OK, the tyre wear on the rear has been odd for a long time. The inner edges wear much quicker that the middle or outer edges, and the tryes only last 12-14,000 miles. So I decided that it was probably time that the transverse arms needed replacing (these are the pressed steel arms running from the central alloy subframe to the bottom of the shocks). The front pair were changed under warranty in 1999 (no idea why), but the rears were the 11 year old originals.
So you can imagine nuts and bolts that had been on since 1998/9 were unlikely to fall off ...
A breaker bar loosened the 19mm nut on the long bolt running through the bottom of the shock and, after a lot of twisting back and forth and copious quantities of penetrating oil, a few not so gentle taps with a hammer got those loose. The nuts on the adjustable cam bolts that hold the rear most arms came undone relatively easily ... with some persuasion of the sole of my boot pushing on the ring spanner. Same with two on the forward arms (all 19mm). But the fun really starts when you realise that the fuel tank prevents the inner end of the forward arms from coming of their locating bolts ...
After what seemed like hours ... and it was around 1 1/2!!! ... I managed to free the two bolts that run through the subframe enough to pull them back so the arms would drop off. This took the breaker bar again then a longish 19mm ring spanner to work the bolt back and forth with a large flat screw driver under the washer as a lever ... at this point I could have done with three hands/arms and the car on a hoist and not just on axle stands!
Putting it all back was a lot easier as you'd expect. I replaced the two long bolts through the shock and also all the nuts with brand new ones as I had visions a couple of weeks back that the angle grinder might have been needed. And lots of copperslip.
The tyre wear was probably down to the bushes being pretty shot as well as the rear most n/s arm being bent! Absolutely no idea how it got like that. It was bent near the end AND twisted. I'll try and take a pic and add it to this thread in a day or two.
No, I haven't had the tracking down yet .. I've got some work to do on the front suspension first, but I worked on the idea that those cam bolts had probably never been moved, so if they stayed put the tracking should be the same. I marked them with white paint to ensure they didn't move ... and they didn't. Visually the wheels look like the have less negative camber and seem to point in the same direction now!
I also replaced the rear drop links. Given the existing ones were originals they were in pretty good condition with the ball-joint rubbers intact and still felt like they had grease in them. They did feel a little "sloppy" once off though. I will keep and eye on them as they are ebay items ... clickamotorpart ... who have been mentioned on here recently. If they do fail I'll get replacements from EB or Alternative Autos.
The anti-roll bar bushes are also good but the bar is in a really bad state with the coating falling off!! So that GTA/Eibach kit is looking like an option I may need to explore.
Next up is replacing the hub bushes with Powerflex ones. The current bushes are about three years old, but when I fitted them I didn't get them in the hub exactly in the right place, pushing them through a bit too far. So this may also be throwing the tracking out slightly.
Once in they are hard to pull back even a mm or two and so soft they don't take kindly to 'drifting' with a socket or something similar. Plus the rear disc back plates are in the way. The Powerflex bushes have a steel sleeve but look like they locate on edge of the hub carrier. I just know that after three years or so those hub bushes are going to take a couple of hours each to remove as the originals did .. drills, hammer, chisels, etc. Unless I can find a local engineering company to make up a bush-removing tool. I've got one from an old Mk 5 Cortina in the garage ... it's far too big for the 156 bushes but could be a useful "pattern". A thickish threaded steel plate to locate on the end of the bush and its steel sleeve, a sleeve larger than the bush which sits on the hub carrier (and the bush pulls into) and another plate on the end and a long threaded bolt through the lot. Winding the bolt pulls the end plate in which "should" force the bush out of the hub carrier ... that's the theory anyway.