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Unread 03-18-2013, 11:38 PM   #1
Cj5Betty
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Fixing my Rough Ride - Leaf Spring Mod

Hello all, I am fairly new to posting on the forum but I have been reading it since the day I bought my Jeep. I have an 81 CJ5 with a Chevy 350, 4 Inch lift by Unknown manufacturer (installed by the PO, pro comp maybe? That is what brand shocks it has on it...) riding on some Super Swamper 32's.

I love my Jeep, but this thing rides like a tank, and no, not like a CJ5 is a rough ride so deal with it, more like the axles are welded to the frame and I have to bandage my kidneys and visit the chiropractor to re-align my spine every time I drive it ride. I have checked and done all the normal things that are advised on here (Check shackle bolt torques, grease fittings etc.), but this has not helped. I did remove the sway bar from the front, and that helped immensely, but the rear is still stiff as can be. During my investigation, I even completely disconnected the shocks in the rear and took it for a ride down the road, and honestly, I couldn't even tell a difference in the ride, maybe a little bouncier, but that's it. So I have pretty much narrowed it to incredibly stiff springs in the rear. I am not running much weight in the back, so there is basically no compression happening. I was just about to go out buy a new set of springs, but then I decided to try some home mods to see if I could fab my way out of this problem. I figure the worst that can happens is that it doesn't work and I go ahead and buy some new springs anyway. So this is my plan:

1. I am going to take one of the springs out of the pack (the second from the bottom, or the second shortest one). The packs have 4 springs in it all together, all of them the same thickness (so much for progressive spring rates).
2. I am going to taper the edges of each of the leaves where they contact the leaf above it. Hopefully this will help reduce the friction as the leaves move back and forth during articulation.
3. Bend up the Spring wraps, drill holes in the end, and install bolts across them. This is to try and give the leaves the ability to fan out during articulation.
4. Clean and repaint the leaves.
5. Put some UHMW tape in between each of the leaves. This is to provide an anti-friction surface during articulation, similar to Teflon or nylon glides that better manufacturers put in their leaf packs.

So that is the plan. I have no idea if it will work, but it sure is a lot of fun doing, and it is costing me pretty much nothing to do. The springs are in pretty good shape (you know, other than being too stiff), so I hated to just scrap them for a new set without at least trying something to make them work. So if anyone else has tried anything like this in the past, or has any other thoughts or ideas on it, I sure would like to hear them. I already have the leafs out and have one of them just about ready to go. If there is any interest, I will let you know how it all works out.

This Forum has given me all kinds of good ideas and information. Thank you all in advance for your past and future help!

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Unread 03-19-2013, 01:02 AM   #2
82JeepCJ7
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Try some different shocks as well as letting a bunch of air out of the tires before you rip into the leaves. Teflon works good for sliders and are never a bad idea.

I was talking to a guy once who was complaining about how stiff the ride in his Jeep was. I checked the air pressure in the tires... 55psi.

I lowered it to 25psi and it rode like a whole different vehicle.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 05:47 AM   #3
Matt1981CJ7
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I have a feeling you are going to put a lot of effort into this for very little ride improvement.

If it were mine, I'd buy some decent springs (I love OMEs), and then sell the old springs on CL.

Matt
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Unread 03-19-2013, 08:36 AM   #4
Cj5Betty
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I have checked the tire pressure and put it down to as low as 15 psi, helps a little, but not much. New shocks will be the next step as well. As far as putting a bunch of work into it with no improvement, that doesn't bother me in the slightest. I have a giant smile on my face the entire time I am wrenching on it. So worst case, it doesn't work, and I do end up buying new springs, and I just get to work on it some more. Win win for me! OME springs are definitely the top of the list if I do have to get new springs. Also looked at the Fabtech springs....

Matt, if I remember correctly, I read your entire spring swap thread. That was good stuff!
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Unread 03-19-2013, 09:49 AM   #5
82JeepCJ7
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For a good ride, either swap in a 4-link system and coil overs, or buy a car....
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Unread 03-19-2013, 09:57 AM   #6
Jeepkid1995
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Love your attitude in regards to the whole project "who cares if it didn't work, I had fun!". That's the perfect frame of mind to undertake any sorta project on these vehicles. As for the project itself, I would love to see your processes and results here, because my rear leafs don't seem to really wanna do much flexing, either. I'm quite young so I shake the rough ride off, but sooner or later I'd like a little articulation and movement outta those leafs.
Best of luck
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--->"Safety? Buy a Volvo. Never buy a CJ, or a Chrysler Jeep knock off, for safety, fuel mileage, reliability, handling, ride, comfort, aerodynamics, quietness, convience, stability, low maintenance cost, performance, or ease of use. The only reason to buy a CJ is because you are absolutely, incurably nuts." -OldTexas
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Unread 03-19-2013, 10:05 AM   #7
bajaviking
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Shackle angles?
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Unread 03-19-2013, 10:10 AM   #8
big_o_tom
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One other thing to check is movement of the shackle. If you remove the spring can you move the shackle back and forth freely? I just installed a 4" lift on my cj and had to leave the rear upper shackle bushings and bolts in because I couldnt get them out(gonna save that for this summer when I put another tub on). They were all rusted or seized up and very hard to move.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 10:11 AM   #9
82JeepCJ7
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The pivot bolts being too tight will also have a very big affect on the ride.
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Unread 03-19-2013, 11:12 AM   #10
gmakra
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Use Never Seize between the leafs the tape will spit out!
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Unread 03-19-2013, 07:26 PM   #11
Cj5Betty
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I have to say, I don't have the greatest faith in the tape, but what the heck. No harm no foul on that one. I was able to remove the shackles completely, so they are not frozen and even had a nice coating of grease on them. Pivot bolts also came out easy and had a nice coat of grease on them. Shackle angles - that will probably need some work. I am currently using the stock cj5 shackles, so they could be a little short. I also have a set of stock yj shackles laying around that are a bit longer, so might try those and see if they improve it any. Once I figure out the right shackle length, I will order up a nice set of greaseables, but right now I am still in the discovery phase. I only want to buy new parts once!

I never said I wanted a nice ride, just a bearable one! Not skipping across the road at every pot hole would be nice too....
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Unread 03-19-2013, 09:14 PM   #12
Cj5Betty
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Apparently you have to have 25 posts before you can add pictures. Guess I need to do some random replies to get my tally up. I saw a thread entitled the most useless thread eve, that might be a good start..
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Unread 03-19-2013, 10:49 PM   #13
big_o_tom
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You reminded me of something I did with my first cj. When I went from 31's to 33's I had a bunch of extra leaf springs and put about ten springs in each pack. Put my tires on and everything seemed ok, then I drove down the road! Talk about riding like a wagon!!! Needless to say I took all the extra springs out and did a s.o.a..
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Unread 03-19-2013, 10:58 PM   #14
Cj5Betty
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Haha, yeah, that sounds about like a buck board wagon going down the road. I am pretty happy with the height, so that is not the issue. If anything I am ok if it is slightly lower. This is all just one big experiment for me. I took all the things I have read from probably hundreds of threads and combining it into one attempt. Maybe it will work, or maybe I will end up buying an off the shelf product. But to me, there is a whole lot more pride in being able " re-engineer" what I already have. And if nothing else, I will have a good story......
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Unread 03-19-2013, 11:03 PM   #15
Cj5Betty
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It also takes me back to my high school days, when I was building my street drag car but didn't have any money. I would try anything I had heard of or could think of that was free or cheap to squeeze out just one more tenth of a second! Ahhhh the memories!
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