Aluminum Lower Control Arms:
My Aluminum LCA's, they weigh about 2 lbs each with rod
A couple of shots of the Aluminum LCA Compared with
Rod ends at both ends ensure zero
measurable bind or deflection. The stock LCA's weigh about 4 lbs
and many aftermarket LCA's weigh much more than that (some even more
than double). They are 1/2 unsprung weight so this weight is not
definitely not desirable if it is not needed. It is not.
Double Rod Ended LCA's ride too
harsh for you? Try Rubber in one end:
They are made from 1.125" diameter by .219"
wall thickness 6061-T6511 Aluminum tubing from Coleman
Racing Products. They are about $12 each. You want the
16" Trailing Arms. This will give you LCA's adjustable for length
from 19" to 20.5" while keeping at least 1" of thread engagement
on the Rod Ends (which gives you a large
margin of safety for thread pull-out).
They come tapped with left-hand theads on one
end and right-hand threads on the other end so they can easily be
adjusted on the car with
wrench flats machined in so you can tighten your jam nuts properly.
In case you're wondering, yes, these LCA's
strong enough. LCA's see their largest dynamic loads in tension
(hitting potholes, etc). These are good to more than 26,200 lbs
The rod ends are only rated at about 28,000 so making the LCA stronger
that does nothing more than add weight. Unless I chain my axle to
tree and push the car off a cliff, they ain't gunna break. In
they are good for 18,300 lbs each. That translates to about a 0.6
second 60' time. So they might not be strong enough if you're
quicker than that (don't you wish!).
<>Yes, the F-Body aftermarket over-builds,
over-charges and under-Engineers this stuff.
One note I should have made long ago on the subject of strength:
Three years ago I crashed at Seattle International Raceway.
Brakes failed (my fault) and I came in way too hot to 5a...went around
and went into the hillside at track left backward. I hit hard
enough to bend my axle.
But the LCA's held up fine. They were strong enough to bend my
axle How much stronger do they need to be?.
A QA1 rod end compared with one supplied with the
Please See my Rod End Update!
A few years ago, I started out with Spohn
LCA's. They were of decent quality but rather heavy.
The biggest complaint I had with the Spohn
arms was the quality of the rod ends they came with. When new,
quality was not bad at all. There was simply an increased
over small, sharp bumps (expansion joints on the freeway,
But that was totally acceptable for a daily driver (for my tastes).
Unfortunately, within a few weeks I started
hearing strange noises from the rear. These noises got louder and
louder until they became a metallic rattling sound. Eventually it
sounded as if
I had a coffee can half full of marbles rolling around in the
trunk. That was too much. I put the stock LCA's back on for
This was caused by clearances opening up
between the ball and race of each rod end. This allowed the
entire part to
rattle over the ball when installed, making the noise. Upon
I could wiggle the ball back and forth in the body with my fingers (the
they aren't supposed to allow movement) on each end.
So, I decided to step up in quality when I
replaced them. I replaced them with QA1
Endura 2000 Series Rod Ends. These are much higher quality than
the old ones. Not as good as a $100 end, but at around $30 each
they are a good value
(being about 10 times as good as a $15 rod end).
When comparing the two, the first thing
you'll notice is the body of the QA1 is much wider (as you can see in
pics). If you move the ball sideways so you can look into the
you'll see this allows the metal-to-metal contact area between the body
ball to be much larger than the others. This spreads shock loads
over a greater area, reducing the stress put on the body of the rod
end. This will allow these rod ends to resist deformation that
will open up the
clearances for a longer period of time.
The second thing you'll notice is how tight
the balls are on the QA1's. Even when new, I could spin the balls
of the old ends with the tip of my pinkie. Not so with the
QA1's. You can move these with your fingers, but it isn't
easy. You really have to crank on them. This exhibits the
preload (interference fit) on the
balls. As long as that preload is there, they won't rattle.
The third feature of the QA1's that I
believe is an improvement is their Teflon®/Kevlar® Self
Lubricating Race. The Teflon/Kevlar mixture is injected into the
rod end after it is assembled. It then molds to the shape of the
ball. It constantly lubricates the ball, as well as absorbing
some the the shock loads. The old rod ends had a "bonded teflon
lining." It resembled some type of fabric that was "stuck in
there." Upon removal there were chunks of the stuff
actually coming out of the rod ends. I don't think that will be a
problem with the QA1's.
So far I have more than 5000 miles on them
(about 10% of those track miles) and have daily driven with them for
two years. They still don't rattle.
You can buy the QA1's at Racer Parts Wholesale.
They're a little over $30 each. Part numbers XMR-12 (right hand
thread) and XML-12 are the sizes you need. Don't
forget to get a 3/4" Jam Nut (also from Racer Parts Wholesale) for each
The cheapest way to get spacers is to make
them as shown below. You can get the Rod End Reducer Bushings Here.
