Are OEM HD Police parts worth it?

Chassis, Suspension and wheels

  1. moreada

    moreada Well-Known Member

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    I am looking to do some suspension work and such, and originally was going to go all OEM, or as much as possible for my 83 Mirada - HD Torsion Bars, HD Sways, new shocks, the 11.75" Rotor upgrade - and was wondering if sourcing and refurbishing these factory parts was even worth it given that I wanted a more performance oriented ride. Poor mans pro touring if you will.

    Obviously the upgraded and higher priced components from the aftermarket companies will offer more performance with the upgraded specs and combinations of the bars etc, and wonder if the desire to go OEM was worth it or even as cost effective as originally thought. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. jasperjacko

    jasperjacko Well-Known Member

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    I think the torsion bars were all the same.
     
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  3. 80mirada

    80mirada Well-Known Member

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    All factory FMJ torsion bars are the same, only the bushing on the end was different
     
  4. 89.Fifth

    89.Fifth Well-Known Member

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    FirmFeel.com sells the HD Torsion Bars.
     
  5. 80mirada

    80mirada Well-Known Member

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    The FFI make a full line of suspension parts for our cars. Dick Ross and family are serious Mopar people.
     
  6. M_Body_Coupe

    M_Body_Coupe Well-Known Member

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    Yup, have to agree, FFI is the way to go today.

    When I completely re-did my coupe (some years ago) I went with the HD versions of factory stuff. For starters, the aftermarket was nowhere near where they are today in terms of F/M/J parts availability. Did it make a difference? Well, sure it felt different as compared to my old ride (as in DAY & NIGHT difference), but I literally had EVERY single bushing replaced in the new ride, so that was hardly a fair compare.

    If I was to do this all over again I would have a hell of a lot more choice and would spend the big-$$$ where absolutely necessary (to accomplish my goal) and perhaps go HD OEM elsewhere.

    Take the case of the torsion bars. Yup, go big bucks and upgrade to the bigger FFI units. I nearly did that about ummm...2-3 yrs ago, but they were going through a change in the forging shop (supplier) so while I waited for some months for the parts to come back in-production I finally got tired and moved on to spending my money on a custom built 9.5" converter instead. Still, from a handling perspective that would have been a big improvement.

    Tie rods??? Well, some will say the factory HD stuff will flex anyways, sure, you could run a bead of weld where the factory slit is, or you could spend big$ for the beefy parts...but what does your ride need??? Are you going to put the suspension through that kind of workout that the HD OEM stuff might flex?

    So it all comes down to a budget. I will say this, the HD OEM stuff should be considered the bare minimum today.
     
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  7. XfbodyX

    XfbodyX Well-Known Member

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    I went down the FF path vs running HD parts and after my last front end rebuild with the HD parts and nos T bars I feel the FF at 3x the overall cost was a huge waste of money and time as well.

    I did still use the FF lower contral arm braces because it was easier to buy theres vs make them and theres do look good as well.

    Although the HD and the parts in general are getting pretty hard to find its not overly hard during the winter months to hunt and search the internet and ebays odd listings and even burning up the cell phone calling old parts houses and distribution centers because to them they are old out dated suspension parts not rare gold like items listed on ebay.

    But you can still find many of the FF like parts on the web made by the same place they get theres from for 1/3 the cost of FF, mainly the poly parts.

    The worst part of my FF experience is the one side of the front that sits low because of the sub par FF T bar they sold me, but its not uncommon to have alot of aftermarket springs, and suspension parts go bad in just a few years because of the low quality base materials. Im not shocked to read above at one time they switched suppliers and many forget alot of these places go with the lowest bidder, not the best quality.

    I feel unless one really wants to boast about the use of the FF parts or the money they spent its hard to justify imo vs the miles driven, the overall usage of ones car.

    If not going for the quick ratio box, the box parts are outrageous vs others that are the same parts and now you can get the reproduction manual box off ebay for $175 shipped, vs FF stock rebuilt box at $529 if no core, then shipping.

    I love the fmj cars as much as the next guy but at the end of the day I dont want to dump any more cash into one then needed so I shop around.

    Just like the alot of the mopar parts made today, they all come from one maker, the folks like, well here is the link of suppliers who all draw from the same well. Too bad the guy dont make fmj parts but some interchange.

    Hoffman's Winners Circle Retail Vendor List

    There are many master list of the HD part numbers for our fronts posted on the web, ive got it some place.

