Modern Rodding Tech icon
Control Freak
CPP Control Arm Assemblies Will Simplify Your 1964 Chevelle Suspension Rebuild
By Tommy Lee Byrd | Photography by the Author
CPP control arm being used in assembly

f you’ve ever been on the floor of your garage with your old car on jackstands, you’ve probably noticed a few problem areas. It seems that 50-plus years of service can take a toll on certain components, and with our 1964 Chevelle project car, it was obvious that we had some serious wear as we disassembled the car to swap the original drum brakes for a Classic Performance Products (CPP) disc brake system.

Suspension upgrades and installs are typically a “can of worms” because you’ll eventually replace every component under the car by the time you reach a stopping point. Such is the case with our Chevelle four-door sedan, as we noticed severe ball joint sloppiness and lots of crumbly, dry rubber where the control arm bushings are supposed to live. It would’ve been silly to reassemble the car with those ailing components beneath it, so we grabbed our favorite screwdriver and peeled open the can of worms.

Ball joint replacement can be a pain, no matter how many times you perform the task of grinding, chiseling, and cutting the rivets that hold the upper ball joint in place. Control arm bushings also call for a lot of patience, as it usually requires an air chisel to remove them and a hydraulic press to install the new bushings. By the time we paid for the ball joints and bushings, and then spent the time disassembling and installing the new parts, we would be way ahead of the game by simply buying new control arm assemblies that were already loaded up and ready to bolt into place.

CPP offers new control arm assemblies for many makes and models, including our early GM A-body. Installation is still labor intensive, as the tight fitment of the lower control arms requires special care and the splined upper control arm bolts can cause a headache if not properly removed. But, for the money and the time invested, we were very happy with the complete assembly. For our build we wanted something that was budget-friendly and mild-mannered, so we went with the stamped steel versions with rubber bushings. Of course, CPP also offers tubular control arms with billet cross shafts and self-lubricating plastic bushings that are guaranteed not to squeak.

Installing the control arms requires some simple hand tools, but you can make life a lot easier with an impact and some 1/2-inch sockets, including 11/16- and 3/4-inch sizes. You’ll need a floor jack, a few blocks of wood, a good rubber mallet, and some grease to lubricate the bushings. After the new control arms are installed, and the rest of the front suspension and steering system is completed, we’ll have the suspension aligned. Then, it’ll be time to enjoy the tight feeling of a brand-new front suspension. Safety, comfort, and longevity is what we strive for with our 1964 Chevelle project, and CPP control arms saved a lot of time to get us one step closer to being on the road again.

view of a simple disc brake upgrade
01 What started as a simple disc brake upgrade turned into a bigger project as we inspected the ball joints and control arm bushings. Part of the initial process was removing the entire spindle and brake assembly.
view of replacing components while the front suspension is torn down
02 It made perfect sense to replace these components while the front suspension was torn down. After the spindle and drum brake assembly are out of the way, we can release the tension on the lower control arm to carefully remove the coil spring.
view of upper control arm bushing
03 This upper control arm bushing is in dire need of replacement and the others aren’t any better. We sprayed penetrating oil on all exposed threads to help speed up the disassembly process.
view of gobs of grease around a ball joint
04 When there are gobs of grease around a ball joint that is usually a bad sign. You can easily inspect the ball joints when the spindle is removed by grabbing the stud and moving it around. If it feels sloppy, or the movement isn’t smooth, it’s time to replace it.
viwe of ball joint and control arm bushing replacement
05 Ball joint and control arm bushing replacement is no small task so we opted to get new CPP control arm assemblies that are already loaded up and ready to bolt on. We used a socket and wrench to remove the original control arm bolts.
view of loosening and removing the lower control arms
06 After loosening and removing the lower control arms, we loosen the two 11/16-inch nuts that hold the upper control arm in place. You’ll notice that the control arm cannot be removed with the original splined bolts in place, as they are typically locked into the control arm bracket on the frame.
view of an 11/16-inch socket on an impact gun
07 We suggest using an 11/16-inch socket on an impact gun to bump the splined bolt loose from its bracket. You don’t want to strip out the splines, as that keeps the bolt in place when the alignment shop is adding shims to adjust the caster and camber. After the bolts are removed, the upper control arm comes out easily.
view of new CPP control arms
08 The new CPP control arms are stamped steel units that already have the bushings pressed in and new ball joints installed. We used an angle grinder with an 80-grit disc and lightly sand the pockets where the bushings slide into the frame. Then, it’s time to push, hammer, and jack them into place.
view of rear bolt pushed through
09 The tight fitment could cause you some headaches, but if you can get one bolt pushed through the control arm that will give you leverage to jack the other one around to the right spot. Here, we have the rear bolt pushed through and use a wooden block and a floor jack to align the front bolthole.
view of installing new control arm bolts and nuts
10 Now would be a good time to install new control arm bolts and nuts. We tighten the nut until we start to feel tension and leave it partially tightened for the time being. We will fully tighten the lower control arms when the car is sitting at ride height. Tightening the lower control arms at full droop will preload the bushing and damage it.
view of CPP’s upper control arms
11 CPP’s upper control arms are the perfect fit for our budget-friendly daily driver. The original-style stamped steel arms feature rubber bushings and standard ball joints. We can set the control arm in place and install the two splined bolts.
view of reusing the original alignment shims on the upper control arm
12 We reused the original alignment shims on the upper control arm and eyeballed it based on the car’s previous shim configuration. After our front suspension and steering upgrades, we will have it professionally aligned. These nuts can be fully tightened, making sure the splined bolt is seated properly.
view of using a floor jack to raise the lower control arm
13 Now the spring is installed and a floor jack can be used to raise the lower control arm into place.
view of spindle sliding over the new ball joints
14 The spindle slides over the new ball joints easily. We install the 7/8-inch lower ball joint castle nut and then jack the assembly up to reach the upper ball joint.
view of installing and tightening the 11/16-inch upper castle nut
15 Finally, we install and tighten the 11/16-inch upper castle nut and slide the supplied cotter pins into place to complete this step of the journey.

Classic Performance Products
(800) 522-5004

Modern Rodding | September/October 2020