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Technical 53 Bel Air rear end/suspension

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by RTi04, Apr 4, 2017.

  1. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    I know, I know...another Bel Air rear end question. I am sorry...I've been trying to research the answer to my questions for weeks now, but haven't had much luck. I'm finally adding some much-needed power to my Bel Air sedan, so I have a question about the rear end and the rear suspension. With the swap I have in mind, I'll probably be at +/- 350hp and want to make sure the power is properly supported.

    So, the rear end. I've read that the 4x4 S10 rear end works, but that you can't run disk brakes? I've got a line on a 70-80 Camaro 10-bolt rear end, but does anyone know if there are disk brake kits that will work on that rear end? Drums may be fine, but I don't know...I'm just more comfortable running disk brakes. I guess it's just a matter of what I'm used to. I can't seem to find any kits, but not sure if I'm looking in the wrong places, or if I can't find them because they don't exist. Or, if I find a kit, if I'll run into the same problem the S10 rear has with disks?

    Next question is, since I'm adding more power, any suggestions for upgrading the rear suspension? I have rebuilt the front and upgraded it a bit, but the rear is bone stock currently, so I'm worried that with the added power, it'll handle like a bag of wet hair. I've seen 4-link kits, but to be honest, I can't quite figure out what the advantage is with those. All I can really tell is that it's a common upgrade for those installing bags (which I don't plan on doing). Anything else I should be looking into?

    I appreciate any words of wisdom. Thanks!
     
  2. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,273

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    Heck, man it's a 53 Chevy! No need to make this difficult.
    Think of all the great powerful American Cars built from 1950 to 70. How many had rear drums....Like nearly all of them.o_O

    You can even adapt that engine to the original drive train and still have a viable and streetable car.
    So....
    Roll you a drum rear axle of your choice under it. Use the original Leaf type suspension and go from there. Rear parallel leafs are a good set up....pretty standard HAMB era stuff.
     
  3. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    Awesome, thanks F-ONE! I don't know why I'm apprehensive about drums, but like I said, I think I'm just not as familiar with them. So maybe I'll just put in new rear struts. The originals are probably pretty worn out. Thanks again!
     
    F-ONE likes this.
  4. High5
    Joined: Jul 2, 2012
    Posts: 185

    High5
    Member

    I do not know anything on the S10 rear axle. My '54 Chevy has a '57 Pontiac rear axle and works very well. But I'm not sure if there are disc brake retrofit kits. The Ford 9" rear axle would be another good choice and those should be adaptable to disc brakes. The stock springs should work fine. I've owned two '49-'54 Chevy's with 350 V8's and never felt the suspension was mushy. I would suggest you fabricate a pair of ladder bars or some form of traction enhancement. A panhard bar will keep the rear axle in alignment with the frame. Four link suspensions are nice if you want to fine tune stance and spring rates. But for street, it really isn't needed.

    Good luck with your project.
     
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  5. chargin03
    Joined: Jan 8, 2013
    Posts: 448

    chargin03
    Member

    I have a 2011 chevy truck and it came with drum brakes, disk brakes are not needed on the rear.
     
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  6. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    This is great, thanks guys! Your input is making me more confident about how the finished product will behave, and as a bonus, it's gonna be cheaper than adding parts I don't need! Again, your help is greatly appreciated!
     
    F-ONE likes this.
  7. After Hours Auto
    Joined: Mar 30, 2017
    Posts: 5

    After Hours Auto

    I have a 1973 Nova/Camaro 10 bolt in my 56 wagon, I would guess your 53 wouldn't be much different underneath??
    spring perches will need to be added of course, not a big deal. Rebuild the drums with a kit from "In-line Tube" and your all set. Drums brakes are fine. Build on!
     
