12/19/08 12:29 p.m.

Hi, I'm Brian and new to Grassroots anonymous "Hi Brian"

Admitting it is the first step, right?

At any rate, I was a driver in last years Lemons South event for the 55 Tunachuckers team driving the Volvo Amazon. It was fun, the car was slow. I should paraphrase that, it was fast, but only if you really really liked bodyroll. We are cutting springs for this year (free!) and I am trying to nail down two important issues:

The springs (coils at all four) are closed and ground at both ends. After cutting, should I close and grind to mimic the original pattern? I will stop here and say that I am a mechanical engineer, and not too totally dumb. I understand that cutting springs is dangerous, and probably a bad idea generally. For Lemons, it's fine. I also understand that heating and bending the end of the spring weakens it and heat treats it. I also understand that typically springs are normalized at 800F for a few hours after bending - which is possible but undesirable. The question really is: how do we cut the things properly? I can't leave the ends open because that puts a lot of force on one spot of the spring. I can, however, machine a conical cup for the spring to sit in so that the force can be spread out. Opinions?

The second question is all about shocks. We can't afford them. Period. Even if we cheated, we don't have enough money to buy them. Obviously there is performance here. Has anyone had success with stock shock modifications that could be basically free? Anyone?

Are these the only two questions that can't be answered with "miata"?

I guess you could argue that we should be racing a miata - but come on, a 122!?!? That's just way cooler.

Thanks in advance folks. -Brian

Jensenman SuperDork
12/19/08 1:21 p.m.

Yeah, you passed us a couple of times out there, made the Thunder Terd look bad (like it could have gotten any worse!) and now you want help.

Cut half a coil, then go another 1/2 coil around, heat and bend there. This means effectively you have removed a coil and the part left is a 'dead' coil that won't flex, meaning the chance for breakage is slim. I wouldn't bother grinding anything. Now check your ride height, if it's still too high repeat this process on the other end of the spring. That should get you pretty close. Warning: sometimes you can get them short enough that they will fall out when the suspension is fully extended! If you think that's possible you may want to use hose clamps etc to keep that from happening.

Shocks: get the extended and compressed lengths, check the boneyards for something close, you can probably get them for a buck apiece. You can narrow your junkyard search a lot if you go to the local parts house and beg them to let you look through the length listings at the rear of the shock catalogs. Or try this page: http://www.monroe.com/catalog/miscApplications.asp and click on the pdf for shock lengths. Hint: 1970's Chevy truck front shocks are way short, have a lot of travel for their size,have an eye on each end and fit a lot of our little tinkertoy cars. They also fit the rear of Corvettes of the same vintage so they are pretty readily available.

If you can't find anything close, try this: extend the shock as far as it will go, then drill a 1/4" hole at the bottom of the shock, work the shock piston so the remaining oil squirts out, extend the shock fully again then weld a nut over the hole so you'll have a place for a plug. Now fill the shock with whatever engine oil suits your fancy, but as a rule the thicker the better. Mix a little engine oil stop leak into it too. Plug the hole with a suitable length bolt and copper washer. That means on Saturday night you can refill them if need be.

Now if you try to pass me again, I'll crack the whip on ya.

Tom Heath
Tom Heath Production Editor
12/19/08 1:27 p.m.

Hey Brian-welcome to the boards.

You might have some luck making giant swaybars; I heard about a guy who made a rear swaybar for his Festiva road racer from a fencepost once.

By the way, I <3 the Charlie Tuna Volvo. Did the door art survive?

tuna55 New Reader
12/19/08 1:34 p.m.

Oh heck yeah - your car ran... interestingly. You guys were good to race against - I say that because your car was nearly as big as the caprices but not nearly as shovey. Good show. I wish you better luck this year. Our car will undoubtedly be a good bit faster. That combined with a fuel cell to NOT have us off track for four hours tracking down a clogged inlet will help a lot.

Thanks for the advice.

