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Getting it up: Nailing a Gasser stance without a straight axle?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Just Jones, Oct 10, 2010.

  1. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
    Member

    Yeah, I know there has been discussion about this topic. I've read every thread about it on here, most several times. But I still have questions, and maybe some of you have answers . . . ?

    So here is my situation - a little different than most of those in Gasser-land:

    I am building a '56 Ford, which has an early 70s Camaro Z-28 front clip. Why? It's my wife's car, and the clip gave me great HD brakes and suspension components to work with, with parts easily attainable at NAPA. Nuff said.

    By the way, the clip fits like it was made to be there. Perfect fit.
     

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  2. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
    Member

    So I know there are a couple ways to get the front end up with A arm suspensions, basically:

    A) Taller coil springs, and

    B) Spring Spacers (there are a couple types out there)

    With either one, it seems that for anything more than an inch or two of lift, ball joint spacers are also necessary.

    This is where it all gets messy with this build.

    I started by ordering big block Camaro springs right when I began working on the car. Got the box via UPS, and stuck with the rest of the parts I'd been stockpiling. By the time I got around to installing the front springs, I realized I had the wrong ones: they had sent me '
    67-69 big block springs. At 5" outside diameter (same as 55 Chev and most other pre-74 Chevs) these were too small. I needed 5 1/2" inch. Too late to send them back. Over $100 bucks down the drain.

    Here is what I am shooting for . . . although this 55-56 has a coil spring front end, it is modified Ford, not clipped like mine. But I love the look of it, although I hoping to go another inch or two higher.
     

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    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  3. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
    Member

    A little additional research shows me that there isn't all that much spring rate difference with small vs big block Camaro springs anyways, so I figure I'll go with plan B: Spring spacers. This should also help me avoid the bone jarring ride some guys have described with using heavy duty springs to get the lift they wanted.

    So I trades some hot rod stuff with a friend for a set of Eelco spring spacers (available through Speedway, I guess), and after a weekend-long search through my disaster of a garage for my Harbor Freight spring compressors, I borrow an old internal spring compressor tool from a friend and tear the front suspension apart.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  4. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    Turns out, the reason my friend didn't use the spacers is he couldn't figure out how to compress the springs enough to install them, then get everything bolted back together. I found this out after I spent another frustrating weekend of failure, fighting my front suspension. No go. Not even close.

    Besides not being able to fit the spring and the spacer in between the A arms, I realize that even if I COULD get them in there, I'd never get it bolted back together without ball joint spacers . . . another thing to find.

    Turns out, the spring spacers I have are real similar to the ones that used to included with the old Genuine Suspension kits, along with those infamous "C" style ball joint spacers you read about from time to time.

    I also noticed that the G.S. ones are angle-cut at the bottom, where they sit in the spring cup of the lower A-arm. Hmmmmmmm.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
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  5. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    Others have used this kit with success. It evidently provides about 6" of lift (which is actually about 3" more than I am looking to get) with no apparent problems. My understanding is that the '55 and the '57 below both use G. S. suspension components.

    I know the '55 is street driven, and the '57 gets a lot of track time, and handles quite well, according to the owner.

    I learned recently that the Genuine Suspension kits are now being reproduced for tri-fives. But that would be Chevys, of course.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  6. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    So I went looking for ball joint spacers. I've heard that the "C" style spacers can be dangerous as they are prone to breaking if made from inferior materials, and that they wouldn't fit my Camaro clip anyway. So I keep searching and find this style, which will work.

    Cal Custom used to make them, and there is a guy on Ebay who is now reproducing them for about $100 a pair, with hardware. I believe they are about 2" tall.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  7. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    These things are a bitch to find for my application, but I finally found a set today, which I plan on ordering, but that still doesn't change the fact that I wasn't able to get the stock springs and spacers to fit in the A arms.

    Maybe there is something about '55 Chev suspension that makes this set up easier to install? Its not like anyone builds 70s gasser Camaros, anyway.

    Nothing seems to fit . . . so what to do now? Maybe I need a plan "C" . . .
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  8. you might have to get special offset upper a-arm shafts. we lifted my friends el camino and we needed them to get it to align right. to lift it all we did was run big block springs, and an air conditioning spacer on top of the spring.
     
