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Submitted By: tv_larsen
Date: February 10, 2009, 10:17:12 AM
Views: 7296

This how-to article outlines the installation of rear leaf springs on my 1975 Dodge W200. These basic steps can be applied to most leaf sprung trucks. Although slightly different, front spring replacement is very similar. Keep safety in mind during the entire job, you don’t want a 6000 pound truck falling on you. Big tools are definitely the best approach to a job like this. I used a 3.5-ton floor jack, 6-ton jack stands, an impact wrench, various large sockets and wrenches, a large pry bar and a big hammer.

The first step is to park on a level, hard surface. Chock the front tires and jack up the rear of the truck, a floor jack under the rear axle works best. Keep in mind that if you are installing lift springs, you will need to jack the truck that much higher. Position tall jack stands under the frame. As you can see from the pictures, my jack stands still weren’t tall enough. Whatever you do, make sure the truck is supported safely and won’t fall on you. Remove the rear tires, lower the jack and allow the axle to droop.

I usually prefer to do just one side of the truck at a time. This prevents the axle from moving around too much and just generally makes the job easier. Now pump the jack back up just till it begins to support the axle. Loosen and remove both u-bolts. Lower the jack slowly until the leaf springs have separated from the axle or lift blocks. Remove the block and set it aside. Some blocks have a taper in their shape, note its orientation so that it can be reassembled correctly. Usually the narrow end goes toward the front of the truck. Next, remove the nuts from the front leaf spring mount and rear shackle mount bolts. Check for clearance and drive the bolts out. A drift and a big hammer are usually needed. If there is an obstruction that won’t allow the bolts to be removed, drive them out as far as you can, then cut off the bolt with a hack saw or die grinder and drive the rest of the bolt out. You will need to install the new hardware from the opposite side if there is clearance. If you do destroy the bolts removing them, replace with quality grade 8 hardware. I did this the last time I changed springs so my bolts came out very easy. I recommend getting the bolts a little longer than the original ones, and use grade 8 nylock nuts.

After these bolts are removed, the leaf spring should come right out. Lay it on the ground next to the replacement spring, and note the orientation of the shackle and the direction the bolt goes through. Transfer the shackle to the new spring and making sure that it and the bolt are oriented the same way. Tighten the nut enough that the shackle still swings freely, but is not sloppy loose.

Move the new spring into position under the truck and line up the shackle with the bolthole in the rear shackle bucket. Light tapping, a pry bar, and an alignment tool might be needed to get the holes lined up. After you get the bolt through, loosely tighten the nut on it. Next, line up the front spring bushing in the spring hanger and push the bolt through. Again, loosely tighten the nut on it. Place the block (if needed) back on the spring perch on the axle housing under the spring. You must make sure that the center pin on the bottom of the block engages with the hole in the center of the perch. Start jacking the axle up until the block contacts the leaf spring. If the center bolt in the leaf spring doesn’t immediately drop into the center hole in the block, stop and move the axle forward or back, and the spring sideways with tapping from the hammer to line things up. Jack the axle up some more till the spring is firmly seated on the block. Reinstall the u-bolts and u-bolt plate and tighten the u-bolts down.

Repeat these steps for the other side. Put the tires back on the truck and set it on the ground. After the weight of the truck is on the springs. Go back and finish tightening the front and rear spring mount bolts. Doing this before the weight is on the springs can cause binding. Recheck all the other nuts and bolts. After driving about 100 miles, re-torque the u-bolt nuts again. Usually it is recommended that you replace your u-bolts when you do a job like this. It is my opinion, if your u-bolts are relatively new (mine were only 1.5 years old) you can reuse them. However, if you are dealing with older u-bolts, especially the original u-bolts, they should be replaced. They are relatively inexpensive, and some shops will custom bend the u-bolts while you wait, just take the old ones with you.
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