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Flexible Patrol

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Qusetion by: Stephan van Tonder Answer by: Ronald HairbottleIs it possible to remove the stabiliser bars on my Datsun Patrol pick-up ZG60H? I’d like to gain better axle articulation. Will this compromise the vehicle’s ride quality and safety? Also, if I transfer the leaf blades to the top of the axle will I gain enough clearance to fit 31” tyres? Lastly, can the rear leaf-blade cluster be reduced for a smoother ride, and again, better suspension flex?
Stephan van Tonder

THE EXPERT’S OPINION:
The stabiliser bars – or anti-sway bars – are designed to reduce vehicle body roll when cornering, but as you’ve suggested they negatively impact off-road performance by limiting axle articulation. This is so because the stabiliser bar restricts the up / down movement of the wheels in relation to one another – as one wheel moves up the other wants to move down but the stabiliser bar limits this movement via torsional rigidity in the bar itself.
Removing the anti-sway bars will considerably improve axle flex and off-road ability, but will also drastically reduce on-road stability and could ultimately make your vehicle unsafe to drive. If you plan on removing the anti-sway bars it’s highly recommended that you adapt your driving style, and it wouldn’t be advisable to tow a trailer or caravan.
What’s more, once you’ve removed the anti-sway bars you may also have to fit longer travel shock absorbers, paying particular attention to the shock valving, mounting brackets (extensions) and the inversion of the shackles.
A spring-over conversion will considerably raise your vehicle, by approximately 150 mm. However, you’ll also need to modify the steering arms – the springs will now be in the way – and you’ll have to fit wheels with extra back spacing to widen the track width, which will compensate for the higher centre of gravity caused by the suspension lift.
Here are some pros and cons to a spring-over conversion. Pros: better ground clearance, better clearance angles, more flex and greater wheel-well space for bigger tyres. Cons: axle wrap, high centre of gravity, cost and acute driveshaft angles.
I’d also look at doing a shackle reversal in the front – moving the shackles to the rear of the spring pack – this allows for a more comfortable ride and it relocates the shackles out of harms way. You can also raise the vehicle by extending the shackle length, but doing so will result in a negative caster which can affect the steering – wandering and poor return-to-centre performance.
You can remove most, if not all, of the overload spring blades in the rear for a smoother ride and more axle flex. Personally, I don’t favour body lifts as they negatively impact on a vehicle’s centre of gravity – especially in off-camber situations. I’d rather trim the fenders to fit bigger tyres. We can perform all the above-mentioned modifications for you.
Ronald Hairbottle
TAC 4×4 Traction
(015) 293 0736 / 082 376 5378 /
t.a.c@mweb.co.za

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