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T.LEVEL Soft In Front?


Jack Harlin

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As I'm a new member, mabe this has been asked before, but I couldn't find it. Have installed new heavy duty gas shocks (4). Been told that link, set in 3rd. notch cures it. Its already in 3rd. setting, but on ocasion will bottom out in front with 2 passengers. I havent done any thing, as far as torsion work on it, and it is the way we purchased it. Every thing works as it should, but if possible would like to correct problem. Jack

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Funny you should mention that. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif" alt="" /> I was at my apartment with some friends and we were leaning on the front of the car. It was about four of us. Then we noticed that the car started slowly sinking to the ground. Very low. I thought the two front tyres had poped the bead. But I heard no noise. Man did it go low. It seems that when you jack the car it seems to also hold its hight until you push down on it. For all of you cringing...My leveling system as of yet is not working so I can't shut it off before jacking.

Tim

MBL

P.S. Hey Jack do you have any spare rear drums that will fit my car lying around? That you don't need i mean. Some bozo tried to pry one of my rear ones off and its nicely bent. You wouldn't also happen to have one of those pullers would you. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" />

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Thanks BRIAN

A bit hard to explain when in the dark on TL, HA An old Packard man at Fredrick, Md. meet said was at its highest it could be made?? As I understood him the pin with notches or indicator marks, had to be removed, welded on end and machined to make longer, to keep from front bottoming. He has Tool to hold or twist torsion bar to make these changes. He gets a $60.00 deposit for tool, and when returned you get the deposit money back. Said he done a few, when bars loose strength. The car sits correctly, like you said, rear cutting center of hex at bottom of skirt. This condition isnt real bad, but thought if could correct with you guys help, it would be worth a try. Clear as mud, HA I avoided the welding bit in my question, cause I wasnt sure of name of part to be welded

Thanks again, Jack

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Brian,

I found what you posted to be most interesting about the links. A friend of mine, Mike Feingold who owns a '56 Carribean told me there is a side to side adjustment if the car leans a little on one side. Do you have any thing on this? Does anyone have any of the Front Links you mentioned in Stock?

Bob

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as far as i know the only 'side to side' adjustment would be to use a link on one side with one or more grooves than the other side required to correct the lean.

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Thanks BRIAN

We have a "56" Clipper HT. Like you said nothing in service book, about links?

What you said bout compensator heavier bars makes a lot of sense, as the rear seems too soft, also. If they were stiffer, weight transfer would not be as great toward front end. I do remember at Packard several new cars on frame rack being worked on, one my neighbors, "55" Custom Clipper. Bad dip, street to his driveway, rear bumper scraped, and changes? corrected it. I WILL measure ours, now that I know what to look for, including front links. Was told 3 but not sure till I look. Mike "D" or Peter Graves probably have a set. If ours is 3 and going to 4, as you said 3/8" higher setting, wonder how much difference it would make? Wish I would have watched when service did this, but body shop on 2nd floor, lots went on we didn't see. Thanks, again Jack

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i dont think using a longer link will change any wind-up in the torsion bar. It will only cause the car set higher or lower.

I prefer the manual control for the TL over the automatic. I used an anttenna switch mounted in the Middle verticle position of the dash (where the antenna sw. normally mounts anyway) to control the TL motor.

The automatic leveling i do not like because if the car is left unattended and someone discovers the feature then they will 'play' with it.

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Guest Randy Berger

I "discovered" the manual control in the 55-56 SC's and bought a couple of switches from Max Merritt and made my own wiring harness from the diagram in the SC. I didn't like the way the switch was designed because you have to manually push/pull it back into center/neutral position and you can accidentally pull it past center and start the TL motor going the other way - very hard on the armature shaft and gears. I disassembled my switches, eliminated the stops, added small springs on the front and back of shaft so that when I let go of switch it returns to center position by itself. I mounted mine in plain sight, but no one has been able to guess its location! <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif" alt="" /> I always turn off the system by the on-off switch whenever I am not near the car. [color:"red"] I won't describe what I did to the civilian who was going to demonstrate how it worked for his little daughter. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/mad.gif" alt="" />

YFAM, Randy Berger

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Annonymous,

That makes sense. It would work. The left side Torsion bar always had more weight on it even with no one in the Car, due to the steering box, master cylinder etc. Usually as in most cars there is only the driver as far as actual load. The drivers side torsion bar would loose some of its tension and sag before the passenger side would.