    Rock auto used to be killer but they are all gone from there list for the most part.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2018
  8. Duke5A

    Duke5A Well-Known Member

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    Start on the cheap and gradually work your way up to more expensive items, evaluating at each step as you go. This list is assuming all the components in your car aren't worn out.

    1. Frame ties - the chassis has so much flex in it tightening the suspension is almost futile without addressing this. Material cost is nil for the steel as long as you know someone who can fabricate. Night and day difference.
    2. Cop front and rear sway bars - also a night and day difference and can be found cheap.
    3. Power steering pressure mod - this involves adding shims to the power steering pump's pressure valve to the lower the amount of assist. Actually makes a huge difference in steering feel. Total cost for this is just time, a couple of copper crush washers and a bottle of fluid.
    4. Rebuilt or new rear springs - five leaf pack at a minimum. Price isn't too bad either. I bought new leafs with bushings for only $260 a number of years ago.
    5. Decent shocks, don't have to go nuts.
    6. Solid K-frame pucks or at least poly. The solid ones really do make a difference. Solids would probably slide more into the expensive list though at $200.

    No so cheap:
    1. Firm Feel torsion bars - one of the biggest differences you could ever make in the suspension of the car. The factory front bars only had a 140# rate; which is wet noodle soft. I dumped a stupid amount of money and time into the suspension of my car and this was the last mod I did. Holy crap did it change the way the car handles. Totally eliminated body roll - this was even with the cop sway bars. At $650 a pair though, they ain't cheap.
    2. Borgeson power steering box - the factory boxes in these cars really are junk - even rebuilt ones. You can lower the power assist, but you still have 15 degrees of slop at center. The Borgeson box eliminates this and makes it even tighter. Feels like rack and pinion to be honest. I got mine through Bergman Autocraft and got his steering column adapter with it. NOT CHEAP. Was about $800 to get everything.
    Regarding brakes, I haven't gotten to that yet on my ride. The 11.75" upgrade though doesn't do anything for stopping power as long as you're using the factory calipers. What it will aid in is reducing brake fade since the rotors are bigger and more able to transfer heat.
     
  9. kkritsilas

    kkritsilas Well-Known Member

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    The 11.75" brake upgrade should be significantly better, even with the stock calipers (assuming that they are in good order). This is because the caliper, being further away from the center of the wheel has more leverage on the rotating rotor. It isn't the rotor that makes the difference, it is that the caliper has more leverage.

    If you want to think of it in non-theoretical terms, then know that the 11.75" rotors were standard on big block 1st. gen. Cordobas. Small block 1st. gen. Cordobas got the 10.5" rotors. You can believe that if the 10.5" rotors were adequate, they would have been used on the big block Cordobas, considering the financial climate within Chrysler at the time. That they were not should be enough to tell you that the 10.5" were not up to stopping the added weight of the big block cars, and by extension that the 11.75" were able to. So yes, the factory was well aware that the 11.75" brakes were significantly better than the 10.5" brakes.
     
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  10. Kermit

    Kermit Well-Known Member

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    This is my first FMJ but the A bodies see a significant increase in braking performance with the larger rotor upgrade, so much so that it messes with the front to rear brake bias significantly. I had to add an adjustable prop valve even with the HD 11 rear drums.

    I can only imagine it is worthwhile on our cars. I plan to test it for myself soon, and daily Las Vegas traffic should prove to be the perfect testing grounds.

    Jared
     
  11. M_Body_Coupe

    M_Body_Coupe Well-Known Member

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    Duke5A brought up a couple of great points:

    1) frame-ties...I tossed a set of ART pieces (but heavily re-worked since AS-IS they were...ummm..un-satisfactory...LOL), anyways, wow, what a difference.

    2) power steering pressure mod - I did this and I kid you not, the cheapest ass mod that literally has had the feel of a million $$$ change...granted my PS box was already in a good shape to start off with (no play on center and pretty tight turn to turn), but lowering the PS pump output pressure did away with all that over-assist feel and actually made the car handle super nice. Take a look at the Borgeston part# 899001, all of $17 cost at Summit I believe. The stock shim was 0.037 which I replaced with 5 shims @ 0.020" thickness each, so for a total of 0.100.

    Regarding the 11.75" rotors, they sure made a difference on my ride. I have not felt them 'going away' once yet, and I've had to make some pretty quick stops in the coupe. So if possible, especially if you are having to re-place rotors anyways, upgrade...sourcing the bigger caliper adapters is probably the bigger challenge though.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
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  12. Duke5A

    Duke5A Well-Known Member

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    bow.gif

    You know what, the leverage aspect didn't even occur to me. I was only thinking about how the swap uses the same caliper and pads. Doctor Diff sells the caliper adapters you'll need for $90 if you can't find a set off of an R body.

