Leaf Spring Shackles and Hangers
Leaf springs are used in many off-road and heavy-duty vehicles. As the vehicle's weight comes down, the bow-shaped springs bend and flex, absorbing force from a curb or bump so that the vehicle won't bounce a lot and the whole ride will be smooth. Leaf spring connections to the frame are supported by leaf spring shackles and hangers.
Leaf spring shackles and hangers
The shackle supports the rear section of the spring. By doing so, the spring is able to pivot on the vehicle's frame. Unfortunately, bushings and shackles can eventually wear out, especially when the vehicle is driven on the racetrack, off road, or during extreme conditions, exposing the suspension to dirt, moisture, heat, and other harmful elements. As a result, both the shackles and bolts may rust. Without a firm grip or strong support at the rear end, the leaf spring may move along with the axle, ruining your vehicle's smooth handling.
The hanger is the bracket connected to the frame where the leaf springs' ends are attached. Through a shackle, the leaf spring may be fixed into the front or rear spring hanger. The hanger is often replaced when custom suspension is used on the vehicle. New spring hangers are installed to raise or lower vehicle height. Spring hangers are more often than not riveted to the frame. These rivets may be replaced by nuts and bolts used on new spring hangers.
Together, the leaf spring shackles and hangers keep the suspension system running well to ensure a smooth ride.
Installing leaf spring shackles and hangers
A. Leaf spring shackles
Step 1: Use a floor jack to raise the vehicle. Put it underneath the rear differential and then place the jack stands beneath the frame for support. Adjust the jack so that the suspension will be lowered. This will keep the weight off the shackle and prevent it from binding.
Step 2: Unscrew the lower mounting bolt from the shackle and spring with a socket and ratchet. The axle should be lowered so that the spring will snap out of the shackle.
Step 3: Remove the upper mounting bolt so that the shackle can be detached from the frame. If you're having difficulty detaching the shackle, you may use a dead blow hammer.
Step 4: Attach the new shackle to the frame and seal it with the mounting bolt. Don't tighten the bolt yet until the shackle has been adjusted to proper alignment with the spring.
Step 5: Lift the rear axle using a jack. See to it that the shackle is aligned with the spring eye. The holes in the shackle and spring eye should line up. Adjust the jack one at a time until the spring is fitted onto the shackle.
Step 6: Secure the shackle and spring with a mounting bolt. Use a ratchet and socket to tighten the upper bolt.
Step 7: Raise the car to remove the stands underneath. After removing the stands, carefully bring back the car to the ground using a jack.
B. Leaf spring hangers
Step 1: Raise the vehicle with a jack and support it with stands positioned beneath the axle and frame. The rear wheels should be removed using a tire iron.
Step 2: Use a ½-inch ratchet and socket to detach the front leaf spring from the hanger from both sides. You need to adjust the axle using the jack and the stands to get access to the hanger.
Step 3: Cut off the rivets' heads to disengage the hanger, which is attached to the frame through the rivets. Use a 1 1/2-inch grinder and cutting wheel when cutting an .x. into the heads.
Step 4: Remove the rivets' heads using an air chisel. The chisel attachment should be placed into the chisel. The air compressor should then be attached to the chisel through the air line, while the chisel's flat end should be positioned in-between the frame and rivet. To hammer off the rivet, the air chisel should be installed with the pointed attachment. The tip should be in the center of the rivet. The hanger will easily snap off the frame when all the rivets have been taken out.
Step 5: Use a 3/8-inch ratchet and socket and other hardware in the kit to bolt the hanger straight into the frame. The bolts should go through the holes from the rivets.
Step 6: Jack up the axle to seal the leaf spring to the hanger with the bolt. Use a 1/2.inch ratchet and socket for this.
Step 7: Put back the tires with help from the tire iron. The vehicle should be lowered back to ground with the jack.
With the right tools, you can install leaf springs and shackles on your own to get improved suspension performance.