Pulling the trigger on Firm Feel suspension!

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How hard was it to get the rubber out of the old LCA bushing? Looking to do some new bushings on them too!
Once you press the control arm pin out it is very easy to just pry the old rubber out with a screwdriver. I was using poly bushings so I reused the original outer bushing shell. If you're using rubber bushings (which is what everyone recommends) I believe the new rubber bushings come in a new outer shell, so you may need to weld a washer to the outer bushing and press it out or cut it out with a wheel or chisel.
 

Knebel

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Once you press the control arm pin out it is very easy to just pry the old rubber out with a screwdriver. I was using poly bushings so I reused the original outer bushing shell. If you're using rubber bushings (which is what everyone recommends) I believe the new rubber bushings come in a new outer shell, so you may need to weld a washer to the outer bushing and press it out or cut it out with a wheel or chisel.


Thanks! I was planning on doing Poly too. Did you get the new greasable Pivot pins from firm feel ir are you reusing the old ones?
 
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One issue. It appears I have the wrong HD shackles for my new leaf springs. The originals have a very different shape and dimensions than the new ones. I have already talked to FirmFeel and they will get the correct shackles for my application. In the meantime I have some stock replacement shackle bushings on the way so I can move forward with spring installation
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Question for the brain trust here. The new Bilstein rear shocks are about 2.5" shorter than the ones that are on Alvah now when fully extended. Is this a problem?

I'm having difficulty with the FirmFeel parts not fitting on the back end. The new leaf springs fit great and seem like a real improvement over stock! The Iso Delete kit just doesn't fit. I suspect it will fit fine once I have the sway bar which includes a new plate that goes between the axle and the leaf spring, however there is a round piece which is intended to replace the rubber isolator which is probably 1/4 to 1/2 inch too big to fit into the original rubber isolator top plate where it is supposed to go. For now I've reinstalled the rubber isolator and will wait until I get the sway bar kit.

The difficulty with the Iso Delete and the incorrect shackles has me paranoid about the shocks.
 
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After failing and flailing last night with the suspension parts, I decided I needed a win and test fitted the new rear wheels and tires... I went with American Racing Torque Thrusts (15x8, 4.5" backspacing) with BFG Radial T/A in 275 60 15. Man do they look good!
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I just got off the phone with FirmFeel and they are sending me the correct "puck" for the Iso Delete kit so I'll be able to remove the rubber isolators from the rear leaves. This should solve all of my woes.

They also ensured me that I have the correct shocks. They are shorter than the stock ones, but I understand this will not be an issue once the weight of the car is on the suspension.

Wish me luck!
 
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Well, I keep discovering new issues. I was installing my new rear disk kit, and when I got to the passenger side I noticed the locking pawl was missing on the axle bearing adjuster. No problem, I'll order a new one! Putting things back together, I discovered that not only was the locking pawl missing, the adjuster wouldn't turn at all, and the end plate was bent (bowed) on the top. Also my lug studs are not long enough for the disk brake kit and the new wheels.

I ordered the locking pawl from Doctor Diff, and Cass quickly helped me stop that order and change it to a new set of green bearings. He also helped me figure out what studs I need for my new setup. He didn't have the studs, but sent me a link to the correct ones. Now I just wait for new parts to arrive, then wait for a break in kids sports and rainy weather to finish the work. I'm on track to have Alvah on the road by the 34th of Nevercember!
 

Knebel

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Oh man. I hear ya... and it does not help that all the packages are delayed these days....

Hope you get it sorted out!
 
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I have it all together and did a very short test drive around the block. It feels night and day different. With the Bilstein shocks, firmer torsion bars, new leafs, and poly bushings installed it feels very firm and solid, no more nose diving with the brakes or floating over every bump in the road. It is positive. I can understand how some would describe it as "harsh".
I'm still waiting on the front and rear sway bars, but even without them Alvah feels downright sporty!
Next up I get an alignment (Thursday). I did my best to get the same settings as before but I suspect I didn't get the pitman arm indexed the same as stock so my steering wheel is no longer straight when the car is...
 

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I did my best to get the same settings as before but I suspect I didn't get the pitman arm indexed the same as stock so my steering wheel is no longer straight when the car is...

Everything has (or should) have a master spline and goes together one way.

Your issue is adjusted by tweaking the tie rod sleeves. Turn one side clockwise and the other counterclockwise to straighten the steering wheel.
 
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Everything has (or should) have a master spline and goes together one way.

