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Hey guys! So, I have a CMC that I recently purchased and I’m trying to figure out what all the car has, what I want to change, and what to correct.

The front beam has sway away adjusters welded in, but the welds are really crappy. So, I have this on the list to correct. They also installed the adjusters in the wrong position, so the car is raised as high as it’ll go but still sits very low. I’m ok with the height, but when I change wheels and tires, I may need some adjustability.

Do most of these cars use standard width beams, or is a narrowed beam preferred?

My car has dropped spindles with the 4 lug bolt pattern. I want to eventually change to Porsche 5 lug. Can I just buy new discs, or do I need new spindles too? I’m not sure who the mfr of the brake is.

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It's hard to see, but those welds don't look that crappy.

But yeah, you can cut them and re-weld a little lower. I don't think you have to though, you've got plenty of lowering adjustment there.

Those are 2" drop spindles. No idea what brand brakes they are, but check out SoCal Imports and EMPI for disc conversions. The calipers look like standard Karmann Ghia units in 4 x 130 bolt pattern.

Anyway, if you replace the spindles with standard ones you'll gain 2" in height.

You'll only need a narrowed beam if your desired tire/wheel combo is rubbing or close to it. *Some brake kits widen the track up to an inch, so there's that also.

Last edited by DannyP

CIP1 dropped spindles - "drop" axle spindles 2 1/2" and add 1/4" to the front wheel track each side.  From CIP1 ad:

These spindles are the first step to a brake system upgrade while giving you the built-in ability to lower your car an automatic 2-1/2 inches just by bolting them on.

CIP1 has Porsche 911 5 bolt 130 mm rotors (unless you mean the old wide 5 wheels?).  I don't think the wide 5 rotors (205 mm) will fit on a dropped ball joint front spindles  - believe you have to go back to std spindles.  Wide 5 rotors widen track more.

There's lots of room in front on CMC so that is good (as it looks better by filling wheel well a bit).  I added 3/8" wheel spacers to mine (to clear calipers) and no issues with 5 1/2" wide wheel clearance.

Empi is a popular brand so compare to that or look for markings.

Last edited by WOLFGANG

Thanks guys! Do I need to change the whole disc brake setup?

What about the front beam? Where do I measure to figure out if mine is stock?  What is most standard?  I believe my pan is a ‘71.

I’m looking to run Porsche Fuchs (most likely repops) in the future.

From the paper work I have, from the previous owners, I have 5.5” wheels in front and 4.5” in the back. Not sure if this makes a difference or not, but I’d like to run a slightly lower profile tire when I change wheels.  165’s just look too tall to me.  I used to run 145’s on my ‘65 bug, but it was slammed! Haha

'71 Front torsion bar width is 51.5" (all torsion bar ones are that).  Going to the 103 mm Fuchs in the front only takes new rotors (like CIP1) I listed (and lug bolts).  CIP1 has 5.5 fake Fuchs with 5" backspacing that will fit the front.  The rear of your car is IRS so wider than swing axle cars - they may not fit the rear even with stock drum brakes (Porsche 103 mm drilled rear drums are available).  Maybe that's why you have 4.5 wheels there?  145 mm tire is skinny even with just 1600 cc engine - I'd think with wider front handling would be unusual? 

@62veedub

Here's some info and pics that might be a helpful reference for you.

I have a 2015 Vintage Speedster (Kirk Duncan manufacture) with the following modifications; (Click on pics to enlarge)

* 2" drop spindles that added 1/4" wider track per side

* A single Adjust-a-lift (?) on the upper torsion tubeAdjustaLift* Adjustable rear spring platesSpeedsterSpringPlate* Wheels = Empi Fuchs (5x130) - 15" x 4.5" with 4" backspace in order to fit lower & wider tires (185x60x15). I had the wheels stripped and repainted with proper Porsche wheel scheme.Speedster Wheel BeforeSpeedster Wheel After

* The wheels I ordered had 4" backspace so I could fit wider/lower profile tires (185x60x15) in the rear (swing axle). However, the 4" backspace wheels on the front looked like I had narrowed beams (not the look I was going for). I ordered 1.75" hub-centric wheel spacers (billet) to bring the wheels to the outer edge of the wheel well. I have disc brakes all around.

