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Old 12-01-2020, 11:56 AM   #1
hotrodj54
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what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

hi guys, new guy here but not new to old cars/trucks. im building a 58 swb chevy and have some questions for you guys. what rear end set up are you using? im having a tuff time figuring out what to do. ive done a bunch of searching but cant find the best answer for what rear to use. also im on the fence about using leaf springs or switching to a 4 link with coil overs. im kinda looking for the general census of what everyone is doing. the front suspension is going to be a bolt in heidts ifs. its not in the truck yet but is sitting in the basement waiting for warmer weather. the plan is to use steel wheels with white walls, and be lowered. any help would be great, thanks john
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Old 12-01-2020, 01:58 PM   #2
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

58 truk is on oem springs with an 86 trans am rearend under it with a 3.27 gear
i used a home made flip kit to get the springs under the axle and removed the short overloads springs.
i used a minimal c-notch, but recommend a couple inches more
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Old 12-01-2020, 04:28 PM   #3
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

What's your budget? That would be the first thing I would think about. With that out of the way, my truck has a four link with coilovers. I didn't install it. The previous owner did. I like it. It's simple, not that expensive and it rides nicely. If you decide to go the four link route, make sure you get a kit that has provisions for a sway bar, if it doesn't already include one.
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:08 PM   #4
hotrodj54
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

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What's your budget? That would be the first thing I would think about. With that out of the way, my truck has a four link with coilovers. I didn't install it. The previous owner did. I like it. It's simple, not that expensive and it rides nicely. If you decide to go the four link route, make sure you get a kit that has provisions for a sway bar, if it doesn't already include one.
well, i looked at the 4 link with coilover set up from heidts, the base kit is like 900 bucks, but that does not include the coilovers them selves or the panhard bar or a sway bar. i figure its probaby 1500 when its all said and done. tci has the leafspring kit for 700. i think thats the way im leaning twards but not entirely sure. thats why im asking, trying to get a feel for what everyone uses and their opinions. thanks john
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:46 PM   #5
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

questions or at least things to think about
what do you want it to look like when done, what custom stuff do you want to include. I suggest to come up with a plan and then stick to it
budget
how much can you do yourself, what are the state or local laws around steering, suspension and frame work being done by a non certified person. what liability does that leave on yourself should you be the guy welding in a new steering set up etc. hiring a welder after you have it all tacked in place like you want could be a good idea and cost effective. get a bill though, for your records.
do you have space to store the body etc while working on the frame and do you have the tools required to do the work. how are your fab skills etc
coil overs or air bags
how low do you wanna go
if quite low then the frame will need a good sized c notch out back that will require the bed floor to be raised.
for a diff you could look at an explorer rear axle which will likely come with a 3.73 ratio, disc brakes, a decent park brake set up and also AN OFFSET CENTER SECTIO. not a deal breaker but something to think about how to set up exhaust and suspension stuff. also the rear axle would have a different wheel bolt pattern but that is easily fixed as well. the ford 8.8 is about equivalent to the chevy 12 bolt or just about as strong as the ford 9". easier to come by. there is also one with a centered center found in mustangs. go to the ranger station online and see all the specs etc. it is a little bit wider the the stock rear axle but since it is offset at the center section some guys will cut the long side down to match the short side and then simply install a second short side axle after the cut down. that narrows the track width and also allows a deeper dish wheel. you may have to tub the box though. if getting a used diff from something be sure to grab everything, park brake cables, stabilizer bar driveshaft etc. the 8.8 also has the option to use a regular u joint style yoke. some guys also use an S10 rear axle or, like ogre, a camaro rear. figuring out your drive line power and gear ratio and tire size before you go too far will help you save time and money by getting what you really need the first time. there are calculators online to figure out engine rpm at cruising speed etc.
brake master cylinder on firewall or under floor (clean firewall or doesn't matter)
show truck or daily driver (lots of spendy chrome etc or painted stuff is fine)
tire sizes and widths. because you may need to tub the box and or move the front axle center line forward so the tires look right in the slanted front wheel openings and also so your front tires don't rub when turning as you will have a lower than normal truck.
there isn't anything wrong with keeping the stock rear suspension but for a 4 link there are kits available that bolt on or you can check a place like paul horton's welders series online for some do it yourself kits or parts. these guys have all kinds of kits and brackets etc for building hot rods
think about getting yourself an assembly manual or download the online one because this will give you some real dimensions rather than some home tape measure dimensions. once you see a pic of the frame you will see it is pretty much a flat straight run with a taper fpr the front end and a hump over the rear axle. easy enough to replicate with rectangular tubing should you be thinking of stripping the old frame, sandblasting, ensuring it is square and not sagged, boxing the original frame, cutting out old and building new cross members, fabbing a 4 link, filling all the frame holes that are irrelevant and then cutting in a big C notch in the back and welding in a whole new IFS up front. you could save yourself some time and money by simply making yourself a new frame. nice clean, straight, new tubing to work with. you could get some cash for the old frame once you are done. you would likely want to source some I beam or something similar from a scrapper to build a frame table but then you can also sell that when done and recover some expense. if i were to do it again, with a stock frame and not a swap, that is what I would do next go around. check out a supplier like TCI, Art Morrison, the roadster shop, canadian hotrods etc and see how they do theirs and what they changed to make it better.
https://www.trifive.com/d1/55-59Assy.pdf

