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Springs, Things, Dumb Luck & My Birthday


Well …

June 5th was my birthday.  For my 45th birthday, my mother gave me some cash and said ‘get yourself something special’.  It seemed simple enough.

I decided to get myself the rear lift for Biscuit that I’d delayed ever since I discovered my rear springs weren’t quite as high as I had thought they were (can you say mismeasurement?).

Fortunately, I’d had the fore-sight (yes, it does happen now and then) to use some late 1980s cherokee springs in the rear, because they were inexpensive and widely used.

So, on Saturday June 5th I dropped by the Japolpy Jungle in Nampa, tools in hand, sun in the sky and enthusiasm high, for some shopping!

You see, I’d done some research and it turns out that the folks with Cherokees have been using Chevy S-10 and similar vehicles as low budget lift solutions. Simply using the eye-cutoffed main leaf, builders can achieve a 1″ plus lift.

So, I went in search for a S-10 of some kind.  Low and behold, I quickly found a S-10 truck with no truck bed, which meant NO crawling underneath the vehicle — halelluah, it truly is my birthday 🙂

Even better, there was little rust, so the nuts and bolts came apart easily.  Not only that, but I gained some extra karma by loaning some tools to a couple guys who hadn’t quite brought what they needed. I was set … or thought I was ….

After gathering the springs and a few extra hoses, clamps and other items, I left Jalopy Jungle and looked forward to a quick and easy lift.

Of course, it’s never that easy ….

As dumb luck would have it, when I first aligned my rear drive line, I set it up so that my drive line went straight out from my rear pumpkin and only angled from the transfercase.

A simple lift of 2″ with a couple of the leafs from the S-10 Blazer obliterated the dumb luck.  2″ of lift altered the geometry of the rear driveline enough to create vibrations that rattled the vehicle at speeds as low as 30 mph (seriously rattled).  At first, I thought the vibrations were the result of bad u-joints, a bent driveline, a loose transfercase output shaft, and more.  I also tried changing up the spring height, installing different variations of springs 7 times.  Finally, because of the Dana 18 gears I installed in the Dana 20, I was able to rule out everything, but the rear drive shaft, because I was able to cruise down the road at 30 mph using the front drive line.  So, the problem was with the rear driveline … damn!

So, I chose today (Saturday the 12th), a cloudless, beautiful windy day in the 80s when I should be jeeping, to be crawling around the garage finding a solution to the problem.

First, I started from scratch.  I rebuilt the old springs and took Biscuit for a drive; good news, there were no vibrations.  So, it was the lift and the geometry of the rear driveline that was causing the problem.

Next, I lifted the rear using only 2 long leafs from the S-10 with eyes removed.  I also used a custom ‘angle leaf’ to compensate for the 1.5″ leaf.  Finally, I positioned an angular measuring device on the bottom of the pumpkin to insure it didn’t move much.

Well, after 5 hours of work, I can finally announce success!!!!!  No vibrations and I have my 1.5″ lift which leveled out Biscuit’s body.  So, tomorrow I get my delayed birthday drive.

Not only that, but after testing 3 different fuel gauges, I have a fuel gauge that properly measures the level … So happy birthday to me!

Here are some pics of the painful, week-long process.


Jalopy Jungle:

The Wedge:

Sizing up the wedge:

After the wedge: It’s amazing the difference an inch & a half can make!


5 Comments on “Springs, Things, Dumb Luck & My Birthday

  1. Oswald

    Looks good and happy birthday. You were right you needed that little bit extra.

    Seven times….wow.

  2. mmdeilers Post author

    Yeah .. I started out trying to use too many leaves … my first try gave me a 4″ lift … After that it was trial and error, mixing and matching springs, along with trouble shooting the vibration, that resulted in so many swaps.

  3. Paul

    One of my aviation books is titled something like “Design Changes Thru Service Experience.” This is a nice way to admit the engineers had their heads up and locked when they screwed up on the aircraft design and various important pieces tore off during flight causing the plane to crash. Anyway, your spring modification was not a Trial and Error job but a necessary modification due to service experience. Geeze, that sounds just like government speak or something you’d hear at a B.P. press conference.

    Glad you got things figured out and you’re back in the breeze for your birthday.

  4. Blaine

    Happy Birthday Dave! Even in the garage it’s good to have a nice day with an open door.

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