|November 17, 2009 - Of course, after all that measuring and checking, one of the lower brackets was a bit crooked.|
I'd been quite careful to align everything, but one must have shifted as I tacked it on. It was about 1.5 degrees off where it should be, but was visibly crooked. The human eye is unforgiving!
It didn't take long to cut it off (that's why they were only tacked on securely instead of having the full bead applied) and reposition it. So there's that solved.
Once that was done, I slid the axle under the car and supported it on jackstands at the normal ride height. I then measured the exact distances from the brackets to the chassis so I could order the right parts from Speedway Motors - some swaged steel tubes with both left and right hand threads so that adjusting is a snap. Besides, the tubes are the same price as one weld-in bung for making your own! I did pick up a couple of those so that I could make my own Panhard bar, though. It'll be longer than the tube lengths, and this way I can use a larger diameter tube for more stiffness over the longer length. I'm going to make it as long as I can to minimize lateral movement of the axle through the suspension travel. Anyhow, I should hopefully have those parts on Friday so I can actually attach the axle to the car! At which point I will undoubtedly discover something terrible.
I also measured my planned shock mounting point. Hmm. If I want to use that location and retain a shock of any significant travel, I'll have to extend my lower brackets down further. This will put the bottom of the shock about 4" from the ground. Not really a problem of course. I do have room to put the shock in the wheelwell with my current axle, but that may limit my options for more tire in the future - I'm considering narrowing the rear so I can run wider rubber. If I do extend the lower brackets, I can either weld an extension on to the existing ones or chop them off and build another set that's longer. I'd probably go with the latter, it's the smart way to go.
One piece of good news - looks as if there's enough room for the Panhard rod behind the axle. Excellent. This means it can be straight instead of having to bend where it goes over the diff, and thus will be stronger.