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Custom front suspension ideas

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by BadDog, Mar 2, 2002.

  1. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    Now that my rear suspension is mostly done (thanks Marv!), it's time to think about the front. My biggest complaint is that the arched after-market lift packs are generally shorter eye-to-eye at static rest, which results in a really lousy shackle angle. The axle is not able to drop far before the shackle lines up with the spring severely limiting the axle droop beyond that point (limited to spring deformation only, sort of like pulling it into a "V" instead of an arch). Going up, the eye is (as you point out) pushed into the frame, sometimes actually hammering on the frame. Basically it just sucks in every way. I was talking at length a while back with Donovan and Twizted about ways to correct that, building custom packs to get longer eye-to-eye length, moving mounting points, shackles, etc. I've been eyeballing my front springs allot lately trying to figure out what to do. My current plan (subject to change daily) is to relocate the upper bushing mount about 2-2.5" forward (requires going up about 0.5" due to frame) and building a couple of longer shackles to lower the rear eye about 1". That should keep it out of the spring even though there will be more "de-arching" after the mods, and it shouldn't be enough to screw up the steering angles and drive-line too much.

    Anyway, I hope to accomplish this by moving the factory bushing casting forward. However, the holes will be really close together so I don't know if the frame will hold up. It's not easy to reinforce the frame without getting in the way of the shackles. The only other option is to add a piece of .125-.250 plate to that area along with a piece of DOM tubing welded into the proper location for the bushing.

    Suggestions or thoughts? I'm not looking for anything crazy in front. I'm fairly satisfied to let the rear do most of the work. However, the shackle angle is limiting enough that I want to do something, and I really don't care for the "goofy leaf" approach.

    Russ

    85 K30 CUCV, 350 TBI, TH400, 205, D60/C14, 4.56 Locked, 4" lift, 42" tires
    Some day: massive cutting, shorter wb and rear overhang.
     
  2. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Russ,

    I found this thread, and I wanted to let you know what I did on mine....

    To answer your "other" question the answer is YES I did get a custom set of leaves made......They're from a cool company called....... ORD!!! [​IMG]

    I called up Stephen and told him I wanted a soft front spring like the Tuff Country, and he started talking to me about how it would be cool to make the spring a little longer for better flex, and maybe move the centering pin forward a little to improve tire clearance near the rear wheelwell area......

    Next thing you know (well actually it did take about 6 weeks) I had a completely custom set of leaf springs for my 1st Gen! They are 45" eye to eye which is about an inch longer than stock....they have NINE very thin leaves and have a spring rate of 237 Lbs/In.

    I am anxious to get some pics posted for everyone, because I am SURE that there will be a lot of questions....but I can tell you this: The ride is awesome compared to my old 3-Leaf 700 Lbs/In afterrmarket springs!!!!!! [​IMG]

    The only problems I had with the installation were the brakelines being too short (previous owner never put extended lines on with the 4" lift!) and the fact that my front driveshaft keeps falling apart at the slipjoint because the axle is an inch further away than it used to be!!!! [​IMG] Thankfully South Bay Driveline is located about 15 minutes from my house, so they can fix me up with a lengthened shaft in about a day.

    AnyHOO.....that's the detail so far. I will post a link to photos in the ORD-section of the board when I get some time this weekend.



    -Greg72

    '72 K5 Blazer - 427BB/TH350/NP205/6" Lift/35x12.50's
    <font color=blue>See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38</a>
     
  3. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    Haha, nice drama. Had me on the edge of my seat! [​IMG]

    Who did Stephan get to make them? I'm guessing Allcan? I thought about that but I just couldn't see putting that much into a set of front springs. Maybe if it were my daily driver (I am partial to comfort in my old age), but this is just my toy. Sounds sweet man, I would love to see your Blazer if it were closer. Sometimes I miss my old Blazer. (sniff)

    Edited: Oh, BTW, I also agree with moving the axle forward. I bought steel yesterday to make blocks that move mine 2" forward to help keep the 42 off the fire wall (already moved back 2" or so) and to improve approach angles.

    Russ

    85 K30 CUCV, 350 TBI, TH400, 205, D60/C14, 4.56 Locked, 4" lift, 42" tires
    Some day: massive cutting, shorter wb and rear overhang.
     
  4. Greg72

    Greg72 "Might As Well..." Staff Member Super Moderator

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    Russ,

    I am 90% sure it was Alcan....Stephen completely designed them and sent Alcan all the specs. It's funny....one of the reasons it took so long is because Stephen spec'ed a leaf material thinner than those guys were used to using very often....so they had to special order it.

    I still give Steve a LOT of credit for the design work.....of course they are built very nicely and the ORD bushings swapped over easily (the holes were ROUND, which isn't always a guarantee!).....


