Off Road Suspension – Making It Strong
Last time we showed you how the Pajero extra cab was created. Go here if you missed it.
Obviously in off road racing, a decent suspension package is critical. There are endless ways to set up off road suspension. What follows is an outline of what we chose to do on the rally Paj – keeping in mind the budget is pretty tight!
Gen 3 Front And Rear Cradles – A Good Foundation
Gen 3 Pajero suspension cradles are widely used in off road racing – and not only in Pajeros. Quite simply, they’re strong.
The diffs, CVs and hubs will take brutal punishment and insane amounts of torque. The cradles themselves are easily adaptable to many vehicles because they’re compact and modular. Diff ratios can be changed simply by swapping out the diff from a diesel, petrol, auto or manual to get what you need. Suspension travel can be increased relatively easily by changing control arms. The cradles are a good all round package – and spare parts are cheap.
Shocks And Coils
So we had a solid basis to start with. And what exactly did we have? Well, the Paj came with upgraded coils to give it a 40mm lift and a stiffer ride through corners as a road car. It also had Polyair bags inside the rear springs, but they weren’t needed any more. The shocks were Old Man Emu in the rear and Pedders in the front (don’t ask!).
This wouldn’t be nearly enough. The shocks had proven they could cop lots of punishment when used under severe conditions in a road-registered 4WD. But there’s no way they would cope with the rigours of off road racing.
Dave happened to know of a set of shocks available for sale. They had been fitted to an off road racing Paj. It had been written off in a rollover and the shocks were nearly new. They had remote reservoirs, independently adjustable damping for both up and down strokes and internal adjustable hydraulic bump stops. Perfect!
So the shocks were fitted – not an easy job, as space is limited. The remote reservoirs were mounted on custom-made brackets close by.
What about the coils? Well, we suspect they might be too stiff considering how much weight this Paj has shed. For now, we’ll play it by ear. We’ll see how it handles and take it from there.
Hydraulic Bump Stops
Dave had hydraulic bump stops from his last Pajero rally car. These are fantastic for preventing the suspension from bottoming out and cushion the vehicle from big shock loads. So they were positioned and mounted in the rear. Dave custom made some retaining brackets and welded a tab onto the upper control arms for the bump stop to hit.
Widening The Wheel Track… Without Breaking The Bank!
Obviously you want a wide wheel track on an off road car. The wider the better – these things tend to fall over otherwise. Obviously, one way to do this is to completely modify the suspension – longer control arms and so forth.
Another low cost way to gain some extra width is by using wheel spacers. Dave had made a set for his old Pajero and they gave an extra 40mm wheel track each side. So these were pressed into service once again. 80mm extra track might not sound like much, however it does make a huge difference to stability.
How well will this spring and shock absorber package work together? We’re not sure yet. When the Paj is running we’ll get it out for some testing and let you know how it goes!
Next time: Welding the front body panels for extra strength.
Any errors or omissions are mine alone.