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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On to the next issue....

I've got a pretty serious negative caster issue, and since there aren't any more shims to remove from the upper control arms, I can only assume I've got the famous sagging crossmember problem. I know they make control arm shafts that allow an additonal 2 degrees of caster, but I'd like to fix it properly vs. compensating for the problem. (Assuming the cost isn't too great)

I've called around to a few frame shops, but I am having a really difficult time coming up with an approximate cost. The frame shops don't know how long its going to take, and charge by the hour.

Hence, I don't know if its going to cost me $100 or $1000 or more. Like many people in my generation, money is very tight, so its important to have a ballpark idea before I drop the thing off because I can't really afford surprises.

So, those of you that had frame shops fix your crossmember, what did it cost to have it done? (If you don't mind my asking, that is).
 

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Hi Have not had it done however your question has made me ask in the forums search and i found these results.

Have a read through the threads and like me i believe you could do it yourself.
Should only take some time at minimal cost. Also you could prove the statement the frame has actually sagged.
Hope this helps.
Regs David
 

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Had my crossmember sag repaired quite a few years ago, but when then did it, the fenders came up as well and pushed against the doors and chipped some paint. So be extra careful.

Doug
 

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One possible problem with the shop that's only quoting you an hourly rate is that they don't know what it takes because they'll have to figure out how to do it.

Another reason they won't quote you a more specific cost is that there may be other damage beyond the "sag". Things like a cracked crossmember, damaged bolt holes for the lower control arm shafts, etc. If the sag is due to collision damage, there may be other things to straighten, replace, repair, etc.

Are these telephone quotes? Are the shops you're talking to close enough that you can have them look at the car, either in their shop or have them come to you? Is your car running at this time? The cost to just straighten the frame would be much less if you could take a bare frame to them, if they are able to work on it that way.
 

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Here's an idea for you...pick someone you are comfortable with that does frame work. Not some guy who knew a guy who knows a guy. Tell him you want to find out what the problem is. That won't cost much and education is not cheap. With this knowledge you both can make an informed sensible decision. :anim_25:
 

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another thing to consider is upper control arm bushings. if they are worn it will give more negative caster. fornthis reason I only use poly urethane control arm bushings. they deflect less and help with alignment issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the replies.

Let me give you guys some background info I should have given you before:

I rebuilt the front end a few years ago. New control arm bushings, ball joints, springs, shocks, idler arm bushings (actually went with the bearing setup), tie rods and adjusting sleeves, tapered roller bearings, and even put in a good used steering box. Most of the stuff came from Tri-Five.com vendors. :tu

When I went to have the car aligned after I dropped a motor in the car, the alignment shop said they struggled to align it due the really bad rear springs; they said the car was leaning backwards and to the driver's side. (It was, it was almost comically obvious). They aligned it as best they could (according to them). Couldn't afford new rear springs at the time.

I've since replaced the rear springs (two weeks ago actually).

The car always drove a little scary. The front end would dart all over the place on a bumpy road, and even with a light application of the brakes, the passenger front tire would start squealing. If you put else someone in the car, this problem got much worse. Adjusting the brakes did nothing to resolve this. There is no evidence of the tire rubbing anywhere.

I put up with it for longer than I should have, but now that my two front tires are completely shot after what is very few miles (the rears show almost no wear whatsoever) Ive decided to tackle this problem. Looking at the wear on my front tires, the insides (towards the center of the car) as as bald as a cue ball, but the outsides still have a shred of tread left. If you look at just the right angle, you can actually see the front tires leaning towards the center of the car a little.

I will note that replacing the rear springs didn't help any of this at all. Not that I expected it to. And there aren't any more shims that can be removed from the upper control arms to push the control arms out.

Now, in response to you guys:

Tried the search link, but it said there were no replies. I'll do a search on my own. I did read through some posts on the negative caster subjet, which is how I came to learn about the problem of sagging crossmembers.

I'll keep an eye out for body panel movement....of course, the paint on my car is pretty bad, what's one or two more chips? :D

Yes, these are all telephone quotes. I haven't come across a shop that has done this before, so I can understand why they won't give a cost estimate. I did run across a guy at a larger local car show (actually a volunteer at it and part of the car club that runs the show) He said can recommend two places but he couldn't remember their names offhand. I have his number, so I will call him tomorrow and see if he's found them yet.

As of right now, I don't know anyone personally that does frame work...

I hadn't thought about the possibility of previous frame damage. When I rebuilt the front end a few years back, I didn't see any cracks or damage to the bolt holes, but that doesn't mean the problem wasn't there or it has arisen since the front end was done. Also, I have a feeling that the last few years of this car's life as a daily driver were rather brutal as it was someone's beater.

When it comes time to do the control arm bushings again, I'll definitely consider polyurethane bushings. Do they change the ride quality any?
 

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V8...got it.

Don't know FL market but I'm thinking there are probably some pretty good frame shops down there. Try asking at the car dealerships or body shops. Most body shops use sub-contractors for frame work due to the high cost of the frame machine and because its a specialty.

The specs for frame dimensions are readily available for these cars so measurement standards are no issue. Within 15 minutes of your car being on a frame machine, the tech is going to know if its spec or not.
 

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If you can't find a frame shop that will do it you could pull the engine and do it yourself with a 10 ton bottle jack and some heavy box tubing.
 

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I believe you have your alignment terms wrong.I believe you have a neg,camber problem.caster is a steering control angle.Negative camber & toe will cause the tire wear you described.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
carexpert, I believe you're right. Whoops!
 

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When I had the sag removed from my bare frame a couple of years ago it cost me $250. Like so many other Tri-Fives my ’56 was out of alignment and out of shims. The gauge holes on the frame measured 37⅞ inch. The holes are supposed to be 38 inches apart. The frame shop pulled it out a little extra to 38 3/16 inch. This gave me some extra shims to play with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
David,

I'll check that place out.

Awhile ago, I stopped by Maaco of all places. They brought their frame machine guy up to the front office to talk to me, and so far, he is the only person I talked to who had heard of the problem and had an idea how to correct it. (He was probably in his 50's or perhaps even older). He said it would run about $250, which agrees with what Farm Boy posted. (He also said it would make his life a lot easier if the engine was out)

The other places I'd gone to couldn't give me a ballpark figure because they'd never encountered that particular problem before.

But I haven't made any moves yet, money is tight and getting tighter.

As cool as a gasser would be, I think that's a bit beyond the limit of my abilities!
 

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I've seen this done with a bottle jack and chaining the outer sides of the crossmember down to a 4 post drive-on car lift. Only took about 15 minutes. The guy knew what he was doing. It was a class I took in front end alignment and it was my '60 Chevy 2 door hardtop I shoulda never sold...:s:
 

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crossmember sag

What makes a crossmenber sag ? Is this a common issue? Is this a rust issue? Mine looks rock solid.
 

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You might consider a different frame. Once you fix the sag will it reoccur? It will be more work, but the frame you have now may be junk. ??? Just a thought.
 
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