Category Archives: Suspension & Coilovers

Front/Rear suspension and coilovers

Refining the Stance

Back to bowtie6’s birthplace for a few suspension tweaks..

First a Little History

If you look at enough TR6’s as I have through the years, you will notice very few (if any) have consistent gaps between the fenders and doors.  To help solve this problem, factory workers at the Triumph factory, added spacers between the TR6 body and the frame.  Quality back in the UK in those days was not great and on top of that, after years of use the frame would sag and the gaps had a tendency to get really bad.  Next time you go to a car show, pay close attention at any “original” TR6’s and you’ll see what I mean.

When Jim and I worked on fitting bowtie6‘s body shell on the new frame, we took a long time carefully fitting the body shell, fenders, doors, bonnet and boot lid.  I remember we actually spent HOURS doing this.  The effort was well worth:  all body gaps came out very consistent.  The downside was we had to make thicker body-to-frame spacers for the rear half of the car.  This essentially slightly “bent” the body and caused the rear half of the body shell to come up and thus exaggerate the distance between the rear tires and the rear fender.

My first set of tires on bowtie6 consisted of four Kuhmo 215/55 tires mounted on those sexy Panasport wheels.  The rears fit just fine; however the edge of the front tires rubbed the edge of the front fenders. I really didn’t any body damage so I found a pair of matching 205/55 tires for the front.  This solved the rubbing problem.

But since building a custom car is not an exact science and one must make compromises, this resulted in the car having a bit of a “rake”.  Not too bad, but when looking at bowtie6 from the side, one would notice the rear tire and fender gap was not ideal.  As a matter of fact, I remember my friend Michael reminding me the rear suspension needed some tweaking.

“Drop it down an inch”, he said.  Yeah, umm-hu.

New Tires

As noted in a previous blog article, this summer I bought a new set of tires.  This time I ditched the staggered sizing in favor of a square setup:  I bought from The Tire Rack, four 205/55 Yokohama summer-only tires.  Well, with the different tire height (remember, we went from 215/55’s to 205/55’s) the rear fender gap got really bad.

Before… (for the “after”, see the last photo at the bottom)

See what I mean?  The rear gap was not quite right.  Well, I was not about to go digging out the body/frame spacers because this would throw the body gaps all to hell.  Fortunately, Jim was able to come up with a small but effective solution to the problem.

Solution and New Stance

When Jim modified the rear axle to handle the coilovers, he made vertical mounting pads for them to bolt on to.  You can see the outline of the pads in the photo above.  Today, we took all this apart and added an extender to the pad.  This extender basically moves the axle about an inch upwards.

And the result is amazing!

Before the tweak…


After the tweak…

And there you have it!  The rake is almost gone.  Jim and I measured the end result and there is about a quarter of an inch difference between the and of the front fender and the start of the rear frame along the center of the body shell.  The gap has been reduced dramatically and overall bowtie6 has a much more refined stance.

Before…


After…


After… (see above for the “before” version)

Bad Wheel Bearing

Pitted bearing race

Yesterday, I jumped in bowtie6 and went for a drive when not far from home I heard the classic rumble that comes from a bad wheel bearing.  On the way back home, the rumble developed a slight thumping.

I’m like, wtf? 😯 This is the second bad wheel bearing!  Back in April 2012, I posted an article describing the Rear Wheel Bearing Replacement.

So with my cousin Jim’s help, we pulled both rear axles from the housing and inspected their bearings.  Passenger’s side was normal; but the driver’s side bearing was very rough, as expected.

Jim busted the bearing using the same technique I described in the article from last time and sure enough, this is when we discovered the bearing’s race nicely pitted.

The majority of the race was in decent shape, except for the big round pit shown in the picture above.  The ball bearings were not smooth and showed slight pitting with a very dull finish.  Jim explained this is normal when particles from a bearing start to shear off and make a mush of themselves.

