View Full Version : Short vs tall spindles

10-19-2004, 06:49 PM
How much of a handling gain do you get when converting from the stock "short" spindles to "tall" ones on a '64 A-body? I understand the camber issues with the short spindles and the odd-shaped upper control arm, but how much of a difference would I expect to see by converting?

10-19-2004, 08:26 PM
For a daily driver down the highway you probably wouldn't notice a huge difference...however if you do any "spirited" driving on the weekends you will notice a significant difference. Besides that, it is much easier to add real brakes to the tall spindles.

10-20-2004, 05:17 AM
Thanks for the input. That's what I figured. I definately want the added performance.

I'm looking into a Global West setup for the upper/lower control arms for the taller spindle. Which tall spindles are typical for the conversion? Aren't they the mid 70's Camaro? I'm planning an SSBC disk brake conversion, which will come with new spindles. I'm trying to figure out which kit I need, since the standard one for A-bodies are for the short spindles.

10-20-2004, 05:23 AM
70-83 F body and the B body (Caprice, Impala, Roadmaster, etc.. ) from the late 70's -early 90's are the spindles most guys use. If you are going with a SSBC kit just buy one for a 2nd gen Camaro, that will include tall spindles. Make sure to buy ball joints for whichever application spindles you use and have the lowers turned down to fit the control arms-GW can help with that.

Stu Seitz
10-20-2004, 09:13 AM
Dennis, I'm running GW upper and lower control arms with del-a-lum bushings in my 69. Is it really just a strait swap or what would I have to change? For me as someone who wants there car to see a lot of track time is it worth it? I mean the spindles can't be that much but is it worth the time and money?

10-20-2004, 09:14 AM
Thanks for the help!

10-20-2004, 10:18 AM
Its not as much because of the short spindle but the shape of the upper control arm. The "short" spindles use an upper control arm that's got an almost 90' bend in it. When the suspension compresses, this set-up wants to push the top of the wheel/tire away from the vehicle (increasing + camber), which in turn affects the tire's contact w/the road. Converting to the taller spindle allows you to use an upper arm that is straighter than the one for the short, which will greatly reduce this effect.

Norm Peterson
10-20-2004, 10:44 AM
You may end up with parts originally developed for circle track cars. Even adjustable-length UCA's are available, which would let you put things together with a minimum of shims (or let you tinker a bit with other steering parameters).

It's not the shape of the UCA that matters as far as the camber curve is concerned, only the orientation of a line drawn through the centers of the UBJ and the chassis pivot axis (think front view, mostly). That's what defines the arc that the UBJ follows.


10-20-2004, 11:01 AM
Yes, I see what you mean. The UBJ in relation to the pivot point of the UCA causes the + camber situation. The shape of the UCA is merely making up for this difference.

10-20-2004, 11:09 AM
Stuart, it is worth it to put the tall spindles on, you are ahead of the game with the GW stuff already in place. All you will need to buy in addition to the spindles are new upper and lower ball joints and outer tie rod ends-maybe 150.00 total.You will either need to have the lower ball joints turned down .080" or buy them already done from GW, Baer, or one of the many other places selling already ball joints. Buy all the parts fro the year/application of the spindle, they will attach to the exsisting parts with no problems.

Marcus SC&C
10-21-2004, 06:24 PM
Ah the ol tall spindle swap. This one always stirs up a hornets nest. I`ll field the tall configuration handling diffence first. Yes,you`ll notice a difference on the street *IF* you drive the car in a spirited manner in the twisties. You don`t have to get stupid with it just whip in into the corners a little and you`ll feel it. The higher roll center height reduces body roll and in conjunction with a negative (good) camber curve keeps the tire side walls from rolling under. At lower speeds you`ll actually notice the difference more with tall squishy 14" or 15" tires than with good 17"s. The improved geometry also allows you to run a bit less front spring rate and sway bar rate too if you like which can give you a car that both handles better and rides better. One of those few win/win situations in hot rodding. :)
As for the tall B spindle swap there are those who have tried it and are very happy with it. I`ve done the swap to several customers cars over the years and although the handling was much improved the downsides are such that I never cared for it. For starters if you use F car spindles with 11" rotors you get exactly the same calipers and the same sized rotors as a `69-`77 Chevelle. No gain there. I`ve done the swaps with 12" B car brakes too but frankly with the same calipers and brake pads and rotors just one inch larger it makes very little difference. You`ll get as big or bigger an improvement with a set of Performance Friction or Hawk pads. If you want to upgrade to aftermarket brakes you`re better off with the stock A spindles. They were designed from the outset as modular components. Aftermarket brakes bolt onto bosses intended to mount brakes and work very well. The tall F and B spindles have integral brake mounts and steering arms cast in. Their shape and overall design is less than ideal for adapting aftermarket brakes ,leading to brakes bolted to dust cover holes etc. Yes,they can work and work pretty well but it`s just more complication for no good reason since you`ve already got a nice modular spindle already. The all cast tall spindles have another problem. The steering arms are part of the spindles and they`re located in a totally different place than stock A body arms. They`re longer than stock which slows the steering ratio and throws off the ackerman angle and worse they`re about 5/8" lower than the already too low factory steering arms with amplifies the poor factory bumpsteer by roughly a factory of 2x! Many of my customer`s don`t even notce it. Others find it so annoying it drives them nuts. But since making old muscle cars drive like new cars is what ProTouring is all about and since great bumpsteer characteristics are one of the things that make new cars drive like new cars...why would you want to make it worse.....? We`ve taken another tack. We just released our Street Comp Stage 2 package for A body. It`ll be on our site once the current updates are finished. It consists of adj. tubular upper control arms,specific tall upper ball joints and maybe more importantly specific tall lower ball joints. The tall joints in effect make the stock spindle just as tall as the tall spindle which gives you the advantages of a higher roll center and better (negative) camber curves. What`s more you retain your stock steering arms,your current steering ratio and ackerman AND you raise the steering arm into much better alignment for *BETTER than stock* bumpsteer. It`s still not perfect but it`s as good or better than most modern performance cars. To put it in perspective the bumpsteer on a stock A body will run a typical single dial bumpsteer gauge out of travel (that`s over 1/2" per side!). An A body with the B swap will run it out of travel plus pull the end of the dial indicator far enough away from the plate that I can put my finger in the gap! Bumpsteer is something people aclimate themselves to somewhat even when it`s this bad and eventually don`t conciously notice but when you take it away you notice that all of a sudden the car`s much *nicer* to drive overall,much *easier* to drive fast and with much more *confidence*. Marcus SC&C

