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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll roll the dice here and start this off. Let's see pix of solid axle steering set ups, and discuss the do's and don'ts of setting one up. I'd like this to be a technical thread of sorts, so that someone who is considering installing or having issues with thier currant set up, can get some REAL information, ask REAL questions, and get REAL answers.

Here's the run down of what I have done on mine so far. In my 55 Chev I installed a 59 Chev truck axle, hung with 6" lift springs for a CJ5. Frame is stock (uncut) and retains the stock steering box. I took the lefthand steering arm from the 55/57 car spindle, and installed it on the right hand spindle of my axle at the top facing aft. I am now able to run my draglink from the stock pitman arm to that steering arm and keep it almost horizontal. Actually, with engine/trans and front end mounted, the draglink IS horizontal. The angle bar with the holes in the pix is the mock up draglink that I used to get a measurement for the real one and check for oilpan clearance.
 

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Here's a shot of mine. I used a speedway kit but modified it. The 48" axle was too narrow, so I had a local rod shop make me a wider one. I did the cross steer using the stock box with the pitman arm fitted with a bolt and heim. I added a panhard bar from the axle to the frame parallel to the steering linkage. The alignment guy said that this was how he did most of his straight axle conversions with no problems.

The first shot is my buddy Chris's front end that the rod shop did for him. It's a Chevy truck axle. I used his for my conversion (the second shot). The last is Chris's car.

Later,

Mike
 

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Hi guys
Thanks for the great post, and the photo's. With the risk of sounding like a smartie :D :D I would like to address this as a question. I noticed in your photo's Mike you are running a panhard. Have ya thought of running a wishbone instead ? Reason I ask , threw its suspension travel the p-bar creates an ark causing a sudden jolt to the side. The wish bone has a smooth sliding activity which eliminates this and creates a smoother travel. However to reduce the ark of the p-bar, the bar (could) start off parallel to the axle creating minimal ark.... I run the same setup on (wishbone) all my rear suspension, unless a customer options for the panhard bar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I agree. That is why I wanted my draglink as close to level as possible. Heavy draglink angle = bad bump steer. Unless of course, your suspension is very stiff and only travels an inch.
 

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I'll throw my 2 cents in. My 57 is stubbed with a new home built 2X4 frame. The axle is a 57 chevy truck axle with model A ford springs. The steering box is a 525 box from a camaro with a 57 power steering pitman arm. The cross link is a 57 tie rod adjuster sleve cut in half and welded into a piece of DOM tubing and using the 57 tie rod ends. The steering arm on top of the left wheel is from the original 57 steering. It all seems to be working out very nice. Don't give me any grief about the front spring mounts. That was just temporary during mock up.
Rick



 

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Mike I was wondering about the front panhard bar as well? Have you driven it much to see how it reacts? I was think of one also but trying to make it as long as possible.

Ray, I am using a '57 chevy front axle. Did you drillout the round head joint ends or how did you remove them? I'm wondering how to get mine out in case I use the old arms on mine. Thanks for any help. mark L
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Mark, if you're referring to the truck steering arms, I lightly ground the swaged end and with a hammer and a drift pressed the ball studs out. LMC Truck has a nice conversion tie rod for the truck axle. As for the car steering arm, nothing had to be done as they use a conventional tie rod end.
 

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Hi guys
Thanks for the great post, and the photo's. With the risk of sounding like a smartie :D :D I would like to address this as a question. I noticed in your photo's Mike you are running a panhard. Have ya thought of running a wishbone instead ? Reason I ask , threw its suspension travel the p-bar creates an ark causing a sudden jolt to the side. The wish bone has a smooth sliding activity which eliminates this and creates a smoother travel. However to reduce the ark of the p-bar, the bar (could) start off parallel to the axle creating minimal ark.... I run the same setup on (wishbone) all my rear suspension, unless a customer options for the panhard bar.
Steve, I am thinking of changing the steering link to the upper mount on the pass. spindle. I fitted the stock '55 arm with some spacers to get the link almost exactly parallel to the axle. The question is: is it safe to run with spacers and grade 8 bolts or should I try to heat the arm and bend it up a couple inches? I've got it mocked up in the photo below.

