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Torsion Level Problem
#1
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Jed Sheehan
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I'm experiencing a torsion level problem with my 56 400 and I'm hoping someone can help.

My car does what I call "porpoising." As I'm driving, the torsion system will kick in and the front will go up as far as it can and then it will go back down and the rear end will go up as high as it can. It will do this two or three times before it settles at level. Another mile or two and it will start all over again. So the car is actually going down the road like a porpoise swims through the water - up and down.

It doesn't do this all the time. It seems to happen mostly on hilly roads and at higher speeds like on the interstate. If I turn off the system the car settles all the way down in the rear so I can't even drive it with the system off. It's really no fun to drive with this problem.

I replaced the control box with a solid state unit from Packards International. I've also replaced the limit switches with a rebuilt set from Max Merritt and I replaced the compensator with a NOS unit from Kanter. Nothing has changed the "porpoising." I also replaced the three-prong brake light switch with the two prong solid state unit from packards International about 10 years ago and it has worked great.

Does anyone have any experience with this problem? Any ideas? They would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Posted on: 2012/6/22 10:16
Jed
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
#2
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Owen_Dyneto
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This doesn't necessarily explain all the symptoms but a friend with similar issues found the problem to be with worn suspension bushings and too much friction is the suspension. Have you followed the lube chart and greased ALL the grease fittings; there are lots of them and some not so easily found by folks used to greasing conventional suspensions? Badly worn suspension bushings both front and rear can also contribute to the problem.

Ross will probably have the most complete answer to this.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 10:31
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
#3
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Jed Sheehan
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The bushings are lubed however that doesn't mean they're not worn. I can definitely tell when it needs lubing as the system makes a creaking noise when it's dry. It gets lubed pretty regularly. Bushings are on my list of things to do.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 10:39
Jed
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
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Randy Berger
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Upper inner control arm bushings on your 400 cannot be lubed, but can be worn to the point they are ineffective and will contribute significantly to your problem. If you can hear them at all "creaking noise" then something was not lubed.
Even a lube job over a year old will not "creak". Something was not lubed.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 12:50
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
#5
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Ross
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The rubber suspension bushings on a TL car are critical to prevent the see-saw action you describe. When they are loose there really is nothing else in the system to keep it from settling to one end then the other with any small disturbance.

The upper inner bushings are especially critical. Since that arm is relatively short they have a greater stabilizing effect. Very important that when you install them, that you leave them loose on the shaft. Only tighten them after the car is back on the ground and dead level.

The lower inner bushings have much less effect and are seldom bad anyway.

Your control switch is probably working fine and is just trying to cope with an unstable system.

At 131,000 miles I just put all new bushings at the rear of my 56 Clipper and was very pleased with increased smoothness and some extra ride height. The car got new upper inners at the front 25K ago and they are still hunky dory.

When the system is right the car will seldom need to level. I would guess mine does not make a single correction in 40 miles, and that only briefly for the gas it used.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 13:33
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
#6
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Jed Sheehan
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Thanks for the advice guys, I guess I need to move bushings to my do now list. How difficult is the job of replacing the bushings? Can a good resto shop handle it?

Posted on: 2012/6/22 13:40
Jed
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
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R H
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The rear axle ones are easy,, all you need is a jack, turn off system.

never done the uppers,, but they need it.. need to hold load arm up.. to get support arm off..

also ,,,you can use 1955 lower bushings, leave off metal bracket or cup(bushing fits in), put bushing right on support arm..

the 55 bushing is rectangle larger surface area, did it with a 56 clipper,,,torsion worked great..

mine went up and down...looked at axle,,,,what bushings,,,

they were gone,,NOS,, i would get newer stuff,,,i make my own out of durathan. my dad made molds.. round and rectangle (55)

its a slow process,,,one at a time.

your next question should be , what is the torque for axle bushings.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 15:39
Riki
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
#8
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Jed Sheehan
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Riki,

OK, I'll bite. So, what are the torque settings?

I looked at the shop manual and it seems you have to unload the system to get the torsion bars out to change the bushings, which takes a special tool. If you don't have to unload the system that would certainly make it easier, but I'm not sure how or if you can do that. If that's the case please let me know how to do that.

Thanks!

Posted on: 2012/6/22 17:13
Jed
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
#9
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R H
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Hi, jed,

for the axle, bushings, put a jack under load arm, by shock mount, after you jack up car.

with the jack under the support arm, you can lower the arm,,,after un doing nuts.

mark where u bolt is,,then pull up u bolt ,,slip on new bushings,

on the lower just drop the arm low enough to get bushing in.

the torque?,,, that was my question months ago...

riki

the upper bushings,,,i was just out looking at mine,, the load arm,,packard used a long threaded tool,, i think people here have used chain to hold it up.

i can make a tool to work, of coarse this will take time. there is a hole going thru frame, i think you can use a 3/8 harden bolt thru that wrap chain around arm chain on bolt add nut,,,

you can put a floor jack under arm to lift it,

i would use a floor jack,,,not a bottle jack..

forgot, the biggest problem i see are the mufflers,, they are right at the bracket. for the upper bushings.



riki


i think if you get car high enough,,you can check the arm, i think i have removed the jack from under the support arm,,and the support just hung there. mine felt stiff so just left it. i just want to go fresh when i get it back on the road. but i might leave it alone.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 18:35
Riki
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Re: Torsion Level Problem
#10
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Randy Berger
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For the front you can put a jack stand at the outer edge of the lower control arm, under the support knuckle. Have it positioned high enough to remove the wheel. This should lift the upper control arm off the upper rebound bumper enough that you can now remove the two vertical bolts holding the upper control arm bracket and swing the upper control arm out. You can now remove the two nuts holding the pivot pin. After their removal follow the instructions on page 5ive of the "Suspension and Steering" section of the shop manual. Carefully count the turns required to remove the upper pivot pin and WRITE IT DOWN. You can now remove the upper control arm, press out the bushings, press in new ones and reinstall the upper control arm. Remember the number of turns of the pivot pin and reinstall it. Do NOT tighten up the upper control arm nuts against the bushings until the car is again on the ground and you have bounced it a little and made sure the car is level. Then you can torque the control arm nuts in excess of 100 lbs. Do NOT follow the instructions in Figure 17 as that is for Clippers with threaded bushings, not Packards with pressed bushings.. Wait till the car is on the ground and leveled.
Have a good shop check front end alignment.

Posted on: 2012/6/22 19:06
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