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amcjunky 01-02-2010 05:36 PM

ladder bar help
hello all this is probly going to be a stupid questions but i am trying to install my ladder bar suspension on my 1971 amc javelin and i am having trouble with leveling the car out

what are some ways of going about this? i don't know what to use as point of reference to start with

thanks justin

Tod74 01-03-2010 10:41 AM

I highly recomend the book "DOORSLAMMERS" it is about $30 but well worth it.

amcjunky 01-03-2010 12:07 PM

well its level now and i got the front cossmember in and everything " mocked up.

the problem i am having now is the cross member it self is 5 1/4 lower then the rest of my car. I am using the square 2" X 3" cross memeber at the moment. would the round cross member give me much more ground clearence?

sorry if i sound dumb and what not just i have never done this kinda thing before and i am young and this is a new world for me

thanks for any input you guys can give me

Tod74 01-03-2010 12:28 PM

My car is a ladder bar car,it has the round crossmember. It is pretty low but not anywhere near 5 inches low I don't think.My car also has the 2x3 rear frame. I would want to start out with the bar level to the ground while in the middle hole. Level to the ground is usually where they work good at so if you are level and in the middle hole you will have adjustment either way. JMO I bought my car as a roller from an old guy and it has always worked well so no real experience tuning it.

amcjunky 01-03-2010 01:24 PM

well what i was told and from reading on the net is that when you put in the ladder bar system you put everything in the middle so you have all of those adjustments. and this is a unibody car with home made frame connectors( not done by me)

Tod how much lower is your cross member then the bottem of your from?

thanks justin

Tod74 01-03-2010 02:22 PM

My crossmember is between the frame railes not below.My car has a full 2x3 frame from the stock clip back... My front mount on the bars is in the lowest hole on mine...if you squat down on your knees and look under the car you can see the heims joint and bolt just below the frame and the bar is level with the ground. I would go out and measure it for you but I'm not at home right now.

cam67152 01-03-2010 03:35 PM

Does your cross member install on the rockers or on the frame? Is this a street car or drag car? What brand bars are they?
You need to make sure you have the car at ride height when you mount the x-membre and your brackets to your housing so your pinion angle is correct with the front of your ladder bars in the middle hole, the bottom bar should be level with the car. Make sure every thing is square, I measure from the grease nipple on the bottom ball joint back to get the lenght equal on the X-membre, then measure from the front right ball joint to the left rear of the front ladder bar bracket, then front left to right rear. this measurement should be equal. This is tedious work that is time consuming double check everyting.


amcjunky 01-03-2010 03:47 PM

ok so what I did to get the car level was took a level on the door sills to find out if the car is level from front to back and then to level from side to side I put the level on the front rad support and on my fuel cell in the trunk.

the ladder bar setup itself is from competition engineering and the cross memeber is between the frame rails (well between the frame connectors)

I have the jack stands located on the front frame and on the "slapper" bars in the rear the rear end is still attached to the orignal leaf springs.

cam67152 01-03-2010 04:26 PM

Okay, are you using your leaf springs to support the car or are you going to use coilovers? If this is a drag car with solid rod ends on the ladder bars you'll want 0-1 degree pinion angle. If you are using the springs to support the car you will need a rear axle floater kit or you'll have serious binding! I suggest coilovers.
If your using coilovers, remove the springs, have your car at ride height with the size of tire your using, you can support the rear of the CAR, support the rear AXLE and centre it under the car, rotate rear axle to the pinion angle, assemble the bars according to the instuctions, make sure they are equal. install brackets to bars, with the bars in middle hole they sould be level with ground, make sure they are square and tack them on.
Once tack double check everything! then weld up solid if everything check out.


cam67152 01-03-2010 04:35 PM

make sure you have two of the large washers on each side of the front rod ends (between rodend and bracket)when you mount them, or the small bolts on the retainer brackets wont clear.

amcjunky 01-03-2010 05:49 PM

sorry i should have menchened i will be running coil overs to ( q1a's ) and i was planning on getting everything installed and removing the leaf springs after sorry for the confusion.

