People have been splitting wishbones on traditional rods for decades. Admittedly, more common with front ’bones, and originally necessary to clear the oil pan on heavily lowered cars, rear wishbones have also been split over the years. However, while this is a sketchy practice at best, even when the torque tube is retained, it’s a recipe for disaster when an open driveline is used (assuming no other links or torque arm are added to the suspension).
A torque tube prevents the rearend from rotating about its own axis. If this is removed, early Ford wishbones simply aren’t strong enough—nor were they designed to be—to prevent the rearend rotating. The result? Snapped wishbones. Here’s where ladder bars are an ideal replacement. With mounts above and below the axle housing, ladder bars can prevent such rotation. Oh, and before you pen us an email or letter, we know some cars have been on the road for years using split ’bones with and without a torque arm with no problems. Let’s just say they’re the lucky ones, as from an engineering standpoint the practice has many flaws.
So, what to do if you want the appearance of early split ’bones on a traditional car? This was the problem Shane and Steven Hill encountered when the ’40 Ford ’bones they’d used (with an additional torque arm) on their A roadster pickup failed. We’d seen and admired this mainly homebuilt rod around locally, so we were surprised when we spied it during a recent visit to Kiwi Steve’s Hot Rod Shop in Brea, California. Turns out our pal the Kiwi had a solution to the wishbone problem, one that ensured the Hills’ pickup wouldn’t be back in his shop for this particular problem again. Here’s the vintage-style solution he and Anders Berg came up with to an age-old hot rod problem.