Author Topic: SUSPENSION CHOICES.  (Read 941 times)

79T/Aman

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SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« on: June 24, 2018, 09:28:24 AM »
I wanted to take a moment to go over suspension again, there are still many misconceptions about what works and what it does, how much to spend. People call the shop and are more confused than ever.
There is so much advertising about how some products will make your car fly like an eagle as long as you change everything on your car and spend 20K-50K.
Bottom line, advertising pressure make people second guess their common sense.
I speak strictly of second gen GM F-bodies in this case, the front suspension on these cars is as good as any for a performance car, a little heavy but that can be addressed but the geometry can be made as good as a C5 Corvette with little effort or cost, the rear leaf spring system is also very good and can be upgraded at little cost and effort, yes I again will harp on bolt in link rear suspension, if you want flash and bling and barging rights about how much you spent on your car have at it but it's a wast of time and money they do not perform any better and in many cases worst than leaf springs.
The ONLY reason someone will say their new link suspension is so much better than the leaf springs is because they are comparing to their 40 year old broke down old stock springs that were too soft in the first place and with bad shocks.

Next is some of the awful sway bars that are available, when I see front sway bars that cost nearly $400 for hollow bars that are so thin that the bends are collapsing and are not any stiffer than a stock 1 1/8" bar and some wible woble end link that wears out in 5K miles or rear hollow bars that have 20" long swing arms it makes me cringe. ALL Trans Ams came with solid 1 1/4 front bars why would anyone replace it with a bar that is LESS effective for almost $400 when all you need to make your stock bar even better for less than $50!? buy replacing the end links and bushings. Not to mention that hollow bars have much less tire clearance and the stock GM as as much clearance as the best aftermarket bar.
I was at a shop with a T/A getting exhaust work done both front and rear bars were replaced with hollow ones $700 worth and they are not as good as the factory bars the owner took off!!

The all mighty "LOWER MY RIDE" I should start a tv show, from coil overs to cut soft stock springs, IT DON"T WORK (sorry for the bad grammar) there is physics and math involved here.

How to approach your suspension, firs identify what is worn out, unfortunately these cars are getting old and are in many cases in need of everything, the only thing that does not wear out are coil springs (but they do break), leaf spring bend and break, so first is look into all the steering components, ball joints and bushings, check for broken springs, new shocks, but if you want to upgrade the suspension keep shocks off the list until a choice has been made on the springs, remember bushings also have a effect on every aspect of the suspension.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 08:36:25 AM by 79T/Aman »
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79T/Aman

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2019, 10:13:52 AM »
Bringing this back up.

Topic: leaf springs.
You will read on the internet about how leaf springs date back to horse drawn buggies, ancient technology, they have more than on function and phrased in such a way that those attributes are persevered as negatives when in fact they simply describe leaf springs.
You will read these things from three type of "online gurus" purveyors of link suspension, those that have bought a link system and drank the Koolaid, and those that repeat everything they read online with no experience.
Oddly enough it is the only suspension system still in use and many aftermarket suspension suppliers are now re-joining the leaf spring band wagon.

CONs of leaf springs:
5-10# heavier than a basic 4 link per side
Not as smooth when using higher rates
setting ride height and pinion angle is more involved.

PROs of leaf springs:
Easy install.
no fabrication.
better rollcenter location
much better rear steer characteristics (virtually none)
good motion ratio and physical stability
no need for a lateral locating devise (unless racing regularly it can be of benefit)
 
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stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2019, 12:53:19 PM »
Hi Dave,

One of the issues I've always seemed to have my my T/A's leaf springs is noise/creaking. 

Do you think going to del-a-lum / delrin bushings could solve this problem?  I see this del-a-lum shackle kit from Global West, maybe you also offer one?

http://www.globalwest.net/firebird-del-a-lum-rear-leaf-spring-shackle-kit-global-west-1967-1968-1969-1970-1971-1972--1973-1974.html

Thanks,
Darryl
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

T/A Addict

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2019, 03:48:03 AM »
Great info Dave.... Thanks for the insight and keeping us as grounded as possible in reality.
Jeff
2016 Victory Cross Country
TATA '72 455 HO Auto
79 T/A 403 Solar Gold
69 F'Bird P-Touring T/A tribute to be
2010 Challenger R/T  PCP

79T/Aman

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 06:02:38 AM »
Hi Dave,

One of the issues I've always seemed to have my my T/A's leaf springs is noise/creaking. 