My problem i am having now is the front crossmemeber is to low right now. its the square ( 2" X 3" i beleave) one. its sitting 5 1/4" below my frame right now and i am scared of it catching on stuff when i go over hills and what not since its in the middle of my car. should i take some pictures?

thanks justin

cam67152 01-03-2010 08:12 PM

Pictures are good :D

cam67152 01-03-2010 09:06 PM

Here are a couple picture, hopefully its som help. The brackets and bottom of the x-membre are 3" below the bottom of my rockers.


amcjunky 01-04-2010 04:40 PM

ok so its my inexperiance that is causing this i think. My car has quite an angle on it when it sits on all fours. and what i have done is took that angle out and made the car leveling the car itself( took the weight iof all four wheels.

So to correct this i think i need to put the engine and tranny back in ( took it out to go threw the engine and give it a freshin up) and put the weight back on all four tires to get that angle back. and that should move that cross memeber up.

i hope that all makes sence sorry iam not good with words :P

cam67152 01-04-2010 08:11 PM

x-member is WAY to low. you need to mark a 2" strip on the floor and cut it out, or get a different x-member. Are you tubbing this car? or just installing the bars? the bottom of the x-member (the outside edge not the drop section)sould be even or CLOSE to even with the bottom of the rockers. it looks like it has to come up at least 3"

cam67152 01-04-2010 08:56 PM

Are there any suspension guys out there to help out Mr.AMC :?:

DirkaDirka 01-04-2010 09:21 PM

I would help him but I am new to the racing suspensions and all that. So I dont know about them.

cam67152 01-04-2010 09:51 PM

If you are running coilovers you'll be able to set the rear of your car were you want it

:lol: :lol: :lol: sorry, just having a little fun :wink:


TheYellaBrick 01-04-2010 10:15 PM

Boy howdy that crossmember is waaaaay too low. You'd hook on a speed bump and would never get it on or off of a trailer.
I see that you have the rear end sitting on jack stands. That means the rear suspension as it is set up NOW is in full compression. If the driveline was installed it would clear the crossmember as you have it mocked up in the pics, BUT the crossmember is too low. If you were to lower the rear suspension, you could install a straight crossmember instead of the dipped one as shown. Another way is to use a round tube crossmember which will give a tad more ground clearance.
Step one is to set the car up on jackstands and make a reference diagram for your actual desired ride height. That also includes exactly where the rear axle will be and may require disconnecting the shocks and making setup bars to go in place of the shocks, or using 3/4" allthread in place of the shocks to compress the rear springs to your desired ride height. Install the trans without the engine, then install the driveshaft. Now you can see where and how much room you have to work with. Don't forget to leave enough clearance for the driveshaft when the rear suspension is completely unloaded.

Tod74 01-05-2010 01:30 AM

Mine looks about like this one.My bar is in the bottom hole and is level with the ground.

suicidebomb 01-05-2010 04:10 AM


cam67152 01-05-2010 06:30 AM

Like DD said and I said earlier, step #1 set ride height. The x-member isn't upside down.

amcjunky 01-05-2010 03:22 PM

ok well i did talk to someone the night i posted all the pictures and i gave a little write up of what he said i had to do.

basically i need to put the engine and tranny back in and put the slicks back on the car and let the car sit ground agian because it has a pretty good rake( or how ever you spell it) to it.

so what i plan on doing is just that but put something under each tire to raise the car up enough so i can work under there and still have the weight on all four tires and that should in theory rise that crossmember up enough

what are you guys thoughts on going about it that way

thanks justin

cam67152 01-05-2010 03:55 PM

Aren't you swicthing to coilovers? if you are it doesn't matter what rake it has on it now :!: :!:

If it were me,
1. install engine and trans.
2. Jack up car and level it, support it on the rear FRAME to give you room to work.
3. support rear end and remove springs, dont forget to support the pinion.
4. put tires on. raise rear to were you like it.
5. remove tires, centre, level and square up the rear.
6. install drive shaft, support pinion angle at 0-1 degree down,
7. support the assembled ladder bars under the car level or slightly pointed down when in center hole. mark the location of the x-member.
8. cut everything out of the way, tack your x-member in
9. tack brackets to housing and x-member
10. doudle and triple check everything, weld it up!

