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55 buick rear end swap

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Sgt_Slacker, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member

    howdy all!!

    im in the middle of doing a engine/trans/rear end swap on my 1955 buick roadmaster 4 door sedan.

    (putting in a 401 2x4 mild custom 0.030 over, st400)

    ive been reading around, but couldnt really find a direct answer on which rear end will work!:mad: and has any body used "Chassis Engineering : universal leaf spring kit" ????

    what rear end will work and how to mount it??? pix and suggestions ALWAYS welcome! ;) thanks!!!
     
  2. DualQuad55
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,377

    DualQuad55
    Member
    from Epsom, NH

    No pics but I used ladder bars, stock style coil springs and panhard bar to mount a 57-64 Olds/Pontiac rear in my 55 Special.
    Just remember to use a rear which has bearings big enough to handle the weight load of your car,such as 12 Bolt GM, Ford 9 inch, mopar 8 3/4 etc...
     
  3. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member

    a company on craigslist in Los Angeles is selling this set up, this should work correct??? he says its made for 1 55-57 chevy car "55/57 Tri5 Rear 4link chassis - $550 (Pomona, Ca)"
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  4. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,531

    aaggie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Someone on this site used a Jag front and rear under his and it looked pretty easy and straightforward. Do a search and check it out.
     

  5. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member

    Ya Both Zman and Elpolacko did jags under these cars or off shoots thereof. Polacko's was an Olds...
     
  6. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member

    i checked it out, it looks AMAZING!! but im SUPER new to this and just learning to weld and do custom fabs. :( im just looking to put in a nice rear end that isnt too hard and easy on the wallet.
     
  7. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,056

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    A truck bar setup like on the coil spring 60 through 72 Chevy C-10 pickups would work fairly easily and simply. A lot of the air bag boys run those or similar setups. You would still have to come up with a rear axle that was the right width and as was mentioned before, could handle the weight of the car. The drum brake 76/78 Cad Sevilles (square ones) had a rear axle that is pretty close to the right width and has 11 inch brakes. High geared as all hell though but good for a road burner.
     
  8. 55-58 Buick frames are completely different than 55-57 Chevy frames.


    It's a ladder frame with a big X crossmember in the middle. I've seen some terrible abortions trying to straighten these things out. The Jag is a good option if you're not afraid of fab work. Another possibility might be to measure a mid-80s GM RWD car frame and see if the rearend and suspension from that will fit with all of the suspension and mount points. And the truck arm setup is another choice.

    Bottom line is there is no really easy swap, so choose carefully, measure 8 ways from Sunday, and go from there.
     
  9. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member

    Now, having been under that car at Elppolacko's looking intently, the only reason he ended up doing a lot of the fabrication he did was because the customer wanted the car unusually low. When you can't take it out of the suspension it has to come out of the frame. if the car was more stock height it would have virtually been a bolt in with very little fab work done.

    As far as cheap.... The whole car he pulled it from only cost about 400.00 dollars and he got the front clip, engine/trans for a future project, plus another friend pulled the seats and I got the gas caps for the Falcon wagon. Kinda like the gift that keeps giving.
     
  10. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member

    Years ago I helped a friend put a giant 9" out of an early seventies Ford LTD under the back of one of these, too. Rode very well when it was done and wasn't too hard to do.
     
  11. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,173

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL



    ........^^^^^^^^^^^^^^..........this !

    While there are other methods that have been successfully employed to do what you need, IMO the Chevy truck control arms setup (aka "NASCAR truck arms") is one of the most easily adaptable to the unique contours of the Buick Chassis of the late '30s thru the early '60s, of which I have owned several. They have a lot in common. Coil springs, Panhard (aka track) bar for lateral control, etc.

    There are several threads on this particular swap as well. While I readily endorse the Jag suspension upgrade(s), for someone starting out, the Chevy truck arms are probably the easiest to do with minimal equipment.

    The '77/'78 Seville has 4 3/4 inch bolt pattern, unlike the '79, which is 5" like the stock '55 Buick. Other good candidates are Mercury and Edsel 9" rears from the late '50s (also 5" bolt circle), Chevy Pickups from about 1971, Olds and Pontiac from the late '50s thru early '60s.

