1968 Pontiac Firebird Rear Shock Relocation

OK. Here was the problem. The rear brake kit that I purchased was wrong for my application
and mistakenly sent to me even though I specifically said it was for a 1968 Firebird. Once I
received the kit, I made the mistake of powder coating the brackets and painting the calipers
BEFORE I thoroughly checked the fit of the system. Everything looked complete and it did fit
but I did not notice until it was too late that the kit I received was for Non-Staggered shock
applications. Both rear calipers were positioned on the upper back sides of the rotors. Fine on
the passenger side because the shock sits on the front but not on the drivers side because
the caliper was now exactly where the shock Used to be. I could not return the kit because I
had already "modified" it. I do like to fabricate things and the car was never meant to be a
numbers matching Project anyway's so..So I did a little research on the internet and found
very little. A few random posts here and there about shock relocation to the inside (on some
pro-touring and camaro web sites) and a couple of companies that sold kits for over $250 US.
The pictures of the kits showed they really were not very complicated, so I decided to make my own...

Here are a couple of pictures of some of the aftermarket kits I found (as sold for $250+).

and a picture I found on a site that showed a kit installed.

Doesn't look to complicated , does it?

My first step was to get some shocks. The ones that had been on the car front
and back were in need of replacement anyway. I likely could have gone with
stock-style rear shocks with an eye on the bottom and the small stud on top.
I had seen that one of the aftermarket arms was set up for this style of shock
with a little piece of angle iron with a hole in it for the stud to go through. I had
priced out a new set of KYB's from the states. They had been fairly well rated
and were a decent enough price I thought. But then fate intervened and I bought
a set of "Carrera" shocks at a swap meet in Lethbridge for $20 each. They were HD
racing type shocks it looked like and I found out afterwards that Carrera was a
good US shock company that had been purchased by QA1. You can still see the
little Carrera symbol on most QA1 advertisements. They were a little flashy (chrome)
but I got a brand new in-the-box front set and rear set for $80 total. Too good to pass up.

did I mention they were adjustable? Three positions to choose from-45/55, 50/50,
55/45 (all extension over compression). I set them at #2 which was described as
best for overall performance handling.

But all was not perfect. I did not notice when I got them that the rear shocks
needed a female screw-on eye to go on the 1/2NF stud type end. I remember
seeing them in a box beside the shocks on the swap meet table. I could not locate
the fellow with the table after many phone calls. No aftermarket auto place here
had anything like it but I did find a set of industrial eyes at a local Industrial steel
supplier. They ended up costing more than the shocks did at $27 each. But the deal
was great on the shocks so one cannot complain. I also bought a set of Nyloc jam
nuts. The eyes were too long so I cut them down a bit to fit the stud better.

the shocks were a little longer than I would have liked them to be. I read that
the ideal angle for a shock should place them pointing directly at the contact
patch of the tire on the ground. With the placement of the shock inside the
spring instead of outside, it looked like I would have to angle the shocks a
bit anyway's. I had planned on welding the frame cross bar in but because
I may go to a shorter shock someday I felt it would be better to make the
cross-member removable. In case I had to move the upper shock mounts out
more with shorter shocks. So I modified my plan to make them bolt in.

I took a couple of measurements of the distance between the frame rails up
top and purchased some steel and the necessary grade 8 bolts from the same
steel supplier that I got the eyes from. around $20 for it all.


I removed the rubber axle bump stops first then clamped my mounting brackets
to the position I needed them to be in at the highest possible area for the bar.
I needed to remove the fuel line from it's spot on the upper inside passenger rail
as it interfered with the bar. I will cut the line and use some flexible fuel line to
go around the bar later. You can see the fuel line just below the clamp in the shot below.

then after a lot of cutting and grinding to get the bar to fit between the brackets I
tacked the bar in place to the brackets. I say a lot of grinding because the frame
rails have angles to them. they angle in towards the front of the car and also angle
out as they go up. Both requiring the bar ends to be custom ground so the bar fit
well against the brackets.

after tacking, I checked the fit of everything. I ended up cutting my tacks and
moving the brackets again, in order to get the bar fitting as high and tight to
the inner body area. I had visions of the rear end hitting it, or the brake lines
on top of the rear end hitting it, so I placed it as high and out of the way as I
could. Once satisfied it was in the best position possible I reinforced the tacks
to the bar so they would not pop loose as I drilled the mounting holes through
the frame. You can see the bolts in the shot below. More complications.. the
bolts heads now interfered with the bump stops which I had planned on re-installing.