    Brakes :: Front
     
  13. DCAspen

    DCAspen Well-Known Member

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    You guys know your sh*t,Great information,There should be a Sticky Thread about suspension upgrades
     
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  14. M_Body_Coupe

    M_Body_Coupe Well-Known Member

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    Ohh...was doing some RockAuto purchasing (pinion bearing for my 4.10 gear-set change) and decided to browse around a bit for my '80 coupe...lo' and behold, what do I find???

    Take a peek at this forged 11/32" tied-rod set (PROFORGED #10510049), price is $50.89 for the pair...quite frankly, seems like a deal, especially given that the OEM sleeve style part like the MOOG #ES440S is $12.45 per single piece.

    So all in all, you're looking for 2x the cost for what is probably a stiffer part and if anything gets you a peace of mind on having bulked up to the max...hey, don't shoot the messenger, you decide if it's worth it!!!
     
  15. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    There are a few more things to consider:
    Our cars (except for a few special order police cars) came with 9/16” tie rod ends. The 9/16” part is the shaft size that connects the two tie rods, together. The size of the “joint” and size of the tapered stud is still the same.
    C-body’s, older pickups and some police cars came with 11/16” tie rod ends. These offer less deflection when taking hard turns – which I agree, will do.
    Personally, I recommend using the 11/16” tie rod ends – but only IF you plan on road racing or performing other hard turning maneuvers. A normal person does not need nor will see any benefit of using 11/16” shaft tie rods (wait, do we have "normal" people in our forums?).

    On same note, getting rid of the OE style tie rod connecting sleeve with a solid piece (9/16" or 11/16") – also does wonders for steering part deflection (on hard turns). Plus, the solid sleeves also eliminate another source of “rust” - which gets trapped inside the open OEM style sleeve.


    Also, not mentioned is to remove (and toss) the rear Iso-clamps that tie the rear differential tubes to the leaf springs. That modification alone, can make the car feel so much better.


    I do agree with Duke5A with almost everything he said but do want to add:
    If you can find police sway bars – replace them as a set (ie: front and rear). Just adding a rear sway bar (police or aftermarket) but leaving the front sway bar alone – will cause issues/problems, especially over rough roads. Same thing with aftermarket sway bars, replace both (or might be better said to replace front and add the rear) at same time.
    The aftermarket sway bars (FFI is one source, and possibly the best source) are better than the police style (IMO).
    Either type is better than “none”.


    Now as to what XfbodyX said, the LCA (Lower Control Arm) stiffening bracket is actually made by another company, I believe is AREngineering ( http://arengineering.com/ ). They have a lot of neat stuff for sale, there.
    Actually, I just went to their website, I don’t see the FMJ LCA plates for sale there, anymore – so . . . interesting. Going by memory, the part number was AR015 (or something like that). I remember it because it sounded close to AR15.
    Matter of fact, I just put their P/N AR389 (big block oil pan support rails) onto my wish list


    On an unrelated note: I do have plans on using FFI sway bars (front and rear) for both of my cars.
    I also have a complete set of police sway bars (front and rear) that will be for sale after I purchase the FFI ones - – but that will be a while, sense the FFI ones are quite pricy.
    BudW
     
  16. Duke5A

    Duke5A Well-Known Member

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    After reading this, I'm ordering a set now. You're absolutely right.

    The size of the front and rear bars need to be sized according to the weight bias and spring rates in the car. Road race guys can do the math (I can't, lol). You end up running into oversteer and understeer situations if they're not matched. Will you see it for the kind of driving the average M owner does? I couldn't tell ya. o_O

    Do you have the big block in your car yet? I still have the matching cop bars in my car and noticed a bit more wallow out of the front end now from when I had the 360 in it. The plan is for 1.25" FF bar. Be sure to get their center hangars too as the FF bar won't fit in the factory ones.
     
  17. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    Not yet.

    I’m building a pair of 400 strokers (at same time, one for each car).
    I acquired and just received the second 400 block (will be making a new thread on them shortly), with most of the other engine parts already in my garage.
    Right now, I’m still in the pats gathering mode (as $ permits).


