This upgrade came about after a very enlightening read of Blatchat. I came across a thread where I learnt that the standard DD (De-Dion) upper wishbone will fit in place of the extra link I had already upgraded to when I fitted the Zetec. This got me thinking. Whilst I noticed the improvement brought about by the extra link, I do feel that it has two drawbacks. The first is that you don't get a choice of ARB (anti-roll bar) thickness. The second is that with the joint you are introducing a possible problem in terms of weakness. Whilst the latter has never been a problem, I did feel a little aggrieved at the time about the former as I wanted to be able to try stiffer ARB's to fine tune the handling.

With the use of a DD upper wishbone, you can run any of the standard ARB's, or even one of the adjustable types out there, namely produced by Freestyle. I decided to give it all a go and after the job and house hassles were out of the way, started looking around for some second hand wishbones. These should come up quite often as a lot of people upgrade to widetrack or even pushrod suspension set-ups. I saw a posting about some, which were very generously being sold in aid of Nuke the Luke, the club charity, by Chris Collins. Unfortunately, I wasn't the first to see it, and I thought they had gone. Luckily, when I decided to chase up to see if the other guy had bought them, I got the response that they hadn't been heard from and did I want them for £25. Bargain I thought, so snapped them up. Chris had warned me that they needed cleaning up and probably new bushes as well, but actually they weren't that bad. I decided to give them a strip and paint anyway, as I wasn't in a rush to fit them, and I bought a new set of bushes as well.

My first attempts at cleaning them up wasn't a great success with the powder coat proving hard to scrape off. However, once I tried a new tin of paint stripper I found it much easier, the old tin was consigned to the bin after that - obviously having gone off. I got all the old stuff off and cleaned them up before taking them to see Brent at his company one lunchtime. He had done some bushes for a couple of locals, Steve and Guy, over the winter and very kindly offered to help out with mine, using his 25T press. We managed to get both done in about 30mins, once suitable packers had been found to support the wishbones on.

In the meantime I had a local firm (Economic Auto Supplies Ltd , Basingstoke, 01256 469521 - excellent, friendly service) get in some of the new track rod ends that are used as the top link to upright joint. This parts had been specified on numerous thread on Blatchat, and has the correct thread for the wishbone and the correct taper for the upright. The part number is QR1118S, which is a Quinton Hazell reference - cost was £13 for the pair. A word of warning though, I wouldn't bother asking in Halfords as they just give you the typical 'what car is it off, mate' response. It would appear that their computer system is no use what-so-ever at looking up well known references. Needless to say I walked out, amazed at how low their level of service is (Note: I walked out whilst trying to buy the above paint as well, whilst the two guys on the till had a nice chat about their cool cut-down exhausts were, and how difficult it was to cut.... totally ignoring the fact that they had a queue if about 6 people waiting to pay - I do hope someone high up in Halfords reads this!).

Another thing to note is that the new top ball joints didn't come with M16 locknuts, and these are an extra fine pitch which is hard to get hold of. I bought a couple from Caterham, and also decided to treat the steering to some new track rod ends at the same time - excellent service from the parts department, as usual.

With the wishbones now clean and fitted with new bushes, all that was left was to give them a paint. I masked up the bushes and the ball joint thread and then applied 4 coats of primer with them hanging from the washing line. I left them to dry over night, hanging from the garage ceiling and then applied another 4 coats of matt black top coat. I'm pretty pleased with the result, and I hope they will prove to be durable. I used the same paint as I used on the wing stays which has been really good so far, although these are little more exposed to stones, etc. I also decided to give the top ball joints a bit of a paint as well, just so that they matched in as the tops had shiny discs that looked a bit wrong, in my view.

All I need to do now is sort out an ARB and I can start putting it all together.

The Final Requirements:

2 off De-Dion Wishbones - standard track
  2 off Ball Joints - Quinton Hazell QR1118S (M16x1.0 to wishbone & M14x1.5 to upright threads)
  2 off M16x1.0 locknuts & 2 off M14x1.5 Nylocs (plus 1 off M14x1.5 normal nut for assembly)
  1 off De-Dion Anti-Roll-Bar of your choice
  You'll also need the pivot brackets that I already had as part of my suspension link upgrade
Stripped Wishbones
Painted Wishbones
Painted Wishbones 2
Painted Top Ball Joints


During the summer I managed to secure an adjustable ARB from a friend who had changed his plans - what a stroke of luck. I waited until the winter to start the process of swapping the suspension, just so I could keep the car on the road until the tax ran out at the end of October.
The strip down started just before the Christmas break. I took the opportunity to re-bush all the suspension arms with all the new bushes from Caterham parts. Before this was done, I managed to get all the bits powder coated via one of my work suppliers. They kindly did this for free as they are doing black coating on a daily basis, and I got them back within a couple of days. Before I took them in I did spend an evening removing all of the old coating with some paint stripper, and removed any signs of surface rust. With hindsight I should have had the new upper wishbones coated at the same time, but with the new bushes already fitted to them, I didn't want to risk damaging them. A couple of days later I dropped off the new looking suspension bits (lower wishbones, radius arms and A-frame) around to Brent's work where he kindly fitted all the new bushes over the next couple of days. He delivered them back to me at the area meeting Christmas dinner. All that remained was to fit them back on the car.
As my car is a live axle car, the front ARB mounting position also secures the pivot brackets for the upper wishbones. Because of this you have to use a variation of the mounting blocks which allow the brackets to be clamped tightly, but without over-tightening the ARB blocks. The actual fitting is one o those 'which bit should I do first' jobs, with everything depending on another to be done. In the end I fitted the wishbones first, with the brackets loose, before offering up the ARB and thankfully the bolts lined up with the brackets and it all clamped up nicely. Not a lot more to say really except that I managed to damage the pain on my wish stays, but that can easily be touched in with some matt black paint.
At the same time I fitted a pair of new track rod ends which, due to the new nyloc nuts proved tricky to fit. To get the taper to grip strongly enough I ended up placing a flat bladed screwdriver into the gap above the nyloc, under the steering arm, and twisting it. This kept the pressure on the taper joint enough to allow me to do up the nut.
Just after Christmas I met up with Steve where I borrowed some tracking equipment. This allowed me to set up an initial camber setting, and correct the tracking. This proved more involved than I had thought it would be. Due to the caster of the suspension, the camber changed with the steering angle on the front wheels, the camber also effects the tracking, so you have to chase around between setting the tracking and the camber, on both sides. Eventually I got the tracking set to my preferred parallel setting and each side has around 1.75° of negative (i.e. they lean in at the top) camber. This will have to be tried and I'll adjust during the year.

Roll on the summer when I can try it out.

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