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Refurbishing the suspension on my '79 C3

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Old 09-20-2013, 01:42 PM   #1
AboveTheLogic
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Default Refurbishing the suspension on my '79 C3

My C3 is a monster to drive. It pulls to the right, the rear camber is super negative, the steering is sloppy, and it squeals tires around every corner. This car sat for a decade before I bought it earlier in the year.

I want to bring the suspension and steering back to good condition so it handles well and tracks straight.

I'm thinking of rebuilding the steering with these kits:

Hose kit - $70
http://www.ecklerscorvette.com/corve...1963-1979.html

Hydraulic Ram rebuild kit - $20
http://www.ecklerscorvette.com/corve...1963-1982.html

TRE's and ball joints for $137
http://www.ecklerscorvette.com/corve...1963-1982.html

Control valve rebuild kit is $50.
http://www.ecklerscorvette.com/corve...1963-1982.html

...and rebuilding the suspension with this kit:
http://www.ecklerscorvette.com/corve...1963-1982.html

I'm undecided on what to do, not sure if I should replace the springs/shocks as well.

After all this is done I want to take it to a quality alignment shop, but I don't want to do that until I've replaced everything that I can manage to do on my own.

Any advice? I want to make this car handle really well for the street. I don't plan to take it to any tracks or anything. I'd like to budget it all for under $1k.

Right now I'm running 225/60HR15 tires that are almost new (installed by the previous owner), I will eventually spring for some 18" wheels and z-rated tires...probably in another year or two.

Last edited by AboveTheLogic; 09-20-2013 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 09-20-2013, 05:27 PM   #2
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Everybody has their own opinions. Here are a few of mine. And by the by, I have been a Corvette owner/enthusiast for over 30 years.
When the stock parts are "right on", the car will ride and handle nicely. IMHO, poly bushings, for a street car, are not necessary. They will definitely increase the NVH transmitted to to the body, with a minor, if any, improvement in handling. Also, after a while, poly bushings often squeak as they move.
Poly bushings address suspension compliance from the wrong side. The chassis on a C3 is so flexible, it twists and shakes all over the place. Reducing suspension compliance by 0.050" by switching to poly bushings is just putting lipstick on a pig, to be blunt.

Last edited by gcusmano74; 09-20-2013 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 09-20-2013, 05:39 PM   #3
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I agree with you, actually. I'm not looking to build a race car, I'm looking to build a well handling and comfortable street car... with the exception of the engine, I plan to do a fairly radical build there.

Does anyone know of a source of where I can get a complete kit, similar to the above linked poly kit, but with rubber?

Maybe I will need to buy each piece individually...
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Old 09-20-2013, 06:10 PM   #4
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For stock stuff, most good parts stores will be able to take care of you.
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Old 09-20-2013, 10:00 PM   #5
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Yes. Build a bit of a relationship with your local auto parts guys. They can help you out.
A lot of fellows have nice things to say about Moog parts.
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Old 09-20-2013, 10:17 PM   #6
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I was in your place a few months ago with my 1977 and ended up buying a rebuild kit for the front steering system plus hoses, control valve and steering unit. My car still does not track straight and pulls to the right because I still have to rebuild the rear suspension parts. You are on the right track with the parts your thinking of buying. The shop could not adjust the rear suspension because I needed lots of parts back there to fix the bushings, camber links and shims than also supply some bolt kits.

I had to have a shop do the front end at about $600.00 in parts which I purchased and handed to them than another $1100 in labor. When they did the estimate it was going to be about $2500 with the markup on parts.

I can wait on the rear end and will pull it apart myself but it will be about another $500 to $700 in parts when I go to do it. I will tear down most of the rear end myself and get it close then take it in for an alignment.

Wish you the best of luck in this project.

Last edited by MakoJoe; 09-20-2013 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 09-20-2013, 10:54 PM   #7
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I just rebuilt the front and rear suspension in my '80. The front end kit was around $225 from a supporting vendor and I did all the work myself. For the rear, I had my spare set of trailing arms rebuilt completely then replaced EVERYTHING from the transmission back. Every moving part, bushing, nut, bolt, etc. was rebuilt or replaced and was cleaned and painted before putting it all back in. A trip to the local alignment guru and she drives like new again. I estimate that the rear rebuild cost around $1000 not including the cost of a set of Bilstein HD shocks all around. The only paid labor was the trailing arm rebuild and the alignment. Very happy!
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:03 PM   #8
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Hoy moly, my budget of $1k sounds like it'll get eaten up QUICKLY!

I guess what I need to do is identify which parts/bushings/bolts/etc I need, find them, read up on how to replace them on my own, then do the work and take it in for an alignment.

I kinda want to get the poly kit just because it'll save me some time and trouble with all that it comes with, but I do favor rubber for the reasons that gcusmano mentioned.
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:08 PM   #9
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For a street driver I would highly suggest not using poly. If the original parts lasted this long surely you won't have to do it again...
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Old 09-20-2013, 11:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AboveTheLogic View Post
Hoy moly, my budget of $1k sounds like it'll get eaten up QUICKLY!

I guess what I need to do is identify which parts/bushings/bolts/etc I need, find them, read up on how to replace them on my own, then do the work and take it in for an alignment.