Here is the end result with the 2" drop spindles, front wheel spacers, lowered front end further using Adjust-a-lift, adjustable spring-plates lowered till a slight negative camber on rear wheels, low/wider tires for a more aggressive stance. Since you had a slammed '65 I'm guessing you may be going for a similar look with your CMC build.

SpeedsterCalendarSpeedsterParkGarage

I hope you find this info useful!

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Last edited by MusbJim

It looks to me like the adjusters on both beams are cranked either most of the way or all the way UP (the bottom beam is cranked up more than the top beam- look at the threads above the jam nuts)- if you turn the bottom bolt on each beam counter-clockwise it will allow the blocks (which hold the center sections of the torsion leaves) to move forward and down, with the front of the car moving down around the tires/wheels.  Measure how high the front of the body is off the ground, lift the front end off the ground so the wheels have no weight on them, crank both adjusting bolts 6-8 turns COUNTER-CLOCKWISE, put it back on the ground, roll it forward & back a few times, pull out the tape measure again and report back the results.  If you change the ride height more than ½" you'll need to take it in for the alignment to be checked.

As for the welds- yeah, they look a little rough, but as long as there is decent penetration they're fine.  How many miles are on the front beam since the adjusters were added?  If you don't know but it's been a while (and there are no cracks)- I wouldn't worry about them.

Last edited by ALB

I'm with @62veedub -- those welds are pretty bad, with no penetration at all to speak of.

The problem he's pointing out is that he wants to maybe raise the car someday, and realizes that he can't unless he redoes his adjusters or dumps his dropped spindles.

We're a funny branch of the VW hobby. We all like lowered cars, but almost none of us run dropped spindles. I've hated my front end feel on every Speedster I've ever had, but I've always done it just like everybody else (well, besides Jim). When @Teammccalla started asking questions, I had my car up in the air to install the new engine and pipe up for EFI, so I took off a shock and started measuring things. I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that what I had always done is kind of silly.

Like most of us, I've been running standard spindles on a lowered beam for years, and occasionally hearing a hard clunk in the front. I started thinking that my shocks were limiting travel and bottoming, but when I measured up, I became convinced that I'm just running out of travel in the suspension. A car really lowered on beam adjusters and stock spindles likely has less than a couple of inches of travel, which is stupid.

The problem, as I see it is that dropped spindles are a big drop, and if the adjusters are welded in so that full height is stock, then there's no way to get any less drop than 2-1/2". I'm not sure where folks are coming up with dropped spindle measurements other than 2-1/2", but that's all I've been able to find -- not 2", not 1-1/2", 2-1/2". All of them.

My situation is similar to me 62veedub -- I broke down and ordered a set of dropped spindles yesterday (they're ridiculously cheap). With dropped spindles and my adjusters welded in where they are, I'm going to be adjusted as high as I can go on the beam, and still be pretty darned low. I think it'll be fine, but I guess we'll see. If I need to re-weld the adjusters in the beam, I won't. I'll just buy a different one with better shock towers to open up the possibility of going to a coil-over arrangement in the front.

Either way, I want the suspension travel back that was lost by forcing the car to sag on the suspension.

Last edited by Stan Galat

@ALB - There are in the weeds 3" dropped spindles!

This is a 3inch lifted spindle front disc brake conversion kit for VW Volkswagen Standard Bug 1966-1977 (not Super Beetle). These 3 inch ball joint raised spindles are tig welded, not mig welded. This spindle also has a provision for speedometer cable. Th (kustom1warehouse.net)

I don't see less though!  Empi claims there's are forged (so new castings).  Others appear to be used cores that are MIG/TIG welded.  Seems forged would be preferable (except for EMPI reputation).  One company even gives $25 rebate for used cores.  Many don't have provision in left spindle for the speedo cable or the dust/water shield.

EMPI says about theirs -

The left side is drilled for the speedo cable.

  • These spindles will work with pre 1973 Karmann Ghia rotors and calipers.
  • These spindles will NOT work with Beetle drum brakes
  • These spindles will NOT work with disc brake conversion kits!

    Please Note: Disc brake use only, will not support drum brakes
Last edited by WOLFGANG

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@Stan Galat posted:
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...Like most of us, I've been running standard spindles on a lowered beam for years, and occasionally hearing a hard clunk in the front...



