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Projects 1959 rambler super cross country wagon

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ccole, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. nickleone
    Joined: Jun 14, 2007
    Posts: 324

    nickleone
    Member

    Fullblast,
    Those AMC brakes are getting harder to find. If you are not a purist the SCAREBIRD conversion works well.
    SCAREBIRD makes disc adaptors for many other makes and uses parts store parts for a cheap conversion.
    My conversion on the 62 works very well.
    Next change is a T5 and the 8.8 rear.

    Nick
     
  2. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

    Thank you everyone I have a complete garage lifts everything needed tool wise I am ase certified master tech I was hoping to get advise from the knowledgeable group here on the peculiarities of this car before I started

    Sent from my SM-N920T using H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  3. farna
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,203

    farna
    Member

    Nickelone beat me to it! I'm the AMC/Rambler guy mentioned earlier. Don't get over here much, but check every couple months or so.

    Nothing wrong with the trunnion front end. It was made to hold up the Gen1 AMC V-8, which is heavier than any small block (about the weight of a big block, actually, a tad over 500 pounds). The only limitation is you can only get a max of three degrees caster before you start to bind the suspension. The trunnions are pretty fool proof and reliable as long as they are kept greased. The pre 62 cars use two trunnions, a ball joint and different lower arms setup (strut rod, similar to Mustang II) replaced the bottom trunnion in 62. Can't retrofit to earlier cars though. The big acorn nut like bushings in the arms can work out if they have been removed a couple times. I always tack weld them when rebuilding. You can generally take the suspension apart, clean, assemble with anti-seize, grease, tack weld the caps to the arms (just a small tack on the outer edge that can be reached with a chisel or grinder to remove), and drive for another 100K+ miles before doing it again. Doesn't hurt to file a flat on the "top" of the studs so grease can travel through better. See http://worldpowersystems.com/AMC/Front-suspension/index.html.

    One thing -- the guy who did the write-up in the link above is a perfectionist! I think he's an electrical engineer. The suspension doesn't have to be perfect, just close. He laments about it being difficult to get "just right". Well, it wasn't designed to be precise to 0.001" or anything like that, just "close enough" for production assembly.

    The front is really easy to bag, so is the rear. Do you have the original rear axle? Most use the spring seats off it on a replacement. Ford Ranger is a good replacement. Explorer is a bit wide. The early Ranger is perfect, the late model Ranger (93+, IIRC... see www.therangerstation.com) is 1.5" wider (Explorer is 1.5" wider than that, 3" wider than early Ranger). You might need deeper offset wheels if you use the late Ranger or Explorer axle, or narrow Explorer by replacing long side axle with another short side and shortening long tube to fit. I'd use an early Ranger 7.5" axle unless you plan on more than 350-400 hp ore really beating on the car. A stock LS or any other small block in a cruiser will be fine with the 7.5", and you save some money and weight. No point in overkill unless you think you might want lots of power later.

    There are lots of ideas on www.theamcforum.com for replacing the rear suspension. There is a 56-66 rear axle swap sticky thread in the suspension area.
     
  4. Squirrel, you mean like this one was. Remmember .? My drinking really went up those 3 years. LOL. Bruce. HPIM2056.JPG
     
  5. farna
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,203

    farna
    Member

    x2 on the Scarebird brakes. I recommend them to everyone wanting to do an AMC conversion. IF you go with AMC parts, only use 79-83 Concord/Spirit/Pacer brakes and spindles. Those are the easiest to get and lowest cost (except from four cylinder models). Last time I bought a rotor for the 79 Spirit brakes I have on my 63 Classic it was $55 -- four years ago. Last time I checked at an AMC vendor they were $75 each. Earlier model rotors are $100 and up, and even harder to find -- AMC vendor only in most cases, though an independent auto parts store may have a source. S unless you want something a bit more showy like Willwood or Aerospace Components (both make AMC brakes -- not listed for anything but Javelin or AMX, but easily adapted to the others with simple spacers -- grade 8 washers), Scarebird is the way to go. AMC calipers are cheap enough though, but they aren't AMC specific -- fit other makes/models.

