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Old 06-24-2007, 09:36 AM
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What's the best front suspension for me?

I've completed a 51 Chevy 1/2 ton Pickup and I don't like the way it drives. I put a new straight front axle on it with a 3 1/2" drop. I have a 77 Chevy PU power steering box mounted on the outside of the frame. I put an 83 Caddy column in that exits the fire wall by 3". I have mono leaf springs also. The engine is a 1970 400cu in and a turbo 400 trany.

I've read a few "Straight axle steering problems" on this web sight to learn that they can be very complicated and even when fixed, still not the best way to go.

My question is; is an IFS kit or a Camaro clip the best way to go? Who besides Heidt's makes a good kit? Where can I find out how to install a clip and what one goes on a 51 pickup the best?
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Old 06-24-2007, 04:06 PM
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Welcome to the site 51 pickup. I had a 51 five window 15 years ago with a 350/400 combo with the original steering and front suspension. I didn't find it too hard to drive. Perhaps if you gave us more details about what you don't like the members can help you.

Chassis Engineering has bolt in kits for your truck:

http://www.chassisengineeringinc.com/page9.html

Lots of info and opinions here. To get the most out of the site check out the Knowledge Base and use the search function for quick answers to your questions. As well check out the Project Journals for info and inspiration. Glad to have you here and enjoy the site.
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Old 06-25-2007, 07:34 AM
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what's the front suspension for my 51 PU

Thanks for the reply Home Brew. I think what I don't like about the front Sus. of my truck is first, the way it drives. It's all over the road. I know the reason is all due to adjustments. This leads to the second reason I'm not happy with it. I've changed a lot of things over the past few years and now I'm not sure which is causing the steering problems. I went from stock front suspension with a power steering conversion kit (77 chevy pickup steering box out side the frame with 76 chevelle pitman arm to stock linkage). This was ok and had very little steering problems but the truck sat way too high. So I bought a 3 1/2" drop axle. Now as you can see from the pic's it sets great but it wanders. One of the things I had to do after lowering it to get the pitman level with the steering arm was to bend it up a few inches. That took out all the bump steer and about 75% of the wandering problem. I've had the toe in from 1/8" all the way to 1/2". It seems to handle better at 1/2" but I'm wearing the tires fast.

I'll admit I don't know front end geometry that well and that's why I'm thinking about going to IFS unless someone can lead me in the right direction with the set up I have now.
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Old 06-25-2007, 08:08 AM
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Sometimes wandering can be caused by the steering box not being adjusted and in many retrofit applications, the box is not being "centered".

Most all recirculating ball type boxes are designed to have a "hard spot" in the center of it's range of motion that takes all of the backlash and play out of the box while in the straight ahead position. If you have installed your box and set up the linkage so that the box is not centered while your wheels are in the straight ahead position, the truck will wander.

The "hard spot" is about 5 or 10 degrees either side of the center of it's range of motion.

To center the box, disconnect the drag link from the spindle, then turn the input shaft (steering wheel), all the way to the right, matchmark the location with a peice of tape or something, then turn the input shaft all the way to the left, counting the turns. Match mark this location as well. Divide your turn count by 2, and turn it back that many turns to the center. Your input shaft should now be in the center, it should feel just slightly more resistance to turn,(3 or 4 inch pounds on a correctly centered and adjusted box) and you should have the steering wheel centered between the matchmarks. Adjust the steering wheel on the column to get it centered.

That's where I'd start.

Fatman, TCI and Jim meyer all have nice IFS setups, which, judging by the pics of your truck in your project journa,. should be a snap for you to install.


Later, mikey
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Old 06-25-2007, 08:09 AM
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Have you checked the caster angle? If that is not enough positive, it will wander.

Old time alignment shops that do trucks should have the tapered wedges that are used to set caster on I beam axles.

Plus by having PS, you can run more positive than standard steering box.
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Old 06-25-2007, 08:14 AM
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Good point F&J,
Just setting up a stock truck with a raked stance can make a caster change a necessity.

Mikey
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Old 06-25-2007, 09:13 AM
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Thanks Mikey and F&J,

The first thing I'm going to try is the steering box adjustment. Then I'll do some calling around to see who's the best in the area for old axle alignments. Maybe with your help I won't have to change to IFS and can save a few bucks.

Mike
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Old 06-25-2007, 09:38 AM
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If you could at least get it to "any" alignment shop and have them check the caster and write down what degrees it has. It would be quick to slap on the alignment head and just turn the wheel 20* out and 20* in to see where it is. I'd bet it's close to zero or even negative by your description of what it's doing.

Then even if they did not have the tapered shims, you would know what angle of shim is needed to bring it back to positive.

There must be a source for those shims somehere on the web or ebay stores. Those shims would fit just about anything with twin springs. If they are for modern wide springs, you can cut them down.
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Old 06-25-2007, 05:12 PM
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You can take your truck to an alignment place that does big trucks and buses. They should have the parts to do it if it is not within specs.
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