Solid Axle: Radius Arms


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gabequest
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Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

RADIUS ARMED DANA 44 AND 9 INCH: 1979 F150
4:10's with tru-track front, track lock rear
Fox 2.0 remote reservoir coil overs in front with somewhere around 300# spring rate
Rancho 9000 rear shocks
Overland springs/shackles in rear with junker spring pack to match front lift
Jeep sway bar and front drive shaft


I think the total lift is around 7-8". Not positive, but rocker panels are 20" up. This project still has bugs but is fast approaching normal. It was mostly done by a professional jeep guy, but I've been the one fine tuning handling.
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Here is what I've learned so far while trying to figure out why Trouble has been scary to drive at high speeds: Is it bump steer, sloppy suspension or ????
We first thought the slight difference in parallel between drag ling and track bar was causing excessive bump steer. While there is some bump steer, I have learned that soft suspension and aging steering box are more to blame.

Once I tightened the box, things got better....and better once putting Rancho 9000 in the rear and adjusting them to pretty stiff. I then put stiffer Eibach springs on the front: went from 250# to 350#...but cannot crank the recommended 2inches of preload or else the van lifts too high in the front. I dont really know how much spring I have going, but it feels pretty good.

The next problem was the fox 2.0 remote reservoir coil overs were too soft; supposed to rest at 200psi nitrogen; were under 100psi when I finally got to checking them. Had em filled at 4wheel parts, but they lost about 100psi over 3wks. I had Fox send new seals and then I had them refilled to 250psi.

As of now, there is still some bump steer and its a little "hoppy" at high speeds on undulating highway or highway dips. Its not bad, but you MUST DRIVE THIS VAN OR IT WILL DRIVE YOU.

Steering box adjustments continue to help some. I can't figure out if its worth changing the rear leafs. I have the overland 4-5" kit, but cut and added some spring pack from a junkyard full size van, and the curve is not the same. I wonder if slightly stiffer rear springs would help with some body roll.

I will say, though, that body roll is much less since all-of-the above and Trouble handles pretty well at medium speed cornering. Again, high speed (60+mph) highway-type turns on undulating pavement are a bit nerve racking if cars are next to me.


I was able to ramp Trouble at a 4wheel parts to snap some photos. The quality is poor due to cell phone and quality reduction to save space...sorry.

Front is Dana 44 from 79 F150 1/2 ton using stock radius arms back to custom brackets on crossmember. I'm not happy with their height but dont have the money to have brackets re-done with longer/raised arms.

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With sway bar disconnected: from jeep. Mounted into front of frame. Cool one-twist disconnect
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Driver side: springs stiff and do not allow full compression in this setting, but may in higher speeds. They are 350# but not preloaded 2inches so less: don't have bump stops yet
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Radius arm mounts and fox coil overs mounted to top of radius arm clamp; Custom exhaust had to match nearly exactly to donor Suburban 350 in order to pass CA emissions
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Can see the nitrogen reservoir; also, I took out the 2inch body lift to keep total lift lower
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2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior

Topic author
gabequest
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Posts: 208
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

I felt guilty for poor quality photos so here are some more. These are all on my photobucket, but I figured I'll copy them here for instant gratification. There are a lot so lets see if it works...and yes, that is coolant you see in a few pics.

Forgot to mention that the pitman are is not stock; about 6 1/4" and I've been SEARCHING for 6 1/2 - 6 3/4"


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2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior
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mdmead
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by mdmead »

Very interesting. If you are using the stock F-150 9", it isn't offset, correct? You don't have any clearance issues with the shaft and tank (or anything else)? I'd love to crawl around under your van and look for fun!
Matt
Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
-07 Can-Am Outlander XT -->My yellow 4x4 quad for work & play
-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


No new projects until the current ones are done!

LiftedAWDAstro
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

Looks good...here are my suggestions...

In these pics you can see the pinion is pointing skyward. This was not the case with Ford's application. Rotate the axle to get the pinion so your u-joint is in line with the drive shaft. The double cardan at the t-case will take care of vibrations. What are your caster/camber measurements? Are there pinion angle correction shims (bushings) under the radius arms?

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In this pic the sway bar is not correct. First off a Jeep spec'd sway bar is WAY too light for your now pushing 5500# van. Jeep Wranglers are not much above 4000# and are a lot narrower. Any good 4x4 shop will know to make the sway bar link vertical and to have the lever arm parallel to the road surface.

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This is a proper sway bar installation:

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Fix these 2 small things and your van will handle awesome. The SPB only got squirrely at 70 MPH with the front sway bar disconnected. I used to flat tow Lynne's Jeep YJ behind it with no issue except power!
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy

Topic author
gabequest
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

Yes Dean, I agree with all of the above. The guy who installed the lift is quite good, however, I think he pieced this thing together without full foresight. He is super busy and hard to get to commit to a redo. I'll be harassing him soon, now that I've got the suspension figured out.
2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior

Topic author
gabequest
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

mdmead wrote:Very interesting. If you are using the stock F-150 9", it isn't offset, correct? You don't have any clearance issues with the shaft and tank (or anything else)? I'd love to crawl around under your van and look for fun!

