Steering/suspension Swaps?

Discussion in 'Capri Chit Chat' started by jaxon, 28 May 2014.

  1. jaxon

    jaxon Registered Capri Power Member

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    Given my current woes with judder, something that pretty much any Capri owner can relate to, I've been thinking more and more about a permanent solution. Even if it's cured by replacing all the standard parts, due to the design it's only a (short) amount of time before it happens again.

    This topic has come up many times before and the general consensus is that the Capri front suspension setup is badly under engineered for the purpose. So has anyone done anything more drastic to try and improve it in the past? There's plenty of engine swap threads but I've never come across a full suspension swap thread, I'm thinking something along the lines of swapping out the TCAs for a wishbone shaped arm with droplinks, even a full swap out for a Mustang or similar front end?
     
  2. Clockwork Orange

    Clockwork Orange Electrical ??? what like .. bzztt Feck !!! Staff Member Moderator

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    the Capri front end is basic, but hardly 'under engineered' !! - the theory behind it and the way it all fits is simple and effective.. but yes it can be improved ..
    - the worst part of it for me is the bottom ball joints not being separate from the TCAs, and the solid rubber top mounts... when you see it working, and well, its the simplicity that makes it worthwhile
    If you have actually seen the way mustang suspension looks and goes together, I am surprised you want to employ it .. most Mustang Forums are full of discussions how to replace the suspension the steering, the fittings (everything) .. one forum had a great statement - "with all the mods and alterations the car has now it is more concours than when it left the factory" !! Now theres understanding !!!

    you would be better keeping the one thread on the subject, concentrating al the individual probs and answers in one place
     
  3. jaxon

    jaxon Registered Capri Power Member

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    This was more a general thread for ideas and stories of people's experiences with swapping bits out, a bit off topic for my original thread in technical help. Plus more people will see a thread posted here!

    The theory behind it may be sound but you have to admit we (and the Escort and Sierra boys) have a disproportionate amount of "wheel wobble" complaints that prove difficult to solve compared to other cars. To my mind it seems that the single point of fixing for the TCA to the chassis is the big weakness. It relies on the ARB to keep things in place and also means the whole geometry and toe out changes as the springs compress. This then creates a lot of movement and stress on the bushings in non-linear directions causing rapid wear.

    I was referring more to the fox body Mustang and really was just chucking it out there as an example of a setup that's still fairly simple but incorporates the A arm/droplink to eliminate the problems I listed above. there must be another more modern suspension setup out there that works better and could be fairly easily transferred to the Capri with a bit of fabrication.
     
  4. brettp

    brettp Registered Capri Power Member

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    Put poly race bushes in ditch the power rack and put a corsa pas system in .mine works great no woble even with a chevy v8 in the front
     
  5. Vernon240

    Vernon240 Registered Capri Power Member

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    I think contemplating a complete suspension re engineering to solve a problem with wheel wobble is a bit of an overeaction. I think I would look at the standard set up, as granted, it's not the best, I don't see it as inherently flawed. I've had three capris, admittedly far fewer than many, but 2.0 ghia, driven as daily driver for 5 years, bone standard, no wobble, Mk 2 V8, been on the road for 5 years, polybushed, no wobble, Mk 1 3.1, in the process of being restored, but driven over a period of 5 years, all standard bushes, no wobble.

    The US guys do have available to them complete chasis though, giving their old cars modern handling, so something like that would be very cool, but these are seriously engineered chassis solutions. I guess it could be done (liker Elliot has done) but not something to be taken lightly. Taking something off another monocoque may be quite tricky, as yu have multip,e parts that have to be correctly lolcated to tight tolerances...I'd look at something that was attached to a seperate sub frame and then look at moving that sub frame over. You could potentially position in the car, narrow to suit the capri and assuming the sub frame is all square, all the suspension components should bolt straight on.

