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7 Steps to a happier back end - Vanagon sag.
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MrPolak
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:27 pm    Post subject: 7 Steps to a happier back end - Vanagon sag. Reply with quote

My web site is down, permanently, so I added pictures and commentary to my photobucket account and copied it below. Here's the compleat guide to fixing your Vanagon's saggy rear end, as conceived by yours truly, with due legal disclaimers, insanity notwithstanding.

Step 1. Beer. A little work. More beer.

Do you have a Saggy Butt Story to tell? Like a few Vanagons out there, and most aged individuals, yours too might be suffering from a sagging derriere. Well, unlike most individuals, a Vanagon's butt may be lifted for little money and with relatively little effort. For the rest of you there's always the Butt Master. Here's what I did: Before I attempted any repairs, I measured the vertical distance between the center of the hub and the lower edge of the wheel well opening; This is by far the best method since the tire size has no impact on this measurement.. My '85 Westy came in at 18.5 inches in the front and 16 inches in the rear. That's a difference of 1.5 inches that I compensated for during this procedure. After many considerations I decided to fabricate spacers which would reside on top of the rear springs thereby lifting the vehicle without significant effect on ride quality. Here's the rear suspension with the spring removed. I unbolted the lower shock mount (right arrow) and removed the spring with no problem. I ended up unbolting the outer swingarm bushing (left arrow) later to make clearance for the spring installation with spacers.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Step 2. Beer. Place thingy on top of board. Place it again, straight.

Here's how I made the spacers. I went to Wally World and bought a 7/8 inch thick polethylene kitchen cutting board. It was about $7 bucks. I had to buy a big enough board to make six spacers. The spacers measure about 6.5 inches in diameter, if my memory servers me correctly. At 3 spacers per side this should yield a little over 1.5 inches of boost, with the extra to allow for compression sag over time. I recently saw similar cutting boards at HQ but without the drain channel and I would have used one of those instead had they available during this procedure.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Step 3. Have someone else who has not had 5 beers trace the thingy.

Here are the results after I traced the original spacer using a permanent marker. Us Polish folk like to use crayons, but I was fresh out.. he he.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Step 4. Have your neighbor do this before you give him a beer.

I used an electric jigsaw to cut the spacers. As you noticed wore my safety beach shoes with neoprene-enforced toes. You may wonder why I drilled the holes in the board first. Well, polyethylene has this wonderful ability of melting from the hot cutting blade and it tends to close up the cut you just made. I drilled the holes to remove and provide room for the cut material.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Step 5. Notice it is dark. Too many beers and time gets away like that.

The first spacer is cut! Obviously the one on the right is the original factory spacer. Notice the recess for the spring. The edges look a little rough on my spacer so for the lack of a suitable file I used the rough concrete driveway surface to even it out a bit. I used a knife to open up the center so that it would fit around the top bump stop.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Step 6. Wait. I have 2 bolts left over!

Here it is all in place and bolted up. White spacers are not noticeable with the wheels in place. Perhaps a touch of Krylon, or crayon.. he he.., would give it a more finished look.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Step 7. Celebrate. Time for... BEER!

Up close. Why does the original spacer go on the bottom of the spacer stack? Because it has a special recess for the spring and it is essential to use it. The lower control arm has a recess for the bottom of the spring which locates the spring and keeps it from turning. Will all this fall out? No. First of all the top bump stop locates all the spacers and the top of the spring; You can see it peeking out just under the top coil. Secondly, when the shock is bolted up it extend to its max travel but it still compresses the spring and the spacers slightly. What's my impression so far? Well, after the spacer installation the rear sits at a tad over 18''. After about 3 months I removed a spacer on each side and left two in place. Why? I've lost too much negative suspension travel and the firm back end, good in other instances, had a tendency to 'hop' when executing brisk u-turn maneuvers. After 3 years and many happy miles the polyethylene has not settled noticeably, and has not degraded. I've concluded that the material is tough enough for this application. In case you care, I have seen people get on their hands and knees too see if my '85 is a Syncro due to its tall stance. Yeah, I wish.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


NOTICE: Attempt the previous at your own risk. Not responsible for beer and donuts consumed in the process. Usual disclaimers apply, blah blah blah, yada yada yada.


