Early A-Body front sway bar help?

Early A-Body Discussions

  1. halfafish

    halfafish Damn those rabbits, and their holes! FABO Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,329
    Likes Received:
    1136
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2016
    Location:
    SW Washington
    Local Time:
    10:44 AM
    Firm Feel is a Mopar-only aftermarket supplier, based in Washington State, US. They make high quality parts. Since I'm rebuilding my entire front end, suspension and brakes, as well as the rear suspension and brakes, I figured I might as well put in a rebuilt steering box while I have everything torn apart. My car is also manual steering. They have three ratios to choose from. Standard is 24:1, which is factory spec. I got a 20:1 ratio, even though it was another couple hundred bucks. They also have 16:1, and I believe additional pitman arms and whatnot that will lower the ratio to 12:1 if you really want it. If you need any help, don't hesitate to contact them. These are Mopar guys that drive them, rebuild them, and race them. They know their stuff.
     
  2. valiantpatrol

    valiantpatrol FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

    Messages:
    903
    Likes Received:
    123
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2009
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Local Time:
    11:44 AM
    Firm Feel is an aftermarket company that started basically rebuilding power steering boxes for mopars and adjusting the valving for more of a firm feel. If you read old reviews of then new mopars a very common complaint was the lack of road feel, or over assist, in the power steering systems.. Now Firm Feel manufactures new manual steering boxes, sway bars, and even torsion bars I think. Nice folks based on my conversations with them at local shows, with a quality product. Do you need one? No, but there are advantages. the standard manual box, regardless of year is 24:1 ratio equating to 7.5 steering wheel revolutions from lock to lock (full left to full right turn positions). As Halfafish alluded to, this creates a lot of hand over hand when on a twisty road or track. For a few years, Mopar offered a 16:1 ratio manual box in select muscle car/option packages (4.5 turns lock to lock) but they are so rare and hard to find that for practicality sake they are extinct. The thing to remember is that as you decrease the ratio numerically, you are losing leverage and turning the steering wheel requires more effort. Not an issue once moving, but you may need gorilla arms for parallel parking. Also this steering effort increases with wider contact patch tires, softer compound tires, track specific front end alignments, and decreases in steering wheel diameter. The 20:1 boxes seemed to be the best reasonable compromise between the two. The Firm Feel 20:1 box is a cost effective replacement if your manual steering box is shot and your facing a rebuild charge. If your box is good, it becomes a question of is the cost worth it for the type of driving you do, in my opinion.
     
  3. Nigel Hely

    Nigel Hely 64DartDownUnder FABO Gold Member

    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    98
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Location:
    Blue Mountains, Australia
    Local Time:
    3:44 AM
    Hi guys, thanks for the replies. My steering box is axtually quite OK, but thinking about the earlier post it could be a bit of a handful with 24:1 ratio. Whils the post was fresh, I thought I might explore the information and my options, so if I decide to go that way, I have the right information at hand. Thanks for your help. Regards, and have a safe enjoyable Christmas, Nigel
     
  4. Hipo65

    Hipo65 Yeah I'm "That Guy"

    Messages:
    645
    Likes Received:
    51
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2013
    Location:
    Lincoln Nebraska
    Local Time:
    12:44 PM
    Halfafish, I just installed my hellwig front anti-roll bar for 63-66 a bodies.......... So! Mine bolted in with no issues up front in the K-member. Now where the ends meet I had to do a lil grinding on lower control arm lip to clear the end of the bar & the links. Also need to grind off some of the end of the bar its self to not hit the lower control arm. The links & link bracket that the shock bolt holds will be at an angle when installed the bar itself almost seems a bit to wide for the links to be stright up & down. Not overly impressed with it for what it cost. Just a heads up on my own personal experience with my 65 dart.
     
  5. Geoff Windsor

    Geoff Windsor Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Location:
    Wollongong Australia
    Local Time:
    3:44 AM
    Nigel, I realise this is an old post (I am new to the forum - not A bodies though) and was wondering how you got on with your front sway bar set up, in particular using a late model Valiant bar and bending it or resetting it. I have an old set up as mentioned that bolts onto the reaction rods but am considering going with late model (VH-CM) lower control arm which have the eye already welded on, but the width of the late model bar meant I am looking for options. Or have you come across some other method/product? Mine's an AP5 which is getting a full rebuild.
     
  6. Bill Crowell

    Bill Crowell FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

    Messages:
    862
    Likes Received:
    373
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Location:
    Diamond Springs, CA
    Local Time:
    10:44 AM
    Firm Feel remanufactures high-end, high quality, somewhat expensive steering boxes with very close clearances (unlike the "rebuilt" ones you can buy at the auto parts store). Red Top is another company that sells a high-end reman Mopar steering box, and there may be others; I'm not sure.
     
  7. Geoff Windsor

    Geoff Windsor Member

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2019
    Location:
    Wollongong Australia
    Local Time:
    3:44 AM
    Thanks for that info. It is good to know the companies out there for this sort of stuff, especially anything that will fit an A body. My particular car is RHD Australian version so there are differences of course and some things just don't fit. I was interested to note from this how they designed the holding points of the sway bars differently albeit for what essentially the same car, from the same company. Our Australian build Valiant 1972 to 1981 models are 4" (I think) wider (with wider track) so that presents me with my 1963 sway problem.
     