    Early '90s Caprice/Buick Roadmaster also have 5" bolt circle. Though bolt circle pattern is not an absolute criteria, as that, or the wheels, can be changed, it's just easier to start with one that matches in the first place.



    Ray
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  12. birdman42
    Joined: Jan 18, 2012
    Posts: 400

    birdman42
    Member

    Here are a few pics that were sent to me from a fellow hamber.This is the 60 through 72 chevy truck arms.
     

    Attached Files:

  13. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member

    WOW!!! THATS exactly what im looking for!! does he hav any more pix and/or specs on those brackets??? i have access to a FULL precision sheet metal shop and expert welders. i can have those made EASLY!!:D
     
  14. DualQuad55
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,377

    DualQuad55
    Member
    from Epsom, NH

    Dont know why I didnt think to mention them! Actually, I dont know why I didnt use them! Seriously though, at the time I was setting the car up for more adventurous acceleration and thought adjustable ladder bars would be to my advantage. Although they do work well for hooking up, the ride is not as nice as the truck arms would be and the truck arms can be made to hook up just as well if done right.
    The things you learn over the years.
    There are some aftermarket companies making the truck style arms new. You could essentially unbolt the stock panhard/track bar and lower coil spring mounts off your original axle, pull the whole torque tube/rear assembly then start setting up the new rear with the truck arms.
    Also, if you go over to V8Buick.com and search rear end swaps you can see a few setups done. One guy even converted his stock rear to run open drive. Said it was minimal work to do the seal and yoke. Then he modified his rear wishbone to go outboard of the drive shaft. He had pics posted some time ago, nice job.
    Anyhow, let me know if I can help at all.
     
  15. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,178

    TagMan
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I used the stock rear axle on my '55 and removed the torque tube. Worked fine with my 401 with a 4-speed. Even survived several trips down a drag strip (for fun, of course) and two trips to the HRR (about 1800 miles round trip).

    PM me with an email address, if you want and I'll send you a little write-up I did with some pics.
    -Bob
     
  16. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member


    pm sent, thank you very much!!!!!:D
     
  17. caddyrodder
    Joined: Feb 20, 2012
    Posts: 49

    caddyrodder
    Member

    Early 70's Torino/Ranchero 9" has a 63" track width and fit perfect in my '46 Cadillac. Since your Roadmaster is also a C-Body, it should work. Do some measuring.
     
  18. Swapped in a 1978 Olds Cutlass rearend in an afternoon in my 53 Buick with closed drive.. Used the Cutlass springs as well, dropped the car about 4", did this spring trick in a 56 Roadmaster convertible as well...
     
  19. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member

    bump.

    is there a rear end out there that will handle the 401 AND has disc brakes?? every1's ideas are awesome and will be doing a few but still no solid answer on the rear. sure i can go to pick a parts down the street and measure for fitment, but still have no clue what will be the best setup. :confused:

    p.s. please forgive me, im VERY new to the custom scene. ive been working on all types of vehicles since i was 6 but this is my FIRST major "surgery" :(
     
  20. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member

    i will be writing a huge article on the total swap when im done so others can do it in a fifth of the time. to include; pix, parts, companies, prices etc.

    and i thank every1 on this site for the help and support!!!!
     
  21. DualQuad55
    Joined: Mar 5, 2005
    Posts: 1,377

    DualQuad55
    Member
    from Epsom, NH

    they make disc brake kits for most rears now, several sources for 9inch disc rears,some 12 bolts i think had disc options. A good set of drums on the rear with good front brakes still work well though.
     
  22. Fat47
    Joined: Nov 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,268

    Fat47
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I used an 89 Caprice rear under my 49 Buick. Width was perfect and gave me a 5 on 5 bolt pattern like the original. Kept the pan hard bar and grafted the trailing arms to the Caprice arms and anchored them to the X frame. Lowered it with a set of 79 El Camino springs. I have the body off right now so if you want pictures PM me.
     