    F-ONE likes this.
  8. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,273

    F-ONE
    Member
    from Alabama

    Well, that's what this is all about.
    Some questions for you....
    Does the car have open drive or more simply put, a removable driveshaft now? I only ask because a previous owner may have already done the rear swap for you. Stock, these cars used a torque tube that had the driveshaft inside a solid tube from the transmission to the axle.
    Tell us more about your car, engine transmission ect ect ect Photos would be nice too.:)
     
  9. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    No, it's all completely stock. Well, WAS stock when I got it. I've rebuilt the front end, front disk conversion, re-wired the whole car, converted it to 12V, etc. I haven't done the swap yet...this was a plan I've toyed with since I got the car, but I'm finally ready to pull the trigger, so I'm trying to make sure I'm armed with as much knowledge as possible so I don't have to do it twice. So it currently has the torque tube, but will be open drive when I'm done. As for the powerplant, I'm keeping it a secret for now...until I know it's possible, at least. ;) I'll try to get some pictures up of how it currently sits.
     
  10. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The things that I would recommend would be:

    A fresh set of rear springs. This will facilitate a few things. First, the ones in there now are likely as old as the car, and none-too-fresh. Axle wrap is not controlled by the springs in this car. It is controlled by the torque tube (enclosed drive shaft, attached to the transmission). You can think of that as a big swing arm. When you swap rear axles, that goes away. Since the springs were never built to control wrap, that now leaves them ill-equipped to handle it.

    Second, when swapping axles on these is that the locating pin on the spring is not centered on the axle tube. On a conventional leaf spring setup, there is a spring perch on the axle tube that sits on the leaf spring. There is a hole in the center of it, that fits over the bolt head, of the bolt that holds the leaf pack together.

    On this vehicle, you do not currently have fixed leaf spring perches, but pivots, to work with the torque tube. Those center ~1-1/2" ahead of the axle. If you are keeping your current springs, you will need to compensate for this when installing a newer axle, otherwise, your wheels will be that much forward of center in the wheel wheels.
     
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  11. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    Yeah, thanks for bringing that up...I was also curious about the locating pins. I was looking at new leaf springs from Jamco, and they have a rear-end option that lists the Camaro. Assuming I go with the Camaro rear, these springs will take that into account with the position of the locating pins? Or maybe that's a question for Jamco?

    On a side note, I had always wondered how the torque tube worked with the rear suspension travel, and you just explained that! That's interesting...the swing arm concept makes sense, but seems like an odd design choice.
     
  12. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    As far as I remember, from the last Jamco kit we installed, the pins were in the correct location for the new axle. I would double-check to make sure that was is still the case. This was a while ago.

    If you are planning on ~350hp, I would lean toward the Camaro axle, versus the S10 4x4 one. I know that they can be a little harder to find than the S10, but they are out there.

    Rear drums are fine. The biggest single reason that many OEM's have switched to rear discs has nothing to do with braking. Drums do not look as "bling" inside of big giant wheels.
     
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  13. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    I see a lot of mixed opinions on the 10-bolt vs. 12-bolt...you think a 10-bolt will be ok? My understanding is the 12-bolts were bit more robust, but I don't ever see them up for sale.
     
  14. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    They are indeed more robust. Unless you are planning on putting on some sticky rubber, and heading for the strip, a 10-bolt will be just fine. A 12-bolt will set you back more coin, and not really provide any additional benefit.
     
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  15. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    Again, I love the advice - especially when it saves me money! hehehe
     
  16. wizzard23
    Joined: Dec 12, 2009
    Posts: 733

    wizzard23
    Member

    I'm using a 76 Nova 10 bolt and a Chassis Engineering spring kit, pretty much all bolt in and works ok. Would like to add a sway bar in the future.
     
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  17. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Now, some things that you will need to take into account for when choosing that axle are the transmission and tire size. There are a few ratios that the Camaro would have come with.

    Whether or not you use a transmission with an overdrive, along with tire size, will dictate what would be the most appropriate ratio.

