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Old 12-05-2012, 11:41 AM   #1
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Question 1981 Suspension Questions

Guys my 81 is running stock suspension and it is rough! I want to rebuild for a bit of performance and to lower the car a bit as well as tighten up my steering but I need to watch my $$ and there are so many choices out there. Are one of the kits from Eklers or MAM any good? Or should I piece it together. I am not looking to take it on the track just better ride and handling on the street is all. I would love to put in rack and pinion but that is too much so replacing parts is the move I am looking for. What have you guys put in and what works well??

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Old 12-05-2012, 12:18 PM   #2
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i just went through my whole steering and suspension systems and ended up replaceing just about every link, ball joint,bushing,idler arm and rebuilt both sides of the power steering control valve.while the steering was off i also adjusted the steering box lash and worm bearing to spec.lastly i did a homemade 4 wheel alignment with fish line and a level.do these things and you will be pleasently supprised at how well your car will handle.best of luck.btw old crap tires will not allow the above work to be appreciated.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:49 PM   #3
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Steering and suspension are 2 different areas so I will give my opinion on steering first.
For street driving I would suggest making sure all components are in good condition. Chances are you will find that at least 1 part will need service. If all the basic parts such as ball joints tie rod ends,idler arm etc. are in good working order the next place to look would be the steering box. Adjusting the lash is a good place to start but I would be willing to bet that if there is excessive play in the box it will probably need to be rebuilt. Also as I understand it if you do not adjust the lash in the box properly you may do damage to the internals that will increase the cost of the rebuild. I had my box rebuilt/bluprinted by Gary on this site.
As for the suspension well....That is really depending on how soft or stiff you want the car to ride. I personally use my '69 for street crusin' and I am a bit older so I prefer a softer ride although the rear composite spring I have at this time is a bit too harsh. One suggestion I will make is that you talk to a 'Vette suspension specialist and put a package of suspension parts together that will compliment each other. In my opinion the best suspensions,weather they be for comfort or spirited driving,are parts that work in harmony with each other. An example of this is a stiff spring with what I would call comfort shocks. I had delco shocks with the spring I have now and it just didn't feel right. I switched to Bilstein Sport shocks and there was a noticeable improvement. When I go to a softer spring in the future I will make sure to install compatible shocks at that time.
I hope the little bit of insight I offered helps and good luck...
Sly
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:10 PM   #4
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I went with VBP springs and parts. http://www.vbandp.com/ Many options to customize your ride to how you want it. Some options are even adjustable.

Question is...what's your budget? If you're buying a lot of stuff, most of the places will hook you up with a discounted package price.

A matched package will most likely give you the best results.
Match your springs and shocks and sway bars. As mentioned, if your shocks don't match your springs, your ride will be terrible. Any of the suppliers should be able to set you up with a nice matched setup for the style of driving you want. Most of the aftermarket front coil springs can be bought to lower the ride height while maintaining a nice ride. You can also look into adjustable coil-overs or adjsutable mono springs for the front. The rear ride height is just a matter of adjusting the leaf spring bolts.

As for steering, unless you want to throw a lot of money at it, the stock system will work great once it is refreshed and tightened up. New ball joints, tie rod ends, steering box adjustment/rebuild, replace the hydralic assist box.

Without a great 4 wheel alignment, none of this will matter though. Find a local alignment shop that has experience with C2-C3 Corvettes. If they have no experience, keep looking.

VBP also provided me a series of alignment specs for the car depending on how you're going to drive it.
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I'm taking care of my procrastination issues, just you wait and see.
Old 12-07-2012, 11:48 AM   #5
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Thumbs up!

Thanks guys! My budget is tight so I am going to start with what needs to be done. I have some play in my steering and need to see what that is. I know my rag joint is in good shape so I am going to check the most likely replace the hardware tie rods and bushings. I will need to take the coil springs out in order to replace the A arm bushings so replacing them at that time make since. I will call VBP and see what they say. I will keep you posted. Anyone else with ANY thoughts please chime in!
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Old 12-07-2012, 04:52 PM   #6
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Make sure to check the idler arm.
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Old 12-07-2012, 05:22 PM   #7
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i agree on the idler arm plus the new moog arm seems much more heavy duty and protected from the elements.
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Old 12-07-2012, 06:51 PM   #8
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Since you are working on the front end and having steering issues check the rag close, check the frame for actual rips in it by the box mounting holes too. If you can borrow a 0-30/lb dial torque wrench like I show in my steering thread you can pull the box and check it at home. If you just want to do an on the car adjustment then center the box, loosen the lash nut and turn the screw CW until you feel it snug up. This is subjective to the person doing it and I don't really like this method but it will get you better lash, not bearing preload or sideplay adjustment, just lash adjustment.
On center the output of the box should move the same time as the input without any "lost" motion.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:38 AM   #9
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Cool

Thanks guys and Gary I am glad you chimed in. So once again I have over stated what is needed. I got under the car yesterday with full attention to look at the steering only and once I was there everything was tight as a baby’s ass! The idler arm is tight and the tie rod ends are tight I did not check the ball joints but I was very surprised. I did check the steering box bolts as you suggested Gary and they and the rag joint are also tight and the rag joint is straight. So Gary I put the wheels straight and loosened the jam nut and turned the tension screw just about a full quarter turn as it was very loose and the last centimeter it was snug. And it made a nice difference. I am still going to replace my bushings as they are going but for now I have to say DONT FIX IT IF IT AINT BROKE!!
Let me ask the ride is a bit rough I was going to replace the motor mounts and maybe body bushings with poly what do you guys think?
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:32 PM   #10
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Replacing the motor mounts and body mount bushings with poly will do nothing to smooth out the ride unless they are completely shot and you have metal to metal contact,which I doubt.
If you want a softer ride you will have to look into replacing the springs with some with a lower spring rate. I believe there is a wide variety of springs to pick from in your year.Along with shocks that will compliment the springs you choose of course.
Good Luck!
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:32 AM   #11
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Cool

Ya you are right on the body mounts. I need to check them close but I don't think they are gone. I guess I am down to springs and shocks and to make sure they match up for the correct ride. I will see what VBP has to say and will let you guys know.
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