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Swingaxle suspension data, and how to set ride height
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modok
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:51 am    Post subject: Swingaxle suspension data, and how to set ride height Reply with quote

I finally got my NEW 26mm swayaway torsion bars (long story), and so while my 1960 bug was apart I went ahead and took some measurements on the suspension travel.
To be accurate, it is a 1960 chassis with a 1968 transmission, 1962 spring plates and type-3 drum brakes, but far as i know all the 60's bugs are very much the same as far as this is concerned.

The wheel of a swingaxle doesn't travel anywhere near straight up and down, but rather travels in an arc.
Therefore actual ride height measurements are difficult, and also they change with the size and offset of the tire.
SO, I found it is easiest to just measure the travel and ride height in degrees of camber. The angle can be measured at the axle tube or the brake drum or the wheel, they are all connected together so it doesn't matter.

Zero degrees camber or perhaps up to 2 positive camber is usually considered the "stock" ride height.

The axle nut travels about one inch in 2.2 degrees.

With the torsion bar removed, but all else assembled, I measured the travel.

Extended: 8 degrees down, shock length 16.5"
When rubber bump stop comes into action: 5 deg up
When the spring plate hits the hard stop:9 degrees up, shock length 10.5"

Observations: I had been driving around at 3 degrees negative camber for a few years, the rubber bump stops and brackets seem to be in good shape. The top of the spring plate shows evidence of hitting the hard stop quite often. Nice powdercoating has been pounded off!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have always wondered how much the UP travel can be increased.

So, I then put on these "complimentary" special spring plates that go around the hard bump stop. This is all the way up, note the "hard stop" is still nowhere near hitting the spring plate.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

This allowed it to travel up another 2 degrees, however it seems that this is all the travel the transmission allows, at this point the internal joint runs out of travel. I jacked it up a bit more but the engine started twisting Shocked
I tried the tire on it and it DID clear everything even at 11 degrees up.
So, these 1.2" lowering spring plates changed the travel thus:
Fully extended; 6 degrees, shock length 14"
Fully compressed; 11 degrees, shock length 9 3/4
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent writeup! We as a community often do these things ourselves and think that nobody else cares, but simple info like this is valuable.
Perhaps some measurement of possible toe adjustments at extreme up positions would be next?
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, the answer, in my case at least, is there is 7/8" inch of UP suspension travel that I could gain by notching the spring plate.
Of course, I don't want to break the side covers off the transmission, so I need a hard stop to hit before that. So maybe I could gain a half inch?? Not worth it IMO.
After all, with these stronger springs I should be hitting the hard stops only rarely anyhow, that is after all.... the point.

As far as the DOWN travel, I would like to limit this to about 5 or 6 degrees.
In the past I had limit straps, but they rotted, so then I had limit CHIANS Laughing but they are too harsh, so I think I will go back to how VW did it.
i added a re-enforcement bracket to the down stop and built it up with weld so it stops at 5 degrees droop. With the bigger torsion bars it won't hit the down stop with as much force, so I expect this will hold up.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 2:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boolean wrote:
Excellent writeup! We as a community often do these things ourselves and think that nobody else cares, but simple info like this is valuable.
Perhaps some measurement of possible toe adjustments at extreme up positions would be next?


Thanks, The sad part is I said I would do it last year........ better late than never eh??

I would like to figure the toe, but I haven't even set MY toe yet, I will wait for the new springs to sag a bit first, they usually do seem to sag a bit.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will try to explain how to set the torsion bar.
The inner side has less splines than the outer. This means that if you move an inner spline, it changes it MORE than if you move an outer spline.
By moving one outer and one inner, the ride height can be adjusted in about 1/4 inch increments.
So, first off you must make sure the torsion bars will go by hand into the plate and car, otherwise it will be hell to do this.

There are four different rubber bushings, you need one of each, they have thicker side that is supposed to go UP, and two different hole sizes for inner and outer. It can be difficult to work them into place, i have a solution, lube them with silicone oil. You all know what happens when you get grease or engine oil on rubber...... but this oil will not harm it. The silicone spray may work, but I like to use thicker stuff. Went through a little bottle of some stuff that was for lubing gutter seals, now I refilled that with silicone vaccum pump oil, I think heavy shock oil is similar also.

