Tubular control arms vs rebushing

Discussion in 'Suspension, Steering and Chassis' started by GimmeDanger, Sep 27, 2018.

  1. GimmeDanger

    GimmeDanger Active Member

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    My 71 dart is starting to get a bit rattly in the front, I can see the strut rod bushings are toast so I'm imagining everything ought to be gone through. I saw mancini has a bit of a deal on parts and I got a bit of a bonus from work so I'm in a good spot to get this done. Obviously, all new modern parts are going to improve handling ( tubular upper and lower arms, adjustable strut rods). But how much better...and it seems like new parts would just drop in compared to replacing bushings. So better handling and easier install, but $1000 dollars worth?

    I don't do much more than occasional 'spirited' driving, it's not quite a daily driver but more than a fair weather weekend car
     
  2. DAndy ART

    DAndy ART dreams becoming reality

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    Greater camber and caster adjustments with tubular. I am very happy with my Hotchkis tubular UCAs. Running -2 camber, handles great.
     
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    • GimmeDanger

      GimmeDanger Active Member

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      Alignment adjustment is a factor, these are qa. Funny thing is, I never felt like my car really handled all that bad, but again I'm mostly cruising. Just now it sounds like an old cargo van on side streets. Our beautiful NYC roads at work killing the suspension.
       
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      • fklskv

        fklskv Well-Known Member

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        Save your money.
         
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        • MRGTX

          MRGTX Well-Known Member

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          This is a good point. Subjectively, the stock parts work and work well. The ride is comfortable in stock suspension cars and usually, they track well and do what you want them to do.

          Once you need to make an evasive maneuver or brake hard, that assessment can change. They wallow, sway and roll in extremely non-productive ways.

          If nothing else, these cars need new alignment specs as they were originally set up for bias ply tires or really primitive radials.

          How about “save your time?” This is the choice that each of us has to make. If you don’t rely on your car for transportation, if you’re comfortable with pressing out ball joints/bushings, etc...yeah. It probably makes sense to refresh the stock components.

          Personally, I chose tubular control arms. The uppers provided alignment benefits, the lowers saved a little weight and didn’t require welding in reinforcement plates for higher traction use. QA1 pieces went in without a hitch and saved me a ton of time even if it cost more money, no regrets.
           
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          • Frnknsteen

            Frnknsteen FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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            I thought about going all new components, but decided to just replace the wear items. New upper and lower ball joints, upper and lower control arm bushings, strut rod bushings, Pitman, Idler, tie rods, fresh alignment.

            My car handles WAY better than it did before, and works fine for how I use it. Same as you described,... mostly cruising with the occasional "Spirited driving".
             
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            • GimmeDanger

              GimmeDanger Active Member

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              All of this is where my mind is leading me. If the parts go in easily, I could be done with it with a minimum of down time and not having to get a press...play with getting the old bushings out..
              Kinda seems like a one and done thing tjatllt still be in good shape in a few years.

              Otherwise, if I don't go the tubular route, I would have to get a list together of 'might as wells'
               
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              • vitamindart

                vitamindart Well-Known Member

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                I replaced the bushings in my lowers and swapped to tubular uppers and strut rods with a heim joint. I did the uppers because I was swapping to disc brakes and needed the bigger joint. the old strut rods were Toast threads stripped. run the same set up on my dart, will do the same to the rest of my mopars when I do them.
                love the extra adjustment in the tubular uppers.
                 
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                • PST

                  PST Marketing Manager FABO Vendor

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                  For the occasional "spirited driving" I would suggest that rebuilding your existing front end with oem parts and either rubber or polygrahite bushings. Biggest improvement would be upgrading to larger torsion bars like our 1.03's , a good quality set of shock like Bisteins and either upgrade your existing front sway bar or adding one.

                  Plus as a member of the forum you are eligible for the mopar forum member's discount and free shipping.