One other thing to consider is the heavy rubber cushions that the torque arms rest on. If they are crushed down this will cause the same thing to some extent. In any event whether its new rubber cushions or longer front links. The ride height of the car will be higher than before. Also the wind-up of the torsion bars will be more because of the effect of the weight of the car on the bars will load them, therefore having the same effect as winding them. It does sound like double talk, but its true. Opposite force reaction front to rear raises the car overall on each side by raising the height of the front load link you apply more force on the rear, therefore raising the car. However conider this, had Packard provided a turnbuckle arrangement on the compensator links it would have done the same thing in a sense, but would have put a heavy strain on the compensator gear box. To adjust the compensator after the fact it pays to have several people on hand using step ladders to load the front and rear of the car while its on a Roll-On Lift to get it right.

As almost everyone has stated, that S-P made the replaceable load links. Where do you get them and who has them in stock? I'd like to correct mine.

Thanks,

Bob Bosworth

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I agree with PackardV8 and RB on the manual control. I only use my automatic control at car shows to "wow" the onlookers who've never seen a T-L Packard in action.

I also made up my own wiring and used an inexpensive bat-wing double-pole, double-throw, center-off (important) switch from Radio Shack. I drilled a hole under the dash next to the stock on-off switch. I oriented the throws of the switch fore-aft so that when pulled backward the rear rises and vice-versa. Using the Power-Antenna switch in the dash would accomplish the same thing in "stealth mode", but my Pat's power antenna still works, so I couldn't double duty that switch. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif" alt="" />

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Guest Randy Berger

Bob Bosworth,

I will admit to being a little confused. What heavy rubber cushions do the torque arms rest on - and are they so thick that they would change the height of the car? How is the compensator adjusted by several people after changing links? What is the adjustment? Where is that addressed in the shop manual?

Brian's posts have been deleted - probably because the forum had a database problem and lost info in several areas during a 9-hour period.

YFAM, Randy Berger

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Randy,

I do not like the term in the Shop Manual "so called" bushings because in a sense thats not what they are, It is confusing and should never have been used by Packard. I am referring to the round (dense rubber compound) pieces that are about 7/8" to 1" thick X 1" or so thick that the torque arms rest on.

Think about this, if the rear ones are semi collapsed with the sides bulged out (like mine) to 1/2 of their original height the car is going to sit lower overall regardless of the compensator. In other words if compensator adjusting turnbuckle (unless its been changed since new) has never been adjusted it would have no way of sensing this and wouldn't adjust the ride height for it either.

At the same time you also have lost some of the wind up on the main torsion bar. Think about it. You really do not have the same force acting on the bar in relation to the weight of the car.

One thing I have found out is that on my 1955 Packard Clipper Custom Constellation is; 1) There are no notches on the front links anywhere,(I checked them out yesterday) which must mean they are the originals. 2) The rear "so called" rear torque arm bushings are 1/2 of their original height (in refference to the picture in the shop manual). 3) There is no way the overall road height is right and doesn't even come close to the factory measure front or rear with the car sitting level. The front and rear measures taken off the the bumpers with other measures taken from the rocker panels and visually overall. This probably accounts for the sometimes rubbery ride the car has. It it is half way between a low rider and normal.

The fact that the car has a slight lean to the drivers side. Its more than likely accounted for by the fact that I described in an earlier post that under normal conditions most of the weight of the car is on the drivers side. Therefore, the drivers side torsion bar has more of a chance to lose some of its tension, with time.

Bob Bosworth

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"Torque Arm Bbushings" u mean the rubber pads between the rear axle shaft housing and the T-arm near the shock, or the forward most bushings on the T-arm to FRAME connection?????

Note: also that the ENGINE sets about 1.5 inches (maybe a little more) further to the RIGHT (passenger side) of the car to offset clearence for the steering gear which in turn would shift alot of weight to the right side. I'm sure Packard had the car balanced out just right for design. However, my 56 Executive has an occasional lean to the left too. YES, i said occasional. does not seem to always lean.

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Packard V-8,

The rubber (bushing) between the rear torque arm and the rear Torsion Level Stirrup. The stirrup is connected to the rear trailing arms. You can see it in Craig's Panther Web site under the Torsion Level pages.

