Narrowed Front Track Width / Stock Front End - Chevy Nova Forum
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Old 29th-March-2009, 10:58 PM   #1
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Narrowed Front Track Width / Stock Front End

Looking to get some feedback / ideas on what I'm thinking for my '63 Wagon. (You suspension geometry guys please advise!!)

Here's my dilema; Had my Wagon 13+ years and as I've evolved so has the car (you know, "Never really done...") I've had several wheel / tire combos, brakes, suspension, you name it we've probably redone it at least twice! The front end has always been a source of "compromise" between getting the car low enough and having room for everything to fit (read: big diameter wheel/tire). At this point some aftermarket "clip" would make perfect sense, but when my Dad and I started the project in 95-96 there wasn't as many options as there is now. By the time we bent the stainless brakelines, everything painted nice & pretty, drop spindles with Baer brakes, etc. etc. I'm kinda stuck with the factory setup unless I want to unbolt the front clip and part it out! (Not planning on doing that.) I currently have Air Ride on the car (thought that would get me what I wanted with the stance) and don't get me wrong. The car looks Bad ***** sitting on the ground at car shows.... Doesn't look so good cruising down the freeway all jacked up in the air. So after throughly contemplating all my options, I've decided to ditch the Air Ride, narrow the front track width, be able to steer the car w/o worrying about the tire to fender lip clearence and lower it as much as possible (after the skid plate is done for the trans pan of course!)

QUESTION: I know it's not the "Right" way to do it, but I want to take the stock suspension pick-up points on the chassis, and I'm going to fabricate new upper and lower control arms that are approx. 1 5/8 narrower per side (from center of mounting point on frame side to center line of ball joint.) I know this is going to adversely effect roll center, scrub, etc. but as long as the car tracks straight & can drive down the freeway SAFELY I'm OK with it. I don't think I'll ever head to Button-Willow to cut some lap times!

What should I try to take into consideration to keep things safe considering I'm shortening the pivot points of the suspension? I've already got a pretty good idea of how I'm going to go about doing all this, and trust me... I've looked into all the software (like Mitchell Software / WinGeo3 4.00 Suspension Geometry) and I could totally GEEK OUT on trying to figure it all out... But I make wheels for cars. I know how to draw things and program in CAD/CAM, I can make just about any part, I AM NOT a suspension engineer. If anyone has any ideas or input, I'm all for it. I can reverse engineer the stock setup and shorten it all, but what SHOULD I be thinking about? Any questions/comments are greatly appreciated!! I'll try & keep this updated as I get time to tear into the Wagon yet AGAIN ! ! ! Thanks!
-Steve
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Old 29th-March-2009, 11:24 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by truckntom73 View Post
If you narrow the track width that much your tires will hit the frame rails at full turn.
Tom
I checked under the car quite a bit... It may hit a little but not a lot. As the car sits right now it's got about 2" of inside clearance everywhere. The closest point I can see lock to lock is the indentation on the passenger side inner fender panel for the battery tray... It's definently going to be a bit of a "Trial & Error" thing. Thanks for the reply!
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Old 29th-March-2009, 11:41 PM   #3
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Why handcuff yourself to the lame front suspension? You're going to have to trash the stock setup if you really want to end-up with something that accomplishes everything you want yet is still drivable.

If you are truly a designer, make your own suspension. Design your own crossmember and frame that addresses all your needs and go for it. You might as well go for broke if you're going to all the trouble of designing new control arms. Narrowing them 1-5/8" probably will not give you the result you're looking for unless you want the ride quality of a Sherman tank.

Take a look at all of the different suspension designs out there for Chevy II. There are a lot of them. Take the features you want from each of them and come-up with the perfect set-up for your application. There are a few shops out there doing just that already. Most of the clip and suspension "kits" are generic and are locked-into their basic design. But some shops can build on those basic designs and custom-fab a suspension just for your car and your requirements. The goal of each of these custom shops is to minimize the amount they are forced to narrow the control arms. They also try to lower the car without having to resort to excessive drop spindles.
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Old 30th-March-2009, 12:10 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by 64PRONOVA View Post
Why handcuff yourself to the lame front suspension? You're going to have to trash the stock setup if you really want to end-up with something that accomplishes everything you want yet is still drivable.

