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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a series of misadventures, I finally received my GW front lower control arms this week. I needed them to continue and had bought a set of the knock off arms in the meantime for mock up. I was curious to compare the two since they look identical in pictures and figured others might be interested in exactly what you're getting for about three times the cost.
First off, the GW control arms are US made. I'm not particularly opposed to import products in general but I try to keep this car as American made as possible just as a matter of principle.
Initial impression out of the box, not so different. The GW arms are on the bottom here and do come with an alignment dowel, which is very helpful installing these.

After I got to turning them over and inspecting, they began to look different. Overall weld quality is much better on the GW control arms. Also, they have more welds in more places. Inside of the spring pockets, both the outer and inner diameters are not welded on the Chinese parts.


But wait, it gets yet more interesting. These two control arms are not the same shape. The GW arms look like they are curved to clear the frame. Not sure what's going on with the Chinese parts. They reach the same point without being the same shape. Also, out by the ball joint, I had to grind material off the Chinese arms to get them to clear my steering arms. I took off about an 1/8" of material just to get everything together and would have had to remove more were I to actually drive on them.

After that I got out the tape measure. I picked a relative point for comparison, not something to use as a suspension geometry reference. The Chinese spring pockets are approximately 3/16" further out and the ball joints by the same amount. Technically the functional length of the Chinese control arms are 3/16" longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Reached my file limit on the last post...
After that I got out the tape measure. I picked a relative point for comparison, not something to use as a suspension geometry reference. The Chinese spring pockets are approximately 3/16" further in and the ball joints by the same amount. Technically the functional length of the Chinese control arms are 3/16" shorter. GW is on the top.

After that things got a little scary. I initially noticed GW had shimmed their lower ball joints to take up slack. Not cool, I thought, until I looked at the Chinese parts. They were missing steering stops and I really don't think the ball joint bolts are tightened. I wouldn't drive on them like this. GW is on the bottom.

Also, the spherical bearing on the Chinese arms rotated freely and had some slight play I could feel by hand. These are new parts and won't live long under the car. The GW joints could not be moved by hand. GW is on the bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some final notes. Neither of these will clear my Varishock double adjustable shocks. I'll have to clearance the through holes in the GW arms but not by much. Weld quality overall is not even a contest. Build and construction quality might actually put the Chinese arms into the "insurance liability" category.
I'd been curious about what possible difference there could be between these two parts given the appearance and price gap. I actually thought the Global West parts were just sourced in China and had a sticker slapped on the side. Having the parts in hand, there is no comparison. If I ran these Chinese parts, I'd be servicing something broken sooner than I wanted.
Another shot of the welding. I shouldn't even have to point at the GW part at this point.
 

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In most cases, there is nothing like US Made parts.

Well done report for anyone considering aftermarket.
 

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I have pretty much all G.W. products on my 67 Impala and am very happy with the quality and would definitely recommend them.
 

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I have GW uppers on my '63. very satisfied.

The dimensional differences lead me to conclude that the 'Chinese' parts are for a different application. The differences are too large to be simply 'quality' issues. I'm not saying they were not advertised for your car, just that they are not.

Pete
 

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I didn't think any one was still stick welding today (with the exception of under water repairs, and welding cast iron). But looking at the splatter, and inconsistent bead width, I have to assume the Chinese are still stick welding.

Big Dave
 

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Great pictures and write-up! Good stuff man. :)

I thought that the GW arms had a differnt BJ location compared to stock to help with the geometry while cornering. (better camber when turning?) Maybe the China parts have that baked in too, not sure.
 

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Thanks for posting the comparison. I’ve been looking at the GW arms. I want to keep the car as American as possible. There will be no Chinese made parts if I can at all help it.
 

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Great comparison! Thank you for posting this. I came to some of these conclusions on my own, but seeing them laid out complete with measurements really drove it home.

I picked my lowers from Jegs, and thought “surely these must be safe...” but once I started looking at them, and tried to install my springs in them, my mind was made up; I’m not using these.
I’ve got a post asking this, but seeing as you just went through this: Using the Global West lowers, did you have an easier time than I did using the Jegs lowers getting the spring compressor out of there?

Not mentioned here, is the fact that the shock hole in the bottom of the knock offs is much smaller than the stock arms - so my inner compressors hooks where near impossible to get out. Also, the spring itself was way to compressed to get the fork on the bottom out.

I’m hoping the geometry on the Global West’s and a new compressor will make this easier on me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Compressing the springs is always a pain. I usually feel like I'm holding on to an undetonated bomb.

I have the heavy duty springs on mine so it is even more unnerving. For the Chinese lower control arms, fit for the spring compressor was tight and I ended up taking one of the hooks off and reassembling it inside the spring. The Global West lowers have an opening big enough to fit the compressor through without disassembly. That being said, I got the spring compressed enough to have free play between the spring seats but I still couldn't quite get it into location. Since I had access, I ended up unbolting the upper pivot shaft to easily move the spring into position and put everything back together.

Hope this helps.
 

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@justjohn - I wanted to clarify your last statement because I had some front spring installation problems as well.
I have the Global West uppers and lowers and some cut springs from either Eaton or GW.

I'm confident in the clocking but as I undo the spring compressor and try to keep the spring in proper position it seems to want to move ever so slightly. I'm driving on it and it's 95% fine, but my drivers side has a major groan/squeak just by getting in/out of the car.
Are you talking about undoing the upper-control arm cross-shaft? I'm trying to picture what you did in my head. I'm guessing your spring compressor is still in place, no wheel in place, front end on a jack or something? Was the shaft off the studs or just able to move horizontally on them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I was able to unbolt the upper control arm shaft from the frame. The spring was compressed enough to fit at the time, I just couldn't get it past some spring seat edge or something that was getting in the way. In my case, the body was off so it was much easier to visualize but I think you can do the same thing with the fenders on.
I was I could remember what was keeping me from pushing the spring in place, I just remember the spring was compressed more than enough, the issue was interference with some other protruding part of the control arm. The nice thing about the Global West lowers is the rotating spring pad so that you can index it to wherever it needs to be.
 
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