    Pricewise, they were MORE than a set of Tuff Country but LESS than Nationals.....so that was worth it to me. If you are planning on going to Moab 2002......you can see them in person! [​IMG]





    -Greg72

    '72 K5 Blazer - 427BB/TH350/NP205/6" Lift/35x12.50's
    <font color=blue>See it here: </font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/albun38</a>
     
  5. Corey 78K5

    Corey 78K5 1 ton status

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    I have had the same problem with mine. Spring pulling in to a V and the spring hitting the frame. I liked the ideal that Donavan had of useing a main leaf from a full-size Cherokee and useing longer shackels, but I also though about doing a C-section on the frame where the spring hits it would'nt need much and It would give all the clearence you need.


    Corey 78K5
    350CI, TH350, 203, Dana 44,12 Bolt, 4"lift, Shackel Flip, Sawsall and 35" BFG's
     
  6. how about running some 52 inch rear springs up front? you'll have to relocate the front spring hangers and get some longer shackles. i hope to do this some day when i get around to it. if you do the cherokee springs i don't think you'll have to move the front hangers.

    <font color=blue>You think you're excited, feel my nipples!

    </font color=blue>
     
  7. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    The "C" section doesn't address the shackle angle problem though. Something as simple as adding 0.5" to the shackle length will generally keep standard lift springs off the frame. The spring lift manufacturers make the springs short (resulting in the screwed up angle) to help keep it off the frame so a slightly longer shackle is all that is needed.

    Russ

    85 K30 CUCV, 350 TBI, TH400, 205, D60/C14, 4.56 Locked, 4" lift, 42" tires
    Some day: massive cutting, shorter wb and rear overhang.
     
  8. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    I thought about that too, and, that's exactly what Twizted is doing. However, I'm trying to reduce the front over hang to maximize approach angle. So, I discarded that idea. I did think about using shorter lift springs (like 2-3" lift) and moving the front hangers *back*. Then adding much longer shackles to clear the frame with spacing to compensate in the front (to keep the pinion and caster angles right without major surgery to the front axle) would have the desired result. However, that looked like too much trouble, would be going against my efforts to get my tires off the fire wall, and doesn't help on approach much unless the core support is also moved (which opens up a whole new can of worms). The only positive is that, if I move the core support too, then I could still use a GM hood with the cab moved back...

    Thanks for the ideas guys, I'm always looking for new angles and corrections to my hair brained schemes.

    Now I'm off to my shop to work on my new front cross member...

    Russ

    85 K30 CUCV, 350 TBI, TH400, 205, D60/C14, 4.56 Locked, 4" lift, 42" tires
    Some day: massive cutting, shorter wb and rear overhang.
     
  9. Corey 78K5

    Corey 78K5 1 ton status

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    I know it dose'nt fix the angle problem. It's more of an after thought. If your talking custom spring packs you never know how much compresion you could get and longer shackels may not always keep you from hitting the frame. It's really just a thought I've had in my head for a couple years.


    Corey 78K5
    350CI, TH350, 203, Dana 44,12 Bolt, 4"lift, Shackel Flip, Sawsall and 35" BFG's
     
  10. Twiz

    Twiz 1/2 ton status

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    Russ.

    I like the idea of moveing the rear shackle hanger forward, but as you said, that would weaken the frame and in that section i would assume is under alot of stress. So plateing it or boxing in the frame wouldprobably be manditory (as you said) and probably not a bad idea any-way.

    Just something else to think about.
    Shop around for a spring that fitts your needs. There are thousands of different leaf springs out-there, some are off-set to the front and are in meny different lengths.
    For example:
    Rear springs off a new-body style S10.
    Center pin forward to the front spring eye is -about- 24.25"
    Center pin back is -about- 27.25"
    Overall length is -about- 52"
    This pack would move the front axle forward, without looseing aprch angle, and is longer than the stock 47" springs (possibly too long if the front hangers were not moved). The only real mind-bender would be getting the 2.5" wide spring with a 2" dia eye to fit the 3.5" wide spring hanger (1.5" dia spring eye).

    The point is, there has to be a spring out-there that is long enuff, with the right off-set to fitt your needs. It's just a matter of finding it and makeing it fit.

    By the way.
    I just read the spring-flip thing, looks cool. (thats a thinkin' man [​IMG]) Got a cherry picker? Use that to check articulation, It really works great for figureing out the shock location ext....

    Greg72
    I gotta see these leafs of yours, they sound like a excelent spring pack.

    <font color=white>.</font color=white>Eric
    <font color=white>.</font color=white>Twizted
    &lt;P ID="edit"&gt;&lt;FONT class="small"&gt;&lt;EM&gt;Edited by Twiztid on 03/02/02 12:14 PM.&lt;/EM&gt;&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/P&gt;&lt;P ID="edit"&gt;&lt;FONT class="small"&gt;&lt;EM&gt;Edited by Twiztid on 03/02/02 01:30 PM.&lt;/EM&gt;&lt;/FONT&gt;&lt;/P&gt;<P ID="edit"><FONT class="small">Edited by Twiztid on 03/02/02 06:29 PM.</FONT></P>
     
  11. k20

    k20 3/4 ton status

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    hey, i got an idea, why dont you take a 14bolt FF and make it into a front axle? :smile: now that would be cool

    This is Chevy country and on a quiet night you can hear a Ford rust.
    This is your brain "CHEVY", this is your brain on drugs "FORD"
     
  12. Corey 78K5

    Corey 78K5 1 ton status

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    I'm sure this has been thought of but when you consider the cost of doing this as compared to a Dana 60 it really dont make since. Also the diff on a 14ff is huge and you would lose a lot of ground clearence. Sure a lot of guy's use them in the rear but with the pinion pointed forward it can slide or drag across obsticals. Now if you had it on the front it would be like a big plow. If you needing an axel stronger than a Dana 60 in the front then it's probably time to go with 2 1/2 ton military axels.


