Leaf spring install issue - Vintage Mustang Forums

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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Leaf spring install issue

66 coupe, 6 cyl. auto

I got a leaf spring kit from CJ Pony that included springs shipped from Eaton, eye bolts, hangers, and U-bolts. This has not gone well. The locator pins were 1/4" instead of the stock 1/2" but I got full height pins from a local shop. The dual exhaust the PO installed made the hangers almost impossible to get in. The U-bolts have too great a spread to go into the holes on the bracket. (I'm reusing the old bolts which came out OK.)

I am SO close, but now I'm worried about locator pin alignment. After much manipulation I still cannot get rid of a small gap between the spring and the axle bracket. I *think* the pin is lined up with the hole in the bracket. But if it is, why the gap? And why don't I see the pin coming up through the hole in that bracket? (The U-bolts are tight.) I tried shining a flashlight down through the hole and don't see any light around the pin or in the gap. Huh

If the pin alignment is slightly off will it slip into place as I drive? Or is that asking for trouble?

I've never come across a setup like this, so can you clue me as to what I'm doing wrong and/or if the problem will resolve itself when the car's on the road? Tightening up the U-bolts is an easy enough thing to do in that case.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 07:33 PM
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Unless you know for a fact that the alignment pins have seated themselves into the holes on the spring perch, do not take it on the road! Your U bolts may be tight but if the gap is a result of the pin misalignment, it will not be pretty when the rear end walks it's way forward or back.

What length pin was in the spring you removed? I would suggest running that length. If it was the short pin, it was obviously OK for years. Does this condition exist on both sides?


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 07:43 PM Thread Starter
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The pins in the old springs were 1/2" and the pins in the springs from Eaton were 1/4". I now have 1/2" pins installed, sourced at a local shop.

I've only done the right side. Figured I'd save myself the work of the L side if this is all wrong.
I can't tell if an alignment issue is front/rear or side-to-side because there isn't room to see in there.

I doesn't *seem* to me like the axle could go anywhere that would lead to a catastrophic failure. Because that upper (axle) bracket is concave the locator pin is at least in that recess, which would allow for only limited movement in any direction.
eh?
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 10:18 PM
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In the last couple of weeks, I read a thread (I believe here on VMF) regarding exactly what you are saying. Unfortunately, that individual lost the bet and posted the pictures of his wrinkled quarter panel to prove it. I am aware of the depressed area on the perch, but I don't think that I would take the chance. BTW- How large is what you call a "small gap"?
When I have trouble getting to, or seeing something hidden on my car, I will use my cell phone camera with the flash to snap a picture or two. It is amazing what the camera can pick up. You might try something similar to see if you cant get a better look.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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I'll try the cell phone bit tomorrow, but I'm giving up for today.
FWIW, the left side dropped right in place, no muss no fuss. The top of the 1/2" locator pin is just visible at the hole when viewed from the top side. So it isn't a pin length problem.
Tomorrow I'll loosen the right side and see if having the left in place makes any difference.

The gap is about 1/16", maybe 1/8". A key would be too thick to fit in the gap.

And the U-bolts from CJ are unusable. Driving them down over the axle spreads them enough that no amount of cajoling will get them to fit in the bracket holes. Too wide.
Tomorrow I'll try cleaning the threads on the one old one that seems too buggered to work. If unsuccessful I'll get one made at a local spring shop.
Caveat emptor.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-19-2017, 11:57 PM
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Are you sure the car has an original spec rear end, perches and shock plates? Odd about those new U bolts not fitting the diameter of the housing properly. That's a hard bend to get wrong (even in Taiwan).

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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-20-2017, 08:53 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, it's a stock setup. No question about that.
And re. the U bolts - when held against the old bolts the difference is obvious. The ends are too far apart. Yesterday I took them to a local shop and had them re-bent (no charge) so the distance at the bottom is the same, but they still don't work. The top is too tight, and driving them down over the axle spreads the ends just enough to keep them from going through the plate holes. Monday I'll go to that shop and have a new U bolt made to replace the one original that's too rusty to reuse.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-20-2017, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pathwayrev View Post
I'll try the cell phone bit tomorrow, but I'm giving up for today.
FWIW, the left side dropped right in place, no muss no fuss. The top of the 1/2" locator pin is just visible at the hole when viewed from the top side. So it isn't a pin length problem.
Tomorrow I'll loosen the right side and see if having the left in place makes any difference.

The gap is about 1/16", maybe 1/8". A key would be too thick to fit in the gap.

And the U-bolts from CJ are unusable. Driving them down over the axle spreads them enough that no amount of cajoling will get them to fit in the bracket holes. Too wide.
Tomorrow I'll try cleaning the threads on the one old one that seems too buggered to work. If unsuccessful I'll get one made at a local spring shop.
Caveat emptor.
Could the plate on the right side be slightly warped?
Is the gap the same viewed from side to side?
Could a soft blow hammer with tension from the "U" bolts gently settle it into place?
Sounds like a slight wear or torque issue from years of service.
Good Luck...

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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-20-2017, 10:54 AM
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If the leaf spring is fully installed, I would suggest removing the shackle at the rear to free the spring up. It may give you the left/right movement you need to get that pin to drop!


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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-20-2017, 11:34 AM
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Any chance the pins you got were the wrong diameter? That would explain them lining up but the doing not seating and would explain your gap.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-20-2017, 12:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions. Appreciated!
I'll try them one at a time until I discover the solution. I think I'll start with loosening the U bolts and use my fine adjustment tool (2 lb. sledge) to move things around, front/rear, left/right. With luck it will drop into place.

The pins are identical in diameter and height to the originals. And that the L side worked so easily tells me it's not a pin problem.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-20-2017, 11:21 PM
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Get CJ Pony to send the right size U-bolts.......or at least a re-fund. Sounds to me like BOTH pins are seated and you're tired and stressing out. You should be able to slide the axle housing back-and-forth a little if you man handle it. If not...you prolly have it seated. It ain't THAT hard..if one went right in the other shoul tood. Take a measurement from front wheel hub to rear wheel hub and see if they are both equal(or real close). If so...you are golden!!
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2017, 04:23 PM
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I had the same problem with the U bolts I got from CJ's. They spread out some when you put them over the axle. I got them down over the axle, then used a clamp to squeeze them back in until I could line up the holes on the plate. When there was enough thread showing to get the bolts on I tightened them up, removed the clamp, and then kept tightening until in place.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 05-21-2017, 07:14 PM Thread Starter
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Resolved!

I finished the install on the L side using the original U bolts (cleaned threads) and then went back to the R side and loosened the U bolts. A very slight whack with a hammer and it dropped into place. Yay!! Got everything tightened down and back on its wheels.

I took measurements from the floor to the wheel arch directly over the axle. With the 110 lb. springs I only gained an inch. I won't have time to see if it still looks low in the rear until I take it out tomorrow afternoon, but I expected more of an increase. Granted, that's at the axle; I should also have measured at the rear bumper where the increase should be greater.

Lessons learned: a) bypass the CJ Pony U bolts, b) the locator pins you'll get probably won't be the same height as the originals, so check before install, c) if one side won't settle go ahead and do the other side and that may solve the problem on the first, and d) this is a job that will likely spread over two (or more) days. It may be the infamous eye bolts or the locator pins, but this isn't the piece of cake it seems like it should be.

Thanks for the help, folks. VERY appreciated! Nice that the wisdom of more experienced owners is available.
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