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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm starting a project thread to build a set of old school type wheelie bars. I love the new style that mounts to the rearend and my axle even has the mounting brackets for them. But I want the look of the '60's for them. Back when they were homebuilt and there were 50 versions. Some were great and some were--well---less than great. I encourage all of you guys to throw any ideas and any old time pics of wheelie bars into the mix. Nothing is too outlandish to look at and evaluate. I'm adding a copy of a reply I posted on the "Good Morning" thread about building these. I'm going to throw it back here to start off the thread.

I found some different parts at two swap meets over the weekend. I had a brainstorm (brainfart??) over the weekend. I was thinking about building an old time set of wheelie bars. Like some did back in the day. They used to run a staight bar or length of tubing down from the rear of the frame to a pair of wheelie wheels. Then a diagonal bar back up forward to the frame again. Then tie across with a bar at the bottom of the down bars. Modern wheelie bars attach at the back of the rear housing to brackets. They use a flat stock metal (like a leaf spring) bottom piece, bolted to that rearend bracket on one end and a wheelie wheel on the other. Then a forward diagonal tube attached above the wheelie wheel, to a slide with a spring for tension/height adjustment, on up to a point just above the lower bar attachment point on the same rearend bracket. Then the modern set up uses a cross bar at the wheels, and usually a set of diagonals inside of the lower bars to stabilize them for sideways movement. The modern design is a much better working system and it has much more adjustablilty, for height of the wheels and how hard the wheelie bars hit or react. But it is too modern a look for me although my rearend has the brackets and it would be much easier. So this is what I came up with, although I still have to build it.
I found a set of Honda 750 (1970-71 ish) rear coil over spring shocks at the swap. They are chrome (gotta have chrome right) they are a soft shock so they will react softly, they are sprung with 5 height adjustments (and therefore spring tension will be different at each setting) and a nice length to be the down bars. I'll make the lower bars from tubing and either run it diagonally back up forward to the frame, or forward to the rearend housing, attached at the wheelie bar brackets that already exist. Then run a cross bar and or cross diagonals as needed. The first option makes a somewhat strong, solid mount. The second might transfer noise from the rearend through to the frame, although I doubt it would be much, it would be there all the time the car was moving?? But that could be dampened out with rubber bushings at the mounting points. The nice thing about the Honda shock down bar is it is forgiving versus a solid down bar out of tubing or square stock. The solid down bar may contact the ground at a driveway approach, or going onto the trailer etc. The shock would have vertical travel that would minimize the affect of that contact. Plus, if my car does not lift, or lift enough to warrent a wheelie bat, then it just becomes a visual part of the build and does not interfer in normal use. And it's "chrome", heh. Just gotta make it all happen now.

OK, let the carnage begin, LOL.
Mark L
 

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The earliest style wheelie bars were fixed position, and mounted in square stock, with a coil spring inside to help dampen the intial hit. They also used pneumatic tires about 6" diameter!
According to Larry Davis' book Gasser Wars the first "Wheelie wheels" were seen at the '66 Nationals. He has a picture of Jim Sather's Sather Bros. Anglia with two small solid wheels sitting right below the rear edge of the car. It seems they were mounted solid with no cushion of any kind on them. By 1969 Nationals they were leaf springs very much like what we see today, so it seems technology moved fast once they started.
Charlie Hill's '33 Willys had pneumatic tires in 1972, and no springs, with heavily braced brackets set at a 45 degree angle. Stone Woods and Cook had a similar setup to Charlie Hill, but even beefier bracing; maybe to add weight? Seems like there were so many different styles from '66-'72 that just about anything you could come up with would be correct, depending on what era you want it to look like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The wheelie bar/wheels progessed because of safety and lost traction. The first ones were solid and just there to keep the car off the bumper, frame, or whatever was back there. But the hit was usually pretty violent and banged the car back down. Then they put a spring inside the tubing (like I'm kind of doing) to soften the hit and let the spring bottom out easier. But they were still hitting it hard enough that the tires would unload. Many pics out there with the rear wheels off the ground. This loss of traction caused all kinds of traction and handling problems. Then the early F/X cars started using a single leaf spring type flat length of metal that allowed earlier contact so it better controlled the lift. This leaf spring type flat stock was also bolted to the rearend now, which, when it made contact, actually helped to plant the rearend as it put pressure to push the front of the rearend back down against the pinion climbing the ring gear. This is the basic engineering of the present wheelie bars except it progessed to using an upper forward bar back to the top of the axle, so it can be sprung and made adjustable in height and tension.
I want to build mine to look like the second design.

This is the Bad Banana Gasser. Look at the rear wheelie bars. Stop at about the 1:10 mark and you'll see the bars pretty well. I want to use the Honda springs to work as the down bars that hold the wheels. Use the first video.

http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt...sser&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-701-1

Not the same but close to what I want to do. This next pic is a die cast of Grumpy Jenkins Vega ( my favorite Pro Stock). This is almost exacly what I want only with the honda coilover shock.

http://www.supercar1.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=5571

Mark
 

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Mark I like the idea of the shocks but after watching the bad banana Im thinking it might not be safe if the wheels are spring loaded instead of fixed. When they are rigid the car remains straight on the wheelie. But if they give unevenly it might make the car go left or right on the wheelie as it leans back on the wheelie bar wheels as they compress. Unless they are very close to the ground which would prevent a sky ride in the air. Can you picture what Im thinking? Watch the bad banana go up and picture the wheels on shocks possibly resisting unevenly. Just a thought on the matter. I may be off on this.
Mario
 

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Ok. I understand. It would take some tuning. Scary when it's way up there.
 