  23. WE are installing a kit in a 1955 Buick the kit is from "Hot Rods to Hell" . This is no bolt-in kit, there is some cutting and welding........this will also have a 401 dual four motor and an OD trans.
     

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  24. nailheadroadster
    Joined: Jun 7, 2006
    Posts: 1,522

    nailheadroadster
    Member

    Tagman has a great setup. Take him up on his offer for pics. You wont be disappointed.
     
  25. telekenfun
    Joined: Mar 9, 2010
    Posts: 250

    telekenfun
    Member

    I used a 91 Chev Caprice rear end from a police pursuit car. It was a perfect width and 5 on 5 that was needed for our 49 Super. For a $100 the wrecking yard chopped the frame in front of the trailing arms and behind the spring mounts in the rear. I welded temporary 3/4 sqr tubing to secure the geometric relationship between all the mounts and the housing. I then trimmed the trailing arm mounts and the crossmember for the uppers of the triangulated 4 bar from the Caprice frame rails. After trimming a little more I was able to slip the entire suspension into place and weld the Buick X member for the trailing arms and to the Buick's main frame rails the upper triangulated bars crossmember. The coil spring pockets even lined up within a 1/2" of each other. I was even able to use the Caprice E brake lines to match up with the Buick cable. The job took a day thanks to a plasma cutter and a few cut off wheels. I initially used the Police Pursuit springs but after driving, we discovered that the ride was too stiff and rear level was too high. Since we were looking for more of a low rider stance we had chose not to use the Buick spring that were about 4" longer than the pursuit springs. The Pursuit springs were made from coil stock that was half again as thick as the Buick's, and barely deflected at all. I switched out to some brand new Monte Carlo springs. The ride height came down to just where I wanted it and we also got back that plush Buick ride quality. So this another way to do the Buick rear end swap on the cheap.Best Regards and Good Luck with all your endeavors, KB.
     
  26. Sgt_Slacker
    Joined: Feb 25, 2011
    Posts: 97

    Sgt_Slacker
    Member

    UPDATE!! Ive decided, from help from friends and yall on here, im just gonna use the stock rear end and get a shaft made. maybe sometime down the road ill replace, but for now its the best bet. :D

    now the big question!! what drive shaft do i use that the splines match up on the ST400 and the stock 55?? (dont care about length, i can get that made to size. the splines are most important.)
     
  27. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,178

    TagMan
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    You'll wind up having to make a new drive shaft or finding something that will fit. I suggest a new one.

    Remove the stock drive shaft by removing the pin that secures the drive shaft to the pinion shaft. Take the drive shaft to your local shop that makes drive shafts, does balancing work, etc. and they can cut off the female end of the drive shaft and weld it onto a conventional U-joint that will match up to the new drive shaft. When you re-install the drive shaft, all you have to do is re-pin the stock end back onto the pinion.

    The front U-joint can be a standard unit that fits the transmission output shaft & the new drive shaft.
     
  28. windword
    Joined: Jan 29, 2014
    Posts: 4

    windword
    Member
    from alabama

    Hey CTFuzz, I am in the process of converting my 55 century to an updated tranny while keeping my 322 and have been looking at the kit from Hot Rods to Hell as a means to get rid of the closed drive. How did the kit work for you? Did you keep the stock rearend or go with another updated rear axle, and what type of suspension? thanks for your reply. winword
     
  29. windword
    Joined: Jan 29, 2014
    Posts: 4

    windword
    Member
    from alabama

    Hey Tagman I would love to get your description of the conversion you made on your 55 buick that allowed you to keep the original axle. I am planning on converting my 55 century. Keeping the 322 but replacing the dynaflo with an updated automatic tranny using a converter plate from Bendtsens to mount the new tranny (probably a 700r4)to the 322. I was also considering the torque tube converter kit refered to in this thread made by Hot Rods to Hell and was anticipating having to get a new axle and reworking the suspension, but I think using the current rearend would be great since this is going to be a cruiser not a racer. Please let me know if I might use your write up and photos to help in my project. Thanks for your reply. winword
     
  30. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,178

    TagMan
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    winword,
    I sent you a PM or "Started a conversation" or whatever the hell it's called now.
    -Bob
     
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