    Interesting thought though and I'm sure it could be done, but I'm assuming not a huge number of conversions out there. There is also the spectre of having to satisfy your insurers and the MOT man that everything was safe, which could be a bit of a nightmare in my view, but let us now if you do seriously look at this! :thumbup1:
     
  6. Elliot

    Elliot Big Fabrication Guru Capri Power Member

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    Interesting thread and then noticed my name in the middle of it. I have to say that a capri with standard suspension with new shocks and bushes should give at least a few good years of driving pleasure. I think that car science/engineering has come a long way and maybe the issue is more that we have become used to a silenced but highly engineered newer vehicle of a newer generation and when we now get in our older more lovable capris... we want it to feel the same but it doesnt.
    The cure..... does it need one ? if you want an older car to feel like something newer then you need to look at a conversion from a newer maybe sportier car. Thats essentially why mine now has an S15 skyline front end. I stumbled apon this conversion more by accident than by anything so I may have a biased point of view so please feel free to ignore me or take it all with a grain of salt. The S15 swapover has been very easy in my opinion. I wouldnt say that its been a direct swap with no headaches, but not been any real hassle either. If you like the idea and can weld to a good structural standard or pay someone else who can, I dont think its overly involved and well worth some research.

    Over and out

    Elliot
     
  7. BigJ

    BigJ Registered Capri Power Member

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    I don't remember wheel wobble when I was a boy racer....

    Just drive like you used to before you grew up and enjoy.
     
  8. trevster mk 2

    trevster mk 2 Registered Capri Power Member

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    agreed big J i've never noticed any wheel wobble and if i did i would just drive faster to eliminate it[​IMG]
     
  9. jaxon

    jaxon Registered Capri Power Member

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    Hmmm ok, seems it's all of a sudden a very rare problem!

    So what is it that actually makes the infamous wheel wobble at 40-50mph? I don't mean "worn bushes", I mean what is actually going on? Is the whole strut moving? Why does it move? And why at only those speeds?
    I'm sure I remember reading something somewhere about the forces acting on the front wheels evening out causing things to go loose?


    I've been looking at other front suspension setups on rear drive cars and many are very similar to the Capri's. The E30 in particular but even modern stuff like the 2005> Mustang and they all have one crucial difference - the TCA is fixed to the chassis in 2 places instead of one. I know I mentioned this above but it seems like this is the key difference and also maybe an easy modification to make..
     
  10. andyonthejob

    andyonthejob Registered Capri Power Member

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    I'm inclined to agree that you'll get more strut stability if you have a lower wishbone rather than a TCA. You'll need to attach the anti-roll bar via drop links if you go down this route or it'll be tryin to force the wishbone backwards as the struts compress.
    I've been plagued with wheel wobble over the years and annoyingly after curing it with new TCA's its come back very quickly and turned out to be premature ball joint wear from cheap aftermarket parts.
    I'd personally like some of those adjustable TCA's but I could no way pay the money they want unless that ball joint was a replaceable bolt on part which it isn't.
     
  11. jaxon

    jaxon Registered Capri Power Member

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    I'd say that's a problem even in the standard Capri TCAs. The fixing to the crossmember is a linear joint yet it has to move on two axis, the bushing is there to help this but it's not an ideal design. It's the same situation with the fixing from the TCA to ARB.
     
  12. Elliot

    Elliot Big Fabrication Guru Capri Power Member

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  13. Conor

    Conor Registered Capri Power Member

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    The only time I had wheel wobble on mine was when the bushes for the ARB were shot in the lower arms. Polybushed and problem gone.

    I have noticed over the years that a lot of the more budget brands of tyres tend to suffer from the tyres going oval.
     
  14. jaxon

    jaxon Registered Capri Power Member

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    Cheers for the input there Elliot :thumbup1:

    I think I'm going to go down the polybushed route first as it's a fairly cheap and easy job, then take it from there. The JBW alloys and BF Goodrich tyres are only a few months old and were properly balanced before they were fitted so I'm gonna assume they're not the problem.

    Still interested to hear anyone else's stories on this topic or ideas on mods to improve things though...
     
  15. BigJ

    BigJ Registered Capri Power Member

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    Kylie's developed a slight vibration but only under braking so will need to check that as everything is new... <_<

    Always possible that even new parts can fail :rolleyes:
     
  16. Doc

    Doc Registered Capri Power Member

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    I saw a thread somewhere showing the guy fitting an e36 rack with suspension and legs and the beemer brakes and it almost went straight on and did with minimal fettling. :thumbup1:/>
     
  17. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    I would say that the largest error of the Capri (and Escort of course) front suspension is the large scrub radius. The MkIII-V Cortina has the same issue (despite a completely different design).

