War Pony: Suspension and Gauges – Filling in the Blanks

                            Drag Racer

It’s time to fill in the blanks on some important details in our project car. Last issue we glossed over the struts and shocks we’re using on the War Pony Mustang. Now we’ll look at the pieces used and an option or two. We’ll also look at our in-dash gauge package. There’s plenty to cover this time, so first back to the struts and rear shocks.

To recap, we’re using a set of Strange Engineering struts. They’re available as single or double adjustable. The single adjustable strut provides 10 rebound settings, while the double adjustable strut provides 13 rebound settings along with 13 compression settings (12 clicks on each adjuster). Both are supplied with threaded bodies and they’re designed to accept a 2.5 x 14.00-inch spring.

On the rear, we had two very good choices: A smooth body shock or a coil-over (both could be double or single adjustable). The smooth body shock mandates the use of stock location spring (stock type or small diameter). In a Fox Mustang, the spring is mounted on the lower trailing arm. It’s an okay setup, many cars go plenty fast with the stock arrangement. We wanted to clean up and simplify the back end, so we chose a coil-over shock on the rear. In our application, it still uses the upper stud mount, and the lower mount still installs on the rearend housing. This eliminates the spring on the trailing arm, allowing us to use a race car-style lower 4-link bar and mounts the spring on the shock body.

Strange offers two different styles of double adjustable shocks for the Fox Mustang: a smooth body shock for standard spring location cars and a coil-over. And like the front strut, there’s a choice between single adjustable and double adjustable models. In our case, we went with double adjustable shocks (and struts), front and rear.

There’s a good reason for using double adjustable shocks for our small tire street-strip application: If you can control the wheel motion, then you can control the dynamics of the car. The better the control of the wheel motion, the better the control of the dynamics of the entire car. Interpretation: In the world of drag racing, this boils down to “hook.” It also means your tuning capabilities are amplified many times over.

When discussing adjustable shocks, what’s with “bump” and “rebound” or “compression” and “extension”? Strange Engineering notes that different shock companies use different lingo. Often “bump,” “rebound,” “compression” and “extension” are used interchangeably. A shock absorber travels in two directions: It gets shorter (compresses) and it gets longer (extends). Some shock absorber manufacturers call this “bump” and “rebound,” but that can get confusing. To fully understand, pretend that you drive over a speed bump. The speed bump “bumps” the shock which in turn compresses it. After you drive over the speed bump, the shock rebounds and extends. That’s where you get the term “bump” and “rebound.”

In a Strange Engineering double adjustable shock, the compression is adjusted by adjusting the knob from one (softest) to 12 (stiffest). Due to the precision of the adjuster, only a click change is necessary to make a noticeable change. The rebound adjuster is extremely sensitive to change. One or two clicks will make a significant change in tuning the chassis. In the Strange shock, there are 13 rebound settings to choose from (12 clicks).

These shocks are designed as a bolt-in application for street or strip. Strange offers these shocks for a large array of applications. Not only are they of high quality, they’re robust and importantly, rebuildable. The whole concept behind using them was to provide an easy-to-adjust shock that bolts in place on stock-style suspension cars.

On to the gauges. Our project Mustang had some pretty good high-performance bones, including the gauges. Trouble is, the instrument package was limited in terms of gauge range and what we’d actually be monitoring. Included in the stock mix was an 80-plus-mph speedometer, 8,000-rpm tach, fuel level gauge, boost, temperature and oil pressure gauges. When we factored in the need for some sort of funky adapters to use them, it was time for some modern instrumentation.

Where does one begin? What’s better, mechanical or electric gauges? These instrument formats have been around for a long time. The latest stepper motor instruments are far ahead of the game. All three configurations (mechanical, electric, stepper motor) can be built into an accurate gauge, but the determining factors involve installation and application more than gauge accuracy. Some of today’s stepper motor configuration gauges combine the ease of electric gauge wiring with a full sweep dial face like the mechanical gauge.

What is a stepper motor? It’s an electromechanical device engineered to convert electrical pulses into mechanical motion. The spindle (shaft) of a stepper motor rotates incrementally when an electrical pulse is applied to it (in the proper sequence). The reason a stepper motor is more accurate than air-core gauge technology is the mechanical precision of the internals. The range of error is non-cumulative from step to step. This means a high-quality digital stepper motor gauge, such as the Speed Hut Revolution products we chose, can have an ultimate accuracy of 0.5%. Another feature Speed Hut offers is the ability to customize its “Made in America” gauges to fit your specific needs.

