When determining the center-to-center...
When determining the center-to-center length of a custom driveshaft, Strange factors in an inch of runout for the trans slip-yoke. This allows enough freeplay to prevent the yoke from bottoming out on the tailshaft as the suspension moves through its range of travel. On the other hand, having too much runout can cause insufficient spline engagement.
Like GM A-bodies, Fox Mustangs...
Like GM A-bodies, Fox Mustangs use a triangulated four-link rear suspension. With this arrangement, pinion angle is changed by shortening or lengthening the upper control arms until the angle finder gauge points where you want it. Since the control arms on Project Fox's Competition Engineering suspension have Heim joints at each end with very little freeplay, Bill Buck set the pinion angle at -2 degrees. One caveat on a triangulated four-link is that the upper control arms also locate the rearend from side to side, so the left and right links must measure roughly the same length to properly center the rearend. To adjust pinion angle on a leaf-spring car, shims must be wedged between the leafs and the rearend spring perches.
Ideally, a driveshaft would...
Ideally, a driveshaft would be positioned at a 0-degree angle, or parallel to the ground, but this isn't possible due to the packaging limitations of production car-based chassis. Such an arrangement allows both U-joints to operate at the same velocity, which minimizes wear, vibration, and parasitic power loss. As soon as any angle is introduced into the driveshaft, the U-joints begin traveling in an elliptical path instead of a circular path, and cause vibrations. Improperly phased U-joints make this condition dramatically worse, so it's imperative for driveshaft manufacturers to position the front and rear U-joints in line with each other.
The rpm at which a driveshaft becomes unstable is referred to as its critical speed. This instability causes a driveshaft to bend in the center like a jump rope, and prolonged operation at critical speed will eventually lead to parts failure. The formula for calculating critical speed is extremely complex, but suffice it to say that it's a function of driveshaft diameter, length, wall thickness, and the modulus of elasticity of the material it's made from. Generally, the shorter the length and the larger the diameter of a driveshaft, the higher its critical speed will be. Although there isn't much you can do about the length of driveshaft your application requires, high-performance aftermarket driveshafts are commonly available in 3-. 3.5-, and 4-inch diameters. The bigger the better, but there is a practical limit to how large you can go due to trans tunnel clearance. As far as driveshaft material is concerned, carbon fiber offers the highest critical speed, followed by aluminum, and then steel.
While critical speed is indicative of potential driveshaft failure due to prolonged high-speed operation, it doesn't necessarily reflect the strength of a driveshaft. The sheer abuse a driveshaft can handle is primarily attributable to the tubing material. The typical mild steel driveshaft used in many production cars can fail at power levels as low as 400 hp. High-performance aluminum driveshafts are extremely popular upgrades for muscle car enthusiasts due to their high strength and low mass, as they can survive loads up to 1,000 hp. The strongest material by far is DOM chrome-moly, which is often the choice of extreme-duty drag cars producing in excess of 2,000 hp. This strength comes with a weight penalty, however, which also increases parasitic driveline loss. Carbon fiber is the wild card of the lot. Some people claim that carbon-fiber shafts can support 800-plus horsepower, while others have reported failure at substantially lower power levels. Furthermore, while carbon fiber weighs next to nothing, it can also cost twice as much as a comparable chrome-moly driveshaft.
If your chassis is already hooking up hard out of the hole, chances are that there isn't much to be gained by changing the pinion angle. In essence, dialing in the right amount of pinion angle prevents a loss of traction rather than enhancing traction. As the driveshaft applies torque to the ring gear, it forces the top of the rearend housing to rotate rearward, and the bottom to rotate forward. If viewed from the passenger side of the car, the rearend naturally rotates counterclockwise under acceleration. Excessive rearend wrapup can unload the rear suspension, compromising grip. Pointing the pinion downward in relation to the driveshaft-also known as negative pinion angle-compensates for this effect. Having the right amount of pinion angle can prevent a loss of traction, but excessive amounts won't improve grip, and increases U-joint wear and parasitic driveline loss. "More negative pinion angle doesn't always give you extra bite, and how much angle a car needs depends on the suspension setup. The goal is to have the pinion in line with the driveshaft under acceleration, which requires dialing some negative pinion angle in when the car is in a static state," Bill Buck says. "With a stock suspension that uses rubber bushings, it might need as much as -7 degrees. Leaf-spring cars have more suspension play, so they need more angle than cars with control arm-style suspension. Cars with urethane bushings need about -4 degrees of angle, while cars with Heim joints need -2 to -3 degrees. An extreme example is Mike Murrillo's Outlaw 10.5 Mustang. Everything is so solidly linked in that car that there's hardly any axlewrap, which means it only needs -1 degree of pinion angle."
|WHERE THE MONEY WENT
|Strange chrome-moly driveshaft
|Strange trans yoke
|THE COST SO FAR
|'93 notchback Mustang
|Sold old wheels, tires, engine, trans
|532 big-block Ford
|Phoenix TH400 trans
|Strange 8.8 rearend
|Comp Engineering rear suspension
|AJE front suspension
|Bill Buck custom 10-point cage
|Engine and trans install
|Russell fuel system