Well, now I'm very confused. (OK, more confused than usual.)

I have a Kirk-era (2013) VS with standard spindles and a single beam adjuster that is (probably) welded in at the 'standard' position. There was nothing at all 'customized' on my build sheet and the beam was almost certainly whatever was on the 1969 pan the car was built on.

I've been getting A LOT of clunking out of the front end recently, so my mechanic has checked out all the usual suspects for wear and play — ball joints, tie rod ends, trailing arm bushings, steering box and Pitman arm — and all of those seem sound. He did spot the front shocks riding on their bump stops, so the first thing to try was new shocks.

He recommended (and I've always wanted) Konis, so we tried installing those, but they were too long to fit. The only shocks that will fit without reworking anything else are the shorter EMPI's, made specifically for a situation like mine (stock VW front end that has been dropped with the adjuster). He says the only way to install Koni's on my car is to use drop spindles and raise the car back up with the adjuster.

From all of this, I assumed anyone with a standard pan-based lowered front end who had installed Koni's (or KYB gas, or etc.) had also had to install drop spindles.

If not, what might be out of whack on my car that's keeping me from installing standard length shocks with the standard spindles? The front end rides low, but nothing extreme. The (standard EMPI) front sway bar is about 4.25" off the ground.

Last edited by Sacto Mitch

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@Stan Galat posted:
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Is there a reason you’re against drop spindles, Mitch?...

No.

But I've been thinking that something broke, wore out, loosened up, or went south, and wanted to know what that was before 'fixing' anything else.

There has always been some front end clunking on really rough paving, but it's gotten worse and i wanted to know just WHAT was causing that.

I've since discovered that at least one of the hinges for the front deck lid has worn and that is making some major clunking of its own (it's just a few inches from where the top of the steering column bolts to the steel subframe) so that is complicating the sleuthing.

It's stuff like this that makes you realize just how many gazillion things have been sorted out over the years on high-volume production cars. Most all modern cars start, stop, steer, and drive in near silence. Nothing leaks, drips, rubs, scrapes, rattles, or bottoms out. They just beep at you if you drift out of your lane without signalling.

From an engineering perspective, they are the bargains of a lifetime.

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Last edited by Sacto Mitch

Thanks for all the info and input guys!  I’m happy with the ride height and the way the car drives. I’m just worried about the welds on the adjusters, and if I end up having to raise the height due to the tire/wheel change.

I do want to change to the cip1  type Fuchs, so if I need to change the disc brakes, I can do that. I’d prefer not to change the spindles if I can use mine.

@MusbJim your style and stance is what I’d like to end up with. With you having a swing axle and me having an IRS, I’m not sure what size wheels/tires would fit.

@Sacto Mitch posted:

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No.

But I've been thinking that something broke, wore out, loosened up, or went south, and wanted to know what that was before 'fixing' anything else.

There has always been some front end clunking on really rough paving, but it's gotten worse and i wanted to know just WHAT was causing that.

I've since discovered that at least one of the hinges for the front deck lid has worn and that is making some major clunking of its own (it's just a few inches from where the top of the steering column bolts to the steel subframe) so that is complicating the sleuthing.

It's stuff like this that makes you realize just how many gazillion things have been sorted out over the years on high-volume production cars. Most all modern cars start, stop, steer, and drive in near silence. Nothing leaks, drips, rubs, scrapes, rattles, or bottoms out. They just beep at you if you drift out of your lane without signalling.

From an engineering perspective, they are the bargains of a lifetime.

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Well say that quickly now you know why this is called madness!!!

@Sacto Mitch posted:

.But I've been thinking that something broke, wore out, loosened up, or went south, and wanted to know what that was before 'fixing' anything else.

There has always been some front end clunking on really rough paving, but it's gotten worse and i wanted to know just WHAT was causing that.

This is exactly what I was talking about, Mitch.

I suspect that deep down, you know what happened.

As delivered from Kirk 'n Mary with the springs freshly lowered and new shocks, the car probably sat at a height that allowed a couple inches of front suspension travel and the shocks had some fairly stiff compression dampening. As you danced with the car on the glass-smooth roads of the central valley and surrounds over the years, your torsion bars "settled" somewhat, and probably lost some of their springiness. For sure, your shocks no longer provided the compression dampening you were used to.

