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  • Front suspension height problem

    Hello all, seasons greetings! I've finally found the time to dig into a problem on my '65 Thunderbird, low mile survivor.

    The front sits way high, 29-3/8" to the top of the front wheel openings when it should be 27-21/32". The previous owner replaced the front coils from a well known Thunderbird specialty supplier. The shocks look like standard issue replacement duty shocks, the tires are standard size 215/75/15. So... I'm sitting an inch and a half too high for some reason.

    The rear springs were replaced last year with leaf springs also from the same supplier. I called them last year and they can't see how the front coils could have been made wrong or mixed with another coil as they don't make anything similar to the Thunderbird coil.

    Lastly, the car is a 390 with A/C so it isn't a case of coils for an A/C car installed on a non-A/C car.

    I'm out of ideas now - thoughts on where to look next? This seems like it shouldn't be so hard to figure out but has me a bit stumped!

  • #2
    Well, you could take the insulators from the top of your front springs out and replace them with a thin rubber pad. That would lower your height without affecting the ride. The cost would only be for labor. - Dave
    My latest project:
    CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

    "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
    --Lee Iacocca

    From: Royal Oak, Michigan

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    • #3
      Dave sent you a pm the other day.

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      • #4
        I should have answered you three days ago, Phil. Sorry. I sent you a PM just now. - Dave
        My latest project:
        CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

        "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
        --Lee Iacocca

        From: Royal Oak, Michigan

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the post, I also am concerned about a higher front end. I just measured the front of my '66: to the top of the front wheel well is 27- 3/4", just slightly above your stated spec. Visually, the car stands slightly higher in the front than the back, confirmed by holding a spirit level against the rocker panel. I attribute that to 1) the engine is lighter due to aluminum heads and intake and 2) the rear leaf springs have lost some springiness over the years.

          That probably doesn't help with your problem, though.
          Richard, '66 Thunderbird Hardtop, 390FE, Edelbrock Al heads, Comp cam, Street Demon 650 carb. Visit my restoration blog at hwythunder.com.

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          • #6
            Well, you could do that evil deed that I'm always willing to do, if the springs on the car will allow it (The flairbirds allow it in spades). Pull the springs, cut a qtr coil, reinstall and see what you get. That's how I lowered two of our flairbirds and my 58. Suffered no ill effects on any of them. Some will complain the idea is terrible so it's up to you. I lowered our 65s about 2.5" up front and 2" in the rear to get them to sit where I wanted them.

            Visually, the flairbird will always look like the front is higher because the rear deck drops down a bit. I set mine based on how I wanted it to sit in relation to the belly pan to the ground and the wheels inside the wheel wells.

            Cheers
            RustyNCA

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sshoureas View Post
              Hello all, seasons greetings! I've finally found the time to dig into a problem on my '65 Thunderbird, low mile survivor.

              The front sits way high, 29-3/8" to the top of the front wheel openings when it should be 27-21/32". The previous owner replaced the front coils from a well known Thunderbird specialty supplier. The shocks look like standard issue replacement duty shocks, the tires are standard size 215/75/15. So... I'm sitting an inch and a half too high for some reason.

              The rear springs were replaced last year with leaf springs also from the same supplier. I called them last year and they can't see how the front coils could have been made wrong or mixed with another coil as they don't make anything similar to the Thunderbird coil.

              Lastly, the car is a 390 with A/C so it isn't a case of coils for an A/C car installed on a non-A/C car.

              I'm out of ideas now - thoughts on where to look next? This seems like it shouldn't be so hard to figure out but has me a bit stumped!
              I had that issue years ago the first time I replaced my front springs. When I ordered them, the guy asked me if I wanted the "heavy duty" springs, and I unfortunately said yes. I installed them and even with the motor and hood installed there was no play whatsoever in the suspension. The front of the car was basically "topped out". Since this is a part time hobby, I have a full time job and a house and lawn to take care of, the time frame between ordering the springs and finding out that there was a problem was well beyond the time frame to return them. So I cut off one coil and re-installed: still too high. I ended up cutting three coils, and that was too low (plus the springs were too stiff).

              The set that I have now, I was given the option of an AC car and a non-AC car. I have AC but's its a modern conversion, not at all the two cylinder iron "bread box" from the factory, so I chose the non-AC option. Unfortunately, the guy I hired to install them didn't have the right tool, and got scared when he tried to compress the springs with an inferior tool and they still would not go in, so I told him to cut off one coil to make it work (which it did). So now my car sits a bit low in the front. It actually looks pretty good, but the ride isn't as smooth as I would like, so I have a third set on my shelf to install myself when time permits I also have an OTC heavy-duty compression tool to do it safely.

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              • #8
                [QUOTE=RustyNCa;n233232]Pull the springs, cut a qtr coil.../QUOTE]

                I'm not sure that this can be done. As I recall you have to cut in increments of a full coil because of the shape of the top and bottom seats. Maybe I'm wrong...

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=Dark Soul;n234215]
                  Originally posted by RustyNCa View Post
                  Pull the springs, cut a qtr coil.../QUOTE]

                  I'm not sure that this can be done. As I recall you have to cut in increments of a full coil because of the shape of the top and bottom seats. Maybe I'm wrong...
                  Well, it's been at least 10 years now, but that's how I set the height on my 65 where I wanted it. But yes, you have to look at the coil and determine first if it's feasible with the design. Second, which end to cut so it sits properly in the pocket.

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