Fabricating your own suspension

cap42

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So I may be in a bit over my head here but figure why not throw this out to TCG and get some feedback. I am contemplating fabricating my own rear suspension.

The Car is my 71 Nova with stock suspension (leaf springs) 10 bolt, mini tubs. Further info can be found in my build thread here on TCG.

I am considering building my own tri-angulated 4 link, parallel 4 link or possibly a 3 link. Addition of a panhard bar is a option and obviously a requirement for the 3 link. I will also be doing coilovers.

The "Why's"

1. I am cheap plain and simple! I know all the big name suspension companies are expensive because of their R&D and I am ok with that, but my inner penny pincher would like to try my hand at this first before dropping big coin.
2. This is something I've never done and would like to learn. The whole goal of my car is to be built in my garage not at a shop.
3. I hate the horseshit leaf springs that are limiting a wider rim/tire. My leaf springs need work anyways and I'll either be spending coin on them or putting the money towards an "upgrade" (Hopefully)
4. The trunk pan and tank are out of the car currently from doing the mini tub, the next steps are to install a cross member in the rear of the car for the shocks. If anything needs to be moved or modified this is the time.

I would much rather do a torque arm or a watts link but I don't think I have the fabrication skills to pull that off plus that would require changing the rear end in most cases so these 2 options look to be out. Willing to be wrong here if anyone can point out a flaw in my thinking.

This will not be track car, it may see the drag strip a few times a year. Eventually I would like to try some autocross with the car. However it will be driven on the street and needs to be safe and ride/handle "decent" as my wife will drive the car occasionally. Obviously I expect to go through several revisions but that's why it is a project car.

I've worked on many tri-angulated and parallel 4 links and I think this would be the easiest out of all my options, the 2 lower arms would mount to the factory front leaf spring pocket. A cross bar welded in between the frame rails for an upper mounting location, some pocket mounts welded in and voila! Sounds easy right? :rofl:

I've done a lot of research and read & watched a bunch of video's, I know I still have tons more research and learning to do. So that being said I know we have a few brainiac's here that know something about this, maybe even someone who has done something similar.

1. Which suspension type would you do based on novice experience with decent fabrication skills.

2. Where would you source some of the supplies? I know I can order most of what I need from various vendors like Art Morrison. But most places I find selling bars, bushings, mounts are usually off road 4x4 sites.

3. Anyone that has any experience got any suggestions or lessons learned, Things you wished you would have done?

thanks
 

Mook

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[MENTION=2612]Pressure Ratio[/MENTION], he loves to talk suspension.
 

cap42

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[MENTION=2612]Pressure Ratio[/MENTION], he loves to talk suspension.
Oh I am sure he will chime in here sooner or later. He knows how much of a suspension idiot I am and has schooled me many times of the years.
 

Pressure Ratio

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1. stay with a leaf spring and traction bar. By far this is the best option. lol

2. Then ladder bars with coil overs. Allows you to mini tub the car with out much concern for the ladder bar or springs being in your way.

3. Then sell the car.

4. Figure a way to make a chassis table so the car is level and so is your measurement points off the base of the chassis table. Because your garage is not going to be flat or even. If you can't get a table built it is worthless to fabricate a suspensio. Because the measurements will be off and every thing you make will be crooked or the car will dog track and/or not function properly. Until you figure a way to make a chassis table you can't move forward.

5. lots of reading and maybe even purchasing a program to plot the suspension might be a good idea. They are not too expensive and you might be able to find a copy for free online.

6. I know a guy to get the rod ends, weldable tubing ends and so on.

7. Once all that is done picking a suspension that is best for you isn't hard. The steps leading to the build are the hardest. Especially a chassis table.
 

cap42

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1. stay with a leaf spring and traction bar. By far this is the best option. lol

Is this recommendation because you know how lazy I am or do you really believe this is the best option?

2. Then ladder bars with coil overs. Allows you to mini tub the car with out much concern for the ladder bar or springs being in your way.

I've looked at this route too, haven't done all the research on it yet and maybe I need to look into it more. I just thought it wasn't a great setup for cornering and just bypassed it.

3. Then sell the car.

When I am about 70% done of what I want to do with the car this is usually what happens. Still can't believe I heard this out of you though :roflpicard:

4. Figure a way to make a chassis table so the car is level and so is your measurement points off the base of the chassis table. Because your garage is not going to be flat or even. If you can't get a table built it is worthless to fabricate a suspensio. Because the measurements will be off and every thing you make will be crooked or the car will dog track and/or not function properly. Until you figure a way to make a chassis table you can't move forward.

I was looking at this and even watched the eastwood video link you posted. This right there might scrap the whole idea as that is a lot of work for a 1 off project.

5. lots of reading and maybe even purchasing a program to plot the suspension might be a good idea. They are not too expensive and you might be able to find a copy for free online.

6. I know a guy to get the rod ends, weldable tubing ends and so on.

Pratt you have a guy for everything :bigthumb:

7. Once all that is done picking a suspension that is best for you isn't hard. The steps leading to the build are the hardest. Especially a chassis table.
Responses in red above.
 

