Cal tracs vs. Traction bars

bubba2400

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Jul 19, 2009
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Splitting hairs. Run what you think looks nice on your truck and that will keep the rear axle in place, that is all that the bars are there for.:thumb:
 

Leadfoot

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Dec 27, 2006
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Which is better for sled pulling?

From a physics standpoint, I always thought the Cal-Tracs made more sense, especially when compared to a short(er) standard bar. If I were to run standard bars I would make them long and as parallel to the ground as possible....just my thoughts.

I've seen guys run Cal-Tracs on stock height and up to 6" lift with no issues up to 525RWHP in person, but haven't seen too many guys running them in the higher classes either.

Has anyone heard of a Cal-Trac failure (not related to something else)?
 

Leadfoot

Needs Bigger Tires!
Dec 27, 2006
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Long bars for sleds.

Long bars for drag racing. I had cal tracs and hated the ride.

When the bars are backed completely off there should be no difference in ride (no physical connection), whereas a standard bar would affect ride quality (unless they were removed on street) as they are always physically connecting the axle to the chassis. Sounds like there was a physical problem with yours or maybe too much preload for the street.

Only issue I had with mine is unless I back them off completely or put some preload on them, they tended to rattle on the street (user error until I figured it out).
 

WisconsinHick1

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Mar 11, 2009
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From a physics standpoint, I always thought the Cal-Tracs made more sense, especially when compared to a short(er) standard bar. If I were to run standard bars I would make them long and as parallel to the ground as possible....just my thoughts.

I've seen guys run Cal-Tracs on stock height and up to 6" lift with no issues up to 525RWHP in person, but haven't seen too many guys running them in the higher classes either.

Has anyone heard of a Cal-Trac failure (not related to something else)?

The kid I bought them from had them on his 700+hp pulling truck. He is revamping his pulling truck so I picked them up. I have had long bars for the last 3 seasons and since they where priced just right I picked them and we'll give them a try this year.
 

Chevy1925

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Oct 21, 2009
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When the bars are backed completely off there should be no difference in ride (no physical connection), whereas a standard bar would affect ride quality (unless they were removed on street) as they are always physically connecting the axle to the chassis. Sounds like there was a physical problem with yours or maybe too much preload for the street.

Only issue I had with mine is unless I back them off completely or put some preload on them, they tended to rattle on the street (user error until I figured it out).

the only reason the ride may feel stiffer with long/short bars (not cal tracs) is because the driver has been use to rear end that has axle wrap. this means that rear end has been able to twist the springs, flex them in unfavorable directions, and damn near let the axle do as it want. on a completely factory truck (no modds to the springs, blocks, so on) you wont notice hardly any change if you put a set of long/short bars on and daily drove it. Only things you would probably see is a little quicker throttle response, and no chatter when spinnin the tires in sand/dirt/ect. While there is still some axle wrap even stock, its not amplified like we like to do. Now add modds, bigger tires, more power, and drive it that way. it would feel the same other than tires wanting to break loose a bit quicker. People dont realize the affect that bigger tires, more power, lift blocks, ect affect greatly how the springs react to any given situation. the added "leverage" you could call it (its not a great term but willl suffice for my explination) really makes those springs work and flex giving you the driver basically a numb feeling for the rear end. the springs are giving in and moving when they are not suppose to, eluding you to thinking you have a soft ride. When you stop all that all of a sudden with a set of bars, things "feel" stiffer but in all reality, you jsut keeping things where they should be and stopping that leverage affect. Now this only in the bars ive made as i know how they work. Someone elses could be different and i know cal tracs can not work this way. they play on preloading the springs and such with is great for trying to keep traction on the road/track but can make a rough ride, or rattle once loosend up but there again, now they do nothing for you when your driving down the road. What we need is a system that can preload something besides our springs when axle wrap occures to still allow adjustble "give" but not affect ride. straight bars can not adjust to allow "give" in the suspension which can hurt a high performing track only truck but they work very well all around.
if you want a softer ride after bars, shocks and springs need to be looked at
 
Last edited:

hondarider552

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May 28, 2008
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the only reason the ride may feel stiffer with long/short bars (not cal tracs) is because the driver has been use to rear end that has axle wrap. this means that rear end has been able to twist the springs, flex them in unfavorable directions, and damn near let the axle do as it want. on a completely factory truck (no modds to the springs, blocks, so on) you wont notice hardly any change if you put a set of long/short bars on and daily drove it. Only things you would probably see is a little quicker throttle response, and no chatter when spinnin the tires in sand/dirt/ect. While there is still some axle wrap even stock, its not amplified like we like to do. Now add modds, bigger tires, more power, and drive it that way. it would feel the same other than tires wanting to break loose a bit quicker. People dont realize the affect that bigger tires, more power, lift blocks, ect affect greatly how the springs react to any given situation. the added "leverage" you could call it (its not a great term but willl suffice for my explination) really makes those springs work and flex giving you the driver basically a numb feeling for the rear end. the springs are giving in and moving when they are not suppose to, eluding you to thinking you have a soft ride. When you stop all that all of a sudden with a set of bars, things "feel" stiffer but in all reality, you jsut keeping things where they should be and stopping that leverage affect. Now this only in the bars ive made as i know how they work. Someone elses could be different and i know cal tracs can not work this way. they play on preloading the springs and such with is great for trying to keep traction on the road/track but can make a rough ride, or rattle once loosend up but there again, now they do nothing for you when your driving down the road. What we need is a system that can preload something besides our springs when axle wrap occures to still allow adjustble "give" but not affect ride. straight bars can not adjust to allow "give" in the suspension which can hurt a high performing track only truck but they work very well all around.
if you want a softer ride after bars, shocks and springs need to be looked at


