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Speaking of low profile...does anyone know of low profile front wheel bearing dust caps available? The factory ones hit the wheel center cover by about 1/4" or so. I didn't find anything obvious in a google search other than "use a hammer".

Hey FUB, If you don't find a low profile, which I doubt there is one, You may have to cut the cap off of the stock one. Then weld, I'm thinking TIG, it back together. Just low enough to clear the spindle. That would look a lot better than smashing the cap down. I know you're up to the job on this.

Mark: Snowman-33
 

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When I bought my TA cover , dont know if the low profile one was an option and every one on this sight was using the standard cover you and I have.
Problem is, this is a 94-96 Impala sight and the 94-96 wagon tank hits.
You can see in the photo how much I machined off to clear.
"Your mileage may vary"
 

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95wagon - Good machining work there! I didn't realize it wasn't "factory". Fingers crossed that there's room for the tank.

gbhs72 - Yeah, that's my backup plan, I've some 20 gauge leftover from the rear wheel well repairs that will work perfect for this. I was (am) hoping that I can just buy a solution for $10 rather than spend the 2 hours making them, but if they're not available than that's what I'll have to do. Kind of like this whole project - Couldn't find I car that I wanted to haul the family around so I decided to make my own, and here we are 7 years later :).
 

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Another decently productive weekend...

95wagon was right - the gas tank does not clear the standard TA Performance 1807 cover so I'll order the 1807A low profile cover tomorrow morning.

Rear sway bar is on the axle, but hits the aforementioned rear end cover with not enough movement so will wait for the new cover before finalizing it's mounting and end links.
Driveshaft is in
Exhaust is in save for the muffler/tailpipe - need to figure out how to mount the rear most hanger to the frame with the hitch assembly I have. The standard bolts running inside the frame rail will hit the hitch rails.



The mid mount hangar got sandblasted in prep for paint and I noticed a crack so welded it up (and a few other areas, like all of them :))






While the paint was drying on the exhaust hanger, I worked on the front hub bearing caps. Started by trimming the spindle...shown mid cut which is when I remembered to take a picture :)


Then cut the cap - rough cut


Then spin the rotor while using the diamond wheel to true/trim it. Like everything else on this car, it's close...but it fits


Ready for the flat cap


Nothing special about the flat cap - it's a circle of 20 gauge material that I cut out with a tin snips. I broke out the small tungsten for the welding. With a couple small exceptions I was able to weld it all without filler. Biggest problem was the counter intuitive need to move farther away to focus on the puddle - guess that comes with getting older.








It fits in the hub nice and snug with a good visible contact all the way around when I removed it for paint. I was a bit concerned if it would warp when welding, but guess not :)


Due to all the cutting with the bearings in place, my son helped take both front hubs apart, clean everything up, repack the bearings and put everything back together. He did 80% or more of it himself with me showing him what/how to do it and helping lift the hub assembly around (it's a bit heavy for a 7 year old to handle).


I also spent about 2 hours power washing the rear bumper trying to get rid of the last of the paint inside. I think it's about 90% gone - what a PITA stripping the paint off this thing has been. Probably one more weekend in the hot tank and that will be good enough - then send it and the hitch out for galvanizing so I can finish putting the back end together.

Once I get the low profile cover, I can get the fuel tank in, get the hoses/plumbing/valves all back in place and that will finish things up out back for the most part except final welding of the lower coilover mounts. Need to make a wheel decision. What I have hits at extreme conditions (full suspension compression and full lock) which seems relatively unlikely. Will run it by a friend of mine for a 2nd opinion and go from there. Need to actually bolt in/tighten all the front suspension components, then do a rough tape measure alignment, install the front coilovers and then only a few hundred more little details before driving it again!
 

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Not quite as productive of a weekend, but still got a few things done.

New rear end cover won't get here until Monday...you'd think that an 8"x8"x4" box weighing 5 pounds could get from Arizona to Wisconsin in less than a week for $35.20 :(

ANYWAY...I guess we'll do that next weekend

I decided to tackle the front end alignment. Did a bunch of reading and there are a lot of DIY kits you can purchase, but in keeping with my screen name, I decided to give it a shot myself. The concepts are pretty simple and the math isn't too hard (just basic trig) so it's really just about making the fixture to mount to the wheels.