Do you think going to del-a-lum / delrin bushings could solve this problem?  I see this del-a-lum shackle kit from Global West, maybe you also offer one?

http://www.globalwest.net/firebird-del-a-lum-rear-leaf-spring-shackle-kit-global-west-1967-1968-1969-1970-1971-1972--1973-1974.html

Thanks,
Darryl

I hear that from people from time to time, I have never experienced it myself but performance bushings can and will have different characteristics and make noises that you don't get with stock parts that GM spent a lot of time to isolate even at the expense of reducing that part's performance and effectiveness.
the Del-a-lum bushings may or may not reduce the noise, they will increase bind in turns and increase rate, also putting it will put more twisting force on the leaf springs in turn causing more friction between the leafs and some of the creaking comes from the leafs moving between each other.
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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2019, 06:02:38 AM »

79T/Aman

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2019, 06:18:06 AM »
one thing to also note, many link suspension come with heim joints, they have very little load surface area, this causes them to wear out often and they will also transmit noise a vibrations, some use small rubber bushings but that reduces their service life and using a larger rubber bushing would cause very poor performance as well as severe geometry changes, solid bushings in a link suspension will cause severe bind, very poor performance and poor ride quality.

It may sound like I'm down on link suspension but I'm just highlighting the pros and cons, we are bombarded with advertising and posts of people that have built so called high end cars with link suspension that most enthusiasts have come to the conclusion that that is the best way to go.

Fact, when the automotive media uses the word "high end" it refers to how much money was spent on the build, yet they are not driven and can't compete on the track.
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Box

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2019, 02:07:46 PM »
That's why you use Johnny joints and not Heim.  I think you're onto something though, the car was originally designed for leaves so it's easier as an aftermarket supplier to make a setup that works as intended versus HOPING that someone's coil spring conversion was halfway designed and engineered to work as optimally as possible in a car that was never meant for it.  It's like all the coil spring conversions for C5-C7 Vettes that I just roll my eyes at, the shock towers of those cars were never designed to have that kind of load and stress.  Which I suspect is something that'd also apply to second gens or any other leaf suspension car, though the Vettes use transverse leaves but still.  Anyhow, short of IRS conversion(which would also fall back on how well engineered it is) I say leave it as leaves and maybe throw in a Watt's link if you're hardcore on handling performance.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 02:52:21 PM »
Not sure if I'm derailing this thread, but I've been running the PTFB GT leaf springs and sway bars for about 4-5 years now.  Ride is great, and stance is great. 

Now that I've done the LS swap the noise is more noticeable from the rear suspension than it was before.  Any suggestions on steps I can take to remove/reduce the creaking sounds?  I agree with you guys, I'd rather stick with the leaf spring setup and not over-complicate the situation.  The noises primarily happen going up and down driveways, and over speed bumps. 

OER offers a leaf spring liner for their leaf springs.  Not sure if the PTFB springs also have a similar liner that supposedly does reduce noise.
https://www.oerparts.com/product/k655.html


Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

79T/Aman

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2019, 05:10:35 PM »
Not sure if I'm derailing this thread, but I've been running the PTFB GT leaf springs and sway bars for about 4-5 years now.  Ride is great, and stance is great. 

Now that I've done the LS swap the noise is more noticeable from the rear suspension than it was before.  Any suggestions on steps I can take to remove/reduce the creaking sounds?  I agree with you guys, I'd rather stick with the leaf spring setup and not over-complicate the situation.  The noises primarily happen going up and down driveways, and over speed bumps. 

OER offers a leaf spring liner for their leaf springs.  Not sure if the PTFB springs also have a similar liner that supposedly does reduce noise.
https://www.oerparts.com/product/k655.html

Our springs are of the low frictional resistance design, they do have friction pads at the end of each leaf but the racing type leaf does have more movement between the leafs, that can cause some noise, the stock springs have thinner leafs and are bound tight together and some have those liners between them for just that reason, unfortunately those are not used on performance leaf springs. 
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FormTA

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2019, 05:13:51 PM »
I can't  remember what the bushings are.... maybe they need greased.
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
67 RS Camaro (Work in progress)
See the recurring theme???

Box

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2019, 06:36:45 PM »
I can't  remember what the bushings are.... maybe they need greased.
If they're urethane then those need constant greasing, why I'll never use them on a street car among other reasons.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2019, 07:53:02 PM »
I’m using whatever bushings came with the PTFB kit.  It likely has been 4 years since the bushings have been greased (when they were installed) so perhaps it’s time to remove the leafs and bars and re-grease.

The other reason I liked the Global West Del-A-Lum shackle and bushing kit is that it’s greasable.  Therefore I wouldn’t have to go thru this removal process again.  But as Dave notes above the bushings may exacerbate the noise and not sure if they work with the PTFB spring.
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

Box

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2019, 09:27:09 PM »
If it's an application where Zerk fittings can be used it's not that bad to grease them, but still I wouldn't want them for the increased NVH and depending on where you use them(most anywhere in suspension) you end up with binding if there's more than one axis of motion.  Personally I'd use hardened rubber when available or o.e. spec rubber before urethane on a street car, but I've gone from 18 to 65 in a few years so it's a matter of what you're willing to sacrifice in some instances.