    I've done about everything to a Rambler at one point or another, either my own or assisted friends. I'm subscribed to this thread, so will get responses in my e-mail. The old 56-62 bodies are VERY stiff compared to more modern unit bodies, even the 63+ AMC unit bodies. They hold up well to mods, and the trunnion suspension is light but tough, and MUCH better geometry wise than the much used Mustang II. The high mounted spring is very roll resistant, why the six cylinder cars don't have a sway bar and the V-8s had only a small one. Easiest way to improve handling is to order 12% stiffer springs. I've ordered several over the years -- 10% is good but not quite enough, 15% is just a bit on the stiff side. 12% seems to be the sweet spot -- just stiff enough you can tell on a rough road, but not enough to jar you. Improves handling dramatically! Order front and rear coils the same.

    You can use air bags easily on these coil spring cars. There is a catch though. Air bags don't have the travel of most coil springs, only 3-4", sometimes less, at ride height/pressure. They are a bit stiff, like 15-20% stiffer than coils. So you will feel it on a rough road. IF you do go with air bags go with the sleeve type. They have more travel than the popular double convoluted. You don't need expensive compressors and valving unless you want to raise and lower at will, and fast. Just use air springs and run a line with a shraeder valve to a convenient location, one for each bag. Then you can adjust with a bicycle pump. Cheap and works! That is if you just want to replace the springs and be able to adjust to conditions. A little hassle to adjust, but if you pretty much set and drive the cheap setup works. Got a bit of extra load? 3-4 pumps in each back bag fixes you up, and easy to lower pressure when the load is gone.
     
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  6. tomic
    Joined: Jan 8, 2008
    Posts: 115

    tomic
    Member

    here's my two cents on your car, and Ramblers in general...

    the earliest AMC years, the product line was physically two chassis: the "big cars", Classic, Ambassador, etc (including yours) and the "small cars", the American. the American is the old Nash Rambler series, warmed over style-wise for the then-new AMC product line. (AMC is to Rambler what GM is to Chevrolet.) the two lines are generally incompatible, though they share components (the six cyl engine, etc).

    there's nothing wrong with the trunnion suspension except they're unfamiliar. and admittedly weird to assemble, but once you see how they work it's easy. i have two pages on the web on details that makes it easy. far higher quality in design and construction than the later single lower arm/strut nonsense. if greased *at all* during it's life the original trunnions are still good.

    the big cars have torque tube rears and coils, small cars, open Dana 15's (with a weird splined pinion input) with leaf springs.

    i decided to simply master the 195.6 OHV engine and have found that it can easily be made quite reliable and improve power, though it's rev limited by the huge stroke, high mass and four mains. there's not any performance parts for it, though Galvin's sells/sold a reground "RV" cam. it's decent. i'm running EDIS and Megajolt Lite Jr ignition -- vastly more spark advance than the distributor can even be modified to do -- and a Weber 32/36 DGEV carb. i added full-flow oil filtration, a computer controlled electric cooling system. i just last week got back from the 24 Hours of LeMons Rally (not race) Hell on Wheels '16. five days of driving 12+ hours a day, 2000 miles, i ran it at 2700 - 3000 rpm half that time, sea level to Ebbets Pass (8700 ft) through Badwater (-120 ft). ambient ran from 60F to 110F. used zero oil and pulled like a (small, ok very small) mule.

    transmissions that fit are the performance limiter. you don't want the old Hydromatic. the Borg Warner M35 is a great transmission -- for 150 hp and under only. for manuals, there's the T96 -- do not waste your time or money, i can give you years of data on it -- with some effort you can get a T14 in there, and Modern Driveline made up an adapter for the T5. my next project is to fit a T150 with overdrive (annoyingly large project).

    the front suspension is fine, even geometry-wise. the rears suck. heavy! i ditched the leafs and axle, narrowed a Mustang 7.5" (lighter, and stronger than my six), designed a rigid wishbone (think: truck arms that meet up front) and panhard.

    FARNA is right about air springs but i disagree on some details. double-convoluted are "better", in that they tolerate misalignment that will kill the sleeve type. the convo's have internal bump stops, and tolerate overheight slightly better (and limit straps are easy to do). they do have reduced travel, but in practice i've been happy. it's more of an issue in the rear, but i think by simply tweaking air pressure and having set mid-ride height right it's far, far better than the leaf setup. and nearly 80 lbs lighter!!! i run 17 psi (!) in my rears, 30 in front. fronts were easy -- made a clamp-on "hat" for the trunnion upper seat, and a support from the chassis down. in rear, they fit between axle tube and "Frame" rail... air spring rate rate-of-change is funny; as you compress them the volume gets smaller, so they're essentially progressive. i'm running the smallest convos available and at super low pressures, so i get full travel as-advertised. heavy cars have to use correspondingly larger springs. smaller is better here.

