I'm about to begin the process of narrowing my BJ beam 2" in order to get that extra clearance inside the fenders. I have all the tools and skills to do this job, but my question is for those of you who have done this or have purchased one of these beams. Where exactly is the best place to remove the two inches outta the beam? I've heard of people doing it in the center between the beam clamps, but also have been told to cut one inch from either side on the outside of the clamps. What is the best way to do it? I already have center adjusters on this beam. Any advice or comments would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. TP
Click here to reply
Remove from the center! The outsides have the needle bearings and bakelite pieces (FRAGILE) that you don't want to mess with! Don't forget to narrow the tie rods, and relocate the beam mounting pads, and the steering box locating tab! (n/t) (John Connolly) (19-Mar-2000 02:12:00) Re: Well, lets look at pros and cons (Tom H) (19-Mar-2000 18:04:19) Re: Narrowed beam question (Craig Merrow) (19-Mar-2000 08:42:12) Thanks for the tips guys. But I'm kinda confused about your comment John. You say that the needle bearings will be in the way if a cut at the outside edge of the mounting clamps. As far as I know the only needle bearings are on the ends of the beam by the shock towers where the trailing arms go into the beam. Please correct me if I'm wrong. (n/t) (TP) (19-Mar-2000 12:50:12) your wrong. if you look in the beam you will see another set 6inches or so in from the end. these locate the ends of the arms. (n/t) (valley vw) (19-Mar-2000 16:55:25) Re: Narrowed beam question (Pete Roberts) (19-Mar-2000 17:47
Re: Well, lets look at pros and cons
Sunday, 19-Mar-2000 18:04:19
They are good and bad about both ways, IMHO. Center cut requires more work than the outer cut. The outer cut is inside the inner phenolic by just enough to not be a big factor (I have heard of needle brgs. here but never seen one). But what I have seen happen is when the outer cut is welded back together, the tube is distorted and shrunk causing the bearing to be tight on the trailing arm. That happened to mine and a couple others I have seen. I had to polish the trailing arm, or find a hone, a brake cylinder hone works. So I think both have merits and both have technical challenges.
Re: Narrowed beam question
Sunday, 19-Mar-2000 08:42:12
Don Bulitta did a great article about Sil Modesti in VW Trends about a year ago, and he talked about Sil's method of narrowing a beam. I did the same, which is to offset-cut the beam at the edge of the center setscrew hole and over 2". Find the new center and cut the adjusting slots for Berg/Avis adjusters, bevel the ends, and weld it back together. The adjusters will cover the welded seam for extra strength, and I also added a piece on the backside. Also, please note that this is a critical weld, and if you are at all unsure of your welding abilities, have a professional weld it back together.
Re: Narrowed beam question
Sunday, 19-Mar-2000 17:47:36
On the beams that i have narrowed,if its a new beam,i cut in the middle . What kind of adjusters do you have fitted in the beam ? , if they are the Puma or Avis type of adjusters i would cut these out and replace with Swayaway adjusters as i do not like how awkward to adjust the others are , when you undo the locknuts there is not an easy way of stopping the adjuster jumping around to its lowest setting and then you end up having to take the shocks off to reset the trailing arms at a slightly less than on the deck sort of setting .With swayaways you have the opposing screw to stop this so you can wind down and back up easily.
When you make the cut in the center allow for the width of the adjuster plus the inch each side for your two inch total narrowing . I leave the fitting brackets on the beam as this keeps it rigid . I have had some sleeves made up that fit very snuggly on the inside diameter of the beam , these are made from turned town tube . These i tap into the beam on each side , they serve two purposes , they give you a positive location when you slide the cut beam back together and you can really wind the welder up to penetrate not only the beam but also the sleve alowing you to grind it off flush but still retain plenty of strength ( more than origional ). Keep measuring relavant points all the time to make sure that the adjuster is centeral in the beam and that it is narrower than the origional by your two inches . I then tack weld the axle together and using a steel rule keep checking it is straight in every direction on both top and bottom tubes , when i am sure i have tacked it enough and it wont move around i fully weld it , in stages to avoid distorting it . Sorry i meant to mention that i grind a V Prep on the cut beam ends and the Swayaways . One thing to watch out for is that you dont have the sleeves up tight against the centre of the Swayaway as it can pinch the centre block and stop the adjuster moving . You then can remove the mountin brackets ( quite a task on a new beam as they are fully welded ), to weld them back on i bolt the beam to the car cenralize it measuring carefully ( we all aspire to go sideways but hopefully though horsepower not dodgy steering ), use the brackets to bolt the beam on and when you are sure it is centeral tack weld them on , remove the beam and fully weld them . You should when you install your shortened torsion leaves have a great tucked front end and no more tyre rub . Incidentally when i started narrowing beams i used to narrow them at the outer ends about half an inch from the mounting brackets so you do not go near the inner trailing arm bushes . This method was fine but involved more cutting and grinding , i had an article in Volksworld June 98 on narrowing beams using this method but now i use the center cutting method as it is less work and just requires slightly more measuring . I hope this has been of use to you i have done about twenty beams so far and are doing two for cars that are in the Volksword show currently , Hopefully i am going to do Ivan the editors car this week if he has time to get it to me but he is very busy organizing the show so i will see how it goes . If you have any problems feel free to email me .
Blimey in the time it taken me to type this out i could have done two beams !.
When I had my beam narrowed we took the 2in. out of the center. Actually we heated the beam around the dimples; then drove the center locator sideways and cut through the edge of the hole. We then cut made the other cut 2 in. on the other side of the hole so the hole was include in the piece we removed. Then it was deburred and tig welded back to gether. Slots were cut for the avis adjusters and they were tig welded in place. Then the center locators were moved back where they belonged. Small gussets were welded on the back of the beam where it wouldn't interfere with the mounting surface. Then the mounting brackets were cut off and repositioned. Sil Modesti, the guy that did all of this for me made a jig before cutting to locate and position the brackets. Using this jig the brackets were tigged back in place. Sil then moved the steering box bracket and the damper bracket and tigged them back on in new positions. It all came out rather nice. I believe that if you cut them outside the brackets you run the risk of shortening the distance between the bearing surfaces of the trailing arm. You would have to check that to make sure. Anyway that's how mine was narrowed. Hope this helps! DB