Tom, the art door survived intact, Caprices be damned. It, and the rest of the car will be at the spring race in different livery this time. The art door will not be painted.

On another note, I noticed your name "Tom Heath". Is that actually your name name? Did you ever live in Syracuse NY?


tuna55 New Reader
12/19/08 1:39 p.m.

Oh, and swaybars are definitely part of the equation. How much swaybar can you get for free? A lot! A fellow racer came up to me after racing pretty hard with me wheel to wheel and laughed. He said "you should have put a demotivator on the bottom of the car, I could have seen it better!" When we won the Index of Affluency, he said "weld the Nickels to the floor for CG!". Those are bad signs... We are working on it.

Jensenman SuperDork
12/19/08 1:55 p.m.

I figured y'all were gonna grind the door handles off a couple of times. Good to know that tire sidewall letters have a lot of grip.

Swaybars: again the tape measure and the junkyard is your friend. That Volvo is pretty narrow, you'll need to check narrow cars (duh). First gen Proteges are pretty skinny, you might want to look at those. Ditto 1980s Escorts.

Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder Technical Editor/Advertising Director
12/19/08 2:06 p.m.

those are 5.5" front springs. Some roundy-round 5.5x8" 550 or so springs should be cheap.

RobL New Reader
12/19/08 2:09 p.m.

Who was driving?


Hopefully we'll see everyone again in SC.

Jensenman SuperDork
12/19/08 2:36 p.m.

A quick search shows that KYB still offers shocks for this app. They list KG 5517 and KG5514 which are '70's Ford Pinto and Mustang applications. Summit Racing has a pretty good application chart for these shocks which will help with junkyard searching. BTW, don't be afraid to get creative in your search: the Ford/Volvo app uses a tie bar for the lower mount which can easily be pressed out and stuck in another shock. Lots of '70's GM products used the stud top/tie bar bottom, too.

Thanks for the kind words about our driving, good to know we got a little respect after winning 'Most Likely To Leave In An Ambulance'.

Nashco SuperDork
12/19/08 2:37 p.m.

In regards to shocks, don't forget to look for used stuff. Our LeMons car had 300k miles on it when we got it and I'm pretty sure the struts were original. We got a full set of used struts with ~100k miles on them from a newer car that were WAY WAY better for dirt cheap (they switched them out for aftermarket stuff). They aren't super duper cool race stuff, but they were a big improvement. Also, be careful with stiffening up the springs if your dampers are shot, that might make the car lean less, but be slower overall.

The rest has been covered above pretty well, bars and springs are pretty easy to adapt from other applications. Good luck!


tuna55 New Reader
12/19/08 3:02 p.m.

Wow, you guys are great. OK, schumacher taxi guys, that driver was having a rough time there. That was Jamie. Unfortunately, Jamie can't really do the whole steering thing anymore since his shoulder is out of whack. Last year was marginal for him, and he's crew this year. Hope to see you too.

Cheap springs are still money, and since we don't have any, cutting works well. I think I need to redefine cheap - New, the cheapest springs would be close to $100 for all four - totally unacceptable for our budget. I highly appreciate all of the searching for parts, but new is simply not going to work here. Another problem I noticed since moving here is that boneyards are not self service type. The only ones within an hour of here that I have found are "go to the counter and ask the guy who subsequently looks it up in the computer" and ends up being overpriced compared to the "what is that anyway? oh nevermind, fifteen bucks" type. Certainly if I find anything used in the recommended applications I will be ready.

Also, used Volvo 122 stuff doesn't just sprout up.

We replaced the door handles - all scratched up!


bam2002 New Reader
12/19/08 5:12 p.m.

We were also there.. Car 00 a BMW. It took me a little time to get around you on the track. I was very suprised how well the Volvo was doing. Id say a Big front sway bar, or beefing up the one you have with angle iron.

Struts also really help. I Autocross a BMW with a coilover kit and stock swaybars and it does really well. I know there isnt a free coilover kit out there. But Id say try to match or make a set. You can find a nice set at the U pull yards. We paid $14 per strut. Can you make a set off a Honda or BMW fit?