A simple fix was to use a burr to hollow out two little holes on the back of the
bump stops so they would fit over the bolt holes.


Once I had the bolt holes drilled through the frame and the bar in place. I needed
to turn my attention to the bottom end. I needed to know exactly where the bottom
of the shock would be located in order to position the top shock mounts on the bar.

So I took a look at the stock shock mounts. They are identical on the drivers and
passenger side because of the staggered shock thing. My initial plan was pretty
simple. I was going to cut off the shock mount tabs on both eyes to reposition
them to the front and inside of each side. So I did that. using my little 3" air disc cutter.


Nothing is ever simple though right? :-)

I started doing a little more research on the internet about this and came across
the idea of using the shock mount on a set of Competition engineering traction bars.
I had a feeling getting my 462 to stick to the ground with 3.08 gears was going to be
interesting. I had read lots about wheel hop as well. The description and pictures of
the 2101 traction bars sounded perfect. see the little shock mount tabs in the pic below?
the idea is to choose the one you need and cut off the other 3.

So in theory it will control wheel hop and attach my shock inside and to the
front, and replace the stock single ubolt axle mount with 2. Sounded good to me.
But as you can guess, nothing is ever that simple..

I priced them out. Of course there were none available easily around here.
To get them through my parts connection friend $211 plus tax and shipping.
Not bad I thought. $250 in Calgary at MOPAC. Was all set to order them
when I thought. Maybe I better check my good friend Kijiji. I had been lucky
before on it, why not. And what would be the odds. Kijiji Calgary, brand new
in the box, competition engineering traction bars. $130. No part number though..
I called the fellow and the part number on the box was 2103. 2nd generation
F-body application. Dang. I told him I would check and call back. I called
Competition Engineering Tech support and got a real voice very quickly.
Impressive. He said the 2103 were identical to the ones I needed (2101)
in every way except the shock mounting tabs. Hmm, spidey sense tingling but
maybe I could make them work.. Called the guy back in Calgary and told him
they were not right for my car. Would he take $100 for them? Yes. good deal.
I asked my friend's boy, who was going to school in Calgary, if he could pick
them up for me. A week later they were here.

everything there, Complete and in the box as promised. But.. see the mounting
tabs? Don't look much like the little pic up above of the 2101's do they?

Nothing my little cutting disc cannot take care of though..


Then I took the little tabs I had cut off the old shock mount plates and heated
them up and re bent them to fit on the inside front of the traction bars.
Then tacked them in place..

then welded them up good and solid. the pic below is after I had applied a
coat of the chassis-saver silver. (no black left)

Now I had my bottom shock mounts. I bolted the new traction bars onto the car,
put the shocks on at the the new tabs and swung the shocks up into the positions
I felt they should be to give full extension and compression. As I said before the
length of the shock was a little longer than I would have liked, so the angle was
a little more than I would have liked. With this in place I could now fabricate my
upper shock mounts to go on the bar. I used two small pieces of the same 1x2 tubing.
I cut the mount surface to the angle i needed so the shock eye would be perpendicular
to it. then cut a small piece of flat bar to cap the tubing.

and welded that up.

then I positioned the mounts back on the bar, tacked them solidly and checked
the fit of everything again. I drilled the holes in the upper mount tabs at
this time. then checked the fit again..

and welded everything up solid.

This last shot above is a good one to see all the goofy angles involved with this bar.

And below are the finished pieces after blasting and painting with Silver
Chassisaver and semi gloss black.

The upper shock mounts were completed using two rubber grommets on each
side of the swivel eye. I also used two of the shock grommet washers on the
outside of the grommets to compress them properly. I had to enlarge the washers|
with a drill and the grommets with a dremel tool to fit over the 1/2" mount bolt.
I could not find any with a 1/2 hole.



The upper 2 holes have already been enlarged.

And then a few shots of the whole thing put together. Note the suspension
is still sagged down as it is supported by jack stands on the frame.

you can see the rubber grommets on each side of the upper eye well in the shot below.

 

 

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