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Chevy 1/2-ton spring swap

 

 

The Chevy spring swap gives a nice ride on and off-road, lots of travel, and probably gives the most "bang for the buck" of any of the spring swaps out there.  Another nice thing about this swap is that its not usually necessary to run a traction bar with these springs to keep from kinking them, unlike the Mazda and S-10 spring swaps.

The stock rear Toyota 4x4 springs until '88 were about 48" long with an offset center pin.  The '88-98 Chevy 1/2-ton springs (2wd or 4wd) are over 63" long with a centered pin. The Chevy leaves are quite a bit thicker than the Toyota leaves, but their extra length makes up for it and the springs are actually VERY soft. They come in 3 and 4-leaf packs (plus overload), but most people use the 3-leaf packs, as we did on Edge's truck.

I made the spring hanger out of 3.5x3.5x.25" square tubing and designed it so that it would put the spring as close to the frame as possible and tapered the front so that it would be less likely to hang up on rocks.  The stock springs seemed to put the tire closer to the front of the wheel well.  Positioning the hanger so that the old and new bolt holes are about 11" apart leaves the tire centered in the wheel well. I spread the old spring hangers out with a hammer and cut off the front spring clamps so that they would not hit when the spring was compressed. You could just cut the old hangers off, but simply bending them out of the way was a lot easier, especially with the gas tank in the way on the passenger's side.

I used a double shackle setup in the rear using the original shackle hanger. The shackle attached to the spring is the stock Chevy shackle and the one attached to the frame is a home-made one about 3" longer than the stock Toyota shackle. The bar on the end of the shackle is to keep it from inverting when it drops down.  You can also do it the other way around with the Chevy shackle in the frame mount.  If you use a longer shackle, this method could give you more lift, but a little less droop.

This swap usually gives about 3-4" of lift but the springs are very soft, so most people end up using some lift blocks  or add-a-leafs as well.  Edge used 3" lift blocks since he already had some, left the 7/8" thick overload leaf out, and ended up with about 5" total after the springs settled.  With the shocks disconnected, we measured about 24" of tire travel from full stuff to full droop.  Edge's shocks are limiting droop by a few inches in the pictures below.

You can also read about my own Chevy spring swap here.

- Erik Bibelheimer