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Well, now that the fuel pump and timing belt are done I'm about to tackle the two broken leaf springs on my 94 Ranger. Ford really should have recalled Rangers for this as almost everybody I know who has a early 90s Ranger has a broken spring. Anyway, found after market ones with an extra leaf at $80 a piece. Refering to the evil Haynes manual I see that the rear shackel holds the rear end of the spring with a bolt that is in the wrong way. In other words, you can't remove this single bolt because the frame prevents you from pulling the bolt out of the hole. If they would have simply put the bolt in from the other side of the hole it would have been no problem. Anyway, the Haynes manual suggests removing the entire shackle from the truck frame...but I see that there are two bolts and two rivets holding it to the frame...darn again. However, I also see that there is a large bolt above the backwards bolt which, if removed, would allow me to drop the spring without removing the shackle...at which point I could remove the backwards bolt. Am I on the right track here or do I have to bust those rivets and remove the entire shackle? Any other tips on replacing these leaf springs?
[updated:LAST EDITED ON 17-Sep-02 AT 02:09 PM (EST)]Well, I solved this problem on my own too. For anybody who is about to replace leaf springs here's the trick. I suggest removing and replacing one spring before doing the other side. It gives your axle and truck body some support in case you loose a stand or a floor jack. Plus it keeps the truck in comission even if only one side was replaced for the day.
First, jack up the truck BODY (I put the jack under the bumper at the hitch) with the front wheels blocked WELL to prevent movement. Use jackstands for safety, and remember to support the truck frame with them and not the rear axle. Jack it up to where the rear tires will leave the ground if you jacked it up one more time (you want them still touching the ground barely). Some people suggest placing a second floor jack under the axle to manipulate it as needed. I didn't see the need for this and had no problems. Keep it in mind, though.
Next, remove the shock bolt at the axle and move the shock up and out of the way. This is a good time to check the shock. See if it's stiff as you move it in and out. Very little resistance means it's seen better days.
Now remove the four nuts on the axle holding the metal plate in place via U-bolts. Remove the U-bolts and the plate on top of the axle. Pay attention to how it went on. Next, loosen the leaf spring bolt at the rear of the vehicle. You'll notice it's on backwards and can't be removed at this point. Don't worry.
Your next step is to remove the large bolt holding the spring on at the front of the vehicle. Now you should be able to slide the leaf spring forward or backward as the rear shackle has a pivot bolt on it right above the leaf spring bolt in the rear. This will allow you to move the rear of the spring past the bumper support on the frame and thus remove the bolt that Ford should have going in the other way in the first place. If the spring isn't moving forward or back for you try loosening the hanger bolt above the spring bolt to allow the shackle to pivot like it should, or spray it with some penetrating oil. It's designed to do this during normal driving conditions. You can also try jacking the body a bit higher if it looks like the leaf is stuck in the axle mount peg hole.
Now the spring can be removed and the new one installed. When you remove the old spring you'll notice a piece of white plastic between it and the axle mount. This didn't come with my new leafs and I think it keeps the truck from squeeking and aids leaf slide on the axle mount. Use it on the new one if they didn't give you it. Don't be fooled by the metal plate on the new ones. I don't think they do the same job. Either way, it shouldn't hurt to use the old one on it.
I'd find new leaf spring bolts if I were you. They are rated at 8 for hardness and mine were eaten up pretty well. My U-bolts and their nuts were fine so I re-used them. The front leaf spring bolt's nut has a piece of metal coming off it designed to hold it to the frame when tightening. Don't worry if your new nuts don't have this feature because the nut is easy to get to and hold when tightening. I would suggest buying locking style nuts (which they should be if they are meant for leaf spring applications) and maybe placing washers (I used galvanized washers) on both ends of each bolt on the springs. Although these bolts were meant for Ranger leafs, they don't have washers welded to the nut and bolt head like the old ones.
These bolts were kind'a hard for me to find but most places that sell leaf springs should carry them. Make sure the new bolts are rated at the same hardness. Buy something that is not as hard or prone to rusting and you'll hear a nice snap sometime in the future as your truck leans to one side. If you can't find bolts sold for this application at least buy galvanized with the same strength rating.
A few days before you start this project spray all the bolts, nuts, and as well into the leaf spring bolt sleeves as you can with PC Blaster or another Liquid Wrench type product. This project isn't hard but getting the bolts out of the old spring's sleeves can take some time. As you try to work the bolt out of the sleeve keep spraying into the sleeve with the penetrating oil. It also helps to put a rachet on the bolt and move it back and fourth to loosen and lubricate it as you work it out. I used a balljoint removal fork (or is that thing for tierod ends?) to pry and hammer it out.
Once the spring is removed lube up the new bolts with some grease. This will aid in installation and I figured it also would help ride quality as the leafs pivot on the bolts. Put the new spring in and first install the front spring bolt but don't tighten it yet. Now manipulate that shackle and the rear spring hole until they are matched up and install the rear bolt. Since I put the new bolt in the oposite way Ford did there isn't a need to install the back first, and it's easier than putting in the back and then the front since the shackle moves. Once all this is done tighten the bolts to specs.
Next, put the U-Bolts, plate, and nuts into place on the axle. Make sure the leaf's centering peg bolt is inside the hole on top of the axle. You may have to lower the vehicle a bit to seat the leaf into the peg hole. Make sure you put the old plastic slide piece between the two. Tighten the four nuts to specs in a criss crossing pattern much like putting lug nuts on a tire. Re-bolt the shock to the axle to specs and you're all done!
Hope this helps Ranger owners with the all too comon problem of broken leaf springs. It's not a hard job, and depending on how easy the spring bolts are to remove it could take you less than a couple hours per side. Any questions feel free to ask.
I picked up rear spring with 6 leaves, the old had 5. I jacked up the chassis, then the differential. Removed the old springs and installed the new. When I jacked up the axle to install the u bolts i found I could not get the axle block hole alligned with the centering pin on the leaves. At this point i am stumped? Any ideas please
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