    Over my lifetime, I have replaced a ton of the front center hangers, both the normal ones as well as the HD/police versions. They are just not strong enough . . .
    I’m hoping the FFI ones are much stronger, which I’d think they would be.
    Matter of fact, anytime I’m at a pull-a-part, and if I have time, I try to get any “good” OEM front center links – for there is always someone out there with a broken link.

    Right now my plan is to use FFI rear and front (1¼”) sway bars, on both cars. The fronts mainly because of what I “believe to be” much stronger links. Those four parts will cost me almost $1,700 (US) and that is not counting all of the other things they have, I want.


    You mention you have the rear police rear sway bar. Did you also get the police rear leaf spring hanger and frame brackets?
    BudW
     
  18. Duke5A

    Duke5A Well-Known Member

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    Negative on the cop rear spring brackets. Matter of fact even though my springs are new they only have rubber bushings - something I've been meaning to address.

    I purchased the FF front sway bar hangars last year year because I wanted to replace the crap factory ones. They are indeed A LOT stronger, but they don't fit factory bars. I learned that when I went to swap them in. FF offered a refund a full year later, but I declined as I planned on buying the bar 1.25" bar at some point anyways.

    You might want to give a look at the 300# torsion bars first. If replacing factory torsion bars you'll gain the biggest difference right there.
     
  19. BudW

    BudW Moderator Staff Member

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    I hadn’t put much thought towards torsion bars – mainly because of two reasons:
    One is all FMJ torsion bars are the same (except for the bushings on end and middle, which have different degrees of, um, spungyness? Hopefully there is a better word to use here).
    Also (FMJ) torsion bars have out of production for so long – it has kinda escaped my mind.
    You are correct, I need to add those to my list.

    To be honest, any torsion bar that is 30-40 years old, needs new bushings – and those are becoming hard to find. If you find a set – they are also, um, not a lot of fun to replace.


    On your FFI front sway bar hangers – if you get a sway bar and it comes with hangers, let me know – I might be willing to purchase your set (again, if you’re not going too use 'em).


    The cars with factory rear sway bars, the rear spring hanger/shackle looks like this:
    20160703_000204.jpg
    Compared to everyone else’s FMJ:
    20160703_000014.jpg
    A person could special order any FMJ with rear sway bar – but the only cars I have ever seen them on, were police cars.

    The shackle part (with rear sway bar) is also used in all Minivans from ’83 to 95 – so that part is not too hard to find. The rear hanger is different and it only fits FMJ vehicles.
    I have measurements somewhere – but with finding the correct tubing size, a person can weld ends onto a “non-sway bar” rear hanger and it will work fine.
    I did have a handful of minivan shackles – but down to a single one, now.
    Note: the ’96 and up minivans are shaped the same, but rod diameter is smaller and they are metric, whereas the ’95 down minivans/police FMJ are SAE.

    I have been meaning to write up a thread about this – and will get to it, one of these days.


    Unless you are racing the car full time, I highly recommend using rubber bushings for front/rear leaf springs as well as upper/lower control arms to frame. Those rubber bushings are the only thing keeping your kidneys located in-place.

    If you are still considering poly bushings for leaf springs and/or upper/lower control arms, I do highly recommend getting a second set of control arms, so when you say the poly bushings are too-much for you, the re-swap over is a lot easier/quicker.

    With that said, poly sway bar bushings, torsion bar bushings, poly subframe bushings and/or poly Iso-clamp bushings are fine and in many cases help (a lot). The rubber for the other bushings is almost mandatory for a street driven car.
    Personally, I would recommend replacing the Iso-clamp with the older style shock plate all together, for the lower clamp is a major weak link (prong to breakage) - but if keeping the system, at least get the poly inserts.
    BudW
     
  20. M_Body_Coupe

    M_Body_Coupe Well-Known Member

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    Hey BudW!

    I have to wholeheartedly agree with that last statement. When I rebuilt my coupe I used a set of NOS ISO bushings. Part of my goal was to really understand how far these can be pushed, or looking at it another way: how much chassis control am I going to be able to have with these still in place?

    Over the few seasons they have been beat pretty bad. So keep in mind, I started with NOS stuff, perfectly pliable, no cracks (although yeah, rubber ages even without use) still, had the poly ISO bushings been available in the aftermarket when I did this I would have readily gone with 'em!

    In fact, I am actually considering taking apart my perfectly well assembled ISO clamp rear-axle and replacing these with the poly bushings. I should have my 4.10 gearset ready to go in a couple of weeks, so umm...maybe I'll do it after all...LOL...