    The scrub radius also means the suspension is very sensitive to wear, and I say that is where the wheel wobble comes from. As soon as anything (tca bushes or balljoints, rack, rack bushings, arb bushings) is worn the large forces exerted by the wheel (due to the large scrub radius) is likely to induce wobble.

    Since we also tend to lower our Capris, the decrease already abysmal castor angle that reduces the stability even more.

    Now, all these things can be handled by modifying the standard suspension parts. But transplanting another front suspension can solve a lot of issues but great care needs to be taken to get it right.

    I have seen many suspension transplants but only a handful have proven to actually solve more problems than they cause...

    Gustaf
     
  18. BigJ

    BigJ Registered Capri Power Member

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    Interesting points Gustaf :thumbup1:

    So then, forgetting expensive race or track set ups and for the benefit of those of us like me who are inexperienced with this level of engineering, what would be the best mods to do to the front suspension using 'off the shelf parts' for an average chap using his car daily?

    Decent springs, dampers and poly bushing is already widely used but to improve on the design flaws of the suspension that you describe, is there anything else that can be done without the need for engineering facilities?

    I've heard of moving the strut forward slightly by machining the ARB but can the top of the strut be moved back to give the same effect using adjustable strut tops? What about the adjustable TCAs, what do they do?

    Given the potential cost of these mods, would the difference be that great over a well maintained standard set up to justify the cost?
     
  19. classiccapri

    classiccapri Registered Capri Power Member

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    Moving the strut forward will change your castor angle. Adjustable tca's adjust the camber of the wheel.
    I used eccentric top mounts to mive my strut top and i had rose jointed adjustable control arms to correct my excessive camber after i lowered my car quite alot. That said, once i had uprated brakes, and everything polybushed set up correctly i never suffered any wheel wobble what so ever.
     
  20. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    I would say the easiest thing to do is to get more castor. You can machine the ends of the ARB, you can slot the ARB clamps a bit and you can use adjustable strut tops (but they tend to be spherical bearing and that usually raises the suspension and adds NVH).

    The biggest fault of the Capri suspension is the large scrub radius and that is also the hardest thing to change. What we can do is use wheels with as high ET as possible (but that will not look as nice) and use higher diameter wheels...

    That said, a Capri where all suspension and steering parts are in good condition, with decent caster, should be OK to drive even with the large scrub radius.

    Gustaf
     
  21. BigJ

    BigJ Registered Capri Power Member

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    Ok, I think we discussed the ARB mod on here earlier this year and a figure of 15mm was mentioned when machining off material. If that figure is correct then how was it calculated and how much more positive castor does it give. Did some guy in his garage experiment and come up with it through trial and error and say "that feels a bit better" or did an engineer identify that Ford miscalculated their original design and identified what the optimum castor setting should be and what would be needed to achieve it?

    How does a car feel when the castor is adjusted in this way? Is it noticeable on an everyday car? Are there any downsides to these mods? I hear it improves straight line stability but does it affect cornering?

    Apologies for all the questions but I do like a good techy discussion and I also like to understand the reasons why things are done. I also think it's important that we bear in mind that inexperienced members may read these threads and then start messing about with their suspension without really knowing what they are doing and why which could cause some safety issues if they get it wrong.

    Thanks for the input so far. :thumbup1:
     
  22. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    ISTR that the Capri is designed arount 0 to 0,5 degrees of caster. I would like to aim for at least 3-4 degrees but I have not made the math of how much the arb needs to be machined. But 15 mm is quite a lot and then you also move the wheel forwards...watch for wing clearance. But better to machine a bit more and use shims to get it right.

    More caster means the steering gets a bit heavier (no issue with power steering) but otherwise the handling effects are mostly positive. In most cases the caster will also give some more negative camber on the outside wheel and that aids cornering grip.

    I think Ford chose the low caster to reduce steering effort.

    Gustaf
     
  23. caprimk3

    caprimk3 Richard Capri Power Member

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    I'll agree with Gustaf, I think Ford made it so to reduce the steering effort.

