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Fixing A-body handling?


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My 71 Custom/GS(little of both, heh) frankly handles well for the era, but still far from great.<P>the biggest problem is right at the helm, not in the suspension. the old power steering box doesn't cut it. even though it's about as responsive as it ever was (i haven't looked firsthand, but from driving it, it seems the the gears have held up), i just need more response and more tension, and less of that floaty feeling present on older power steering.<P>i've thought about maybe going to a quick-ratio manual box for the increased resistance and tigher feel. but, having never even driven a manual, i'm not sure how well this would work. is the strain on your arms too much for a daily driver?<P>two other options. a QR power box, which would increase response but keep the same floaty feeling, or just going to rack and pinion...from what i've read, it can be a hard job, and it can be expensive.<P>what are your thoughts? anyone ditched their stock steering for something else?

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Brblx, there are many things you can do to improve handling and feel on these cars, springs, shocks, sway bars, etc.<BR>The big problem is the design of the front suspension, these cars have unequal length control arms and they force positive camber under compression. This was originally thought by the manufacturers to improve the ride qualities particularily with the tires available during the era.<BR>Circle track racers that race these cars make or buy control arms that allow negative camber with these types of suspensions, of course the spindle must be changed as well. Mounting points are made adjustable so that the roll center can be moved into a more favourable location, all these things improve the handling immensely.<BR>Factory upgrades usually center on reducing roll rates by increasing sway bar diameter and increasing spring rates all in an effort to reduce the camber change by stopping the cars suspension from compressing in a turn.<BR>This makes the car very stiff and ride like a mule cart. There is no easy fix that can be applied to these cars as they were never designed to handle superbly. Bigger swaybars, better shocks, polyurethane/nylon bushings to replace rubber parts all help but won't solve the problem completely. You may be satisfied with the tighter feel these components will add to the car, anything more involves redesigning the wheel. Quick ratio steering boxes will make the car feel even more ponderous because of the increased speed you will be able to change the steering angle, for a car of this type I wouldn't recommend it. Enjoy it for what it is and put some good gas shocks on and maybe find some sway bars from a wagon to help stiffen things a little. If you can find some polyurethane bushings they will help too.<BR>If the Import cars are causing you problems just drive over them, your suspension won't even feel it. Picking the plastic out from under the wheel wells is the worst part.

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love the last comment. wink.gif" border="0<P>and i know it's not an import, and i don't want it to be...i'm just a control-freak i guess. (literally anf figuratively...)<P>right now i have i believe a stock front sway bar in it. excuse any ignorance...i bought the car recently from someone who had partially restored it, so i don't know every nut and bolt of the car like i would if i had done it.<P>any, like i said, front sway. i'll probably add a rear sway bar soon, as well. springs are good, with the back being particularly heavy. no dip in the back if you just floor it. wink.gif" border="0<P>more ignorance...why gas shocks?<P>and lastly, no comments on the actual apparatus? just more wheel control imo would help me a lot.

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I say gas shocks only because nobody makes a good non gas shock any more. The manufacturers have all abandoned making quality non gas shocks because gas sells. I once bought non gas 3/4 ton van shocks for a Ford that had 1 3/8" piston bores that were tuned for more compression damping. Generally the bigger the bore the more compression damping you get but that depends on shock tuning more than anything else. <BR>If you find a nice parts guy who knows how to read the books you might find a truck type shock that will interchange, they usually have more compression for the heavy loads.<BR>If you don't have a rear sway bar, get one it will improve your car 100%. Also check the sway bar mounts to see if the rubber is all beat out, pretty common at this vehicles age. If you can find a wagon at the wrecker take the front and the rear sway bars you'll like the improvement. Big block cars usually have the biggest front bar. I would check what you have first to see if the rubber is intact and the mounts are tight with no slop. <BR>One more thing when buying shocks, the el-cheapos all have chromed shafts and will rust eventually cutting the seals. Factory shocks have stainless shafts and will last a lot longer, that's why you pay the extra moola.

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May I jump in and ask you Chuck what in your opinion is the best Gas Shocks for said '71 Custom/GS? p.s. Love the Import suggestion. grin.gif" border="0<P>To brblx: I read either in a mag or on this forum way back sometime about a company that took your PS equip and changed it to a QuickTurning radius internally so it remained a bolt on. Something maybe to search for.<P>Cheers!

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1970-81 F-body suspension components are a near bolt-in for the 68-72 A-body cars. TransAM sway bars, polygraphite bushings (not polyurethane, they'll make it ride like a buckboard wagon), multi-rate springs and a mid 80s Monte Carlo SS/Grand National/442 steering gearbox will all improve handling without completely sacrificing ride quality. F-body spindles will also lower the car just a tad. In the past year, Popular Hot Rodding has gone over just about the entire handling thing with the Red Line Lubricants 1970 Chevelle, which has the same basic suspension as the Skylark.