I would bet that if you had measured your ride height when new, the car probably sat an inch or more higher than it does right now. It was fine without short shocks before -- but now it needs them, and it bothers you. If it REALLY bothered you, you could always adjust your front end higher -- but I doubt you want to. Nobody wants their Speedster to sport the Carolina Squat look, and bringing up the back to match just makes the thing look like a cartoon.

There are only a certain number of things that can cause the front end to "clunk". I'm not there and you are, but my money is on the suspension bottoming out. I'll bet you have less than 2" of suspension travel in the front. If Anthony has a lift, you can check it easily enough.

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Stan, I think you're right about the torsion bars and the shocks both gradually sagging.

At one point, to keep the (extended) sump and the pipes from dragging in the back, I had Tony raise the rear to a very unfashionable height, so I've been sporting the forward-leaning (regional stereotype deleted) squat for a while now, fashion be damned. Raising the front a skosh would thus probably help the stance overall.

And, as the oracle of Morton has predicted, I measured front ground clearance today and it was almost an inch less than what I had remembered.

So, there's work to be done here and I may very well end up with dropped spindles and Koni's sooner than later.

First thing is to cut the bumper brackets to eliminate them hitting the sway bar, as I should have done 10 years ago.

But what was I doing 10 years ago? Oh right, looking for an engine and gearbox that both worked liked they should have — something you seldom have to do with a shiny, new Corolla.

I think it was the dude who built the first Speedy replica who said, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

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1. 4.5 inches under the sway bar is too low. Make it 5.

2. @62veedub you just want a disk brake kit to fit your existing spindles but with a 5 x 130 lug pattern like this.

There appear to be two sets of welds on each adjuster. Not sure why that would be. They don't look perfect though and so your best play is to pull the beam and re-weld them one at a time. Measure the beam while it's out. Almost for sure it's standard width, which is 34.25 inches from one edge of the tube to its opposite (not counting bushings or grease seals). If you put a tape on it and get 32-ish then it's 2-inches narrowed.

Ed - the link you provided is for a Super Beetle.  CIP has rotors that will fit with his existing spindles and calipers.

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@edsnova posted:

1. 4.5 inches under the sway bar is too low. Make it 5.

2. @62veedub you just want a disk brake kit to fit your existing spindles but with a 5 x 130 lug pattern like this.

There appear to be two sets of welds on each adjuster. Not sure why that would be. They don't look perfect though and so your best play is to pull the beam and re-weld them one at a time. Measure the beam while it's out. Almost for sure it's standard width, which is 34.25 inches from one edge of the tube to its opposite (not counting bushings or grease seals). If you put a tape on it and get 32-ish then it's 2-inches narrowed.

1. Mitch lives in California. He can certainly get away with 4.5" of ground clearance if he doesn't bottom out on his smooth roadage.

2. I'd just buy a beam. They sell them in standard width, 2" or more narrowed, and with or without adjusters. Y'all know I'm a dyed in the wool DIY guy. But in this case, swap it out, problem solved.

Good catch, Wolfgang. I think @62veedub just needs the rotors drilled to 5x130 for the Fuchs so maybe these.

And you too, Danny. A new adjustable beam is what? $400? I think pulling and re-welding his existing beam would probably be quicker and cheaper, but not by much, and I'm assuming the beam is otherwise fine. Maybe it isn't.

As for Mitch...maybe 4.5 inches of front ground clearance is good enough for CA roads. But 3.5? That's gonna leave a mark on something.

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The rural roads here can be really rough. I do like 5" as a minimum clearance and I think that's where it was set a few years ago. I just noticed it has dropped some.

I think the rear clearance under the sump was down to about 3" when I hit a manhole cover about six years ago, with unpleasant consequences. That's when I had the rear raised to a bit over 6" (a thinline sump helped, too).

I like the front a bit lower than the rear. An EMPI sway bar is more resilient than a cast aluminum sump.

Besides, it's not necessarily the surface, but what's been deposited upon it that can do you in. A not inconsequential percentage of O'Reilly's inventory ends up gracing our traffic lanes.

Be careful out there, kids.

Last edited by Sacto Mitch

Thinline sumps are WAY better than the big pregnant sumps, just waiting to ruin your day, week, or year when they eventually get smashed on something.

