Story by Keith Fessler (JackedRanger)
Compiled By JohnnyU
I did the Chevy leaf spring swap to ditch my stacked blocks, that are required with the rough country lift kit, and to get a better ride (stiff with the blocks and add a leafs), and an overall better performing suspension. The swap took me approximately 2 days, mainly due to the extra problems I ran into that put me back some. The total cost for this project will vary on what you need to get or already have. I got my leaves for free, but they will run you about $50 a pack from the junkyard. The shackles ran me $35 from Ebay. The hardware total was in the range of about $20 or so. This project shouldn't run you too much more than $150.
You get approximately three inches of lift using a stock set of Chevy 1500 leaf springs. If the "overload" spring is not used, there is an increase in wheel travel, although in combination with a Belltech lowering shackle, the difference is much greater.
- Set of 63" Chevy springs from any 88-98 full size 1500 Chevy truck (4 leaves in my pack-came off a 4x4)
- Belltech 6400 shackles (88-98 Chevy 1500 2wd-they lower a full size Chevy, lift a ranger/RBV)
- (6) 14mm x 4" bolts (grade 8)
- (6) 14mm washers
- (6) 14mm lock washers
- (6) 14mm nuts
- (8) 1/2" x 1 1/2" bolts (grade 8) and the same as above but for 1/2"
Removing the Box makes thing much easier. Make sure you block the front tires to prevent the truck from moving around. I then began removing the spring hanger bolts. The e-brake cable also needs to be taken apart at the front hanger on the driver's side.
After taking some measurements, I figured out that I needed to move the front hanger forward 6 inches to keep the axle in the same position. I lucked out, due to the bottom two holes in the front hanger being exactly 6 inches apart, so the bottom right hole of the bracket was going to be relocated into the bottom left hole in the frame. This ensured me of keeping the geometry equal on both sides and ensured me that I wouldn't mess one side up and have the truck dogleg on the street.
The fun part then began, I started by grinding and popping out all the rivets. The rear cab mount bracket (also for front of box) needs to be notched out to fit the new position of the front hanger. I then held up the hanger and squared it up to where it needed to go approximately and then traced a line around the hanger onto the rear cab mount bracket. This gave me the area that needed to be notched from the rear cab mount bracket. I then notched that bracket and held up the hanger to the position I wanted it and drilled the new holes.
I then fastened the hanger into position. For the driver's side, I had to loosen up the gas tank in order to get my hand and a wrench behind the frame rail to tighten up the hanger bolts. I then put everything back together in the reverse order of removing everything. Be sure to re-torque all suspension components after its broken in, due to the settling in the suspension, things may work there way loose
You may want to ditch the bottom leaf (overload leaf) from the chevy pack and weave a ranger leaf or two into the chevy pack, because you don't really need that overload, and it will not flex as much as if the overload is removed.
I ran into brake line problems, broke two brake lines in the process...well one got broke, the other was rotted, so while the truck is apart, examine the line that runs in the frame rail, its about 120" long, and is not easy to change, so may as well change it if its rotted like mine was while the truck is apart.
We’re told that the Chevy leaf spring is providing 3-inches of lift.
The ebrake cable will not be fastened to the front spring hanger, a bracket will need to be fabbed up to keep it at the same position as it was before the swap. ~TRS.