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11-24-2004 08:32 PM Rat on a shoestring - front suspension
Here are three shots showing more detail of the front bracket fabrication for the 4-bars. The first shows the "hangers" being drilled. The second shot shows the "tabs" (which are bolted to the top and bottom of the axle) and the "hangers" (which are welded on each side of the tabs) after being cut and drilled. The final shot shows the tabs and hangers assembled and clamped together in preparation of final welding.

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  [Entry #40]

11-23-2004 11:05 PM Rat on a Shoestring - Budget to date
Here are the expenditures on the rat thus far (as of 11/23/04)

Donor vehicle ('81 Ford F-150)--- $400.00
Steel for chassis--------------------- $450.29
Front Tires, incl mount & bal.------ $141.56
Carrera Coil-overs (fronts)--------- $341.46
4-Bars and rod ends (fnt & rear) --$309.04
Grade 8 bolts and fasteners------- $ 95.09
Primer/paint (rattle cans)------------$ 23.41

Total $1,760.85

Balance in budget $1,239.15

Major items remaining:

Gas tank
Brake lines
Drive shaft

  [Entry #39]

11-23-2004 10:08 PM Rat on a Shoestring - front suspension
Here are three more shots of the completed 4-bar setup on the passenger side. You can see in these shots the slight upward angle of the bars as they go from the frame to the axle.

Also note the new "littles".

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  [Entry #38]

11-23-2004 09:56 PM Rat on a Shoestring - front 4-bars

The arrival of the suspension parts from Speedway was just too much temptation so I abandoned my sandblasting efforts and got back to fabrication. As I began to mock up the new bars and the coil over shocks it became vary apparent that space was going to be at a premium. Of particular concern was the possibility of the 4-bars interfering with the full turning radius of the front wheels. Making that an even more difficult problem is the fact that I still have the stock 31" tires from the F-150 mounted on the front. I decided that in order to make sure all the suspension components would fit that now was the time to invest in the new "littles" for the front end. So I ordered two 195/50 R15 Dunlop tires from They arrived a couple days later via UPS and I had them mounted and balanced at a local shop. During the wait for the tires I took a few days off to sort out a nasty electrical problem I was having with my Toyota pickup.

The new small tires really make a difference on positioning the suspension components and it now looks as if everything will fit - although things will definitely be tight.

Once I was certain I could position everything within the space I had I began to fabricate the brackets for the 4-bars. The first picture shows the front bracket. This bracket is mounted to the axle using the stock original mounting bolt hole for the F-150 radius rod. The original bolts had to be cut off with a torch because the nuts were so corroded so I replaced both of these bolts with new grade 8s.

I then cut two pieces of 1/4" flat stock 1 7/8" wide and 4" long and drilled a hole in each to match the new bolts. I then mounted these two "tabs" to the top and bottom of the axle with the new bolts. I then cut two pieces of 3/16 flat stock 2" wide and 7"long and drilled a 1/2" hole in each end of both bars. As shown in the picture, these two pieces are then attached to each side of the
for the top/bottom "tabs". During the mock up and fabrication I held this assembly together with a simple C clamp making sure the clamp was out of the way for mounting the 4-bars in the top and bottom holes.

For the frame brackets I used 2x3 1/8" wall steel tubing. The completed mounts are shown in the second photo. Note that there are two mounts, one on top and one below the frame rail. These were both originally 3" long and 3" high. But the lower mount was cut down to 2" in order to give a little more "scrub" room (to insure the mounts won't come in contact with the pavement in the event of tire failure). I also cut the backsides of the mounts at an angle to give them a better look. While the bars are parallel with each other then are not quite parallel with the ground or frame. This was a bit of a trade off made in order to simplify the rear mounting bracket construction and to insure the position of the bars would not interfere with the turning radius of the wheels. The bars angle slightly upward from the frame to the axle.

Once the rear brackets were cut and the mounting holes drilled I clamped them in their approximate final position on the frame. I then installed the bars/rod ends and continually adjusted them lengthwise as I moved the brackets forward and back in order to line them up square with one another. Although it is not shown, I had the front axle clamped solid in its "correct" position as I made these adjustments. Once I had the brackets at the correct angle and square with one another I clamped them down solid. I then made sure there was a slight amount of side to side play in the 4-bars to insure the rod ends were not binding on their mounting bolts. I then tack welded the front mounting brackets in a few key spots and finally I tacked the rear brackets to the frame. I then removed the 4-bars and took the front brackets off the axle so I could get at them better for the final welding. Once the front brackets were welded I moved on to welding the rear mounting brackets to the frame and then grinding all the welds.

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  [Entry #37]

11-23-2004 08:45 PM Rat on a shoestring - steering box
The first photo shows the mounted F-150 steering box.

The second photo shows the coil over shocks and the "4-bar" bars and rod ends which arrived from Speedway on 11/15/04. The bars are 18" swedged tubes which come with left hand and right hand threads on opposite ends. The tubes are threaded for rod ends with 5/8" shanks. I also purchased stainless steel rod ends with nylon bushings for all four bars on the front suspension and for the lower two bars of the rear suspension. The steel heim joints you can see on three of the rods on the right are items I had left over from a prior project so I'm using them for the two upper rear bars and for the panhard bar. This was done simply to save a bit of cash.

The coil over shocks are Carrera/QA1. I ordered the shock/spring combination rated at 1150 lbs. The shocks have a 4" stroke and a mounting length of 11.5". It should be noted that these shocks come unassembled and putting them together proved to be quite a challenge, primarily because the springs had to be compressed in order to put everything together. I don't have a coil spring compressor so I had to fashion one by using three "pony" clamps. It didn't look real pretty but it finally got the job done.

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  [Entry #36]

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