Finally, we needed some way to mount aftermarket instruments into our stock dash. None of this would be possible without a neat cluster package manufactured by Florida 5.0. They build plastic clusters for Mustangs, which allow you to use aftermarket gauges. Florida 5.0 will also supply clusters with the gauges preinstalled. We chose to simply use its custom cluster and add our own Speed Hut Revolution gauges.

Strange Engineering
847.663.1701
Strangeengineering.net/

Speedhut
(Manufacturer of Revolution Gauges)
801.796.1460
Speedhut.com

Florida 5.0
954.966.5523
Florida50.com

 Drag Racer

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Strange offers two bolt-in strut options for the Fox-body Mustang: a single or double adjustable (bump and rebound) piece. They’re both manufactured from steel and the body is threaded to accept an adjustable lower coil-over seat.

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The first photo shows the bearing Strange uses on the coil-over upper spring seat. The second shows the complete upper billet spring seat supplied with the strut. This, coupled with a series of spacers and a caster-camber plate set (shown last issue), allow the use of a coil-over strut in a Fox Mustang.

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Here’s the Strange strut along with a 2.5 x 14.00-inch Hypercoil spring installed on the nose of our project. Strange can help you determine spring rates. The weight of the car coupled with the application will dictate the spring rate.

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The strut bolts in place like just the stock piece. Note that we swapped the original 1986 SVO spindles for 1987 Fox Mustang spindles.The thickness of the strut mount on the spindle differs between the 1986 and 1987 (and later) cars. The SVO setup mandated a special offset wheel, the use of Lincoln brakes and a lower ball joint that is obsolete.

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Shock compression (bump) adjustment on the Strange strut is on its base. There are 13 settings. Fully clockwise when viewed from the bottom is full firm. Baseline is on the firm side (three to five clicks toward soft from full firm). Extension is set here (second photo) at the top of the strut body. Turn the adjuster fully counter clockwise to full firm. (Once it stops, do not force it!) Then turn clockwise three to five clicks (soft). From this point, you can establish the baseline.

Drag Racer
Strange offers a wide range of bolt-in shocks (front and rear). They’re available in single or double adjustable versions. For a Fox Mustang that incorporates a stock lower trailing arm-mounted spring, a smooth body shock is the answer.

Suspension
Adjusters on the smooth body shocks are the base (the same as those found on a coil-over shock). On the double adjustable shock, one adjuster sets bump while the other sets rebound. The range of adjustment is similar to that found on the struts.

Suspension
We’re using double adjustable coil-over shocks at the back. Strange offers these shocks with your choice of mounts. This setup is a bolt-in for the Fox Mustang with a stud on top and an eyelet mount on the bottom.

Suspension
Like Strange’s smooth bore shocks, the adjusters are at the base. The spring seat arrangement is the same as on the front struts. Ditto with the spring package; it’s a 2.5 x 14.00-inch coil from Hyperco. Not only is this setup double adjustable, we can also easily change ride height. The use of coil-over simplifies the back of the car.

Suspension

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Here are the respective mount points of the coil-over. There’s a conventional stud setup above and a spherical bearing on the bottom. Note the adjuster knobs, the big knob is extension while the small knob is compression.

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Strange supplies this lower mount for the back coil-over shocks for Mustang applications. It creates a true bolt-in for the coil-over.

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In order to fit the new cluster into the actual dash, the plastic dash has to be trimmed as shown in this photo. The second photo shows the cuts (done with a Dremel). We cleaned it up with a hand file after this photo.

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The reason for the surgery: this is our Florida 5.0 dash cluster fit with a set of Speedhut gauges. The red indicator between the tach and speedo is for a warning lamp (line lock or transbrake). Turn signal indicators along with the high beam indicator are actually built into the speedometer face.

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Speedhut’s tachometer is available in wide range of configurations. It also has an integral multi-LED lamp shift light.

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Speedhut’s smaller instruments are also loaded with features, including warning light LEDs.

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A simple innovation engineered by Speedhut is a threaded case. A large ring simply threads on the backside. A secure and effective answer to mounting gauges.

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Speedhut supplies the wiring harnesses with all of its gauges. The hardware turns the stepper motor gauges into plug-and-play pieces.

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Electronic stepper motor configuration instruments are extremely thin, which makes packaging a whole bunch easier.

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The complete dash out of the car. We removed any wiring that isn’t needed and bundled the remainder.

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We test fit the gauge panel in the dash. Don’t pay attention to the instrument location in the first photo, we juggled them bit. The second photo shows the complete panel in the Mustang. We can’t finish the steering column install until our pro steering shaft kit arrives.

Text and Photos by Wayne Scraba

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