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Technical Updating a 55-57 Chevys Suspension?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Elcohaulic, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,304

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    I was thinking about picking up a 55-57 Chevy. The issue is I like my old cars to go down the road decently. I'm not talking pro touring with those goofy looking wheels so don't beat me up, I want 15" wheels.
    Does it take a lot to get them half way decent so I can stay up with moms mini van in fast paced city traffic? I drive my old car about 10,000 to 15,000 a year..

    I'd love to have a 55-57!! I never owned one, shame on me and I'm 60!!

    Thanks guys!


    57 chevy.jpg 57 chevy 2.jpg 57 chevy 3.jpg 57 chevy 4.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
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  2. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 19,150

    Moriarity
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    55-7 chevies drive wonderfully with the suspensions they were born with. I have 2 55's and wouldn't dream of changing them.the 55 I had in the eighties and 90's went to many out of state events and I put over 100000 (a hundred thousand) miles on it over 20 years
     
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  3. Bird man
    Joined: Dec 28, 2009
    Posts: 576

    Bird man
    Member
    from Milwaukee

    Decent wheels & radials, a 1 inch sway bar, a little extra caster & you may be pleasantly surprised.
    Also some performance shocks.
     
  4. Stock under mine.
     
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  5. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,846

    squirrel
    Member

    this is what I had on my 55, put close to 100k miles on it over 20 years. I put in some of the modern bushings, because the stock replacements wear out.
     
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  6. chevy57dude
    Joined: Dec 10, 2007
    Posts: 5,769

    chevy57dude
    Member

    Yep, yep. You just cut the frame off at the firewall, get some 2x4 box tube and a straight axle, and...
    Uh, nevermind..
     
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  7. oldsman41
    Joined: Jun 25, 2010
    Posts: 1,282

    oldsman41
    Member

    55-57 is pretty nice riding steering cars in my opinion.ive had a boat load of 55s the last one i did put big sway bars on. New springs and progressive shocks seem to help but probably not needed.
     
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  8. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,304

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    Music to my ears!!!
     
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  9. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,304

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    Okay great! I'll just put a little positive caster on it and call it a day..

    I plan on keeping the drum brakes, are they 11"?
     
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  10. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 19,150

    Moriarity
    SUPER MODERATOR
    Staff Member

    11x2 on the front. stock brakes on mine and they are fine
     
  11. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,846

    squirrel
    Member

    11x2 front, a little narrower in the back. They're good brakes, of course you need to make sure everything about them is "right", and drive the car as you would have driven a car back then--leave room in front of you.
     
  12. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 7,111

    jimmy six
    Member

    In the mid 60's these were old cars needing front end work. None of the a-arm bushings were greased and a spray wax lube is what we used. I was easily washed away before the lube job was due. We needed offset upper shafts and got really good putting them in. Today there are better bushings and up grades including disc brakes, master cylinders, and later model steering boxes...all good. Original 55 rear ends were not as good as the 56-7 and anything you can think of has been put under them.
    If I remember they had ball bearing spindle bearings which did not like any offset wheels. I love them for land speed but nothing else. I too like 15" wheels and only changed from a 5" to 6" on my 56 (non Chevrolet) to keep what I call the normal look. Conestoga wheels and fork lift tires will turn me away from any car.
    One of the best things is you can buy them in any configuration you can think, complete, show, restored, daily driver, etc. The other great thing is everything is available to bring to the condition you like.
    If your willing to spend $30K on a 2018 (insert anything here) and throw it away in 10-15 years why not spend 30 on a tri-5 and probably not loose anything or if you do who cares. I bought my 56 for "too much" and spent "too much" redoing a lot of things over but I love it and wouldn't change doing it again if I had too.
    I like your plan, now just execute it and don't ask permission of the wife.....its easier to ask forgiveness.
     
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  13. lumpy 63
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
    Posts: 1,309

    lumpy 63
    Member

    Roller bearing conversion a great Idea , back in the day I think they used 68 Impala front hubs or something ..Danchuck sells a bearing kit . I remember having problems with shitty aftermarket ball bearing replacements.
     
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  14. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,758

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    1971/72, I seem to recall putting tapered rollers in my 57 Chevy as stock replacements.
    I want to say they were a 58 application part number.
    I know, why would they not be meant for the tri five cars too if they fit, a lot of wheel bearing grease in these fingernails since then to remember the details.
     
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  15. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,628

    gimpyshotrods
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Just freshen everything up.
     
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  16. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,353

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    NO power steering, NO power brakes, but also NO vacuum wipers; those never made sense to me. I'm on my TENTH 56 Chevrolet, and I've had a few 55's and 57's also. NO complaints from me on how they handle; I like to DRIVE my cars, NOT get DRIVEN by them. Small steering wheels to boot; but I'm thinking about putting a stock wheel back on my current Delivery; it'll look good, and help some with the turns. I am Butch/56sedandelivery.
     
