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Staggered Shocks

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Post by Joltin Joe Thu Nov 18, 2021 9:33 pm

Well, another first: dragged out the creeper and crawled underneath the ass end of Saxon, and to my surprise, found it's fitted with staggered shocks. If memory serves, staggered shocks were a '60's era stop-gap attempt by Ford (and later GM) to keep the axle from rocking--pinion climb and dive.
Since most of our cars were built during the late 80's and90's, wasn't that technology dated by then?
Let me be clear: I am Not a mechanic, and I'm sure as hell not an engineer. Mike, on the other hand, is both. So, Hotrod, I defer to you ... and anyone else who'd like to chime in.
Thanks, guys.

Joltin Joe

Posts : 76
Join date : 2021-10-02
Age : 74
Location : Vermont

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Post by Hotrod Sat Nov 20, 2021 3:14 pm

The staggered shocks were there to control the climb as you said, but it goes a little further than that.  Leaf spring cars had a tendency to axle hop due to pinion climb.  The springs would twist into an "S" and then snap back, causing a loss of traction.  This could be violent in extreme cases as the springs wrapped and unwrapped quickly over and over.

The staggered shocks were found to be an inexpensive way to combat this and it worked OK, but was never as good as real traction bars.

Mopar muscle cars often came with half leaves in the front of their spring packs that stiffened the front half of the spring.  This acted like a kind of traction bar.

The Sebring 5000 frame under my car had a provision for a "3rd link" traction bar that installed on the top of the rearend housing (welding required).  There was a bracket welded to the underside of the trans tunnel near the emergency brake mount.  A single bar ran over the top of the rearend and attached to the trans tunnel bracket.  This turned the leaf spring suspension into a pseudo 3 link suspension.  It was an option and required the 8" rearend to work.  I can't comment on how well it worked since my car didn't have one, just the provisions for it.  It's described in the assembly manual.

The ultimate traction aid for leaf springs is called the CalTrac bar and there are some very fast drag cars running them.  I don't think they would work very well for cornering, but are the ultimate leaf spring traction aid in a straight line.

Here is a short tutorial on traction bars:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

I would keep the staggered shocks since they don't hurt any other performance aspect,  but can recommend you make one improvement if nothing else.

The Sebring and I think the Saxon as well uses the Mustang II rear leaf spring setup.  These springs were never designed to handle the kind of power that you can put in a Sebring/Saxon.  They have large, rather squishy, rubber bushings in the front eyes and these bushing will distort easily with a lot of power.  Remember, most MII's came with 120 HP or less (waaay less).  FWIW - My leaf sprung Sebring would actually attempt to change lanes under hard acceleration with nothing more than a stock, very puny, 350 Chevy and a peg-leg rearend (non posi traction).

There are no stiffer bushing kits available that I know of.  You might call someone like Energy Suspension or Prothane and see is they have a poly bushing kit available.  I'm betting they don't.  

The next best thing would be to have a machine shop make an aluminum (aluminium for our British friends) bushing that would fit in the eye and take an available poly bushing kit.

The expensive fix would be to contact a leaf spring supplier like Eaton/Detroit Spring and buy new springs without the large rubber parts.

Ask a simple question and you get a dissertation! Shocked  Laughing
Hotrod
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Post by Joltin Joe Sat Nov 20, 2021 4:10 pm

I like dissertations. I looked up "3rd link" so I could see an image of what you were describing. You mentioned your own ran from the top of the rear end (axle housing) to the trans hump. What I saw was a more elaborate set up, but with everything running aft from the axle.
I tried to copy/paste with no luck. So I'll describe it:
#1. a double-shock setup running parallel to the road, running from the "pumpkin" aft to the left frame member;
#2. a single shock-like affair running from the right edge of the rear end back to the right frame member;
3. a long, lateral "panhard" brace going, of course, left to right, and whose mounting points are NOT the same height (which I thought was a no-no?).

If the specs posted are right, a stock '71 Mustang 302 (my engine) with a 2-bbl (I have an Edelbrock 4106) put out about 210 HP. Throw in maybe another 25 tops with the Offenhauser and 4-bbl, and at most I'm what, 235?
My point being, my car isn't yours or Steve's, where you guys are kissing 400 HP+ I'm happy knowing I've got almost 100 HP more than my dear old BJ8.

My car has an interesting history. I'm the 4th owner, 5th if you count CR who delivered a rolling chassis to the first guy.
Thing is, seems like everybody who owned it did major work to the car whether it needed it or not. The last couple spent $2000 redoing the interior. They also had in intake and carb swapped out for new. The 2nd owner installed a new Borg Warner 5-spd, a brand new Mustang II front end (not sure what was wrong with the one CR put in, if anything).

Now it's my turn. Like I been saying, I'm just trying to recreate my BJ8.
I live in Northern Vermont. The couple I bought it from live in Southern Massachusetts. When we swapped cash and title, I had a 150 mile return trip home.
Man, what a ride! The car only has 2500 miles on it. The 1st owner put 150 miles on it, the second owner barely 900. Although the 3rd owners are married, the lady put on most of the miles: it was "her car." She put on 1400 miles since buying it in 2013.
My point is, the car has been pampered and lovingly cared for, and it shows. I want to do the same.

Sorry for the rant, just want to give you a sense of where I am with this car.

Joltin Joe

Posts : 76
Join date : 2021-10-02
Age : 74
Location : Vermont

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Post by Hotrod Sat Nov 20, 2021 8:00 pm

No need to apologize.  I work shift work and sometimes on the weekends there isn't much to do.  I was at work when I posted that.  I had plenty of time to get wordy.

Here is a link to the type of 3-link that I was talking about:

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My car didn't actually have the 3rd link, just the bracket on the chassis for it.  I'm not really sure that it would have done much good, anyway.  You need solid lower links to make it work correctly and I think the MII springs would have been too flexible.

I've been around street rodders and hot rodders for most of my life.  I tend to keep a car for a long time, but others i've known buy and trade them all the time.  Every one of them will buy a car and then spend a lot of money on it to make it "their" car before moving on to the next one. I don't really think they made a lot of profit on the sales, but they got a lot of enjoyment out of the journey.
Hotrod
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Post by Joltin Joe Sat Nov 20, 2021 8:41 pm

Yes, Mike, that's exactly what I saw (your link). Except, as I wrote, on the left side (drivers) there were TWO shock-like rods right next to each other, while on the opposite side (passengers), there was only one. Perhaps designed for an oval track?

As far as this car goes, I have no idea if I'll keep it or not. I've been retired now almost 20 years. In 2012, I thought I'd buy, build, repair, Harleys as a business, wound up with eight purchases, bought a ton of parts, accessories, engines, transmissions, seats, etc etc.
Never mind all the tools, lifts, compressors, jacks, sandblaster, and on and on ...
Still have everything I bought. Go figure?
Like I say, I get sh#t in my head and, well ... guess what I'd like to do now (I think) is build a car, or rather, restore, a big Healey. Ideally, a BN6, but good luck finding one I can afford.
Of course, if I sold my bikes ... ahh, the dilemmas we face in our waning years ... what to do, what to do.

Thanks for listening

Joltin Joe

Posts : 76
Join date : 2021-10-02
Age : 74
Location : Vermont

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