Pitted ball bearings from the bad bearing

This picture above shows three of the worse ball bearings – sorry for the picture quality – and as you can see they are rather dull-looking.  The crack on the race was caused by us when we took the thing apart.

RW207-CCRA rear wheel bearing

And of course, this is crappy Chinese-made stuff.  Jim has gone through 3 rear bearings on his TR4 and this is the second failure on bowtie6.  Unfortunately, it appears these wheel bearings are no longer made in the USA and as expected, this is yet another example of poorly made products from China. Jim explained this is bad quality steel on the race and/or the ball bearings and that once the surface starts to peel, it is only a matter of time before failure.

I ran a few queries on Google today and found versions of this type wheel bearing made in Japan.  From what I have read on some forums, the Japanese versions are of a higher quality.  Needless to say, I’ll be ordering some soon.  However if you know where I could find these bearings made in the USA, please let me know.

Driver’s side rear end

Passenger’s side rear end

Passenger’s side axle with good bearing

Fixing a Leaking 9 Inch Ford Rear End

Note the grade-8 washers

I have recently noticed that the 9″ Ford rear end in bowtie6 has started leaking.  Nothing severe mind you, but just enough to make a mess of the garage floor.  So I jacked the car up and slid my new Race Ramps under the rear tires.  As it turned out, all ten nuts holding the third member in place, were loose.

But why?  Sure, wear and tear might cause things to loosen up.  Not wanting to leave this up to chance, I did a handful of Google searches and sure enough…  According to what I read on several websites this is a common issue on 9″ Ford rear ends.  The solution is to use copper washers on each stud.

In Search of Copper Washers

As you can see in today’s featured picture, we used grade-8 washers when we put the rear end together.  At the time, that is all we had available and after a short conversation with my cousin Jim, he told me he was not able to source the right copper washers.  Hmmm…

Two sets of Ford copper washers

So I searched eBay for some copper washers for a 9″ Ford and success!  I found a vendor offering “original” vintage Ford washers exactly for this application.  After reading the auction, I promptly clicked the “buy-it-now” button and ordered two sets for $6.00 per set of 10 washers.  Not bad.

Delivery was very quick:  the washers arrived in yesterday’s mail.  Cool!  Today, I lifted the car up again and crawled under to replace the grade-8 washers with the new copper replacements.  According to my research the washers are very soft.  As the Nylock nuts compress the copper washer they “seat” and this prevents the nuts from backing out.  Of course, this never happened with the hardened grade-8 washers.

Washers Replaced

So here is what the new washers look like.

The new copper washers are smaller than the earlier ones (see the featured photo for the “before” look).  The advantage is they have somewhat collapsed to take shape.  This is the same principle behind the soft aluminum washer on the oil drain plug on my Honda S2000.  Another problem solved!

Happy New Year

And so, I bid you all a Happy New Year.  I hope 2017 brings you great fortune and good health.  Cheers!

 

Rear Suspension Reassembly

In the last couple of posts I’ve described the reason for taking apart the rear suspension on bowtie6.  I had to send the coilovers back to the manufacturer for servicing and sure enough, after a few days they arrived back in as-new condition.  This morning, I started cleaning all the hardware and springs followed by a dry-run:  installing the coilovers on the rear suspension (without springs) and going through the entire range of motion of the axle using my jack.  I just wanted to make sure nothing was binding or out of alignment.  All checked out, so time to quit farting around and get down to business…

Continue reading

Rebuilt Coilovers

The Man in the brown truck delivered a box containing bowtie6‘s rear rebuilt coilovers.  This stuff is like jewelry – too bad they are not in plain sight!

Needless to say I unpacked them and they are perfect.  Sure, there are a few scratches from wear and tear but overall they are mechanically back to as-new condition.  The rebuild price was not too bad:  $99.00 + shipping.

I can’t wait to get the springs assembled back on them and then mounting them back to the rear axle.  I’ll have a new post with pictures this weekend.  Stay tuned!  :mrgreen: