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Lowered my Monte........now i'm in trouble. Need help.


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#1 NWmonte71

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 06:23 PM

My 71 monte carlo is equipped with stock upper & lower controls arms with 2" drop spindles, new bilstien shocks, and 18" wheels. The stance of the car looks great, but the tire slightly rubs on the passenger side inner fender well (tight turns). My wife and I went for a drive together for the first time since lowering the car and new wheels. Jokes aside, we are pretty big people and a combined weight of 500 lbs was enough to bottom the car out drastically on city streets. The main engine cross-member bottomed out several times on the street (going the speed limit or less) and passenger side tire scrubbing the plastic inner fender well also. 

 

This condition had me cringing and my wife asking, "Are you sure this is safe to drive? It seems like the car can't handle any imperfections in the road!" With this condition, there's no way I can drive it with passengers in the car and cruise the streets, go to car shows, etc. I do have some big car shows scheduled in the upcoming weeks. I am really wondering what I should do to correct this problem? I like the stance, but not at the expense of bottoming the car out and scrubbing expensive tire material. 

 

Should I remove the 2" drop spindles and put the stock ones back on? Should I have new small block coil springs installed? Or should I have adjustable coil over shocks installed and dial in my stance with them? I'm kinda lost on what to do and how to spend my $. The bottom line is I want a spring that can handle a heavy car load of passengers, allow a "lowered" look up front and still have plenty of clearance from bottoming the car out. I was told by my local alignment shop that "shorter" tubular upper/lower control will suck-in the wheels allowing more fender-well room............anyone have experience with that? 


sml_gallery_5838_288_247210.jpg1971 Monte Carlo, #'s matching 350cid with TH350, Factory "Lime Green" with original "Antique White" painted top.


#2 NWmonte71

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Posted 07 July 2018 - 10:49 PM

I drove the car into my shop this evening and put it up on jack stands. I decided to take the 2" drop spindles off and swap back to the original spindles. I used a floor jack to "roughly" see what my new front end ride height would be putting the stock spindles back on. I think with me including passengers with the stock spindles, the suspension will sag enough to have a slight rake. Ideally I would like to find a quality aftermarket coil spring replacement that allows about a 1" drop over stock and can hold up to a heavier weight (spring rate). The biggest thing is getting myself out of this issue of bottoming out and rubbing tire sidewall.  


sml_gallery_5838_288_247210.jpg1971 Monte Carlo, #'s matching 350cid with TH350, Factory "Lime Green" with original "Antique White" painted top.


#3 MCfan

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 01:56 PM

Chris, I'm probably missing something but lowering the front end and avoiding the risk of bottoming out under heavy load conditions seem like conflicting objectives to me.  If what you are after is a slight rake, do you have any objections to leaving the frontend stock and slightly raising the rear?  There are numerous practical methods of raising the rear including fixed spacers, cargo springs,  air bags, air shocks, taller rear tires and coil-overs (from simplest/cheapest to more involved/costly).  

 

I personally think you are wise to go back to the stock spindles for the conditions you describe but that doesn't have to rule out a stance that is a slight rake (which many of us also prefer).


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#4 NWmonte71

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 04:34 PM

Chris, I'm probably missing something but lowering the front end and avoiding the risk of bottoming out under heavy load conditions seem like conflicting objectives to me.  If what you are after is a slight rake, do you have any objections to leaving the frontend stock and slightly raising the rear?  There are numerous practical methods of raising the rear including fixed spacers, cargo springs,  air bags, air shocks, taller rear tires and coil-overs (from simplest/cheapest to more involved/costly).  

 

I personally think you are wise to go back to the stock spindles for the conditions you describe but that doesn't have to rule out a stance that is a slight rake (which many of us also prefer).

 

 

MCfan, I appreciate your input. I installed Air Lift 1000 bags in the rear a while back, so I do have some adjust-ability in the rear. Currently I am finishing up the spindle swap (back to stock). I'm curious to see what the results will be after the front end settles down. I'll post some before and after pics.  


sml_gallery_5838_288_247210.jpg1971 Monte Carlo, #'s matching 350cid with TH350, Factory "Lime Green" with original "Antique White" painted top.