I used some 1" steel box tube that was laying around. One piece was 66" long so I cut it in half for the bottom pieces - that should be wide enough to handle any tires I'll use this on. The vertical piece is ~14" long and gives room to add another location for different rim diameters in the future. I'm using the original 15" roadmaster rims for this since they have a nice flat face and lip to locate on.

The two pieces were welded together on the sides and squared up.



I used flange nuts welded to the box tube. Drill a hole just a bit smaller than the "across the corners" dimension of the nuts and press them in with a vice. Then weld the perimeter. I use a bolt from the back side tightened down to hold it square when welding. If you soak the nuts in muratic acid for a few minutes, it removes all the zinc plating making it much easier to weld.


This is what it looks like from the inside


Then a 2nd flange nut is threaded "backwards" on the bolt in all 3 locations. This acts as a jamb nut and allows some adjustment. The assembly was placed on a known flat/level surface and the same digital level was used to "zero" the fixture in case of any warpage in welding or assembly. Once it reads zero in all planes and the jamb nuts are tight - leave them alone, no need to make any adjustments.

The bolt heads sit nicely inside the wheel lip and space the "frame" far enough away to clear the tires.


The whole thing is held on with a bunjee strap and I'm using a Wixey digital level which I already had and use a bunch for other things ($40 on Amazon).


Get the vertical bar vertical (put the wixey on the front or back of the vertical tube), then put it on the outside (as shown above) to directly read camber.
Use the extensions front and back to measure toe across the car easily with a tape measure
Caster is a bit more involved and the system needs a bit more work for that, but basically you start with zero toe and camber where you want it to be. Turn the wheel left a known amount (15 degrees for example) and measure camber again (note if it's positive or negative). Turn the wheel right the same amount and measure camber again. Plug the two additional camber measurements and the amount the wheel is turned into an simple trig equation and that is your caster.

Toe and Camber are where they should be, Caster is still TBD as I don't have a great way to measure wheel turn angle yet.

A few things to note...

This setup is currently only for 15" rims, but would work for any size rim with a similar lip and adding another nut in the vertical strut (and re-zeroing the fixture)

The coil overs are not installed and the swaybar is disconnected. Wheels are held at ride height with blocks. Yes, things will move under load, but I'm trying to get some practice in and to get it close before lowering the car down on the ground under it's own weight (there is a bunch more work to do under the car and don't want to have to jack it up/down a bunch of times).

With the ability to articulate the suspension full travel without the springs in, I want to check things like bump steer since that geometry has potentially changed

It'll go to a professional alignment shop after I do this backyard solution just to confirm and make any adjustments.

Most of the stuff came from this article

I looked at Quick Trick and thought for $400, I'll give it a try myself first...So far, I think it'll work just as good

I did "string" the car but I used a laser level like this Bosch GLL 3-80 instead of actual string. I really need a 2nd laser or laser and a string. The laser is handy since you can set it behind the car and not have to worry about bumping it like you would with a string - but it cost 100x more. I already had one from a remodeling project so may as well use it :).

So, next weekend is a 3 day weekend for Labor Day, hoping to get the rear end cover in/on/done which will allow a bunch more work on the back end such as putting in the gas tank and associated plumbing. If all goes well, I'll also figure out the caster measurements and get the alignment close (until I set it on the ground and then have to check it again :)).

Oh, I did get a picture of the 20" wheel on the back at (near) ride height. I still like it, will probably go with these.
 

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Because you like to fab stuff,
Using your level cube, you could also do direct caster making a bridge from upper ball joint thread to lower ball joint thread
Just a straight bar with pins back to the ball joint threads.

You would have to correct for the difference in dia of studs ( lower pin lenght shorter by 1/2 dia difference )
This so vertical bar would be parellel to ball joint centerlines.
Then you could read actual caster angle.
It would be relative to ground not chassis but that is the same as WA machines read out anyway.

Also if you make two cross bars for strings , cutting notches for the strings so they are always equal makes life easier.
If you can find a way to attach the crossbars to the car , it is SO much better than having them on jack stands .
This because you can do stuff with out the string to car relationship getting screwed up if you move something.
 

