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Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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2010/3/3 12:50
From Pasco, WA, USA
Posts: 85
Regarding my '55 400, anything special about the shock absorbers? I recall long ago reading that they damped in only one direction. Is that the case? Any recommendations regarding replacements?

Posted on: 2019/7/20 20:28
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1942 Clipper Club Sedan
1948 Custom Touring Sedan (22nd Series)
1955 Patrician Sedan
1955 400 Sedan
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 16036
There is an excellent article written by Dwight Heinmuller on the Torsion Level system and how bushings, shocks, and other mechanical components interact. It was published in the November, 2017 Cormorant News Bulletin and is now available to read on Dwight's website. https://www.packardparts.org/wp-conten ... le-8-30-2017-revision.pdf Very little is mentioned on the compensator and electrical leveling part, just the suspension aspects. Would suggest anyone wanting to have the system as close to original road handling condition as possible read the article.

Synopsis of the article is everything needs to be in good condition and since rubber bushings deteriorate yet play such an important part are probably the item needing the most attention. Shocks do play a part in the overall design and as the article pointed out were somewhat special. Dwight mentioned consulting with Monroe who supplied the original shocks and also Gabriel reps. Their opinion was most shocks available today will not have the same characteristics as the originals because of larger piston sizes and different valving. They are too stiff and actually hinder operation. The article did recommend one particular brand which closely mimics the size and special valving in the originals and are available from NAPA, Rock Auto, Summit and others.

Kayaba or more commonly KYB shocks part number 343127 for fronts and 343149 for rears. The rear shocks will fit both years as is and for 56, fronts will too. For a 55 the fronts need to have a modification. The article mentions there is a crossbar on the shocks which will bolt to the 56 lower A arm but since 55 used a stud mount on the bottom the bar needs to be removed from the shock and a stud welded in its place. That may present an issue for some but if the shocks work as they are supposed to maybe worth the extra hassle. I don't know if there are any kind of adapters available to avoid the welding. There are adapters for a 55 stud type shock to bolt on a 56 but don't know if anything is available for the 56 bar to work with a 55 stud mount.

Posted on: 2019/7/21 7:19
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Howard
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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2007/3/14 16:01
From New Jersey
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Unlikely that anyone knew the system needs better than Bob Allison (the inventor); his recommendation was standard duty shocks, NOT heavy duty. Though it's some years back and the #s may be obsolete by now, I used Gabriel 45653 in front and Gabriel 82066 in the rear and was fully satisfied with their performance.

Posted on: 2019/7/21 7:35
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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Joined:
2010/3/3 12:50
From Pasco, WA, USA
Posts: 85
Thanks for the information. So as far as anyone knows the '55 rear shocks are somewhat available but fronts are unavailable short of modification? (The Gabriel and Monroe models referred to in the past are no longer made.)

As for the rear a point of confusion with the recommended KYB 343149 shocks is that the vendor sites I've checked with all say they don't fit the '55 Packard.

Anyone happen to have detailed specs on the stock shocks regarding length, etc., or have any other recommendations?

Posted on: 2019/7/21 17:34
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1942 Clipper Club Sedan
1948 Custom Touring Sedan (22nd Series)
1955 Patrician Sedan
1955 400 Sedan
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 16036
I don't know if the Monroe or Gabriels used in the past are still made or not -- but if they are, in all probability they would be less than optimum for the ride as compared to the ones Dwight listed.

I notice you wrote 343139 in your last post but the actual number is 343149. Is it possible a typo was used on the KYB site. I would also wonder if KYB would list use on a Packard since there have not been any Packards made in so many years. A lot of items known to work on Packards fall into the category of not being mentioned on company websites.

For clarity, I would suggest you drop Dwight an email via the contact link on his site https://www.packardparts.org and ask if there is a misprint on the number or what would be a reason other than not being a somewhat current vehicle that KYB might think they would not work. He could probably give the specs you asked about too.

Posted on: 2019/7/21 17:48
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Howard
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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Joined:
2010/3/3 12:50
From Pasco, WA, USA
Posts: 85
Thanks. Fixed the typo.

I found the specs on the KYB 343149 recommended for the rear, 8.66 Stroke, 21.57 Ext, 12.91 Compression, but not the originals.

It's very possible the application charts are wrong. Some of the same sites list shocks that are supposedly applicable to the '55 400, but obviously are not.

The only '55 listed that this shock fits is the Chevy Bel Air (rear).

Posted on: 2019/7/21 18:08
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1942 Clipper Club Sedan
1948 Custom Touring Sedan (22nd Series)
1955 Patrician Sedan
1955 400 Sedan
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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Joined:
2007/11/1 19:59
From Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 191
I purchased my replacement shocks for the rear off of Max Merrit Auto's site just last month and replaced them this month. They were a direct fit and the ride was definitely improved from the 40 year old shocks still on the car. Oh and the price was very reasonable as seems to be the trend for Max Merrit.

Posted on: 2019/7/22 6:12
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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2014/7/15 11:30
From Terrebonne, OR
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Would the shocks be the same as Packard for the 1956 Clipper?

Posted on: 2019/7/22 9:26
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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Joined:
2007/4/20 17:54
From Fresno CA
Posts: 16036
When new, Packard had several shocks available including some they called heavy duty and others only for export models. Different numbers for Clipper and Packard but I suspect that was due to different valving for the different weights of the cars and the ride Packard wanted from each rather than a physical difference in the shocks (other than the front mount differences between 55-56.

In modern times where there are not a lot of options to choose from I suspect it will mostly be down to finding one that fits. Use the same shock on both and don't worry much about the different ride qualities.

Posted on: 2019/7/22 10:00
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Howard
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Re: Shock absorbers on torsion level cars
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2012/4/10 19:35
From San Diego, CA USA
Posts: 1591
Henry used Volvo shocks..

I bought old shocks from max. NOS. Didn't like the kyb.

Posted on: 2019/7/22 20:07
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Riki
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