#5 NWmonte71

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 06:31 PM

I finally completed the job of taking off my 2" drop spindles and installing the stock ones. The height change is drastic IMO. I got my rear air bags up to 15 psi, and still the front looks a little high. I'm wondering if a quality set of replacement front coils (1" drop) would be just the little lowering I need?  Or take out all the guess work and time.......put in adjustable coil-overs to set it right where I want it? Here is a picture of before with the 2" drop spindles and how it now looks with stock spindles re-installed. 

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sml_gallery_5838_288_247210.jpg1971 Monte Carlo, #'s matching 350cid with TH350, Factory "Lime Green" with original "Antique White" painted top.


#6 Michael Boyte

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 07:46 PM

My preference would be to install coil-overs,
However you could just cut the springs that you have.
Mike and Ann Boyte
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#7 Murphy

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 09:21 PM

Chris, as mentioned above, cut the coils. I cut about one full ring off my front coils and it dropped one inch. I have a 1" coil spacer under the rear cargo springs. Might be the solution for you.............. 

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#8 Dans '70 Z20

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 06:33 AM

When dropping the car either with drop spindles(lower center of gravity) or adding tall upper/lower ball joints(improve geometry) you must realize that you are minimizing amount the clearance in many places.  Stock springs have plenty of movement because they are soft for a better ride.  With lowering the car the stock springs will allow for too much movement causing interference.  You need to install a set of performance springs which are a stiffer rate and allow for less movement.,  A 1" lowering performance spring out of the box is actually at least 3" shorter than a stock spring.  Thats because with the higher spring rate the spring will allow for less movement.

 

I had the Bilsteins on my car (which are simply HD vintage designed shocks).  But in sequential dips in the road the Bilsteins did  not have the compression to respond quick enough (high rate performance springs) by the time I got to the third sequential bump.  I just installed a set of Vari-shock double adjustable (compression/rebound) shocks.  Wow.  What a difference.  I can set it from performance street ride to full road race with the adjustment of the two knobs.  My car now rides like a modern performance car.  Smooth ride but maybe movement of only plus or minus an inch.  Unbelievable difference in ride.  You can set the ride exactly how you like it.  If you venture to the track you can set them to act like a 90/10 drag shock.  Pricey but well worth it in my opinion.

 

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#9 NWmonte71

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Posted 10 July 2018 - 04:54 PM

When dropping the car either with drop spindles(lower center of gravity) or adding tall upper/lower ball joints(improve geometry) you must realize that you are minimizing amount the clearance in many places.  Stock springs have plenty of movement because they are soft for a better ride.  With lowering the car the stock springs will allow for too much movement causing interference.  You need to install a set of performance springs which are a stiffer rate and allow for less movement.,  A 1" lowering performance spring out of the box is actually at least 3" shorter than a stock spring.  Thats because with the higher spring rate the spring will allow for less movement.

 

I had the Bilsteins on my car (which are simply HD vintage designed shocks).  But in sequential dips in the road the Bilsteins did  not have the compression to respond quick enough (high rate performance springs) by the time I got to the third sequential bump.  I just installed a set of Vari-shock double adjustable (compression/rebound) shocks.  Wow.  What a difference.  I can set it from performance street ride to full road race with the adjustment of the two knobs.  My car now rides like a modern performance car.  Smooth ride but maybe movement of only plus or minus an inch.  Unbelievable difference in ride.  You can set the ride exactly how you like it.  If you venture to the track you can set them to act like a 90/10 drag shock.  Pricey but well worth it in my opinion.

 

Dan

Dan, thanks for the good information on suspension variation between stock coils and after-market lowering options. I assume the "Vari-Shock" you speak of is a double adjustable coil-over shock? I do like the ability of being able to tune and adjust to what ever driving style you need. I know lots of folks on here love the Viking coil-over setups. Many other brands are available out there. 

 

I basically want to have a "pro-touring" look without throwing out my stock A-arms with new ball joints. I also have new bilstien shocks installed. I would like the front to come down just about an inch and stay there without squatting significantly beyond that with passengers in the car. I do understand that our cars and the GM A-body vehicles came from the factory with poor suspension/handling characteristics and in order to make things better the total package is usually required: (aftermarket A-arms, performance ball-joints, double adjustable coil-overs, premium bushings, etc). 