anyway. hope that helps. don't be afraid to ask questions. it would be good for us to see what you have to start with as well as your level of fabrication skills. hopefully these links work and give you some ideas.

https://www.therangerstation.com/tec...8_8-axle.shtml

https://thefabricatorseries.com/buil...prelude-and-qa

https://tiresize.com/comparison/

https://welderseries.com/

https://totalcostinvolved.com/produc...-rear-chassis/

https://roadstershop.com/product/ful...truck-chassis/

https://www.artmorrison.com/55-59chevtruck.php

https://www.canadianhotrodsinc.com/f...BoCjLMQAvD_BwE

https://www.randysworldwide.com/calculators/rpm/

http://www.csgnetwork.com/multirpmcalc.html

here are a few pics of my 57 long box frame with home made C notch, ford explorer 8.8, ford ranger stabilizer bar with home made mounts etc, home made 4 link and pan hard bar using welder series parts, S10 4x4 rear shocks for mock up with home made frame mounts. air springs with home made mounts, home made frame boxing plates. lots of work. that's why I would start from scratch next time. my frame was tweaked, like a lot are, because these used to be work trucks plus they are 70 years old. that takes time to tweak it back straight again as well. under some of the frame brackets there was some deep rust that required some repairs. I used a TCI MII front end with air springs and 2" drop spindles set 1 1/2" ahead of the stock axle center line with 28" tall tires. that makes it quite low, I think about 8" at the front of the door rocker panel with a 2 deg rake angle on the frame and suspension locked so the lower control arms are level to the ground.
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Old 12-01-2020, 05:57 PM   #6
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

you could also replace the stock leafs with some newer style ones that have rubber bushings for a smoother quieter ride. maybe the ones that come attached to the donor axle even. replace the frame mounting brackets with some new ones, say from a ranger or something. dorman sells lots of that stuff for a decent price. your donor axle can be located on the springs using trailer axle spring pads like lots of others use. above or below the springs. shackles can all be replaced using newer style parts from a stock vehicle that would be availabe from a local parts store anywhere you happen to be if doing a road trip some time. another thing to think about actually. availability of replacement parts in the future if on the side of the road sunday afternoon in small town noplace. take lots of pics as you dismantle, keep like parts together, boxed and labelled, keep a log of the new parts you use so you know the part numbers and what they fit.
anyway, a plan is what you need to start and then stick to it so you don't end up with a waaay bigger bill than you thought. upgrading "cause you have it apart anyway" is a slippery slope. it costs, plus it extends the build time. that has caused many builds to sit dormant or be sold unfinished. sometimes it is better to think small and get it on the road, then upgrade later as a weekend job or something done over the winter. it never fails, you get in deep and then a home project interrupts and once they get on the back burner a build can be hard to get restarted.
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:56 PM   #7
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

A few things that may affect things are:

Budget as previously mentioned. We have all build budget levels in this group and most of us try to not automatically assume that someone has a large one and throw out pie in the sky high dollar ideas unless those are requested or the OP makes it known that they have a high budget level.