Your issue is adjusted by tweaking the tie rod sleeves. Turn one side clockwise and the other counterclockwise to straighten the steering wheel.
The original arm had a master spline, the new arm had a line machined in the face matching the location of the master spline, but I suspect my aging eyes might have not gotten them aligned perfectly.
I'm hoping the alignment shop (who is probably better at this game than me) will be able to get me back to right.
 
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Well, I'm done. It took a lot longer than I expected it would take. A lot of the issue was getting the sway bars the day before Thanksgiving and not wanting to lay in the street in the dark and wet doing the job over the winter. The days got longer and dried up, and now I'm done!

First test drive with the sway bars and all new parts and the car is not even the same. I can go around tight corners at well above the recommended speed and the car stays planted and flat. It really handles a lot better than the old sloppy parts from before. I am pleased.

My only complaint... I should have gotten the rebuilt (stage ???) power steering box. The stock one feels dead in the center. I think this summer I take care of that.
 

saforwardlook

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Just so I understand your comments better, you say in your post #50 that you can understand how some would describe the drive experience as "harsh" compared to the suspension in its previous condition. If you had just replaced the bushings with "stock" ones, do you think the cornering and overall handling would not improve substantially as well? Worn bushings can make a big difference compared to new "stock" bushings too. Did you in particular replace the strut rod bushings as well with the poly bushings? Those would be the ones I would be most concerned about in terms of harshness.

Also, do you hear any squeaking from the poly bushings when driving down the road?

One other question for you or maybe others, does choosing a stage 1 Firmness setting from the rebuilder really help with the on-center vagueness or just make the effort to correct the wheel higher. Usually the on-center vagueness is due to a worn gear set where there is slop in the on center position when driving straight down the road. Rebuilders may or may not provide you with a set of gears in better condition perhaps, but since all these boxes are over 50 years old now and no one reproduces new gear sets, I have to wonder whether the Firm Feel boxes really help with on-center vagueness or just make the wheel harder to turn to correct the wheel position when trying to drive straight down the road? Also, how many miles are on your 300 now?

Thanks for your follow up though as it is informative.
 

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I have done the experiment with a 67 B-body dodge on suspension rebuild. 1967 Dodge Coronet wagon.
I always use stock rubber bushing in the upper and lower control arms. I completely rebuilt the B-body suspension to stock specs (I have a good friend that insists that the stock is best, so I did the experiment for him)
I took the car out for some road testing before and after the rebuild and promptly returned to order up some firm feel products. I was not impressed with the stock results on the B-body.
I ordered adjustable struts, front and rear sway bars, Bilstein shocks, tubular upper control arms, had the rear leaf springs rebuilt with an extra leaf and I installed a pair of 1" torsion bars I had on the shelf.
The difference in road handling was so much better, safer and pleasurable. Tires are Cooper Cobra 255/60R15 front. 275/60R15 rear.
The adjustable struts are only used for locating the lower control arms to spec, not for creating more caster. The B-body control arms were not in spec.
I have kept my Imperial stock for now, I will decide after some road trips if I can make some Improvements to the handing and safety.

IMG_0223 (1).jpg
 
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Just so I understand your comments better, you say in your post #50 that you can understand how some would describe the drive experience as "harsh" compared to the suspension in its previous condition. If you had just replaced the bushings with "stock" ones, do you think the cornering and overall handling would not improve substantially as well? Worn bushings can make a big difference compared to new "stock" bushings too. Did you in particular replace the strut rod bushings as well with the poly bushings? Those would be the ones I would be most concerned about in terms of harshness.

Also, do you hear any squeaking from the poly bushings when driving down the road?

One other question for you or maybe others, does choosing a stage 1 Firmness setting from the rebuilder really help with the on-center vagueness or just make the effort to correct the wheel higher. Usually the on-center vagueness is due to a worn gear set where there is slop in the on center position when driving straight down the road. Rebuilders may or may not provide you with a set of gears in better condition perhaps, but since all these boxes are over 50 years old now and no one reproduces new gear sets, I have to wonder whether the Firm Feel boxes really help with on-center vagueness or just make the wheel harder to turn to correct the wheel position when trying to drive straight down the road? Also, how many miles are on your 300 now?