The final result (honestly, this is the best I could find)

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.
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Vernthebusdriver
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:13 pm    Post subject: camber adjusters Reply with quote

Has anyone tried to get more ride height by prying the camber bolt down?
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240Gordy
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

uh, I don't think that will give you more ride height.
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warloc
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 11:42 pm    Post subject: Very Nice!! Reply with quote

Awesome pics and nice write up MrPolak!
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schoonerman
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just finished installing two cutting board spacers to correct the Westy sag on driver rear. Having to remove the outer swinging arm bolt I guess I will have to have an re-alignment?
Great info, thanks
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Inlet
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

schoonerman wrote:
Having to remove the outer swinging arm bolt I guess I will have to have an re-alignment?
Great info, thanks


Is this true?


Another comment: you said the board is 7/8 thick, that would equal 2.6" of lift if you used 3... Not just over "1.5" thats over an inch more.
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240Gordy
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 30, 2010 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

schoonerman wrote:
Just finished installing two cutting board spacers to correct the Westy sag on driver rear. Having to remove the outer swinging arm bolt I guess I will have to have an re-alignment?
Great info, thanks


why did you have to remove the trailing arm bolt?

and never mind my above comment, of course this will increase your ride height.
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vweggie
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How will this affect the van's ride? Would the net result be a compressed rear spring?
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kevtherev
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vweggie wrote:
How will this affect the van's ride? Would the net result be a compressed rear spring?


It would be an identical ride and the spring is not compressed.
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schoonerman
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey 240Gordy,
I removed thr trailing arm bolt because I was having a hell of a time getting back the spring into position with the two spacers...all's fine and working great. I only did the drivers side to correct the Westy lean.
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presslab
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

schoonerman wrote:
Just finished installing two cutting board spacers to correct the Westy sag on driver rear. Having to remove the outer swinging arm bolt I guess I will have to have an re-alignment?
Great info, thanks


If your trailing arm bushings are old and saggy like mine, then you should push the bolt all the way to the bottom of the slot. This gives more positive camber, and does not change the toe by much at all. Even with this, my van has still too much negative camber but it's not too bad.

If you do this you should do the same to the other side as well.

And yes, it will increase ride height, but just very slightly.
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Carleton
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone else have trouble removing the spring? I've got the shock off, but the bumpstop uppers and lowers are preventing the spring from coming out, even though I can wiggle the spring 1/2 inch up and down.

Also having a pain removing the trailing arm bolt. It appears to be rusted in place. I'm PB blasting it, but not much luck. Guess I'm worried about getting too long of a lever and twisting off the head of that bolt....
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crazyvwvanman
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Make sure you have the parking brake released or the tension on the cable can keep the control arm from dropping all the way.

Mark


Carleton wrote:
Anyone else have trouble removing the spring? I've got the shock off, but the bumpstop uppers and lowers are preventing the spring from coming out, even though I can wiggle the spring 1/2 inch up and down.

Also having a pain removing the trailing arm bolt. It appears to be rusted in place. I'm PB blasting it, but not much luck. Guess I'm worried about getting too long of a lever and twisting off the head of that bolt....
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1621
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you have a scissor or bottle jack, place it between the trailing arm and the upper spring perch to help gain more clearance. A few cranks and the spring should drop right out. No need to touch the trailing arm bolt in most cases.
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Carleton
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bottle jack did it!
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just removed a rusted bush bolt ---with a sawzall. destroyed the bushing--no amount of heat will free it up -theres too much tube and shaft welded together in there--you will break the rubber bond first. those bolts are hard and you will use a blade or two. when they go back together, put a thin coat of grease on the unthreaded shaft part of the bolts to prevent rust later. 242 threadlocker for the finish after matching adj settings for both sides.
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, now I've got some noise coming from my CV (sounds like my CV) when I make accelerate through left turns. I went 1 and 1/8th inch taller. Did I do too much? I just ordered new CV boots (it is time anyway) so I'll take it apart and see....
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This last weekend, I added the 'cutting-board' spacers to the rear end.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

He went from 41cm in the front and 38.5cm in the rear, to 41/ 41.5.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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sakow86
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So are the spacers 6.5" in diameter ? The text above says they are but adds "if memory serves me correctly". I read elsewhere that they are 6-3/16". I know I can measure mine, but I'd like to cut them out prior to taking things apart Confused
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick Question...

When you took you original measurement was the front end under normal load, i.e. had the weight of a driver and/or passenger sitting in it? I know when I am under the van and the wife sits in the driver seat to adjust the steering wheel for me or something else that I need her for the front drops about an inch and she only weighs 130. with both of use I would imagine 1.5 to 2 inches, I am much fatter Very Happy . With this in mind I would assume that the van would come very close to leveling out under load and by adding the spacers to the back you have essentially made the van slope forward under load.

Just thinking out loud here. Otherwise great write up and depending on your answers and my own test I may very well attempt this.

Very Happy
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