    My mate had a 85' 2.8i with turbo, and the ARB mountings had new holes drilled 15mm forward on the ARB mountings, and it's rolling on 17" wheels.
    It handles like it's on rails, both in straight line and in turns.
    I know because I drove it @ 155mph :rolleyes: :thumbup1:
     
  24. jaxon

    jaxon Registered Capri Power Member

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    Sorry chaps, not been on here for a few days.

    Interesting points made by Gustaf and BigJ, I think I've got my head round it all now. Is this large scrub radius the reason that the steering follows bumps in the road so easily then? Basically giving the wheels the leverage to move the rack?

    So in terms of ease of doing vs decent results, would eccentric top mounts be the way to go do you think?

    By adjusting them into the top inner "corner" of the strut hole, they can be used to both increase the caster angle and also the scrub radius slightly (albeit at the expense of some negative camber) The slight raise in ride height they cause may even be offset by the lowering affect of increasing the caster?

    Feel free to correct any of this for me, I'm just chucking out ideas as I understand them :thumbup1:
     
  25. BigJ

    BigJ Registered Capri Power Member

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    Personally I'd prefer to bolt something on rather than modify something especially as the car is built. When we are talking about an increase in ride height just how much are we looking at if we use an eccentric top mount to move the strut top back say 10mm?

    Would you even notice it?
     
  26. 302Capri

    302Capri Registered Capri Power Member

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    This is an interesting discussion!

    I understand that the Capri has a front suspension design that is old and probably a factory compromise for both cost and steering effort reasons. What is interesting would be to compare the Capri's front alignment specifications with other rear wheel drive vehicles that are known for excellent handling. I know there are a lot more factors to consider, but I think this is at least worth a look.

    I found the following specs for Capri in a Haynes manual.

    Castor angle: + 1 deg

    Camber angle: + 30'

    Toe in: 0 to 7mm


    I thought maybe a BMW E30 and a Mazda MX5 would make fair comparisons.

    1987-91 E30:

    Camber (degrees) -.069 +/- .050

    Caster (degrees) 8.75 +/- .050

    Toe (degrees) .031 +/- 0.09


    Mazda MX5 Series 1

    Camber (degrees) - 0.4 +/- .75

    Caster (degrees) +4.43 +/- .75

    Toe (inches) + 1/8" +/- 1/8"



    So the big difference seems to be caster is lacking in the Capri as already discussed. So how much of the Capri's problems are caster related and how much are due to scrub radius?
    Has anyone measured the caster after the 15mm machining of the arb?
     
  27. classiccapri

    classiccapri Registered Capri Power Member

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    You can use compression/ tension struts which can be bolted on to give adjustable castor. With adjustable track control arms yoy have a good amount of adjustment available to you. If you were to usr eccentric top mounts along with this setup there is another variable you could change to tey and get the to settings your after.
     
  28. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    I would say that the effect negative camber has on the scrub radius is minimal, if at all measureable. The only real way to work with the scrub radius is to alter the angle between the strut and the stub axle. I did that on my car (new stub axles from GRP4 Fabrications, machined to increase KPI and thus reduce scrub radius). In theory, you could alter the wheel hub to move the wheel inwards but you will quickly have clearance issues with regards to the strut. And yes, I would say the srub radius is to blame for the tramlining. If you have the chance, try a Capri with a standard 5,5x13" Ghia wheel (ET28), with and without a 20 mm spacer to mimic a ET8 wheel...that's a 20 mm difference in scrub radius and usually it is very noticeable.

    If we look at a standard Capri top mount, it has the mounting face for the strut/spring platform approximately in line with the inner wing.

    [​IMG]

    The eccentric or adjustable top mounts, are usually machined from thicker metal and has the bearing sitting underneath the mount.

    [​IMG]

    The roller top mounts have the same design. This means the car is raised by anything from 10-15 to 25 mm (thickness of the top mount itself plus the bearing thickness). Generally you can not just flip the mount upside down since then the front end weight would be supported just by the circlip holding the bearing.

    Some top mounts are cleverly made to put the bearing on top...

    [​IMG]

    This still raises the ride height somewhat in most cases. What we really need is the kind of top mount Dibed makes for the Porsche 924:

    [​IMG]

    I would actually prefer adjustable TCAs (the rubber bushed version) to inrease camber, instead of using eccentric top mounts - if we think about a road going car. Or, find a top mount from another car (Volvo 740 perhaps) that is rubber bushed but eccentric by default - or can be mounted eccentric to increase caster.

