Reddy Kilowatt Bugeye Sprite E.V. Conversion - Suspension

Rather than rebuild the Armstrong liquid shocks, I decided to convert the car to use traditional tube shocks. Mini Mania has a kit for both the front and rear that replaces the shock and provides the upper arm in the front suspension. The kit for the back-end is much less expensive and a bit simpler to put in.

The original shocks on the bugeye also provide the upper arm for the king pin assembly. You can get a conversion kit that adds a tube shock to the existing Armstrong shock, but that still can have problems if the control arm on the Armstrong shock is worn. This is a much more robust solution. The front kit is expensive, but it's well designed and fairly simple to put in. After driving the car with the conversion kit I think it was well worth it.

In addition to the conversion, I also had to clean up some play in the suspension by replacing the king pins and the bushings. The brake calipers also needed rebuilding.

Suspension front view Suspension complete Suspension complete

The suspension work was a several day project, but the conversion kit was roughly a full day effort. You have to jack up the front end and compress the spring with a second jack so you can disconnect the king pin. Because my A arms were never drilled for the sway bar, I had to drill six holes on each side. Fortunately it wasn't difficult to determine where the holes needed to be as the new assembly fits very snug. You may notice in the picture that I had to reroute the brake line so it would clear the shock.

The rear shocks are a simpler matter because of the way the springs and the existing shock fit. Replacing these just requires pulling the rear wheel and the old shock off, drilling a couple of bolt holes, and fastening the new assembly in.

Rear suspension

The Bugeye also has an occasional problem with broken axle shafts. The original shafts were not hardened, and the hub has only a single bearing. When you corner aggresively the axle gets torqued against the differential. Over time this fatigues the axle and it breaks. One of the common modifications for racing is to switch to hardened axles and install a hub with dual bearings. The second bearing takes the torque from cornering instead of the end of the axle.

Mini-mania has a conversion kit for this as well, and since I had to pull off the hubs to replace the seals, I decided to go ahead with the conversion. There are a couple of minor issues with this. The hub is larger on the side facing the backing plate, and there isn't quite enough room. To make it fit you have to use different bolts for securing the backing plate (or shave the heads of the existing ones as I did), and you have to drill alternate holes to seat one of the springs holding the brake pads. With these changes made, the new hub is obviously much more solid. I also found a good deal on hardened axles. So now if we find batteries that can deliver the current, I won't have to worry about breaking the axles.

Hub conversionHub conversion