Friday, November 15, 2013

Ridin' High

Okay, so let's backpedal a bit.  Back to sometime between A MidSummer Night's Update and Power Play.  Sometime around August.  I had attended a couple of shows and had done a bunch of cruising around but something was nagging at me.  Something that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  Every time I'd look at Ol' Rusty sitting in a field, parked next to a curb, or stopped at whatever locale we'd frequented that Sunny day, something just didn't look right.  Then it hit me.  Ol' Rusty was a snob!  Her nose was just riding high up there like some ol' debutante!  Okay, it wasn't quite so bad as that but it was a good solid inch higher than the tail.  So how was I going to solve this dilemma?  Let air out of the tires?  Load a couple hundred pounds of sand in the engine compartment?  Raise the back to level it out?  Tell people to look at it with their heads tilted a bit to one side?  Buy new front springs?  Hmmm...

There were a couple of threads on the VMF that indicated that binding in the lower control arm bolts could cause a car to ride high but I was certain that this was pretty unlikely since I'd had the car aligned and one of the adjustments was the LCA eccentric bolt which would have had to be loosened to be adjusted and then re-tightened all while the car was sitting with it's weight on the wheels.  So, the bottom line is that even though I bought supposed 1" drop 560 springs, there's still some fine tuning to get the old girl sitting up straight.

So, how to "adjust" springs?  Some guys take a torch and heat the suckers till they drop, some guys buy new springs that are a bit shorter, and some guys just cut the top coil off the spring.  Well, it turns out that I'm the kind of guy that has an angle grinder that I've never been afraid to use so I popped a fresh cutting wheel on my trusty DeWalt and revved it menacingly.

The first question was, "how MUCH coil to cut?".   To answer that, I had to crawl under the car and measure the distance between (compressed) coils.  The fraction of that distance would earn me the net drop in the front of the car.  The second question was, "how much higher is the front than the back?".  This was answered by measuring the distance from my garage floor to the top of the wheel arch of the well opening.  My front was almost exactly 1" higher in the front fender than the rear wheel well (25 1/4" for the front and 24 1/4" for the rear).

I reasoned that a small amount of error too low would give the car a little rake while not quite enough would still be better than the 1" as it currently was.   A win-win!  The magic number for 1" drop turned out to be 1/2 coil.

Standing proud with her nose in the air.

This side shot in front of an awesome vintage "Flying A" gas station shows the higher front fairly well

Front: 25 1/4"

Rear: 24 1/4"

I left the fenders on for the surgery but had to remove the shock tower caps and shocks to get the spring compressor in and the springs out.  Because I have a internal compressor that I had built for removing the front suspension which bolts to the spring perch, those perches had to come out as well.

Once the springs were out, I marked off 1/2 of a coil with a wrap of masking tape and let the sparks fly.  I copied the bevel of the cut edge from the original coil end and painted the exposed steel black.

Removed the spring covers to gain access to the victim

Shock removed and spring compressor ready to go.

Lower end of the spring compressor on the perch.

Spring is out and marked for the cut.

After the cut

After "dressing" the end.

The springs were then re-installed and the height was measured again which came to 25 1/2.  Dang it, 1/4" too high but still an improvement.  I decided to see if driving the car would help to "settle the springs" another 1/4" or so before repeating the process.

Front: 24 1/2"

My lovely models (wife, Kelly and dog, Angel) showing off the car's new stance.


  1. Alex, someone at a mustang Forum once said my car had the same issue; the "tail-dragging" stance, and that I needed to check and maybe replace my leaf springs. I wonder if I do, it will raise (rake) it too much...
    Have you noticed any changes in the handling?

    1. My rear springs are 4.5 leaf mid-eye 1" drop Grab-A-Trak's and they seem to sit fairly well. Also, I hear that if you jack the rear end up, letting the rear diff dangle, and then loosen and re-tighten the rear shackles, that the car will sit higher. Might be worth a try?

      I want to say that it handles better but it might all be in my head too. :-)

  2. I really like the new pic at the top of the page, that fall setting really accentuates the car. that blue is such a beautiful shade.

    I do agree that it is sitting a little high, and I like that you cut the springs instead of some of the other methods. I have seen the heat, and the compress method giving bad results that often end up ruining the springs. A project is never finished :)

    1. Thanks Grant. I thought it was a nice pic too. It was just prior to sundown at the end of one of the last nice days we had... *sigh*.

      It still might be sitting a just a hair high in the front. I might try another 1/4" coil or so.

  3. She looks just fine in the last picture. And so does the car and the dog :)
    Funny, I'm in the middle of a similar project. '65-'66s are supposed to have nose slightly up, but '67-'68s look better when balanced.

    1. Ha! I'll let her know that you approve. :-)

      I like the balanced look better. Possibly a slight nose-down rake.

  4. I'm going to face the same dilemma many moons from now. The stance looks good after the mod, Alex. Also the mid-eye leafs will lower the rear 3/4-1" from what I saw on my cousin's 67 coupe. She also did the Ardun drop along with the shorter springs. (She does SCCA racing with it). The advantage you have is you can drive it awhile and see how it all settles out. Then you can always make changes incrementally as you go. No matter what you do, it's one stunning convertible!!!!

    1. Thanks Dennis! I think the overall stance is really close to where I want it to be. Not too low, not too high. The front springs were supposed to be 1" lower than stock but ultimately, and due to all of the weight variables, I think we just have to make the fine adjustment ourselves.

    2. This is a Amazing Project all the way, but the part that i like mostly is when mounting "those Little Dirty bugs" i have the same problem on my 66 convert