Calling all corner carvers!

Suspension, Steering and Chassis

  1. black954

    black954 Well-Known Member

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    I am deep into my build and need some help from the experienced road race/corner carver/autocross crowd. I have a 69' Dart Swinger 340 I've been building. I am finishing up the rear of the car and now I need help with the direction to take the front of the car. My rear setup is: inboard leaf spring mounts, USCarTool subframe connectors, factory torque boxes, Hotchkis -1" leaf springs, fully trussed 8 3/4 with BBP, DD 11.7" disc brake kit, 3.55RP with a limited slip. I'm trying to build the best front end to match the rear end. The motor will be a built 340 turning 7-7,500rpm and 450-500hp backed by the factory 4spd with hyd. clutch upgrade.
    What would be the best front suspension set up for the $$$? I will be reinforcing the factory K-member and running the factory manual steering box. Also, i'll reuse the lower control arms but I will box them and rebuild with poly bushings. Seeing as my car is the early small bj suspension with manual 10" drums, most of the front end needs replacing. So I need recommendations for the following: spindles, torsion bars, adjustable upper control arms, idler arm (quick ratio?), pitman arm, strut rods, tie rods, etc. I plan to run the 14" Baer 6 piston front brake kit with their manual booster for the brakes. I'd also like to run squared 18" wheels, but not sure on BS and width. I'm debating on the QA1 fully adjustable aluminum shocks or the Hotchkis/Fox aluminum comp. adjustable shocks. Any input on those would be great as well.
    I'd like to buy this stuff once and hopefully have a good setup without having to swap out parts down the line if at all possible. I appreciate the help!
     
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    • black954

      black954 Well-Known Member

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      I guess I should add sway bars to the list. It's a factory front sway bar car FYI
       
    • Red Stripe

      Red Stripe Active Member

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      If you are going with the Baer brakes then I'd get the 73 and up spindles from Dr. Diff. With those spindles also add in QA1 upper arms with the larger 73 and up ball joints. There are some other arms (SPC & Hotchkis) that have more adjustability but for the price they are well worth it.

      Mopar Reproduction Disc Brake Knuckles for A/B/E Bodies

      Forget about the poly lower arm bushings and check out the delrin bushings. I haven't tried them yet but wished I did on my Duster.

      BAC Delrin Lower Control Arm Bushings - Bergman Auto Craft

      1.08" torsion bars and some good shocks like the ones you posted and you'll have a nice setup. I've got the non adjustable hotchkis ones on 2 cars and they have been great.
       
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      • black954

        black954 Well-Known Member

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        Thank you, this is the advice I was looking for. Any experience with the PST adjustable upper control arms? I guess they appeal to me because they have adjustable spherical rod ends. The QA1 control arms are not adjustable. Also, I’ve used similar design upper control arms as the SPC arms on a Factory 5 kit car and they were just too sloppy. Too many joints to tighten and they are heavy.
         
      • Chained_360

        Chained_360 Delusional Member

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        Doesn't someone make drop spindles too? I thought someone out there made a 2" drop spindle that allows you to keep full suspension travel and drop the nose without backing the torsion bars off.
         
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        • black954

          black954 Well-Known Member

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          That would be good, but I don’t know much about drop spindles. From what I gathered, you really don’t want to lower the front from backing off the torsion bars because it takes away the uptravel of the suspension.
           
        • Chained_360

          Chained_360 Delusional Member

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          • Red Stripe

            Red Stripe Active Member

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            Haven't used the PST ones but I have a set of Hotchkis ones on a B-body that have the same heim joints. They are a pain to set the alignment since you can't adjust them when they are bolted in (they updated the b body design last year so you can adjust them on the car but the A body ones are still the old design) but once the alignment is done they are good. More maintenance than bushings since you have to make sure they are clean but it makes the front firmer.

            Be careful with the drop spindles, I don't think they work with the brackets on Baer brakes. The ones I've seen are only good with wilwood setups.
             
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            • black954

              black954 Well-Known Member

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              I don't mind the extra work involved with the heims, I think they are worth it. I've used upper arms with the adjuster sleeves before on a Factory 5 Cobra and HATED them.
              I was talking with another member last night and I think the drop spindles are out. I will have to see how much drop is recommended with stock spindles and the bigger torsion bars and lower the ride height that way.
               