 

How much adjust-ability  can you really get out of an after-market coil-over shock? (raising/lowering) In other words, if I was to bolt on an adjustable coil-over on my stock Monte, how low and how high can I make the front end go? I imagine taking a coil over to its max settings either direction is not advisable?  


sml_gallery_5838_288_247210.jpg1971 Monte Carlo, #'s matching 350cid with TH350, Factory "Lime Green" with original "Antique White" painted top.


#10 Monteman1971

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 06:56 AM

It's a double edge sword between lowering the car and still being able to drive it. As Dan said, lowering springs are your best bet because they are stiffer and won't compress as easily. The down side to that is the car will ride very firm...... Dan likes that ride and that's fine for him but make sure it's what you want. Dan gave me his prior Bilstein shocks and in my car with stock springs the car rides and handles great but it doesn't sit low. I get my "rake" from a slightly smaller tire in the front.

 

I've also cut coils in the past to lower cars....my advice...cut a 1/4 coil at a time with a cut off wheel...anything more and you could end up with a useless pair of springs. I've found that depending on the springs you get different results cutting the same amount.

 

Here's a pic of mine and Dan's car together...... mines really not that much higher than his if at all (mines the one on the right).

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#11 NWmonte71

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Posted 11 July 2018 - 10:33 PM

I would be happy if I can just get the upper edge of the wheel-well equal to the top of the tire. Here is an example:

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sml_gallery_5838_288_247210.jpg1971 Monte Carlo, #'s matching 350cid with TH350, Factory "Lime Green" with original "Antique White" painted top.


#12 MCfan

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 01:30 PM

Chris, cutting any small amount off your front coils will definitely lower your Monte's front end (proportionately) but it will also increase your exposure to "bottoming out" under loaded driving conditions.  I suggest you not even try it at all - here's why:

 

Because our first gen Montes could be ordered with a wide array of options (unlike today's cars), GM actually selected from a family of 10 front coil springs (see attached chart), each with a unique combination of height (free height) and stiffness (deflection rate).  GM chose one of the 10 springs based on the total vehicle weight not engine size or any other urban legend. A heavily optioned small block car could actually have a taller/stiffer spring than a low optioned big block with a manual transmission (like my '70 402/4-speed). Most of the weight of available options was carried by the front suspension (probably why there were only 3 choices for the rear springs - see attached table) so in order to achieve a relatively similar "stance" for all units coming off the assembly line, the factory installed the front springs that would achieve their design objective of the fixed 7.92" maximum wheel travel being split 3.92" of jounce (maximum upward wheel travel from rest) and 4.00" of rebound (maximum wheel drop from rest).  See "Wheel travel (design) specs on the attached page.

 

Here's the rub (no pun intended): If you cut off any amount of the coil of your factory chosen/installed front springs, you reduce it's free height and that reduces its working force at the design working height of 11.7".  You can easily see this in the table of 10 springs. For any of the 10, take the listed "free height" minus the 11.7" of working height and multiply that by the listed deflection rate and you will get the lbs of spring working force listed in the far right column.  Obviously, reducing the spring's free height by cutting some of the coil off will reduce the working spring force even though the deflection rate is unchanged.  Now you have just chosen/installed the WRONG spring in the front suspension of your Monte.  Sure the front sits slightly lower, but you have now moved the division of your fixed 7.2" of maximum wheel travel upward, decreasing the jounce and increasing the rebound.  Your front suspension now has less upward wheel travel when your car is loaded and/or driven over dips and bumps exposing you to MORE "bottoming out" than your original stock spring.

 

BTW, I seriously doubt that your Monte currently has anything but the original factory coils or it would sit even higher and wouldn't be bottoming out with 2" drop spindles.  So, if you know which of the 10 springs you have installed (the two letter code is shown in Box 13 of your Build Sheet if you have one), you can easily compute the reduction in working force and the shift in the jounce/rebound point for any desired amount of coil to be cut off.  For your spring code, simply divide the listed "Free Height" by "Total Coils" and multiply that by the fraction of coil you want to remove (i.e. 1, 1/2, 1/4, etc).  Subtract the result from the listed "Free Height" and multiply the new (reduced) free height by the listed "Deflection Rate".  The difference between your new working force and what is listed on the far right of the table for your spring (times two for both front springs) is exactly how much total weight carrying force you have removed from your front suspension. Since the total static weight of your Monte hasn't changed, the front HAS to sit lower because the deflection rate was NOT changed by cutting the coil. 

