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Can I use leaf springs with air bags?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Dave K, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Dave K
    Joined: Jan 31, 2006
    Posts: 344

    Dave K
    Member

    I have a 1959 Fleetside Chevy that I am planning to notch the frame on and adding air bags to the rear only (drop axle in the front) I have a budget of almost nothing but I do have access to welder etc. I do not have the funds or the enough shop time (no storage in the shop I have to drive in and drive out the same day when I work on it) to do four link. Can I use my leaf springs with the air bags? I only want the bags to lift it a few inches to get in and out of driveways and to make it possible to hall loads. I do not see anyone using air bags and leaf springs and it makes me wonder if there is a problem with doing this? I think I can get it as low as I want with the leaf springs by flopping the axle reverse eyeing and de-arching the springs and adding a few inches of blocks.

    Thanks

    Dave
     
  2. thirty7slammed
    Joined: Sep 1, 2007
    Posts: 886

    thirty7slammed
    BANNED
    from earth

  3. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,472

    Malcolm
    Member
    from Nebraska

    On my Galaxie I used the Air Ride Technologies kit listed above.
    I removed one leaf and added 2" lowering blocks. I'm very happy with the system and how the car rides.

    Also, my daily driver is a '97 Chevy Silverado 2wd that's lowered. In the back it is C-notched and the axle was "flipped" - moved above the springs. I couldn't haul anything - it would bottom out waaay to easy. So, I added simple "overload" 'bags from Firestone. The kit was only about $200 and I ran individual air lines out to the rear license plate that I fill with an air chuck whenever I want to haul something. Here's an example of the Firestone kit:
    http://www.firestoneindustrial.com/pdfs/RR/installationmanuals/RideRite_Kits/RR%202252/rrin2252.pdf

    Any other questions, just ask!

    Malcolm
     
  4. Dale Fairfax
    Joined: Jan 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,586

    Dale Fairfax
    Member Emeritus

    Your leaf springs are also axle locators. If you add bags for suspension,you should need only the mainleaves to keep the axle where it belongs.






     
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  5. greendream
    Joined: Sep 12, 2007
    Posts: 263

    greendream
    Member

    Yes, you can do it. It will eventually put alot of wear and tear on the springs. As it sounds like you know already, you won't get much lift at all. I had astro van like this when I bought it, but I only got like 4-6 inches of lift total. Which wasn't enough for me since my driveway is slanted at the front. So I did end up going with a 3-link/panhard bar. But, yes it will work. Oh yeah, it will be a slightly stiff ride too.
     
  6. Malcolm
    Joined: Feb 9, 2006
    Posts: 7,472

    Malcolm
    Member
    from Nebraska

    If you pull a leaf or two out, it should help with the ride.... It did on my Galaxie, anyways. I run 20-25 psi in the rear 'bags, going down the road, with the trunk empty. Rides great. Good shocks are a factor, too.
     
  7. elwood blues
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 462

    elwood blues
    Member
    from Boise ID

    Just flip the axle take all but the main lief out get a 6'' inside dia pipe cut it to the width of the framerails then cut the pipe dead center side to side make a boxing plate with the cutout for the pipe weld the plate on then cut the frame were the pipe would go weld in the pipe build an upper crossmember (angle iron) weld it in and then weld in your cups for the bags. note you will have to relocate your shocks 60's c-10 shocks work great. you can do this in a couple of weekends for under 300 bucks just got done doing this to a buddy's 56 easy.
     
  8. That's the way my sons Shoebox is set up. Bags over the axle with leafs. Only use the bags to get in and out of driveways,or when people are riding in the back
     
  9. Dave K
    Joined: Jan 31, 2006
    Posts: 344

    Dave K
    Member


    That is what I plan to do but I am going to notch the pipe into some steel box (approximately the size of the frame) and weld it on top of the boxed frame then cut the frame away to clear the axle.

    How thick of metal should I use when I box the frame?

    Thanks for all the help

    Dave
     
  10. stewedscrewdtattood
    Joined: Oct 20, 2006
    Posts: 408

    stewedscrewdtattood
    Member

    be carefull with this setup esp if u have a monoleaf...not sure if thats the case...but i have seen the springs snap..the bags will lift it up enought to get in and out....also remember your pinion angle is gonna fluctuate due to the way the leaf springs are set up so i wouldnt drive hit and be letting the air in and out
     
  11. elwood blues
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 462

    elwood blues
    Member
    from Boise ID

    The box steel isnt as strong as the half pipe arch but it really shouldnt matter.The stock frame is like 1/8'' thick. I have used 1/4'' but thats overkill and kinda hard to weld. so just go 1/8''. You can lay the bumper on the ground with the rear halfing the frame its a good idea to get some bumpstops on the frame btw you do run into driveshaft isues when you go this low mainly with the last crossmember infront of the rear just do the same thing to it you are doing to the frame you also might have a problem with the bottom of the bed.
     
