1979 Chevy Corvette - Part 6: Putting the Suspension Parts Together

With the suspension safe, sound, and ready to roll, the engine is next

Chris Petris Jan 28, 2005 0 Comment(s)
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That powdercoat looks good and the gloss makes it easy to clean. Thelower control-arm shaft has an offset where it bolts to the crossmember.The offset should be toward the crossmember so the shaft will haveclearance between the crossmember and seat properly.

Note the position of the drain hole in the lower control arm springpocket. Place the end of the spring within 1/4 inch of the drain hole.If the spring is out of place, it can cause squeaks. Once the spring isin place, look with a flashlight at the upper spring seat and make sureit's seated properly. After the spring is in, the rest of the work isstraightforward.

Once the spindle is installed on the ball joints, the ball-joint castlenuts should be torqued, then tightened just enough to install the cotterpin. The castle nut should never be loosened to install the cotter pin.The same procedure is used on all tapered seat components (tie-rod endsand such).

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We cut the spring to lower the car. We used a high-speed cutoff wheel tocut it cleanly and with minimal heat. The spring must be cut at the samelocation one coil lower so the spring sits properly in the spring pocketat the top and bottom. After cutting, a grinder was used to take theedge off the cut area, then a drop of epoxy paint was applied to preventcorrosion.

We used new tie-rod ends and heavy duty sleeves with new clamps. Wetried to anticipate where the tie-rod sleeves would be on the tie-rodends before painting to allow partial paint on the threads. Watchingwhere the paint ends and applying grease to the threads allows easyadjustment of the tie-rods during alignment.

We have a good local alignment shop, but if your car has rusty hardwareand you expect an extraordinary job, disappointment is inevitable.Whether you're doing a total rebuild or a part replacement, make surethe components are at least adjustable.

Before we send any car to the alignment shop after a major suspensionoverhaul, we get the alignment somewhat close. Previously, when we werewrapping up the rear suspension, we showed how to do a preliminaryalignment. The same procedures apply to the front end. It's a good ideato let the car sit a few days to allow the new springs to settle. Anyride height changes over an inch affect alignment.

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(above & below left) This is why the steering box should be rebuilt. The gook was lubricantat one time. Luckily, the pitman shaft and sector were salvageable. Thesteering box also supports our theory that the engine had beenoverheating for many years. The steering box had a lot of condensationfrom the engine heat. All bearings and seals were replaced along withthe pitman shaft bushings from the kit provided by Corvette Central.

We dropped the front end approximately 11/2 inches from the stockposition, which keeps the steering geometry correct. If you go beyond 2inches when lowering, steering geometry is affected and high-speedcornering capabilities will be diminished.

Now that all the pieces are in place, the brakes are next. We're leaningtoward the Stainless Steel Brakes calipers, available from CorvetteCentral. So far, we've been cautious with funds. We have someperformance handling components with a mix of many original pieces. Wewant to keep fiscal control of the project, but some things just makesense. The new, lightweight brake calipers will eliminate futureproblems.

While the brakes are in the works, it's time to consider what we shoulddo with the engine. We have a few '87-'90 Corvette L98 engine coresavailable that could become 383 ci. The thought is to build the 383, doa moderate porting job on the aluminum cylinder heads, then let itbreathe through a Holley 900-cfm throttle-body fuel-injection unit. Wealready have a Keisler-engineered Tremec five-speed to replace the tiredoriginal four-speed. The goal is high torque with light fuel usage, so amild cam will be used.

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The other possibility is a GMPP ZZ4 crate engine with the Holley TBIunit. Either way, there are decisions to be made. Many times, spendingthe most money does make the best project car. Hopefully, we can takethe Corvette Central Project Shark Attack on a test ride shortly and letthe public see it in action.

Front suspension torque specifications

Upper-control-arm ball-joint nut: 50 lb-ft

Upper-control-arm shaft to frame: 50 lb-ft

Upper-control-arm shaft-end bolt: 60 lb-ft

Lower-control-arm ball-joint nut: 80 lb-ft

Lower-control-arm shaft to frame rear nut: 95 lb-ft

Lower-control-arm shaft to frame front bolt: 70 lb-ft

Lower-control-arm shaft-end bolt: 70 lb-ft

Steering arm to spindle nut: 70 lb-ft

Upper dust-shield-plate bolt: 90 lb-ft

Tie-rod-end nut: 37 lb-ft

Power steering cylinder to relay rod: 45 lb-ft

Idler arm to frame: 30 lb-ft

Idler arm to relay rod: 35 lb-ft


Corvette Central
Sawyer, MI 49125


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