    Stock-size tire for these was 6.70-15. That is roughly a 205/75-15, creeping toward a 215/75-15. Either way, about 27-1/2" in diameter.

    On top of that, the power-level of the engine, and where it makes that power, will also play a role in picking that ratio.

    Here is a partial short-list, based on what I have built in the past, with good results, with stock-height rear tires:

    No overdrive, stock-ish V8: 3.08:1.
    Overdrive, stock-ish V8: 3.73:1.
    Overdrive, mild V8: 3.42:1.

    These were all for a balance of city and freeway driving, as found in my area. Your locale may dictate different. If it is all flat and freeway, or if it includes mountains, you would have to adjust accordingly.
     
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  18. ModelAPunk
    Joined: Aug 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,816

    ModelAPunk
    Member
    from Buffalo NY

    I'm running a 2nd Gen Camaro 10 bolt with leaf springs and drum brakes with a 327 V8 and 4 speed... Put the new posse 3" dropped leaf springs. It goes down the road nicely and drum brakes seem to stop fine.
     
  19. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    What ratio are you running in that rear axle, and do you like it?
     
  20. ModelAPunk
    Joined: Aug 4, 2009
    Posts: 1,816

    ModelAPunk
    Member
    from Buffalo NY

    Im running 308 posi in my rearend, not sure what my tranny gears are off hand... I love it! It Goes down the road great and if I wanna burn some rubber, i still can! Not too quick off the line though... But it's a kustom not a hot rod haha it cruises at 65mph without buzzing in your ears too, I'm running about 2200-2500 rpm at 65-70mph
     
  21. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The vast majority of 4-speeds have a 1:1 top gear.

    For the original poster, combined final drive ratio is transmission top gear times rear end gear.

    In the above example that is 1 x 3.08 = 3.08.

    With say a 700R4, which has a 0.70:1 top gear the same rear ratio would figure out to a combined final drive ratio of: 2.156:1. Too steep.

    You'd want something like 3.73:1, or so, depending on a variety of factors.

    That results in an a combined 2.611:1, which is a good freeway gear for some cars.
     
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  22. jeffyg82
    Joined: Dec 23, 2013
    Posts: 108

    jeffyg82

    I have a 53 I put a set of chassis engineering rear 3 inch drop spring in and the are giant p.o.s.'s I put a 2wd ford ranger rearend in mine good fit except for the offset drives haft if you want it low there will be tunnel work I have 3" springs and 3" blocks if you hit a hard bump the driveline taps the floor
    I have 2.73s with a th400 so 1:1 in high gear around 1700 rpm @ 60mph.... if you are looking for a good place for rear disk conversion scarebird.com if great stuff and the just sell brackets and tell you what rotors and calipers interchange from.... used them many times great products

    Sent from my SM-N920V using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
  23. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    X2 on Scarebird. Solid stuff. Many happy installs. Zero returns.

    I have a Ranger 8.8 in my Falcon. Keep in mind, different years of Rangers have different width axles. The drums work fine, but it can be upgraded to discs. The offset pinion is not an issue, as long as you have clearance in the tunnel (my tunnel is totally hand made to fit).

    A 8.8 guide can be found here: http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/Explorer8_8.shtml
     
  24. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    Thanks for the tip. I used a gear ratio calculator (which is a great tool, but confusing as hell), and that's what I came up with, too - the 3.73. Thanks again!
     
  25. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    I picked up my rear end last night (came out of a 73 Camaro), and the guy threw in the leaf springs, sway bars, and a box of random hardware. Does anyone know if the rear leaf springs will fit on the Bel Air? Or do I need Bel Air leaf springs with the adjustment made for the locator pin? It would be pretty damn convenient if these bolted up, as everything is in really good shape!
     
  26. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,482

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The Camaro springs are wider.
     
  27. RTi04
    Joined: Sep 5, 2015
    Posts: 54

    RTi04

    Ah, I figured it was too good to be true. lol Thanks!
     

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