Tech section: replacement shocks

Post general questions related to Alpines.
SVRon
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Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby SVRon » Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:24 am

Got a question. The front replacement shocks recommended for our Alpines,in the tech section, are all big heavy cars, Buicks and Caddys. What gives? Do these shocks, that give a big car a soft drive, firm up an Alpine?
I've got the monroes that are sold in the Sunbeam stores, and they do feel a bit mushy. Not sure if I need to upgrade to konis, but would like better handling. Would using these shocks be an improvement in handling?
Thanks
Ron

Me&MyTiger
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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby Me&MyTiger » Mon Jul 09, 2012 12:22 pm

When you say you are looking for improvements in handling, do you mean less body lean in cornering? Is your context one of general, occasionally spirited, driving? Autocrossing, more competitive events?

My experience is only with my Tiger, but I think some of it is relevant to your Alpine as well.

Are you generally okay with how the car rides in a straight line and over bumps that affect both front wheels but do not like the degree of body lean in turns? If so I highly recommend a thicker anti sway bar and urethane bushings. Addco makes one (7/8 inch diameter vs stock 3/4 inch). I have seen them from time to time for $99.00+ shipping on ebay although more recently some guy was wanting $199! I got one several years ago for my Tiger and was really pleased with the cornering improvement. I have since gone to a 1 inch bar and reinforced arm mounts and really like it even more. Note that the straight ahead ride and handling is not affected by the anti-sway bar (unless only one wheel deflects of course).

While the difference between 3/4 diameter and 7/8 diameter may not seem like much, the stiffness goes up by the square of the radius (or something like that). You will note a significant difference between stock 3/4 and aftermarket 7/8. Also, the urethane bushings control deflection better than the stock ones, which is also going to help.

Speaking of bushings, just replacing your current, possibly well aged rubber bushings with new ones will probably give you a surprisingly noticeable improvement in your handling. Maybe you would just want to give that a try first. I know Sunbeam Specialties sells stock replacement rubber ones. They may also have stock sized urethane ones. Just be sure and use the proper grease on them during installation if you go for that version.

Shocks and springs really need to be discussed in combination since they should be designed to work together. I have upgraded both on my Tiger, but think what I have done there is less relevant to your interests. I have also lowered my car front and back, but I am guessing that is something beyond what you are interested in doing.

Hope at least some of that is helpful.

Gene

SVRon
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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby SVRon » Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:20 am

Hi Gene and thanks for the reply,
Recently, because I lost a lower ball joint, I've replaced all the ball joints, tie rod ends and rubber sway bar bushings. After these replacements I needed an alignment. To make a long story short, had some problems w/the first guys who did the alignment, so became very aware of the front end irregularities. I've now had it aligned correctly and have a much better ride but is still doesn't feel 100% stable, especially hard cornering @ higher speeds. I don't plan to do any racing, but do want to be able to "push her" on the curves and have confidence. As mentioned, I have the cheap Monroes, installed during my initial repair, around 4Kmi ago. Doing the "bounce test" to check the shocks, the monroes do not dampen the bounce very well, get 2 or 3 bounce cycles after release. Compared to other vehicles, w/good shocks, that dampen the bounce after maybe a half cycle. It was recommeded, by a mechanic friend, I might want to get some better shocks. That prompted my look at the forums tech site and my observation and question about the recommended replacement shocks being from large heavy cars.

Ron

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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby jkgriffs » Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:21 am

You could increase the spring rates, which improves turn in, at least on a tiger, also there should be Carrera shocks available for the Alpine as well as
Koni's I'd probably call QA1 and ask them seeing as they are Carrera. the spring controls the weight and the shock dampens the oscualations? or when or
how fast the roll happens, up and down movement etc, you might also consider double adjustable shocks that you can control both the rebound and the bump,( compression and rise) and as Gene said urethane bushings are the way, to go in the suspension.

Joel
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Me&MyTiger
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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby Me&MyTiger » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:09 pm

SVRon wrote:... I've now had it aligned correctly and have a much better ride but is still doesn't feel 100% stable, especially hard cornering @ higher speeds. I don't plan to do any racing, but do want to be able to "push her" on the curves and have confidence....


Ron, you are definitely right about needing some new shocks, given the bounce test results. I am a firm believer in doing one change at a time and testing for acceptable results. The thing to do is work toward a better handling car without turning it into the proverbial coal cart and ruin the everyday driving enjoyment.

Once your get the shock replacement done, I have a couple of additional suggestions.

I read somewhere, perhaps on this Forum, an interesting observation attributed to Colin Chapman, of Lotus fame. He said something to the effect that any suspension can be made to work reasonably/effectively well if you can just keep it from moving. Or sentiments to that effect. That is particularly relevant to our Alpines and Tigers and the A-arm configuration and how they move under suspension travel. The stock design does not give you the negative camber you want (at least quickly enough)to be generated when the car leans in a turn. You sort of end up on the edges of the front tires. I am guessing it is that phenomenon that is causing the car to not feel 100% stable. You are loosing grip at exactly the same time you are needing it. Stiffer springs and matching shocks (and bigger anti sway bar)will reduce the body roll in a turn, helping to keep more front rubber on the road. Its that Chapman thing...

