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Front end likes to float on my 50 Chevy-please help!!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by dimebag, Dec 27, 2009.

  1. dimebag
    Joined: May 16, 2009
    Posts: 622

    dimebag
    Member
    from Joliet, il

    Hi everybody, I am collecting parts this Winter for a 235 swap and figured that I might try to tackle more problems in the Spring. I noticed that when I do over about 60-65 the front end of the car loves to float, and I mean BAD!!! It feels like I have no steering at all or I will go too far and it hooks...very dangerous. What could this be, I know that it has new kingpins in the stock suspension, I also believe it has newer shocks. I know that with the suspension it was never designed to go 100+, but I don't want to kill myself or anybody else while going somewhere. Is the mustang 2 suspension a cure all, I need something that I can more or less bolt on. I'm not sure if somebody heated the springs in the front or ??????? I'm finding out more and more that this car was really Mickey Moused together and while I am keeping it more of a 50's style cruiser, my main goal is safety. Any and all help is always appreciated, oh yeah the car is running 14' rims and newer radial tires.
     
  2. hotrod-Linkin
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 3,382

    hotrod-Linkin
    Member

    when is the last time you checked the idler arm or tierod ends and steering box adjustment? might be a starting point.
     
  3. Assuming your lugnuts are all tight, the bushings and stuff in the steering are probably worn. They were never that great in the first place. If the springs were heated, it would just ride terrible and maybe bottom out or hit on high crowns and things.

    a Jaguar front end is a cheaper alternative to a Mustang-II kit, also.
     
  4. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,487

    49ratfink
    Member
    from California

    I had a V8/auto powered 49 sedan with the stock front and went past 80 on a few occasions with no problems. of course it will never be like a late model, but I never felt my safty was compromised.

    get a manual if you don't have one and adjust the steering box. it's a bit more than just tightening the screw and nut on the box, but really simple.

    I replaced the tie rod ends, as well as rebuilt the idler arm and had the alignment checked. everything else on mine was in pretty good shape.

    back then all the pivot points relied on grease much more than modern cars. no grease and parts start to wear. I've disassembled a couple of these front ends to part out and saw some serious wear.

    chassis engineering makes a bolt in MII crossmember. I'd recommend that if you don't weld rather than pouring money in the stock front suspension.

    I put disc brakes on mine, as well as the previously mentioned repairs and adjustments. I had one cut coil and it bottomed out on bumps, and it still had the slow steering.

    I spent a bunch of money polishing a turd. I could have put that towards a MustangII and been much more happy.
     

  5. southerncad
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 844

    southerncad
    Member

    FWIW, it might be a good idea to check the air pressure in the tires. I just bought a '65 Mustang (for re-sale only!:)) and it floated all over the place once you got to about 55 mph, and this was with the new tires that were on it. So when I checked the air pressure they had 46 psi in them:eek::eek:, so needless to say I lowered the pressure to 32 and it drives like a new car. Hope this helps.:D
     
  6. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,964

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    Assuming all parts are in good shape and aligned properly, put an antisway bar on it. The bigger the better. Soft (original type) springs and stiff bars are an excellent street combination.
     
  7. Kentuckian
    Joined: Nov 26, 2008
    Posts: 842

    Kentuckian
    Member

    When I first got my '40 Chevy years ago, it had a tendency to wander at highway speeds. Finally figured out it needed the toe adjusted. It was toe'd out and the front tires wanted to follow whatever imperfections were in the road. After I adjusted some toe-in to the front, the car settled down and drove nicely.
     
  8. Dave Downs
    Joined: Oct 25, 2005
    Posts: 929

    Dave Downs
    Member
    from S.E. Penna

    If all the mechanicals are good get it aligned; you'll probably have to find an old-timer to do it right....

    That is not a bad front-end, it was used in Corvettes up until 1962, and they would go over 100mph...
     
  9. dimebag
    Joined: May 16, 2009
    Posts: 622

    dimebag
    Member
    from Joliet, il

    I already checked the eay ones, the tires are 32 psi, the lugs are tight. But I need to check the idler arms, and have been thinking about the sway bar, but I don't want to keep throwing good money after bad into a shitty front end. Thats why i keep thinking mustang front end. But I am on a tight budegt and need to find the right economical choices. Thanks again and keep it coming guys!!
     
  10. fordcragar
    Joined: Dec 28, 2005
    Posts: 3,180

    fordcragar
    Member
    from Yakima WA.

    When I think of float, I think of the front end floating up and down; which would probably be shocks.

    If I think of wander, I think of side to side or dart back and forth. As has been mentioned this is caused by either alignment or a worn front suspension; it could even be bearings. Either you can check it yourself or take it to an alignment shop, they would probably tell you what is wrong, if they tried to align it. Jack up the front end and check for looseness in each knee assy, also grab the tire/wheel and push/pull in and out and check for looseness.
     
  11. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,964

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    A new coil spring that's not work hardened by 60 years of bumps will drastically improve ride and handling, even if it's a duplicate of the stock spring. Most people do not think of springs as wear items......but they are.

    A high quality shock, (better than a parts store monroe) will also do wonders for ride quality. Handling will also improve due to improved tire control. KYB gas-a-justs are a lot of shock for the money, edelbrocks are 2x the price but great.

    There really is no need to cut the front off your car chasing high speed stability. What's there will be sufficient with some bolt-ons. The reason to go to MII parts involves cost effectiveness for things like disc brakes or rack & pinion steering.