Axle choice:
Should match the front end's lug bolt pattern without spendy mods if Possible.
Being the correct width for the wheel and tire choice without narrowing is a plus.
having the desired gear ratio without changing gears is a big plus along with a posi or locker if you want it.
All that meaning that you are better off to hunt down and maybe pay a few bucks for a rear that fits those criterias rather than get a bargain rear end and then have to spend money to change things around. I've got an email out to a machine shop now to see about the cost of narrowing a nine inch Ford Rear to fit under my 48. That work will probably cost more than the right width and gear ratio Posi rear out of a late 70's or even into the 80's Camaro or Firebird.

Rear suspension, again go with what you really want that fits the budget.
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Old 12-03-2020, 11:00 AM   #8
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

my fab skills are average i guess, i have enough tools and equipment and what i dont have i have access to. i run a body shop, so most of what i need is there if i dont have it at home. the front suspension is a heidts bolt in mustang ll. the bolt patern will be small gm. id like the rear to match. id like it as low as possible but still be driveable. i dont want to run air bags, been there done that, and im looking to run skinny rims and white walls. no big rims for me. i have not found a engine/trans combo yet but im planning on running a automatic so id like the gear set to be 323-336 area. really just want a nice driver out of this truck. i found a 65 chevelle rear and i think its about the right width, the perches have to be changed, i dont think there is anyway around that. from what ive read there is no bolt in rear that fits these trucks, and im fine with that. that why im askin, id like a general opinion of what every one is doing. i am trying to keep it budget frendly but i know that some stuff can not ne helped. ill post up pics, but she is no beauty queen let me tell ya haha......thanks john
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Old 12-03-2020, 11:25 AM   #9
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

My 56 Panel already had a 8.2" open 10-bolt (72 Monte Carlo-triag 4-link) with oem coil springs/shocks in it when I bought it. Redid the brackets and coil springs so found a 8.5" Olds 3.73 posi 10-bolt (no c-clips), redid the brackets, johnny joints on all control arm ends, oem sway bar, coil overs and S10 disc brakes. Also c-notch frame for additional clearance. Running wheel adapters to fit 2010 Camaro wheels/rims. Its setup to be a cruiser.
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Old 12-03-2020, 11:30 AM   #10
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

here are a few pics, like i said before not a beauty queen but she is mine
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Old 12-03-2020, 11:37 AM   #11
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

Ahhhhhh, doesnt look so bad from a distance. How is the rust factor? Looks solid enough.
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Old 12-03-2020, 11:44 AM   #12
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBPanel View Post
My 56 Panel already had a 8.2" open 10-bolt (72 Monte Carlo-triag 4-link) with oem coil springs/shocks in it when I bought it. Didn't like the brackets and coil springs so found a 8.5" Olds 3.73 posi 10-bolt (no c-clips), redid the brackets, johnny joints on all control arm ends, oem sway bar, coil overs and S10 disc brakes. Also c-notch frame for additional clearance. Running wheel adapters to fit 2010 Camaro wheels/rims. Its setup to be a cruiser.
That looks great BBPanel. Any more pics of the truck?
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Old 12-03-2020, 11:52 AM   #13
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

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.....Any more pics of the truck?
Its still very much a work in progress. Here's a couple:
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:16 PM   #14
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

I went with NoLimit's Fat Bar system with air bags . They also offer it with coil overs . Also a Currie 9" with 5 on 4.5" they also offer 5 on 4.75" .