                  Thanks
                  James From
                  PST Marketing
                   
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                  • 72bluNblu

                    72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                    If you stay with the stock upper control arms, make sure you use offset UCA bushings like the Moog K7103. If you don't, you won't be able to get a decent alignment for radial tires. Remember the factory specs are for bias ply tires, and are totally backward for radials.

                    It really depends on the use of the car too. If this is mostly just a weekend cruiser, rebuilding the stock parts will be fine as long as you use offset UCA bushings to improve the alignment specs. The handling will improve, but only because your current parts are worn out. If you're planning on more of a canyon carver, go with tubular UCA's. You get more adjustment with them, which means even better alignment numbers than what you'll be able to get with the offset bushings, which means better handling still. But you'll need better tires, larger torsion bars, better shocks, etc, to notice that difference. So if you're not planning on doing any of that, stock UCA's with offset bushings will be fine.

                    The tubular lowers that QA1 sells are nice, but unless your car is lowered quite a bit I don't think there's a reason to spend the money. They're lighter, sure, but unless you're racing against the clock you'll never notice that difference. Heck even if you are you might not. I have a set on my car, they're awesome don't get me wrong, but you're not gaining much for your money compared to using stock LCA's with a reinforcing plate installed.

                    With the UCA's if you go tubular, stay away from heim joints if you've got a street car. For a track car, or maybe a low miles, only-drive-when-it's-sunny car they're fine. But on a frequently driven street car they see too much grit and grime, and heim joints are a consumable part. I run Hotchkis UCA's on my Challenger, the first set of heims only lasted 7,000 miles. Now that was without heim boots as they weren't available when those UCA's first came out. Hotchkis replaced them for me and set me a set of boots with them. 7k miles later, and I'd say they'll probably need to be replaced in a couple thousand miles. Heims at the UCA's are for race cars IMO.

                    I do use adjustable strut rods on all of my cars. The stock strut rods have no real adjustment, and they only work because of the large amount of slop allowed by the large, soft bushings. I would not use poly bushings with stock strut rods, you have no way to adjust the length and the chances of them being the exact right length with out of the box poly bushings are slim. Funny enough, I've never had an issue with the heim jointed adjustable strut rods wearing out heims. The set of my Challenger has laster 70k + miles, and that's year round daily driven street miles in all weather conditions, same car that chews through UCA heims.

                    And finally, changing out all those bushings and ball joints will take access to a shop press, a ball joint socket, torque wrench, and some special bushing tools (which can be made pretty easily with hardware store parts). If you don't have all that stuff you'll need to add that to the cost of replacing all the bushings as opposed to buying new parts with them installed already. Some of the stuff can be borrowed from parts store loan out programs (like the ball joint socket usually), but some of it can't be. If you've got the tools great, if you don't, changing everything out yourself will cost more money than just buying the bushings and ball joints.
                     
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                    • GimmeDanger

                      GimmeDanger Active Member

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                      The ones I was looking at were non adjustable, that would be a waste for what I'm doing. Definitely not against getting a press, would be useful for our garage 'collective' (me and a few friends rent 3 garages in a row in Queens..mostly bike work). That and all the tools to do it would be a few hundred less than getting all new arms..adjustable strut rods are a given

                      But then it's only a few hundred haha and if getting new arms is significantly easier and quicker then it could be worth it.

                      Being in a financial position to have choices is like a perfect storm of indecisiveness!
                       
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                      • roccodart440

                        roccodart440 Well-Known Member

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                        When I ran stock stuff I had the QA1 uppers and lowers. the uppers made a noticeable difference.

                        Now I have a alterkation.
                         
                      • ir3333

                        ir3333 Well-Known Member

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                        As pst says...rebuild your stock stuff.Spend your money with care on torsion bars,brakes and shocks.
                        I have never had a problem getting enough self centering castor with new stock components?
                         
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                        • Mattax

                          Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                          Replace the worn strut bushings.
                          Check the other parts for wear. It's not that hard to check each one. Replace the ones that are worn.
                          A worn strut bushing does not mean the UCA bushings or ball joints are worn. It could relate to wear on the LCA bushings.