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Hmm - I'll look at that this weekend. That might actually be easier and more accurate than the inferred method simply due to it being a single direct measurement instead of 4 measurements.

I'll report back how that goes...
 

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Because you like to fab stuff,
Using your level cube, you could also do direct caster making a bridge from upper ball joint thread to lower ball joint thread
Just a straight bar with pins back to the ball joint threads.

You would have to correct for the difference in dia of studs ( lower pin lenght shorter by 1/2 dia difference )
This so vertical bar would be parellel to ball joint centerlines.
Then you could read actual caster angle.
It would be relative to ground not chassis but that is the same as WA machines read out anyway.

Also if you make two cross bars for strings , cutting notches for the strings so they are always equal makes life easier.
If you can find a way to attach the crossbars to the car , it is SO much better than having them on jack stands .
This because you can do stuff with out the string to car relationship getting screwed up if you move something.
The camber, and caster is measured at the rim. A level will tell you what is vertical, and that is "0" degrees. Make a shim for "4" degrees, and you can set the caster with the same level.
.
 

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I had big plans for the three day weekend but as usual laziness kept me doing most all of it, lol. Anyways.

Since I will not be getting the car painted anytime soon I decided that I needed to at least pull the heavily faded front bumper cover and throw some paint on it.



In the past I used Duplicolor touch up paint on my rear bumper and it did a good job. Well, that did not happen this time and the bumper looks like complete ass. So I decided to grab the OCC cover that I had in the back of the shed. It needs a tear repaired and is a little wavy in spots from sitting for many years. I believe the guy I got it from left it laying in the yard for some time.

So I mounted it up and once everything was bolted up it straightened out quite well. Even have the ripped part sitting perfectly so I can repair it later.





I put a piece of wood and some heavy duty clamps on the wavy section under neath. For now I will leave it be while I drive the car and let it sit out in the Florida sun to hopefully help even it out.

At first I didn't like it but it will look much better once it is painted to match.
 

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Had another productive weekend on the wagon...

Using 95wagon's idea, I built a caster measuring fixture. Top ball joint is 1/2-20, bottom "5/8" ball joint is really M16x1.25. I didn't have a M16x1.25 nut, but you can run a tap through a 5/8-18 nut and it works just fine (no significant load being applied here). Basically thread the whole collapsed assembly on the lower ball joint stud and then unthread the top part of the fixture until it grabs on to the upper stud. Turn both until snug and then clock the box tube so it's facing forward to put the digital angle finder on.

Simple in concept, but it took a few hours of work to get both nuts coaxial to each other and centered in the tube. This would be much easier with a mill/lathe instead of a vice and sawzall :), but that's what I had at my disposal.











So, with this new tool and the T-bars previously posted, I was able to get Caster, Camber, Toe and Bump Steer all documented and dialed in. Not particularly hard work, but tedious.

The car was supported on the center cross member with blocks which allowed the suspension to fully extend, no springs installed so it was easy to articulate the suspension. Blocks were used to set each wheel at ride height. I got caster/camber/toe dialed in at ride height, then removed/added shims and repeated all the measurements to simulate various amounts of wheel travel (compression and extension of the suspension). Below are the results of the first run.





About a year ago (April/May 2019) I made a new center link since I had over 4" of bump steer just from ride height to full extension. I wanted to check bump steer on the new setup and since it's adjustable, make any adjustments. There's a significant improvement in bump steer from the first iteration, but still seems like a lot. Since I didn't know where things needed to be adjusted, I put everything in the middle of it's adjustment range. For the next trial, I pushed the inner tie rods up as far as I could (put all the shims on the bottom). This moved the inner tie rods up ~1/4" which has a significant effect on bump steer.


I'd move it a bit more, but am already very close to the oil pan with the centerlink. I thought I had "plenty" of room when I built it, but might need to move it some more because I'm sure the engine will hit at some point...


Anyway, the results are much improved. Is there a "recommended" amount of bump steer to have? Are the below numbers good enough? I don't have any reference to compare to so am just trying to minimize it as much as I can.



