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Chevy Chevelle Suspension - Getting Down To Speed

Kill Two Birds By Fitting Your Car With Dropped Spindles And Great Brakes

Shane Reichardt Jun 1, 2000
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Function isn't everything. Yeah sure, cars are supposed to be functional machines, designed to move people from one place to another. Little did the manufacturers know their vehicles would actually move people in an emotional sense. With cars going from objects of purpose to a mixture of form and function, it's no wonder people want to improve the looks of their ride.

In many instances the rational behind a certain design in a vehicle is to make it suitable to a wider range of buyers. That's typically the case when it comes to how a vehicle sets. Set a car too low and those buyers who live where the roads aren't the best may have problems. Snow is another concern for some buyers. Here in sunny California, plowing snow with your car isn't a concern but in some areas it may be. Most classic car owners probably quit driving their cars in foul weather all together. With those concerns out of the way, why not bring your classic down to a much more visually appealing level?

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Assembling the brakes was the first order of business for this project. We started by installing the wheel studs. Wilwood provided two patterns. Our wheels (like most other classic Chevrolets) required a 5x4.5 pattern. The studs were torqued to 77 foot-pounds.

A lowered stance does have a few practical benefits, also. The primary benefit is that a lowered center of gravity makes the car more stable. For classic cars, there is an array of methods to achieve a lower stance. To lower our project Chevelle we chose to go with lowered spindles. We called True Connections and ordered a set of Superior Spindles dropped spindles. Superior offers spindles to fit a number of cars. In addition, Superior sells many options for improved braking. After all, we do want our cars to perform as good as it looks.

When looking through Super Spindles' catalog for options for our '64 Chevelle, we decided on a set of 2-inch lowered spindles, coupled with Wilwood disc brakes. The disc brakes are a bit on the exotic side, but they are exactly what our 430-horse muscle machine was in need of.

Superior's 2-inch-drop spindles are designed to lower the vehicle, improve handling, and maintain the original ride quality. Their spindles maintain factory suspension geometry and eliminate the excessive ball joint, shock, and tire wear that's common with some other methods of lowering. This allows your vehicle to handle better and ride more comfortably.

This drop spindle is designed to fit '64-72 Chevelles and uses Wilwood's 12.190-inch cross-drilled rotor with 32 fins and billet caliper. This kit also includes aluminum hubs, polymatrix brake pads, and an aluminum caliper. To assure safety, each spindle is built from high-strength ductile iron; studs are made from 4140 heat-treated chrome-moly, and the steering arms on Superior's spindles are moved back to accept a 4 3/8-inch back-spaced rim for maximum clearance.

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Next the rotor and its adapter plate were mated. Wilwood suggests a dab of red Loctite(r) 271 to secure the threads. The adapter plate required 180 inch-pounds of torque.

Pad Bedding
All Wilwood brake pads are ready to use right out of the box. However, the performance of any brake pad will always improve after some bedding time. Each friction compound is engineered to provide optimal friction values, and maximum wear resistance within a specific temperature range. Since the compound materials vary, the bedding temperature requirements can also vary. The required bedding temperature is usually relative to the pad's intended operating temperature range.

Proper bedding starts with the new pads being run through one complete heat cycle, and then cooled before using them in high-performance driving conditions.

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When packing the large inner bearing, Wilwood recommends using a high-temperature disc brake bearing grease. A leather seal is included in the kit and was installed easily.

To bed-in your brake pads, begin by applying the brakes at low speeds to assure proper system operation. On the race track or other safe location, make a series of hard stops from moderate to slower speeds. Gradually, increase the speed and the braking until the pads reach a hot temperature. If any brake pad fade is experienced during the bed-in, immediately begin the cool down process. Drive the car at slow to moderate speeds while the pads begin to cool, and be sure not to drag the brake pedal. Park the car with minimal brake use and allow the brakes to finish cooling before subjecting them to high-performance driving conditions. This procedure will minimize pad wear and maximize friction values over the broadest possible temperature band.

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With the inner bearing and seal in place, the disc assembly was set in place on the spindle.

Rotor Bedding
All new iron rotors should be bedded-in before being used under high-performance conditions. Proper bedding-in will prepare the rotor surface, prolong the rotor's life, and make it more resistant to thermal checking or cracking under severe braking conditions. The following procedures should be followed when bedding-in rotors: Thoroughly inspect all brake system components before driving. Generating heat too quickly will "thermal shock" the rotors. Make sure that the rotor surfaces are free from oils, grease and brake fluid. Run vehicle up to moderate speed and make several medium deceleration stops to heat up the rotor slowly. This will help reduce the chance of thermal shock caused by uneven heating of the rotor. Pull over and allow the rotor to cool to ambient air temperature. Do not hold brakes on after performing the bedding-in procedure until cooling is completed. This will avoid "hot spotting" or uneven cooling, which can damage the rotor.


Wilwood Engineering
Camarillo, CA 93012
Russell Performance Products
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
True Connections
Riverside, CA 92503
Superior Spindles
Los Angeles, CA 90063
JH Restorations and Customs
Riverside, CA 92503



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