            • PST

              PST Marketing Manager FABO Vendor

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              Please let me know if you have any questions on any of our products. Also as a member of this forum you are eligible for 10%off orders of $200 or more and free shipping with in the US 48 states.

              Shock wise you may want to look at the double adjustable shock from Viking if you go the crusader route they offer pro-touring valving. I have a set on my car and absolutely love them. There are a couple of people on this forum that ae running them as well and for the lower control arms we offer a rebuild kit that include the plates, pivot shaft and torsion bar adjusters.

              Thanks
              James From
              PST
               
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              • jbc426

                jbc426 Well-Known Member

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                One of the best bangs for the bucks is to weld in a complete chassis stiffening kit from US Cartool. I would also make a weld-up, a bolt in Monte Carlo Brace. Stiffening the chassis will make a dramatic improvement in how your car handles.

                Adjustable strut rods and 17 or 18 inch wheels and low profile tires will also help a lot. 72bluNblu ( a member on here) has a demonstrated wealth of knowledge and experience with suspension set-ups on these cars. Hopefully he will chime in.
                 
                Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
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                • AndyF

                  AndyF Well-Known Member

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                  Sounds like you should just copy Tim's red brick build.
                  cornering.jpg 427.jpg DSC_5581 (Large).JPG
                   
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                  • G-Fish

                    G-Fish Active Member

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                    X2 For using PST. Call James, explain your goals, and he'll make common sense suggestions. Very happy with the "kit" he put together for me. He was available during the build for tech help to boot. I felt like I got great value for the dollars I spent.

                    Good luck whichever way you go.
                     
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                    • black954

                      black954 Well-Known Member

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                      I have already installed the USCarTool subframe connectors and the spring mount inboard kit. Fortunately my car came factory with torque boxes. I will be fabing my own J bars to go from the cowl down to the front frame section and tying into the upper shock mounts. Then I’ll add a removable shock tower brace with some heims.
                      I’m hoping TruBlue72 chimes in as well!

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                      FCA693F1-C27E-49DB-B203-0E60BF97C49A.jpeg
                       
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                      • black954

                        black954 Well-Known Member

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                      • AndyF

                        AndyF Well-Known Member

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                        Here is how the front bars were done in Tim's car. The engine is a Mopar 340 block that has been bored and stroked to 427 inches. Heads were ported Edelbrocks. This car would pull 160 mph on the front stretch at Portland International Raceway. It would also go 150+ mph on the freeway if you dared.
                        DSC_5571 (Large).JPG
                         
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                        • black954

                          black954 Well-Known Member

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                          Ill be doing something similar with mine, but I will come out of the cowl and run more parallel with the top of the fender before the tube 90’s down to the frame rail.
                          What gearing was he running? I’m running a 3.55 and I expect my motor to rev out around 7,500. I doubt that’s good for 150mph, but should be close with 26” tires. I have Road America only 3hrs away from me and that’s the reason for the big brakes. Anywhere else, im sure the 13” 4 piston wilwoods would be more than sufficient. There’s 2 straightaways at RA over 1/2 mile long so you have to have your setup right! LOL
                           
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                          • gzig5

                            gzig5 Well-Known Member

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                            Looks like you are off to a good start. I'm going down a similar path with my 73 Cuda, with running Road America fast and safely as the end goal. I'll be interested to see how you go about your motor too, but stay focused on the suspension here.
                             
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                            • 72bluNblu

                              72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                              Sorry I missed this one to this point, I'll see what I can add.

                              First, avoid drop spindles like the plague. They are totally useless on a car running larger torsion bars, and they add bump steer. If you have large diameter torsion bars (and it sounds like you will), then you can lower the car with the torsion bar adjusters. Yes, that changes your suspension travel which is why you should also replace both the upper and lower bump stops. The upper bump stops need to be taller, the lower bump stops (on the LCA) need to be shorter. Do that and you will have recentered the suspension travel around your new ride height. The ideal ride height for best suspension geometry is when the upper control arms are roughly parallel to the ground. That represents a good 1.5" to 2" drop compared to stock, which is fine with 1.12" torsion bars. The Firm Feel 1.12" torsion bars have a 300 lb/in rate, which means they're almost 3x stiffer than stock. Which also means they need a lot less available travel. On my car, with my shortened lower bump stop, the suspension at full compression puts the spindle 13" away from the inner fender. Which means even with standard spindles and a 26" tire you will run out of suspension travel at the same time the wheel hits the inner fender. Or in other words, you can't add more travel with a 2" drop spindle.

