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Project 240SX Land Speed Racer

Project 240SX Land Speed Racer: SPL Pro Suspension Bits and More!

By Chuck Johnson
Photos by Joe Lu

 

Since the beginning, the plan for project 240LSR was to address the chassis and safety requirements first, and then afterwards, take care of corralling enough ponies under the hood to make it scary fast.  You know, the kind of "fast" where one might very well see Jesus, Buddha, or maybe even Elvis and Tupac.  Somehow in my twisted head, I viewed this plan as the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, with "point B" defined as an actual pass down the dirt, salt, or whatever.  So the first milestone in this project is to get this heap of metal to the point where it’s a caged out roller with the complete suspension and brake bits to suit.  With the cage complete and our trick stainless steel bodied KW competition suspension in place, we’re on track to meet our first milestone.  We just need to finagle together a few, small finishing touches… like sway bars, bushings, brakes, a 5 lug conversion, and a smorgasbord of other suspension links.  Who am I kidding?  We’re like eons away from reaching this milestone!  Or are we?

 

 

Truth be told, there is a lot involved with making a 23 year old car worthy of record speeds.  Encased in each link of our suspension was a very tired factory rubber bushing fatigued and screaming to be put out of its misery.  On the 240SX front suspension, the tension rod bushings are usually the worst offenders of the bunch.

 

 

The tension rods complete the A-arm shape of the lower, front suspension and are the part responsible for controlling the caster of the front suspension.  Although the tension rods on project 240LSR were not the worst ones I’ve seen, they were showing signs of fatigue and needed permanent relocation to the rubbish pile.  To address the well worn bushings and also gain caster adjustability, Project 240LSR’s tension rod was replaced with a 6061 aluminum tension rod from SPL Pro Suspension. 

 

 

The sheer girth of the SPL tension rod is impressive enough to make even Tera Patrick do a double take.  In fact, this is the case with all of SPL Pro Suspension’s 240SX suspension links.  So why the well-endowed design from SPL?  Pound for pound, gains in tubular component stiffness tend to be more efficiently made with an increase in diameter rather than wall thickness.  There is a lot of talk about replacing the factory bushings for spherical bearings or higher durometer polyurethane, but what is often overlooked is the stiffness of the link itself.  This is what SPL Pro Suspension is addressing with their rather girthy links and they are also a key element in eliminating geometry influencing flex in the suspension.   

 

 

To address the remaining areas of the aging front suspension, we replaced the lower control arm bushings with polyurethane units from Energy Suspension.  Since a thrashed ball joint was taking up residence on the opposite end of each control arm bushing, we also replaced them at the same time with a Moog Heavy Duty ball joint.  Out of all of the aftermarket crap out there, we’ve had the best luck with Moog’s ball joints in our road racing ventures.

 

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Comments
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 5:06 AM
You now what I'd love to see this car doing after it comes off the salt? Hitting the road with HOTROD's Drag Week and blowing the doors off a bunch of muscle cars. It's a 5-day road trip where you drive to a different drag strip every day and do some racing. You must drive your car there and you are only allowed to bring a small trailer for support gear. There are never any imports and when there occasionally are, they are almost always V8 powered. It would be great to show those guys what some turbo imports can do.

Also, how exactly did you press the ball joints in and out with a vice? I'm preparing my own 5-lug swap and using a vice would save me a lot of cash.
JSWORKS
JSWORKSlink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 7:32 AM
Curious why you didn't use SPL's monoball bushings in the rear knuckles? Looks like you went with poly bushings?
Mike Kojima
Mike Kojimalink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 8:19 AM
Lack of funds.
JSWORKS
JSWORKSlink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 9:08 AM
Ah, I know that feeling all too well!
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 9:12 AM
But.... but.... I just saw Tupac at Coachella!
SkullWorks
SkullWorkslink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 11:33 AM
Mike,

I told you to call me for S13 stuff for these projects I have 3 brake kits and sphericals I would have practically donated to the cause, SMH
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 3:38 PM
@8695Beaters- Removing the old ball joint is easy. Just use a pair of snap ring pliers to remove the retaining clip and then hit the ball joint with a hammer. Ours came out very easily. There are more sano ways of doing it, but if you're going to replace the ball joint, who cares?

Pressing in a new set with a vice can be a bit tricky mainly because you need to find the right size tubes or pipes. To do this, we used a metal tube on each side of the control arm. The first metal tube was positioned on the back side of the ball joint to push it in. Be careful to locate on the flat area of the ball joint and not the spherical part that houses the ball itself. This means that the pipe will have to be a certain ID and OD to work.

The second metal tube needs to be on the top side of the control arm and be large enough in ID and height for the ball joint to fit into as its being pressed in from behind.

Like I said, the hardest part is finding the right diameter and height tubes. Once you have those, you can position everything up in a vice a start tightening the vice and pressing in the new ball joint. Take your time and make sure it's going in straight. I've accidentally cracked an engine mount housing once by being impatient. A little bit of lube or some time in the freezer for the ball joint doesn't hurt either.
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 3:42 PM
@ spdracerut- yeah, yeah, yeah Khiem. And i just saw Jesus on my burnt toast.
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Thursday, May 24, 2012 8:25 AM
Thanks Chuck. I'll just make my own tubes in the school machine shop. Actually they've also got a real press...
Dru
Drulink
Thursday, May 24, 2012 8:43 PM
There's a ton of binding in the rear with the stock spindle bushings already. I've contemplated the urethane but was worried that the increased stiction would offset any gains made in decreased deflection...

Thought?
Redsn0w
Redsn0wlink
Saturday, July 07, 2012 3:07 PM
Is there a difference between the s14 240sx se and s14 240sx le hubs and ball joints?
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Saturday, July 07, 2012 7:30 PM
I'm not sure if the SE and the LE are both five lug but the visual difference should be obvious:) The ball joint should be the same across all of the S14's.
asilentnoise
asilentnoiselink
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 4:07 PM
I am in the middle of changing all my bushings on the rear up rights and I noticed that the rear lower control arms ball joints are torn up and bad. I wanteded to know if maybe you could post up the part numbers for the heavy duty moog ball joints.and since I have more than two 240sx would you happen to know what the ball joint number for an s14
Chuck Johnson
Chuck Johnsonlink
Friday, July 20, 2012 8:50 AM
If you're looking for the front lower ball joints they can be found here:

http://www.pdm-racing.com/products/suspension.html

For the rears, I don't know the part numbers off hand. One piece of advice for the rear lower ball joints is to use the front ball joints made for a 1988 nissan sentra. For some reason, they do not sell the lower rear ball joints for the 240sx seperately. The B12 Sentra ball joints will work perfectly though.
MSRTom
MSRTomlink
Monday, August 06, 2012 12:01 PM
Long time reader, first time poster.

Mike and the crew: What torque did you use for the S13 lower ball joints? It seems like that might be the ONLY torque spec not included in the FSM.

Thanks in advance!
99ishVR4
99ishVR4link
Saturday, August 03, 2013 12:14 AM
The powder coated suspension pieces came out looking awesome. I learned to powder coat so I could get results like this on my own car. I made a site that teaches how to powder coat after a couple years of doing it. It definitely saves money over taking things to the powder coater.

If anyone wants to learn how to powder coat:

http://www.powdercoatguide.blogspot.com/
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