Monday, September 22, 2014

Adjustable Radius Arm Brackets

Ever since I overhauled the rear subframe (here), I was not convinced that the replacement radius arm brackets fitted correctly. The drivers side in particular was an absolute pig to get the holes to line up and I always thought the camber looked a bit off and looking at the tyre wear on that side seems to confirm this.

So off I went to Huddersfield Mini Spares and got myself a set of camber adjustable replacement brackets. They were fairly cheap and to be honest, as soon as I got them I wished I had got some better ones, but hey ho. You get what you pay for.

Starting on the passenger side, the first job is to get the wheel off and undo that big nut and the four bolts that hold the bracket to the subframe.

Getting the bracket off was a bit tricky as the rubber trunnion bush is in the way. But a bit of levering on the radius arm and a bit of wiggling and it was free.

Now, I know the camber on this side is more or less fine, so I tried to work out a method of setting the new bracket to match this side. Easier said than done though. First I tried with bits of card, marking the hole heights, but it was hopelessly inaccurate.

After a bit of head scratching, I came up with this crude rig. It is basically two long studs held down with some heavy lumps of iron from my adjustable jack stands. Set across the studs, rests my old aerial.

 It's a bit Heath Robinson but using line of sight, I was able to align the two holes fairly well.

And then copy that height to the other bracket.

Once they were at more or less the correct height, I cranked as hard as I could on the two locking nuts to hold position and then back to the car to fit them. Getting past the rubber was a bit tricky, but once again the solution was found with much wiggling and levering of the radius arm. To add a little corrosion resistance, I slapped a bit of grease behind the bracket where it comes into contact with the subframe.

Aligning the holes was a bit tricky and I found the use of a bottle jack helpful to push the radius arm upwards. But once the first bolt was in, the other three just seemed to follow without too much drama. Fitting the big nut and torquing to 72Nm saw this side finished. Things were going spookily well!

Moving to the drivers side and getting the bracket off was much the same with a bit of levering and wiggling. The real problems started though trying to get the holes to line up. Even with the bottle jack and a good half hour of messing about, I was beginning to realise the futility of the task and really wished I had bought some better brackets.

But I pressed on and removed the bracket to open out the top hole a little with a file to help with alignment and eventually I managed to get the first bolt in place. Once that was located, I was able to maneuver the bracket enough to get the other bolts in. Two hours of frustrating work later, there was a big sigh of relief!

Although this was supposed to be a fairly straight forward 'nuts and bolts' job, it was hampered somewhat by my decision to go for the cheaper brackets. Yes they will probably do the job now that they are on, but I could have saved myself a whole load of heartache and messing about getting them to fit.

Now that they are on, I'm a little concerned that the rear wheels are toeing in a bit too much. I'm really not sure how 'camber adjustable' brackets could alter the toe angle so maybe it's just my paranoia as driving it around feels fine.

At some point I will get the alignment and geometry of the car checked out and set up correctly to make sure it's all okay. So I'm adding this to the 'To Do' list as a low priority job for now as we are fast approaching winter and the car will be off the road so maybe this is something for next spring.

In the mean time I will try an idea given to me by Gav Oxbury via Facebook to knock together a home made trammel to measure the toe angle myself. Looking at Gav's previous experience he seems to know his onions from his shallots when it comes to this stuff.

I had absolutely no idea what a trammel was either, 
but they look a lot like this.

This is the kind of 'make do and mend' solution that a 'have a go hooligan' like myself just can't resist, so thanks Gav I'll be giving this a go as soon as I can and compare the measurements to the spec in the Haynes Manual.

As for the camber issue... Well the wheel looks straighter, but I will only really know when I get it checked out with the proper equipment. By then, I may have decided to take the rear subframe off again and fit better brackets, who knows!

For now, the new brackets are on and working and I have bagged myself some more useful experience which is as satisfying, if not more so than the actual result itself.

<Next Post> - 'Distributor Cap Clip'
<This Post> - 'Adjustable Radius Arm Brackets'
<Previous Post> - 'Replaced the Aerial'

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  1. I just love this car and the features you have defined is very helpful for me for the future use..Thank you so much for sharing...

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    1. Hi mike, thanks for the feedback, glad you like it. It's a lot of work, but I love doing it.