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Old 11-27-2007, 05:53 AM   #1
ShakeyPuddin55
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Default Suspension: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

I've been meaning to post this for a while but I'm lazy.

The pictures aren't the best but you'll get the idea.

I talked to several people, read some magazines and searched the internet before deciding on how to do the axle on Shakey Puddin. I copied a lot of ideas, and let my buddy who did the welding make a lot of choices as well. I spec'd and bought all the parts from all over. Nothing from the Speedway catalog here.

The new front end came out of necessity since the car hit the wall and did a lot of damage to the front suspension.

I wish I would have done the axle when I first bought the car. I would have saved a lot of time and money. I was never happy with the stance of the car with A arms.

Here is the car race ready with the factory A arms:

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Old 11-27-2007, 05:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

The first pass ever with this car was a 9.84 @ 134MPH.

I made about 5 passes at Speedworld and the car was squirly for about the first 300 ft.

I knew it had a bump steer problem, and here was the result of that one night at Firebird raceway:

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Old 11-27-2007, 06:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

When the front wheels hit the ground the housing on the rack broke due to the wheels toe'ing out hard. This shows where the housing cracked at the U bolt mounting point. I was unable to keep it off the wall.



Here is a shot of the crunched up A arm:

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Old 11-27-2007, 06:06 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Back at my buddy's shop after the wreck:



Out with the motor:

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Old 11-27-2007, 06:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

We weren't scared..... time to start cutting:







What a hunk of shit!!

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Old 11-27-2007, 06:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Dont try this at home!!!!

I wanted the springs out since they were worth a few bucks.

My crazy friend cutting the A arms with a torch and letting the springs fly!!

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Old 11-27-2007, 06:17 AM   #7
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

After looking at tons of pictures, this is where we decided to cut. No regrets.


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Old 11-27-2007, 06:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

As you all know, a common question here on the HAMB is what axle to use for a gasser. The Speedway and MAS axles seem to be popular.

Most of the serious racers I talked to advised against a mild steel axle on a heavy tri 5 Chevy. Especially one that may wheel stand. I've heard many say that they can and do BEND.

An east coast gasser racer gave me the number for Jim Tinsmith (Tinny) from PA. After a few conversations with Tinny, I was sold on his Chromoly axle. Jim is a long time racer and fabricator. He said they come 53" king pin to king pin. 2" O.D, quarter wall, and zero drop. After seeing the Speedway axles and how narrow they were, I'm glad I bought the axle from Jim.

Here it is with Chassis Engineering spindles and Wilwood brakes:



I have another buddy who got me a wholesale price from Wilwood so I stepped up and got the drilled rotors and polished calipers. They fit the early Ford spindles.

They spindles are forged pieces from Chassis Engineering. I wanted the strongest stuff possible since I knew my car would be driven hard.
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Old 11-27-2007, 06:36 AM   #9
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Starting to mock up with the rectangular tube frame rails:



Tacked in:



A very nice touch by my buddy, pinching the frame in:

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Old 11-27-2007, 06:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style



For the leaf springs, I went down to Valley Spring in Phoenix and told them what I wanted. They do a lot of 4x4 stuff, so I dont think they knew what I was building but I knew I could add leafs or re-arch if needed. Turns out, we got it right the first time. I also bought the U bolts from them. The springs are 30" eye to eye.
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Old 11-27-2007, 06:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Here, we bolted up a fender to see where I wanted the axle. Factory wheel base for a 55 Chevy is 115".

I wanted plenty of clearance for the big tube fenderwell headers, and I also like the look of the front end stretched out a bit. It screams race car. I wasn't worried about the altered wheel base issue. Those days are over. I'm not racing by any rules.... I'm just having fun. What we ended up with was almost 118" for the wheel base.



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Old 11-27-2007, 06:51 AM   #12
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Another decision was whether I wanted the shackles in the front or rear.

I dont remember all the details, but we decided to put the shackles in the rear. One of the benefits was the car would be lower that way. The whole time, I was worried the car would be too high in the front. I wasn't building a street freak, this car was running over 130MPH in the quarter.

Here is what my friend came up with since the frame rails are much wider than the springs:

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Old 11-27-2007, 06:55 AM   #13
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

More handy work by Mike. He bull nosed the frame rail ends.

The front crossmember is a piece of chromoly nicely tig welded. The front spring mounts were also hand made:





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Old 11-27-2007, 07:01 AM   #14
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

The motor going back in. We wanted all the weight on the suspension before any final welding:





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Old 11-27-2007, 07:05 AM   #15
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Making mounts for the motor plate. My car has a motor plate and a mid plate:



Adding some of those cool holes:

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Old 11-27-2007, 07:19 AM   #16
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

NOTE: The hardware in the following photos is only for mock up!!

