1995 Roadmaster Wagon Daily Driver/Highway Triper Suspension Upgrades? - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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1995 Roadmaster Wagon Daily Driver/Highway Triper Suspension Upgrades?

I’m trying to get as far away from that “driving a big waterbed” feel with loose steering, as possible without compromising comfort too much on highway road trips with my '95 RMW daily driver.

I own a kiteboard shop & school so this Roadmaster is my Woody Wind Wagon work vehicle and is spent chasing wind up and around 300 miles of Lake Michigan coastline, Spring-Fall. In the Winter, 225/15 Blizzaks go on the stock wheels and we run around snowkiting.

I’ve never had the opportunity to ride in anyone else’s wagon who has made any suspension or steering improvements. The only thing I’ve done up to now, suspension & steering-wise, besides keeping everything in good repair, is add a set of Bilsteins, add 245 Summer tires on 18x8 Boyd Coddington wheels all the way around and hook up airbags to the rear load leveling. The shocks & tires haven’t even come close to where I’d like it to be with feel.

From reading here and talking with a couple helpful members, this is what I've been contemplating;
Beefing up the front sway
Adding a front frame brace
Adding a rear sway and whatever I have to do to the rear arms to prevent binding and have a good attachment points for the sway (haven’t figured out exactly what that is yet)
Installing Global West front & rear arm bushings

I would also like to lower it slightly in the front, more in the back to even off that rake, give it a more aggressive look and hopefully tighten up the ride (haven’t figured out that solution either).

From there, drive it for a while and if the steering itself still feels loose, consider sending the steering box, and possibly the PS pump, off to Steering Technology Group to give it a spec tightening-up, appropriate for a daily driver.

What are the experiences here? Will the sways, brace and bushings tighten up the ride feel without making it feel too aggressively, "hard-core purpose built race car" rigid?

Has anyone done a lowering on a highway street car wagon (not more than an inch up front and a little more in back) but the car was still decently comfortable and road-trip drivable?

Michael Szromba
'95 Roadmaster Wagon almost 300K miles
'94 Roadmaster Wagon low 100K miles
...both burgundy woodgrain!

Last edited by WaWaZat; 01-17-2017 at 04:46 PM.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 06:50 PM
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The springs I used in my sig replaced a set of hotchkis lowering springs.
It drives very well and is not overly harsh IMHO.
Car already had lowering springs/f&r sway bars/bilsteins/and rear lower control arms.
Took it for ~300 mile trip for holidays and even with my horrid back pain, the ride was good.

I've been driving/used to full size jeep grand wagoneers for past ~12yrs though. So my idea of harsh and ride quality may be different than some?

I drive my wagon daily now, and my back is much happier. YMMV...Only thing I may change in future is shocks? Overall I am very satisfied with it though.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 07:14 PM
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how are your front end components ? Make sure they are all up to snuff.

stiffer springs would help. Some find the springs mentioned above (80098 or 7268) to be a bit harsh with the bilsteins. I use them with konis set to max stiffness and like them. If you want the back to come down, go for the CC625 vs the CC623. Same specs but about 1" shorter. I use the CC623 on the caprice and CC625 on the RMW.

Then you could try adding a rear swaybar. Guys have good luck with the panther platform bar.

If you keep fairly stock front springs, you could go with a hellwig or hotchkis front/rear bar.

Jason
1996 Roadmaster Wagon
1995 Caprice Wagon

Last edited by jasonlachapelle; 01-16-2017 at 05:46 PM.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babywag View Post
The springs I used in my sig replaced a set of hotchkis lowering springs.
Did you replace the Hotchkis because they were too harsh?

Quote:
Car already had lowering springs/f&r sway bars/bilsteins/and rear lower control arms.
Took it for ~300 mile trip for holidays and even with my horrid back pain, the ride was good.
This was after the spring replacement?

Quote:
I drive my wagon daily now, and my back is much happier. YMMV...Only thing I may change in future is shocks? Overall I am very satisfied with it though.
What shocks do you think you'd go with?

Michael Szromba
'95 Roadmaster Wagon almost 300K miles
'94 Roadmaster Wagon low 100K miles
...both burgundy woodgrain!
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 09:16 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonlachapelle View Post
how are your front end components ? Make sure they are all up to snuff.

stiffer springs would help. Some find the springs mentioned above (80098 or 7062) to be a bit harsh with the bilsteins. I use them with konis set to max stiffness and like them. If you want the back to come down, go for the CC625 vs the CC623. Same specs but about 1" shorter. I use the CC623 on the caprice and CC625 on the RMW.

