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Triumph Repair/79 Spitfire Rear Spring

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Question
Hi Howard,
My 79 Spitfire had a slightly sagging rear spring.  From the rear of the car, the tops of the rear wheels tilted in toward the car and the bottoms out.  I replaced the spring with a new one and now, while the rear of the car sits higher and looks better, the tops of the rear wheels sort of tip out ever so slightly opposite of the old spring.  I had a professional wheel alignment and nothing was mentioned.  Is that a problem?  Will time sort of return things to where the wheels are perfectly straight up and down?  Thanks so much.....Rory

Answer
Hi Rory,

It will settle in time but did you check it with a full tank of fuel and a driver and a passenger in the car? You don't need an alignment shop to check that. Just load the car and put a carpenters square on the pavement next to the rear tire to see how it sits. It will always be a compromise with a "Swing Axle" type of rear suspension.

Some Spitfire owners have the opposite problem that the wheels have negative camber when sitting in the car. (wheels tilt in at the top) so what they often do is to put "Coil-over" shocks on the car or "Gas over oil" shocks to raise the back up a little.
If you put a driver, passenger and full tank of fuel and it still has positive camber (top of the tire still out) you might check to see if you have "gas over oil" shocks on it now. If so you could change to a "no gas" shock and / or cary a bag of sand in the trunk until the springs settle a little. Sounds funny but it works. I knew one owner who kept different weight bags of sand in his garage just to try to keep his tire ware even.

The problem is mainly unusual tire ware. It is normal for any "Swing Axle" type suspension car to have positive camber with no one in the car or low on fuel. The other problem with a positive or negative camber is traction, especially on a wet road. When you have too much positive camber and you were to get into a slide the rear tire will try to "Tuck Under" and raise the rear of the car upsetting the balance with a higher cneter of gravity. The Spitfire is low to the ground and not noted for a role over in this instant.

But another car, the early Corvair was noted for rolling over due to the "Swing Axle" rear. It had other problems that contributed to their problem and the main one was the engine was hanging off the rear of the car. So when it went into a slide and it raised the rear up high, it had raised a good part of the weight of the car, thus raised the center of gravity and that caused it to role over. John Delorian tried to get management to let them change it but they rfused until a man named Ralph Nader wrote a book about it, which killed sales.

Howard  

Triumph Repair

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Howard M. Fitzcharles III

Expertise

Triumph TR-4 up & Spitfire, and Engine theory

Experience

Dealership line mechanic on MG, Triumph, Jaguar for 15 years, Instructor in commercial mechanics school 2 yr. Product information manager for piston and valve manufacture, Instructor & hotline answer man for import car parts importer 15 yrs.

Organizations
Associate member SAE EAA member

Publications
Import Car magazine

Education/Credentials
ASE Master Auto with L-1 certification up to 2000

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