  8. Nigel Hely

    Nigel Hely 64DartDownUnder FABO Gold Member

    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    98
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2016
    Location:
    Blue Mountains, Australia
    Local Time:
    3:44 AM
    Hi Geoff,

    Those 'old school' set ups that bolt onto the reaction rods are as useless as a chocolate tea pot...

    I converted to VG Valiant disc brakes, and at the same time added the sway bar, all these 'bits' were under my parents house from back when I build my VG Pacer Hardtop back in the mid-1980's! Never throw anything out, you WILL need it! Because my original Dodge lower control arms were in nicer condition than the VG/VH ones I had, I cut the sway bar mounts off and welded them onto the Dodge lower control arms in the correct positions.

    Then, I fabricated some nice brackets for the inner sway bar mounts fron 5mm steel, tacked those in position. I then removed the k-frame and fully welded everything and painted. It handles great, I'm really happy with the end result! Here's a few pictures, happy to answer any more questions.

    Cheers, Nigel
    D_0053.JPG D_0056.JPG D_0059.JPG D_0061.JPG
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Geoff Windsor

      Geoff Windsor Member

      Messages:
      5
      Likes Received:
      1
      Joined:
      Jul 26, 2019
      Location:
      Wollongong Australia
      Local Time:
      3:44 AM
      Thanks Nigel, that's what I am wanting to do to the AP5 but the wider bar was the bit that gets me. Did you alter the bar any or did it fit okay?
      After many years too I have realised you will never need it until you get rid of it. Had some really good stuff too. I guess you can never have enough storage space.
       
    • Nigel Hely

      Nigel Hely 64DartDownUnder FABO Gold Member

      Messages:
      221
      Likes Received:
      98
      Joined:
      Sep 13, 2016
      Location:
      Blue Mountains, Australia
      Local Time:
      3:44 AM
      Hi Geoff,
      No I didn't modify the sway bar, it seems to fit OK, and it certainly handles OK!!! Koni Special D adjustable hydraulic shocks. Set the rear ones at 50/50 and the fronts at 60/40 and you'll have a nice handling car that won't shake you to bits...
       
    • Geoff Windsor

      Geoff Windsor Member

      Messages:
      5
      Likes Received:
      1
      Joined:
      Jul 26, 2019
      Location:
      Wollongong Australia
      Local Time:
      3:44 AM
      Thanks Nigel, if it fits and works for you I will simply follow that. Your work looks great too.
       
    • Nigel Hely

      Nigel Hely 64DartDownUnder FABO Gold Member

      Messages:
      221
      Likes Received:
      98
      Joined:
      Sep 13, 2016
      Location:
      Blue Mountains, Australia
      Local Time:
      3:44 AM
      Hi Geoff,
      I realise in that photo above (Reply #33) that those rod end linkages may look like they are at precarious angles, but they settle back into a near-vertical attitude when the full weight of the car is on it. I'll take another picture soon...
       
    • George Jets

      George Jets 1967 Dart 2 Door FABO Gold Member

      Messages:
      1,964
      Likes Received:
      2774
      Joined:
      Jan 18, 2019
      Location:
      Farmington MN
      Local Time:
      12:44 PM
      Like the way that all turned out. All takes some thinking and doing.

      Nice Job, Thumbs Up !
       
    • Geoff Windsor

      Geoff Windsor Member

      Messages:
      5
      Likes Received:
      1
      Joined:
      Jul 26, 2019
      Location:
      Wollongong Australia
      Local Time:
      3:44 AM
      Yes, the looks can be deceiving but if it clears moving parts and other parts as it moves, and works better than the reaction rod mounted things I am happy. I found weld on brackets for the lower control arms at Hemi Performance and all going well they'll do the job. I hung onto a VH-CM sway bar for about 15 years (after I sold my E55 Charger and VJ coupe) but was of the opinion it didn't fit. Now of course I want it back. I gave it to my son for his 72 Dart but if he won't part I will have to go after market. The body is about to go off to the strippers, then in for body work, so I will be getting to the add on bits whilst it's being worked on. I am really looking forward into getting the old girl back on the road with a few subtle mod's and a few period 1960's speed accessories. But if you plan on posting any pic's I look forward to them.
       
    • Nigel Hely

      Nigel Hely 64DartDownUnder FABO Gold Member

      Messages:
      221
      Likes Received:
      98
      Joined:
      Sep 13, 2016
      Location:
      Blue Mountains, Australia
      Local Time:
      3:44 AM
      Hi Geoff,
      Sorry it took a while to post this reply, for some unknown reason, I have been unable to upload this image??? Anyway, here it is in living colour! What you are looking at is: Standard 1964 lower control arms with VH Valiant sway bar 'ears' welded on; VG Valiant (Pacer) standard sway bar; the rod end mounting kit is one of those universal kits bought from a reputable parts shop (Nepean Spares). Disc brakes are VG/VH Valiant Girlocks on VG?VH spindles, with VG (4"PCD) hubs and DBA rotors. As you can see, it all fits nice and sits right. I see you're from Wollongong, not too far away, if you're ever heading to the Blue Mountains, look me up and feel free to drop in.
      Hope this helps...
      Cheers, Nigel
      D_0061AAA.jpg
       
      • Like Like x 1
      • RustyRatRod

        RustyRatRod Weenie idiot loser. FABO Gold Member

        Messages:
        59,634
        Likes Received:
        30670
        Joined:
        Jun 7, 2010
        Location:
        Georgia
        Local Time:
        1:44 PM
        NIce work, Nigel!
         
        • Like Like x 1
        1. This site uses cookies to help personalize content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
          By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.