Instructions for Spring Pocket Kit
Read these instructions completely before beginning installation of the spring pocket kit. If you plan on pulling the body off the chassis, it will make installation far easier, but it can be done either way. There are two sets of instructions: one for cars with body off or on chassis and one additional sheet for bare chassis installations.
Instructions for cars with body on the chassis
1. Spot the car and set it on jack stands or a lift to have access for removal of the entire rear suspension and gas tank. Blocking or using ramps on the front tire for stability is a good idea.
2. Disconnect the battery ground cable if applies.
3. Remove any wiring, lines, cables, padding and any other combustible materials in areas where cutting, grinding and/or welding will be performed.
4. Prepare the areas of modifications around the spring mounts on the chassis by using a wire brush, scraper etc. to eliminate grease, paint, undercoat etc. The cleaner the better.
5. Find some scrap pieces of metal to wedge between frame rails and floorboard to further protect the body and interior from heat generated by cutting, grinding and welding.
6. Using a cutting torch, plasma cutter, etc. remove front and rear spring perch/hangers. Note: 1-piece frames weld rear hangers while common 2-piece frames rivet them. Make a reference measurement from the rear perch centerline to the rear cross-member for use later. Torch off the rivet heads and drive through with a punch where you can reach. Don’t get too aggressive with the hammer or air chisel or you will distort the frame rail where rivets intersect. After removing rear perches, mark the outside of frame rail using a square and awl with the centerline of the new spring perch bracket. It should be about 11” from the rear edge of the rear frame channel (that connects frame rails) to the centerline of perch.
7. Layout cuts for the front spring pockets on the bottom frame surface by transferring measurements off the pocket itself. The pocket should be mounted all the way up against the inside top frame surface. 1 and 2 piece frames vary the spring bolt location, that’s why there’s two holes to choose from. Pockets should be parallel to the main frame rail and make sure the bolt holes are square in the frame and in the same location as the stock hangers had them. I use a piece of 1⁄2” diameter rod to align both the pockets with each other before tack welding in several places. I recommend using a plasma cutter, sawsall or Makita type 4” cutting blade to notch the frame rails for the pocket. Note: Only the bottom surfaces of the frame rails are removed – not sides. The spring pockets will fit inside when trimmed correctly. Take your time! You’ll have better welding results and they will fit better. When you have it right and tacked, finish welding all around. Use TIG or MIG welding processes performed by a skilled craftsman only.
8. To align the rear perches, hang the leaf springs in the front pockets and assemble the rear shackle assembly to the rear spring eye using the lower shackle holes so the spring will clear the bottom of the frame rails. Center perches over the reference centerlines you marked earlier and make sure the shackles straddle the same distance away from the outside of the frame rail surfaces. Note: Shackle perches may need to be trimmed on one side on 2-piece frames to fit properly. A little grinding will do the job. Tack weld when you’re satisfied with the fit and alignment. Remove the springs and bushings and complete welding wherever you can reach. Note: The spare tire wells vary in location from car to car. You will probably need to cut an access panel in the outboard side of the well. Sometimes there’s enough clearance for shackle travel without cutting or dimpling the tire well. If you can live without the spare tire well, it’s easy to remove and install a panel to cover the opening. We make one for this purpose. Shackle bolts should point inboard for removal purposes with the gas tank and spare tire well in place. Note: I recommend boxing in the ends of spring perches for extra strength. With body on the frame installations, use (4) pieces of 3/16” x 2 1⁄2” cold rolled steel.
9. Rear frame notch inserts fit up inside the frame rails and about 1 3⁄4” – 2” from the top of the frame. It should go rearward far enough to allow for spring travel or the spring eye will bottom out. You should have clearance for the rear spring eye to go in the upper hole on the shackles at the top of the rear of the notch with the weight on the car.
10. To install the spring pads on the axle housing, first remove the old brackets and grind and prepare the housing for welding with the leaf springs in place and tightened snug. Set the new spring pads on the springs pins then center the housing from side to side. Pinion angle should be about 2° degrees down from the transmission centerline. You may need to enlarge the pinholes in the spring pads to fit over the spring pins. Bolt the housing to the spring with u-bolts for a trial and error process to establish the correct pinion angle. Use a floor jack on the housing to load weight on the springs. Be careful here using a backup set of jack stands. Set the housing on a pair of jack stands and check the pinion angle. Repeat the process as necessary until the right angle and side to side dimensions are set. I recommend using a plum device off of the outer fender-wells to center the housing and ensure equal tire to fender-well clearance from side to side. The body isn’t usually centered on the frame from side to side and will cause you problems, especially when the tire clearance is extra critical. Again, take your time! A bare axle housing with just the 3rd member is easier to work with. Tack weld pads to the housing in several places. Remove the housing and complete welding in a fixture if possible. If there isn’t a fixture available, take your time and allow cooling between the welding passes. Axle seals will need replacement from the heat.
11. Paint and detail the installed components as desired, reassemble the rear suspension completely. Shackle bolts should be good and tight. The bushings should pivot in rear leaf spring eye, as they can vary in internal dimensions.
Additional Instructions for Bare Chassis Installation
1. Flip the chassis upside down to have easier access to installing the pockets once all the old spring brackets are removed.
Note: Extra care must be taken here to support the frame adequately so it won’t sag when cutting and welding the pockets, rear perches and spring notch inserts. Support the frame in (6) places minimum when installing the components.
2. Weld the rear shackle perches completely before notching the frame for the spring inserts. Do one insert completely at a time before cutting the frame and doing the other – Don’t do both notches at the same time and take your time with the welding. Check for any frame movement often along the way.