Front end help - Chevelle Tech
Brakes, Suspension & Steering Conversion questions & more.

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 20, 3:02 PM Thread Starter
Mark
 
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Angry Front end help

I have been slowly plugging along rebuilding my front end on my 66 Elco replacing the stock a-arms with UMI adjustable uppers with 1/2" tall ball joints and standard ball joints on the UMI lowers. I have 2" drop spindles and I went with the UMI 4049F springs rated at 530lbs. After installing everything and sitting the vehicle down on the ground I noticed the suspension didn't compress under it's own weight. The upper a-arms sit about 1/2 inch off the frame and the bump stops. I placed a floor jack under the a-arms at the ball joints and started jacking up the front end. The suspension did not compress and all I did was lift the front end off the ground. I placed a block under the tire and lowered car down and there was little to no movement in the suspension. I've checked the springs and they seem to be aligned and seated in the spring pockets properly. What I did notice I can see the uppers and the lowers arms move up and down when I bounce the front end. Could the springs be too stiff for my mighty little 283? Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions? One of the reasons I started this project was due to the previous owner had tried to slam the front end down with drop spindles and two coils cut off factory springs. Since I was removing the springs I wanted to upgrade to modern handling.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 20, 3:54 PM
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Cody
 
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Re: Front end help

Did you keep everything loose until it was on the ground? Tightening control arms when the car is in the air can lock them in the wrong position.

1971 Monte Carlo
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 20, 5:16 PM Thread Starter
Mark
 
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Re: Front end help

The lower a-arms were loose when I sat it down on the ground. The sway bar was not connected and the shocks were installed. I have since removed and replaced the shocks with my old pair thinking the KYB gas adjusts were the issue. The only things that were tightened prior to sitting it down were the upper and lower ball joints. I was told by the tech that the Delrin upper a-arm bushings were pre tightened and I only needed to torque the cross shafts to the frame. The uppers seem to move more freely than the lowers. I never gave any thought to a possibility the ball joints could be binding up. Just grasping at straws right now. My mission tomorrow if I should accept it is to tear everything apart and starting over. Also I had contemplated installing the new 6204 springs that I had purchased a few years ago. I'm not sure if these spring are the way to go since they are so soft at 265 lbs. I was hoping maybe I could find a set of springs somewhere between the two rates. Of course I could go the coil over route. This kind of gives you idea how long I've been procrastinating doing this project, just one of many to follow.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 20, 9:20 PM
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Jason
 
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530 pound springs up front are kinda heavy. What is the front weight of the car? A small block without A/C fiber glass hood, fenders inner fenders steel or plastic? I have 450 lbs springs on mine they are on adjustable shocks for ride height and they are nearly at the bottom of the threads. Mine is a LS with a fiberglass hood and no AC. With 350lbs spring I was at the top threads of he shocks.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 16th, 20, 11:21 PM
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Jim
 
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Re: Front end help

Mark -

You may want to consider UMI's 2" lowering springs (4051F). I had originally purchased "stock" height front springs from another vendor, and it rode very stiff and high. I switched to the UMI 2" lowering springs (was originally worried they might drop it more than I wanted), but the ride height turned out just what I wanted and firm, but not bone jarring stiff.

jim
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 17th, 20, 8:01 AM
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Steve
 
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Re: Front end help

Drop the front fast with the jack to settle it.


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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 19th, 20, 12:23 AM Thread Starter
Mark
 
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Didn't get a chance to work on the front end Monday. Thanks for the suggestions. As always there is wealth of knowledge that is shared on this forum. Started working on the Elco this afternoon. After a couple of hours of messing around with the front end and mounting my new tires and wheels on the rear end I've decided to tear it down, remove the springs and install the new OEM replacement springs that I had bought a few years back. It's not what I wanted to do, but I got to get it done. I will update my progress.
Mark
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 19th, 20, 7:36 AM
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Jeff
 
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Re: Front end help

Mark, if you want modern day suspension on the 66, get 0.5" taller lower ball joints. Trust me. My 64 would jitter over bumps, bridge abutments, etc, really unsettle the car. After the taller lower balljoints all the bumpsteer is gone, I'll drive this car anywhere. It will lower the front end .5".

