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MacPhenson strut conversion.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by re-animator, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. Ask anybody with a Willys Aero and they will tell you the front end is junk. Good geometry, bad execution. The parts wear out quickly, the front end becomes too loose to drive, or the wheels literally fall off.

    I'm in need of a new front end. There are no replacement parts. I've looked. When the trunnions wear out, the car is junk. They used threaded trunnions instea of bushings on the control arms, when the threads wear off, the camber/caster is uncontrolled and the arms literally flop around and eventually fall off. I have a few of options, F or X body clip(just a hair too wide), mustang 2 (lots of cutting, expensive), or "gasser" (not much room front to back). Each with thier own challenges and reasons to avoid them.

    With the car being an actual unibody, not unibody on a frame (like early 60's Mopars) the set-up looks like I could take a strut set-up and make it pretty simple. No upper arm, just stick the lower arm in, add the strut...there's the stock spring pocket, I could just add a camber plate and BANG! there's the front end. Disc brakes, parts availability....it looks like a pretty good system that I wouldn't need a ton of money to do and wouldn't have to cut up the existing unitized frame ( collision techs know why I'd like to avoid that....)

    Promblems with the idea:
    1) Long enough struts. Where would I get long struts? Minivans?

    2)Control arm. I have the stock control arms. I could machine the arms for bushings or build tubular lower arms with heim joints or adapt the control arm from the donor car...

    This seems to be a simple solution, but I know what happens when you think something is going to be simple. IT NEVER IS.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Nice spelling in the title...I proof read the body but not the title...makes me look like a jeeeen-yussssss.
     
  3. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,967

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    I think it sounds like a great idea and you seem to have given thought to the various issues to resolve. I encourage you to proceed.........


    Ray
     
  4. Harvey29
    Joined: Sep 29, 2010
    Posts: 176

    Harvey29
    Member
    from kansas

    How about struts from a 79 and up mustang, they were pretty long with a spring in the frame plus lot of aftermarket parts available

    Sent from my DROID device using the TJJ mobile app
     

  5. JamesMcD
    Joined: Dec 19, 2008
    Posts: 138

    JamesMcD
    Member

  6. BOBBYA312
    Joined: Feb 12, 2006
    Posts: 140

    BOBBYA312
    BANNED
    from Ala

    Seems like I read an article where someone had installed a Z-car lower front crossmember and fabbed inner fenders for the strut mounts. Are you gonna catch hell from the traditionalists?
     
  7. aerorocket
    Joined: Oct 25, 2007
    Posts: 488

    aerorocket
    Member
    from N.E. P.A.

     
  8. Thanks for the replies. I say piss on the traditionalists. Struts have been around since the 20's. And isn't the tradition-to take parts from whereever you can and make them work? Maybe I slept through the part of the indoctrination where we all needed 4 wheel drums and 6 volt systems, sorry, I digress. That's another rant for a different day. There was a guy that grafted the front end off a 280Z onto his Aero. That was in Hot Rod a few years back. Aerorocket, your solution would be a good one, except the spindle shafts are so worn, they won't thread into a new trunnion if I made them. They're worn smooth and visibly under spec, literally oval from wear. How this thing didn't fail is beyond me.

    The trouble with the struts it spring diameter. The struts that are long enough have very wide springs. I have to take more measurements. I'll keep you all popsted.
     
  9. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 11,967

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

     
  10. I think you're on the right track. My 63 rambler has trunnions and it looks like its made for struts. It will just be a matter of finding what will fit in there well. What are you planning on upswing for steering knuckles?


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  11. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,493

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    You aren't far off. Nash pioneered the strut suspension in 1940. They had trouble with leaks and corrosion so they changed to the typical Rambler design with trunions and coil springs up in the fenders. The corrosion problem was eventually solved by hard chroming the shafts and the leaks by better seals.
     
  12. you can get coil over kits for struts that use a 2 1/2" spring very doable just be careful of the steering position the height and front or rear steer
     
  13. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,493

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    Promblems with the idea:
    1) Long enough struts. Where would I get long struts? Minivans?

    2)Control arm. I have the stock control arms. I could machine the arms for bushings or build tubular lower arms with heim joints or adapt the control arm from the donor car...

    This seems to be a simple solution, but I know what happens when you think something is going to be simple. IT NEVER IS.

    Knowing nothing about Willys suspension, all I can say is, if you find suitable struts that are too short you could make a spacer. A spacer would allow you to correct for the angle of the strut as well.

    I'm thinking you would adapt the strut and spindle by welding a plate on your stock lower control arm to bolt the ball joint to. Of course you will have to use your own judgement once you find a suitable donor suspension. No doubt there will be other problems like the location of the steering arms etc. It might be easier to take the whole crossmember and steering mechanism.

    The other thing that crosses my mind is not many rear drive cars left and front drive not very good for your use. Too much inward offset to the wheels.

    Mustangs have struts. There are some rear drive minivans with struts like Mazda and some Toyota. Old VW buses from the 80s have very short struts.

    You might have better luck perusing a junk yard with a tape measure.

    Good luck
     
  14. Heo2
    Joined: Aug 9, 2011
    Posts: 661

    Heo2
    Member

    Volvo 240. Crossmember that unbolts. RP stearing
    bolted to the crossmember. long struts. Big vented
    discbrakes
     
  15. aerorocket
    Joined: Oct 25, 2007
    Posts: 488

    aerorocket
    Member
    from N.E. P.A.

    re-animator I have at least 6 spindle shafts and the only 2 that are good I have on my car. I'm hoping by greasing them constantly I can make them survive. You are right the front ends are not only junk the A frames are very weak also the spindles are the size of a small fishing boat trailer spindle. I boxed the A frames which helps alot, I think a good pothole would put a hurting on the stock stuff. Mine goes straight real well but it needs some sort of front sway bar; way to much roll in the corners with the Olds up front. Good luck with your project.
     

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