                          If you want to spend money, install a front anti-sway bar if it doesn't have one. Even a stock one will be noticible.
                          If you want to spend more, then larger t-bars like .990 or even 1.03 and a larger front anti-sway bar would be the next steps.
                           
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                          • MRGTX

                            MRGTX Well-Known Member

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                            I don't think anyone doubts the ability to achieve self-centering caster setting with stock parts...just that if you're looking to significantly improve cornering capability you can't have that caster and also enough negative camber at the same time.

                            Just watch how the upper control arm moves when you adjust for one or the other and the need for different geometry (either from different control arms or offset bushings) becomes apparent.
                             
                          • dodgedifferent2

                            dodgedifferent2 Well-Known Member

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                            I debated this as well.
                            I saved my pennies and went the green brick route.
                            Moog offset bushings.

                            Mopar action green brick formula

                            I chased the alignment specs for typical street performance from the chart below. I honestly think my dart with ss springs rides better then my new Longhorn ram. The steering is a bit sloppy but that's to do with the power steering box that needs a rebuild.
                            MoparWheel-AlignmentSpecifications.png
                             
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                            • Frnknsteen

                              Frnknsteen FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                              I have to ask how much negative camber do you need? Other than the Moog K7103 offset bushings and the Firm Feel sway bar I added, my suspension is all stock (with rubber bushings) and I'm getting -.9 degrees of camber and nearly 5 degrees (4.90) of positive caster. The car turns like it's on rails.

                              I guess I'm just not understanding why some are saying the stock components won't do what he wants. Are the aftermarket goodies an improvement?,.... Absolutely,.... but for how the OP says he will be driving the car, the stock components can be made to work pretty darn good.

                              My advice is if everything is getting old, find a good rebuild kit of stock components from someone like Firm Feel or PST and replace it all. If some of the components like the ball joints, pitman and Idler seem to be ok, just replace the worn hard parts and put new bushings in. It will feel like a different car.

                              As for tools,.... I bought a pitman arm puller and pickle fork to fit my air chisel and was able to do everything but the LCA bushings. I took them to the local mechanic who knocked the old ones out and pressed in the new in less than an hour, I could have gotten them out, but it was just easier to have him do it all since I don't have my own press.
                               
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                              • Mattax

                                Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                                I've been doing it for years. And yes I've plotted the entire curves from full droop to full compression.
                                Until you've been on a track and watching wear patterns - and better yet measuring tire temperatures, that's when camber and caster needs can get dialed in for a particular tire on a particular combination. Run the car ride height low (both front and rear) to be in the better part of the camber curve, and lower the static center of gravity, and the static roll axis.
                                For the OP - in his location, and his needs, the stock arms are more than good enough. Additionally, for street use in that area, closer to stock ride height will fine. A local parts store can press in the control arm bushings. I realize there are less and less of them but its not a big deal. If new UCA bushings are needed, then the moog offset bushings will allow additional caster when installed per autoxcuda's illustration. Another way is to increase the negative camber with shims (washers) between the lower ball joints and spindle. The first thing extra money should be spent on is increasing front roll resistance. On a car with lots of miles, heavy use, or that's been raced - the other big expense item that is often needed is the rear leafs. Bushings, interleafs and with enough abuse or even use, the leafs themselves can lose rate and even crack. Standard engineering practice is to design springs for a million cycles. Non-abused leafs can go for over 100K miles, heavily used or abused are often less.
                                 
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                                • Mattax

                                  Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                                  Tires are a major factor! They are the biggest factor in fine tuning a suspension. Change tires, and the fine tuning starts over. Sometimes that even means changing t-bars and sway bar settings. Even though that's really competition stuff, the lessons apply to street as well.

                                  Anyone in the area - come on down the Philly Region autocross at the hockey stadium.
                                   
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                                  • jbc426

                                    jbc426 Well-Known Member

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                                    Avoid Moog ball joints. They are junk. I've been using XRF ball joints and they perform great and so far are much more durable.
                                    Here's a link to the manufacturer. They are available online in the US, but call or do a search to find out where.