Keep the KYB shocks, I have them on my car and am really surprised at how well they work for the $. The car rides better than anything else I own. It's butter smooth but will take a curve like you wouldn't believe.

I've LS swapped my 64 4 door and am running Moog 6200 stock springs on it, it's the best riding vehicle of everything I own.

Looked up 283 weight, web is saying 545-615lbs. My LQ4 6.0 LS motor is 527lbs. You might want a touch heavier spring than the 6200 (290lb) depending on what kind of ride you're looking for. I'm driving this car like a crackhead stole it and have yet to bottom out. My daily is an 07 Yukon 4wd, the car rides better than it.

CPP 2" lowering spindles, SPC fully adjustable uppers, ebay lowers, proform 0.9" tall upper, 0.5" tall lower, moog 6200 springs, KYB gas-a-just shocks, Hellwig 1 5/16" front sway bar. It's a winning combo, trust me. You can click on the link in my sig, go to the last page or 2nd to last and see the ride height. I've got 14k miles on this build, 12k with stock suspension, 2400 with this front end setup. Only regret is not doing it sooner.

Use this Moog page to help find the coils you need. Don't need aftermarket coils, these work great. I'll be autocrossing end of this month, stay tuned for pics/vids. You can see how well this combo works.

https://www.moog-suspension-parts.co...il_springs.asp

*Jeff*

Project Salty - 1964 4 door Malibu, beaten, neglected, red headed foster child
LQ4 / T56 Swap
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 19th, 20, 12:46 PM Thread Starter
Mark
 
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Hotwire, thanks for the advice. I would really like to keep the UMI 4049f springs on the car if all possible. I have UMI adjustable upper a arms with 1/2 " tall ball joints with 2" drop spindles. At the time the thought it would help bring the front end back up a bit after talking with UMI salesman when I order the parts last year. The P.O. had put the drop spindles and cut two coils off a set of stock springs. Needless to say it was a challenge to drive on the street (dent in oil pan). It sat so low I couldn't get a small floor jack under the cross member. Anyway back to my issue. When the car is sitting on the ground the suspension is nice and firm. The problem I see the upper a arm is about a 1/2 " off the upper bump stop and the arm itself almost touches the brake line from the distribution block to calipers and the a arm has made contact with the upper frame rail. I would feel much better knowing there was more of a gap between the upper arm and frame rail. So I'm been going through a process of elimination trying to figure this out. To make matters more exciting I have the Elco scheduled to go into the shop Monday for a TKO500 transplant and alignment. It wasn't suppose to be this dramatic. LOL
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 19th, 20, 1:03 PM
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Jeff
 
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Re: Front end help

Ok, how did you seat the spring? Get it lined up with the end of pocket in the a-arm or end of pocket in the frame? I went through this same thing. Spring should be seated in the frame. Not sure how umi's arms are but that means the spring will not look seated in stock lower arms, there'll be a gap between the spring end and the end of the pocket.

*Jeff*

Project Salty - 1964 4 door Malibu, beaten, neglected, red headed foster child
LQ4 / T56 Swap
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 20th, 20, 12:50 AM Thread Starter
Mark
 
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Re: Front end help

Hotwire,
UMI's are flat on one side. Per UMI TECH the flat end goes up into frame spring pocket, clock the springs in a arm not the frame. Was talking to tech today and he gave me a little insight. I will be sending him pics of my set up tomorrow. Could be alignment since everything is new and hasn't been aligned yet. The Elco has only been driven around the neighborhood. Some other thoughts would be cut some of the coil, go with shorter springs drawing up the lower arm causing the upper arm to move upwards getting the a arms off the bump stop or possibly going to the .9 tall upper ball joint up from the current 1/2". So I'll put my tear down in a holding pattern. So I'm going to ease the Elco to the shop. The restoration shop that's doing my tranny swap can do the alignment for me. Then if I need new springs then I can address the issue when I have more time on my side. I didn't anticipate running out of time before the trans swap.
Jims69ragtop thank you for your advice, at first I didn't quite understand going with shorter springs. My concern was lowering the front too low which was one of the reasons I started this project. The UMI Tech explained it to me and then the 25 watt bulb went off in my head, duh.
Thanks guys,
Mark
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 20th, 20, 7:14 AM
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Jeff
 
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Re: Front end help

Hey Mark,

Looked at UMI's lower a-arms. Looks like they have an insert that you can rotate to correctly clock the spring. Make sure your spring is seated completely in the frame, then adjust the lower a-arm pocket insert to match the bottom of the coil.