 

Now, since the modified coil has to compress more to counter the total weight that was previously carried by the original spring, that amount is simply the reduction in working force (from calculations above) divided by the the original deflection rate (which did not change).  BUT, the shift in the jounce/rebound point within the fixed 7.2" of maximum wheel travel is GREATER than to coil compression distance just calculated because the "wheel to spring travel ratio is 1.86" (see attached specs) so you have to multiply the coil compression distance by 1.86 to see how much the jounce/rebound point will move upward (and the front end will drop).  Note how tiny differences in the free height of the 10 springs (times their deflection rate) affects their working force.  If you were to cut a full coil off any of the 10 "lighter" springs you could easily give up most of the 3.92" of design jounce, exposing you greatly to "bottoming out" under loaded and/or rough driving condition.  As Dan and Steve have already suggested, better to get some lowering performance coils with higher deflection rates to compensate for less free height and forget about cutting coils off your stock springs. JMO Good luck.

 

Attached File  IMG_1224.JPG   126.5KB   0 downloadsAttached File  IMG_1225.JPG   86.03KB   0 downloadsAttached File  IMG_1226.JPG   96.39KB   0 downloads


Dennis

 

sml_gallery_567_4_470590.jpg                                     sml_gallery_567_4_3184004.jpg

1970 matching #'s 402/M20 4-speed/3.31 12-bolt Posi                1970 SS454/TH400/2.56 12-bolt Posi
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#13 NWmonte71

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Posted 12 July 2018 - 09:11 PM

Mcfan,

 

Wow! That is some very in-depth information on spring rates, compression & rebound, and how they affect the vehicle. I'm very confident that my front coils are the original units. I do not have the build sheet, so the chosen factory spring type is unknown. 

 

I know a few people suggested to cut a coil, cut a fraction of a coil, etc, etc............I'm not going to do that. I have read too many posts online about people making an educated guess on how much to cut and ended up going too much or too little. I'm leaning more towards installing an aftermarket performance lowering coil (1") or a nice adjustable coil-over setup. Worst case scenario, I can also default back to the stock OEM coils if I find out I hate the results of what I bought. It seems that no car is exactly alike (mileage wear, factory options,etc). 

 

I'm finding out quickly that choosing the right suspension parts to achieve a specific look and maintain good drive-ability is not a straight and clear path. I recently visited my local tire shop that does brakes and suspension. They were only able to give me one estimate choice for lowering, a Belltech 1" lowering coil. The total price for the springs, freight shipping to store, labor, and alignment was well over $700. This seems steep to me. I have confidently pulled spindles and ball joints off several A-bodies before, but never coil springs. The idea of trying to safely release the stored energy of the coils bothers me, especial when all I have is a floor jack. Some folks say that's all you need, while others say that a coil spring compressor is a "must-have" item. To do this on the floor of my shop, it appears I really have to crank up the front end super high in order to get the lower A-arm to swing down. 

 

Has anyone done this at home without the aid of a car lift? Any tips or pointers? BTW: Thank you to everyone who has chimed in and contributed options, very much appreciated!


sml_gallery_5838_288_247210.jpg1971 Monte Carlo, #'s matching 350cid with TH350, Factory "Lime Green" with original "Antique White" painted top.


#14 Dans '70 Z20

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 06:06 AM

If you want an education and handling, suspension and stance call Marc Sevitske @ Sevitskes Classic & Custom.  He wrote the book called " Making your Musclecar handle".

He is a wealth of knowledge and will be able to offer you the information needed to achieve your desired outcome.  He sells almost every aftermarket brand and can review the benefits/shortcomings of each.

 

http://scandc.com/new/

 

He is usually in from 11-7.  Used to be off Mondays but not sure if that is still the case.

