Wednesday’s Words

Coil over shocks have been popular ever since we used to take them off  Jaguar rear ends and install them on our old Fords in place of buggy springs.  The trend became so popular that many companies started making coil over shocks for street rods.  I installed my first set using a pair of Koni’s sold by Logghe Stamping Company in Detroit.  In fact, I had Rich Riddell, who worked for Logghe, do a complete Deuce chassis using coil over shocks front and rear.  This was in the late 60’s.  The shocks worked fine and I preferred them over the buggy spring.  I later changed from my love of race cars to a more affordable style called a Hot Rod.  I went back to the P&J style of buggy springs and have stayed there all these years.  I have had a few coil overs but always found the ride a little choppy compared to the springs.  Walt had a beautiful 3 window that Nick Matranga built with a relatively new Deuce Factory chassis which was equipped with coil overs on the rear.  The car was beautiful but rode terrible with the coil overs.  I really wanted the car but the ride killed it for me.  Walt later traded it back to Boyd and I had Boyd build me a full chassis using his trick set up.  Boy was that an expensive lesson in how much to spend on a chassis.  I will say that his cars rode like a new car and handled even better.  Walt still has several of Boyd’s cars and they all ride wonderful.

Now that you know the history, fast forward to last sunday when Bob O’s beautiful Deuce 5 window broke his right rear coil over shock after hitting a pot hole on the freeway.  He now has the car apart and has talked to the manufacturer about the failure.  It seems if you don’t have the correct travel in the shocks, both up and down, then you risk the chance of having the shock bottom out and it is sure to break something after a while.  The manufacturer explained that when the car is at ride height the upper and bottom positions must not be hitting the shock when in fully extended or compressed position.  They have installed a set screw to keep the top mounting eye from coming loose ( which is what happened in Bob O’s car) from the shock shaft causing a catastrophic failure.  The shaft size is 1/2 inch versus some 5/8 size in other shocks.  In either case, it wasn’t the shaft that failed, but the threaded portion in the aluminum eye stripped due to bottoming out over time.

In conclusion, you need to make sure you have the correct length shock and have it adjusted for the correct travel in your car.  It is also a good idea to install a rubber bumper above the axle to keep it from hitting the frame on large bumps or pot holes.  The damage could have been much worse and thank God no one was hurt.  Please check you rear suspension for correct travel and repair before your next trip.

I will have some photos tomorrow of the above situation as it is raining here today.

Stay Tooned!


This is my set up on Lucy.  I used Aldan shocks set at 28 degrees and equal travel (middle) of the shock.  I will install rubber stops between the frame and axle.  You can see the holes that Henry drilled in the frame in 1934 to have the same set up.  Adjusting the coil spring increases or decreases the tension and actually raises or lowers the body.  Some folks adjust these to make the car set level and forget about the  travel of the shock.

This is the same set up I have on Lucy using the P&J crossmember.  The ease of installation is why builders love the coil overs.  Just make sure you have the correct travel when using this set up.  P&J has the correct information for your chassis.

The SCRS shows you how strong the top crossmember is and why if the coil over bottoms out you will most certainly break the shock or lower mount.

Here is the SC chassis with a buggy spring.  The shocks are just as important for travel but the frame will not come down and hit the axle if one breaks.  Of course, the shackle can break and cause the same problem.  This suspension rides really well they way they have it designed.

Pete even installs coil overs on a 35-40 chassis which normally has the parallel leaf set up.

Looking from the rear the above chassis shows the coil overs shock mounting crossmember which is really strong and provides an excellent mounting surface for the coil overs.  They seem to ride and handle O.K. but I prefer the parallel leafs to this set up.  It has the clean look advantage for some builders.

I know Steve would like to find one like this.  Note the black CA plate on the front.

Maybe needs about and inch more taken out of the rear arch and it would be perfect.  We used to put cement blocks in the trunk to get it right.  If that didn’t work, we made longer shackles.  Bob O  and John know longer shackles.

How about a nice sedan for $16,500?  It sure beats the $35K ones that have been showing up lately.  The A sticker is a nice touch.  Today all you need is $5 dollar a gallon gas rather than rationing.

Today’s Coil over shocks…..high end Brizio built Vicky!

Roy built this super looking Vicky hiboy and used coil over shocks.  You can bet he has them set up correctly.

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