Ok, so the Rod's ready and now all you have to do is enjoy, right?
At first the Essex was a real pain to drive over about 40 mph.
what's the use of a car like that?
Not much, but it can be improved, and here are
a few improvements that have been made and that should be made.


It was obvious from the first few test drives that there was something very wrong with the handling. Over about 40 mph the car was a beast to drive. This was a big disappontment and took away most of my enthusiasm.

A lot of rods seem to use a lot more caster, and after some research more caster seemed like a cute that might work. New caster wedges were aquired.
The old wedges (below) resulted in some 4 degrees caster, and the new ones gives about 7 degrees of caster. A testdrive confirmed the theory; it now handles much better!
The Essex originally calls for 0 degrees of caster, so it came as a surprise that it needed this much. Come to think about it, in the twenties it probaly wasn't very important how the cars handled in speeds over 40 mph.

This pic shows the front axle with new, stiffer spring leaves, the new wedge between the spring and axle (not easily seen here) and on the top of it all, an "anti brake torque leaf".
Say what?
When braking the axle wants to rotate with the wheels, thus pulls the steering rod, making the steering wheel turn. These blades stiffens the spring, thereby reducing this effect.

While the new caster wedges and stiffer leaves improved handling and driveability immensly, allowing for speeds over 60 mph, it became obviosus that braking, besides tugging at the drag link, also made the rod more or less uncontrollable, and very unpleasant to drive while braking.
Of course, if you think about it, the front axle rotating when braking, does bad things to the caster angle.
Here's a sketch of one solution.

The front mount is being fabricated here.
Top piece is cut off a '68 Plymouth Satellite front wheel spindle, bored up to accept the old machanical brake pivot axle, and welded to some 5/16" thick sheet metal that in turn mounts to the lower shock bolt.

After some more welding and a lot of grinding the front mount looks like this.

A GM idler arm was mounted to the frame and the link welded to the front mount with generous gussets.
This actually gives the front end a nice symmetry, as the drag link looks very similar on the drivers side.

Here's an explanation to the idler arm setup.

Ford style front suspensions with the original whishbone, split wishbone, and hair pins articulate in this fashion.
This is no problem due to the transverse spring.

The caster link has to be articulated in the rear to prevent binding.
Leaf springs make the axle travel in an elliptic arc.

This animation is pretty much self explanatory...

In practice the caster bar didn't work that well. Yes it prevented the front axle to twist like crazy, but it was also made from too flimsy materials, and thus bent a bit when braking hard. This, of course, left the caster angle in a less then perfect position. The bar was removed, and the problem was ignored.
The Essex was used less frequently in time with new projects being built, and finally was sold in July 2014.

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