                              Based on what you've done to the rear end, I would say you should skip the QA1 and Hotchkis UCA's. The QA1's are not adjustable other than the eccentrics, although they do have more caster built in. Which is fine for most street builds but it seems like you're going for more of a track/autoX set up. I would recommend a set of SPC UCA's from BergmanAutoCraft BAC SPC Upper Control Arms - Bergman Auto Craft

                              The SPC arms are double adjustable, meaning they can be adjusted on the car without removing anything (unlike hotchkis). The BAC version also has delrin bushings, which are far better for a car that will also see street time than heims. On my Challenger I run Hotchkis UCA's, the first set of heims only lasted 7k miles. The second set might make it to 10k, but with 7k on them too they're making noise. Heims at the UCA are no good on the street. Strangely enough they seem bulletproof at the strut rod, the QA1 style adjustable strut rods on my Challenger have 70k+ miles on them and the heims are fine.

                              On that note, you want adjustable strut rods. The QA1's are aluminum and very nice, and they last a long time (70k and counting). Adjustable strut rods are necessary in my opinion whenever you use poly or Delrin LCA bushings, and on any serious corner carver. They let you tune the length of the strut rod so there is no binding in the movement of the LCA. On my cars after I set up the new bump stops I leave the shocks off and the torsion bar adjusters out so I can raise and lower the suspension through the entire range of travel when I set the strut rod length so there's no binding at all at the LCA.

                              I would use Delrin LCA bushings at the level of build you're doing. BergmanAutocraft has them, I installed the ones on my Duster with Firm Feel's greaseable LCA pivot pins. The Delrin is supposed to be self lubricating, but the fit from the pin to the bushing is very important because there's very little give in the bushing. My FFI greasable pins were by the far the best fit, compared to both stock and other aftermarket pivot pins.

                              Sway bars- at your level of build, I would honestly sell your '67-72 sway bar tabbed LCA's and either buy a plain set or a set of QA1 tubular LCA's. Reason being is that the 67-72 sway bar tab location and the sway bars that go with them limit tire width. If you get a Hotchkiss front sway bar they use a custom location for the tabs, which is basically a 73-76 sway bar tab location. Same for the Hellwig "pro touring" front sway bar for the 67-72 cars. Your tabbed LCA's will bring a good amount of money, so buying a plain set would actually put you money ahead. Or you can get the QA1 LCA's. Their tubular design has a lower height profile, which basically adds about 1" of travel back into the suspension. Their new design has bump stops integrated into the LCA that remove that advantage, but they appear to be easily removed.

                              I run the Hotchkis Fox shocks on my Duster with the 1.12" torsion bars. They work great. Mine are even the non-adjustable version. I have also run Bilstein RCD's on my Duster previously. They worked well, but the Hotchkis Fox's are better tuned to the 1.12" bars than the Bilsteins were. I have a feeling the Bilsteins are set up more for a 1.03" to 1.06" bar. Totally still better than a lot of other options, but the Fox's are better for the 1.12's.

                              On the front you can get up to a 275/35/18 for a tire, the most hassle free rims would probably be 18x9 or 18x9.5". 18x10" has been done, but clearance to the UCA starts to be more of an issue. I run DoctorDiff's 13" cobra style disks on my Duster, with those on the FMJ spindles I have I run an 18x9 with a +35mm offset. The 13" cobra style brakes work very well, I previously ran 11.75" mopar disks on the car and they were an improvement for sure. Lighter too with their aluminum hubs.