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Opinions over gas shocks, that sure is a loaded question. Lets just say that any good name brand like Bilstein, Tokico, KYB, Carrera etc. etc.. <P>You could spend a fortune on shocks but the law of diminishing returns apply here. You could spend $400 on a shock and it won't be 4 times better than a $100 shock. Bilstein is one Mfg. that still makes shocks to fit the older car market and their stuff is nice and not that pricey. the important thing to watch for is the bore and piston sizes, the bigger the better. More piston area equals more load capacity all else being equal. Look for a welded gas fill hole as opposed to a rubber plugged one, these types have a tendency to lose gas in a short period of time.<P>About the F-body arm change, I did my 69 Chevelle with a set of Camaro arms and it did slightly improve the handling but it lowered the car about 3/4" and the effort involved was not worth the effect. The basic geometry is not all that different from factory stock and unless you want to lower the car at the same time I wouldn't do it again. The sway bars were the nice part of the change, I used a 78 or 77 (I can't remember which) Z28 as a donor car and the bars were nice and fat. Stiffened up the handling nicely.<P>Rocketraider what are polygraphite bushings and how are these less harsh than polyurethane? Polyurethane can be purchased in a million different durometer hardnesses so you can choose what you want. I had made bushings for my street Mazda RX7 out of HDPE (high density polyethlyene) which is very hard, next to aluminum. The ride was superb with no harshness, followed road ruts like a bugger after though. <P>The bar ends were nylon half balls with aluminum cups for washers, kind of a homemade spherical rod end. The lateral locating links had the same arrangement. Afterward the RX7 was truly hands off at highway speed, solid and confidence inspiring. This was for the track and I drove it for vintage racing (SCCA has a different view of vintage) and also my daily driver, I liked the improved suspension control. Toe in could be reduced from 1/4" total to 0.075" while still keeping the suspension from going into toe out under compression. Personally I couldn't see a down side except for the groove following behavior. The tires sure lasted a lot longer with the less toe out too. Makes dialing in the car a piece of cake too as you don't have all that rubber deflecting. It may sound weird but the car actually felt heavier to drive, I guess because the suspension was now free to move and the rubber wasn't deflecting with every bump in the road. <P>If you know how to run a lathe I can send a more accurate drawing detail of the type of ends I made, makes a nice little project that you can actually put to use. Easily done by anyone of even beginner level on the lathe. Leave a private message in your profile and I will dig out the drawing and send you a scan.

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brblx Take a look at <A HREF="http://www.p-s-t.com" TARGET=_blank>www.p-s-t.com</A> <BR> I have a 65 GranSport that I have just put new springs,KYB's, new 1 1/4"front &1" rear sway bars and all new polygraphite bushings. It has make a dramatic difference in the way she rides and handles.<BR> I would recommend their products.<BR> Now I need better tires! Doug BCA33850 cool.gif" border="0

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Here is an interesting discussion of bushings for suspension,<BR> <A HREF="http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/1701/bushings.htm" TARGET=_blank>http://www.geocities.com/MotorCity/1701/bushings.htm</A> <P>5 Years ago it was Delrin bushings, before that it was Polyurethane, before that the racers were using Aluminum. Whats next teflon? Titanium coated neoplastic? How about imbedded Palladium nitrite polyspeed nitro bushings, if they were gold I bet I could sell a million of them.

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Well that certainly answers the many thoughts I've had over the years about hard plastic bushings. I always felt that something must give at least just a little and rubber was, is and most likely always will be the best absorber of impact. How far can a quarter inch of good rubber deflect anyhow? Its not going to squirt out. I've also always wondered what kind of shape these hard plastic bushings could be in after the continued pounding the road gives.<P>I was thinking of trying to firm up my 76 Olds B body with polygrafites but I've always been sceptical of these things. Rubber it is! Surely GM could have make polys for far less than bonded rubber and steel. If poly was better they would use it. <P>Theres also an old Fiat guy who had a long lecture in his literature about expensive after market shocks. He said the springs are susposed to hold the car up not the shocks. If you want better handling you need to increase your spring rate. The shock ABSORBers are to absorb the shock not stop it dead. I believe shocks are a faster and easier way for improvement but will not do the job as well as more spring rate and will not hold up long because they are trying to hold the car up at the same time getting pounded by bumps. I put coil overs in a Toyota pickup and it increased payload ride height but was harsh and did not last. I did not achieve what I was looking for until I added one full length main leaf and one helper leaf. Then I put standard replacement shocks and all was well - stiff not harsh.<P>Three questions <P>Whats wrong with drop spindles?<P>What would be undesireable about quick ratio power steering?<P>Do the early-mid 70's A body suspensions front and rear have anything in common with the B bodys? Ive wondered if the heavier sway bars from the performance A bodys would fit my Delta's. Or if any other pieces would be better.<P> My final thoughs.If your GM product has to much boat float drive a Chrysler for two days then go back and you will think your in a Ferrari. Chryslers king of the body roll. Smooth on the highway, hell on the back road. Easy on the back, hard on the stomach. rolleyes.gif" border="0

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