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Technical 1950 Buick Roadmaster Air ride build 'Marilyn'

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Y I W O R K, May 19, 2015.

  1. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    I've been asked by a few members of our Buick Fireball Eights FB group to document my recent air ride build on my 50 Buick Roadmaster Riviera 72r four door here in case it can help others working on similar cars so here we go...

    Design criteria for the build included
    - Keeping the 6V electrical system
    - Least invasive system to build/install (minimize cutting and drilling frame)
    - Obtain max drop on stock components (avoid buying or fabbing up lowered uprights, cutting floorpans, or notching frame rails.
    - Four corner adjustability with pressure gauges and manual switches
    - Run on Nitrogen to avoid compressors, solenoids, switches, 12volt electrical etc
    - KISS it - keep it simple stupid
    - Will be driven at stock height on road and be aired out at shows by driver in car when parked. No silly hopping, three wheeling, remote control operation etc
    - Keep costs as low as possible while selecting high quality components that will provide solid performance for the long term
    - Keep all fab work and labor in house
    - Most importantly the design MUST BE SAFE

    These first pictures show the car in static drop mode with measurements that I kept during the process. The static drop was covered already in a previous thread.
    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432094216.561592.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432094268.044150.jpg
    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432093954.007981.jpg
     
  2. Love the simple slammed, stock look. I'd call it done.
     
  3. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    System design included the following components.
    - Slam Specialties 6" bags (4ea)
    - Parker brand push to connect mickle plated brass airline fittings
    - 3/8" DOT airline (1/8" line for gauges)
    - Little Larry's manual 'Fourplay' valves/switches.
    - Purchased '150' size Nitrogen bottle (46" tall x 7.5" diameter) as 'owner bottle' from local weld shop (refills cost $21.00 each)
    - eBay laser cut upper and lower bag plates (I could have made mine but when I weighed the time it would take me to make them and the fact that hand made does not beat laser cut I chose to buy them instead)
    - eBay dual needle gauges (pair)
    - Nitrogen regulator on hand from our days of racing stock cars (freebie)
    - Scrap piece of 4.5" schedule 40 pipe from local metal supplier
    - 3/16" plate in stock in my shop
    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432095025.847319.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432095147.538171.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432095186.071854.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432095224.597825.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432095263.953391.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432095294.065421.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432095333.254207.jpg
     
  4. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    Ok design and layout are done on paper and components are in house, time to start building.

    I will give you a high level overview of our steps. This is not intended as a step-by-step guide.

    Removed front springs, reassembled minus springs and inspected to locate what was in the way of getting lower than the static job we had done previously. Removed the factory bump stop in the lower control arm, the lower 1.5" of the bump stop bracket on the chassis, a portion of the bump stop mount on the lower control arm and the outside 'lip' around the spring cup in the chassis ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432096081.176064.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432096111.433188.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432096153.394160.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432096182.546628.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432096217.294199.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432096258.589504.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432096302.096060.jpg
     
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  5. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    Once we made room for more travel, then it was time to focus on the cups required for the front bag mounts.

    After several measurements we determined that we needed a 2-7/8ths piece of the schedule 40 pipe sitting on top of one of the bag plates and then we made a round plate (3/16ths" thick) to cap the top of the pipe. This cap plate has a hole drilled in it for the stock spring retaining bolt to pass through the hole so we can mount the bag assembly later. We chose to weld this bolt to the underside of the cap plate to ease assembly and removal later.

    To summarize the front cups, you have
    - 3/16ths" round cap plate with spring retaining bolt welded in the center of it.
    - 2-7/8ths" piece of schedule 40 pipe
    - upper bag plate (with holes for mounting to cup and air fittings)

    We chose to weld the bolt, cap plate and pipe together then mount that in the car so we could determine how the upper bag plate needed to be oriented so the air fitting was aimed toward the center of the car.

    Once completed, the cups are bolted to the top of each bag and the bag assembly is screwed in to the stock upper spring retainer hole using the factory spring retainer bolt.

    With the bag assembly installed, bolt the lower bag plate to the lover bag mount and raise the LCA to captur the lower bag plate against the LCA. The lower plate should look centered in the opening of the LCA. If yes, the you should be able to tack the lower plate to the LCA then lower the LCA, remove the bag assembly and finish weld the LCA/lower bag plate mount.

    Rinse and repeat for the other side and your front end is done. ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432098316.153490.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432098370.164214.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432098401.186623.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432098450.020301.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432098484.078375.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432098508.091654.jpg
     
  6. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    The rear mounts turned out to be the same pipe dimension 2-7/8ths" which made it easy and familiar. These cups allowed my car to be level (as designed) when aired out.

    So the rear design in the same as the front.
    - upper cap plate 3-16tjs"
    - 2-7/8ths" pipe spacer
    - Upper bag plate

    The nice part about the lower rear mounts is that the factory mounts are the right diameter and are already drilled for the bags ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432099051.284501.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432099090.946440.jpg
     
  7. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    With all the bag mounts made, we moved on to mounting the Little Larry's valves and the Parker fittings to the valves.

    We mounted the valve assembly behind the center of the dash where the factory stereo was previously. This allowed us to hide the switches and gave us enough room for the hoses required to plumb the system.

    Air lines were routed through the passenger side firewall vent and then out the bottom of the defroster housing then along the passenger side frame rail to avoid the heat from the exhaust on the left frame rail.

    A simple tank mount was fabricated in the trunk to capture the bottle and ensure it does not move L/R or up down. It utilizes basic ratchet straps for now but a more permanent mechanical mount will follow at a later date ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432099925.600882.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    Once everything was installed we rolled her outside for a good look in the sun and loved it. First road tests were last weekend and everything passed.