10-21-2004, 06:39 PM
Marcus, rod ends and shims take of problem #1 and a fast ratio box (ala Grand Cherokee) takes care of problem #2. :icon_razz

10-22-2004, 08:47 AM
I know that some people reading this post might re-think the B-body swap-but these "negatives" must only apply to '72 and earlier A-bodies and nothing later. I have a '78 Monte which is classified as an A-body but it is a G-body in reality. I can tell you I have none of the bad characteristics from doing the swap. In fact, the steering components it shares with an '84 Caprice wagon for example are the same-that also goes for the tie-rod end locations to the arm on the spindle itself, too. -Jabin

10-22-2004, 02:59 PM
Dennis, I sure like the idea of two taller ball joints. Sounds alot easier then swapping steering boxes and making all kind of tie rods with hiem joints. That's not even talking about the special U/C arms for the tall spindle or the special lower ball joints, oh yea then I have to cut off the factory caliper brackets and make or buy a hub to run my big brakes. When I put the C5 brakes on my a-body spindle it was a bolt on deal. Not sure but if I went with the tall ball joints I might have to buy a set of U/C arms so we can say thats an equal thing when comparing. let's make sure everyone has all of the information before they make a decision, i appreciate that you have already done the mods to your car so that makes it easy to say its the best way to go.

10-22-2004, 06:09 PM
You don't need special arms for the tall spindle swap, they will work fine as they are. I did it for other reasons. The rod end style tie rods are also not nessesary, I have a habit of taking over simple operations and making them much bigger than they need to be (got to be different).

You could just run taller ball joints, that is a valid option. For someone who is already got a nice brake setup and just looking to correct the camber curve it's a good idea. For someone starting from scratch I'd suggest the tall spindle approach; bigger wheel bearings, much more out there as far as information about what works and what doesn't, and a whole bunch of guys marketing brackets for the tall spindle/C5 setup.

Marcus SC&C
10-22-2004, 06:26 PM
Dennis,heims and shims work okay for moving the tie rod pivot point *down* but are ineffective for moving pickup points *up* which is where you need to go in this case. You can`t move it up any higher than the arm itself,which is too low! You might get back 1/4" out of 5/8" by bolting the heim right to the bottom of the arm but you were 5/8" off with the stock setup before you changed anything so it`s still way the hell off. In other words I`ve done it and it doesn`t work. :) The only semi-effective bandaid for this swap it to use a tall LBJ,which raises the steering arm up to almost where it started out. It also further raises the RC height to about as high as you`d want to go and makes the camber curves pretty agressive so you want to keep static camber settings on the mild side for good tire wear. As a nice bonus I can supply them direct fit for the swap,no need to machine anything. You gotta love modular components! :)
As for #2,start with a stock slow ratio and box,make it slower with the B swap,swap in a fast box (like an XH code) and you`re back where you started all over again instead of ahead of the game. What`s the point in that? What`s more the ackerman is still screwed up.

Gmachinez, ALL of the issues above DO apply to swapping B or 2nd gen F car spindles to G body (and very late A `78-`80) cars. The swap almost exactly doubles the bumpsteer,still screws up the steering and has been very well documented as doing so. I know a lot of people have done these swaps and are happy with them. I don`t mean to slight their cars or them I`m simply stating the facts of the matter and pointing out that while these swaps were a step in the right direction in some ways they were always a compromise in others. There`s just no reason to compromise anymore. :) Instead of better handling and worse steering you can have better handling and BETTER steering. If that`s not a no brainer I don`t know what is..... ;)Marcus SC&C

10-23-2004, 08:24 AM
Marcus SC&C, what's the website you referred to earlier? I'd like to check out this Stage 2 kit before I decide which way to go.

Hopefully, my stock spindles are still OK. I've got to pull the old nasty DRUM brakes off and give them a good once-over. Since I'm replacing the brakes (with either SSBC or BAER), it would be a lot easier to get the front brake setup for my existing spindles.

10-23-2004, 10:56 AM

Guess it's down right now for updates.....but that's it :)

10-23-2004, 11:26 AM
I'll be going with Marcus' set up. I already have c4 brakes on my stock spindles, and it makes sense to me what he's saying about all aspects of the tall swap. It's too much bullsh*t. I realize that many people have done it with some degree of success, but I don't want to beat this topic to death. I guess it will become a decision based on personal preference.