IFS for a ’40
Bolting in a Chassis Engineering Set of Wiggly Legs
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.