Ti28

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I'd advise to buy and read. There's a lot to learn and know when it come to building a proper suspension. You have to know anti squat, anti dive, roll center and instant center. Or just save your pennies and by a weld in kit.



 

Pressure Ratio

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Is this recommendation because you know how lazy I am or do you really believe this is the best option?
I think this is a good option for a few reasons. The main reason I suggest it is that it is the easiest install and works well. It will hook well when drag racing and on the street. It isn't gonna be a handling g machine but do you really need/want that for the extra money, time and aggravation? lol


I've looked at this route too, haven't done all the research on it yet and maybe I need to look into it more. I just thought it wasn't a great setup for cornering and just bypassed it.
You are sacrificing by installing a mini tub and moving the shocks inboard with any kit you do. You can possibly compensate for that with shock and spring rates as well as a anti roll bar. This is a pretty strait forward install and not going to be terribly costly.

When I am about 70% done of what I want to do with the car this is usually what happens. Still can't believe I heard this out of you though
What, I can't give you shit? lol


I was looking at this and even watched the eastwood video link you posted. This right there might scrap the whole idea as that is a lot of work for a 1 off project.
Getting the car square and level is huge. You can do this project with jack stands and I have a feeling you will have sub par results due to it. Maybe even have great difficulty getting the car to go strait or have the suspension work properly.

Price out materials, welding rod, gas and so on. Then see how much cheaper it is than a bolt in kit already offered. I understand wanting to fabricate something to save money as well as to say you did it. But I would hate to see you build it to just end up with problems and suspension that doesn't work as you intended. Especially if the cost isn't a huge savings over a available kit.

Pratt you have a guy for everything
Well a lot of things at least.
 

Pressure Ratio

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If you are really thinking of doing this I would also recommend you think about building a torque arm set up. If you want a real g machine. Chassisworks sells a universal torque arm to save fabrication but allowing you to save money on it and by making all the brackets. They also have a bolt in kit for $3K. With options to be used with different housings, a mini tub and so on.


Shown with options



https://www.cachassisworks.com/p-3192-nova-68-72-gm-x-body-torque-arm-g-link-rear-suspension.aspx
 

cap42

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If you are really thinking of doing this I would also recommend you think about building a torque arm set up. If you want a real g machine. Chassisworks sells a universal torque arm to save fabrication but allowing you to save money on it and by making all the brackets. They also have a bolt in kit for $3K. With options to be used with different housings, a mini tub and so on.


Shown with options



https://www.cachassisworks.com/p-3192-nova-68-72-gm-x-body-torque-arm-g-link-rear-suspension.aspx

Torque Arm was honestly where I wanted to be at, however being able to fab one of these up myself took it immediately off the list.

I've been drooling over this setup for over a year, http://www.speedtechperformance.com/index.cfm/page/ptype=product/product_id=77/category_id=56/mode=prod/prd77.htm


a few of the nova guys on SNS have run these and aside from the viking shocks rave about the quality and ride.

I didn't even know chassis works had a universal kit, that might be the middle ground I am looking at. They don't list much info on their site so I'll need to talk to them and see if I can find anyone who has done the universal to get feedback.
 

Pressure Ratio

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I actually talked to them for you while I was at PRI this weekend. Their kit is for a 9" only. He said they have been thinking of doing a kit for a 10/12 bolt. He said that might be something you will see next year.

I then asked if they had one for a 8.8. He said that would actually be easier to do as they could tie into the braces on the 8.8 pumpkin where the factory weights are located. The more he talked to me about it the more excited he seemed to be about it. So maybe a universal 8.8 kit would be the way to go. Especially since you can source 8.8 rear ends pretty cheap. You can say maybe a 82-92 Camaro rear end might be a good option as they use a torque arm as well. But I think they are expensive to build. Maybe some people on here may have some first hand experience on this. Even then you have to see where the rear end would sit, where the torque are would be in relation to the floor pan / trans tunnel and so on. It may create more problems then it solves.

The more I think of the fabrication of a custom set up the more I like the torque arm. Using the stock front spring eye mounting spots means no fabrication to the frame rail or making new suspension points for the control arms as you have no uppers to worry about. Then the crossmember for the torque arm is "easy" enough to tie into the subframe connectors/frame/floor. If you can buy a universal arm for a 10/12 bolt I think you would be set. The rest of the fabrication would be no worse than making control arms, panhard bar or shock mounts for any other suspension kit. A torque arm would probably be the simplest suspension to fabricate and it would give you all the benefits that the torque arm has.
 

lefty

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Hope you are a great welder if your going to fab your own rear section
 

wolfe

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I have seen some people do great work without a frame table. They are super anal, set everything up right and take absolutely no shortcuts. It can be done. The problem is: by the time you buy all the good rod ends, good material, having to repurchase stuff because of changes and any tools you will use to do this you would be money ahead in buying a quality proven kit and install it yourself.

I absolutely love your attitude and the fact that you want to build it yourself. I love seeing people push themselves just to see what they can do when it comes to stuff like this. Good luck!
 

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