So how to get them at the right angle? (height)
Now, in the past I have tried to just do this with a tape measure, BUT, when the spring plate is not all the way in place it wiggles around and makes this impractical. Better to go by angle, using the angle finder thingy pictured above.
The service manuals list the angle they are supposed to be installed at. Sway-a-way has the info for the other sizes of torsion bar.
Print this out!
http://www.swayaway.com/techroom_vwguides.php

So, in my case it says 8.5 degrees for the 26mm bars. I want to go a bit lower, so I will try 6 degrees.
This angle is with the car level, so you either have to level the car, or just measure whatever angle it's sitting at and figure it in.

I go in and measure the angle of the frame tunnel as the car sits on the jackstands..... 3.5 degrees rake........ 6 minus 3.5.... So I want the spring plates to measure 2.5 degrees down.....get it?

So just stick the torsion bar in there, and put the lubed rubber thingy on the plate, and stick the plate partway, on close to where it should be and measure the angle.

Of course it will be way off, take the plate off again and pull the torsion bar out just enough to be free of the splines, rotate it a spline or two the same direction you want the spring plate to go, and put it back in, then put the plate on again and re-measure.

Once it is where you want it, push it on as far as it will go, then take a jack and raise the spring plate up over the lower stop. Sometimes the car is not heavy enough so you have to use a special tool or have bubba sit on the rear bumper. At this point I like to take a 2x4 and a sledge hammer and push the spring plate the rest of the way in. It is also possible to PULL it on with the cover, but I don't want to bend the cover.

I managed to get it to 2.5 degrees, (which is actually 6 relative to the car), just like I wanted.
I forget why i put the cover on, didn't need to yet.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Easy job with practice Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sway-away Link disappeared!!, oh well it's still in wayback machine
https://web.archive.org/web/20130404012135/http://www.swayaway.com/TechRoom_VWguides.php

BTW, over a year daily driving almost no sag. Maybe a half inch.
Also, strong torsion bars and stronger shocks is good, gas-adjusts too bouncy!! bilstiens just right
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Am I to believe you ditched the complimentary spring plates?

Care to state why?

Dale
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "drop' spring plates were used to see how far the axle can swing past the hard up-stop. Nothing more, nothing less.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

modok wrote:
I have always wondered how much the UP travel can be increased.

So, I then put on these "complimentary" special spring plates that go around the hard bump stop. This is all the way up, note the "hard stop" is still nowhere near hitting the spring plate.

This allowed it to travel up another 2 degrees, however it seems that this is all the travel the transmission allows, at this point the internal joint runs out of travel.



So . . . when the factory spring plates are at the "hard stops", there is two degrees of travel left at the transmission/axle joint . . . less than 1" at the drum.
Good info . . . thanks for sharing the results of your test!

Were you able to determine what was limiting the travel when you went those extra two degrees? Was it the axle tube "bell" hitting the I.D. of the alloy side cover; OR, was the axle tube hitting the axle tube flange; OR, was the axle binding in the side gear/fulcrum plates?
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a good question, I do not know!
I wish I had checked that a few weeks ago when rebuilding the transmission, but there just wasn't time. This is the only swigaxle VW I own, and also my daily driver!!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

modok wrote:
I will try to explain how to set the torsion bar.
The inner side has less splines than the outer. This means that if you move an inner spline, it changes it MORE than if you move an outer spline.
By moving one outer and one inner, the ride height can be adjusted in about 1/4 inch increments.
So, first off you must make sure the torsion bars will go by hand into the plate and car, otherwise it will be hell to do this.

There are four different rubber bushings, you need one of each, they have thicker side that is supposed to go UP, and two different hole sizes for inner and outer. It can be difficult to work them into place, i have a solution, lube them with silicone oil. You all know what happens when you get grease or engine oil on rubber...... but this oil will not harm it. The silicone spray may work, but I like to use thicker stuff. Went through a little bottle of some stuff that was for lubing gutter seals, now I refilled that with silicone vaccum pump oil, I think heavy shock oil is similar also.

So how to get them at the right angle? (height)
Now, in the past I have tried to just do this with a tape measure, BUT, when the spring plate is not all the way in place it wiggles around and makes this impractical. Better to go by angle, using the angle finder thingy pictured above.
The service manuals list the angle they are supposed to be installed at. Sway-a-way has the info for the other sizes of torsion bar.
Print this out!
http://www.swayaway.com/techroom_vwguides.php

So, in my case it says 8.5 degrees for the 26mm bars. I want to go a bit lower, so I will try 6 degrees.
This angle is with the car level, so you either have to level the car, or just measure whatever angle it's sitting at and figure it in.