I like a bit of forward rake too. My car is pretty low as well. Gotta keep the tires tucked up in the fenders. Those are my friend's dirt tires for his Dakar-like 911. He runs it HARD off-road.20220708_134929

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@edsnova posted:

Good catch, Wolfgang. I think @62veedub just needs the rotors drilled to 5x130 for the Fuchs so maybe these.

And you too, Danny. A new adjustable beam is what? $400? I think pulling and re-welding his existing beam would probably be quicker and cheaper, but not by much, and I'm assuming the beam is otherwise fine. Maybe it isn't.

As for Mitch...maybe 4.5 inches of front ground clearance is good enough for CA roads. But 3.5? That's gonna leave a mark on something.

I have those on my car Ed they fit the 5x130 !!

So on those VS built cars with a single adjuster, it seems it would put extra stress on the upper torsion bars?  The uppers are the same combo as the lowers.  There are 4 thick and 6 skinny bars.  Could you shift the bottom ones to the top?  It could even be that a bar or two are cracked and not doing their job.  It's a greasy job pulling them and reinserting but might be worth the effort for improved suspension.  They do sell new ones too.VW Ball Joint Torsion Leaves - Stock Width - 1966-77 Beetle - 1966-74 Ghia - 1973-74 Thing

My OEM front beam was rusted out at either end (from inside out) so I replaced it with a new Brazilian one with adjusters already installed.  The welding holding the separate shells together was not as nice as VW OEM ones -- and that was 36 years ago.  Wonder what the quality is now?

The front torsion leaves sag. Yes, they can break, but they usually just sag with time, like all springs(most sag occurs in the first year of use). They are pretty tough.

Do you know how ride height was set on Formula Vee before adjusters were legal? Put the trailing arm on 180 degrees out from normal and put a big pipe on it. Over-bend the springs until you get the ride height you want.(On Vees we only use 1 spring pack. The other tube has a 3/4" solid anti-sway bar-not locked in the center.)

My Vee doesn't have an adjuster, they weren't legal in 1992, but are now.

And @Stan Galat THANK YOU!

Last edited by DannyP
@Sacto Mitch posted:

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The rural roads here can be really rough. I do like 5" as a minimum clearance and I think that's where it was set a few years ago. I just noticed it has dropped some.

I think the rear clearance under the sump was down to about 3" when I hit a manhole cover about six years ago, with unpleasant consequences. That's when I had the rear raised to a bit over 6" (a thinline sump helped, too).

I like the front a bit lower than the rear. An EMPI sway bar is more resilient than a cast aluminum sump.

Besides, it's not necessarily the surface, but what's been deposited upon it that can do you in. A not inconsequential percentage of O'Reilly's inventory ends up gracing our traffic lanes.

Be careful out there, kids.

That reminds me of how I lost a beautiful Gene Berg sump years ago which I didn't replace after the scare. Luckily I got away with replacing one or two of the little oil plate studs at the block with some red Loctite and decided against risking it again.

One thing to know about the west coast is that traffic flow designers out here are IN LOVE with speed bumps. You can't get into any neighborhood, shopping center, school, library or work parking lot without having to deal with them. You either slow up or craft a crafty route around them.

At least we don't have to deal with frost heaves out here. They can be like finding a wicked speed bump mid-apex on your favorite corner that wasn't there last week!  Some of them will take out a sump or land you in the weeds.

Side note: I saw a formula V that was running leaves in the upper tube of the beam, and in the lower tube he was running a sway bar. I don't know if you could carry enough spring in one tube on a speedy, but it was a pretty intriguing idea. Maybe one could run a light helper spring on a coilover to make up the difference and give some easy tunability. It would make for some very neat packaging.

There's a lot about the friendly advice concerning spindles and brakes that I feel like it's important to clear up some bad information.

First of all -- there are basically three different stock spindles: link-pin drum brake, ball-joint drum brake, and ball-joint disc brake. All are different, and all are offered as drop spindles. Pretty much all of our cars have a ball-joint beam, because they're just better. There may be somebody out there with a home-built on a link-pin pan and beam, but they're a rarity.

By the name, you would assume that every disc brake package would use the disc brake spindles, but you'd be wrong. The disc brake spindles are used for the VW 4 lug and late Porsche 5/130 EMPI brakes. Those brakes (as well as the CB rotohub brakes) are VW Ghia knock-offs, and so use the VW Ghia spindles.