    This is an overview of what worked on my car and is intended only as reference.

    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432100194.556646.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432100240.029212.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432100279.740689.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432100320.142239.jpg ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432100350.425537.jpg
     
    Gomojo55 and richard price like this.
  9. Devin
    Joined: Dec 28, 2004
    Posts: 2,352

    Devin
    Member
    from Napa, CA

    Your car looks great. I like the clean straight forward approach you took.
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  10. greaser 35
    Joined: Feb 15, 2010
    Posts: 623

    greaser 35
    Member
    from FRANCE

    Yeahhh baby!!!!!!!
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  11. hacknwhack
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 481

    hacknwhack
    Member
    from mass

    Thanks for taking the time to"Lay it out" for us.
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  12. mrconcdid
    Joined: Aug 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,157

    mrconcdid
    Member
    from Florida

    Love that 50 Buick Grill
    Good job.
    Godspeed
    MrC.
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  13. Fedcospeed
    Joined: Aug 17, 2008
    Posts: 2,011

    Fedcospeed
    Member

    Simple is better.I would be interested in how long your bottle will last.I know it depends on usage but a rough Idea is good.How many pounds do you have regulator set at??.The one problem I see is if you had a leak,then you are stuck down and with no way to pump up.Say you just had a loose fitting and took care of that quick,you still would not have a compressor to get you going again. Always wondered if a portable air tank pervision would at least raise the car up and get someone home. A back up plan would probably be a good idea.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  14. Custompainter99
    Joined: Jan 7, 2012
    Posts: 98

    Custompainter99
    Member
    from San Jose

    Is it 2 linked, 4 linked in the rear??
     
  15. LONG
    Joined: Aug 20, 2011
    Posts: 292

    LONG
    Member

    Nice mate.
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  16. Blase
    Joined: Aug 31, 2009
    Posts: 80

    Blase
    Member

    Great write up! thanks for documenting this. Would you by chance care to say about that you have into this setup in parts alone? No labor factored in?
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  17. LONG
    Joined: Aug 20, 2011
    Posts: 292

    LONG
    Member

    should be able to get a ton of dumps out of that tank.
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  18. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    I tried my best to knock that write up out in one sitting but of course after sleeping on it for one night I realized that I left some key details out.
    - bags are Slam Specialties SS6's good for 250psi and contain internal bump stops.
    - Car still retains all stock suspension including stock rear torque tube setup. When aired out the tube is apex 1/4" off the floorpan at midpoint of tube
    - Little Larry's valves are good for 150psi so that's what it's set at now. Over to
    E, I will nurse that down while watching performance and try to get closer to 100-120psi to maximize bottle performance.
    - with testing one weekend and first weekend of cruizing where I was adjusting it at every chance I could, I still had 25% bottle left SUN night
    - I have a Schroeder valve and a portable air tank so I can air up if the bottle runs out in an emergency.
    - Bottle refill is $21.00/ea so I can run almost 25-30 bottles through the system before I have spent what most guys spend on two compressors, an air tank, solenoids, wiring, filters, etc typically associated with an onboard 12v system
    - more to come as we continue to dial it in

    And thanks for the feedback guys, Mush appreciated!
     
    richard price likes this.
  19. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,314

    J. A. Miller
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Central NY

    I hope some cell phone talking idiot doesn't t-bone you in the right rear and shears the regulator off your tank.
     
  20. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    Agreed J. A. Miller. I am working on a steel roll bar for the regulator Now. Much like you would see on commercial truck bottles, it will thread on where the cap normally does and protect the regulator as much as possible.
     
  21. J. A. Miller
    Joined: Dec 30, 2010
    Posts: 1,314

    J. A. Miller
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Central NY

    Good to know. I'd hate to see your Buick doing assisted donuts through an intersection like some Chinese fireworks gone awry. Lol.
     
    FrozenMerc and Y I W O R K like this.
  22. CadMad
    Joined: Oct 20, 2012
    Posts: 582

    CadMad
    Member

    Can you clarify. Is rear a coil or leaf spring originally?
     
  23. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    CadMad - Rear suspension in these cars is coil spring. Lower coil mount is bolted direct to solid axle mount.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015
  24. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1432238343.265422.jpg
    Brought it to work WED, rides great
     
    Colt54chevy and Blase like this.
  25. Custompainter99
    Joined: Jan 7, 2012
    Posts: 98

    Custompainter99
    Member
    from San Jose

    so you need to air up each corner individually? is it tough to get a level raise or drop?
     
  26. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    Yes each corner is done individually. This allows each corner of the suspension to work independently of the others which provides a better overall ride when cornering. It is not hard to get an even lift at all. With gauges you can match the psi of each corner you desire and roll on down the road. The most enjoyable part is cruising the freeway smoothly at stock height then dropping it when you want to roll into the shows
     
  27. Blase
    Joined: Aug 31, 2009
    Posts: 80

    Blase
    Member

    Can you post a picture of the gages mounted in the car? 4 air gages seems like it would take up a lot of space.
     
  28. Y I W O R K
    Joined: Feb 19, 2014
    Posts: 54

    Y I W O R K
    Member

    They are double needle gauges Blase. Each gauge has two inputs so only two gauges are required. I will post a pic of the gauges later.
     
  29. Custompainter99
    Joined: Jan 7, 2012
    Posts: 98

    Custompainter99
    Member
    from San Jose

    Great post,, Good information... this is exactly what I was looking for...I'm bagging my 50ford shoebox
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.
  30. Gomojo55
    Joined: May 18, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Gomojo55
    Member

    Looks Great!
     
    Y I W O R K likes this.

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