Then you could try adding a rear swaybar. Guys have good luck with the panther platform bar.

If you keep fairly stock front springs, you could go with a hellwig or hotchkis front/rear bar.
Only thing bad right now in the front end it the steering damper. Planning on replacing.

What is the diff between the 80098 & 7062? Do you know how much drop each serve?

Can you give me more info about what exactly the Panther bars are?

Are you saying you would leave the stock front sway if lowering at all? Would appreciate any further explanation.

Michael Szromba
'95 Roadmaster Wagon almost 300K miles
'94 Roadmaster Wagon low 100K miles
...both burgundy woodgrain!
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 10:05 PM
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The Impala springs will give you the lowering you want without messing with the ride too much. You must adjust the camber by removing 1/16 inch from all four front suspension mounting points to correct for the negative camber. The Bilsteins should be good for general ride control. If you have automatic level control hooked to your airbags, you can shorten the length of the arm to the sensor by the amount of drop you want. A 21mm rear sway bar from a Crown Vic, or Grand Marquis will bolt up to the axle with a couple of heavy duty muffler clamps and a couple of end links to the frame. There are holes that become self apparent when you clamp the bar to the axle. I did this mod, and it is really easy, and cheap if you get the bar from a junk yard (less than $50). You can also replace the bushings with urethane for a little less compliance (stiffer). The steering box can be adjusted if you follow the FSM instructions. There is nothing you can do to the power steering pump that will make any difference in the operation of the steering, unless it leaks. Rebuilding the front suspension, and steering in general will make it feel a lot tighter, except for any play in the steering box. Putting urethane bushings in the rear will make it feel a lot less compliant there as well

1991 OCC 461 (.030 over 454) BBC, 3.23 posi, flash to pass, drop spindles & springs, Impala rims, Hydroboost, Recaros, MOMO/wood SW w/QR, custom wood shift knob, Pioneer DEH P77DH
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For a parts list, check https://www.impalassforum.com/vBulle...ion-parts.html
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2017, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaWaZat View Post
Did you replace the Hotchkis because they were too harsh?

This was after the spring replacement?

What shocks do you think you'd go with?
No replaced springs because it sat too low. Rubbed/scraped constantly and was extremely annoying. While it looked great it was dysfunctional for a daily driver imho.

All hotchkis parts, etc. were on it when I bought it. If I replace bilsteins probably try koni?

I completely rebuilt entire front suspension when I changed springs.
Lots of work, but was well worth it.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaWaZat View Post
Only thing bad right now in the front end it the steering damper. Planning on replacing.

What is the diff between the 80098 & 7268? Do you know how much drop each serve?

Can you give me more info about what exactly the Panther bars are?

Are you saying you would leave the stock front sway if lowering at all? Would appreciate any further explanation.
750 lb/in spring info . Both part numbers quoted above are the same. If you go that route, get the cheapest. They are ss height, but with the weight distribution of the wagon, the front will sit higher. I use these and found they work great.

The panther bar is the bar Fred mentionned. The bar from a crown vic/grand marquis/marauder (panther platform). He makes a good point: if you want to keep your bilsteins (good shock overall) then go with a set of stock SS springs. Konis work great with the 750lb/in springs, but the probably the most cost effective method to get what you want is just get a 450-600 lb/in spring and keep the bilsteins. They are good shocks.

I'm saying if you go with firm springs such as the 700+ lb/in, you don't really need a crazy large front bar for good handling. Just make sure you have a 30mm bar vs the 28mm one. If you go with a stock-ish spring rate, then by all means go ahead with the hellwig or hotchkis large bar. Naylifer was selling custom made bars (made by hellwig) a while back. Don't know if he's still doing it.

I personally don't use a damper. To each his own though. If you like it, keep it.

Jason
1996 Roadmaster Wagon
1995 Caprice Wagon

Last edited by jasonlachapelle; 01-16-2017 at 05:48 PM.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonlachapelle View Post
750 lb/in spring info . Both part numbers quoted above are the same.
Is that a new spring or a typo? Don't see a 7062. Maybe you mean the 7268?
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 91ss View Post
Is that a new spring or a typo? Don't see a 7062. Maybe you mean the 7268?
yes, 7268. Edited original post for clarity. Thanks.

Jason
1996 Roadmaster Wagon
1995 Caprice Wagon
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