The engine does as sit as you say to the passengers side 1 1/2 " off center of the car. However, the bulk of the weight, driver included is always on the drivers side.

I wish I could include the picture so you could see what I'm talking about.

Bob

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Guest Randy Berger

Bob, thanks for sending me the picture (worth 1,000 words). The part you are referring to is 15.980 (445000) Seal-rear load arm ball stud. It bears no weight and in no way affects the height of the vehicle. It was designed to keep water from washing out the grease between the load arm seat and the ball. It was eliminated in 1956 because Packard ground the ball and load arm in such a way as to not require any lubrication and therefore eliminated the requirement for the seal. Thus the parts book lists part #445000 as 55 only.

I still do not understand the part about adjusting the compensator gear box. Where is the adjustment and how do you accomplish it??

Also the load links in the front-end do not have notches but rings, and the parts book lists different links in 55 vs 56 but they still list 1, 2, 3, or 4-ring under group 15.969 (page 143). I'd wager if you clean off that link with a wire brush you will find at least one ring. <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/wink.gif" alt="" />

I'd also think any Packard with A/C would be found with 4-ring links. When my friend removed the A/C from his Patrician including replacing the radiator with the smaller non A/C version, the riding height of the car was about 1 1/2 inches higher - a dramatic improvement. Have Al K send a picture of his 55 Pat. It rides higher than any Packard I've ever seen. He hasn't got back to us with how many rings are on his links.

YFAM, Randy Berger <img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif" alt="" />

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Randy -

Look at Figure 43 (and related text) in the Suspension & Steering section of the service manual, and you'll see what th eadjustment is and does.

BH

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Guest Randy Berger

BH, That can't be what Bob Bosworth is talking about because that is merely adjusting the linkage via turnbuckle to raise or lower the rearend so that the car sits level. You don't need ladders and more than one person to do that.

I can do that with the car flat on the ground by myself. I've read the manual and all TSBs and SCs and never run across anything that tells you how/why to adjust the TL motor and gear reduction. The short links that connect to the arms which are pushed/pulled by the compensator are only mounted one way. From there the arms are connected at a no-load point and then tightened the same as you would manual steering gear. I still don't see any adjustment possible.

If the arms from the short links were made in a turnbuckle fashion, then you could shorten or lenghthen them and that would adjust the motor vs the short torsion bars. They are not made that way and therefore there is no adjustment.

YFAM, Randy Berger

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Randy,

Thanks for the info. Although I'm still not sure that the (Seal) does not bear any weight. Then why are mine squished? I'm still going to replace them anyway.

As for the front link, I spent a good 1/2 hour scraping it down from top to bottom there were no notches or Rings on it ?????????, not even one. Now I'm more confused.

As for the turnbuckle for the torsion level brain. Rather than lay on the ground its better to have the car on a Roll-on Lift while working. To get the car right don't you think it would be better to have a couple of people or even you, yourself with a step ladder load the rear end and have the car raise itself and get off of it to have the car spring up and lower itself back down and repeat the procedure with the front end. Heck, if your a big fat guy you could hang on the bumpers. You wouldn't need a ladder. Its easier with a couple of friends as you can take any measurements off the nearly level lift and be able to make any adjustments to the turnbuckle under the car while they do the grunt work. Just because it doesn't say it in the service manual doesn't mean it can't be done that way. Further, I stongly doubt that you really have that much room under the car with all four wheels on the ground to be able to work that turnbuckle properly. Most dealers back in the 50's would have had a lift and would have used it for such work.

Thanks,

Bob Bosworth

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HI:

Im not sure if this is related but here it goes. I normalized. pushing rear down and come back level. Used a level ahead of fender mounting bolt, and rear most position ahead of fender skirt. Have 235 X 15 Firestone radials, 32 lbs. pressure.