I go in and measure the angle of the frame tunnel as the car sits on the jackstands..... 3.5 degrees rake........ 6 minus 3.5.... So I want the spring plates to measure 2.5 degrees down.....get it?

So just stick the torsion bar in there, and put the lubed rubber thingy on the plate, and stick the plate partway, on close to where it should be and measure the angle.

Of course it will be way off, take the plate off again and pull the torsion bar out just enough to be free of the splines, rotate it a spline or two the same direction you want the spring plate to go, and put it back in, then put the plate on again and re-measure.

Once it is where you want it, push it on as far as it will go, then take a jack and raise the spring plate up over the lower stop. Sometimes the car is not heavy enough so you have to use a special tool or have bubba sit on the rear bumper. At this point I like to take a 2x4 and a sledge hammer and push the spring plate the rest of the way in. It is also possible to PULL it on with the cover, but I don't want to bend the cover.

I managed to get it to 2.5 degrees, (which is actually 6 relative to the car), just like I wanted.
I forget why i put the cover on, didn't need to yet.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Easy job with practice Very Happy


This is a really great post. IMHO, you need to edit this post with the following information that I have found imperative.

Setting the spring plate on the torsion bar and taking degree readings would be perfect if wear/tear or relaxation of the torsion bars have occurred. If we are talking about a new vehicle, with no where and tear, this post is 100% perfect. What I tend to mention to my clients is measure the degrees under a load. Placing a jack under the spring plate and as it starts to lift the car, take that degree reading.

For example; ( If a 500lb man delivers mail in his 64 Beetle and drives 100 miles a day, the wear and tear on that side of the vehicle is going to be more than the other side. Take the same instance but with a 100lb woman and 10 miles a day, the under the load readings will be different for both cars. Static measurements will show the same, but under a load will be different, sometimes substantially. )

Another point that needs to be made, these cars from the factory had positive camber as you have stated somewhat in this thread. After they wear in and get some miles on them, the car starts to relax. And eventually, they almost have no camber. Regardless of the aftermarket parts that you install, you should still note that the car is now lowered in ride height and is no longer stock height. Most cases should reflect, 6.5-7" of gap between the top of the tire and the bottom side of the fender. Roughly with 2" of tire gap left, should reflect 0 degrees of camber.

I will be writing an article and will be using some or all of your post, will credit you with a link as I think people need to know this info.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:55 am    Post subject: Re: Swingaxle suspension data, and how to set ride height Reply with quote

Quote:
If a 500lb man delivers mail in his 64 Beetle and drives 100 miles a day


Never saw a 500lb mailman driving a VW
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 10:32 am    Post subject: Re: Swingaxle suspension data, and how to set ride height Reply with quote

chrisflstf wrote:
Quote:
If a 500lb man delivers mail in his 64 Beetle and drives 100 miles a day


Never saw a 500lb mailman driving a VW


Would it be weird if I saw more than 5 of them?
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:48 am    Post subject: Re: Swingaxle suspension data, and how to set ride height Reply with quote

Airkewld wrote:
chrisflstf wrote:
Quote:
If a 500lb man delivers mail in his 64 Beetle and drives 100 miles a day


Never saw a 500lb mailman driving a VW


Would it be weird if I saw more than 5 of them?


It would be double-weird to see a 500lb mailman driving a VW with four 500lb mailmen as passengers . . . even for a mile or two!!!
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 5:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Airkewld wrote:
Static measurements will show the same, but under a load will be different, sometimes substantially. )



I disagree. IF the "spring rate" of the torsion bar is different, then it is actually cracked and fatigued and needs to be replaced because it will break soon after. Since breakage is Rare, I'm not going to worry about it, nor loss of spring rate. I will admit they do sag, and how much they sag can vary, but it will be permanent.