You need the 3/4" OD, 1/2" ID ones.
The Aluminum tube
You'll need the 1" OD, 1/2" ID Tube. One foot is enough.
Simply slice it off in 3/4" chunks. Make sure you cut them square.
These aren't quite as
nice as machined,
stepped spacers but I have yet to find any of those in the proper size
for a decent price. If you find a source for them that's
let me know.
By the way, if you want to shine them up a
3M "Swirl Remover" Rubbing Compound (the stuff you use on your paint)
put a mirror-like finish on them in just a couple of minutes.
Rod End Update:
First, it has come to my attention that Steve
Spohn now uses the very
same QA1 rodends that I use here. Kudos to him for doing
so. It raises the price of his parts, but it makes his parts much
more desirable and a better value for those who don't want to make
LG Motorsports also uses
these same Rod Ends in their LCA's & PHB's.
uses Aurora Three Piece Rod Ends that are at
least as good (even slightly more expensive) as the QA1's I use.
The QA1's are now available at Jeg's for
$29.99 each HERE.
Couple that with free shipping and it's a fair savings.
So if you want to buy aftermarket Rod Ended parts, these are the three
brands I recommend.
I have finally replaced my original QA1's (November 2003). After
over two and a
years of daily driving (in Seattle weather) and 8700 miles (1135 of
those being racetrack miles) they were finally making enough noise to
bug me. They were still much more quiet than the cheap rodends
after only a couple of weeks and less than 1000 miles. So,
they're twice as expensive but they lasted more than 10 times as
long. That's a pretty decent value.
Another update (2/26/2005): After 6300 miles (~850 track miles
with 315 Hoosiers much of the time) my second set is making enough
noise to bug me.
So, after four years and 15,000 miles (2000 track miles) I've worn out
two sets--to the point they made too much noise for my liking, not to
the point they were unsafe. That's pretty good life for such an
economical rod end. The XMR/XML are still a very good value, I
feel. But I woundn't mind something that lasts a bit longer
without spending $50, $70 or $100 each.
I'm now testing QA1 HMR-T/HML-T's:
The HMR-T (top) is a three piece with all
of that type of construction. Initial inspection has them passing
preload/quietness tests. But with their construction advantages,
think there's a chance they might last longer than the XMR/XML's.
Maybe by a significant margin. Only one way to find out--I've
to give them a try. ;)
They're available from Lefthander
Chassis, part # 017-HMR-12T/017-HML-12T for only $5 more than the
You may have also notice from some of the new pictures that I'm testing
some new Rod End Boots. These are they:
They are available for $4.99 each in the 3/4" size at the above phone
I'm pretty sure my original QA1's would have lasted even longer had I
kept them clean. Daily driving in Seattle isn't so good for them:
Here you can see how the body of the rodend is covered with rust.
That rust extends into the race and onto the ball. Obviously this
didn't do them any favors. Neither did all the grime that the
bearing surfaces had been exposed to all that time.
Here's a new end with the boot installed.
Here it is on an LCA.
Right now, I'm not sure if I recommend these or not. They are a
PITA to install. You'll first notice this when you see they have
no holes cut in in the sides. They are molded shut with two
O-Rings molded in. When you think about it, given their design
and the variety of applications for which the rod ends could be used,
that's pretty much how they had to do it as no single O-Ring size will
work for all applications. To fit the 1" OD of my spacers, I cut
out the smaller O-Ring. The larger one doesn't provide a fit
quite as tight as I'd like (but the smaller one is much too tight), so
I cut them as closely as possible to the smaller O-Ring. This is
the biggest PITA when installing these things. But, it really
only takes a couple of minutes for each after you get the hang of it
and when it's done, it's done.
Since I use suspension links as long as possible to maximize thread
engagement on the rodends, there wasn't enough space between the thick
Jam Nuts and the body of the rod ends to keep the O-Ring that goes over
the shank of the rod ends. The Jam Nuts pushed it too close to
the body of the end and distorted the shape of the boot. Had I
used 15.5" tubes instead of 16" tubes they may have fit better. I
think they'll do fine without them using the zip-ties provided.
So, they're a PITA to install and didn't fit my application
perfectly. That said, I do think they'll do the job they are
supposed to do. Now that they're on, I do have a better feeling
when driving in the rain all winter than I did before with the rod ends
exposed to the elements. In a couple of years I should be able to
say if they protected the rod ends enough to be worth it or not.
For now, it's your call.
If you use those boots with 1" OD spacers, don't cut out the smaller
O-Ring. The larger one is too loose, and doesn't make a tight
Here is a more well known alternative from Seals It. I haven't
used these personally but they've been around in the racing industry
for quite some time now and have a good reputation. I decided to
try the others because they should protect the bodies of the rod ends
while these will not and maybe do a better job of protecting
the actual bearings than these do. Keep in mind, you will need to
adjust the thicknesses of your spacers if you use these.