I had the same thing happening with the new Moog springs. I was thinking everything was wrong, then realized I'd clocked the spring to the lower a-arm (factory lowers) and not the frame. Front end was sitting about 2" too high. Once spring was correctly clocked in the frame it sat exactly where it was supposed to.

This is a shot up the a-arm pocket in the frame. You can see where the coil is supposed to seat ( 7 o'clockish) and where it was riding in my car (5 o'clockish). Global West has a video on youtube that explains our front coil springs basically have a 2 to 1 ratio. If you cut 1" of coil height off your spring, you'll drop 2" at the tire. I was obviously seating my spring with 1" height to spare in the spring pocket.



Good luck!!

*Jeff*

Project Salty - 1964 4 door Malibu, beaten, neglected, red headed foster child
LQ4 / T56 Swap
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 20, 2:15 PM Thread Starter
Mark
 
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Re: Front end help

Jeff,
Thank you for the pic and info. My Elco is currently in the shop getting a transmission transplant. Hopefully it will be home in another week. While I had the time the shop owner and I discussed the front end issues. He pointed out a few things and it was good to know I wasn't too far off with my observations. Originally he was going to do my alignment but before he could do it he was going to have to tear the front end apart to assess the situation. Possibly cutting the springs, new springs, replacing the spindles or a combination off all fore mentioned. So I decided to hold off on the alignment and when the Elco comes home I will do the work. I have all the time in the world to sort this out. Its a good learning experience to share with others. I have been researching the issues encountered and the little light bulb went off in my head. When I ordered the UMI 4056 upper a-arms I told the rep I had 2" drop spindles. I do have drop spindles but they are not tall spindles. They are MBM spindles that are factory height{short) with the pin set 2" higher on the spindle. These were on the car when I bought it. Not compatible with the UMI 4056 a-arms. While figuring this out I had contacted UMI support (great service) and talked with one of the techs. We decided to replace the 1/2' tall ball joint with the .9" tall ball joint to help raise the upper a-arm off the frame rail. Now I'm wondering if I should go to a taller spindle like Fatmans or venture on with the taller ball joint to achieve the raising of the upper a-arm.
Now to the springs, according to the GM Heritage literature dated 11-65 the front curb weight of my Elco is 1765 lbs. Probably a little on the light side. So the UMI 4049 springs(530 psi spring rate) should work. So I will recheck spring placement in the upper frame spring pocket. Then maybe cutting the springs a little at a time to bring the lower a-arm up. Right now they look like I have a lift kit in the front. Didn't notice it until I drove the Elco and parked it in the driveway to give it a bath. My other thought is to find a set with a softer spring rate (around 400 lbs )that have a little more give. Anyway I like a good challenge from time to time.

Last edited by AZMARK; Feb 28th, 20 at 2:18 PM. Reason: grammar
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 20, 2:50 PM
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Jeff
 
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Re: Front end help

No problem man, glad to help. If you want the front end 1/2" lower, get 1/2" tall lower ball joints. It'll lower the car and take the bumpsteer out. Made my car so enjoyable to drive.

*Jeff*

Project Salty - 1964 4 door Malibu, beaten, neglected, red headed foster child
LQ4 / T56 Swap
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old Feb 28th, 20, 2:53 PM
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Jeff
 
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Re: Front end help

Here's how my car is sitting. I have the CPP 2" drop spindles, stock height attachment points though, just like what you're running.


*Jeff*

Project Salty - 1964 4 door Malibu, beaten, neglected, red headed foster child
LQ4 / T56 Swap
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