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  17. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,758

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    One of the first things I did to my 57 was put electric wipers on it, I got caught in a big rainstorm on a long downhill road, swore never again.
     
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  18. Kerrynzl
    Joined: Jun 20, 2010
    Posts: 2,284

    Kerrynzl
    Member

    Radial Tyres is the best improvement.
    Then Front and Rear swaybars [You need to do both to prevent understeer]
    But just for comfort a 1" or larger front swaybar is needed to prevent the bench seat trying to throw you out the side window.

    If you have a power steering box,[CPP500 etc] consider new upper A-Arms that add 5deg caster.
    Without Power steering, just add a "Brodie Knob" to the steering wheel
     
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  19. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 27,506

    Mr48chev
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    As in any older car or car with some miles on it, making sure that the suspension is in top shape and having a few simple upgrades like better but not a whole lot stiffer shocks and the sway bar help a lot. There should be some upgrade brake lining available too that might stop a bit better.
     
  20. 56sedandelivery
    Joined: Nov 21, 2006
    Posts: 6,353

    56sedandelivery
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    There you go; radial tires can help like you won't believe, but I've also heard of guys swapping to radials, and then their full size wheel covers won't stay on (NOT the true HUB CAPS)-(ChevyTalk.Org). Like I already said, I like to DRIVE my older cars, including my DD 80's truck; I would't have anything less or newer. I am Butch/56asedandelivery.
     
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  21. Deuces
    Joined: Nov 3, 2009
    Posts: 18,698

    Deuces
    Member
    from Michigan

    Oh, no..... Keep goin'!!!!..... ;)
     
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  22. Gearhead Graphics
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 3,601

    Gearhead Graphics
    Member
    from Denver Co

    Mine has poly bushings, 605 box power steering conversion and discs in the front. Radial tires. Drives just as good as any modern car out there. I don't do anything wild with it, but its a dream to drive
     
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  23. choptop40
    Joined: Dec 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,647

    choptop40
    Member

    Pretty much the concensus , freshen. Drive...
     
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  24. All I did to mine is rebuild with new components and lowering front springs and power disc brakes on the front. I personally don't think anything is wrong with tri five Chevy suspensions.
     
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  25. J&JHotrods
    Joined: Oct 22, 2008
    Posts: 549

    J&JHotrods
    Member

    Stock appearing, increased-caster upper a-arms, 14:1 p/s gearbox, 1 1/8th" sway bar, and a rebuild on all the wearing items (we chose 3" drop spindles with 12" '92 camaro 1LE cop car disc brakes, manual), rides just like a '57 should, put it in a corner and it's like a new modern ride, perfect feel & road feedback in the 15" steering wheel. Ours isn't a corner carver but it has very predictable handling should the need for an 'evasive manuever' arise lol. Very pleased with the outcome.
     
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  26. Elcohaulic
    Joined: Dec 27, 2017
    Posts: 1,304

    Elcohaulic
    Member

    I'll get a Lee steering box and pump. I love there 14:1 with a 30lb valve. It's fast, snaps back hard after turns and going down the road feeds back like manual but has assist for parking.. It is a two handed box..

    I actually like drum brakes (and points). I recently discovered Porterfield brake linings thanks to HAMB. They made a huge difference on the stock brakes on my 69 el Camino. I used there R4-S pads and shoes..

    The terrain here in Pittsburgh is all hills and tight bends. That's why the interest in suspension. Not looking for a pro touring car just a fun cruiser. Sounds like there will be no issue with the Tri Five. There is probably more info on the tri five then any other car out there.
     
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  27. olscrounger
    Joined: Feb 23, 2008
    Posts: 3,976

    olscrounger
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Wife's 55 was our main car for many years and we put 85K on it. She commuted on 101 hwy in the Bay area as well for 8 yrs in it. Great driving car with no problems. Dropped a bit, radials and as I recall 65 chevy front drums and bearings. Still have it but now have PS box disc brakes 1" sway bar etc a 700R and 68 Camaro 12 bolt-same 327 it has had since 82. Drives great!!
     
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  28. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 3,010

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I changed the upper control arms (CPP) to get more caster, installed 2"dropped spindles, big GM brakes, 1 3/8" sway bar and 500 series power steering box. Drives great now. I wouldn't drive it before. The 500 series power steering has great on center feel and is not over boosted.
     
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  29. BadgeZ28
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 1,062

    BadgeZ28
    Member
    from Oregon

    I added a power rack and pinion, 2" lower springs that maintain the spring rate of the stockers, sway bar, and urethane control arm bushings.
     
  30. Never2old
    Joined: Oct 14, 2010
    Posts: 648

    Never2old
    Member
    from so cal

    My experience with urethane has been that it can have a shelf-life.
     
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