                              The only thing I really see you kicking yourself over is the transmission. 3.55's will be fine for autoX, but on a long track even with 26" tall rear tires you'll have to be turning at least 7k to hit 150, and that's ignoring drivetrain loss and aerodynamics. I run a T56 with 4.30's. But with a .63 6th the gearing would be good for 170 @6k, although the aerodynamics would likely limit it before that. My 340 isn't really built to turn more than that though. To be honest, I think it might be cheaper to build a more standard stroker and pair it with an overdrive transmission. Building a 340 that will live happily on the street and turn 7,500 rpm is gonna be pricey, and the driveability around town will suffer.

                              Also, a lot of the installs on the parts I talk about are documented in my build thread, which has a link in my signature.
                               
                              Last edited: Feb 15, 2020
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                              • AndyF

                                AndyF Well-Known Member

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                                I think he had 2.73 gears out back with a wide ratio four speed. The car would've worked better with a 5 speed but it wasn't in the budget at the time. It also would've been much better with EFI but once again, that wasn't really in the budget back then. These days a simple Holley Sniper kit would be the way to go but back when this car was built there were not any budget friendly EFI kits on the market.
                                 
                              • black954

                                black954 Well-Known Member

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                                Thank you very much, so much good information. Question, What are FMJ spindles?
                                I agree with you about the T56 transmission, but I have reason's to stick with the stock 4spd. Basically, the car was my fathers since 1970. I have it now and I just cannot cut the car up. I was going to mini-tub the car as well but decided against that. I just don't want to do anything too irreversible to the car. I will never sell it, but there's a small chance it could be restored back to original one day maybe when my son owns it. Also, I just don't want to run a stroker in this car. I love the idea that this Swinger 340 was orginally a high revving small block car back in the day so i'd like to keep that theme but take it to another level. Otherwise, my other option is to build a budget Magnum 5.9L and bolt on the BW 75mm turbo I have on the shelf. I still am leaning towards the 340 build though.
                                I think I will run the 3.55 for most of the time. I will then get another 3rd member with a taller gear set once I see how the car is with the 3.55.
                                Thank you again for all the great info. Looks like I will be ordering just about everything you recommended LOL.
                                 
                                Last edited: Feb 17, 2020
                              • black954

                                black954 Well-Known Member

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                                I will revisit my gearing once the car is up and driving. I think a sub 3.XX gear set will be needed for the big tracks.
                                I am planning on running the Sniper kit as well so that will help with drive-ability and performance.
                                 
                              • black954

                                black954 Well-Known Member

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                                Ok, looks like I'll be going with the following so far: Firm Feel 1.12 torsion bars, Hotchkis UCA's, QA1 strut rods, BAC delrin TB bushings and greasable pivots, QA1 LCA's, Hellwig "pro touring" sway bars, and Hotchkis/Fox shocks. I still need to figure out the best steering solution and what stock height spindles to use. At least I can order my rear shocks to finish the back of the car.
                                 
                              • 72bluNblu

                                72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                The "FMJ" spindles are the 73+ disk spindles used on the later F, M, and J body cars. They're the slightly taller ones that Rick Ehrenberg pitched a fit over in his "disk-o-tech" article. Of course, he never actually bothered to check the geometry, he just made assumptions. Turns out the taller spindles don't change the geometry all that much, and for cars that run wide front tires most of the changes are beneficial. I run FMJ spindles on my cars. I don't know for certain as I haven't measured them, but since all the reproduction 73+ spindles are marketed to all the different body styles I assume they're actually the taller version that came on everything else (B/E/F/M/J/R). A-bodies were the only ones that got shorter ones, and it's really a small difference. Honestly I wouldn't worry about running either one, the difference is very small and not worth seeking out in my opinion. I have the FMJ's because the later cars like Diplomat's still showed up in the wrecking yards around here when I first got all my cars. Anyway, the real info on the changes is here Swapping Disc-Brake Spindles - Mopar Muscle Magazine - Hot Rod

