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55 Special front suspension rebuild questions


special55

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Hey Guys,

I purchased a complete front end kit to make everything new again for my restoration. It comes with the control arm shafts and all pushings and pins as well as king pin kit.

I just received the spindles back from the machine shop yesterday and went to install them and have a couple questions.

1. The upper outer seals appear to be just thick rubber washers. I'm talking about the pin that is offset that you use to do the camber/caster adjustment with. The washers just seem to be sitting in there on the threads of the pin and aren't even tight against any surfaces. I don't see how these could seal anything.

2. Same issue with the lower outer seals but in addition to that the replacement bushing hex portion is much thicker than the original. The manual states to center the spindle in the arm and then install bolt but if I do that the hex portion would be touching one side leaving no room for the seal and the gap on the other would be much larger than the seal.

I don't want to just guess at this as it will effect the front alignment when completed.

I am attaching some photos to help you better understand what I'm describing. I'm hoping I'm not the first to run across this and you guys may have some advise for me.

Thanks,

Rich

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Guest pete324rock

I've rebuilt '56 olds front end which is similar. The bushing doesn't seem like the one you want. Let me guess, you bought the kit at a place that starts with a "k" ? The larger nut is a blessing only for the fact you can actually get a good grip on its installation and removal (you must have a few bruised knuckes taking the old ones out) , but the lack of overall length would make me question whether you can center the knuckle in the middle and be able to adjust for caster ( remember shopping cart wheel!) . That would be the main issue.

As for the rubbers...They are there to protect the threads, yes, and they are sorta lame but usually coated with grease, seem to protect the threads enough to do the job. Ideally, the amount of thread exposed should be close to the rubbers' width. Keep in mind when they built the car, everything has its place, and should fit together well.

I scanned the ebay for a long time and got bushings that were old stock really cheaply (less than 20 bucks) and I bet there are some on there now, but keep in mind that the same bushings were used in many different models for a vast amount of years.

Send your pics to the vendor and try to get a resolution. If you had bought them from a buick parts specialty place I bet you would have the correct part.

Best of luck and if I can further assist, don't hesitiate. Pete.

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Thanks for the reply Pete

I thought those guys with a K did specialize in Buicks. :confused:

I thought I was doing a good thing by getting the complete kit and saving a little money too. I am quickly learning though that not all parts suppliers are created equal.

So the way I see it if I want proper seals I need to order just the seals from the trusted guys and for the lower bushings I will either need to turn these down a hair on the lathe or get new kits. :(

I contacted the original supplier but have not gotten a response yet.

Rich

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Rich

The rubber washers are what everyone supplies. In addition to the sloppy fit they will swell and then break when exposed to grease, so you might as well leave them off or make your own.

The bushings should go back to the supplier with a 'nasty-gram'. If your car is low mileage the old ones may be adequate...check looseness against the new ones. Sometimes swapping pins and/or bushings from side to side will move the wear area.

Willie

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Thanks Willie,

Still no reply back from the original vendor. I have access to a machine shop and tech so I'm going to have the new bushings turned down to match the originals. I just don't have any confidence that the vendor can correct the situation in a timely manner if at all. It took two weeks just to get the correct bushings for the king pin kit that were originally undersized when received.

As for the seal I spoke with Bob's yesterday and he has some that are closer to the original for 2 bucks and some change a piece. I figured for that price I would get some and see how they work out. Can't be any worse than these rubber washers.

I'll post some pics once I get it back together and let you guys know how it works out.

Rich

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The problem with having the bushings "turned down" is that they are supposed to be hardened. If they are, the only way to machine them would be to grind them to dimension. If they are not hardened and you can turn them in a lathe then they will wear relatively quickly. Test them with a file. A file should not be able to cut them at all. If your file "bites" into them they are soft................Bob

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Bob you're killin me. Way to deflate a guys balloon.

Seriously though, thanks for the info. I'll pass that on to the machine shop. Since they do tool prototype builds maybe they will have the necessary tools to deal with the hardened steel.

I'll keep trying to contact the vender though to try and resolve it through them.

Thanks,

Rich

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Surface grinding hard steel is no problem at all, especially if you don't care about having the hex end "crowned" as original. The problem would be if your guy says they are not hardened. Then you would have bushings that will not last as they should.

Just to further confuse you. It's possible the maker just case hardened a cheap mild steel. If so the durability of the bushing will depend on the depth of the hardening.

I would say the attention to detail in the dimensions of the part might be an indication of the overall quality............Bob

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Hi Bob,

The bushings are case hardened as you described. They were able to turn them and now are at least the correct dimension.

I'm really itching to get the tires on this thing so I can roll it around so I may assemble with what I have and replace them with a better set later. I have my own spring compressor so it's not a huge deal.

So the big question is do we know of a supplier that sells the bushings in the correct size and hardened appropriately??????

Rich

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I wish I could give you that answer. I've found that almost all repro stuff is either inferior to OEM or will require some amount of massaging. Some suppliers are better than others. Oldsmobile parts from Fusick are top quality. The site watch dogs here won't let me express my opinions on some other suppliers. If the case hardening is nice and deep you may be fine with the bushings you have now............Bob

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Well I finally got the front suspension assembled. Everything appears to fit properly and the new seals worked out great.

Here are some pics with the new bushing installed and the old one next to it. The seals that came in the kit are on the right and the new ones are on the left.

Enjoy,

Rich

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Those seals look much better Rich. there's no reason whatever for the crap that's sent out when for just a few cents more they can send quality. Hopefully they are oil/grease resistant and won't turn to jelly..........Bob

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