If you are truly a designer, make your own suspension. Design your own crossmember and frame that addresses all your needs and go for it. You might as well go for broke if you're going to all the trouble of designing new control arms. Narrowing them 1-5/8" probably will not give you the result you're looking for unless you want the ride quality of a Sherman tank.

Take a look at all of the different suspension designs out there for Chevy II. There are a lot of them. Take the features you want from each of them and come-up with the perfect set-up for your application. There are a few shops out there doing just that already. Most of the clip and suspension "kits" are generic and are locked-into their basic design. But some shops can build on those basic designs and custom-fab a suspension just for your car and your requirements. The goal of each of these custom shops is to minimize the amount they are forced to narrow the control arms. They also try to lower the car without having to resort to excessive drop spindles.
unfortunately im handcuffed because of the $$$ tied up in the current front end. i've been to the other extreme and have gone as far as getting a spec'd out quote on a full art morrison chassis,but that is for a different project. as far as tank handlig is concerned that's obviously not what im after but its a street car not a race car. the track width i've planned is what AM recommends for the wheel/tire i want to run so it should work. your right a "clean sheet" of paper would be best. but not for the wagon. thats for the next project... Thanks!
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Old 1st-April-2009, 01:23 AM   #5
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Just to bump this along, What size wheels and tires did you have in mind??
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Old 19th-March-2011, 02:51 AM   #6
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Let my know how you make out. I am thinking the same for my 64 post.
It's an all stock, original black, with red interior, 6 cylinder auto,going to
just add some wheels and tires,on air ride, but you have to cruz it low.
Make sure you take pics.I was thinking of shorting a set of CCP or Church
Boys A-arms what do think ??
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Old 25th-March-2011, 07:48 PM   #7
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Projects Done... Works GREAT!

Been a long time since this was started. It was a BIG project, but in the end well worth it. Accomplished my goals of lower stance w/ no rubbing and the car rides better now than it ever has!
I finally got around to uploading all the pics to photobucket since there have been a few inquiries (Outlaw67). Didn't want to load ALL the pics here since there are quite a few (there are still some below).
On photobucket I broke it down to 11 different stages... I didn't edit anything in the photos, some are blurry, some are duplicates... If it can help someone else then ENJOY!

Photobucket link:
http://s221.photobucket.com/albums/d...nsion%20Re-Do/


Here's the final specs:

* Narrowed each side 1 5/8" from stock dims
* CPP "Mini Sub Frame" mounting bracket (got it from a freind)
* Fabricated tubular lower arms - Put eccentric lock-out plates on lower arms as well. Didn't need adjustment in the upper and lower arms... But it doesn't take away from anything and it's there if I ever want it or need it.
* CNC machined billet steel upper arms with adjustable heims
* Edelbrock tie-rod adjusters
* CPP / QA1 adjustable coil-overs in the front
* QA1 adjustable coil-overs in the rear
* 1/4" Aluminum skid plate

I had 18x7's on the front before and with the "Re-Do" was able to put 19x7's... The car's a "Cruiser"... What can I say.

Here's a few highlights from the build:

Initial Part Fab:





http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/d...CA_in_Mill.jpg

Lower Control Arm Mock-Up:





Steel Billet UCA:













Parts from Powdercoat:









Skidplate:





Finished w/ New Wheels:







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Old 25th-March-2011, 10:09 PM   #8
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Great work, that's something you might be able to market.

So what happened to the old wheels?
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Old 25th-March-2011, 10:57 PM   #9
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That is very impressive looking. You have a beautiful car
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Old 26th-March-2011, 11:20 PM   #10
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Very nice machine work they look very nice. I would caution you with your upper ball joints as they are not designed to be a load carrying joint. You are treading on thin ice.

I don't want you to take this the wrong way.....I have done testing on the different ball joints and how they would hold up to holding a load that pushes up thru the top of the joint. The stock nova joint will withstand only 5 ton of pressure before it pushes thru the top of the joint. This is why there is a cap on top of the factory joint, it is a safety feature from GM. Not only that, the stock joint stretches and does not actually break thru.

