A close-up view of the right...
A close-up view of the right side torsion bar shows the stock drip marks. Notice how the drip marks really stand out. Also, you can see the tan slash mark on the right side bar. The left side bar (not seen here) has two slash marks.Gibson uses unthinned acrylic enamel for the slashes. He uses a one-inch wide brush, available at any art supply store. Simply match the color to what you find on your original torsion bar. If your color code slashes are missing, the chart on page 42 lists the basic colors.According to technical drawings, the single right hand color code slash mark is approximately 12 inches back from the front of the bar. The double left hand color code slash marks are approximately 10- and 12-inches, respectively, back from the front of the bar.
Technical information provided by Roger GibsonThe ongoing quest for concours detailing information has many a Mopar enthusiast carefully removing years of grime from their undercarriages as well as hoping to steal a glimpse at the best restorations and original survivors.
In articles past, we have shown these extremes. However, we have often tried to cover far too much ground. As a result, we recently visited Roger Gibson Restorations in an effort to take specific Mopar components and discuss the intimate details of identification and correct detailing.
In the first installment of what could easily be a never-ending series, we will unlock many of the secrets regarding muscle Mopar torsion bars from an identification and detailing standpoint. One of the most important things to know is that any amateur with a little skill can restore Mopar torsion bars to concours condition just like the professionals do. All you need is the know-how and a few tools.
Maybe you've lost the color codes for your torsion bars. No matter, you'll see published here-for the first time anywhere-a chart of color codes that was originally organized in 1971 by Chrysler. Then it was confidential. Today it is a valuable source of restoration expertise.
Our thanks to Roger Gibson, noted Mopar restorer from Scott City, Missouri, for sharing this information and for showing us how to restore torsion bars to concours stock condition. What will you need to accomplish the task? A gallon of acrylic enamel paint, a squirt bottle (or a four inch diameter PVC pipe), a couple of saw horses, and a little spare time.
Torsion bars did not come spray-painted from the factory. Instead, they were dipped in a thick coating that dried like a hard plastic. To return torsion bars to their stock appearance, Gibson makes a trough out of four-inch diameter, plastic PVC pipe, cut as you see in the accompanying photo. He drills a hole in one end of the trough for a drain and fits it with a rubber plug.
Each torsion bar has the manufacturer...
Each torsion bar has the manufacturer and the last three digits of the part number stamped into the flat surface on the end. This vendor code, "UKA," remains a mystery. The number "781" is a Six Pack or a Hemi bar. These numbers are important because they are the correct application for the particular suspension and they correspond to the color codes (it corresponds to the numbers on the list to verify the color codes). Simply find out your part number, then refer to the chart on page 42 for the left and right torsion bar color codes.
Next, Roger dips the entire bar in unthinned acrylic enamel. Gibson uses Ditzler DAR 9000, which is straight gloss black enamel.
Once the bar is fully immersed, Gibson grasps the sides of the bar at the ends (on the flat edges) and pulls it from the trough. Then, he straddles it across two saw horses and lets the paint drip onto newspapers on the floor.
After the first application of paint has dried, Gibson dips the bars a second time to give the paint that heavy look that resembles stock. Be sure to set the bar at the same place on the saw horses so that the drips are concentrated in one line along the bottom of the bar.
If you don't want to make a special trough from PVC pipe, you can lay the torsion bars across the saw horses, then drench them with acrylic enamel from an emptied, plastic squirt bottle. Let them drip dry, then apply paint a second time. This method wastes more paint, but it's easier if you don't plan to do very many torsion bars. The result is the same-a concours finish that looks stock.
After the second application of paint has dried, use a razor blade to scrape off the flat sides of the hexagon (where you picked up the bar with your fingers) at each end of the bar. The paint is so thick that the bar will not fit into the mount unless it is cleaned off, which is how they came stock, too.
|'71-and-earlier Torsion Bar Identification Chart|
Note: Chrysler originally put this chart together in 1971 as part of a service managers technical bulletin. It was not intended for reproduction or publication. It was confidential, for use by service department employees to identify parts in the field by their original color codes. It covers '71-and-older vehicles, but does not list every torsion bar.
Today, it is a valuable restoration tool. Roger Gibson uses it. He says it is accurate for muscle Mopars.
Special thanks to Roger Gibson, Gibson Auto Restoration, Dept. MPRM, 106 State Highway PP, Scott City, Missouri 63780; 573-264-2022 for shop time to assemble the pictures and facts for this article.
Notice the pair of torsion...
Notice the pair of torsion bars on this '71 'Cuda. They run from the inside of the lower control arms to the transmission cross member, which is part of the unitbody at the center of the car. Torsion bars set the ride height of the body and serve the same function as coil springs on other conventional independent front suspensions.
Notice the black boot where...
Notice the black boot where the rear of the torsion bar is mounted to the unitbody frame rail. The yellow daub, Gibson believes, is an inspection mark. Most likely, it meant that the torsion bar silver cadmium plated clips, one per bar, were installed. Gibson has, however, torn cars apart that never had clips installed at the factory.