IFS for a ’40

Bolt­ing in a Chas­sis En­gi­neer­ing Set of Wig­gly Legs

Street Rodder - - Contents - By Todd Ry­den Pho­tog­ra­phy by the Au­thor

Bolt­ing in a Chas­sis En­gi­neer­ing set of wig­gly legs

Dur­ing a hot rod build, you’re go­ing to be mak­ing a lot of de­ci­sions on what com­po­nents to re­place or up­grade. These choices are go­ing to go a lot deeper than what color paint or which gauges to in­stall. Those are im­por­tant, but it’s down in­side and un­der­neath where these choices will af­fect the ride and per­for­mance of your rod for years to come.

We were faced with the dilemma of a front sus­pen­sion up­grade for a '40 Ford. The thought of a new chas­sis was mulled over, but it just wasn’t in our bud­get for this build. Also, we planned to do the work our­selves which lim­ited the amount of weld­ing and mod­i­fi­ca­tions re­quired.

Af­ter some dis­cus­sions at shows and a bit of fo­rum stalk­ing, we fi­nally set­tled on a bolt-in IFS kit from Chas­sis En­gi­neer­ing Inc. (CEI). The kit is based on their trick bolt-in cross­mem­ber along with up­per spring mount pods that clamp over the fram­erails to pro­duce a firm foun­da­tion to the fac­tory chas­sis and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents.

Another nifty fea­ture of this sys­tem is that the spring pods have a built-in ride height ad­just­ment pro­vid­ing about 2-1/2 inches of al­ter­ation. This is a huge help in try­ing to get the per­fect stance and best ge­om­e­try for your spe­cific ap­pli­ca­tion.

We opted to go with the com­plete kit, which in­cludes tubu­lar con­trol arms and a man­ual steer­ing rack (a power rack is avail­able). Things were rounded out with spin­dles, 11-inch ro­tors, sin­gle-pis­ton calipers, shocks, coil springs, tie-rod ends, and all of the nec­es­sary hard­ware to bolt it all to­gether.

The sys­tem is based on com­mon Pinto/Mus­tang II ge­om­e­try and in­cor­po­rates lower con­trol arms rather than the OE-style strut rod sys­tem. We could have searched out '74-'80 Pinto arms and spin­dles (or Mus­tang II from 1974-1978), how­ever they would re­quire a lit­tle mod­i­fi­ca­tion to accept the 11-inch brake rotor. By the time you add up the scroung­ing and up­grades to the OEM parts, it seemed a wise in­vest­ment to pony up for the new CEI gear.

The parts ar­rive in bare metal and the heavy-duty con­struc­tion is ob­vi­ous

as is the at­ten­tion to de­tail. Strip­ping the orig­i­nal frame of its fac­tory cross­mem­ber and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents took some time and a lot of muscle as those fac­tory riv­ets are a lot stronger than you think! A drill, air chisel, and grinder were all em­ployed for the tear­down, along with a big ham­mer.

The CEI parts lined up nicely us­ing the fac­tory axle re­bound snub­ber lo­ca­tion as the start­ing point for the cross­mem­ber in­stal­la­tion. Be pre­pared with a power drill and some good bits as you’ll be putting them to task with about 24 new holes to lock the new front sus­pen­sion to the chas­sis. That’s prob­a­bly overkill when you think about it, but the sys­tem goes to­gether smooth and cre­ates a solid front sus­pen­sion sys­tem that up­grades not only the ride, but the steer­ing and brak­ing. And without any weld­ing, this makes for a kit that begin­ning rod­ders, as well as ex­pe­ri­enced, can do in their garage.

Af­ter in­stalling the sys­tem, we tore it all apart and painted the new pieces and then fol­lowed through with the fi­nal as­sem­bly. We’re anx­ious to get the body back on and hit the road.

We had al­ready sand­blasted our en­tire chas­sis so we set about re­mov­ing all of the fac­tory fron­tend com­po­nents, in­clud­ing the cross­mem­ber. You’ll be amazed at how strong the fac­tory riv­ets are so be sure to have a good grind­ing wheel, drill bits, and an air chisel would prob­a­bly be a wise in­vest­ment.

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