracing underneath it is most assuredly not the same as the original T-Birds.

    As for whether it made it into production, I really don't have an answer to that. Hopefully someone else will.
    Quite familiar with the beautiful 55-57 Birds and their frames. Just that no one seems to know what is under the 2002-2005 ones. I find a diecast model that doesn't seem to represent what I am finding at the FORDMUSCLE.com site for the 2002 model. The chassis is describes as:

    Body/Chassis - Frame: Cross-car beam and three bolted-on X-braces

    There is an associated CAD rendering:



    Here is the part of the article about it:

    The 2002 Thunderbird's stiffness, and resulting responsiveness, had to be built from below because it wouldn't have a roof.

    Computer modeling, through a Ford system called C3P, identified potential areas that would benefit from added structural braces. One of the team's first moves was a cross-car beam just behind the seats that integrates into the structure. Next they added a series of three steel bolted-on X-braces; hardware not found in a typical sedan with a fixed roof structure.

    One X-brace is below the engine compartment, where space is at a premium with the powertrain package, oil pan, oil filter and steering apparatus. By integrating the X-brace into the cross member for rack-and-pinion steering, the team preserved Thunderbird's optimum ground clearance.
    The team also created a special midcar X-brace expanding it as far forward and backward as possible while taking special care to route the exhaust systems over it.

    For the rear X-brace, engineers and manufacturing specialists worked together to meet the challenge of getting around such components as the hydraulic pump for the convertible top, a sling that houses the soft top when it's down and a number of electrical modules.


    Can anyone confirm that this is actually under the new Thunderbirds?

    Thanks...
    Eric
    Last edited by X-Frame; January 24th, 2012 at 14:56.

  4. #4
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    Re: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

    Firstly, I'll admit I haven't looked underneath one to see what's there, BUT I recall that the last-gen T-bird is built on a modified Lincoln LS platform, which is how they got the 'Bird into production in the first place, being able to use the LS's NHTSA crash tests to predict how the 'Bird would perform, thereby saving the expense of having to run the tests for the 'Bird. As mentioned, the 'Bird and LS (and later Jag S-type) are unibody cars with no separate frame.

    Knowing that, and in looking at the attached rendering, the way the braces are under the center section of the car, diagonaled from the ends of the rocker panels, they are obviously there for additional stiffness of the center body structure.

    The front braces look interesting, as their need would be the same whether it was a 'Bird convertible (soft top or removeable hardtop) or LS sedan, it seems to me. Additional structure that would help keep the front section sheet metal from moving on rough roads. OR to provide something aking to a skid plate for engine oil pan protection.

    IF you can't find a car to look at, you might head down to your local Ford or Lincoln dealer's parts department and ask them to please pull up some of the pictures of the 'Bird body structure and also the similar Lincoln LS sedan. THAT would be the best way to get accurate pictures of what you're interested in.

    Just some thoughts,
    NTX5467

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    Re: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

    I was able to validate that these X's are under the 2002-2005 Thunderbirds but curious as to why I am not finding any photos online where people work on them to show structures or features? I "read" where some unbolt them to do work and the bolts are in place with some sort of Loctite. The bolts are torqued and have to be on a flat surface to do them correctly.

    Just odd as well as people not knowing what is under their own cars from do it yourself oil changes to any other maintenance. Oh well...

    Eric


    Quote Originally Posted by NTX5467 View Post
    Firstly, I'll admit I haven't looked underneath one to see what's there, BUT I recall that the last-gen T-bird is built on a modified Lincoln LS platform, which is how they got the 'Bird into production in the first place, being able to use the LS's NHTSA crash tests to predict how the 'Bird would perform, thereby saving the expense of having to run the tests for the 'Bird. As mentioned, the 'Bird and LS (and later Jag S-type) are unibody cars with no separate frame.

    Knowing that, and in looking at the attached rendering, the way the braces are under the center section of the car, diagonaled from the ends of the rocker panels, they are obviously there for additional stiffness of the center body structure.

    The front braces look interesting, as their need would be the same whether it was a 'Bird convertible (soft top or removeable hardtop) or LS sedan, it seems to me. Additional structure that would help keep the front section sheet metal from moving on rough roads. OR to provide something aking to a skid plate for engine oil pan protection.

    IF you can't find a car to look at, you might head down to your local Ford or Lincoln dealer's parts department and ask them to please pull up some of the pictures of the 'Bird body structure and also the similar Lincoln LS sedan. THAT would be the best way to get accurate pictures of what you're interested in.

    Just some thoughts,
    NTX5467

  6. #6
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    Re: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

    Considering the reason the center bars are there is to keep the body structure "square", having the vehicle on a basically flat surface would be mandatory. Otherwise, a certain amount of pre-load (i.e., stress) would be present and acting upon the structure when it did get on a flat surface.

    I don't know that it would need to be perfectly flat (as a front end alignment rack or body shop "body pulling" table) as the suspension would hopefully have enough compliance to compensate for smaller differences in wheel vertical position.

    Considering the necessity of keeping the bolts at particular torque levels, when installed and after installation, the use of LocTite does not surprise me. Probably the "red" variety that once it's installed is "there", whereas the "blue" can be retorqued after installation (these might be referred to as particular Motorcraft part numbers). I also suspect there might be a large flat washer under each of the bolt heads, where they contact the flanges for the support bars, rather than having the bolt heads in direct contact with the mounting flanges.

    Just some thoughts,
    NTX5467

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    Re: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

    I would think they are stating, you must have the car on a flat level surface, before you remove, and re-install. If the body was in a twist, I'm sure the X member would be difficult to remove, and re-attach.

    To me, it's just good ole COMMON SENSE.

    Dale in Indy

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    Re: 2002-2005 T'Bird question

    Does the shop manuals show these in it somewhere?

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