Panhard Bar Installation Part 1

By: Bob Goodson
October 11, 2020

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Author: Michael Yount

 

As you’ve likely seen in other posts here, the little car has a leaf sprung rear suspension.  Not the most sophisticated or lightweight — but it works reasonably well.  From having raced one of these, things get a lot more stable with the addition of a Panhard rod.  Helps keep the body from trying to deform shackles and bushings during lateral loading.
 
I’m borrowing heavily from a California outfit called TechnoToyTuning.  They make this for the car — looks nice for sure.  But the chassis/body bracket isn’t deep enough to let the bar sit parallel to the ground at ride height.  A spacer for that bracket would solve the problem – but I can save about $100, so I decided to make my own.  Pic below of their unit.

Ordered the tubing for the bar – 4 feet of .750″ OD x .065″ wall tubing.  The tubing, matching threaded rod ends and jam nuts showed up from Summit Racing first.

I bought a grade 8 7/16″ -20 bolt, applied NeverSieze and ran the bolt into/out of the ends to be sure the threads were clean.  Others have advised that I put the bolt into the threads while I’m welding the tube ends in place and leave it until the tube has completely cooled.  Then remove the bolt — supposedly helps ensure the integrity of the threads during the welding process.  The tube ends are designed to ‘fit’ .750″ x .065″ wall tubing.  TIGHT squeeze.  So with a bit of clean up sanding on the outside of the tube end and a sanding roll on the Dremel for the inside of the tube — perfect, snug fit.

The rod ends showed up today — 7/16″, stainless, PFTE lined — should be plenty strong for this application.   Went with both right hand threads because trying to communicate with Summit (who didn’t have the LH thread version in their online catalog) during Covid has been challenging at best.  Besides, this should be set the length and forget it – so not a hardship to have it disconnected at the beginning to set length and then put it back together.

So – on to fabricating the brackets for the axle connection at the lower shock mount and the body/chassis connection on the trunk floor.  I removed the bottom of the shock out of the ‘ears’ to which I’m going to attach the bracket I fabricate. You can see that the eye of the shock is narrower than the space between the mounting ears — previous owner or builder tightened until he bent the ear into contact with the shock bushing (and deformed the bushing).

When I re-assemble I’ll make a call as to whether I’m comfortable with the shock bushings and shocks.  Not very expensive to replace — about $28 a piece for KYB gas pressure shocks for this application.  I cut a few metal tabs to begin to shape the pieces that will attach to these shock ears.

The trick here — is precisely where do you drill the holes in the ‘legs’ of the U-shaped bracket so that everything lines up the way it should?  I put a level on the rocker panel and set zero — I want the back plate shown above to sit perpendicular to ‘level’ for the car.  So I carefully positioned things the way I wanted, then carefully removed the clamp while holding the tab on the shock ear — easier said than done.  Once I had the clamp out of the way, I could use the hole in the shock ear to mark the tab for drilling.  Seemed to work well – pics below.

The more I look, the more disenchanted I am with the fit of the rear shocks.  Clearly too narrow for the OEM ears — not the right shock for the car.  So a pause in progress while I wait for a new set of KYB rear shocks to show up from Rock Auto.  Once those are fitted, I’ll move forward with fabrication.  Meanwhile, pulled the existing set off.  Super HD Competition Engineering adjustable drag racing shocks.  Stout – extremely.  Back of the car is “hella stiff” as the kids would say.  Be nice to return it to something more appropriate for street/handling.  And I may be able to sell these for a couple of bucks.
 
The replacement KYB shocks arrived today — you get an idea of what the bottom bushing of the shock SHOULD look like.  Before and after below….
 
Got the piece that bolts to the shock ears welded up – happy with fit and strength.
 
And here’s how the next piece will go – welded up on the end, and couple of small gussets on top and bottom to add strength.
 
An aside — man, what a difference getting the drag racing shocks off the back and replaced with the KYB’s!!!  So much more compliant.  Firm, but at least the suspension gives now.  The gas pressure raised the back a bit — I’ll live with it for a while before I decide if I need to increase my 3/4″ lowering block to 1″ or 1 1/4″.  Lesson — get the shocks figured out BEFORE deciding on how to achieve ride height.
 

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