Tall Spindle Front Disk Brakes
Authored by Wes Vann, revised March 4, 1999
PLEASE NOTE; Any time working on a raised car, it is mandatory thatjack stands are used. If removing the front suspension, a spring compressoris required in order for the work to be done safely.
Addendum dated 4/4/00;
Here is the link to HotchkisPerformance
Addendum dated 3/4/99;
The prior addendum was added in an attempt to list further options forlocating parts in the junk yards. I ended up getting all sorts of e-mailas a result! I think that it just added more confusion that help.
Global West now has a web siteand within it, they list what your options are. Just click on their namein the prior sentence to go there.
I'm voiding out all of the comments that were in the 1/9/99 addendum!
Addendum dated 1/9/1999;
Addendum dated 12/15/97;
Recently I was approached by a company that purchased the stock andrights to the kit that was marketed by HO Racing. As a result, I'm goingto go into what it offers and some of the information that I have beenable to gather about it. As is the case with most of the pages that I'vewritten, a fair amount of what is said is my opinion.
The HOkit was the first on the market that enabled a person toput the tall spindle set-up on an older Chevelle ("A" body).This was before Global West and Hotchkis started marketing their uppercontrol arms. There were articles written in Hot Rod magazine coveringthe conversion.
As I understand it, the kit includes upper and lower ball joints. Alsoincluded are the tie rod ends. The cost is VERY reasonable in light ofwhat it enables you to do.
The BIG potential problem is that in order to get the desired alignment,a fair amount of shims have to be added at the upper control arm attachment.Keep in mind that the older cars were not really constructed that accuratelyand as such, the amount of shims vary from car to car. This can lead toclearance problems with headers or the steering column shaft.
This is what I'd recommend before sending away your money;
1. Assume that you will have to buy a Moog offset shaft for the uppercontrol arms.
2. Assume that you will have to add an additional 3/4 inch ofshims over what you currently have. Measure the clearance you currentlyhave and then subtract that 3/4 of an inch.
3. You may have to replace the bolts for the upper control arms withlonger ones.
4. Headers will make clearance more of a problem.
5. Assume that you may have to do some trimming of the upper arms forclearance.
What it all boils down to is that if you have the clearance to installit, the kit is a good value for the money. I think that the appearanceof an inch of shims would tend to bother me (just one of those personalopinions).
The company is called Malibu Performance and their phone number is (818)222-6725. The owner is Bruce Allison and he can be reached by e-mail at[emailprotected]
Be sure to let Bruce know that you heard about him from this site!
This is being written with my 64 Chevelle (2dr wagon) as the example.It's full of my opinions and may not jive with everybody's ideas of howit should be done.
There are two reasons for going to the tall spindles that were usedon the 73 through 75 Chevelles (and other model A bodies). The latter modelChevelles used an 11" rotor, where as the 72's and older used a 10"rotor. By using a special upper control arm, the geometry is updated toa better lay-out.
There is was kit available from H.O. racing that doesn't require thespecial upper arm, however, in order to adjust the camber into a reasonablesetting, an excessive amount of shims have to be added. The added shimscan lead to clearance problems with headers. I would also question if thecaster can be adjusted to the settings that are obtainable with the specialupper arms. I have been told that H.O.. racing has gone out of business.
The special upper arms can be obtained from Hotchkiss or Global West.Both are custom built tubular arms and look great. I went with the GlobalWest set-up due to their using a larger upper ball joint (not really abig thing).
Global offers, and recommends, a solid bushing set-up that they call"del-alum". I chose to use a standard rubber bushing due to concernsof transmitted noise. To be honest, I have driven an El Camino that wasset-up with the "del-alum" bushings and didn't notice any noise.
The Global kit included (as I recall); the custom tubular upper armswith ball joint, special lower ball joints (with the body diameter turnedso that it will fit into the 64 lower arm), both tie rod ends, and spacersrequired on the upper control arm cross shaft.
I got the spindles and disks from a 73 Monte Carlo. The parts requiredwere the spindles, rotors, calipers, and dust shields.
While doing the conversion, I replaced all of the bushings, drag link,idler arm, and springs.
For the cross shaft on the upper control arm, I purchased an offsetarm from MOOG. Using this arm can help when adjusting the suspension andhelp keep down the amount of shims required.
When taking the front suspension apart, be extremely careful of thesprings! Use a spring compressor to release the loading.
The new ball joints have to be pressed into the control arms. Have ashop do this. Although it is possible to hammer in the rubber bushings,I'd recommend that you also have a shop do this.
This is one area where I had a problem with the Global kit. When youuse the rubber bushings with their kit, they provide two spacers (per side)that have to be installed on the cross shaft. They are a different widthand the instructions (and I latter called them and they confirmed it) statethat the larger spacer goes toward the front of the car. When I tried toadjust the caster, I couldn't get it into the range that should have beenpossible. I had to take a bushing out (on each side) in order to swap thespacers (you trash the bushing in the process of removing it) front forback. This moves the arm rearward and now the desired setting can be obtained.
I ended up making stainless braided brake lines for the hook-up to thenew calipers. If you do this, once the car is back on it's wheels makesure that the line doesn't bind or rub on anything when the wheels areturned full lock to lock.
Assembly of all of the parts is just like a stock car. If in doubt,just get almost any manual.
For the master cylinder, I went the dual reservoir power set-up. Keepin mind that in 64, the master cylinder was a single unit. I can't recommendhighly enough converting to a dual set-up for safety sake alone. On a disk/drum(or just about any car that I can think of) some form of proportioningthe line pressure (front to back) is required. I chose to use an adjustableproportioning valve so that I can play with the system. Referring to theadjustable proportioning valves that are on the market (Wilwood) as "proportioning"valves has always bothered me. What they enable you to do is dial downthe pressure in that line.
Should you desire to use a factory proportioning valve, you will haveto get one off a car that has similar brakes and also a similar weightdistribution front to back.
I used a 2lb residual valve in the line to the rear brakes after theproportioning valve. The reason for this is in order to keep a small amountof pressure in the line to keep the brake shoes close to the drum (keepin mind that some master cylinders have the residual valve in the bodyand you may want to remove it in order to use the value you are after).
The power booster that I used is for a 67 Chevelle (I believe that thefirewall is the same from 64 through 67).
I found the master cylinder by searching for the same piston diameteras the 73. I found one that I believe is from a 69 Camaro. Things to checkfor are; the piston diameter, bolting to the power booster, and also ifthe piston has a deep or shallow cup (where the rod that comes out of thebooster goes into the cylinder).
The hardest part of this project was the fitting of the hard lines tothe front brakes. I chose to do the lines in stainless steel. When I didthe lines, the engine wasn't in the car, and I ran the line to the shotgunside along the rear edge of the crossmember. This became a problem whenI installed the headers. The brake line just ran too close to the headers,and I had to relocate it.
Other than having to cut short the bolts for the upper control arm crossshaft, there are no clearance problems.
There is one derogatory comment that I have about the Global West set-up.There is a metal bump stop attached to the upper arm that can't be removed.When I asked them about it, they said that the reason was to unsure thatthe angle on the upper ball joint didn't get over extended. If the caris at the stock height, this bump stop is just too close and would do ametal to metal hit when going over a bump. It seems to me that they couldhave just made the angle of the ball joint different.
ADDED NOTES AND COMMENTS;
1. Even if the original rims were 15", they may not clear the diskbrake caliper. There was a change in the rim profile made when disk brakesbecame more common. The older 15" drum brake rims will not fit, and14" rims are out of the question.