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The Modern Chassis: A Practical Manual of Automotive Chassis and Suspension Design

The Modern Chassis: A Practical Manual of Automotive Chassis and Suspension Design

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The Modern Chassis: A Practical Manual of Automotive Chassis and Suspension Design

3.5/5 (3 valutazioni)
225 pagine
1 ora
Oct 21, 2015


“ We take pleasure in adding this much-needed book to our growing list of automotive titles.
It is by far the most comprehensive book ever published in the United States pertaining to chassis design, suspensions, shock absorbers, steering, brakes, weight distribution, and other associated subjects.
In this book Engineer Hank Elfrink, the author, has written about technical matters in language that the layman can understand. We hope the book will be of real interest and value to the motor enthusiast. ” Floyd Clymer (Publisher) - Los Angeles, 1951.
Oct 21, 2015

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The Modern Chassis - Hank Elfrink



It is not an easy task to treat an involved technical subject in a nontechnical manner.

The following pages give a description of the main components of the modern automobile chassis which to the average non-technical layman still are enveloped in a haze of mystery.

Although most motorists realize that their vehicle is equipped with an independent front wheel suspension, efficient dampers, powerful nonfading brakes, etc., it cannot be expected that they could discriminate between the various types of wheel guiding, suspension media, braking systems and so forth.

Technical subjects such as suspension, spring damping and steering are by their very nature extremely complicated and to make a discussion of these subjects readable for the average motorist who does not possess abundant technical knowledge, it has been necessary to deal with the more involved problems in an essentially descriptive manner.

Also, the many illustrations and photographs which accompany text will assist the reader in grasping the fundamental principles upon which the subject matter is based.

It is safe to say that the automobile chassis has now entered a new design stage. Significant design features are the integral chassis-body construction pioneered by Continental manufacturers and now extensively used by many American companies.

Even more significant is the fact that an American mass-produced vehicle (Chrysler) features such specifications as disc-brakes and power assisted steering, since these developments may pave the way for other companies in developing their future products along similar lines.

Also, the possible adoption in the near future of independent rear suspension systems — possibly in conjunction with a rear mounted power unit as used by some Continental manufacturers — by the larger companies, both in the United States and abroad, should not be overlooked.

For the many excellent line drawings and photographs that accompany the text we are grateful to the following:

Motor and Autocar, of England; Motor’s Auto Repair Manual, Science et Vie, Auto Italiana, Automobile Revue, Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Corp., General Motors Corp., Studebaker Corp., Ross Gear & Tool Co., Houdaille-Hershey Corp., Lockheed Automotive Products Ltd., Girling Ltd., Gabriel Co., Gemmer Mfg. Co., and Andre Ltd.


Los Angeles 1951


FIGURE 1 shows the variety of frames now most commonly used. The orthodox channel frame still is very much in favor and although the casual observer may not think the outward appearance has been altered, important design changes have been made to cope with modern suspension and strength requirements.

In the old days a flexing chassis was considered helpful in obtaining riding comfort, and many manufacturers—mainly on the Continent-attributed the road-holding qualities of their automobiles to the right amount of chassis flexibility. To a certain extent this was true; springs were comparatively stiff and did not yield much to road irregularities, but a certain amount of give kept the four wheels on the ground and had a beneficial effect for holding the road.

Cross rungs were not specifically intended to stiffen the main frame channels, but in the first instance they served as mounting members for components such as the gear box (a separate unit in those days), brake cross shafts, equalizing gear, etc. We must remember that in the early days, engine and gear box were mounted rigidly to the chassis, thus forming quite substantial cross-members in themselves.

When independent suspensions came in, the necessity of a stiff frame became painfully apparent. Many early independent suspensions gave poor results because of insufficient chassis rigidity. The more rigid cruciform bracing was introduced and channels boxed in at points of stress concentration. Rigid front cross-members were designed to form a robust attachment for the front suspension unit. Holes were cut in the webs of the channels to save weight. The result is that the modern channel and box-section frames are light and sturdy indeed, even as a separate unit, and the rigidity will be enhanced by the mounting of the body.

FIGS. 1-A and B — Orthodox box-section frames with cruciform bracing, most common types now being used.

FIG. 1-C—Mercedes-Benz tubular chassis employing oval main tubes and round section tubes for cross-members.

FIG. 1-D — Frame of Italian Cisitalia is fabricated from welded steel tubes.

FIG. 1-E — Integral body construction of Czechoslovakian Tatra car. This is a rear-engined, rear-drive design, employs a single backbone.

Fig. 1C shows the tubular frame of the Mercedes-Benz. This type of chassis is probably the most rigid for a given weight of metal and has strong adherents in the race-car field.

Fig. 2 shows the sturdy tubular chassis of the British Frazer-Nash car, and Fig. 3 a similar construction of the Italian Ferrari.

A derivation of this type is the Cisitalia chassis built up from welded steel tubes of small diameter. (See Fig. 1D). Perhaps the most logical line of thought is to combine the body with the chassis, a recipe followed by numerous European designers many years ago. Fig. 4 shows the integral body chassis of the famous Lancia Lambda, pioneered in 1921.

FIG. 2—Fabricated tubular chassis of the British Frazer-Nash car. The torsion bar suspension in combination with the rigid rear axle is interesting. Note long torsion bars running lengthwise in the chassis and anchored amidships. Sideways location of the rear axle is by a triangulated tubular member. The gear box extention makes for a short propeller shaft. Limit straps check the rebound of the rear axle. Front suspension is by leaf springs and control arms combined.

Citroen is another example: This is an amazingly rigid unit, especially if a closed body type is used. Disadvantages are that body styles are restricted and most Continental factories manufacturing cars according to this principle also supply orthodox chasses on which special bodies may be built. The integral construction of the latest Fiat 1400 is clearly to be seen in Figs. 5 and 6.

The integral chassis-body construction—or monocoque construction—is now accepted universally as structurally sound and has been adopted by many manufacturers.

FIG. 3—Tubular chassis of the Ferrari sports car. This construction offers considerable rigidity both in torsion and beam strength. Rear suspension is conventional half-elliptic. Shock dampers are hydraulic lever type. The anti-roll bar is connected to the shock damper arms and runs inside the rear cross-tube.

FIG. 4 - An early example of an integral chassis-body construction is the well-known Lancia Lambda. This design, introduced in 1921, also featured independent front suspension. The engine is a V-4 with overhead camshaft.

FIG. 5 - Fiat 1400 integral body and chassis. U.S. Hudson, Nash, employ same basic method of body construction. Fig. 6 shows cross-section side view of the new Fiat. Note low floor, thus low center of gravity.

New Studebaker Commander Chassis The box-section, double-flanged, chassis of the new Studebaker Commander V-8 is an excellent example of modern American chassis design. Note location of the front anti-roll bar, which is clamped to the lower wishbone suspension member. Wide rear springs are employed with splayed telescopic shock dampers. The propellor shaft has a steady bearing amidships located in a cross member.



Except for its use in some sports cars, the rigid front axle is now a thing of the past. The Ford Motor Company was one of the last to remain faithful to it, but abandoned its construction in 1948.

The main

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