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Old 12-23-2005, 04:11 PM
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65 Belair Sway bar question

I have 65 Belair w/ 6 cyl engine. We are going to replace engine with 350. I understand we should change sway bar on front end to larger diameter - what diameter sway bar should we use?
I've also seen rear sway bar kits that say they are for 65. Currently, the car doesn't have a rear sway bar. Was a rear sway bar an option or is this an aftermarket add-on?
Any suggestions for a good source or model of sway bar would be appreciated!
Thanks
Ed
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Old 12-24-2005, 08:40 AM
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I had to do the same thing with the '67.

I think you'll find the bottom control arm is different too. The generic V8 weighs about 100 lbs more than the L6. I was lucky enough to find a '67 stationwagon in a junkyard and I had the operator cut the whole front crossmember out. I was able to take all of the control arms and the sway bar, along with new bushings and springs, and apply them to the old front end.
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Old 12-24-2005, 09:10 AM
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This should be a simple question, but, when you're talking about a car from the sixties, it gets a little tricky.

If you were to ask someone who races an oval car, he'd tell you the last thing you'd want to do is go to a larger front bar after increasing the weight on the front. The larger bar attracts more of the roll couple to the front, causing an increase in the difference between right-to-left front tire loading and thus causing the car to push in the corners. But, the increased front weight is also causing the car to push, so you're making a bad situation even worse with the larger bar.

Doesn't sound good, does it?

But, there's something else to consider. With cars of the sixties, the chassis roll was so great that camber control of the front tires was pretty well lost during hard cornering. So, with the reduced roll brought about by the larger bar, you pick up more tire contact area and...sometimes...this helps to actually reduce push. So, you've got one effect working against the other.

And, what do you do? Well, if you're happy with the handling of the car with the six-banger, I'd recommend that you leave the front suspension alone and simply add a rear bar. If you're serious about improving the handling, then go with a heavy bar up front AND a bar at the rear. The next step...if you're going to run with the SCCA sporty car types at their autocrosses...is to go with adjustable coilovers and higher spring rates at all four corners.

Finally, you could simply forget about changing anything. Lash a 100 pounds of something (a small child, perhaps) to the side of your engine and see if you can live with the handling.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:10 AM
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Thanks for response.
This is a daily driver for my son. We are not going to race - it's just for fun around town. The 6 is shot and we are rebuilding a 350 - I'm worried the weight and more power will make bad handling worse to unmanageable.
Right now, the car really rolls during a corner. It also is twitchy on a straight line. I know one of the body mount bushings is gone and I'm guessing most of the other bushings are in bad shape - so I'm planning on replacing alot of stuff when we pull the engine. In fact, I'm guessing most of the problem is the worn out suspension parts. It just seems that while I'm in there - now's the time to change sway bar to bar that is right for engine wieght.
Do you know if 65's came with rear sway bar originally - or is that an add on?

Ed
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Old 12-24-2005, 11:01 AM
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If it's like my '67, the rear bar was part of a heavy duty suspension package, not standard. Your rear end is also a three-arm. There are/were ten bolt four-arm rears, again part of a heavier option. The three-arm will work just fine for street driving.

You can find original rear sway bars occasionally on Ebay, but they get pricey. There are probably aftermarket kits, but the "B" body often gets overlooked by the aftermarket manufacturers. If you find one let me know.

I found that replacing all of the front end bushings, tie rods, centerlink, ball joints, etc made a world of difference in the handling. Most of that stuff you can get at Autozone cheaper than OEM.
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Old 12-24-2005, 03:09 PM
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The automakers don't like the expense of a front swaybar, let alone a rear one. Back in the fifties, handling predictions were so poor that the final decision on the necessity of a front bar often awaited testing of the first prototypes. I remember when such a test was planned when a hotshot VP happened to visit the proving grounds. He insisted on driving the car, took one lap on the high speed oval, and declared that there was to be no front bar. The tests were later bootlegged and, if the decision had been left to the engineers instead of this accountant, the car would definitely have had a bar!
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:53 PM
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Addco lists front & rear bars for '52-'97 Chevy full-sized cars. Go to www.addco.net , but don't use Firefox, because the columns go cockeyed.
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Old 12-25-2005, 08:48 AM
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Good site, Jim. Thanks.
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Old 12-26-2005, 02:20 PM
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Thanks for replies!
I was able to get a 66 assembly manual.
I see a F41 RPO which is a "Special Performance Front & Rear Suspsension" for Models 15-16000 (396 & 427 Cu.In. Engines) It only shows the rear and it has drawing of end portion rear sway bar connecting to lower control arm. It doesn't show if there are bushings mid frame, etc. The part number is 385968. It doesn't show the diameter of the sway bar.
The front suspension shows the sway bar part number to be 3857400. Wagons & RPO F40 & F41 use part number 3868640. Again, it doesn't show diameters.
It also appears to have different pns for lower control arm - 385719-2 for 15300-500 (except wagons)(I don't know what a 15300-500 is... and 3862481-2 for V-8 16000 & wagons.
Anyone know what differnce in lower control arm would be? I'd be surprised if it was different thickness metal - maybe bushings or ball joint?
It also has chart of springs for different models or something which I can't decode - but it appears there may be different springs for different models,etc.

Ed
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Old 12-26-2005, 02:27 PM
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Your current bottom front control arm doesn't have a bracket for the sway bar and links to bolt to. If memory serves, it was just a flat plate welded to the bottom of the arm. The bushings, ball joints, etc are the same.
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Old 12-26-2005, 03:08 PM
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hey billy, wouldn't the child get a little scare hook to engine
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Old 12-26-2005, 08:22 PM
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The standard '65 has a front sway bar. Mine is a 6 cyl - I haven't measured diameter of sway bar. So the difference in lower control arms isn't the sway bar - unless the other sway bar is located on lower control arm differently....
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