Axle Pivoting Propane Fueled Nailhead Powered Dune Buggy Thing Breaks Barriers in WTFery

custom sand rail front suspensionChances are you saw this Craigslist ad pass arc past you in social media recently. Chances are you marveled at the idea of a small tube rail powered by 425ci of Buick power or maybe the precarious seating positions. Then, that front suspension. How does it work? How could it work? There are bars and linkages and pivots, but…huh? Intrepid reader (and occasional LeMons Judge) Shawn Rodgers headed out to take a look and sent back pictures and video of it in action. Quoth the Shawn:

That video shows the front end turning; I have seen it, watched the video several times, and even made drawings, but I still can’t make it make sense in my head. The steering shaft goes into a mystery box (the metal piece with brazing on top) and comes out the bottom to a pitman arm or drag link of some kind. Magic happens, and the entire front end turns. I’m still just baffled and I wish I had had the presence of mind to take better video.

The fabrication quality is top notch, obviously done by someone with experience and passion for their work. I didn’t get the builder’s name, but probably can if needed.
Here are the pix that I took:  The black/white ones are pix of pix; they’re dated January of 1969, so this thing has existed in this form for at least 47 years(!).

  Mystery sand rail

Here’s my best guess on what’s going on:
  • Suspension
    • Two sets of tubular arms go forward: one pair goes up, one goes down.
    • The whole front axle pivots off of the point where the two lower tubes join
    • There are steering arms off each knuckle, but they appear to be chained to the axle to prevent extra(?) steering
    • The front suspension is the spring between the headlight thing attached to the upper two tubes and the big cast iron axle thing.
    • There are extra end link things in there probably to keep something from moving more than it should
    • In the rear, we have a pivoting shackle arrangement to allow better articulation
  • Steering
    • The magic box is some kind of giant steering box that turns a giant pitman arm (maybe surplus from a plane?)
    • The giant pitman arm grabs the rearmost part of the whole pivoting front member, causing it to sweep side-to-side.
    • That whole thing needs to move up-and-down to accommodate the difference in radii between the pitman arm and the giant pivoting front suspension.

Clear as mud, right?  

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