Left front 8 3/4" 9 1/2" rear

Right front 8 7/8" 9 3/4" rear

For some reason I think the "400" sit higher? Not sure. I do know the sprung "55" Clipper the wife drove, I could get under it, but the "56" with T.L. I couldn't. The "56" was new, no changes ever made, so links etc. would not enter as far as ride height. My thoughts are the bars have lost their twisting qualities and have sagged with weight on them over the years. If so, and they are weak. new shocks or links wont cure bottoming out. Just a live with situation. I read some where a different company made bars that were not as good original, mfg. Our "56" is a very late production, and dont remember when the 2nd mfg. made them. Any one else know about this?? Jack

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Jack,

I think in your case new links would work. The Torsion Bars have taken a set, yes. However, you'll find that they still have a lot of twist left in them. One of the other maledies, especialy with Heavy trucks such as Fire Apperatus that sits for to long a period on a pitched Garage floor in their respective bays, is that the Frames can take a set as well. This same thing could apply to all vehicles that are not driven reguarly and are on Pitched or Slopping Garage floors. The frames get a twist in them due to the weight of the vehicle. It does pay to move them around. It is curable by use and by parking it differently every time you put it away.

Bob

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Dear Randy & Brian,

Thanks for the Info it has been most helpfull. At least I now know for sure. Now I do still have the Leaning Clipper. Its not that noticable, but I know its there. I can see it and it bugs me. I still need more information on the front links and would appreciate anything you guy's can come up with.

Jack has the problem with his '56 Clipper Super bottoming out. I think in both cases new links will help us. With mine even when the rear is at the right road height it looks like its raked to the front end. When the car sits level it sits low. It does bottom out at times too. As far as I can tell there are NO rings or notches or other markings on my front links. They, to my knowledge, are the originals to the car. I've asked all the former owners except the Man I bought it from because he unfortunately passed away. No one ever changed out the links. It had new king pins and bushings put in over 30 years ago. That was the last time any one has worked on the front end.

Thanks again,

Bob Bosworth

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The main reason I measured ours and typed it in here was trying to find out from others what theirs measured. My befuddled mine still tells me the "400"s had more ground clearence.

Jack Harlin

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OK gotta toss in my 2cents worth here.

My 1955 Pat is lower on the driver side by about 1-inch. This conforms with previous posters experience.

I agree with all previous posters about adjustment points, or lack thereof; other than the front link height (maybe MD has a corner on the market for those adjustable links--55 & 56 being different).

Now here's where I offer an off-the-wall suggestion: Has anyone tried swapping the main torsion bars side to side?

The reason I suggest this is that it seems a given fact that the main torsion bars "take a set", which means they settle. If one were to swap them side to side, then any set would be nullified.

I only know of one person who has completely removed the main torsion bars and replaced them: Billy E Kennerly who wrote a book about the restoration of his 1955 400 "Revived from the Dead: A Packard's true story of life after death".

What say you savvy 1955-56 chatters? I have NOT done so from any of my 55-56 Packards.

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Craig,

You could get a good passenger side T-Bar from a junk and use that on the drivers side. In any event its a job to change out.

How many rings are there, if you don't mind me asking, on the front links on your Patrician or with the Panther's doner 4-door? I'm curious, I count 2 on the Panther. I notice in the pictures the link on the passengers side is missing. was it the same?

Bob

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1. The 235-15 tires are about inch or more LESS in diameter than the original tires from the facory.

2. a longer FRONT link (more grooves) will raise the front of the car. THEN, the compensator will readjust the whole car to level BUT at a HIGHER level than what it was with the shorter links.

3. CHECK the firewall of your cars to see if it had AFTERMARKET AC installed some time in the past. The aftermarket AC pump mounted to the RIGHT side of the car (in most cases) while the FACTORY pump mounted to the LEFT.

4. use a WIRE BRUsH to clean the front linkd when looking for grooves.

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Packard V-8,

I'll answer your quereies in numerical order. However, as I've stated in an earlier post. I know petty much the full history of my car since it was new. So here goes.

1. There are currently 820-15 Firestone/Coker WWW tires all around. No metric sizes. The car when new would have had been equiped with Firestone 760-15 tires. How I found out it was Firestone was from the pictures in the shop manual.

2. I do not disagree with you on this point, except mine have no grooves, notches or rings. They are original to the car.

3. There has never been A/C in the car at any time.

4. I took a scraper to the front left link Sunday last and scraped it down to bare metal, there is nothing. It looks exactly like the one in the Shop Manual and the pictue under the Torsion Level Pages in Craig's Panther web site.