                                    XRF Chassis | Automotive and Heavy Duty Chassis Parts | Canada and Unites States

                                    Inspect the upper attachment points of your front shock towers to the inner fender. Mine were all but broken loose.

                                    Buy the rebuildable idler arm. If you have power steering, get a Firmfeel box. I would have the shoulder for the washer stop on the strut rod's machined back about the thickness of a dime and verify that the new bushings do not increase their overall installed length.

                                    Also, C-body tie rod ends can be adapted to fit in A-bodies and are much stouter.
                                     
                                  • 72bluNblu

                                    72bluNblu FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                    I'm honestly surprised you were able to get that much caster with the offset bushings. I know all of that varies with ride height, but I've never heard of anyone with the offset bushings being able to get +5* of caster. Usually about +3.5* is all you can get if offset bushings are the only upgrade. The stock bushings and components rarely get you to +2* caster even when maxed out.

                                    So, I'm not saying I don't believe you, but you should definitely consider that your results aren't "the norm" when offset bushings are installed. That's why the advice is following the way it is. Well, that and you need larger torsion bars and sway bars to handle well even with relatively narrow tires. The 225/60/15's I had on my car before I upgraded easily outmatched the 1" torsion bars I was running at the time, and they weren't great tires.

                                    The 11/16" C-body tie rods are really only needed if you still use the split tube adjuster. If you go to a solid tubular adjuster like PST and a few others sell you can stay 9/16". The weak link in the tie rods is the OE split tube adjuster, those things are flexy.
                                     
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                                    • Frnknsteen

                                      Frnknsteen FABO Gold Member FABO Gold Member

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                                      I'm with you Blu,.... I agree that I am getting more than what I have heard others have gotten. I was surprised at how the final settings came out. When I asked them to get me as much positive Caster as they could, I was expecting a max of about 3 - 3.5 degrees that I have read about others getting.

                                      Even at that though, all I was trying to say was that for how the OP is saying he drives the car, with the offset bushings, 2-3 degrees of positive Caster and a Camber of -.25 - -.5 degrees should be attainable and drive fairly decent.
                                       
                                    • MRGTX

                                      MRGTX Well-Known Member

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                                      Good to hear that you're investing time in fine tuning what works best. How low are you able to go? What alignment specs are you typically running on the track?
                                       
                                    • Mattax

                                      Mattax Just the facts, ma'am FABO Gold Member

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                                      I have the most info from when I was running Toyo RA1 225/50r15. That's a good all round wet and dry use, and relatively long lasting r-comp.
                                      Generally this worked pretty well, but it would have prefered a bit a more negative camber.
                                      upload_2018-9-28_14-31-7.png

                                      I can't quantify the rear spring info in a universal way. When autocrossing was a high priority, a higher front spring eye position dropped the rear further.
                                      The past 4 years the car has been set up primarily to handle rough, minimally maintained roads.
                                      Last year, I switched my r-comp tires to Toyo's R888r. But I haven't changed the ride hieght back down yet. Just gave the t-bars a turn down for the road course and about the same for autocross. With the higher ride heights, the camber is around -1. Even with the R888, that looks like its not enough. Not enough time working with them yet. But got one road course event on them, and thats easier to judge from than autocross. Using a slightly larger 235/50 but still on the 7" rims, which is pushing it for most 235/50s but these seem more OK with it than the original BFG Rs I had in that size many years ago.

                                      Amongst other things I'll be trying a step up in T-bars with the new tires. This Sunday I'll just be dropping the front, putting some shock rebound damping back in, and focus on driving better. Its possible to overdrive the front, and that's what I was doing. Its not all in the tire or the suspension. I was rusty and regressing to bad practices last event. It happens easily when not doing events very often.
                                       
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                                      • Ottmundr

                                        Ottmundr 68 Fastback

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                                        Having run both there Rocco, how significant is the handling difference? Is it worth the cost of the upgrade for what would be a daily driver and twice a month 1/4 mile car? Or even for spirited driving on windy back roads?