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Old 11-12-2008, 12:21 AM
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Ladder bars on the street

Anyone running Ladder bars on the street and how do you like it. Any handling problems or binding, breakage. I would like your input.

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Old 11-12-2008, 11:26 AM
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Have had a ladder bar suspension on my pro street car for 8 yrs. now. Never had any binding, breakage or problems. Biggest thing in getting them to work properly is getting them adjusted to the car. To properly adjust them you must have the weight of the car on all 4 wheels, then with the weight of the driver in the seat, you remove the bolt from the passenger side. The bolt I'm talking about is the one that connects to the front of the car. If that bolt comes out with no binding, the bars are set. If that bolt has to be knocked out, then you must adjust the bars until that bolt can slide back in. If this adjustment is not done correctly, you can still drive the car. BUT!! if you jump into the accelerator the car will make either an immediate right or left turn and will not go straight.
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Old 11-12-2008, 12:13 PM
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I have a ladder bar suspension on my Pro Streeter since I built it several years ago. I have not run into any problems on the street. If you are hesitant to run ladder bars on the street, most of the chassis vendors build street versions with poly-bushed ends that allow the suspension to articulate better on the street. I tried Poly bushed ladder bars and a panhard on my Pro streeter and the only differnece was that it was quieter(less clunking), and slightly smoother ride, but both hooked up real well at the track.
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:28 PM
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As tubbedz pointed out, use a poly or urethane bushed end on the chassis mount end of the bars. Heim joints will not survive on the street, and solid clevis style ends are the worst. Install the longest panhard bar that you can under the car also with urethane bushings. It will still hook well at the track, and will perform decently on the street. Stay away from the panhard bars that bolt to the third member mounting studs. The bar is too short and too high for the best performance. I build my own panhard bars so I can make them looong. Most in a kit form are a compromise in length. Build a custom one and make the mounts beefy!
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Old 11-12-2008, 09:21 PM
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The key to making ladder Bars work on the street, is a suspension system that has built in Flex. As posted before me, don't allow the system to be so tight, that there is no room for the system to move or flex. While quality rod ends are great, they are far to ridged to allow the necessary flex you need, instead go for the Polyurethane ends that will give when put in a bind. You will also have to perform more basic routine maintenance, making sure that your bushings are Ok and looking for any signs of fatigue or cracks.
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:54 AM
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Just do them right!

I spent several years as a professional car and chassis builder and so many of them used quality ladder bars with coil overs. When you know the purpose of the vehicle is to be street driven, you know you have to build flexibility into it. For instance, driving up an incline doing a 90-degree turn. The suspension has to be able to "rotate" or it will try to pick a wheel off the ground or maybe bend or break something. For the street, I always incorporate spacers on both sides of the heim joints to allow for high misalignment. This also determines the spacing of the double sheer mounting brackets. Ladder bars can be set for "neutral" on the street where you choose a front mounting hole and the bolts slip in and out with little interference. Today's ladder bars are so much better because they incorporate an adjuster on the lower rear. It allows you to set the pinion angle without removing the bar to turn the rod ends. It saves so much time and hassle. Actually setting up ladder bars for street and strip can get a little complicated. You have to find the exact center of gravity of the car with the driver in the seat and then you have to plot the available "instant centers" to choose the right one that will push most effectively on that center of gravity. Look at it this way...Imagine your car is a refrigerator. You stand it on the back bumper and try to push it back against the wall. Where do you push? If you push too high, will it move?....no. If you push too low will it move?....no, your shoes will slip. Push just at or below the center of gravity and you will move that refrigerator! It's the same on the car. You would do well to invest in an Alston Chassis Works catalog because it tells you so much and can save you money and heartaches. S& W Race Cars also sells great ladder bar kits. If you use spherical rod ends, buy the very best. You'll drop a couple hundred bucks but they will last if you check them and lube them. Polyurethane bushings are very nice on the street. You can buy them with 3/4" threaded ends in both right and left hand thread. I like to get this stuff from Speedway Motors. As far as a car going crooked when you drop the hammer, well, torque steer can do it but make sure it is not in your setup. Before you install the ladder bars, lay one on top of the other. The holes in the joint ends need to be in perfect alignment. Any difference will misalign the rear end and then the rear end will tend to steer the car with possibly terrible consequences. This also means that whoever installs that front mount bar better have their measuring skills in order! Hope I haven't bored you.
Pat Fogel

Last edited by P Fogel; 11-13-2008 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 11-16-2008, 01:16 AM
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Great information. It sounds like poly bushings is the way to go for the street.
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Old 11-16-2008, 11:05 AM
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You are right, poly is the way to go for the street. Once the car is on the road, MAKE SURE to check the jam nuts on the ends from time to time. With ladder bars especially, when the suspension rotates as on a one wheel bump, or turning up a sloping driveway, the bars/suspension is twisting, and the ends possibly not as much, the jam nuts WILL work loose. If you don't keep them tight you can easily beat the threads out of the ends of the bars, and that is bad...This applies to parallel four link suspensions also.

Good Luck
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Old 11-17-2008, 02:14 PM
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Posted by P Fogel:
"For the street, I always incorporate spacers on both sides of the heim joints to allow for high misalignment. This also determines the spacing of the double sheer mounting brackets."

This is one of the constant hassle points in teching dragrace cars. It makes me crazy to twist on a tie rod or drag link or any other kind of link and find it bound up at extremes of movement. How anyone can spend upwards of 6 figures on a car and not spend a little time working out the details is beyond me. One of the issues is that the heims bind up, the other is that there is no safety washer on single shear applications. What Mr. Fogel did not say, is that you should use small o.d. AN washers to prevent binding of the heims. You can find them at McMaster Carr.

Here, gentlemen, is the correct answer. These work beautifully as a safety washer on a single shear application and as an added benefit, work even more beautifully to eliminate binding in the heim on double shear ladder bar applications. In double shear, you simply place one on each side of the heim, with the small cone end toward the heim and the large, flat face of the washer against the bracket.
http://www.midwestcontrol.com/catdis...ort.php?pg=552

Last edited by techinspector1; 11-17-2008 at 10:40 PM.
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Old 11-17-2008, 10:29 PM
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Just for clarification, do not install suspension links or arms in single shear if you can avoid it! If you must, as with front 4 link suspension trailing arms, make sure to have a tube welded through the frame for the mounting bolt, and that the frame is boxed and welded to the tube on the inner rail. Install the links with quality hardware and locknuts, not lock washers.
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