I kinda want to get the poly kit just because it'll save me some time and trouble with all that it comes with, but I do favor rubber for the reasons that gcusmano mentioned.
I am fortunate my factory rubber bushings in the front end are all in good shape and just show age minor dry rot.

If you have the tools and garage you can do most of it yourself. I have access to a full service garage but my car has to be done by Sunday because it is owned by the company I work for.

To do the work yourself you will need tools if you do not already have them. Most of them are not expensive like a Joint Separator Tool. On the 1977 the Ball Joints are riveted in not bolted in. I do not know about the 1979 model year. If they are riveted in you have drill and pound them out. To remove them you also need a spring compressor because you have to compress the springs to install new ball joints. Then you have to beat the hell out of them to break them loose from the upper and lower A Frames. This is where a Joint Separator Tool comes to play. If you have an air compressor and air hammer tool so much easier to use then a 3 pound sledge and a Joint Separator Tool. Same thing with the Tie Rod Ends they have to pounded free.

To replace bushings you need access to a Hydraulic press to press them out and in again. Tie rod ends, Idler Arm, Steering Control Unit and Steering Arm not hard to do with instructions.

Just preparing you for what you're up against and you can buy all the parts for about $1000 bucks but you also have to factor in all the tools.

Last edited by MakoJoe; 09-20-2013 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 09-26-2013, 09:16 PM   #11
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I have spring compressors, an air hammer, a set of pickle forks (I think this is what you are calling a joint separator), and all the other usual tools. I don't have a press. Maybe I will consider buying one if I can convince myself that I'll use it again.

My philosophy is I would rather spend the money buying more tools than pay someone to do the work just because they have the tools. Of course, there are exceptions.
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:49 PM   #12
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Old 09-26-2013, 11:36 PM   #13
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Thanks for the link!
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:41 PM   #14
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Don't forget the rear suspension members. You may go to a lot of effort on the front end but if the rear strut rod bushings and especially trailing arm bushings are shot it will still handle like a pig. I agree with factory style rubber A-arm bushings, I've had both rubber and poly. Check for broken welds around the front crossmember.
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Old 09-30-2013, 10:29 PM   #15
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I also have a '79, and I've got a week off school for fall break coming up shortly. I'm seriously considering the VBandP Grand Touring Kit, and plan to order tomorrow. I have access to basic hand tools, and I can borrow some of the more exotic stuff from local parts stores. As for a press, I think I know a guy who will let me use one. So I'm not really worried about tools.

I was wondering, though, what else I should do while I'm in there. Ball joints are on the list, but I'm not sure what else. Probably ought to address the squeaking brakes as well... For any who have installed that kit from VBP, what other work was necessary at the same time?

I don't mean to hijack your thread, but I figured this was related enough to not start another...
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Old 09-30-2013, 11:07 PM   #16
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My 70 has over 100k miles. I replaced the idler arm, and had the steering box rebuilt.

Rebuilding the steering box made the single biggest difference.

If you are doing a complete rebuild of the front and rear suspension $1k will not get it done even if you do ALL the labor.

Start making a list or parts to get a handle on what it will actually cost.

You can do most of the labor. I paid to have the steering box rebuilt, trailing arm rebuilt, and U joints pressed in place.

Did the remainder of the work in my oversized single car garage.

Bill
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Old 10-01-2013, 12:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1974ta View Post
If you are doing a complete rebuild of the front and rear suspension $1k will not get it done even if you do ALL the labor.

Start making a list or parts to get a handle on what it will actually cost.
That was the conclusion I came to. The VBP kit I mentioned seems to be a fair value for what you get, at least I think it is, and it costs nearly $1k (ON SALE ) for basically shocks, springs, and bushings (granted, you get sway bars too ).

As for U joints, I did those awhile back when I had the drive shaft out and, at least in my case, a hammer, a giant punch, LOTS of liquid wrench, and pair of smashed fingers got them out and put the new ones in.

Kristoffer

Last edited by kkEdlund; 10-01-2013 at 01:00 AM. Reason: smilies
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Old 10-01-2013, 01:03 AM   #18
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Default Sloppy steering????

ATLogic,

Consider the Borgeson integral power steering box and you won't have to spend good money on repairing ancient technology rams and control valves. Mud Flaps right now has a good deal on a Borgeson kit that includes the box, rag joint, drag link adapter and hose kit for UNDER $700!!! This box will make the biggest difference to the steering and will make the car much nicer to drive on the street.

The stock ratio gives you four turns LTL and no matter how well it is rebuilt, you still have ancient steering technology that makes you know you're driving a 30-40 year old car. The Borgeson box has 2.7 turns LTL and it is just so much nicer to drive. I have two '74 Vettes, one with and one without Borgeson and I know which one feels more like a modern car to drive.

Spend your grand on parts that NEED replacing; just because the tie rod ends etc are 34 years old doesn't mean that they are worn out. Have a competent front end specialist check everything and tell you what needs replacing and what can be re-used. Then look at your budget. Unless you're racing it, you can leave the rear end until you get some more cash for upgrades there.

Regards from Down Under.

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