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Re-Arch Leaf Springs

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by cktasto, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. cktasto
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    cktasto
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I've got more time than money right now and have some pretty droopy leaf springs in the back of my 55' chevy. Anyone got any advice on what to do...or what not to do? I'm building a gasser so I think I want a little more arch than stock in order to raise the back end a bit.

    My plan is to lay two 4x4's set apart and then lay each seperate leaf across them and knock it with a hammer to decrease the radius. Any advice what depth of the arc should be?

    Not sure I'm explaining this very well.

    thanks
  2. 69fury
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    69fury Member

    I'm not quite sure I understand, but if you're planning on hitting a spring, really hard, with a hammer-please have decent lighting and a good camera man.
  3. Kerry
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    Kerry Member
    1. Early Hemi Tech
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    That is how it's done. I always use my vise, opening it up two to three inches. Place the leaf on the vise and hit it with a hammer that has a long edge in the gap of the vise. Move the leaf slightly and repeat. It is work!

    As for the depth of the arc, you need to decide just how much to low it is right now. Go a little extra as it will settle some.
  4. BOBCRMAN
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    BOBCRMAN Member

    I want some videos of that hammer against a spring thing! EASIEST WAY= Put the springs in a hydraulic press (even a Harbor Freight one will do)and slowly work from the center out to the ends in about four to six inch steps. Small steps and very little bend each time, but will get good results with a couple of passes. I have reverse bent many springs this way for the reversed eye effect. Did the one on my present bucket. I have only broken one spring and it was an extremely rusty 34 Ford front.
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  5. Checksix!
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    Checksix! Member

    You can hammer them up/down easily, but you will need to do it on steel. The H-frame press method works very well but is slow. You should be putting a press mark about every .5" without putting a visible kink in the leaf. Do each leaf individually and with just your fingers start with the main leaf and squeeze each leaf together and make sure they "fit". You'll see part of the leaf lever off the other if you have a slight kink in it. Also, if you are arching the springs UP, you will need to add a leaf, as long as possible, usually directly under the main or else your new "lift" will settle right back down quickly. I did this for years and the hammer is the quick and easy way to do it but a unique shape anvil is required and if you want to do it today, a 15lb+ sledge is your friend.

    Dave
  6. Fe26
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    Fe26 Member

    Winner!
    I would also add to make a template or drawing to refer the spring to as you go, it's really easy to get the wrong arc unless you have a stop on the press. Using a hammer almost always results in uneven arc.
    As mentioned above, leaves aren't bent in isolation, a leaf must refer to the leaves next to it.
  7. Kerry
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    Kerry Member
    1. Early Hemi Tech
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    Yep. The first spring you do with a hammer is sort of like magic but if you are out of shape like me it gets old pretty quick.
  8. cktasto
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    cktasto
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    Hey thanks guys! I'll use a vise...thats a good idea. I also like the idea of making a template of the "before" arc to compare the final product to. I'll let you know how it goes.
  9. Fe26
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    Fe26 Member

    I should have mentioned a quick and easy tool (saddle) to make, this is what we used whenever we had to do field work.
    Take two pieces of round bar min. 1" dia.x say 6" long, weld them across a steel plate say 10" x 6" x 1/2" thick,about 5"-6" apart. Drill a fixing hole thru each end of the plate for bolting to the floor or sturdy work bench. Lay the spring across the saddle and strike a heavy blow in the centre between the rounds. Use a 'flogging hammer'. Hold the spring at 90 degrees to the bars, you don't want to know what happens when you don't.
    To make a flogging hammer get a 8lb-12lb sledge, grind off the edges that are parallel to the handle so you end up with a full half round shaped head but the other ends are still square. Take your time and don't let the heat colour get above dull yellow or straw colour, if you get dark bronze or blue your'e in trouble further down the line when the soft head needs constant regrinding to maintain it's shape. Best to spend the extra time now. A little tip put some water in your freezer to get cold as, and keep putting the job in the water to speed the cooldown. Cut the handle down to about 2' long, and practice your swing, power and accuracy using one arm, on scrap before hitting a spring.
    Make sure you bolt the saddle down, if we were using a saddle loose and two up we could get the bugger to jump 2' off the ground. Oh and safety glasses are a good idea as is hearing protection.
  10. tltony
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    tltony Member

    The press method works very well, we do it all the time at True Line. For a reference just measure the heigth of the main leaf before and after. Fit the secondary leaves with a 1/2 inch or so gap at the center. It's much easier if you have an air/hydraulic powered press.

    Tony
  11. Checksix!
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    Checksix! Member

    You don't need a template, just put a straight edge on top of the main leaves eyes or if your reversing the eyes of the main, then over the centerline of the eyes and measure to the top of the main at the centerbolt. Exact shape is not critical but overall arch is. The center of the eye dimension will give you the exact amount of lift/drop regardless of whether the eyes are standard/dropped or whatever as measured to the center bolt.

    Dave
  12. roddinron
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    roddinron Member

    A press is the best way, here's how I did mine when I reversed the eyes. I used my buddy's press.

    Mark them about every 2" or 3" and start pressing, then do it again in between the marks, take your time

    [​IMG]
    De arched
    [​IMG]
    keep going till it's reversed. I decided to flatten them a little after I got home so I set them under the lift, and lowered the car on them, it worked great! (but I'd still use a press if I were you) This is before I flattened them.
    [​IMG]
  13. leon renaud
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    leon renaud Member

    I work as a blacksmith and I have done springs both with a hammer and with a press to be honest I like using the press it's easier.I reversed the main leaf on my 32 front spring last week using the hammer method over my foot vise just to show my son and grandson how we used to do it and to keep my hand in it.If you are not care full to keep your leaf square to the vise/anvil and keep your blows even side to side you can very easily end up with a banana curl with the spring eyes not square to the spring when done.With the press method it stays much straighter and takes way less energy to do I think the press method is easier to learn to do well in either case the springs are worked cold no heat involved.To reverse the curve of my main leaf took me just a little more than an hour.to press one takes 1/2 that and when I reverse my rear main leaf it will be in my bottle press much less effort involved and I'm getting old and lazy!I thought about doing a video on reversing a leaf but gotta get someone that can post one i don't know how.
  14. von Dyck
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    von Dyck Member

    Stay away from pressing or hammering in the center-bolt area: that area needs to remain flat for the spring pad on the axle. Also check the center-bolt hole for cracks radiating away from it. If a crack is visible, better to find a good leaf to work on.
    5-6-7 Chevs up here in Canada used grooved spring leaves which collected water and over the years caused severe corrosion (rust). Many of these leaves will not take a re-arching without breaking.
    Good advice from tltony #10.
    It is wise to bead blast each leaf and then paint them with a durable enamel. Assemble them using a dry lubricant at the leaf tip area - this will give your car a nice ride quality. Don't forget to install the rebound clips and new shock absorbers while you are at it.
  15. HemiRambler
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    HemiRambler Member

    I too have used the press method - slow but effective! I also reccomend tracing your "before" arc so you can compare your "after" arc to it. It's relatively easy to loose track of how far you've gone.
  16. cktasto
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    cktasto
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    OK, I'm convinced! I'm going to use a press. Again thanks for all the great tips guys!
  17. RAY With
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    RAY With Member

    In the old days I didn't have a press and couldn't afford one so when I re-arched springs I used a hammer and a 24 inch piece of rail road rail for an anvil. It always worked for me and I got the results I needed. I do like the pictures above of the press method and it's no doubt a little faster but will it have the longividy?

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