I don't think your making this up or anything, what your seeing is there, but perhaps is it caused by other factors. i can think of three.
-One would be play in the splines. It might be a good idea to put 50 or 100 pounds force on it while measuring the angle to make sure that any play in the splines is taken up.
-there is no guarantee the frame is perfectly straight. A slight twist in the frame is very possible, and if that is so, then you probably should correct for it in moderation.
-the car may be heavier on one side than the other, with the 500 lb gorilla in it for instance, in which case you will need to correct for it OR get a 500 lb passenger to even it out.

-if the car does not sit level because the FRONT is not level, then the right thing to do is fix the front. Putting a 'wedge" on a car is not smart unless you are doing circle track. To find out put a jack in the middle and lift the front and then see how the rear sits. Or the opposite, put a jack in the middle of the rear and see if the front is level.
-if the car does not appear to sit level because the body or fenders are wonky, so what, this is the performance forum and I'm not going to set a car at a funny angle for cosmetic reasons.
With a swingaxle, set it so the CAMBER is the same both sides when you are driving normally, simple enough.

Far as getting it right the first time, don't expect it. The bars sag after some use, and the frame may be a little twisted, and you don't know how heavy it actually is and so forth. May have to re-set. I had to re-set the drivers side after 2 years, it sagged more than the right for no reason I can think of, but one thing I'm sure of is measuring the free angle is the best way to keep track of it, and make adjustments. If one side needs to be set at a different angle than the other, that could be true, and there are several reasons for it, but I don't think the torsion bar itself is one of them, and if it is, then it's cracked.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

modok wrote:
I disagree. IF the "spring rate" of the torsion bar is different, then it is actually cracked and fatigued and needs to be replaced because it will break soon after. Since breakage is Rare, I'm not going to worry about it, nor loss of spring rate. I will admit they do sag, and how much they sag can vary, but it will be permanent.

I don't think your making this up or anything, what your seeing is there, but perhaps is it caused by other factors. i can think of three.
-One would be play in the splines. It might be a good idea to put 50 or 100 pounds force on it while measuring the angle to make sure that any play in the splines is taken up.
-there is no guarantee the frame is perfectly straight. A slight twist in the frame is very possible, and if that is so, then you probably should correct for it in moderation.
-the car may be heavier on one side than the other, with the 500 lb gorilla in it for instance, in which case you will need to correct for it OR get a 500 lb passenger to even it out.


I have though long and hard, I do not think I have seen a cracked set of torsions, or teeth being worn out. All spring applications will lose tension over time, the more weight applied, the more it becomes under a load and can stretch or lose the tension.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Airkewld wrote:


I will be writing an article and will be using some or all of your post, will credit you with a link as I think people need to know this info.

I consider anything I put in the internet to be free. use it anyway you like, as long as you don't put me way out of context.
IMO it is also fine to have differing opinions, rare is there only one correct way to do anything.
Today I explained three different ways of centering line hones, the way I do it, the way it was intended to be done, and the way another guy does it, and I'm not sure if that's helping or just confusing the heck out of the guy, but they are work.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2018 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Airkewld wrote:

I have though long and hard, I do not think I have seen a cracked set of torsions, or teeth being worn out. All spring applications will lose tension over time, the more weight applied, the more it becomes under a load and can stretch or lose the tension.

yes and no.. Lemme put it like this. Springs do sag, or creep, all metal does. but it happens SLOW. it's never going to happen before your eyes at room temp. before your eyes what you see is permanent deformation or not. it either permanently bent or it didn't, or it cracked, is usually the case if you have the tools to find out.
You can put a spring on a tester and compress this spring X distance and note the pressure. You can do that 500 times it will be the same. You can wait 50 years and do it again it will be the same. If you leave the spring squashed for 50 years and do test it it will be the same rate, tho I bet the spring will be sagged shorter, but you aren't testing the free length, just the amount of force compressed a distance, the "rate". If you left the spring free for another few weeks maybe it would un-sag a bit and be closer to it's free length when it was new. But the rare remains the same. A torsion bar does not really have a "free length", that anybody notices, so you'd never know the difference.
so, what I'm thinking is if you set your torsion bars to 10 degrees, and it sagged after a year, you could take it apart and find they are now at 8 degrees, you re-set them to 10 and re-assemble and it should be right back where it was. The trouble is nobody ever really keeps track, so it's hard to prove, but we do keep track on a lot of other types of springs and metal parts and that's how it usually is. Very few things in this life are MORE constant than the spring constant of steel. It's right up there with death and taxes.
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