    my mustang rear solve my rear brake issue (discs) and the latest Scarebird brackets bolt on with zero issues. i'm running a cheap new Chevy (common as dirt) master cyl, 1" bore, wish i had 7/8" but they work fine.

    my web site is http://sensitiveResearch.com. i'm moving all the engine stuff to http://195.6ohv.com "now", and i'm about to build another engine i think, after i do some more instrumentation to followup on experiences on the rally. i think i have *lower block* cooling issues; i have head cooling utterly nailed, done and done. i may have overheated engine oil too, so i'm gonna instrument that and if hot, add a cooler. (this engine was intro'd in 1941 at 75 hp, with HP more than doubled i suspect there's hot spots in the lower cylinders due to poor flow there; also the siamese cylinder pairs don't help here.)
     
  7. tomic
    Joined: Jan 8, 2008
    Posts: 115

    tomic
    Member

    oh yeah another thing about air springs up front: you can dial in ride height precisely, and you can't believe how sensitive a double-wishbone system is to ride height. setting the lower control arm so that both inner and outer pivots are exactly parallel with the ground is critical for alignment and handling.

    rambler's "spring over knuckle" design is crazy tall, limited future model styling, but wow does it have good behavior in turns -- unlike GM-style where the control arm's leverage over the spring *increase* with compression, the Nash/Rambler scheme stays equal. with height correct bump steer is nearly zero.

    i run 30 psi right and 33 left, so that when i'm sitting in the car the suspension is perfect. choosing wire springs is a PITA. plus they weigh more.

    i installed a schrader valve on each car corner and use a tiny double-acting bicycle pump to adjust, with a nice low-range dial gauge from Summit.
     
  8. farna
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,203

    farna
    Member

    I was aware that the sleeve type air springs required external bump stops (not a real problem to anyone who can fab the brackets for springs), but didn't know they were real sensitive to alignment. Makes sense.. the sides "roll" up and down. That would make using them on the back easy enough, but on the front they could be an issue. I was just thinking pivoting ends might work though... easy enough to make a spring seat with a pivot.
     
  9. thunderplex
    Joined: Nov 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,180

    thunderplex
    Member

    I have a '62 Classic 400 with an AMC 343 4-speed and suspension out of a '68 Javelin. Plenty of room under the hood.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sent from my SM-N910V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  10. tomic
    Joined: Jan 8, 2008
    Posts: 115

    tomic
    Member

    it's not that you/i/anyone can't make the sleeve type work, but they are a lot fussier with alignment than the convoluted types. i've run the small convoluted bags (Firestone 267c Double Convoluted 90006781, from RideTech.com) for over a year without problems, then bought a pair of small sleeve type (6007? i forget), got one mounted, and just didn't ... "trust" it. there's nothing inherently wrong with them! but in the rear suspension of a car they seem out of place, too small, too delicate and too easily messed up by some minor inevitable mishap in a homemade car. like jacking with the strap out, or rotating the axle installing it, whatever. reliability is redundancy and overbuild. the sleeve springs are very small (like a tall beer can) and the bag is thin, and with even 1/2" of misalignment they visibly distort.

    in fact i realized my selection logic was wrong to begin with, though it has worked out fine in the end. you want a large internal volume air spring, so that when it compresses/extends the volume changes the least. that gives the most linear "spring rate". but there's a minimum pressure too, so you can't simply oversize.
     
  11. tomic
    Joined: Jan 8, 2008
    Posts: 115

    tomic
    Member

    nice ride! gotta love those contrasty interiors. todays "world market grey" is so dull.
     
  12. thunderplex
    Joined: Nov 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,180

    thunderplex
    Member

    Thank you. In my opinion, Rambler always had great looking interiors and dashes.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2016
  13. farna
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,203

    farna
    Member

    1. All 56-66 "big" Ramblers (all except the American) have torque tube rear axles. While it's possible to retain the TT with a modern engine, it takes a lot and you're better off to use a late model Ranger rear axle -- about the right width (within an inch or so -- Explorer is 1.5" wider than Ranger). The 8.8" is popular, but if you're building a cruiser and not planning on banging on it the much lighter and cheaper 7" (or whatever size it is) is just as good.