Everything was later upgraded to the correct size with grade 8 and stainless.

The steering arms are also forged and were purchased from Chassis Engineering. I really liked the bolt through design. Here is a trick I stole from somebody. To keep the drag link angle at a minimum, we bought an extra steering arm, inverted it and mounted it to the top of the passenger side spindle:



The tie rod and drag link are home made using chromoly, threaded inserts and moly rod ends.

My friend uses this stuff on dune buggys which take a lot of abuse.

Here is the steering all mocked up using a Vega cross steer box. I'm not worried about using the small Vega box since my car is pretty much only driven straight :



We heated and bent the pitman arm to obtain the correct geometry. We got very lucky here with the oil pan and leaf spring clearance:

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Old 11-27-2007, 07:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

To minimize bump steer we wanted the drag link parallel to the ground and parallel front to back with the axle. It turned out nice:





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Old 11-27-2007, 08:25 AM   #18
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Thanks guys.

For added strength we added down bars that tie the front of the frame to the cage inside the car:

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Old 11-27-2007, 08:37 AM   #19
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

For the shocks, I found a pair of Bilsteins that were a 90-10 and the proper length. I found them at a roundy round car place. I also liked the natural finish.

We added shock mounts in the down bar and on the axle:







If I remember correctly, we had already set the caster at this point and tacked the spring perches onto the axle.
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Old 11-27-2007, 08:48 AM   #20
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

The motor came back out and Mike finished up the welding:





I primed and painted the new frame with rattle can paint:





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Old 11-27-2007, 09:02 AM   #21
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

OK, I've been up all night working. Later this afternoon I'll finish up with pictures of the chrome work, reassembly, engine travel limiters, etc. and the maiden voyage!
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Old 11-27-2007, 03:55 PM   #22
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Thanks for the nice comments guys. Here's some more.

I remember after taking everything apart, facing the decision on what to do with all the new parts. Powder coating is too modern and I thought the car deserved more that just gloss black paint on the axle.

I called a guy I had been using for polishing aluminum and magnesium and asked if he could chrome everything since polishing was the biggest part of the job. He quoted $150 to do the axle so I loaded EVERYTHING in the truck and dropped it off at his shop. Turns out the leaf springs ended up being the deal breaker since there are like 12 pieces. I think the total bill ended up being around $900 for the axle, drag link, tie rod, 3 steering arms, pitman arm, shackles, all the leafs and hardware and a mounting bar for the fuel tank. I was very pleased when I picked the stuff up only a week later:



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Old 11-27-2007, 03:58 PM   #23
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Now the fun part. Putting everything back together. I remember the excitement of seeing it come together.















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Old 11-27-2007, 04:08 PM   #24
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Again, a lot of the nuts and bolts are still from mock up.

Here is a nice shot showing how the steering turned out. The cool thing about making everything yourself is you can move stuff around until it fits. You can also see where we used the factory steering column with the DD steering shaft and two U joints:

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Old 11-27-2007, 04:11 PM   #25
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style



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Old 11-27-2007, 04:14 PM   #26
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Not really related to the straight axle install, but I had already purchased a new door from a HAMBER and it was primed and ready to go on.

Showed here still with the rusty and smashed door:

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Old 11-27-2007, 04:24 PM   #27
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Shown here with the motor back in. As you can see I had junk valve covers on and had put a fresh coat of paint.



For the fuel tank mounting, Mike made a bar and bolted it to the frame and I used the Moon style spreader bar brackets. Note the tank is completely behind the front crossmember. NHRA tech specifies it must be inside the frame rails of the car. It would never fly sticking off the front like you see on a lot of faux gassers.

I remember wanting to do something more creative for the tank mounts, but it works and looks pretty clean:

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Old 11-27-2007, 04:32 PM   #28
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

With a motor and mid plate combination, the engine and trans can still move back and front (flex) under hard acceleration or braking.

We added engine travel limiters on each side. Mike made everything. We added mounting brackets to the stock motor mount bosses in the block and welded tabs to the frame. The limiters are adjustable and made with 2 spherical rods ends. All of this hardware was chromed also.





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Old 11-27-2007, 04:48 PM   #29
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

I don't think you guys would mind if I covered the flip front end set up.

I asked around for ideas on this also.

At first, I started with this old 1 piece glass nose since my front sheet metal was banged up from the wall.

We bent up some steel tubing and ended up using the front spring perch bolts as a pivot points with these adjustable rod ends.