The offset is just about perfect; diff is shifted towards passenger side and wheel base is probably 1.5"ish less than stock, which should allow for 12.5" tires and sliding door just barely scraping
2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior

Topic author
gabequest
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Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:44 pm
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

Dean,
Took it to an alignment shop who read caster as about 3.5degrees. Just order C-Bushings that are 4deg, to make a total of about 7.5deg. I figured I'll go more caster and see how it handles. The other option is 2 degree but I'll go that route only if the tires lay over too much with the wheel turned.

The crux with the sway bar is mounting the links. The arms are already pretty long, so longer arms may cancel out any benefit. Also, there is very little room on top of the axle and from what I understand the tube can't be welded onto. Maybe some sort of L bracket from the existing bolt holes up and over to the top of the tube. Almost like turning the existing brackets upside down....ish.

And...not really sure what to do about the "duty" of the sway bar. There's a lot of fab work into fitting that into the lower front frame. It's probably gonna have to stay as is. Hopefully relocating the arms/links and the C-bushings will do the trick.
2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior

LiftedAWDAstro
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Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:35 pm
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

That caster should make it better. You CAN weld to the tube...that is how the mounts get on it.

Move the link to the top of the tube, even if it has to real short. In this pic flip the "L" bracket over and forward so the link connection is on top of the axle. I see you have the cast "C"'s on the tube and those can't be welded to.

Image
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy

Topic author
gabequest
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

Cast C's?

Thanks Dean, I'll keep you updated.

So...are you planning on another Astro?

I seriously think we need to contact GM and have them design a proper new version. There is no other small van on the market to compete and tons of people who camp/climb/fish etc. would buy them. Maybe not enough to justify a new line
2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior
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loopie
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by loopie »

Fancy GQ :guitar:

Topic author
gabequest
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

Thanks; I wish I could take credit for the fab work...but, I've been putting my blood, sweat and tears into getting the suspension etc. correct.

Dean, 4degree C-bushings did the trick. Drives much better now. The only thing left to do is have new brackets made and shorter links to make the sway bar arms parallel to driving surface. After that, I really dont have any other tweaking to do: My girlfriend can finally drive Trouble without getting nervous....and we all know, we spend so much time on our vans that they better work or the special lady friends are not super happy.
2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior

LiftedAWDAstro
I have my van tatooed on my cheeks
Posts: 4379
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:35 pm
Location: New Haven, NY

Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

Glad it's better now! =D> Too bad the GF likes driving it now...you'll never get it back. #-o
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy

Topic author
gabequest
I finally get the smurf thing
Posts: 208
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:44 pm
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

Well....Its been a while!

So SORRY to abandon my brothers at arms! A lot has happened since this last post. First, new girlfriend. I was pretty wrecked for a year after the last one (and then one in between) and got un-psyched to post stuff. Job change, awesome bout of Fun-employment, rock climbing trips, great life experiences, great people...and of course......more work on TROUBLE. \:D/

As far as this post is concerned, I'll list some of the bugs I've figured out.

STEERING ](*,)
Shaky, difficult to control on undulating highway especially turns, wobbly return to center all speeds, seeking:
First of all, the power steering system has been my weakest link. I've replaced 3 gear boxes. 2 due to loosening up, one due to seal failure. I WILL admit though, I now realize I replaced one of the "loosening" boxes prematurely, simply because the pitman arm nut was not tight enough 65ftlbs vs 180ish!!!) That was NOT cool. Who knows if that thing would have wiggled off! I had forgotten to go back and tighten it after starting it with a crescent wrench!! YIKES.
Anyway, the last one (and pump) were damaged in the videos I posted on this site under off road vids :vom:
viewtopic.php?f=21&t=8453
So I said F it...and called AGR http://www.agrperformance.com/ to order a custom box and high flow pump. I'll put those in around mid November and report. I'm off to Kauai to work for 5 weeks.

SWAY BAR
Wobbly return to center:
I dont have pictures of the sway bar link correction, but the brackets were redone and links shortened to make the arms parallel to the ground. This helped some of the shimmy.

SHOCKS
Van bottomed out suspension to easily and jumped back up to forcefully:
Sent the fox 2.0 remote reservoir coil-overs back for re-valving (Fox does the first one free) and had them calibrated to roughly a full size SUV like a tahoe. Not exactly but similar dampening and rebound.

TRACK BAR BUSHINGS
Wobbly return to center at all speeds:
New urethane bushings helped enough to notice

All together, this van starting kicking ass at high and slow speeds, on and off road. Problem, things loosen. Lets see how the new box and potentially bushings again help it.
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2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior

Topic author
gabequest
I finally get the smurf thing
Posts: 208
Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:44 pm
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Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by gabequest »

Some more pics:
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2004 Astro AWD
4inch Overland lift, 265/70/16, Poptop Colorado CamperVan, 11inch Roof Fan, Custom Bumper...more to come on the interior

LiftedAWDAstro
I have my van tatooed on my cheeks
Posts: 4379
Joined: Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:35 pm
Location: New Haven, NY

Re: Solid Axle: Radius Arms

Post by LiftedAWDAstro »

Glad to hear it's coming along. Nice articulation! :muhaha:
Current rides:
2013 Toyota Tundra DC 4x4
2008 Dodge Nitro 4x4
2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S Special Edition

Mileage spreadsheet

Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
2005 AWD, 4.10's - sold to skippy
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