    Corey 78K5
    350CI, TH350, 203, Dana 44,12 Bolt, 4"lift, Shackel Flip, Sawsall and 35" BFG's
     
  13. k20

    k20 3/4 ton status

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    yeh i know, that was the one thing ive never seen on a 'show truck' they got all them 44" boggers and 10/12 bolts, that would be custom though, i was just thinkin out loud there

    This is Chevy country and on a quiet night you can hear a Ford rust.
    This is your brain "CHEVY", this is your brain on drugs "FORD"
     
  14. m j

    m j 1/2 ton status

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    Use a jeep type rear hanger below the frame
    drop the front hanger down
    you get a 2'fer, allows even flatter spring use and eliminates the shackle troubles

    formerly 77chev
    still a jerk though
     
  15. Donovan

    Donovan 1/2 ton status

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    The best way to do it if you don't mind fab'ing is to do what Twizted did and use the 52" rear springs but I see a problem with that and you are using a 1 ton frame and if the 1 ton frame is close to my 86 duelly then the shackle will hit the frame. 1 ton frames are wider than a blazer frame. If you look at my shackle and then look at what would happen on your 1 ton frame. www.rustbucket.rockcrawler.com
    Got Leafs??
     
  16. XtrmChevy

    XtrmChevy 1/2 ton status

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    For example the To§ota Pickup 1982 rear springs move the axle about 2 " forward and are a little longer than the original springs. The problem is as you said they are not as wide as the Chevy pack. I am going to try it anyway.
     
  17. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    MJ, I seriously considered dropping the hanger in front (and moving it to various positions) before I bought my BDS 4" lift. Given that I only wanted 4" of lift anyway, which is still fairly flat, I didn't see enough return on the trouble. If I (for some reason) go beyond 4, that's exactly where I'll start. My biggest goal right now is to fix that rear shackle so I can get some droop out of it. Added bene is reduction in effective spring rate by kicking it back so that I also get softer compression. I'm not looking for anything outrageous (like I was for the rear) but I do want the front to work better than it does now. I also bought steel Friday to make my own hangers, I've just got to figure out exactly what I'm doing to know how to make them...
     
  18. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    Yes, the frame on a 1 ton does continue angling down well beyond the rear mount. Just one more reason why I decided not to simply go with longer springs. Anyway, I spent hours in the junkyards measuring everything in sight that looked like it might work. Maybe I was being overly optimistic but I couldn't find a single spring that looked like it would be worth the trouble.

    <a target="_blank" href=http://members.cox.net/russhuffman/frontshackle2.jpg>Here</a> is a pic of what I'm talking about (also demonstrates the frame issue you pointed out).

    The yellow drawing indicates a rough approximation of what I'm planning. The shackle will likely be just a bit longer, and the lower spring eye would be almost directly under the one in the picture but, you get the idea. If you rotate the stock casting (on the back side of the frame, you can see the rivets though) then it will fit quite a bit closer to the frame lip. Only problem is that it does not stick through the frame far enough to allow for much plating. .125 would be very close to the outer shackle. I was talking to some of the guys on Pirate a while back and they seem to have good luck running .250 wall (or less) DOM welded into a hole cut in the frame. The DOM is selected so that the ID will fit a stock bushing. Just add a strap (like boxing the frame) on the back side and voila, new shackle mount. Only problem is, to do that, I would have to pull the cab completely off. Totally doable but a royal pain given my space limitations and lack of forklift or similar. On the plus side, it would allow me to reinforce the frame on both the outside (.125 plate) and the inside (boxed inside the channel).

    Decisions, decisions...

    BTW, how did your Ramcharger spring experiment work out?
     
  19. Donovan

    Donovan 1/2 ton status

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    I have not done the Dodge springs yet. I have got to many other projects going. I have to finish my Transfercase and then I will start on that, I think. Have you thought of doing coils? Maybe something as simple as a wristed raduis arm from a Ford Bronco. Look here. I think you would be more than happy with this. <a target="_blank" href=http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&amp;threadid=33752>http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&amp;threadid=33752</a>
     
  20. BadDog

    BadDog SOL Staff Member Super Moderator Author

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    Yeah, I saw that when you (and the others) posted it. Looks way cool but, way more than I'm looking to get into right now. I've had all sorts of link suspensions rattling around in my head but, right now lack of money, lack of time, and a desire to get this POS out there in the rocks ASAP are all conspiring to keep me from pursuing that path. I think I can get everything I want (which, I expect, is more than I really need) without going that far anyway. /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif
     

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