Here's my set up .
Note : the panhard bar is level at ride height .

Also Note : My set up is for 9" ground clearance under the cab crossmember , Their set up is lower .
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:29 PM   #15
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

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Ahhhhhh, doesnt look so bad from a distance. How is the rust factor? Looks solid enough.
its actually pretty solid, needs door bottoms, and a small section of the drivers side floor. fenders need a small patch by the healights but thats about it. the biggest problem is i need to put a roof on it. someone put a sunroof in it then decided to patch it. they warped the roof really bad when they welded it back together
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:36 PM   #16
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

if the floor is rusty really check the forward cab mounts and hinge pillars. prolly don't have to tell you if youre a body guy though.
you might need a hood latch too, or at least a color matched ratchet strap. lol.
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:44 PM   #17
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

what auto trans do you plan to use? an o/d unit? if so maybe check the gear ratios in all ranges because some are a bit taller than others. it will affect your take off, rpm drop between gears and also highway cruising rpm and mileage.
I went with 3.73 gears, 28" tall tire and o/d trans with.7 final gear ratio. at 65 mph my rpm should be about 2000 rpm give or take.

http://www.csgnetwork.com/multirpmcalc.html

https://www.tciauto.com/gear-ratios
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:46 PM   #18
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

I like the set up that G&R has for a 4 link. nice long panhard so it doesn't affect the side to side locating as the suspension travels from bump stop to jounce plus it is level at ride height so any side to side differences will be more equal through the suspension travel. less apt to cause tire rub concerns.
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Old 12-03-2020, 12:47 PM   #19
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

it also has nice long 4 link bars so less fore to aft travel of the axle center line as suspension travels up and down.
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Old 12-03-2020, 03:13 PM   #20
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Ogre View Post
58 truk is on oem springs with an 86 trans am rearend under it with a 3.27 gear
i used a home made flip kit to get the springs under the axle and removed the short overloads springs.
i used a minimal c-notch, but recommend a couple inches more
fwiw... i have less than $100 in mine, not including the rearend, paint, elbow grease, etc...
new shackles and bushings and U-bolts, spring pads sourced locally, no welding
it's worked fine for the last 10 years and 36,000 miles
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Old 12-03-2020, 08:56 PM   #21
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

Rotated.
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Old 12-04-2020, 09:04 AM   #22
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsraven View Post
what auto trans do you plan to use? an o/d unit? if so maybe check the gear ratios in all ranges because some are a bit taller than others. it will affect your take off, rpm drop between gears and also highway cruising rpm and mileage.
I went with 3.73 gears, 28" tall tire and o/d trans with.7 final gear ratio. at 65 mph my rpm should be about 2000 rpm give or take.

http://www.csgnetwork.com/multirpmcalc.html

https://www.tciauto.com/gear-ratios
it all depends on what i find, im looking for a donor car but they have seemed to dry up around here. if by the spring i cant find a donor i may have to go a diffrent route.
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Old 12-04-2020, 09:37 PM   #23
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

Mopar 8.75" Sure Grip with 3:55 gears and the TCI axle flip kit. The shocks have since been upgraded to KYB monotubes. It gets the static ride height about as low as you can go without a C-notch. Ride quality is great for a weekend cruiser.
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Old 12-11-2020, 02:32 PM   #24
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

quick update, i bought a 80 firebird a couple days ago with a crate 350 chevy and a th350. so the plan is now to use the engine, trans and rear from the firebird. ive decided to go with the tci leaf spring kit for it. thanks for all the help and input guys. when spring time comes i plan on doing a build thread. but till then it sits and i collect parts...thanks again guys.....john
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Old 12-11-2020, 11:09 PM   #25
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Re: what rear axle/suspension set up 55-59

Is the Firebird in real bad shape? Those are old now and if not too bad they are worth fixing up and they are getting harder to find. Years ago I parted some that I would not today. You could take what you want carefully and someone will still want the rest for parts or to fix up.
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