Spring leaf removal for lowering TF stock
by: Carl Ham
Decided to drop the front end on my stock suspension '56 TF pickup while I was doing a power steering upgrade. Before starting, I measured the distance from my shop floor to the inside edge of the front fender well (centered over the front wheel) on each side and recorded the measurement for comparison after finishing. After removing all the original steering components (column, gearbox, pitman arm, steering link, and driver's side upper shock mount), I removed the passenger side shock and moved my jack stands from the axle to the frame. If you are doing a spring change only, you will still need to remove the pitman arm or steering link to have enough travel in the axle and also prevent any damage to your steering components.
Starting with the driver's side I used large channel lock pliers to open-up the mild steel clips surrounding the springs. I then used a floor jack under the axle to support it as I unbolted the springs. I removed the front and rear U bolts holding the springs to the axle, then lowered the jack allowing the springs to separate (the U bolts are longer for the front of the axle for the lower shock mounts, be sure and remember this when reinstalling). There is a 5/16 fine thread bolt in the center of the springs (also centered over the axle) that holds them in alignment and compresses them (on my truck the driver's side was rusted into the axle, but the passenger side popped-out when I lowered the axle). Carefully remove the nut from this bolt (spring leafs may still be compressed), then disassemble the individual leafs in the originally assembled order, don't mix them up! Wire brush and clean the threads on the U bolts and center bolt. I reused my U bolts, and had to 'chase' the threads with a die/thread restorer because with fewer leafs, the nuts will use more thread (mine were badly rusted, 'chasing' the threads cleaned/restored them so I could easily tighten them).
I decided to remove the 3rd and 4th leafs (the first leaf being the longest and attached to the spring shackles on the frame, the sixth leaf being the shortest and resting directly on the axle). This left leafs 1, 2, 5 and 6. I wire brushed the rust off each leaf, then reassembled using a single strip of poly-liner (bought mine in a roll from Chevy Duty) between each leaf so they wouldn't squeak after reassembly. Rather than cut 2 strips per leaf, I cut a single length approx. 1-2 inches longer than the spring length, then drilled a hole in the liner for the centering bolt.
To reassemble I simply stacked the leafs and poly-liner over the centering bolt, then carefully jacked up the axle making sure the centering bolt aligned with the first (longest) leaf. Reinstalling the centering bolt lockwasher and nut, I jacked the axle up even more to ensure the leafs were laying together correctly and make tightening the center bolt easier. Then I reinstalled the U bolts (using new lockwashers) and nuts. Again, make sure you install the longer of the U bolts in front of the axle and reassemble using the lower shock mounting bracket. Then using large channel lock pliers, rebend the mild steel clips to surround the springs. Lower and remove the floor jack and repeat these steps on the passenger side. Reinstall your steering pitman arm or steering link. Once I let the truck down and looked things over, I had about 3-4 inches clearance between the springs and the rubber bumper bolted to the bottom of the frame rail. This may not sound like much clearance, but with new front shocks my springs donít come close when I bounce on the front bumper or drive over rough railroad tracks.
I lower my front end almost 3
inches using this method and the ride was not adversely affected
(in fact I think it rides smoother now).
'56 Chevy TF Stepside