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Old 11-28-2010, 12:49 PM   #1
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New axle, now how about the leaf springs?

Hi all, Just received my new 3500# dexter axel with electric brakes for my '57 Bubble. The original springs seem to be in good condition (no excessive rust). The trailer seems to have no sag with the original 9 leaf springs. Is this because the springs are worn out, or because a 9 leaf spring for a 2000# trailer is overkill? The eye to eye length of the spring is 31 1/2 inches and is not standard so changing the leaf seems a bit of an issue. I was thinking of having these springs rebuilt with less leaves. Bad idea? Just trying to get some movement in my suspension. Thanks
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:04 PM   #2
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How wide are the leaves, and what is the total thickness of the nine leaves?
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:22 PM   #3
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leaves are 1 3/4" wide. Total height is 2 1/2"
Thanks
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:41 PM   #4
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You can separate, sand and rustproof them, then put them back together if you like. Removing leaves softens the springs but also dramatically lowers their load-carrying capacity. I would not remove leaves if it were my trailer.
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Old 11-28-2010, 01:55 PM   #5
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I was researching leaf springs and saw that leaf springs for a 3500 lb axel were 3 to 4 leaf and was wondering why this 2000 lb trailer has a 9 leaf spring. I don't want to weaken the load, just want to soften it. I am sure Airstream had reason to build the trailer the way they did. I guess I am just trying to figure it out as well as a way to soften the ride a little.
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:08 PM   #6
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Sounds like a good reason to take your springs to visit a spring shop. They should be able to tell you what the capacity of yours are and provide you with knowledgeable input.

The thickness of the individual leaves affects their rate as well as their length and width. Four thicker leaves could have the same or even greater rating than nine thinner ones. Chevy even used single (Mono Leaf) leaves on Novas back in the 1960s.
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:08 PM   #7
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A rough estimate of the spring rate for you springs is about 890 lbs/inch. If your trailer weighs 2000 lbs, that would be about 1.1 inches deflection at weight. I would say you could reduce the leaves by one without too much risk. It would be worth taking it to a spring shop for rebuilding, and ask them their opinion. For the price they would charge it's worth having them do it.

On the other hand, when I rebuilt my '59 tradewind I added a leaf to the spring pack.

I make no warranties about the suitability of this recommendation. If it breaks it's you that will suffer, not me.

edit: be sure you have plenty of clearance to the top of the wheel well if you soften the springs.
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:25 PM   #8
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No worries Mark. The only one I hold accountable is myself. I wanted to replace the springs with new, but because of the availability I am just trying to figure out my options and if anyone has done this before. Thanks for the info. Where did you come up with the deflection stats?

Thanks again,
Jack
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:54 PM   #9
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Reworked the calculations I made for my '59. The source equations are from a site I googled a few years ago.
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Old 11-28-2010, 10:22 PM   #10
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On old cars -- where there was to be no replacement, just refurbishment -- we sandblasted and used a "lubricating" paint on the leaves, along with new Teflon interleaves, bushings, bolts, etc.

Van Sickle Paint Mfg. RB-9512-4 Qt Graphite Liquid

Seems to be the current choice. Tractor Supply has it.
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