1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula hardtop 6-speed

FormTA

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2019, 09:33:56 PM »
Ya, I'm worried about the urethane I've used...oh well... Next time I restore it I'll use something different.  Maybe UHMW graphite.  I might have to invent that...
79 Trans am 301 (work in progress) LS swap n progress
79 Formula 301 (Work in progress)
67 RS Camaro (Work in progress)
See the recurring theme???

stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2019, 09:57:07 PM »
Here’s the marketing behind del-a-lunch bushings.  Maybe Dave can advise if any of this is true/false.


For drag racing applications, there are many traction kits on the market that use a solid type bushing in the front eyelet of the leaf spring and leave rubber or polyurethane in the rear. However, we do not recommend using rubber or poly in the shackle for one major reason.

Rubber and polyurethane allow the rear portion of the leaf to walk laterally. If the front bushing is solid mounted, the length of the leaf becomes a long torque arm reacting on the forward leaf spring frame mount. The mount is only held into the frame with three 3/8 bolts. That is a lot of load on the mounts, all trying to control lateral movement!

What’s the solution? Install a Del-a-lum shackle kit. The bushings do not allow the leaf spring to move laterally, removing the torque effect of the leaf. They also allow a choice of preloading the bushing for decreasing leaf spring movement or running no preload and increasing leaf spring movement.

Del-A-Lum Shackle Kits: A bushing that works like a bearing!

Del-A-Lum bushings are perfect for street, drag and autocross applications. Installation requires the bushing housings to be pressed into the frame and the leaf spring eyelets. Inserts and thrust washers separate the housings and springs from metal-to-metal contact and provide total isolation.

The inserts and thrust washers also provide a bearing surface for the bushing. This design makes the bushings operate similarly to a bearing. Grease fittings are installed and the housing is grooved internally for grease penetration. Del-A-Lum bushings also provide lateral control of the leaf springs.
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2019, 09:57:07 PM »



jonathonar89

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2019, 06:30:08 AM »
Stros,

It’s expensive, but you might be interested in looking up Global West part number 115SH to add to your PTFB springs.

They have a video explaining how it works here...
http://www.globalwest.net/camaro-firebird-nova-rear-shackle-bushing-bearing-leaf-spring-cat5-1967-68-69-70-71-72-73-74-75-76-7.html

I’ll let Dave elaborate more on all this since this is his post,

Jon

stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2019, 08:55:33 AM »
Thanks Jon.  Interesting.  It does mention welding being required for it though.  Not sure what needs to be welded.
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

jonathonar89

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2019, 09:04:50 AM »
Thanks Jon.  Interesting.  It does mention welding being required for it though.  Not sure what needs to be welded.

They, like Hotchkis, say to weld the sleeve to the spring once pressed in.  PTFB front spring eyes are slightly different in that they are strictly press-fit.  It’s not the most advisable to weld a leaf spring for fear of cracking but people do it.  I haven’t really seen any complaints on the subject.  Dave knows more about this stuff than myself though.

Hope this broadens the thought spectrum and this discussion,

Jon

79T/Aman

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2019, 09:23:15 AM »
a couple things hear, welding on a spring is a NO NO! I don't know why they would do that, however you could braze it but why.

We use a spherical bearing in the front eye of the spring and poly bushings in the rear, the poly bushings give very good lateral support but have some compliance as does a bearing without the expense, maintenance and elaborate installation.

Not to knock GW but for years they've had conflicting approaches, on the one hand advocating solid Delrine bushings knowing that it binds up the suspension then offer a fix with all bearing set up and claim that both are for the same purpose.

Fact leaf springs tilt as they are compress from cornering or one wheel bump because they follow the straight axle movement, leaf springs don't just go up and down because they can't, they follow the movement of the rear end housing.

These are the same problems that link suspensions have with poly bushings but unlike leaf springs that have two sets of bushings per side link suspensions have 4 and some have an additional panhard or watts link.     
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stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2019, 09:40:32 AM »
Thanks Dave - on my 4 year old GT leafs were you using spherical fronts and poly rears back then?
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

79T/Aman

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2019, 10:54:57 AM »
Thanks Dave - on my 4 year old GT leafs were you using spherical fronts and poly rears back then?

GT uses rubber front and poly in the shackles, the rubber acts like a spherical bearing except it does also compress radially that is the only draw back of rubber but at least it does not cause binding.
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stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2019, 11:44:27 AM »
Thanks Dave - on my 4 year old GT leafs were you using spherical fronts and poly rears back then?

GT uses rubber front and poly in the shackles, the rubber acts like a spherical bearing except it does also compress radially that is the only draw back of rubber but at least it does not cause binding.