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Old 11-27-2007, 04:54 PM   #30
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Here she is rolled outside for the first time in months:





Flip front end:

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Old 11-27-2007, 05:06 PM   #31
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

I just wasn't feeling the glass nose. HAMB classifieds to the rescue! I bought this complete steel front end from Vic Young out of Camarillo. Vic has a gasser style 55 being built by the HAMB's Kiwikev.

Mike welded it up to make it a one piece and used the bar he bent up from the glass nose.

I wanted old school function here. Race car stuff... not show car stuff. It turned out fine in my opinion:











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Old 11-27-2007, 05:10 PM   #32
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

This was a tough decision, but I decided to go ahead and cut up a perfectly good hood so the injector stacks would pop out the top.





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Old 11-27-2007, 05:18 PM   #33
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

The weather was good and there was a nostalgia race coming up at Speedworld, so I spray bombed the front end with a rattle can, hung the new door. And got ready to go racing:

Shown here at the track, first time out with the axle:



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Old 11-27-2007, 05:28 PM   #34
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Here it is the same day at the track. That is Mike in the burnout box telling me to heat em up.

You cant believe the nerves I had with this all new front end the first time out. I never made a partial pass. I went balls out. Mike was very confident in his work and told me to just do it.

I know a lot of you have seen this video, but here it is again: 9.76 @ 133MPH.

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Old 11-27-2007, 05:44 PM   #35
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

A few months later at Pinks All Out:



Now with the weathered paint, Two Lane Blacktop look:







Gettin it done at the 2007 CHRR with a 9.73 @ 133MPH







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Old 11-28-2007, 04:05 AM   #36
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotch View Post
A list of sources would be cool-
~Scotch~
The axle is from Jim Tinsmith (Tinny's Hot Rods)
The spindles and steering arms are from Chassis Engineering Inc.
Wilwood brakes
Vega box - lots of sources
Leaf springs - local spring shop
Frame rails, tie rod, drag link, misc - all custom made
Shocks - Bilstein
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Old 11-28-2007, 04:54 PM   #37
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cshabang View Post
thank you sir for a kick ass post. I love the steering arm trick...how about some part numbers....haha
Nothing super secret. Just early Ford forged repo stuff from Chassis Engineering Inc. and most of the other stuff is custom made.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nexxussian View Post
So was your friend with the chrome shop able to bake the pieces (to get the hydrogen out) or did you have to take them somewhere else?
I was told that was done, but after the fact and for what I paid, I have to wonder.
The hydrogen embrittlement discussion did come up. I'm hoping because I went overkill with chromoly, I will be safe. Frequent inspections do happen.
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Old 11-28-2007, 05:04 PM   #38
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Quote:
Originally Posted by wicked willys View Post
Awsome thread. Love the car. What angle did you use at the kingpin. I've read that 10 degrees works good. Your set up obviously works well.
I think we ended up with 11 degrees caster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by straightaxle65 View Post
What is the width of your front springs? Are you using a sleaved rubber bushing or brass bushings in the spring eyes? What size are the eye bolts?
The springs are 1 3/4" wide with sleeved rubber bushings. I don't remember the bolt size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by four-thirteen View Post
What thickness is that moly axle?
The axle is 2" O.D. and 1/4" wall thickness. The mild steel axles are the same but as you know, not nearly as strong as chromoly.

There is another company (Specialty Cars?) that uses a mild steel axle with a steel rod inserted inside the axle for strength. That was another option I considered.
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Old 11-30-2007, 02:27 PM   #39
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Here is the contact number for Jim Tinsmith (Tinny's Hot Rods) 215-453-7999. He made the chromoly axle for my 55.

He's a long time drag racer. He's been into it longer than I've been alive. He just made a 1 3/4" moly axle with a 1" drop for the recreation of the K.S. Pittman 33 Willys.

Here is Jim's steel 33 Willys truck:

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Old 11-30-2007, 02:33 PM   #40
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Another very important point I forgot to make was about welding on the axle.

We only tack welded during mock up. The axle was then removed and strapped down to a welding table and the final welds were slowly finished to prevent warping the axle.

Thanks again guys for all the positive comments.

Sam, how dare you miss the CHRR when it's in your own backyard! See you next year.
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Old 12-07-2007, 10:24 AM   #41
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Default Re: Tech: Gasser straight axle Puddin style

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2002p51 View Post
Just curious though, how long did all this work take to complete? And what was the weight difference, if any?
Honestly I forget how long it took. We both work full time and have lots of other things going on. But it was several months.

Before the car had the axle, it weighed a little over 3000lbs but we haven't put it back on the scales. I'm guessing it lost around 100lbs.
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