:thumb::thumb:

When the bars are backed completely off there should be no difference in ride (no physical connection), whereas a standard bar would affect ride quality (unless they were removed on street) as they are always physically connecting the axle to the chassis. Sounds like there was a physical problem with yours or maybe too much preload for the street.

Caltracs rattle when loosened up, and allow the axle to move around causing axle wrap, they only work when they have preload on them, while riding like crap.

My long bars ride night and day better than my caltracs ever did on my LBZ. James' bars have proved this on 2 trucks of mine, with a negative angle bar, and a positive height bar. On the caltracs I had them set to just barely touch the spring pack, then tighten 1 fulll turn for a bit of preload. Nothing I did made them ride better and at the same time, provide zero axle wrap. Cant have both situations with cal-tracs, but you can with long bars, IMHO.
 

hondarider552

Getting faster
May 28, 2008
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I mean like a nagative bar is a bar that is "higher" in the back than it is the front, like my LBZ had because of a 6" drop in the rear. My LB7 is leveled and have a positive angle ( like 99% of all solid traction bar pics) My LBZ actually looked like it was 4-linked, but it wasnt.
 

Leadfoot

Needs Bigger Tires!
Dec 27, 2006
898
29
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47
Western MA
www.matpa.org
Interesting...When I back off my Cal-tracs completely there is no rattle (before and after the lift). Anywhere in between (completely backed off and preloaded they rattle like an SOB and it's annoying) but I did use a zip-tie to keep things under tension (especially when I remove the bars for the winter).

On all the high HP gassers we put long bars on, they negatively affected handling (even with high angle heims) except on initial takeoff if spring wrap was a major concern. Maybe the suspension on the GMT-800 trucks is different would be my guess. Although there are guys around here running long bars that don't like them and have switched to Cal-Tracs and were much happier (which was the main reason for my question as that is what I've seen).

For those that know him, Shawn Stone was one of them (had long bars and switched to Cal-Tracs) and his truck hooked like an SOB after the switch (bent his hitch and frame, and no the truck was not hopping).

Maybe it was the way they were designed initially (I'm not 100% sure but I "think" they were the Pro-Comp bars).
 

x MadMAX DIESEL

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Dec 30, 2008
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I don't have any rattle from the caltracs, I do however have an annoying squeak from the aluminun bushings.
On the caltracs I had them set to just barely touch the spring pack, then tighten 1 fulll turn for a bit of preload. Nothing I did made them ride better and at the same time, provide zero axle wrap.

That was way to much preload. If you had a car with a trans brake or something that would be the correct way. But with our trucks we build boost using the brake system at the line. If you think about it you should really set the preload to just touch when you bring the truck to launching rpm/boost.

Can you explain what this means in dummy terms? For me, thanx

He had a truck that had a negative angle on them because it was lowered so much. The bars fell towards the frame instead of falling toward to axle. Now he has a lifted truck.
Edit, didn't see this second page when I qouted you lol
 

Chevy1925

don't know sh!t about IFS
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Oct 21, 2009
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Interesting...When I back off my Cal-tracs completely there is no rattle (before and after the lift). Anywhere in between (completely backed off and preloaded they rattle like an SOB and it's annoying) but I did use a zip-tie to keep things under tension (especially when I remove the bars for the winter).

On all the high HP gassers we put long bars on, they negatively affected handling (even with high angle heims) except on initial takeoff if spring wrap was a major concern. Maybe the suspension on the GMT-800 trucks is different would be my guess. Although there are guys around here running long bars that don't like them and have switched to Cal-Tracs and were much happier (which was the main reason for my question as that is what I've seen).

For those that know him, Shawn Stone was one of them (had long bars and switched to Cal-Tracs) and his truck hooked like an SOB after the switch (bent his hitch and frame, and no the truck was not hopping).

Maybe it was the way they were designed initially (I'm not 100% sure but I "think" they were the Pro-Comp bars).

Oh im not negating that cal tracs wont help at sled pulling. Un understand both seld pulling theorys of long bars or cal tracs. I actually side more with the cal trac side. If we had pulls out here id really like to try some ideas of mine. I was only speaking for the ride side of things on a dd and what i can speak for a truck that does double or triple duty. A designated puller, racer and so one needs a specific setup to really make things work the best





That was way to much preload. If you had a car with a trans brake or something that would be the correct way. But with our trucks we build boost using the brake system at the line. If you think about it you should really set the preload to just touch when you bring the truck to launching rpm/bo

Not on his setup ben. The way he had them setup before gave the best 60s for him. We both looked at it and ran different ideas to make them work. In his setup, they just wouldnt work to their full potential.