Team Eurotrash.

Travis_K Reader
12/19/08 5:40 p.m.

Arent the volvo 122s the ones that have trouble with the rear axles beaking if they are driven hard? I seem to remember that there were some upgrades needed to keep them from losing a rear wheel. If you are going though the suspension it might be something to check .

RobL New Reader
12/19/08 6:44 p.m.

Awww... Just giving you guys a little grief because I had the video.

BTW, we cut our springs in that car. We were careful and made sure they weren't going to be free under full droop.

Jensenman SuperDork
12/21/08 8:27 a.m.
RobL wrote: Who was driving? http://schumachertaxiservice.com/vids/OMG_CARTMAN.wmv Hopefully we'll see everyone again in SC.

I finally got a chance to watch the vid. It seems the Schumacher Taxi Service had a TON of close calls!

tuna55 New Reader
12/21/08 11:18 a.m.

OK, so we cut the springs this weekend - it was almost too easy. She's riding low now. We have a bigger bar in the works. We are also going to rebuild the caliper so that we have brakes the whole time. Now we have about 1, 1.5" suspension travel in the front. I can't see bringing it down any lower than that.

00 guys - sorry I don't particularly remember your car, but I saw it on Murilees uber gallery getting ready to pass us. The Volvo did handle remarkably well for it's age. I was incredibly surprised - especially being a drag racer in my past life - how well we did considering our power level. Stock, those B18s had 85HP. It's amazing how strong those 85HP were. Also, the Volvo has a SLA suspension - no struts here! We like our camber control, thank you.

Travis - no rear axle issues that I am aware of. We certainly drove hard too.

What did you guys all do about wheels? I suppose I could start a new thread - I wanted to get some nicer dirt track type wheels for the car (14", 5x4.5) to get some decent light rollers for cheap ($65/per) but I am not sure about their durability versus a american racing cheapo wheel for the street. We found a few bent stockers from the race last time...

The shocks seemed fine when we had them out - lots of friction for the entire length and everything...

Thanks again for the hints guys.

Nashco SuperDork
12/21/08 2:26 p.m.

We've used regular ol' steelies in all of our races. They are relatively light and if they do happen to get messed up, you can bend them straight without worrying about cracks. Cheap, robust, easy to get...why not? Oh yeah, try to hit less stuff, whether it's a stocker or more robust aftermarket wheel, hitting less stuff helps too.


Jensenman SuperDork
12/21/08 8:57 p.m.

5 X 4.5 is a common Ford and Mopar bolt circle, also known as 5 x 114.3 which is 5 bolt RX7, 300Z, Mustang etc. read: common as dirt. Are you pretty well stuck with running 14's? Reason I ask, if you get a 15x7 you can run the 205-50-15 Falken Azenis RT615, LeMons 200 TW rating legal and they worked pretty darn well on our car. We used Mustang 10 hole alloys, common, dirt cheap, strong as death.

walterj HalfDork
12/21/08 9:13 p.m.

For big bars... the hollow 1-1/8" diameter torson bars and arms from a sprint or midget car can be bought for lunch money... just weld the attachment points right to the control arms or better, the strut housing... wherever they fit

They come in 26" to 30" lengths... and a 7/8" diameter for the rear if you have an IRS RWD car. Mount in the trunk and cut holes for the links to reach down to the lower arms.

tuna55 New Reader
12/22/08 7:19 a.m.

We did the used wheel thing last time, and it sorta worked out. We have a weird backspacing, so a spacerless wheel would be tough to find - and our spacer experience was not that nice.

We actually could go to 15s but we'd much rather stay with 14s for unsprung and rotating mass.

The rear is solid, so no sway bar needed for back there yet - plus, if you look at our cornering pics, you'll realize we won'ty likely need a rear bar anytime soon.

The front bar is something we already have solid plans for...

Thanks guys!

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