Thanks again,

Bob Bosworth

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This is an interesting discussion. I've noticed a lean in my Clipper also, but my lean is an inch or so low on the passenger side. Strange. I like the idea of the manual switch for raising and lower the T-L. Mine works fine, but I've never liked exactly where it thinks level should be. Could any of you who have installed a switch like that give any hints (or diagrams) as to how to wire that into the system?

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<img src="/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Anyone of you fellows needs a cop of STB 55T-1 let me know. I will send you a copy of mine. I am very lucky to a complete set of STB's 1948 to 1956. I think Kevin AZ might also have a complete set.

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Guest Randy Berger

Brian really covered a lot of ground, and all of it good info. Those of you not really familiar with TL take the time to read and digest his several posts.

You cannot (according to Packard) interchange left and right main torsion bars. They were apparently designed to stress one way. I was going to interchange mine till I read that in Packard literature. Only 1 part number is listed for the short bars with a quantity of 2, so you could interchange them. There are heavy duty main bars listed (I think for export models) as well as the ones indexed 9 degrees tighter. When friend Ron Siegal did a frame-off of his '55 Pat he had to drill holes in the concrete floor of his garage, lower chains into the holes and fill up with cement. He then chained the chassis to the floor so he could use hydraulic jack to wind up the main bars again. He has a lot of Packard tools but never saw the special T-bar installing tool shown in the manual. You would have to have a lift or very high jack stands to use it anyway. The radials cause my 400 to sit lower than normal and it is noticeable to me. I (luckily) have no left-to-right lean. Maybe when Craig unloads his he can determine if you could insert T-bar one hex tighter and thereby change the riding height. That might be extreme as it would be sixty degrees - have to go to those no-ring links on Bob's Clipper. I thought that T-bars could take a "set" but was informed by engineering types that this is not true?? - still wondering? Also make sure your short-bar connections are not bent from being allowed to travel too far. The TL switch is made by Cole - I wonder if that is the same Cole in Buffalo that deals in auto electrical parts?

YFAM, Randy Berger

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Guest Randy Berger

Bob S. Jr. It sounds as though you should be able to adjust the turnbuckle to level out the car to your satisfaction. Remove it completely (just held in by cotter pins) and wirebrush it and loosen the lock nuts so you can turn the

t-buckle easily, then reinstall it and adjust it till you're satisfied with the ride height. Don't forget to tighten lock nuts.

YFAM, Randy Berger

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RB,

This is all most interesting. I still believe that the drivers side T-Bar has sagged some what with time and added weight(mostly Mine)of the driver. The front links are factory original. I suspect after reading everyones input that they are the shortest ones available at the time. As near as I can figure the whole car is low, by about an inch. With the rear end up with a straight edge exactly across the center of the hub cap (Custom Constellation's wear No skirts because of the chrome trim)the front end is noticeably way down. It looks like a 60's rake job when the kids used to put extended spring shackles on their '55-57 Chevy's and on the '52-58 Fords. Geez I just thought of it. With a '55 0r '56 Packard all we'd have to have done is flick a switch.

I wish to thank all of you for your help. Now all I need is an address for the Parts supplier who has the parts I need so I can get the Clipper back up in the world.

Bob

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dear Brian & Everyone Else,

I just received a big stack of S.T.B.'s from John Shireman. These are wonderfull reading. If you don't have them contact John, they're worth it, as they seem to end some of the mis-conceptions out there on a number of issues.

What I can't understand is, why this information was not included in susequent printings of the Shop Manuals? That will probably remain a Mystery.

One thing I did find out was that all '55 and presumably all '56 Packards and Clippers should be when level, 10" from the bottom of the Rockers to the pavement. Mine "is" low. This will require longer front links to be put on the front. Its time to "Go In Search Of".

Packard did have a problem with some cars leaning. However, it was to the passengers side like Bob Schmalbach Jr's. Clipper due to an assembley glitch where the right side link between the compensator and the short T-bar was used on the left and Visa Versa.

Brian, you were right about the alternate method of unloading the arms if you didn't have the tool J-5954 to hold the front load arms. This would require a 2 post lift and high body jacks. There is another with the use of a chain fall as well. It is easier with tool J-5954 or the method used by Craig, as pictured in his Panther Pages.

Before I "Sign Off", I want to take this time to thank you all for your Help and wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Bob Bosworth

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