    Suspensions require tuning just like engines. Decent springs, good shocks, front bar over an inch, rear bar in the 5/8 range. The ole girl will drive like a dream at triple digits. Good luck
     
  12. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,964

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    BTW, shot rear spring bushings are not only hard to see when the car's assembled, but will make em real darty at high speed. If the front is boating up/down it's working the hell out of those bushings. good luck
     
  13. puschrod
    Joined: Mar 3, 2009
    Posts: 27

    puschrod
    Member

    I'm with kentuckian on this one, check your toe. If that ain't right it will make the front end feel like your pushing a wet noodle down the road. The front ends on those cars are out dated but work fine. Like was stated earlier, they used it on the corvettes. MII isn't the cure all it's made out to be but, if you do go that route I'd reccomend manual rack.
     
  14. SHOE-BOX-JOE
    Joined: Jun 30, 2006
    Posts: 109

    SHOE-BOX-JOE
    Member

    yours floats mine shackes. might be time to change out your inners and outters a arm bushings. check out kanters.com for the rebuild kit. But if you can take it to an alignment shop and have them check it out. Your front end is bullet proof if you take care of her.


    good luck
     
  15. 61 chevy
    Joined: Apr 11, 2007
    Posts: 891

    61 chevy
    Member

    a too skinney tire on front will do that too on a old car
     
  16. Johnny Gee
    Joined: Dec 3, 2009
    Posts: 10,794

    Johnny Gee
    Member
    from Downey, Ca

    Thats the first thing that came to mind.
     
  17. dimebag
    Joined: May 16, 2009
    Posts: 622

    dimebag
    Member
    from Joliet, il

    OK I am looking at keeping the stock front-end which is cool budget wise, but does anybody know where I can get sway bars for this car w/ stock suspension??? I know of an old school alignment shop that should be able to help me out, and I want to keep this car a driver. Thanks again for all the help!!!
     
  18. uglydog56
    Joined: Apr 8, 2008
    Posts: 331

    uglydog56
    Member

    Check the toe, which you can do at home with assistance. Lay a 2x4 against the outside of both of the front tires. Get your wife/neighbor/drinking buddy to hold it in place on one side. Use a tape measure and measure the distance across directly in front of and behind the tires. The distance should be 1/16" to 1/8" narrower in front. Clear as mud? You can adjust the toe yourself at tie rods, just roll the car back and forth a couple times after adjustment before remeasuring.

    If that's okay, then it's time to replace the idler arm.
     
  19. I don't know anything about that front end, but on a later model car with tie rod ends, your toe will be real sloppy if they are worn. As straight line speed increases it will tend to "push" the tires apart if the settings are wrong, and if their is a bunch of slop in the tie rod ends (which is basically where the suspension connects to the steering linkage and also where the toe setting are maintained)-- Add to that a little slop in the steering box and you've prob got what you're describing.
     
  20. Krobe
    Joined: Jul 10, 2007
    Posts: 75

    Krobe
    Member

    I have a '50 Chev fastback with the original front end;...experienced the same thing. Fixed it by installing new shocks and replacing the rubber bushings on the original sway bar. The old bushings were hard/cracked/loose;...found new ones at local O'Reileys for about twenty bucks. Good luck.
     
  21. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,964

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    I can't help you with specifics, but can tell you the basic layout of a 50 chevy isn't that far off RWD models from the 70s-90s, so something out there is going to be easily adaptable. And most of those models also have generic big diameter bars available thru suppliers like OPG. Undoubtedly though, somebody makes original fit bars and probably have since the 70s (towing kits)

    Before aftermarket big bars became available at reasonable prices, we used to fit bars from other cars, or in some cases install a second bar. All the labor in custom mounting a bar is in roaming the junkyards with a tape measure, and it's the cheap way too. Make a little sketch of your lower A arms and frame with some key dimensions, take it with you. Poly bushings are worth the premium for this application. Good luck
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
  22. 50 styleline
    Joined: Oct 25, 2006
    Posts: 42

    50 styleline
    BANNED
    from Maryland

    Dime,
    I have had my Grandfather's 50 Fleetline since he bought it new. I was stuck in a ghetto-so I know the money problems!! I had to keep it a daily driver to avoid taking the bus-or I would of shot somebody. I have put in kingpins(with a 50 ton Locomotive jack=dangerous),idler pin,the whole front end!
    The guys above give good advise; but you need to know how to save every "dime"!
    1st jack the car up and use stands. Check all steering connections wheel to wheel.
    Do this in daylight and night; you will see more.
    Use a 2X4 under each wheel and lift through it's centerpoint-this checks kingpins.
    Check steering wheel play with little finger=worm and sector adjustment
    2nd Find a friend or ask a garage owner if you could use their name to buy wholesale; you will pay the tax-IMPORTANT!!-this is trust!;you can save 50%-yes I worked Chevy parts for summer college$ it has saved me thousands.
    3rd Get your car lined up at a shop with 4 way laser-this will really save you money-DON'T USE A CHAIN STORE
    4th Enjoy your ride when it tracks like a laser; drive cross country and back,drop a B&B BB in it-add R&P-add disc 4x behind Keystone's
    5th buy a house in the country
    If I can help with upper outer A pins to the ring gear let me know. Dr Fly
     
  23. 50 styleline
    Joined: Oct 25, 2006
    Posts: 42

    50 styleline
    BANNED
    from Maryland

    Dime,
    The gang here has plenty of photoshop learning tools.Check out "Street Rodder" 1954 Chevrolet- Getting the drop on 49-54 Chevys. Article has excellent photos of how caster,camber,toe in are done. You will also learn how to replace the worn parts(if any). Good luck Fly
     

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