  9. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    Stock, the stance doesn't cut it.
     

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  10. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,371

    squirrel
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    You could leave the original springs in it, and pretend it's a normal car? since you're not stuffing a 430 in it. Or cut them a bit to get some rake, like a hot rod.

    or you could get a time machine and order stuff from the 1976 JC Whitney catalog? although they don't have much for "late model Camaros" either
     

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  11. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
    Member

    I did a little more digging, and found another style spacer. Supposively, you put these under your springs, and they give you a 3 to 1 lift ratio: A one inch spacer gives you three inches of lift. Plus they evidently glow. How can you beat that?

    But seriously, anyone have a clue about these? They are cast aluminum, which makes me a tad nervous when it comes to suspension components.

    These look to me like they would be MUCH easier to install.

    I believe this sweet '55 had them, plus heavier springs to acheive what looks to me to be a perfect stance:
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  12. burnin8
    Joined: Sep 13, 2010
    Posts: 44

    burnin8
    Member
    from Manitoba

    IMHO Seems you've gotten yourself into a bit of a pickle. You could have done something easier like unbolting the front assembly off an Astro van, or Commercial Chevy/GMC vans instead of clipping. (yes, some unbolt from the frame, and the commercial vans ride at the same height as most 2wd trucks). Maybe you could modify your setup to accept A arms off a truck or van, then most of your parts will still be usable...
     
  13. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    So ok, maybe this car won't have 450 hp, but it does have a nicely built 312, lots of removed sheetmetal to lighten it up, radiused rear wheel wells, fenderwell headers, some cool old Ansen traction bars, and other '60s street racer type-stuff to get the right vibe.

    It needs an agressive stance to go with it.
     

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  14. THE_DUDE
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,601

    THE_DUDE
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  15. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    Where do you get offset upper A arm shafts? Make them? And an air conditioner spacer? Is that a factory part?

    Thanks for the ideas -
     
  16. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    Despite the fact that the site gave me the heebie jeebies, that may be a great source for parts for my oddball suspension lift.

    Interesting idea.
     
  17. nocoastsaint
    Joined: Jan 5, 2006
    Posts: 413

    nocoastsaint
    Member

    I would avoid the ball joint spacers and the cast coil spacers. I used to work at a shop in Topeka and we did a lot of the 'donk' horseshit. Those cast spacers like to break.

    If I remember correctly a lift spindle for an S-10 will work on the Camaro front end.
     
  18. bulletproof1
    Joined: Feb 23, 2004
    Posts: 2,080

    bulletproof1
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    from tulsa okla

    i put a s10 clip under my 53 ford..there are companys that make 3" lift spindles for the 2wd .
     
  19. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    Yeah, but I bet they had SOMETHING that would have worked, thirty years ago. I'm still convinced (for some reason) that I can make this setup work, too.

    Pipedream?
     
  20. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
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    That may just be the way to go . . . better than those welded up, stacked spindles they used to use back in the day.
     
  21. nocoastsaint
    Joined: Jan 5, 2006
    Posts: 413

    nocoastsaint
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    Not at all. Just a little more work involved :) But that's the way this life goes isn't it.

    When doing the 'donk' thing on G-Bodies the lift spindle and a cut down C-10 truck spring worked pretty well. I would recommend using quality ball joints. The Chinese ones seem to enjoy exploding themselves with the heavier springs.

    Did you drop the rear at all? Lowering the rear will really add to the raised look of the front. 8Fleet9 has a 55 Chevy on here that looks pretty killer.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  22. AnimalAin
    Joined: Jul 20, 2002
    Posts: 3,417

    AnimalAin
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    By thirty years ago, the front bumpers were lower than stock. The same was true for quite a few of the quicker cars running forty years ago. As tires got better in the mid-to-late 60s, the need for elevated stances to get weight transfer and an intitial hook became less, and top-end aerodynamics (which dictate a lower front end) became more important. Do what you want, but plenty of bad ass hot rods raced successfully with stances not much different than stock, and if you are going to drive on the street, it will certainly handle better at that level rather than elevated like a DONK.
     
