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Custom Leaf Springs

When it came to the suspension on the rear of the truck, we assumed that the add-a-leaf’s from Superlift as well as the 6” Superlift blocks would keep the truck level since we only had a set of 4” Superlift leaf springs on the front of the truck attached with an ORU reverse shackle kit. Much to our surprise, somehow we ended up with somewhere around 12” of lift. It doesn’t really make much sense. It’s definitely tall. Needless to say, the rear end did not even come close to sitting level with the front. Even at this point, we still under estimated the height of the front suspension. So when it came time to find new leaf springs for the rear axle, we thought that a set of springs with 8” of lift would put us right where we need to be. Enter Carrier Spring from the great white north. Carrier was very excited about our project and was eager to sponsor us with a set of custom made rear leaf springs. After several discussions and measurements, it was decided that the springs would have 8” of lift over the stock springs. Several weeks later, the springs arrived by UPS. (side note: the springs left Canada at the same time and arrived on two different days) These things were unbelievably heavy. They each have eight leaves as compared to the four on the factory springs. We could tell they were just fabricated, the paint was still soft and even sticky in some places.

The factory rear springs with the Superlift add-a-leaf and 4"" block.

The Carrier leaf springs as the arrived.

Closeup of the new custom leaf springs.

Custom leaf springs with center bolt removed.

Leaf springs before cleaning.

Leaf springs after being cleaned.

New custom leaf springs after a couple coats of paint.

Now it was time to get the old springs off and the new springs on. We began by jacking up the truck at the rear bumper so we could get enough clearance to lift the factory springs and Superlift blocks off of the rear axle. We started with the passenger’s side since it was the most accessible. After removing the U-bolts, it didn’t take long to come up against a road block. There was not enough clearance to remove the bolt from the rear spring shackle as the rear compartment of the service body prevented the bolt from being removed. After some deliberation, it was decided to use a hole saw and cut a 2” hole in the back of the compartment wall so the bolt could be removed. Now we could lift the spring pack up and remove the lift block. This gave us a great deal of room with the block out of the way. Next, it was time to remove the front spring shackle bolt only to find the service body was in the way again. This time, the solution was a bit easier, or at least less damaging. The body only needed to be raised off of the frame by about an inch and so we did just that. The bolt slipped out and so did the spring. We covered the rear axle with a blanket to keep it from getting dinged or dented in the process. Once the old spring was removed, it was an easy matter of sliding the new spring up over the axle and getting it bolted in place. Before we could bolt the spring to the truck, we had to drill out the front spring brackets since the new springs came with a larger diameter bolt for extra strength.

The spring bolted in place without any problems and the front bolt was installed from the opposite direction so the body did not have to lifted up again. We then lowered the truck and spring onto the axle and attached everything with the new u-bolts supplied by Carrier. As is always the case, the second side went very quickly and easily knowing all of the pit-falls we had to avoid from the first spring. With everything in place, we lowered the jack from underneath of the truck and found that with no blocks at all, the rear end now sat where it once did with springs, a 6” block and a 2” factory block. We were impressed. However (there’s always a ‘however’) it was not enough. The rear end still sat much too low. We did not want to use the Superlift lift blocks for the same reason we removed them in the first place, they are too narrow, only 2” wide. They are too risky because of being so narrow and the concern was that they could easily ‘fall’ out on a hard turn because they do not butt up against the u-bolts for added support and stability. So now we weren’t really sure what we should do next.

It took several days to devise a solution and find parts that would facilitate that solution. We decided to use anther set of 6” blocks but ones that are a full 3” wide to ensure the fit snugly between the u-bolts. We were going to have a set made out of solid steel and it just so happened that Steve called from ORU about our steering configuration. While we were out on the ORU website, we saw that they had some very nice forged steel blocks that were just what we needed. We convinced Steve to send us a set and they arrive a couple of weeks later (nothing on this project has gone quickly). The blocks arrived and were very pleased. They are very heavy-duty and perfect for our application. Only one more hurdle stood in our way, we noticed as we were installing the springs, that there was not any paint in between the leaves. This was not good. We could leave (no pun intended) it this way or do things right. We decided to do things right.

So we removed the springs, one at a time, and took them apart so we could sand and paint them. Once they were apart, we gave the leaves a good coat of gloss black and let them dry overnight. The next day, we put the first set back together and back on the truck with the new ORU lift blocks. Then we removed the second spring and duplicated the process. By the end of the weekend, we had a complete rear suspension that had the truck sitting just above level in the rear, right where we wanted it. It was a lot of work along with some slight miscalculations in height, but in the end, we achieved the results we desired and the truck looks fantastic. Special thanks goes to the folks at Carrier Spring for all their help and support. Take off, eh?

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