Photo #1 Shows the panhard bar. The panhard bracket is the only "major" welding I had to do on the axle housing and I'm hoping that by confining the welds to the center section it will avoid any warping. I also did the weld in 4 separate sections allowing time for the housing to cool between welds. The panhard bar is 18" and with the heim joint rod ends in place it measures 22" eye to eye. This is rather short for a panhard. But even with such a short panhard I still could not get the axle housing mounting bracket as close to the center of the housing as might be preferred. This may prove to be a problem but I really won't know until I get some road time in.
You might also notice that I used heims rather than nylon bushings for the panhard. I did this because the panhard will not only have to move up and down but will also have a slight bit of fore/aft movement as well as the axle moves up and down. A number of board members have indicated the use of heims will require more frequent inspections to insure they are replaced in the event of any undue wear.
Photo #2 and #3 Show the completed rear suspension. Note, however, that the crossmember holding the tops of the coil springs is temporary and is being held in place for now with clamps. I will install the brackets for the tops of the springs once I have the engine, trans, and a few other major components mounted and I have the rear adjusted for the final ride height. I can then weld everything in place without having to make all the mounting brackets adjustable.
The project has now reached its first major benchmark, the completion of the rolling chassis. Obviously, there is still a great deal to do on the chassis in terms of sandblasting and paint etc. but the basic mechanicals of it are now done. There will also be some additional X members which will be added as the engine and trans are positioned and we determine where a few of the other driveline components are going to go.
Photo #1 This shows the "ring" which we just fabricated tack welded to the coil spring base plate to form our spring "cup".
Photo #2 A shot of how the spring will sit in the cup when completed. Identical cups were made for the upper end of the springs but will not be installed until the final ride height, with the major weight of the car in place, has been established.
Photo #3 This shot is included just to show you what happens when you leave a stack of your sketches and drawings on your welding table...and then start welding. FIRE!!!! It keeps a person humble to do something stupid like this every once in a while.
Once the 4-bar system is installed and the coil spring base plates are welded in place, I needed to fabricate "cups" to position and hold the bottoms of the coil springs themselves. The cups are made of 1/8" plate, 1 1/2" wide and approximately 13 5/8" long rolled into a circle and then welded to the base plate. The three photos below show the low-tech method I used to make the circles. The strips of thin plate are simply clamped to the "collar" area of some 3" PVC pipe (the collar area has an o.d. of 4" which is the o.d of my coil spring) and then it is bent by hand around the PVC.
As the bend is made it is clamped approximately every 90 degrees to hold it in place. Once the 1/8" material is bend all the way around the PVC the tension on the clamps is slowly released until the two ends of the 1/8" material can be butted on to the other. Another clamp is then placed directly on this butt joint and tightened firmly to the PVC. The butt joint is then tack welded. Once tacked, the "ring" can be removed from the PVC and the final weld completed. I then did some minor hammering on the joint to make the curve as uniform as possible all around the ring. There may be better ways to do this - but what the heck, it worked.
Photo #1 and #2 - These are close up photos of the front and rear brackets for the parallel 4-bars being welding into place.
Photo #3 shows the completed 4-bar system for the driver's side. The bars themselves are from Speedway and are 18" long. With the rod ends the total length is approximately 22" from eye to eye. The rod ends are stainless with nylon bushings. They have 5/8" shanks and are left hand and right hand threaded. Note that the existing leaf spring mounts on the housing were at an approximate 10 degree angle. This, in turn, also puts the "down bracket" at a 10 degree angle. This is the reason you may have noticed the holes in the bracket are offset. This way, In the final installation, the "eyes" of the parallel bars will end up one directly above the other.
Not shown in these photos is the "back side" welding. A triangular piece of 3/16" plate steel, 5 1/4" long, is welded down the back side of the "down bracket" and is then welded to the existing bracket on the housing which was previously used as a shock mount.
The major decision regarding the rear suspension was whether to go with a 4-bar and panhard or attempt a triangulated 4-link. Complicating that decision was my concern about minimizing the amount of welding I would have to do on the axle housing of the Ford 9" in order to avoid warping the housing. After a lot of research and some additional questions on the HR.Com forums, I decided on a relatively simple 4-bar and panhard setup. To minimize welding directly onto the housing I designed by mounting points around the existing bracketry which was already on the housing.
Photo #1 below. This photo shows the major components of the 4-bar system. On the left of the first photo is the new base plate for the coil spring. The plate is fabricated from 2x4 rectangular tubing and is designed to be welded onto the existing leaf spring perch of the 9" housing and then extended inward toward the frame. As it nears the frame rail it will be welded directly to the axle housing on the top and on the back (rear) it will be welded to the top portion of an existing bracket what was previously a part of the shock mount.
In the center of the first photo is the rear bracket for the parallel 4-bar. The bracket is fabricated from 2x3 rectangular tubing and is designed to be welded at the top to the new coil spring base plate described above and at the lower end it will be welded to the existing bracket which was previously used as the shock mount.
To the right in the first photo is the front frame bracket for the parallel 4-bar. This bracket will be welded directly to the frame.
Photo #2. The second photo shows the same three components turned on their sides to better show how they are constructed.
Photo #3. the final photo below shows how the new coil spring plate and the rear "down" bracket are positioned on the axle housing. Here they are clamped in place in preparation for tack welding.