I will have to address the panhard, but how would a wishbone work on leafs? How about a anti-sway bar? Mine is more street than race so I will have to do corners....
 

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OK, so I did it today. I had my daughter help me make a jig and I torched the arm! It came out great. It didn't need any shims to clear the spring - and it clears lock to lock with room to spare. It's about a 1/4" from the oil pan - might have to put a small dimple there. The horizontal drop (from the pitman arm to the steering arm) is about 3/4" over three feet. It does go from front to back about three inches from the arm to the pitman. Not sure how much of an issue this is on a cross steer car.

I'll need some heavy 7/16" x 1" spacers and the grade 8 bolts, but all else looks fine. The panhard bar will go - not sure if I'll replace it or do something else.

Later

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Mike, are your springs perfectly parallel to eack other? If so, you're gonna need a bar of some sort. If they're closer together at the front like the factory designed the early trucks, there should be little to no need for a panhard bar. And with those short shackles of yours, you should be fine. Hope this helps. BTW, the pics of your new set-up made me smile. Looks safer already. Nice work!
 

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Just a suggestion. Your panhard bar should be at the same angle as the cross link for the steering. Just look at any modern model A or 32 ford hot rod frame with a straight axle and cross steer. You'll see what I mean.
 

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Just a suggestion. Your panhard bar should be at the same angle as the cross link for the steering. Just look at any modern model A or 32 ford hot rod frame with a straight axle and cross steer. You'll see what I mean.
Yeah, that's why it's coming out. I'm going to check out the wishbone that Steve was talking about or move the end point of the panhard, or not put anything in there. I'm happy with the steering as it is and glad to keep the original box (just rebuilt).

Thanks all,

Mike
 

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Why do you need a panhard bar? None of the factory straight axles used one, so why would you need it just because it's swapped into a gasser? Is it because of worry about the height?
I put a Speedway straight axle under my '46 Austin sedan and I'm not running a panhard up front. Parallel leaf springs keep everything in order, and mine works great.

I had some extreme mods to do to my Speedway axle, as it was the narrowest they sell, and still 6" too wide for the narrow little Austin. I had to cut 6" out of the center, then sleeve the axle with solid stock and weld it back together. Likewise I had to chop the drag link to match and sleeve it also before welding it back. I welded the axle to two pieces of angle iron prior to cutting, so I could maintain the kingpin alignment to each other. Worked slick, and they came right back. Just cut the angle off afterwards and ground the welds smooth where it was tacked.
I also ran into clearance issues in the steering box, so had to locate the box way up front at the end of the frame. That meant the steering all ended up in front of the axle. Checked with several stock setups, and found it wasn't that uncommon to steer in front, so I figured I'd do so. Worked out just fine, and with the kingpin angle set at 7 degrees, the car tracks beautifully, and steers great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hey Mike, any new developments in your steering saga?
 

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Nope. Haven't worked on it in a while... been finishing my cousin's 450SL. Just about finished. :D I did the engine/trans/driveshaft, paint, wheels& tires. Polished all the trim. Argh! Can't wait for it to go home.
 

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Thanks for the pics and info. Hoping to get a "Speedway straight axle kit" under the Opel this Winter. You can "special order" the axle to correct length. Lots of "figuring-out" to do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Mike, I hear Mercedes mechanics make good money. Wouldn't be you, by any chance?
Car looks sweet. Nice work!
 

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I know Im a little late to add to this, but I have not seen anyone mention this. I have had good luck with all my straight axle cars by tilting the king pins back farther than factory specs. This results in a more stable handling ride. Hope this helps anyone with handling problems.
 

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The only thing to consider when tilting the kinpin angle back is the farther you go, the more the tires will want to "flop over" when backing up. I've seen axles set at 10-12 degrees that tracked extremely well going forward, but when backing up and turning the wheel the tires scuffed and almost drug a little. Saw a guy backing up his race car into a grassy area and the tires were actually tearing up the grass as he turned the wheel while reversing. But race cars sometimes run as much as 20 degrees kingpin angle to keep the wheels straight at 300 mph.
 
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