    [​IMG]

    Together with the ARB modification it could work good.

    I thought about putting the adjustable top mounts on my car above the inner wing, as some has done. But having the weight supported by 3 M8 bolts threaded into aluminium does not feel safe. You could use 6 bolts per side instead, and use a spreader plate with steel nuts instead. It would probably work but may look a bit odd...

    THe BMW E30 has lots of caster and BMW usually also uses "trail" in the front suspension.

    [​IMG]

    The strut is not in line with the bottom ball joint, this also gives more stability (but adds some other confusing effects...).

    Regards

    Gustaf
     
  29. BigJ

    BigJ Registered Capri Power Member

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    Brilliant write up Gustaf :thumbup1:

    Is it possible to get an eccentric mount that has the base of the bearing flush with the underside of the plate that sits on top of the spring cup?

    That way you would only raise the car by the height of the thickness of the plate and the bearing would protrude through the hole in the inner wing. Is that the one in the 3rd picture?
     
  30. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    Yes, I would say the 3rd picture shows a mount like that. I think that GRP4 Fabrications 2-piece top mount works the same.

    http://grp4fabrications.com/product_info.php?cPath=30&products_id=78

    Regards

    Gustaf
     
  31. Elliot

    Elliot Big Fabrication Guru Capri Power Member

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    Just a point regarding machining the anti roll bar to increase castor. Would that not put the steering arms at an angle and affect steering geometry under hard cornering ? It would also stress the inner TCA bushing ?

    Elliot
     
  32. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    Yes, it will have an effect on that, absolutely correct. The TCA bushes can generally tolerate some increase and the steering arm angle will mostly alter Ackermann (not that important). But it does put a limit on how much caster you can ge from this modification - hence the "need" to also look at the top mounts (further in and further back to get camber and caster).

    Gustaf
     
  33. BigJ

    BigJ Registered Capri Power Member

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    I was looking at that yesterday on a picture of a crossmember with the TCAs fitted. Pulling the strut forward will place additional stress on the inner bush in a direction it wasn't necessarily designed for.

    I much prefer the idea of bringing the strut top back to increase the caster angle and maintaining the rest of the steering geometry.
     
  34. caprimk3

    caprimk3 Richard Capri Power Member

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    Easy solution is to fit rose jointed TCA's, cost around 100 quid and upwards for a pair.....
    That and eccentric top mounts togeter with coilovers will give you loads of choices for setups..

    I got rosejointed tca's-check, coilovers-check.
    Only need eccentric top mounts to fit it all when it hit the road again.. :rolleyes:
     
  35. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    I have rose joints too but to be honest I doubt they are a great choice on a road car that you want some comfort in. Haven't driven mine with them yet though so I should not speak too bad about them. But in general, rose joints are noisy and wear fast (and are expensive - if they are cheap they wear even faster).

    The thread stated somewhere "easy" modifications, ideally the TCA mounting slot in the cross member should be made wider so the TCA's could be shimmed to be straight with any caster.

    Suspension geometry is a large subject and always full of compromises :)

    Gustaf
     
  36. 302Capri

    302Capri Registered Capri Power Member

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    Very good points Elliot and Gustaf.
    What range of caster adjustment does an adjustable top mount provide?
    I guess mods to the cross member could also work if it is allowed to mount further forward, with corresponding machining of the arb and relocation of the engine mounts. It would involve more work but could have the desired effect.
     
  37. therealpinto

    therealpinto Registered Capri Power Member

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    I haven't done the maths or checked, but I would guess that adjustable strut tops could give a couple of degrees. If you run standard size springs, clearance in the strut towers may become an issue. If you have adjustable platforms and 2,25" springs there is more room.

    Regards

    Gustaf
     
  38. andy

    andy Registered Capri Power Member

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    I think one of the best ways of curing this problem is to triangulate the tca with a compression strut. Then its not using the arb as a way of controlling movement and the arb can just be an arb .
     
  39. andy

    andy Registered Capri Power Member

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    Sorry guys, I posted that after reading only the first page. Didn't realise there was a page 2 .
     

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