’68-’82 Corvette Suspension Upgrade

Building A Shark Suspension For The Everyday Driver

Andy Bolig Jul 1, 2001 0 Comment(s)

Step By Step

The lower control arms.

Unless the control arms are new or cleaned already like the ones at the Corvette Clinic, you’ll have to remove the bushings and ball joints. Pneumatic tools like this one with a pickle-fork tip will make short order of removing the old bushings.

These are the bushings supplied by Corvette Central. They tighten up the suspension and are more durable than the original rubber bushings.

The first step is to insert the metal sleeve into the control arm. You can either press in the sleeve or tap it in with a socket and a hammer. Either way, make sure the sleeve goes in straight, or you could damage it.

Inspect the cross-shafts for wear. This is the time to clean and paint them before you install them. Also, you should run a tap through the threads to clean them up. You’ll notice there is a high side and a flat side to the shafts.

Make sure when you install the shafts that the flat side mounts directly to the frame or you could have problems later.

Install the cross-shaft into the control arm. Make sure the two-bolt-hole end of the shaft is toward the front of the car once the control arm is installed. The sway-bar mount (by Archie’s left hand) should also face the front of the car. Put some silicone grease between the bushing material and the inner sleeve of the bushing to ensure quiet operation.

Always use new lock washers under the bolt heads to make sure they don’t back out. The guys at Corvette Clinic will wait until all of the parts are installed and the car is sitting on the ground before they torque the bolts to 50 lb-ft.

When installing the new lower ball joints, make sure the bumper stop goes into the front hole.

The rear stop is welded to the control arm, so there’s no need for one in the back.

Make sure when you install the bolts for the crossbar that it rests solidly against the frame. Also make sure you have locknuts on the bolts. Torque the bolts to 70 lb-ft (front) and 95 lb-ft (rear).

The upper control arms.

The sleeves for the upper control arm are different. They aren’t as long as the lower control-arm sleeves and they don’t step down in size like the lower control-arm-bushing sleeves.

Like the lower control arms, we tapped the bushing sleeves in place with a large socket to help keep them going in straight.

The cross-shafts on the upper control arms are installed next. Again, use silicone grease on the bushing. Use new lock washers, and wait to torque the shaft-end bolts when the entire suspension is installed.

Our upper ball joints did not need replacing, but the rubber boot was cracked due to someone pumping in too much grease. All we had to do was use a razor knife to cut the old boots off...

...and replace them with polyurethane ones.

When tearing down the suspension, the guys at Corvette Clinic wrap the shims with tape and mark where they were in the suspension.

This gives you a good starting point so you don’t wear out your tires on the way to the alignment shop. Torque the bolts to 50 lb-ft.

The spindle.

Don’t forget this gasket. If yours are damaged, you can get new ones from Corvette Central.

Everything bolts together as a unit on the spindle.

Be sure to use the proper steering-knuckle arm for each side. They’re marked between the bolt holes.

Also, there are two different-length bolts; the longer bolt goes through the steering-knuckle arm and the brake-caliper mount. They should be torqued to 70 lb-ft.

The upper bolt goes through the backing plate and the caliper mount. Don’t forget to bend the tabs over to keep it from backing out.

Once the spindle assembly is completed, install it on the lower ball joint.

Install the coil spring and jack up on the lower control arm until you can insert the upper ball-joint stud into the spindle. Consider wrapping a chain around the coil spring and the lower control arm as a safety precaution to keep the spring from coming out, should anything unexpected happen.

Once both the upper and lower ball joints are secure, torque them to 50 lb-ft (upper) and 80 lb-ft (lower). If you need to align the hole to insert the cotter pin, TIGHTEN the nut. Never loosen it. If you haven’t already, now is the time to tighten the cross-shaft bolts on the upper and lower control arms. They should be 50 lb-ft.

We installed KYB Gas Adjust shocks to get the most from the suspension. They give good performance and ride characteristics.

We needed to replace the brake rotors, and we replaced the hub bearings and seals while we were at it. To remove the rivets that hold the rotor onto the hub, take a center punch and punch a mark for the drill bit to start in.

Start out with a small drill bit and work your way up to a larger one that will remove the entire head of the rivet. Be careful not to damage the hub.

Once all of the rivet heads are drilled, pop them out with a pneumatic punch. They should come out with little effort.

This is what a removed rivet will look like.

In preparing the hub for a new rotor, cleanliness is very important. Rotor runout is the Achilles heel of these brake systems.

Don’t start out with trouble. Wire-brush the mating surface to remove the rust and scale.

Once the hub was clean and ready, we installed the new bearings and seals. Pack the bearings with grease before installing them, and make sure the seal goes in evenly.

We cleaned up the inside of the rotor to get a clean mating surface and eliminate as much runout as possible.

We also cleaned up the brake-rotor surface to eliminate any brake noise.

We installed the rotor and checked the runout.

We were within the limits but, if necessary, Chris at the Corvette Clinic will use these thin shims to bring the runout into allowable limits. You should have no more than .005-inch runout when finished.

We upgraded the original sway bar bushings with polyurethane units from Corvette Central.

Also, we installed the supplied polyurethane boots on the tie-rod ends to complete the installation.

In one respect, the ’68-’82 Corvette’s front suspension isn’t much different from any other vehicle on the road today. Time and use will eventually take their toll, and parts will wear out. Archie Rose at the Corvette Clinic showed us what they do to bring a shark’s front end to better-than-new condition.

While not the most extreme front suspension that can be put on the front of a ’68-’82 Corvette, this style has proven itself durable and reliable while providing a high level of comfort. The owner wanted a car that was driveable and looked stock. He should be very pleased.

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