  23. nocoastsaint
    Joined: Jan 5, 2006
    Posts: 413

    nocoastsaint
    Member

    The gasser style has two distinct advantages over the donks, boxes, and bubbles.

    First - The gasser is cool and has nothing to do with 'hip-hop-culture'.

    Second - He will not be trying to push around a two hundred pound 26 inch wheel and tire combo.
     
  24. nocoastsaint
    Joined: Jan 5, 2006
    Posts: 413

    nocoastsaint
    Member

    Since he isn't trying to do This, I think he will manage just fine.

    Several weeks of my life I will never get back.
     

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  25. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 18,784

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    What a shame...... :( ^^^
     
  26. nocoastsaint
    Joined: Jan 5, 2006
    Posts: 413

    nocoastsaint
    Member

    Yeah, that was quite the project for not a lot of result.
    There are somethings that I will never understand.
    I am glad I am not working at a shop where I get those kinds of jobs anymore.
     
  27. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,243

    Hackerbilt
    Member

    Just go a little higher than the Camaro clip was designed for...maybe.

    You seem to be forgetting that your WIFES car will need to handle well for todays traffic and speeds, and by raising the suspension beyond the designed ride height your totally screwing up the whole design.
    Your alignment will potentially be beyond adjustment, the ball joints/tierod ends may get into bind and break on potholes...theres a whole list of reasons why this shouldn't be done.

    Cars received straight axles to lighten the front end AND to allow raising the front of the car without the handling issues that raising an SLA style frontend would create. It wasn't a styling exercise...although that is what its become now.

    Build your family a safe car...looks are secondary to safety.

    If you were set on having the car higher in the front, why didn't you just position the clip to allow for the ride height you wanted?
     
  28. Douglas B.
    Joined: Nov 18, 2008
    Posts: 64

    Douglas B.
    Member

    Those Spacers are junk! I used them on a buddies car and they didn't last for anything. I have the ball-joint spacers that you ordered from e-bay on my '57 right now. (I replaced the the ones that came with the car as their condition was unknown) Also I have early Impala (63-64?) rear end springs that I cut a coil off of. The thing rides great and handles just fine on the track and on the street. (Drove it to San Francisco and back from Phoenix) I am only about 3-4 inches higher than stock.

    If you have access to a local suspension shop I recomend taking your old springs down to them and asking for a heavier set and or different set with the same diameter, do a little research there. It will work and ride just fine.

    Good Luck!

    --Douglas.



     
  29. Just Jones
    Joined: Jan 11, 2005
    Posts: 928

    Just Jones
    Member

    Well, I didn't want to stack the stock frame on top of the clip just for ride height. The Camaro frame rails slid right inside the stock frame, making for a very strong, integrated, and safe modification - it was unreal how well it fit. Besides, the whole idea with the early gasser suspension set ups was weight transfer and traction, not - as you said - looks. So its about suspension.

    I would have gone straight axle in a heartbeat, but this is the route she wanted to go, so my task is to make it work and be a safe driver, as you said.

    To that end, I am not really looking for a "nosebleed stance" as has become fashionable, just a little lift. Ultimately, the car will probably sit level, with the bottom line of the rocker panels even with the center line of the front wheels. Pretty conservative.

    Additionally, this car is pretty much a period build (with a few obvious exceptions, like the clip and the Mustang GT 5 speed, but they aren't visually obvious), and the car is going to be raced as well as street driven.

    In the Defenders Car Club, we build for function before fashion, and drive the crap out of our cars, and that includes the cars owned and built by the girls.

    And by the way, my wife built the 312 and will be doing the body work on this car, along with much of the other work, like wiring. That's her below.

    Also here is a (poor) photo-chop of what I am shooting for, more or less:
     

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    Last edited: Oct 11, 2010
  30. I have a simple suggestion, how about a body lift? Use the parts you trust to raise the suspension as high as practical, then figure out how much more you want to go and put spacers on top of the body mounts. Sounds like you were within an inch or so of where you wanted it to be? That might buy you some more engine setback as well.

    Those Camaro stubs have a lot more "drop" built in than most 50s factory frames, so if you lined it up correctly, you probably lowered the car a little just swapping to the Camaro clip. Tough to get that back and more without really screwing up the geometry.
     

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