Forums General Counties Cars Discussion Damper conversion

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    I have seen a damper conversion kit that is produced for mg’s and consists of tele shocks mounted alongside the trunnions. Can the somerset be adapted in the same way? Is there a kit or has anyone done this and what shocks can be used?


    Hi-There is a probability the the Healey 100-4 telescopic kit may suit the Somerset, though it still requires a shock for the arms out to the top trunnion. It would to be thoroughly examined. The shock would still need to be filled with oil so as to lubricate the main rear “swivel” pin, & the valve is omitted to negate any dampening.

    With the kit, there is a plate onto which the tower is included for the top telescopic mounting, and this automatically invokes a negative camber. Some don’t like this, and then have to address this. Personally, I think its a good thing, and my prototype A90 Atlantic convertible was fitted with one of these kits back in the mid 50’s when the Armstrongs failed. I have since rebuilt the Armstrongs, but I have also re-fitted the telescopic mounting plate to retain the negative camber, for it makes the handling so much better.

    Years ago, there were kits that contained the arms coupled with a rear “swivel” pins, but these days, they are even rarer than hens teeth. These were manufactured so o as to retain the original positive camber angle.

    I am currently rebuilding my ’52 A90 Atlantic coupe, and have, for the moment at least, have again fitted Armstrongs, though not yet with the plate beneath them that would create the negative camber. This might be undertaken though before I put it back on the road.

    Not sure of what the cost of getting front shocks rebuilt is in your part of the world, but here, they can be around AUD$400 a pair. I am fortunate enough to be able to rebuild my own. There are two companies in the US who I know have supplied shocks to people here, but the problem is in having to ship over ones old bodies, as from here, that is costly, so they paid the extra for not doing so, which I think was still cheaper than paying the freight of ones own back to the States.

    There was a chap in the UK recently advertising fully reconditioned shocks for Austins, and his price seemed to be quite reasonable.

    Hope this assists in some small way.


    Keith D

    Hi chipples,

    My 1950 A40 tourer is fitted with telescopic shock absorbers and the improvement to roadholding is incredible.

    The unit fits behind the front spring and between the bottom wishbone and an arrangement fitted on top of the existing shock absorber.

    My conversion was supplied by Repco, an Australian motor parts manufacturer, back in the nineteen fifties. It uses the existing shock absorber/upper wishbone so the suspension geometry is completely unaltered. My existing shock absorber was modified by having the pistons removed and refilled with engine oil as a general lubricant. The bracket and top fitting would be easy to fabricate using two short lengths of water pipe and a short length of angle iron, plus two turned shafts to hold the telescopic shock absorber.

    If you are interested in doing this and want to give me an email address, then I can photograph my set-up and give you some dimensions. Allow me a couple of days to crawl under my car!

    Regards – Keith D


    Hi again from Aussie,

    I would agree with David that unless you intend to do some really “serious” driving, your best road to travel would be to opt for the original type shockers. Here in Australia, there were three telescopic conversions types that could be obtained, two using the original shocks to facilitate the top arms, (needing the internals to be de-activated and using the original main rear arm pin), and one where there was an arm assembly having a main pin that could be greased. Unfortunately though, these days, they are ultra rare.

    In my first A90, a coupe, I travelled 300,000 miles, using three sets of Girlings, finishing in 1981 with a set Armstrongs. I have just rebuilt those to use in the rebuilding of the coupe.

    My next A90, a convertible, undertaking 475,000 miles, if my memory serves me correctly, for the first half of that distance I went through either 3 or 4 sets of Armstrongs, and 2 Girlings, then I switched to the telescopics, only changing them shortly before parting with the car. These were the ones with the greaseable main pin, and the base to centre height of the pin was the same as an original shock, with the telescoping tower attachment projecting upwards from it.

    When I acquired my prototype A90 convertible, in 1951, due to the extremely poor Australian country roads of that time, with only a few thousand miles on the clock, its original owner had them converted to the telescopics, and this was the type that used the original Armstong shocks, with the valving removed, though stilled filled with oil to lubricate the main pin. However, in this arrangement, the telescoping shock shock attachment tower was formed as part of a base plate that went under the original Armstrong shock, thus it resulted in a negative camber. This was a bonus, as it improved the handling significantly.

    However, when I restored the proto suspension back in 2003, I retained the tower plate, but also reverted back to standard Armstrongs, which I rebuilt myself. I could have fitted newer gas shocks, as a colleague has done, and these are a further improvement to the handling.

    These days, our roads are vastly different to that of yesteryear, and the Armstrongs can be set for either soft, or firmer ride. Not sure what company does them in the UK, but take Davids advise, talk to the Counties parts people, as well as being able to provide the new rubbers etc, I am sure they will also be able to provide you information on those who do shock repairs.


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