    2. Lots of option for rear suspension. Universal four link kit, truck arms, etc. See http://theamcforum.com/forum/rear-end-swap-5666-classic_topic11214.html. But you will have to do some fab work.

    3. As stated, these came with the first generation AMC V-8. It's about 600 pounds and nearly the physical size of a 396 -- bigger than a small block, not quite as big as a 396. So there is room for any small block you want. The pre 63 cars used a four point engine mount system, two in front of block, two on bell housing, but the suspension crossmember is heavy enough to weld perches for later model style mounts. Oh, that little six is a heavy bastard too -- it's like 500-550 pounds... as much as a modern small block.

    4. The engine is heavier than any small block, and the suspension for the six and V-8 are the same those years. nothing wrong with trunnions as long as they are kept greased. Might need to be pulled apart and cleaned, reassembled with anti-seize and greased. Should last another lifetime. You can't get more than 3 degrees caster out of them before they bind, but that's the only limitation. Replacement trunnions can be expensive now, haven't been used in 40+ years (upper, 50+ lower), but not as expensive as replacing with Mustang II or similar.

    5. A hint about the engine.... discuss the mods to install on here, just say it's a SBC and discuss the electronics and such on another forum. It still mounts about the same as a standard SBC, and everything except the electronics is "HAMB friendly". It's a work around, but no one should mind.
     
  14. I'm in Portland and have a 401 ci AMC and turbo 400 sitting in my shop
     
  15. Barn Find
    Joined: Feb 2, 2013
    Posts: 2,320

    Barn Find
    Member
    from Missouri

    A Nash Fireball or Vigilante 327 would be pretty cool in there.
     
  16. farna
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,203

    farna
    Member

    The Nash V-8 is what would have come in the Rebel (58-60 V-8 Ramblers were badged "Rebel"), the original 250 cubic inch size. The Rambler Ambassador those years got the 327 exclusively. There was no Rambler V-8 in 61-62 except the Ambassador. Dealers complained enough that AMC made the 287 available mid model year in 63. You could use the drivetrain from any 57-62 Rambler with a V-8 (Rebel or Ambassador.... Ambo longer wheelbase extension is all in front of the firewall) as a donor. The 57 Rambler had the 250 V-8 as an option, but wasn't called Rebel yet. The 1957 Rebel was a special edition car, only 1500 silver with gold side insert made, and used the 327. Second fastest car off the showroom floor in the US at the time of introduction!
     
  17. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,886

    jnaki

    Hello,
    This is the only car we have ever owned for 30 days. It was our only mode of transportation when we visited friends on Kauai back in those early years. Not too many miles, obviously a local car, and was trouble free except that we punched a small hole in the gas tank going over some rough terrain coming back out of a jungle road that led to a surf spot.
    A little fiberglass cloth, resin, fiberglass shreds, etc, fixed it in no time flat.
    Jnaki
    We only owned it for 30 days because we needed transportation for the whole summer vacation. (bought it off of a used car lot in Lihue) But, I got really sick after 30 days (food poisoning from a restaurant) and had to fly back home, otherwise, it would have been a 90 day ownership. We gave our interest of the car back to our friends to keep at their house in Hanalei. A small price to pay for a great vacation while it lasted.
    upload_2017-3-1_5-0-22.png
    The 4 door Rambler held 4 big guys easily and sometimes, a 5th person(wife)...A very cool car, indeed.

    CHECK OUT:
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/vintage-surf-transportation.326942/page-3
     
  18. farna
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,203

    farna
    Member

    Fixed error in link ("d" shouldn't be on the end)
    https://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/6002803931.html

    Hmmm... use my link and it still comes up nothing found, and the address has that "d" on the end! Just go to address bar and delete the "d" on the end then it will go to the page.
     
  19. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,133

    sololobo
    Member

    the whole world uses the 350/350 combo, just sying. I let a 57 Cross Country get away from years ago and have regretted in since. Really cool and rare cars, pull into an event with this baby and you will turn heads, you don't have to open the hood!
     
  20. exterminator
    Joined: Apr 21, 2006
    Posts: 1,513

    exterminator
    Member

  21. farna
    Joined: Jul 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,203

    farna
    Member

    That works exterminator! Don't know why my attempted fix didn't.

    sololobo -- the 350/350 combo IS popular.... one reason I just don't think much about it. Anyone can do it... try something a bit more interesting for a change! But it is economical and practical...
     

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