I was very pleased that having basically zero camber with no load on the suspension resulted in an equal -0.5 degrees of camber once it was setting on the coilovers. The minor toe adjustment is due to the fact that its setting about 1" higher than the "zero" height above. I'll still take it to an alignment shop and have them do it "right", but wanted to be able to do this myself to get it pretty close and be able to do the bump steer analysis. I had to repeat a few measurements and everything came out within 0.1 degrees and 1/16 of an inch or less - most were right on.

I also was able to get the new rear end cover installed - needs longer bolts, but it's in place and looks like it will clear. I went to put the fuel tank in and install the new straps that I purchased from Rock Auto. Unfortunately, there must be some differences in straps because the ones I received are a few inches too long. The tank can be moved up/down 4-5 inches and side to side all the way to the frame rails, forward and back 3-4 inches. Frustrating...


I can easily stick my hand on top and touch the fuel pump cover/lines from the back.


It looks like I ordered the bottom one instead of the wagon one (middle) which must be for a sedan instead of wagon. So, now to decide if I clean up my old ones or buy the wagon ones. The Liland ones were powder coated black and the others are bare steel. I'll probably just order the bare steel ones for $34 and paint them myself. Will still be cheaper/easier than cleaning and painting my existing ones.


Cleaned a bunch of stuff out from in/on/under the car and put it in storage, found that I need a new battery. The brand new one is leaking acid and has never left the shop :(.

Got the front swaybar end link spacers rough cut to length - will finish them on the lathe this week sometime. They need to be an inch longer since the frame mounting location is lower from the brace that was installed. Otherwise the tie rod end hits the swaybar which won't end well.

Finished installing the exhaust

Should check pinion angle

Need to install rear swaybar

Getting the bumper and hitch ready to go to the galvanizing shop so they can finally be installed.

Ordering the remaining wheels/tires so it will look cool instead of the 31x10.5x15 All Terrain truck tires it's been wearing :)

I should probably spend a day touching every nut, bolt, fitting, adjustment before driving it because there are so many things that could easily be forgotten.

Probably another couple weekends of little details like the above yet before it's actually out on the road - but I see light at the end of this (loooonnng) tunnel!!!
 

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Doing some (re) reading, looks like something in the 0.020"-0.040" per inch of suspension travel is considered "acceptable" with the best practical being less than half that. Seems that I conveniently forgot that detail...

I'm an order of magnitude off so will likely need to do something to both address it and measure it with more resolution than my tape measure with 1/16" graduations. Maybe one of those laser pointer levels that shoots both forward and backwards. Then it will amplify the measurement by the distance from the center of the wheel. I'm measuring toe at 33" from front to back so 16.5" from the center of the wheel. So if I'm 165" from the center of the wheel forward and back (~14 feet) then it's pretty easy math.

How do the fancy bump steer gauges account for difference in tire diameter? Maybe I'm not as bad as I think measuring at 33"? None of the gauges I've seen are that wide? I guess degrees is a better way to measure bump steer instead of inches?

The idler arm has about +/-1/2" vertical adjustment so that side will be easy to adjust. I'll have to look at the Pitman arm and insure it's fully seated/engaged on the steering shaft. I was suprised at how much the bump steer changed with a relatively small adjustment so I'm hopeful I can get it "close enough" with these adjustments and then lowering the center part of the center link so it clears the oil pan.

The 2nd time obviously wasn't good enough - hopefully the 3rd time is the charm :).
 

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Yeah, degrees are the only accurate way, but we all think in inches or millimeters.
There are degrees to inches vs dia charts out there , making it easier at a glance.
WA machines are set based on a "given dia" when displaying toe in inches or mm

You got to get a lot closer or the car will be vile .

You could make a single indicator bump plate pretty easy.

Problem with shooting to a target, the track changes as the susp rises and falls.

Example , if the toe change was zero, but the track width changes the the dot on the board is , of coarse, going to move.
Sure you could allow for it but it just gets confusing.

I dont need to tell you this but the center link has to level in respect to the pick up points.

I REALLY think you are going to end up dropping the outers
 

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I REALLY think you are going to end up dropping the outers
You mentioned this before and I didn't quite follow, but now I think I'm following...Lower the outers instead of raising the inners (and all the other changes that entails).

