Volkswagen Torsion Bar Indexing
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Reindexing Torsion Bar
You can advance your torsion bars to raise your suspension and likewise lower your suspension by reindexing the torsion bars in the other direction.
Note: Reindexing a torsion bar is more difficult and dangerous than the average DIY mechanic may be aware of. The spring plate is under tension and has enough force to break bones, amputate body parts of kill you if you put your head under the plate. This job should not be attempted by those not thoroughly familiar with all the safety precautions involved with this task.
The inner end of a VW torsion bar has 40 splines and the outer end has 44 splines. This allows to advance or retard the the torsion bar by 9° or 8.18° (or about 8° 11') respectively. By reindexing the inner splines one way and the outer splines in the opposite direction, you are able to make a net change of about 0.82° (or 0° 49') which will allow you to make small incremental adjustments to your height.
To change your ride height, you can mark your torsion bar and spring plate, make incremental adjustments until you your suspension angle seems correct (use a level protractor), duplicate that on the opposite side and take your VW for a test ride. If you want to predetermine how much to turn each end of your torsion bars, you can use the following chart, do the math yourself or use the calculator below.
Reindexing Changes of Rear VW Torsion Bar
|Inner Spline||Outer Spline||Angle Change||Height Change (inch)||Height Change (CM)|
|+ 1|| 1||0° 50'||0.22||0.55|
|+ 2|| 2||1° 40'||0.43||1.10|
|+ 3|| 3||2° 30'||0.65||1.65|
|+ 4|| 4||3° 20'||0.87||2.20|
|+ 5|| 5||4° 10'||1.08||2.75|
|+ 6|| 6||5° 0'||1.30||3.30|
|+ 7|| 7||5° 50'||1.52||3.85|
|+ 8|| 8||6° 40'||1.73||4.40|
|+ 9|| 9||7° 30'||1.95||4.95|
|+ 10|| 10||8° 20'||2.17||5.50|
|0||+ 1||8° 10'||2.17||5.50|
|+ 1||0||9° 0'||2.36||6.00|
|+ 2|| 1||9° 50'||2.58||6.55|
|+ 3|| 2||10° 40'||2.80||7.10|
|+ 4|| 3||11° 30'||3.01||7.65|
|+ 5|| 4||12° 20'||3.23||8.20|
|+ 6|| 5||13° 10'||3.44||8.75|
|+ 7|| 6||14° 0'||3.66||9.30|
|+ 8|| 7||14° 50'||3.88||9.85|
|+ 9|| 8||15° 40'||4.09||10.40|
|+ 10|| 9||16° 30'||4.33||11.00|
|+ 11|| 10||17° 20'||4.55||11.55|
|0||+ 2||16° 20'||4.33||11.00|
|+ 2||0||18° 0'||4.72||12.00|
+ means that you are turning the torsion bar in the direction you would like to go
Clockwise on rear right side to achieve increased ride height.
What is the proper preload for your application? That all depends and there is even disagreement on what to do for a stock VW.
The stock VW Bug and Ghia torsion bar recommendations:
|short swing axle||17° 30' - found on internet||Airhead Parts|
|67-68 long axle and IRS||20° +50' - found on internet||Airhead Parts|
|Beetles||20° 20' - 21° 10'||Rob and Daves Aircooled Volkswagen Web Pages|
|IRS 70-||21° 20' +50' - found in service manual||Bentley|
Sway Away Application Stock Preload Angle Recommendations:
|Bug||up to 1960||24 11/16||24 mm||13|
|Bug||1961-1968||21 ¾||22 mm||16 1/2|
|Bug||1969 & up||26 9/16||22 mm||20 1/2|
|Type 3||all||26 9/16||23.5 mm||23 1/2|
Offroad preload recommendations:
|4-8° greater than stock|
|Swing axle||bottom edge of the spring plate is covering half of the bolt hole|
|IRS 70 on||the spring plate is even with the bottom of the bolt hole|
Torsion Bar Position Math
Movement in Degrees per spline (inner) = 360°/(40 Splines) = 9° per spline
Movement in Degrees per spline (outer) = 360°/(44 Splines) = 8.18° per spline
Length of trailing arm (center of torsion bar to center of wheel hub)
Porsche 944 = 16.5"
73 Beetle ~ 16.5"
X = overall change in degrees of spring plate
Y = Length of the trailing arm
X1 (includes X4) = (tan X°)(Y)
X2 (includes X3) = Y/(cos X°)
X3 = X2 - Y
X4 = (sin X°)X3
X4 = X1 - X4
Lift = (tan X°)(Y) - (sin X°) ((Y/(cosX°))-Y)
CounterClockwise on rear right side to achieve increased ride height.
Example - Clockwise on rear right side to achieve decreased ride height.
Example - Clockwise on left side to achieve increased ride height.
Example - CounterClockwise on left side to achieve decreased ride height.
means that you are turning the torsion bar away from the direction you would like to go
Achieving a Half Increment
For VW torsion bars with 44 and 40 splines, you are able to achieve small incremental degree changes by changing the the inner end by one spline and turning the outer end in the opposite direction by one spline. This method will give you reasonable results and easily get you in the range of where you would like to be. If you would like to achieve a final angle that is in between two measured angles achieved by this adjustment method, you will need to turn the entire torsion bar about 45 degrees (either direction), realign the spring plate and adjust as necessary from there.
Since the 40 and 44 ends will match at every 90 degrees, turning your torsion bar exactly 90 or 180 degrees in either direction should give you the same angle as you have currently.
These are made for the front and rears of VWs. Center ones allow for fine adjustment of ride height without removal of the torsion bars, but require cutting and welding of the torsion housings. Adjustable spring plates are much simpler to install and a snap to adjust, but add a small amount to the total amount of unsprung weight. Both allow you to fine tune you suspension for different terrain or more commonly - for a different street look.
Sway-Away Adjustable plates on 73 Baja
Torsion Bar Size
VW autos commonly use one of three different rear torsion bar lenghths.
69-72 T-1 IRS
65-67 T-3 Swing
|Long||26-9/16"||73-up T-1 IRS|
The longer and the thinker the diameter of a torsion bar, the softer the ride. The shorter and the thicker the diameter of a torsion bar, the firmer the ride.
Lighter weight fiberglass bodied buggies may benefit from narrower diameter bars and heavier offroad creations may benefit from wider diameter torsion bars and more preload.
Depending on the weight and purpose of your VW, you may opt for other than stock torsion bars. In the past, VW offoaders have switched to shorter rear torsion bars to allow of larger tires in the rear. The sorter torsion bars unfortunately lead to a harsher ride and there are other ways of allowing for larger tires that more commonly used these days.
Recommendations by Baja Bugs and Buggies
|Vehicle||Bar diameter (mm)||Preload|
|1,400lb Single Seat buggy||25, 26, 27||7-10°|
|1,700lb Two Seat buggy||26, 27, 28||8-11°|
|2,000lb Baja Bug or Sedan||28, 29, 30||9-12°|
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