The Joint you currently have will hold to a point just below 5 ton and then it explodes under pressure like a gun, the top of the joint is pressed together thus is just pops apart.

Again I think the uppers are trick looking however you should look into your ball joints for your own safety.....and others.
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Old 27th-March-2011, 12:19 AM   #11
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Looked a little something like this??


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Old 27th-March-2011, 10:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67 church View Post
Very nice machine work they look very nice. I would caution you with your upper ball joints as they are not designed to be a load carrying joint. You are treading on thin ice.

I don't want you to take this the wrong way.....I have done testing on the different ball joints and how they would hold up to holding a load that pushes up thru the top of the joint. The stock nova joint will withstand only 5 ton of pressure before it pushes thru the top of the joint. This is why there is a cap on top of the factory joint, it is a safety feature from GM. Not only that, the stock joint stretches and does not actually break thru.

The Joint you currently have will hold to a point just below 5 ton and then it explodes under pressure like a gun, the top of the joint is pressed together thus is just pops apart.

Again I think the uppers are trick looking however you should look into your ball joints for your own safety.....and others.
That makes total sense now. Just took apart the original suspension on my 64, everything looked original to the car and the upper joint moved about 1/2" up and down....pretty scary stuff.
I think with your design you could adapt any balljoint to it.
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Old 27th-March-2011, 12:38 PM   #13
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Finally... Really Good Feedback!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67 church View Post
Very nice machine work they look very nice. I would caution you with your upper ball joints as they are not designed to be a load carrying joint. You are treading on thin ice.

I don't want you to take this the wrong way.....I have done testing on the different ball joints and how they would hold up to holding a load that pushes up thru the top of the joint. The stock nova joint will withstand only 5 ton of pressure before it pushes thru the top of the joint. This is why there is a cap on top of the factory joint, it is a safety feature from GM. Not only that, the stock joint stretches and does not actually break thru.

The Joint you currently have will hold to a point just below 5 ton and then it explodes under pressure like a gun, the top of the joint is pressed together thus is just pops apart.

Again I think the uppers are trick looking however you should look into your ball joints for your own safety.....and others.
Chuck,
Thanks for the reply... That's what I'm looking for (constructive criticism,Thank You! ). Balljoint failure is the LAST thing I want .

With your comments in mind I think I could build a "Cup" (for lack of a better term) that would capture the upper ball joint and essentially sandwich it between the cup and the UCA. The tolerence would have to be just right so the load-bearing would be transfered to the cup and not the balljoint itself (and the tensile-strength of the bolts holding it all together). At the least this looks like a necessary fail-safe... What do you think?

Worse-Case scenerio (if you don't think the cup idea will work with the current setup) I could re-build the upper arms with the pocket on the bottom so the ball joint sits up in the pocket...

Would a different ball joint work? Short of off-road style uni-balls I don't know what wouldn't run into the same type of "Pressing Apart" tendency...?

I've only driven 50 miles or so on this setup, I won't be driveing anymore till I do this! As far as anymore "kits" like this, I don't plan on building anymore. All the jigs were temporary, and I just did it for myself.

Here's what I'm thinking:





Thanks!
Steve
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Old 27th-March-2011, 12:53 PM   #14
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a trick i used from the circle track guys back in the '80's was to use a weld-in ring adapter in the control arm that permits the installation of a Mopar ball joint. they screw into the control arm. the joint pins are much larger/heavier duty.

you might just try a different ball joint all together if your in the stage of modifications you're at... if needed a tapered reamer is used to bore the spindle joint holes for the proper taper... which is also what i had to do on my car... this was a '55 Chevy i converted to discs back when there was no Internet, Cell phones or kits available on the market.

scroll for example of ball joint sleeves:
http://www.stockcarproducts.com/susp7.htm
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Old 27th-March-2011, 01:15 PM   #15
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Steve I think you are on the right track with your train of thought. Keep in mind that these ball joints were designed to with stand a pull out vs a push through...........PM sent.
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