by Jason McDaniel
...it sounds the camber compensator is not all it
is cracked up to be. A list member said a better
option would be the spring that bolts to the frame
horns rather than the tranny case. Is this the
"z-bar"? I have a 1960 double cab and want it as safe
as possible.This includes adding steering stablizers.
I have not added anything to the front yet as I want
to make it compatible with what I do to the front.
My impression so far is the CC is not worth it, and this z-bar,
which i don't know what it is, would be the better choice.
Do the list members concur?
Richard, the *Z* bar was used by Volkswagen in 1967-68 beetles and Type IIIs.
Formula V racers have adapted adjustable anti-roll bars into Z bars by turning one of the arms 180 degrees (approx) from its original location, and then fabricating custom mounts and links for it. Formula V racers have also tried all other sorts of rear suspension tweeking, like the zero roll suspension, that would not be suitable on a street car. Take a look at a manual that describes 1967 beetles to see what the *Z* bar looks like, and where it is mounted.
Without fabrication, the Camber Compensator is really your only choice, and it is not a bad choice. I used the one that mounts to the transaxle, and I drive my cars hard, long and often. I have to do periodic maintaince MUCH earlier than my friends because of it. The transaxle mounted CC does CONTRIBUTE to my transaxle mounts going bad, but that is par for the course...you take the good with the bad. Even after changing out the mounts, I will keep the CC on the car. The solution to the mounts problem is to find or fabricate a mount that attaches to the frame rather than the transaxle, though this may only help a little, the axles and therefore the mounts absorb a lot of the cornering force, and if the CC allows you to corner faster (with more force) then every other component will be stressed more.
On my '57 Kombi, I am considering welding a custom CC mount straight to the frame horns. That bus also has a custom rear engine mount (wish I has thought about using the late bus mount, would have saved some time, and looked more stock)
If you really want to be SAFE and have a comfortable drive in a well handling car or bus, then convert it to a double-jointed rear axle. Buses have a few over the counter options, using a bug IRS setup, a late bus IRS setup, or you could fabricate something outrageous. I've seen photos (in Volks World) from Holand of a guy's fastback with Porsche 911 rear suspension (and engine and transaxle).
As far as simple handling adjustments go, my list would read like this, and I would implement them somewhat in this order: (I am asuming you have a good alignment, the front end is in A-1 condition, and that you adjust your linkpins and lube the chassis every 3000 miles and have good rubber bump stops) See the brake notes at the end.
Change the tires to 185SR15 Michelins (sp) XVX or whatever the newest X series tire is. Make sure they have a build date within the last year, as they have a limited shelf life (7-10 years). I would change to the 15" rim, even if I had a '63-'70 bus. Check the inflation, and keep it maintained. Using XVX tires on my stock beetle (165SR15) I inflate to 23lbs in the front and 28 or 29 lbs in the rear. I would start a bus at around 28lbs in front and 30-32 lbs in back and work from there.
Add *flop stops* that do not allow the spring plate to droop too far, and spring plate retainers that will not allow the spring plate to jump off the lower stop and tuck under the bus. Dune buggy suppliers have this stuff. You will bottom out (top out?) on the flop stop if you drive on VERY bumpy roads at speed.
Change the shock absorbers to Boge HD stock units. They will NOT give you slot car like traction, but are idealy suited to spirited driving in an otherwise stock bus, and will not rattle your fillings out like KYB Gas-Adjust shocks. Make sure you are getting the HD units. Others have their favorite brand of shocks.
Add a front anti-roll bar. You can get them new from Sway-A-Way or get one off a '66 or later bus. New mounts, including clamps, can be purchased from West Coast Metric. Get new mounts and clamps. The anti-roll bar increases roll stiffness, without changing the original spring rate (more stiffness around a corner, but stock stiffness going over a speed bump). If your bus is lowered a lot using an Albatros lowering kit from Bus Boys (turned springs) then the anti-roll bar may stick down too low and snag on minor bumps or high crown roads.
Add a camber compensator. Just the plain jane one that Sway-A-Way sells. Keep it lubed at the center link and the axle straps.
After the transaxle mounts fail, change them out with Gene Berg Heavy Duty mounts.
Add a rear engine mount from a '68-'71 bus, or fabricate it (the harder way) or adapt a traction bar (from Gene Berg or others)
Add a Gene Berg transaxle cener section mount. He doesn't make one for buses, so you have to buy the parts unwelded, and adapt them yourself.
De-camber the rear axle, and add adjusters to the front to adjust it (by changing the heigth of the front using adjusters, you change the lever arm angle on the torsion bars) (by changing the rake of the bus, you change the corner weights) (you can do this, and keep the reduction boxes, and still have a *stock* looking ride)
Use HD donut bushings at the front of the spring plates, on the rear torsion bars. (they squeek, and have to be lubed constantly) (you will HATE the squeeking) Does anyone out there have other solutions for torsion bushings BTW. Something strong, quiet, and will still give a little. No bronze bushings please! Has anyone ever installed zerk fittings to lube these parts, one in the cover and one in the housing?
Change out the torsion bars (front or rear) to others more suited to your purpose. Ambulance bars are softer, and firetruck bars are stiffer. Earlier buses can easily use later, stiffer torsion bars.
Change to double-jointed rear suspension (IRS).
Add wider and/or lighter custom wheels, with lower profile tires. Porsche 4.5 wheels are a little lighter, and better vented, and more offset, Porsche 5.5 wheels are all that and wider. Sprint Stars are stiffer, wider and have more offset, but are just as heavy (or heavier). Rader, American Racing, Flat Four and MSW have made 5on205 pattern wheels that fit early buses.
Buy a Porsche ;-) and put the VW logo on the front.
Make sure the brakes are in top notch shape, or upgraded and in top
notch shape. The easiest upgrade you can make is just adding stainless
or kevlar brake lines to increase braking power, but you have to inspect
them more often, and change the line whenever you change the cylinder,
as a rule. Early buses can change out to the later brakes (and fit
custom wheels easier) without changing out the beam by using '63 only
kingpin carriers and spindles. They have the small linkpins to fit early
torsion arms, and later spindles to fit later brakes. There are LOTS of
other brake upgrades available, search the archives.