Ballamy rear suspension query

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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by Old and Slow » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:09 pm

Someone once said to me that Les Ballamy had published something ages ago along the lines that "Reliant modified his design and created problems..."
Does such a comment exist in writing? If so, does it give any details?
Did Reliant change things, and is there anything that can be done to overcome the axle twist issue?
I realise the real cure is to go to twin trailing arms and a transverse watts linkage, but I'd like to keep 660XYB as original as possible, so I'm just exploring possibilities.


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by gtcse8 » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:48 pm

Phil there seems to be a definite problem with the Axles and mountings as I have come across at least 4 cracked axle`s.

I have also come across a few axles that have been "Repaired" by having a bigger weld applied to the offending areas.


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by Old and Slow » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:09 am

Axle problem - yes definitely!
The article on axle repairs in Slice 277 prompted me to dig out my analysis of the problem, which was published in Slice 278 (pages 79-81); I couldn't calculate the torsional forces but the axle is trying to twist by up to 4 mm. Perhaps Bellamy wanted fatter rubber bushes to allow some movement, but I reckon that would risk introducing rear wheel steering.
At the moment the rear suspension is set up as hard as possible with stiff springs to minimise movement.
I'm interested to find out whether Bellamy wanted a different arrangement.


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by scimjim » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:26 am

wasn't it a LMB Debonair chassis they started with? did that have his split front system too?


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by scimjim » Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:31 am

This is apparently an LMB Debonair chassis "remade by Edwards" which eventually became the Sabre chassis?
9590596.jpg
9590596.jpg (120.91 KiB) Viewed 1108 times
9590598.jpg
9590598.jpg (91.4 KiB) Viewed 1108 times


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by heathsabre » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:05 pm

There has been a book written about Leslie Ballamy, the designer of the LMB chassis that Reliant used as a base for the production Sabres. It's entitled "Out in Front, The Leslie Ballamy Story" and is by Tony Russell (ISBN 1-899870-69-5) and published by MRS Publishing Ltd. The book is generally very interesting and there is chapter designated to the "Reliant Story". The late Don Pither, in his book the "Scimitar and its Forebears", recounted the difficult time Reliant had in making the Prototype’s suspension work. It was fascinating to read Ballamy's side of the story and with the kind permission of the book's publisher that forthright response is reproduced here:-

"By their (Reliant’s) complete lack of understanding of chassis design, and the random expedients that they adopted, it looked like the work of a backyard special builder!

"The slight angular variations on the (front) suspension components were fully catered for in the large Silentblocs and rubber spring mountings. The story that the front spring ends sheared off before the prototype had reached the factory gates, if true, suggests a major error in material quality or assembly, and is probably taller than Jack’s beanstalk.

"The standard Debonair (for which the chassis was primarily designed) was made from the same drawings, the only difference being that it was produced and assembled in our own works. Fitted with a supercharged Ford 109E engine, it was raced several times at Silverstone, reaching speeds in excess of 100mph. Additionally, the car covered many thousands of road miles without any mechanical failure. The road holding, ride, cornering and handling were enthused about by everybody who drove it.

"The modification that Reliant carried out to the rear suspension links was even worse, and could have provided no better lateral stiffness than the original arrangement. It should have been obvious that its only effects were to impose an unacceptable torsional stress on the rear axle casing, and unnecessary angular movement of the rear universal joint. Nobody ever managed to lift a rear wheel on the standard Debonair chassis. It is almost incredible that Reliant lived with their first self-imposed problems for two and a half years until, at the suggestion of an outsider, they returned the top link to its original position, and cured the trouble immediately.

"The LMB chassis was designed to accept all the proprietary bodies suitable for the Ford E93A chassis, so it was undoubtedly the Reliant modifications which caused the problems in fitting the Ashley body.

"Having read the story in Don Pither’s book, one is bound to say that most of the problems were due to prejudice, honest ignorance and cost limitations. The car was transformed from an integrated, well-balanced design into an overweight, nose-heavy vehicle, a “Blitzer”.