  12. Dave K
    Joined: Jan 31, 2006
    Posts: 344

    Dave K
    Member

    Do you have a picture of your friends frame? I am having a hard time picturing how you did it. I am planning to move the floor of the bed up to make room for the axle, frame etc?

    Thanks

    Dave
     
  13. elwood blues
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 462

    elwood blues
    Member
    from Boise ID

    The thing to watch here is the shackles if they bind then this can happen.Airbags are hell on u-joints even with a 4 link:D
     
  14. elwood blues
    Joined: Sep 13, 2005
    Posts: 462

    elwood blues
    Member
    from Boise ID

    The crossmember I'm talking about is the last one on the frame before the rear end.You will need longer bolts and use hockey pucks as spacers drill holes in the center of the pucks for the bolt to pass threw.Have fun with the old hardware holding the bed down I bet you will use the grinder as much as the wrench to free them.:D
     
  15. Dave K
    Joined: Jan 31, 2006
    Posts: 344

    Dave K
    Member

    Luckily I already got the bed hardware off. I had to use a sawsall because I didn't own a grinder when I did it. Kind of a pain in the ass.

    Actually it is the frame notch you did using the 6" tubing that I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around. Do you or your buddy have any pictures of it? Sounds like an easy way to get clearance for the axle, and I'm looking for the easiest & cheapest way to do this. Thanks again for the help.
     
  16. One thing to watch for when removing leafs from your spring is "spring wrap". under acceleration your springs will arch causing the pinion angle to change dramatically.. hard on u-joints and makes for some serious wheel hop..
     
  17. summit sells a "kit" to do what you want to do for about 200.
    do not drive without air in the bags and be very carefull when you jack up the rear.it will tear the bags up either way.i know this for sure:eek: jim
     
  18. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,708

    Weasel
    Member

    Why so complicated??? Air shox do the job and cheaper too - put 'em on the '40 with parallel leaf rear - work great, no fabricating and can control them from the dash too. All done in an hour with no fab.

    Life is simple - humans complicate it....
     
  19. Voh
    Joined: Oct 18, 2006
    Posts: 816

    Voh
    Member

    PLease expand on this comment. I am interested in what you did, exspecially since you said "control from the dash"
     
  20. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,708

    Weasel
    Member

    Dead easy one this: when you buy Gabriel Hi-Jackers air shocks, you get a length of small bore plastic air line, which I ran from a tee connector from the rear shocks up to the dash. I connected the line to the remote air valve panel supplied with the shocks, which I bolted under the dash, and then use a 12V El Cheapo air compressor/tire inflator - $7.99 is what I paid for mine - which plugs into cigarette lighter socket for power) and use the tire chuck to the below dash remote air valve to pump 'em up. Not sophisticated, but cheap and effective. If I want to let 'em down I just let air out from the valve on the dash with a tire pressure gauge. Since the volume of air required to pump the shock chambers up is small - much less than required to fill a politician - oops, I mean airbag - and the need to do it is not frequent, this works fine for me.

    I guess I could permanently mount the compressor and wire it on a momentary switch if I wanted to be a street rodder.

    Life is simple - humans complicate it.
     
  21. Voh
    Joined: Oct 18, 2006
    Posts: 816

    Voh
    Member

    - - - Very cool. Sounds like it works just fine.
     
  22. lgh1157
    Joined: Sep 15, 2004
    Posts: 1,669

    lgh1157
    Member

    I did bags on the axle with de-arched leafs and still ran blocks, the ride is awful.

    Alot of guys do it and the ride is good but my car bounces all over the place, . . . .. .. . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .anyways , im about to rip everything out and start over with a 3 or 4 link.

    I know alot of people say "do it right and do it once " - and this is a good philosophy

    Sometimes doing things the "alternative" or "cheaper" way is cool, i learnt alot doing it, it was fun and now i know what i need to make it ride right

    Try the bags and leafs and if you're not happy, get rid of the leafs and run some bars
     

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