 

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#15 Monteman1971

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 06:55 AM

Don't call that guy...nice guy but he's looking to make a sale in my opinion .....Stick with the factory stuff and go with your plan of 1" lower springs. I also agree that cutting springs is a bad idea and only done in a pinch. Changing springs is relatively easy but time consuming. A few specialty tools will be needed. A set of "separation forks" to separate the lower ball joint (be careful not to rip the grease boot) or you can try swapping off the original nut (because it's going to get damaged) and hit the nut with a BFH. Leave the nut a few turns lose in both cases but DO NOT TAKE IT COMPLETELY OFF! So you'll know when the joint comes free... I always try the hammer way first because no chance of ripping the boot but it doesn't always work easily.  Then put a jack under the arm and give it a few pumps up and remove the nut, then lower the jack slowly and stay clear of the spring. But by the time you have the jack all the way down the spring is harmless (the car needs to be pretty high and on jack stands).

 

To put the new spring in your going to need a spring compressor and then reverse the process. I've done them without the compressor but it's an ugly job and I highly don't recommend that. The key to putting the springs back in is that they need to be in the same position on the lower control arm. Typically you'll find two small holes in the bottom of the control arm and the end of the spring is positioned between them or if you only have a single hole, right up to the hole but don't cover it.

 

The good news is you can "borrow" these tools from many different auto parts stores like "Advanced Auto Stores".

 

Steve


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#16 MCfan

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 08:45 AM

Chris,

 

Although a relative novice, I have rebuilt the front suspension on both of my '70s in recent years and learned a few things not to do in the process. I used only floor jacks and jacks stands (several for extra safety).  It's clearly possible but not necessarily fun or easy.  And, as you acknowledge, there is inherent danger in messing with a powerful coil spring under compression.

 

You have already received some good advice so I will only add a couple of observations from my two experiences.  First, even when you lift and securely support your vehicle high enough to drop the lower control arm completely down (its travel is limited), the taller springs (i.e. codes AO, AQ and GD may not drop out but remain in place under some compression (see photo below).  I made the mistake of prying the bottom of the un-tethered coil out of the lower control arm with a pry bar.  Of course, it went bounding across the garage floor and smacked into a wall.  Luckily, no injury or harm was done, but it could have been easily avoided by first placing a single internal or pair of external compression clamps on the spring which is now my practice (see third photo).

 

Second, installing a new spring is not so dangerous but getting it correctly in place, even with the lower control arm completely down, can be tricky at best.  You've already been instructed on how to properly orient the spring in the control arm socket but you also need to be very careful to make sure the top of the spring is correctly located on the positioning tabs that stick down inside the frame opening (see photo).  It's possible to install the spring straddling the tabs instead of surrounding them (believe me) and then you get to do it all over again.  It may be possible to install a spring without a spring compressor but I would never try that.  I've learned to use an internal spring compressor in the new spring (there is not adequate room in the frame opening to use and remove external spring compressors).  Furthermore, I have learned to install the internal compressor so that it causes the new spring to compress in a slight arch which means the compressor has to be positioned relative to the lower end of the coil to achieve an inward arch while observing the proper clocking in the socket.  Even with all of that, you may still have to force the compressed spring into the socket while being sure the top of the spring is still on the locator tabs (see photo).  Once in the socket, you can raise the control arm a bit with your floor jack and remove the internal compressor.

 

IMO, you are wise to respect the potential danger of coil spring removal/installation but the challenges are all conquerable.  Good luck.

 

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  • Monteman1971 likes this

Dennis

 

sml_gallery_567_4_470590.jpg                                     sml_gallery_567_4_3184004.jpg

1970 matching #'s 402/M20 4-speed/3.31 12-bolt Posi                1970 SS454/TH400/2.56 12-bolt Posi
Punta Gorda, FL                                                                        Crosslake, MN


#17 Monteman1971

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 02:01 PM

All great advice here but I don't remove the spring compressor until the ball joint nut is back on. That could be really ugly if the jack slips for the final pumps.

 

Oh...and don't use an impact gun on the spring compressor.... It could destroy the threads of the tool and you'll never get it out...don't ask me how I know....lol


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#18 o_rod

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Posted 13 July 2018 - 08:24 PM

Another little tip that may be helpful. When I removed my front springs, before I lowered the lower control arm releasing the spring tension, I wrapped a very thick chain around the lower control arm strut hole and half the coils of the spring. That way if the spring happened to turn itself into a bullet, it wouldn't go anywhere.

I was nervous to drop the springs, but after taking a few extra precautions it turned out to be a pretty simple task. I ended up getting my Monte down and agressive.




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