"It is a great pity that we had not been able to work with Reliant in the development of this chassis, as I think we could have achieved more in a year than Reliant did in twenty-five."

So, the leading and trailing arm arrangement on the rear of Sabres is not part of Ballamy's design, but was a development by Reliant when they decided the ditch the original transverse leaf spring in favour of coil springs. The leaf spring provided lateral location. The photo below is of our Prototype's Ballamy chassis showing the original arrangement of twin trailing arm, with lateral location provided by a Panhard rod.

Image

The Ballamy book also recounts that Ballamy sued Reliant when Reliant decided to produce the Sabre for sale in the UK. This was apparently in conflict with the original agreement between Ballamy and Reliant where use of the LMB chassis was conditional upon all production sales being overseas (as would have been the original plan for the Autocar's Sabra).

I don't think the red chassis in scimjim's post is Ballamy's work.


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by chrisgallacher » Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:41 pm

heathsabre wrote:
Mon Apr 23, 2018 12:05 pm
So, the leading and trailing arm arrangement on the rear of Sabres is not part of Ballamy's design, but was a development by Reliant when they decided the ditch the original transverse leaf spring in favour of coil springs. The leaf spring provided lateral location. The photo below is of our Prototype's Ballamy chassis showing the original arrangement of twin trailing arm, with lateral location provided by a Panhard rod.

Image
So did the Prototype begin life with twin trailing arms at the rear, Tony? I didn't know that. Fascinating stuff. Was that before Reliant got their hands on it, and if so where does that photo fit with the evolution from Bellamy's transverse leaf spring to Reliant's coil springs with flawed leading/trailing arms?


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by heathsabre » Mon Apr 23, 2018 1:52 pm

The LMB chassis and the Prototype chassis have always had twin trail arm rear suspension. See the photo from the Ballamy book which also shows clearly the transverse leaf spring and the front "flailing arm" suspension:-

Image

Reliant didn't seem to like the leaf springs and replaced them with coil springs for the production cars with leading and trailing splayed radius arms to give a modicum of lateral location albeit at the expense of axle twist. Whether Reliant added the rear coil springs to the Prototype or whether these were added when Kieth Healey first restored the car in the mid 1980's I'm not sure. Apparently the Panhard rod was added when Hugo Holder had the car in the early 1990's, so it must have been interesting to drive before then!


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by heathsabre » Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:29 pm

Jim, the red chassis is an EB93 made by Edward Brothers for, among other application, the EB Debonair. The Debonair body shell was also available with a floor pan to suit the completely different Ballamy LMB chassis, which was the basis for the Sabre chassis. Confusing or what!!


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by Old and Slow » Mon Apr 23, 2018 7:36 pm

Thanks everyone for clearing up the question of the origins of the rear suspension issue. The LBM chassis photograph is pretty conclusive.
Clearly, if Reliant had stuck with the twin trailing arms, added coil-overs and a panhard rod everything would have been fairly stable. (Obviously the later adoption of a transverse watts linkage is the better solution, though).
I imagine the canted trailing arms on the LBM would resist a certain amount of lateral movement with coil-overs fitted instead of the leaf spring, but as Tony says, stability in cornering would be interesting to say the least.
It makes me wonder if part of the drive to change the design to longitudinal watts linkages was to get round the restriction on the UK market (I doubt we'll ever know, now).
However, if I want to maintain originality I'll have to live with the current arrangement, it seems.


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by BigBobPilot » Mon Apr 23, 2018 8:54 pm

Hugo has told the story of difficult handling with the prototype. He took it to Chris Lloyd. He & Iain Daniels dug out a panhard rod and made brackets to suit. After collecting it and driving to his Aunties, who lived nearby, he had to take some evasive action due to another road user (I'm getting sketchy on details here), where he thought he'd end up through a hedge, but it turned in capably & he continued on his way. He cites Chris & Iain saving him a massive accident.


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Ballamy rear suspension query

Post by heathsabre » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:13 pm

I can certainly vouch for the car's excellent handling.


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