Thanks for your follow up though as it is informative.
The "harsh" ride description is that all of the minor imperfections on the road translate through the poly, whereas I assume the rubber absorbs more of the vibrations created. I'm sure new rubber would have also been a night and day difference over the old rubber, my concern was about the rubber deteriorating quickly, or maybe I have little faith in the quality of new rubber products. Now that it's all together I have no complaints.
No squeaking from the poly bushings at all (wait a moment and I'll explain how even though that is a lie it is true...). I installed all of the bushings with generous amounts of PTFE lube (silicone based) and there is no noise at all.... EXCEPT... when I did the sway bars I didn't do any lube on the sway bar bushings, and they squeaked SO LOUD!!! There are grease zerts on the bushings, so this morning I pumped them full of grease. I'll give them a little time for the grease to smear itself around and migrate and hopefully they'll quiet down. My research shows that well lubed bushings are nice and quiet, however over time the lube goes away and the squeaks begin.
 

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Grease up the sway bar bushings without weight on them, should allow grease to move around bushing. I have not had a squeak from the firm feel sway bars once lubed.
 

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One other question for you or maybe others, does choosing a stage 1 Firmness setting from the rebuilder really help with the on-center vagueness or just make the effort to correct the wheel higher. Usually the on-center vagueness is due to a worn gear set where there is slop in the on center position when driving straight down the road. Rebuilders may or may not provide you with a set of gears in better condition perhaps, but since all these boxes are over 50 years old now and no one reproduces new gear sets, I have to wonder whether the Firm Feel boxes really help with on-center vagueness or just make the wheel harder to turn to correct the wheel position when trying to drive straight down the road?
I went with a Stage 2 firmness rebuild from Firm Feel for my '70 300.

It does definitely add to effort, but it also has a good feel "on center". The box I used was a core I got from @C Body Bob with unknown condition and mileage... In fact, he shipped it direct, so I never saw the box in person.

So, is it good? Yes... Would I go with the Stage 2 again if I were to do it over? I don't know. @Trace 300 Hurst has a Stage 1 in his car and we kicked it around before I pulled the trigger. It is good... No doubt, but having driven these cars all my life, it does feel different.... I would consider the Stage 1 if I did it again...

Now, next winter, the P/S steering box in my '65 Barracuda might go in for rebuild... That will get a Stage 2. The steering is way too light and vague for an otherwise great handling little car.
 

C Body Bob

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I went with a Stage 2 firmness rebuild from Firm Feel for my '70 300.

It does definitely add to effort, but it also has a good feel "on center". The box I used was a core I got from @C Body Bob with unknown condition and mileage... In fact, he shipped it direct, so I never saw the box in person.

So, is it good? Yes... Would I go with the Stage 2 again if I were to do it over? I don't know. @Trace 300 Hurst has a Stage 1 in his car and we kicked it around before I pulled the trigger. It is good... No doubt, but having driven these cars all my life, it does feel different.... I would consider the Stage 1 if I did it again...

Now, next winter, the P/S steering box in my '65 Barracuda might go in for rebuild... That will get a Stage 2. The steering is way too light and vague for an otherwise great handling little car.
Thank you John. I have some boxes back in stock.
 

saforwardlook

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I have done the experiment with a 67 B-body dodge on suspension rebuild. 1967 Dodge Coronet wagon.
I always use stock rubber bushing in the upper and lower control arms. I completely rebuilt the B-body suspension to stock specs (I have a good friend that insists that the stock is best, so I did the experiment for him)
I took the car out for some road testing before and after the rebuild and promptly returned to order up some firm feel products. I was not impressed with the stock results on the B-body.
I ordered adjustable struts, front and rear sway bars, Bilstein shocks, tubular upper control arms, had the rear leaf springs rebuilt with an extra leaf and I installed a pair of 1" torsion bars I had on the shelf.
The difference in road handling was so much better, safer and pleasurable. Tires are Cooper Cobra 255/60R15 front. 275/60R15 rear.
The adjustable struts are only used for locating the lower control arms to spec, not for creating more caster. The B-body control arms were not in spec.
I have kept my Imperial stock for now, I will decide after some road trips if I can make some Improvements to the handing and safety.

View attachment 529017

Thanks for your input. It sounds like the significant improvements were due to stiffer sway bars (was there any sway bar in the front initially on your wagon?) and adding one in the rear had to help a lot as well (although doing the latter also may negatively affect the tendency of the rear of the car to spin out of control on very hard turns).

Doesn't adding a tubular upper control arm allow you the ability to achieve more caster for improved straight ahead tracking even if the adjustable strut rod doesn't?

Thanks
 
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