kwkracing 01-05-2010 07:34 PM

U should have the car with appropriate weight in the front. Have the car sitting on the front wheels and block the back to level the rockers. You are going to have to put your 2x3 cross member in between the inner rockers inside the unibody at the appropriate distance from the rear axle. you should plate the unibody around that area. Now, depending on your tire height you will know your axle centerline from the floor, divide half the total tire height. Place ladder bar brackets on the housing and on the front crossmember. If the car has a low ride height and has a tall tire the bars will point downward a few degrees. Now that in a perfect world you have the car sitting level or how you like, install the shock brackets as per the spec for you shock distance.

cam67152 01-05-2010 08:56 PM

X2 on the 2x3 crossmember location.

itsabird 01-05-2010 08:57 PM

you can start by notching your floor pan, in the area where the cross member goes.

amcjunky 01-06-2010 06:26 PM

well thanks for the help guys I really appreciate it and if i run into some more trouble i will let you guys know

mopar1968 01-06-2010 08:54 PM

That's the way my crossmember is mine is 4 inches off track, my car will not go open trailer without boards to raise it up, my garage has a up hill ramp,'concrete'' and it drags when putting in garage :!: :!:


Tod74 01-07-2010 03:11 AM

Originally Posted by amcjunky
ok well i did talk to someone the night i posted all the pictures and i gave a little write up of what he said i had to do.

basically i need to put the engine and tranny back in and put the slicks back on the car and let the car sit ground agian because it has a pretty good rake( or how ever you spell it) to it.

so what i plan on doing is just that but put something under each tire to raise the car up enough so i can work under there and still have the weight on all four tires and that should in theory rise that crossmember up enough

what are you guys thoughts on going about it that way

thanks justin

buy/make some of those jack stands that mount to the wheel studs.They are used in auto body work when replacing panels. You will be able to see/access the suspension(no tire in your way)

mikesramblur 01-09-2010 04:34 AM

this should give you an idea.
i couldnt get it high enough at the frame rails so move it forward enouth to take up the length of the bars. this is where it wanted to be so out comes the floor.

lots more pics here. let me know if it dont work.

Tod74 01-09-2010 12:27 PM

my floor was cut as well.

cam67152 01-09-2010 06:09 PM

Originally Posted by Tod74
my floor was cut as well.


amcjunky 01-10-2010 07:35 PM

mikes ramblur did you have to cut up your trunk at all to get your upper shock mount to work? or any of you have to cut your trunk up?
here are some more pictures of my progress

and i am getting someone else to do all the welding everything is just tack welded into place at the moment

itsabird 01-10-2010 08:52 PM

don't forget top bar, for upper shock mounting brackets

mikesramblur 01-11-2010 06:43 AM

im working on a 79 spirit. no trunk. but i did have to do some trimming near the frame to get the upper shock mount pipe in. i shoulda plated it before attaching to the frame but ....
i dont think you will have to go into the trunk.

hard to tell by the pics, did you attach your xmember at the frame? or rockers?

TheYellaBrick 01-11-2010 08:08 AM

2 suggestions;

- Install new brake hardline from the master cyl to the rear axle. Looks very rusty/weak and you got mighty close during the hole hogging in your rear foot well.

- Where the ladder bar mounts attach to the rear axle tubes, it needs to be ground down to bare metal on the tubes for best weld penetration. REMOVE to grind, do NOT try to edge grind the area with a grinder ! Your welder guy will NOT weld it as is if he's conscious about his weld quality.

Looks good in the placement of all parts and pieces though !

amcjunky 01-11-2010 03:19 PM

well everything is just kinda sitting there lol i bungee corded the ladder bars to the axel so i could move them around and to get them to stay on there. i will be redoing the brake lines to make them fit around the ladder bar.

and mike I attached the x member to my frame connectors. I had to move it up in my floor quite a bit tho but I don't think that should matter to much I hope

promod45 01-11-2010 05:42 PM

another thought
another idea for you is i would put a heavy ford rear in car since you are this far so that if you ever change gears you can do it on the bench and ford gears are dime a dozen, also when you put your roll bar in make sure you put one bar on the body and one bar on the new cross member on each side of the bar this will help alot in tying it all together..

cam67152 01-11-2010 08:46 PM

I would try to tie a bar in between the rocker, subframe, and new x-member. JMO
Looks like your making some good progress :!: :!:

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