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........ Scary when it's way up there.
Not to worry MM.... that MG won't ever pull its front wheels off the ground...... NOT!!!!!! Haaaaa!!!!!
 

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Not to worry MM.... that MG won't ever pull its front wheels off the ground...... NOT!!!!!! Haaaaa!!!!!
Lol. Lets not count our chickens. There I go talkin food again. Lol
 

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The earliest style wheelie bars were fixed position, and mounted in square stock, with a coil spring inside to help dampen the intial hit. They also used pneumatic tires about 6" diameter! ......
I am glad to see this thread from Sir Markus AlwaysInsideMyHeadeous!!!!!

One thing that has become clear to me is how our small but active group of Gasser/Hot Rod lovers THINK a LOT alike and/or know what we are thinking or going to do (or have to do) before we even mention it on this forum.

Case in point ..... Sir Markus Readeous MyMindeous!!!!! and this thread about old school "wheelie bars design & build".

I am pretty sure we talked about these "early-styled" wheelie bars in passing in another thread or two in the past..... and that I have posted these pics before somewhere.....



These wheelie bars are really "bare bones" compared to the ones commonly used by most drag racers today.

The gasser these wheelie bars were on only lifted its front wheels a little bit so they are more "for looks" than "for need".

They appear to be made using parts from a "trailer hitch" and..... Don't like how they go up so high past the bumper blocking the tail lights.

This should be an interesting thread.... one of the MANY things that will "eventually" find its way on the Opel.
 

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Since those wheelie wheels are removeable, blocking the tailights is not a big concern. If he runs it on the street at all, he can remove the pins and drop them. I doubt he cares at the track if anyone can see the tailights.
Spring loaded wheelie bars would be tough to adjust. Better to adjust the suspension to make the car lift correctly. Almost every car with much power will tend to put more pressure on the right rear tire, so if you have the ability to adjust that preload by stiffening up the r. rear shock or suspension, it will keep the car from lifting unevenly.
When I was racing my '71 Camaro I never had to worry about lifting the front wheels, but I did get enough suspension lift that it would unload the left rear wheel. I had some traction issues racing, and I cured them by installing Monroe air shocks in the rear and putting a dual feed line kit on. This allowed me to go to the track and preload the r. rear with about 30-40 psi more air and that helped the car launch straight, and stay straight.
 

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Since those wheelie wheels are removeable, blocking the tailights is not a big concern. If he runs it on the street at all, he can remove the pins and drop them. I doubt he cares at the track if anyone can see the tailights.
Spring loaded wheelie bars would be tough to adjust. Better to adjust the suspension to make the car lift correctly. Almost every car with much power will tend to put more pressure on the right rear tire, so if you have the ability to adjust that preload by stiffening up the r. rear shock or suspension, it will keep the car from lifting unevenly.
When I was racing my '71 Camaro I never had to worry about lifting the front wheels, but I did get enough suspension lift that it would unload the left rear wheel. I had some traction issues racing, and I cured them by installing Monroe air shocks in the rear and putting a dual feed line kit on. This allowed me to go to the track and preload the r. rear with about 30-40 psi more air and that helped the car launch straight, and stay straight.
I thought he same thing about those wheelie bars and about them blocking the tail lights etc..... Plus I don't feel they help much if he needed them to.

I have another picture of wheelie bars on a 55 Chevy that I am trying to find that is more like the ones Mark posted..... I'll keep looking for them.

I have way too many pictures stored here, there & everywhere on this computer...... I need to organize ALL them someday to make them easier to find..... yeah right!!!! Well at least doing it is "On the List".... Ha!!!!
 

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Took awhile to find these pictures on my computer....

This car is still around the area & shows up at nostalgia drag racing events. Was a National Record Holder "back in the day"...... still running the same wheelie bars .....





 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
MM you have a very, very good concern. I have to really look at the possibilities of what you brought up. Good catch. Steves thought about using them to preload one side versus the other if there is chassis imbalance is also a good thought. Vall is right though. It's important to make the car lift and go straight with the suspension and just let the bars keep the front from going too high. The Honda shock/springs could then become a fine tuning aid. I still think I can make it work. Johns pics are pretty much exactly what I had in mind with the exception of using the shock/spring to replace the solid upright. All great thoughts and discussion guys. Mark L
 

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....... The Honda shock/springs could then become a fine tuning aid. I still think I can make it work. Johns pics are pretty much exactly what I had in mind with the exception of using the shock/spring to replace the solid upright. All great thoughts and discussion guys. Mark L
I actually prefer the look of the old school wheelie bars over the ones used by most drag racers today.

I think I do remember VALL had wheelie bars on the "Mouse Trap" for awhile????

I know with the replacement engine I found for there is a possibilty that the Opel "might lift" its front wheels.... having them look right is important but it is also important they work and not "cause" any problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
John repeat after me---I will be looking at the sky---I will be looking at the sky---I will be looking at the sky---I will be crapping my pants --Opps. That's just me, sorry. My Firebird would pull about 2-4 inches but it was more of a hop since my slicks were really old and they would lose traction. I never did get a good pair of slicks to fully test the suspension before selling the car. But there is no doubt that you've pulled them when it happens. The video that I have where I raced the 'Cuda and I turned a 10.2, the Firebird pulled up and down about three times before settling down. All the time pulling towards the right of the track. I had the nitrous button installed in the steering wheel and activated the buttom with my left hand thumb. I had the wheel turned so far that the button/thumb was under the wheel on my lap before it stayed down and straightened out. But I had to beat the darn 'Cuda so I stayed in it. That was still the best run of all my strip times. Mark L
 
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