Lots and lots of the other (and better) brakes use the drum brake spindles and caliper brackets that bolts to them. I had wide-5s on my car, and the kit was for drum-brake, ball-joint spindles. I redid my brakes last year and went to 5/130 wheels, which meant different brakes. I got a new CB kit with discs that bolt to a hub, rather than the typical heavy one-piece Ghia-style setup. I wanted to use Wilwood Dyna-Lite 4-piston calipers. There's a guy in Canada who makes adapter brackets... for drum-brake spindles. I'm 99% sure Airkewld and KoolStop brakes also use drum-brake spindles.

I've never seen any spindles that weren't drilled for a speedometer cable, or set up for seals. I'm not saying that's never been the case, just that they aren't like that now. A guy can order spindles from pretty much anywhere and they'll likely all come from the same East Asian mud-hut anyhow -- it's just the nature of the hobby now.

@Stan Galat posted:

There's a lot about the friendly advice concerning spindles and brakes that I feel like it's important to clear up some bad information.

First of all -- there are basically three different stock spindles: link-pin drum brake, ball-joint drum brake, and ball-joint disc brake. All are different, and all are offered as drop spindles. Pretty much all of our cars have a ball-joint beam, because they're just better. There may be somebody out there with a home-built on a link-pin pan and beam, but they're a rarity.

By the name, you would assume that every disc brake package would use the disc brake spindles, but you'd be wrong. The disc brake spindles are used for the VW 4 lug and late Porsche 5/130 EMPI brakes. Those brakes (as well as the CB rotohub brakes) are VW Ghia knock-offs, and so use the VW Ghia spindles.

Lots and lots of the other (and better) brakes use the drum brake spindles and caliper brackets that bolts to them. I had wide-5s on my car, and the kit was for drum-brake, ball-joint spindles. I redid my brakes last year and went to 5/130 wheels, which meant different brakes. I got a new CB kit with discs that bolt to a hub, rather than the typical heavy one-piece Ghia-style setup. I wanted to use Wilwood Dyna-Lite 4-piston calipers. There's a guy in Canada who makes adapter brackets... for drum-brake spindles. I'm 99% sure Airkewld and KoolStop brakes also use drum-brake spindles.

I've never seen any spindles that weren't drilled for a speedometer cable, or set up for seals. I'm not saying that's never been the case, just that they aren't like that now. A guy can order spindles from pretty much anywhere and they'll likely all come from the same East Asian mud-hut anyhow -- it's just the nature of the hobby now.

I can confirm that the Airkewld wide5 kits use drum spindles on ball-joint beams.

There's thread drift, then there's whatever that was non-sequitur above about a Volvo.

Last edited by DannyP
@DannyP posted:

I can confirm that the Airkewld wide5 kits use drum spindles on ball-joint beams.

Yeah - pretty much EVERYBODY'S wide-5 kits use drum spindles on ball-joint beams. Having drum-brake spindles pretty much guarantees you'll be able to fit whatever brakes you want. I've also been looking for spindles that don't have a speedometer hole drilled (since we were warned to beware of them, because they were everywhere), but I can't seem to find them.

SoCal (AC Industries) does make a wide-5 kit that uses the Ghia calipers and spindles, but it's unusual enough that they tout it as being special.

The nice side benefit of the AirKewld set-up is the ability to change hub inserts to switch between wide-5, 5X130, and other 5X4.50/144.3(Chevy) bolt circles and not have to change anything else.  My coupe Greg's building has the wide-5 set-up on it, but I bought a set of the 5X130 inserts during Pete's holiday sale. Once I wear out my Vredesteins I'll probably have to swap to 16" wheels to get sticky tires the live up to the adjective.

The nice side benefit of the AirKewld set-up is the ability to change hub inserts to switch between wide-5, 5X130, and other 5X4.50/144.3(Chevy) bolt circles and not have to change anything else.  My coupe Greg's building has the wide-5 set-up on it, but I bought a set of the 5X130 inserts during Pete's holiday sale. Once I wear out my Vredesteins I'll probably have to swap to 16" wheels to get sticky tires the live up to the adjective.

That’s a great plan, Michael.

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