OK, thanks.  I was curious if perhaps swapping the rubber front with the spherical bearing could help with the noise issues.
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

funkybird

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2019, 03:08:43 PM »
OK can I take this thread back to 79 TAmans initial post, but ask for some recommendations on what really works for the street?

My ride (73 TA) has 40 year old stock suspension, the body mounts failed the UK annual legal safety test, so I need to overhaul the suspension now. all the bushes are past their best and theres plenty of squeaks and knocks from the back end on bumpy roads which I find annoying. Ride understandably wallows a little but it’s no land yacht and handling is poor but hey it’s my 1st 70s muscle car so I can’t benchmark it.

I am with 79TAman that I don’t need some fancy IRS set up but I do want to optimise the factory set up for a road car, ie quiet, serviceable with a good ride /handling compromise.

so where do I spend the cash? And what hype do I avoid?

1) I like the idea polybushes but I don’t want to lube them each year, that’s just nonsense for a road car. Would PST poly graphite bushes be a good compromise? Or better with Delco OE?

2) And for the body mounts are solid bushes worthwhile? or stock?

3) You can spend top dollar on shocks but that doesn’t necessarily give you a compliant ride:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=80813.0

4) springs - can I restore the rear leafs with new pads or better to just buy new?

5) I think the front springs need special order to get the ride height as the car has Eheads, alloy inlet, headers & mini starter so that’s like 100lb Off the nose. It was nose high when I bought it...

Anyway appreciate your feedback, apologies if you feel I’m hijacking this thread but I think this is on topic...


Aus78Formula

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2019, 05:15:56 PM »
Don't get too carried away straight away. If your suspension is now largely 46 years old then even stock replacement with new would be a world of difference in ride and handling. Slightly lower and firmer springs will let the more modern tyres perform properly and likely lower your lighter front end compared to stock, it's probably sunk on both ends as it is now.

79T/Aman

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2019, 06:30:42 PM »
solid body bushings would make the car more rigid, in this case I would say you can use poly body bushings unless you plan on installing frame connectors at some point you need solids.

If your leaf springs are in good condition you can rebuild them (I can help with that too)
poly bushings in control arms are not a good idea, new rubber bushings will be just fine.
Front springs either new WS6 coils, you can cut for them a little for the lighter engine or use the PTFB 1LE coil springs
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stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #25 on: May 09, 2019, 07:02:13 PM »
A good first step would be to give Dave a call :D.  My suspension is pretty much all PTFB, appreciate all of the time and education Dave has provided over the 6 years restoring my TA.

For my build I thought the solid body bushings and subframe connectors made a huge difference at removing the boat like characteristics.  But all my bushings and front & leaf springs were also completely shot.  With new bushings, springs, swaybars and a new steering box everything really came together.  You can actually make a 40 year old T/A drive like a sports car with the right parts and advice..
 
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

73ta

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2019, 04:59:53 PM »
Not sure if I'm derailing this thread, but I've been running the PTFB GT leaf springs and sway bars for about 4-5 years now.  Ride is great, and stance is great. 

Now that I've done the LS swap the noise is more noticeable from the rear suspension than it was before.  Any suggestions on steps I can take to remove/reduce the creaking sounds?  I agree with you guys, I'd rather stick with the leaf spring setup and not over-complicate the situation.  The noises primarily happen going up and down driveways, and over speed bumps. 

OER offers a leaf spring liner for their leaf springs.  Not sure if the PTFB springs also have a similar liner that supposedly does reduce noise.
https://www.oerparts.com/product/k655.html

My 73 used to creak and groan going over the driveway and bumps. Not any more with solid body bushings, subframe connectors A arm braces & cross brace and wonderbar brace. Running Dave's comp suspension and all of his goodies!

langss

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2019, 06:22:20 PM »
My car is a long way from being on the road, so I can't say I know it works. But I have a 76 K5 Blazer that has leaf spring on all four corners. The stock front springs are a reverse arch, and the creaking and squeaking  at low speed used to drive me nuts. I sprayed "Lithium Grease" on the leaves and until it rained again, for the most part the squeaking was gone. It might work in this situation. Just an idea.

stros

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2019, 07:25:55 PM »
Thanks guys.  The front suspension is actually pretty quiet.  No complaints there. It’s just the rear with issues. 

I tried the lithium grease option but I found it tough to get it between the leafs.
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

langss

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Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2019, 10:11:02 PM »
Thanks guys.  The front suspension is actually pretty quiet.  No complaints there. It’s just the rear with issues. 

I tried the lithium grease option but I found it tough to get it between the leafs.
Sorry I was not clear.... I only used it on the front springs. Because they are a reverse arch, they really flex a lot. I had to spray them multiple times. I also used some lube I got at Lowe's for the Garage Door Rollers. it worked equally well. I have since changed the front springs, so the problem has gone away. I hope this helps.

Re: SUSPENSION CHOICES.
« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2019, 10:11:02 PM »
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