Hmmm - I wonder if they make (or I could make :)) extended tie rod end studs like they do for ball joints?
 

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There are bump steer kits but they make you use rod ends
195653


I have never used these Howes linked below but they might be a better alternative.
One type is selective studs, the other you thread the outer arm

 

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95wagon - Thanks for the help on this. I'm slow, but getting my head wrapped around it. Either of the Howe tie rod ends can work (need to confirm size/taper), but I'll need to make longer adjusters since they look pretty short. I'd lean toward the tapered solution, but don't have good reasoning for it. Maybe when they get serviced then I wouldn't need to check bump steer again? Threaded version would be easiest to setup/adjust and would be plenty strong with jamb nuts; but no going back once you drill/tap the spindle.

I'll try to give Howe a call and figure this all out.

Not really interested in spherical rod ends - have a car with them and they're all loose in relatively low miles.
 

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Changed the oil on the '91. 10w30 full syn. 2 years, 2k mi. Old oil looked fine. The 65k mi. AC Delco rebuilt motor purrs like a kitten. No leaks anywhere. Yay! Nothing imminent to do, but the rot in the driver's footwell is near the top of the list. Will wash tomorrow.
 

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Got a few things done this weekend, but also had to put front wheel bearings in my daily driver and spent some time visiting with family which is good to do.

New rearend cover finally installed - I ran a bottoming tap in the holes and was able to put longer bolts in vs the ones that came with the cover which only engaged ~4 threads. Had my best helper do most of the work on this :). He's applying the 5 ft-lbf preload torque to the bearing caps after all the cover bolts were torqued to 20 ft-lbf. I bought this car about 3 months before he was born and started this project when he was about a year old. I didn't think it would take so long where he would be helping on it, but glad that he is :).


I ended up ordering new wagon specific gas tank straps and I'm glad that I did. These came from Rock Auto - Spectra Premium ST185 and I'm pleased with the quality of them. They come galvanized and include the little carriage bolt and clip that the sedan one didn't. The clip was stainless as well. As usual, I can't leave well enough alone and have to "make it better" so I ground off the rivet holding the two straps together and replaced it with an M10 elevator bolt instead. This allowed me to paint each one individually and get near 100% coverage.






The elevator bolt will get cut off shorter. You can also see above where I un-bent the folded over ends a bit to allow paint to get in there as well. Maybe I'll get the tank installed next weekend....

I also spent some time working on the bumpsteer issue I've been having. I purchased a bump steer gauge and while simple in concept, it took a few iterations to get repeatable measurements (within a few thousandths). Once I had that, I lowered the outer tie rod by putting a washer on the tapered part and then threading the nut back on and pulling it tight. This lowered the outer tie rod end by ~0.400" and made a huge difference in bump steer.

Using the setup shown below, without the above mentioned washer, I had ~0.070 inches/inch of bump steer over 4" travel (+2" to -2" from ride height). By moving the outer tie rod down ~0.400 this number went down to ~0.022 inches/inch over the same distance which is right inline with where it should be. I only had time for one iteration and I believe the tie rod is a bit too short as it toed in both during extension and compression, but the results were good enough to convince me that I'm on the right path to a good solution.



Now I just need to figure out if I want to go with the threaded or tapered tie rod ends. I'm thinking threaded since the tapered ones are only offered in 0.100" increments to +0.500" and the threaded ones can be infinitely adjusted and also can be adjusted farther (approaching an inch). I'd like to be able to lower the inner's 1/4 inch or so to get the center link off the oil pan which would require at least another 1/4" on the outer's. The downside is once the spindle is drilled/tapped, that's the only tie rod you can use. I don't think it'll work any other way so I don't think there's much of a decision to make...?

I also only looked at the left side, the right side might be different so the threaded ones should accommodate. I should probably buy some spares and rebuild parts just in case they go out of business or something. This will be one of a very few items that are not standard off the shelf components in this build (or could be replaced with standard components in an emergency).

Hopefully, next weekend I can get the gas tank installed and finally finish up all the steering geometry. Wheels and tires should be here by then too, so if all goes well, I could set it on the ground on all 4 wheels supporting it's own weight and drive it (if only back/forth a few feet :)).
 
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