                                I understand not cutting stuff up too much, especially something that has sentimental value to you. The easy solution to that is to use an 8 3/4 and just have a few extra 3rd members. Or at least one, you could have your usual street gears and then a sub 3.xx set for long tracks or long trips. A set of 2.94's would be pretty great. Just be careful with your cam selection. The 340 in my Duster is a 9.8:1 compression, ported head deal with a Lunati 70404, and that particular combination calls for a 3.91 or better rear gear and it means it. I ran it on the street with 3.55's, and it was pretty noticeable starting from a stop and a bit of a pain in the ass in traffic, it definitely took some clutch work which isn't ideal. But that was about the best I could do and still manage 70+ mph freeway speeds at a decent rpm with 26" tires. My engine likes the 4.30's way better :D. But that depends a lot on use too, if it were just a fun "weekend car" I could run 3.73s or 3.91's and not worry about the freeway cruise as much. And I wouldn't be stuck in traffic as much either. But as my daily that issue was definitely more noticeable.


                                The QA1 LCA's you get will likely not be the older version at this point, so you may want to modify the bump stops. The differences are shown and discussed in this thread, easier to link it than pull all the pictures over. QA1 Lowers Create Bump Clearance?

                                They will also come with rubber LCA bushings installed, so you will need to remove those and the shells to install the Delrin bushings. My install is here- My "new" '74 Duster- or why I need a project like a hole in the head

                                Like I said above, I wouldn't worry about the spindles. Just buy a 73+ set from DoctorDiff. They will likely be the taller version, but the difference is so small I really doubt most people would notice on the street, myself included.

                                For steering, if I was starting from scratch I think I would use the Borgeson power steering set up. @BergmanAutoCraft sells the whole kit with everything you need, haven't seen him chime in here yet so he's tagged now. I run a FlamingRiver 16:1 manual steering box. Don't get me wrong, I like it. But with 275/35/18's up front with +6.5° of caster it's not exactly user friendly below 10-15 mph. Above that it's magic, below that it keeps my forearms in shape. The Borgeson is a 14:1, so it will be quick without being an arm burner in the parking lots. With your 3" inboard springs, even without the mini-tubs, you should be able to run 275/35/18's all the way around if you're so inclined. And that will make the Borgeson a nice deal up front.
                                 
                              • BergmanAutoCraft

                                BergmanAutoCraft FABO Vendor FABO Vendor

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                                This is a nice thread. I have real world experience with big tracks and competed twice in Optima Batteries and numerous track days in the north east.

                                The factory parts are strong, but a couple things to be aware of. Starting with the steering, my Borgeson kit along with a cooler is a no brainer. The on center response is unmatched. I am not a fan of manual, some are. The roller bearing idler conversion is sold by firm feel, and makes sense. Any new idler is junk when it comes to the stiffness of the K frame side. My delrin lca bushings are also a must as stiffness is critical here. I made pins to fit these perfectly. No inner OR outer shells necessary. Delrin is self lubricating and only needs the proper grease upon assembly. I do not believe in drilling holes in something that carries a huge load. An adjustable strut rod is necessary to ensure smooth movement of the lower arm without binding. Ehrenberg has argued the effective length of a heim jointed strut rod is shorter, creating an arc that could bind the lower arm. I don't believe it makes that much difference. Checking movement during assembly is critical. The 1.12 t bars are good. I'm a sway away distributor and usually sell them a little less expensively. I'd stay away from any shock that is not mono tube. This leaves out some popular options like Viking, QA1, KYB and others. I sell Bilstein and Fox. Ridetech is also another Fox shock. Before purchasing shocks, checking ride height is critical. Your tire height is critical too. I've suggested thin urethane bumpstops, which work well. I run a 275 35 18 tire square and have found them a little shorter than I'd like. If you run a 26" tire and keep the body height at 24.25" front ground, through the center of the wheel to the fender lip, all should be right. Going for the taller spindle will help. The roll center will drop and the neg camber gain will improve in bump. You can even use a taller upper ball joint. Check geometry carefully. I sell SPC upper arms as they offer the easiest alignment, greaseable bushings and the widest possible range of adjustment. The Baer brake setup sounds good. I'm not crazy about them as a company, but that's just me...Their alum hub is nice. The parts are expensive. Go all the way for monoblocks and two piece rotors to save weight. My SRT rotors are much more economical but on the heavy side. I'm not a fan of manual brakes either. I'm a hydroboost guy, but that's just me. My car is a street car that can survive on the track, not the other way around. Hope some of this helps!

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