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Lowering by mechanical means (rather than air or hydraulics)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by BarryA, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. BarryA
    Joined: Apr 22, 2007
    Posts: 643


    Just thinking out loud here:

    Has anyone ever used a mechanical system for raising and lowering a vehicle?
    The adjusters on many torsion bar front ends come to mind as a basisfor the idea.
    The thinking would be to run a drive to this type of adjuster with limit switches for up & down positions.
    Typically these adjusters would be set without weight on the car, and the limitation of normal thread to transfer load, and issues around wear are the first things that come to mind. As well as additional turning effort to raise/lower with weight on.
    Running on acme style thread (although coarser pitch will require more turning effort) and keeping things well lubed are possible solutions.
    Just wondering what other downsides there might be?
    For me it would seem relatively simple to engineer, and I like the idea that a system failure wouldn't result in the same consequences as say, a blown airbag.
    Also the fact that air-ride type kits are spendy and hard to come by where I am helps.

    Running a similar threaded drive to a cantilevered coil spring mounts would also seem like an option....

    Any ideas or experiences with this?
  2. 1964countrysedan
    Joined: Apr 14, 2011
    Posts: 1,131

    from Texas

    I will be the first...

    step away from the wine...
  3. T Fritz
    Joined: Jul 1, 2010
    Posts: 175

    T Fritz

    1955-56 Packard used an electric motor to add or remove tension from the rear torsion bars. This action was automatic and would level the car with changes in load.

  4. Skeezix
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 845

    from SoCal

    Like a jackscrew?

  5. 69f100
    Joined: Dec 3, 2009
    Posts: 734

    from So-Cal

    i remeber in a rod and custom i beleve, there was a car from the 50's with a full tube frame. a guy was building them but went under. anywho, there were two thick pieces of metal above all the suspension with notches cut out, his idea was to loosen a bolt and seperated two sets of notched pieces of metal, pull up the body afew notches on the metal, and then tighten it back down. so you could change your ride height in minutes. probably not to good of an idea since the cars werent al to popular hahha
  6. abe lugo
    Joined: Nov 8, 2002
    Posts: 2,531

    abe lugo

    This is a great post, if remember correctly a young Ryan was going to make some sort or mechanical contraption to raise and lower his '38. I believe it was in the Jalopy Journal.

    If you really want to do something like this you probably want to use some mechanical screw.
  7. miraclepieco
    Joined: Mar 17, 2011
    Posts: 103


    My lawnmower has cutting height adjusters; just a click of a lever raises and lowers the deck height :)
  8. AZbent
    Joined: Nov 26, 2011
    Posts: 272


    The aviation world uses plenty of jack screws to move flight controls etc. IMO the best way would be to mount the screw horizontally and use a hinged bracket to raisse or lower. Personally I think it would be very bulky, but doable.
  9. The Volare front torsion set up is really nice...
  10. Mike51Merc
    Joined: Dec 5, 2008
    Posts: 3,856


    Surely it could be done, but a jack screw (or multiple jack screws) would probably have to be run with an electric motor about the size of a starter motor with a gear reduction drive. I think an electric winch motor could work.

    Imagine all the heavy wires, heavy motors, and batteries you'd need and you start to see how compressed air is a lot more efficient.
  11. mrconcdid
    Joined: Aug 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,157

    from Florida

    Can it be done, sure anything is possible but should you is another question.
    How about using hydraulics, but in a non traditional way.

    Mount 2 small rams ( 4 or 6 inch stroke )Horizonally between the two Dog bones (keys) of your torsion bars this way you will still have a good torsion bar ride but with hieght adjustment. keep the system 12 volt and you dont need alot of speed or batteries.

    I know you ask for mechanical idea's but this idea is small compact and keeping your bump stops in place is the fail safe, no different than when a ball joint fails.

    Just a thought
  12. pastlane
    Joined: Oct 4, 2007
    Posts: 1,063


    A local guy here used hydraulics & torsion bars on his 50's pickup (chopped, channeled & sectioned). The hydraulics pulled the truck down. He logic was in the event of a hydraulic failure the truck would return to normal ride height. Still on the road 15+ years later.
  13. BarryA
    Joined: Apr 22, 2007
    Posts: 643


    Some good replies here - thanks all.
    I had figured there would be more of trhis type of setup around if it was really a viable alternative.
    Makes sense that size of motors and/or speed reduction system would probably be the big drawback.
    I am liking the idea of combining hydraulics with a sprung system though.
    Would love to hear more about that truck Pastlane.
  14. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,608

    Rusty O'Toole

    Packard's self leveling torsion bar suspension used an electric motor like a converted starter to level the car.

    The car had 2 torsion bars, one on each side, connected to the front wheel at one end and the back wheel at the other and floating in the middle. This allowed the rear wheel to react when the front wheel hit a bump and vice versa, giving a smooth level ride.

    It had the disadvantage of offering no resistance to changes of load. So to stop the rear bumper dragging the ground when the trunk was full, they added 2 short torsion bars to the rear wheels. These were adjusted automatically to maintain a level stance.

    The point is, an ordinary starter had enough power to trim up a 5000 pound car with a full load of baggage and passengers. So it should be possible to invent a torsion bar suspension that raises and lowers electrically.
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 1,248


    I vote for four corner trailer jacks, infinite adjustments, full mechanical reliability, no messy wires or hoses, impress your friends
  16. 1950 mercury
    Joined: May 14, 2011
    Posts: 21

    1950 mercury

    If you go to the web site press on the word in progress you will see photos of a 50 mercury chassis that has been built to be raised and lowered mechanicaly there was a write up about it in a 2009 magazine when you look at photos you will see what magazine it was from then just look up archives from that magazine and you will see how it works it hope this might give you some idea where to start.
  17. 1950 mercury
    Joined: May 14, 2011
    Posts: 21

    1950 mercury

    I forgot to say when you go to rosevillerodandcustom and press on the word in progress the photo you need to click on is roseville rod and customs project frame its a photo of a 50 mercury chassis they were building the write up about the chassis is in street rooder magazine of december 2009.
  18. BarryA
    Joined: Apr 22, 2007
    Posts: 643


    Thanks - will dig that one out.
    Don't remember seeing it: I subscribe because it is so cheap to get here but often don't read it :rolleyes:
  19. BIGB0SS E.D.D.
    Joined: Jun 12, 2011
    Posts: 44

    BIGB0SS E.D.D.
    from Oklahoma

    I did a real quick drawing of what could be done.

    It uses a bar to adjust the where the top of the spring lies. It would be possible to add a motor and a locking mechinism for it to be a hands free device.

    (sry for image quality, was taken with iphone)

    Attached Files:

    • 018.jpg
      File size:
      304.8 KB
  20. bdotson
    Joined: Sep 28, 2011
    Posts: 160

    from texas

    Handicap vans have a mechinical lower for the kneal feature? It has a chain that runs down through the coil spring and attaches to the rearend, comes up through the center of the coil around a sprocket mounted to the frame then to a screw like a electric trailer jack. will compress the coil spring untill it borroms out on the bumpers.
  21. jdubbya
    Joined: Jul 12, 2003
    Posts: 2,435


    That is alot olong the same lines as NASCAR, basically using jack screws to set up spring tension.

    I prefer to just sit low, and leave it that way.
  22. CutawayAl
    Joined: Aug 3, 2009
    Posts: 2,144

    from MI

    If I remember correctly, Cadzilla has screw leveling/lowering

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