62 Bel Air Wagon - rear suspension question - Impala Tech
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 01:02 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 9
62 Bel Air Wagon - rear suspension question

HI All,

I've got a Wagon currently with Air Shocks and springs with stock arms, etc.

I noticed that CPP's and Ridetech's rear sway bar is for the stock trailing arms. Ridetech's sway bar appears to be substantial and includes the spacer to "box" the arm.

CPP also offers tubular replacement arms with Poly bushings but the sway arm isn't supported.

I'm not looking to track this car, but I live in California and I don't have to go far to find a twisty road. I'd love to keep it a comfy, but a little better cornering wouldn't hurt.

Adding the sway bar and updating the bushings on the existing arms is probably the least cost option (which is good), but I'm curious if it's better to have the sway bar or better to have the stronger tubular arms?

Also, would using rubber or poly be better for the type cruising yet firm ride I'm going for?

jhutch is offline  
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 09:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,459
Rubber is only good for a cushion smooth ride. It is your worst choice for any form of performance. Rubber will deflect and squeeze out until metal contacts metal then the rubber gets cut. Do this often enough and the bushing will fall out. Plastic still deforms under pressure; it just won't bend or compress nearly enough to allow metal to contact.

I use solid aluminum metal bushings, or aluminum bushings combined with mild steel bushings with inserts for a roller bearing or a spherical joint for my race car suspension components to prevent any deflection at all. The only give in my race car suspension is the rubber tire. I buy my Nova parts (which are the same as a Camaro) from Speedway that has a lot of suspension parts not carried by Summit or Jeg's.

For my Impala I would scour GMC's truck parts catalog with a service parts technician I knew and see if a dump truck or school bus used a suspension part that would fit my car based upon the dimensions. Anything designed to hold a twenty ton truck or bus will hold a two ton car handily.

If I couldn't find a part already to adapt to my use I would then go to a machinist I used to use as a tool and die maker to fabricate parts from bar stock for the aluminum parts or to weld them up from flat quarter inch thick steel plate based upon drawings I had made of each part, to hold a bearing (that I found at my Fafnir bearing distributor locally by pouring over his books based upon needed ID) as there are not a lot of heavy duty suspension parts sold by the aftermarket for a full size. I used to be a mechanical engineer so sourcing parts and fabricating parts at a machine shop for a prototype was something I was trained to do.

For a sway bar or tubular control arms I would go to a local shop that fabricates roll cages and suspension parts for NASCAR cup, sprint, and late model stock cars to help me out. All he needed was a stock part for a model; or the dimensions and he could bend thick wall tubing to fit.

You can weld flat stock onto the bottom of your stock control arms to box them in making a non-adjustable control arms (the adjustment is only for pinion angle) and use polyurethane plastic bushings pressed in to replace the rubber ones to save money. You can do the same for your stamped front A-arms to stiffen them up; though from memory I believe the bottom is composed of a rubber mounted trailing arm and a straight strut. That is made stronger by making the parts larger (increasing cross-section dimensions, not length).

Big Dave
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 9
Thanks BD. That's good insight. I had that thought of boxing the lower trailing arms as well but you'd still want the spacer installed first, right? To prevent the arm from compressing if you bolted on a sway bar?

I think I might go the route of existing trailing arm (modified), rubber bushings and a sway bar and see how that feels but I wanted to get opinions from folks that have done these things in the past.

I'm also still running bias ply's and I'll be changing those to radials - I know that will also improve cornering/handling.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-07-2017, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Originally Posted by jhutch View Post
I'm also still running bias ply's and I'll be changing those to radials - I know that will also improve cornering/handling.
Not to mention safety. The only bias ply tires I know of made recently are trailer tires. They are not designed for high speeds but for carrying weight. If those tires are over seven years of age they need to be replaced due to the rubber rotting.

Your car uses a Panhard bar to center the rear with two trailing arms on coil springs. If the anti-sway bar bolts to the trailing arm (I can not recall how they did it back then) you can weld in a length of mild steel tubing to prevent the trailing arms side from collapsing with the pressure from a securing sway bar bolt. Then box them in fully.

On my Impala it had a factory four link suspension with the upper two bars triangulated to remove the need for a Panhard bar. This type of rear has to have rubber bushings in the eye that bolts to the rear end or the suspension because it will bind with a plastic bushing in both ends. The upper suspension control arms moves through two planes of motion so you need either a rubber bushing at one end to bend out of shape or a steel hemispherical joint to allow it to move freely.

Big Dave
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