Removing the swagger from this fish’s tail
Scott Lachenauer - November 15, 2012 10:00 AM
Brian puts some power to some rusty bolts on the front leaf spring bracket. Very little was salvageable and most of it went in the trash! Luckily, all attachment points on the chassis were clean and rust free.
Here’s the start of our rebuild. Freshened up posi-traction Mopar 8¼-inch sits on the jack. Fresh U-bolts and shock plates will help get it perched properly on a new set of heavy-duty leaf springs from PST.
First off, fresh polygraphite bushings from PST were inserted in the ends of the leaf springs. A little grease was used where needed to get them to go in smoothly. Once completed, the back end of the leaf spring was connected to the rear shackle section. Connection should be tight but swing freely.
On the other end of the spring, bushings were inserted as before, once again needing a little grease to coax them in. Once done, the front spring bracket was reused and attached.
Once both springs are in place, we are ready to hang some shocks. We chose KYB Gas-A-Just shocks to keep the back end’s ride smooth as silk.
Brian raises the rear up to height and checks clearance. Everything looks ready for insertion.
Using some muscle, we lift the rear up and over the leaf springs. Once in place, the shock plates are mounted using fresh 7 x ½ -inch stainless steel U-bolts. Each bolt is tightened slightly and the rear checked for proper alignment before it’s firmed up.
Now that the shock plates are mounted and firmed up, a tranny jack is used to raise up the rear to get the shocks to meet up with the shock mounts on the plates.
The PST rear sway bar package comes complete with everything you’ll need to put a 7/8-inch in bar in the back end of your ride.
Polygraphite bushings are easily placed into the end links with a little grease and a standard table vise.
Once completed, we are now ready to hang the sway bar. Orient the bar with the hump facing DOWN! Keep things loose and adjust for maximum clearance.
Here are the sway bar brackets mounted around the axle tube. Don’t tighten fully yet, as we need to do a bit more tweaking.
Next, attach the end links to the outer hole of the sway bar via hardware included in the kit. Then adjust the unit so the arms of the sway bar are even with the bottom of the subframe. When you are happy with the location, move on to the next step.
Mark off the location where the trailing arm attaches to the inner frame rail and then transfer this mark to outer frame rail side as well. All this should be done under typical body load. Here Brian drills a 15/32-inch hole with his step drill for the attaching bolt and sleeve.
A spacer tube is included which sleeves the inside of the frame rail. It can be welded in place, or just bolted like we did. Brian passes the bolt unit through the frame rail, ready to attach the sway arm end links to the inside of the frame rail. Torque bolts to 35 to 40 lbs-ft.
The finished driver’s side assembly. Repeat for the passenger side. The car should be placed on the ground before tightening axle U-bolts to 30 to 35lbs-ft.
The finished product! This fish’s tail won’t sway any more.
My little ’65 Barracuda has been a work in progress now for the last two years.
I’ve managed to get most of the of the undercarriage rebuilt in the last six months, thanks to the help of my good friends at Performance Suspension Technology here in New Jersey.
After thoroughly rebuilding the front end, thanks to a junked Plymouth Duster’s front discs and a myriad of parts from PST, the rear was tackled next. The donor 8¼-inch came out of a similar ’73 A-body, and was rebuilt over at the Wicked Performance shop, situated just off the beach in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.
This new rear would help reel in the power generated by my Paxton supercharged 360, the powerplant. Now, with a bulletproof posi-traction rear in hand, I was now ready to tackle the tail section of this fish, a job that will hopefully help transfer that horsepower to the pavement, and keep all fours planted firmly on the road.
The original stock suspension set-up was in very poor shape when I bought the car two years ago. Years of neglect had left the original springs sagging severely, and somehow augmented in shape, probably due to a wrecker who couldn’t take the time to correctly place a jack or hook. The shocks were replaced sometime during their life, being exchanged for a pair of ’70s style air shocks. These were definitely taking a quick ride directly to the dumpster and the Chevy rear now sitting underneath the car was just to aid it in rolling around the shop.
I definitely wanted to keep a vintage feel and look in the new ride’s tail end, though I needed to keep in mind that I was placing some upgraded 15-inch wheels, wrapped up in some bigger rubber, on the axles out back. No sway bar was present originally, but I have a feeling we would be adding a little more stability with a brand new piece. A good set of modern shocks will be the last step in getting the ride smoothed out behind the seats.
I stopped by the PST facility in Boonton, New Jersey, and talked to the friendly techs there about my plans for the ’Cuda’s tail section. We pulled a host of neat products off the shelves that will not only upgrade the back end, but will still keep that vintage look of a mid ’60s compact, musclar pavement scorcher. A set of Hemi grade leaf springs, a 7/8-inch pro touring grade sway bar, hardware, and some KYB shocks were on the list of upgrades for my little A-body.
Once I had my Dakota’s bed full of goodies, I hit the road to the Jersey Shore and the home of Wicked Performance, and it wasn’t long before the car was on the lift, coffee was brewing and the tools were ready. And this is how it all went down.