May 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm #236342
The synopsis: Your front end will not drift or blow around, even if it is light, if you set up the suspension properly. To do that:
1. Take apart the beam and remove all of the small torsion leaves. Reassemble with adjusters welded in where the grub screws go in the middle. (or buy a ready-made adjustable beam)
2. Buy a set of caster shims. Install those between the frame head and the lower beam.
3, Make sure all steering knuckles, ball joints and the steering damper are right. Replace as needed.
4. Make sure the steering coupler (rag joint) is tight, and all the slop is out of the steering box. If it isn’t, DON’t JUST TURN THE BIG SCREW ON TOP.
5. Alignment. Front toe-in should be 1/8 to 3/16. Camber should be 0 or, if you are like me, about a half degree, to .7 degrees negative. That means the tops of front wheels, viewed from the car, will be slightly closer together than the bottoms of the wheels: /====
6. Make sure your tires are not more than five or six years old. If they are, replace them. After you get them mounted and balanced, set your air pressure in front to something like 16 lbs. If you have not put hundreds of pounds of weights over the front wheels, they will be carrying about 300 lbs each. Tires should be inflated to carry the weight that is on them, and 14-17 tends to be about right for these cars. Too much pressure and the car understeers and feels squirrely on the highway. When I got new tires the dudes at the shop put 36 pounds in each one and I could’ve died on the way home. Halved it in the front, set the backs around 24, and the car rode and handled much better.
This is in huge contrast to when I took delivery, with ancient, over-inflated tires and way too-hard springing in front. At that time she plowed like an ice breaker and squealed around every corner. Now Bridget feels generally stable on the highway at speeds up to 80 mph.