Another thing you can do is dial in a little negative camber into your alignment, say 1/2 a degree, Keep positive toe in of 1/8 inch or less for acceptable straight ahead tracking Tire wear should not suffer materially, and the negative camber will give you a leg up on what the suspension will eventually start to generate.

Tires are also a major contributor. What size of wheel and tire are you running. A high sidewall tire on a 13 inch wheel is going to give you a lot more sidewall flex in a turn than a shorter sidewall tire. That is going to create a bit of squirming, sense of instability, relative to a shorter sidewall tire. But at some point the ride quality becomes too harsh.

Just some ideas, hope some of it is worthwhile!

Gene

SVRon
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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby SVRon » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:06 am

Joel and Gene,
Once again, thanks for the replies.
Joel, I'm on a pretty limited budget and replacing torsion bar, springs or getting double adjustable shocks just isn't in it, right now. The reason I was looking at the tech sections suggestion of alternate shocks is that I would like to save a couple of $, if possible. Like some $50-60 shocks rather than the cheap $30 monroes, I have, vs the $180 konis, which I just cannot afford. The $80 KYB's are a possibility, but still a bit out of my price range.
Gene, thanks for verifying that the bounce test is indicating replacing the shocks. I also believe in changing 1 variable at a time and it seems shocks would be the logical 1st step. Your and Joel's suggestions are much appreciated, but there is that budget problem. I'm pretty sure I can get the guy, that did the alignment, to dial in some negative camber. As far as tires, I'm using what I could get, there aren't many 13" tires made anymore. Sumitomos have been recommended for an upgrade. I believe I'm using 13XR165, again it was a radial size recommended by forum posts and they were not expensive, from Merchants Tire. Another mechanic friend also recommended looking into upgrading those also, but there is that budget problem again. Looking for best results, for limited funds, rather than "perfect" ride for a new mortgage.
This gets me back to my original question. Is there an explaination as to why the tech sections recomendations for replacement shocks are such large heavy vehicles? Are these good recommendations? Any experiences w/using the recommended, tech section, shocks. Getting good resonably priced shocks for the Alpine is impossible, getting good reasonably priced shocks for old Caddys and Buicks seems to be much easier.
Cheers
Ron
Cheers

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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby B382002631 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:01 pm

I dont know if these are the right numbers. Ive done some cross referening from numbers from the tech tips. KYB KG5508 for the rear & KG4611A for front. The prices vary depending where you shop, but they are priced around $30 to $50. But I have not verified if they will fit. Also these are numbers for a Tiger

SVRon
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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby SVRon » Thu Jul 12, 2012 1:19 pm

Hi B....
Thanks for the reply. Just after writing my last note, I called KYB. They said they had identified the KG4616 as working on the Alpine/Tiger front. It's listed, on ShockWareHouse, for the 86 to 95 Samuri. For the back they identified 343211 which is listed ,in SWH, for 82-02 Camaro, 53-62 Vette, 82-02 Firebird and Trans-Am.
Your suggestions of: KG4611A, is listed as front shocks for 64-78 Corona, 71-76 Corona Mark 2 and 70-83 Toyota 2WD pick-up. The KG5508 is listed, on SWH, as for 65-70 Electra and LaSaber, 71-76 Calis, Fleetwood, and Deville, and 65-68 Olds 88 and 98, except the picture shows top and bottom eyes, rather than bottom eyes and top peg, Alpines/(Tigers?) use. All these shocks are in the mid $30's in price.
Not knowing anything about the physics of shocks, it would seem that the Samuri and the Camaro, Vette, Firebird, Trans-Am would have closest characteristics to Alpines/Tigers. Your #'s agree w/the Tech sections recomendations, as far as the cars, but I'm still not sure why a shock for such heavy cars would be appropriate for Alpines/Tigers.
Again, thanks for the replies and help
Ron
As an aside, I understand the Sunbeam merchants need to make a buck, and they provide a needed service for the community. They probably make a good bit of their needed profit on markups and I normally don't mind, but when KYB's are listed on their sites for $85 but are priced in the mid $30's on regular, non specialty sites, that seems to be a bit excessive.

jkgriffs
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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby jkgriffs » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:17 am

Ron,
Maybe this will help as to the why! lets say the Caddie weights 4000# the shock valving will be approprate for that vehicle, the Sunbeam weight might be 2000# so in essance the shock will be stiffer, also most oem and after market shocks do not have a lot of re bound hense the float ? as you and others
have said I,d go with the gas shocks (gas tends to keep the boiling point of the shock fluid stable thru travel and you can dial quite a bit of neg camber
on the stock front suspension. we has .75 deg on the stock Tiger we had and have 1 deg on the new one (an other story) also were running toe out,lots of discussion on this, and a minumal amount of caster 3 deg to be exact. and last but not least everybodys trying to make a buck!

Joel
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SVRon
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Re: Tech section: replacement shocks

Postby SVRon » Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:33 am

Again, thanks for the reply, Joel. That explaination is kinda what I was thinking.
I did a little more futzing w/the steering box, removed a shim and that seems to have tightened up steering a bit.
I think I'm gonna go w/the KG4611A's. I'll post, my opinion, here when I get them.
Again all thanks for the help and information.
Ron


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