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Episode I

Attack of the Handlers

Terry Cole Sep 24, 2004

Not another suspension story! Oh yes, another suspension story. But this one's got a dramatic twist to it. Forget about "Joe Millionaire," "The Bachelor," and so on because there's a new reality program coming to a Super Chevy near you with more drama and excitement than ever.

That's right, the build up of this '55 Bel Air has more twists and turns than a day in the life of Michael Jackson. Now what I mean by that is we here at SC are taking a completely bone stock '55 and turning it into a late model g-machine. And I do mean bone stock! This baby blue beast is an all-original '55 with 34,000 miles on it! In fact it even has the original owners manual sitting in the glove box.

For the first episode SC has teamed up with McGaughey's Suspension Parts and Coker Tire to conquer handling and braking. This shoebox is going to receive a complete new suspension up front with McGaughys tubular upper and lower control arms, drop spindles, springs, shocks, and disc brake set. While out back the '55 will receive a set of leaf springs from McGaughys. Also from McGaughys, the brakes will receive some much-needed backup from a new brake booster and dual master cylinder.

Here's where the drama kicks in: duun . . .dun . . .du . . .duuuuuun. Before the '55 went under the wrench we took it out to the track to get some baseline numbers. The '55 was even sportin' bias-ply tires thanks to the people of Coker tire. However, not only did we test Coker bias-ply tires but we also tested Cokers traditional looking whitewall radials. I bet by now you're wondering how the big blue boat did, huh? Well to find out stay tuned until next time when we unveil the numbers, because as always . . . to be continued. Don't ya' just hate that!

Now as for the install, it's just like any other suspension enhancements. Simple at times but can get a little difficult. The trickiest part of the build up is bending and shaping new brake lines. But its nothing a few moments of thought and geometry can't figure out.


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Check out the total upgrade package from McGaughys.

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Primedia Tech Center technician Jason Scudellari began by removing the shock.

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Next the upper nut of the spindle was removed and the spring was dropped out.

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The OEM spindle was then removed.

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The OEM upper and lower control arms were removed, and then the control arm shafts were removed from the OEM arms for future use.

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The McGaughys bushings were pressed into our new McGaughys tubular control arms.

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The OEM control arm shafts were installed into our new control arms.

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The McGaughys lower control arm was installed on the '55.

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Next came the upper control arm.

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Once the control arms were in the new McGaughys shock, spring, spindle, and disc brake kit were installed in the reverse order of the unstall. Then the McGaughys calipers were installed on the spindle.

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The McGaughys steering arm was bolted to the new spindle.

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The new McGaughys tie-rod end was then bolted to the steering arm.

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For the last mission up front the new flex lines were installed.

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Installation Jason then moved to the rear of the '55. He began by undoing the OEM shock.

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The OEM five-hole plate was then removed.

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The OEM leaf springs were then unbolted from the rear shackle hangers.

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Here you can see the difference in height between the OEM rear leaf spring and the McGaughys leaf spring. Also notice how the eyes of the leaf springs are on opposite sides to help achieve the perfect stance. The leafs were then installed in the reverse order of the unstall.

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'55 meet your new McGaughys brake booster, master cylinder, and brake lines.

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The OEM hamster water bottle of a master cylinder was removed.

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Jason then began removing the OEM brake lines.

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The brake pedal linkage was installed on the new McGaughys booster.

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Now the McGaughys dual master cylinder was installed.

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It was now time to run brake lines. Using a tubing bender Jason was able to achieve the correct bend to move around every corner, zigzag, and other obstacle.

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Here you can see the finished brake lines for the driver's side with all the proper bends. Also be sure to bend the brake lines with several loops near the top. This allows the brake line to flex and perform better.

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After our new lines were formed they were then flanged. Be sure and put the fitting on before you flange, because you don't want to have to redo the entire line.

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When running lines to the rear and passenger side couplings like these come in handy to join separate lines together. By doing this you don't have to bend one giant brake line.

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Done, so until next time we're outta here.

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But first check out the Coker whitewalls!


Coker Tire
Chattanooga, TN 37402
McGaughys Suspension Parts
Fresno, CA 93722

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