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Would you be interested in higher-rate torsion bars?

14869 Views 149 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  LumaWJ
Edit: Thanks to the efforts here we now have an option from Sway-A-Way for our AWD vans: Would you be interested in higher-rate torsion bars? --AstroWill

Hello all, I'm in the midst of some upgrades on my lifted van and I wanted to get a sense of how many other people might also be interested in some upgrade parts.

For most of us with lifted AWD vans, the only real front suspension adjustment we've been able to make thus far is to the pre-load on the torsion bars; either via the stock adjusters, or with re-indexed keys that add additional preload. I would like to have the option to also use a higher spring rate on the torsion bars. With my pop-top conversion and camper additions, my van is already heavier than many folks. In particular, I have been hesitant to add an aftermarket bumper and winch to my van because of the additional weight that would still be borne on the OEM bars.

I am working with a company that manufactures aftermarket torsion bars for offroad and race use. They already produce a line of upgraded torsion bars for other GM trucks, Hummers, Suburbans, etc. These bars range from 15% up to 30% stiffer than stock. I am early in the process with them, but it sounds like they may be able to produce similarly uprated bars for the Astro/Safari platform.

I know that demand will depend greatly on price (which I do not yet have), but it may help things along to know if anyone here would be interested in a pair of these?

There are a lot of things to work out, but I believe such bars should provide a mild torsion bar lift over stock while using the OEM keys, in addition to being a better option for those of us running with greater weight over the front axle.

What say you?
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Wow, they came out with the exact fit parts a week after I tried to follow LumaWJ down the custom adapter path, just my luck 🤦‍♂️

I came here to share my story of trying to get the 1970's bars to fit. I was lurking on this thread for a while thinking it would be a good upgrade someday, until mid-august when I ended up in urgent need of replacement torsion bars. I was doing a full front suspension+steering replacement and absolutely could not get the old torsion bars out.

Well heck, here's a story anyway if anyone needs some entertainment.

I couldn't get the old torsion bars out of either the key or the lower control arm, and found that one of my torsion adjusters was maxed out even though the van was around stock ride height, so I figured the torsion bars were pretty worn out and needed replacing. First bit of fun was getting the torsion bars out, seriously I tried all the hammering and heat in the world before going with the fallback plan - cutting the frame member and welding it back together 😬
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I wanted to come to this thread with my solution for making the adapters which actually worked pretty well - stacking laser cut steel plate and welding or bolting them together (only one side had enough space for bolts). But y'all probably don't need this info any more 😂
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I saw the same problem as LumaWJ's update, the 36" bars are a little too long. But I was able to split the difference between sticking out past both the keys and the control arm in a way that I was comfortable with.

But the bigger problem is I could not get the left-hand bar to install on the left-hand side, specifically using Journey Offroad's lift keys (since I couldn't get the original keys out and these are the only replacement I could find). The clocking was just wrong. I was able to get them installed if I put the left-bar on the right side of the van, but Sway-away's instructions specifically say not to do that as it will cause suspension sag. And they were definitely right about that, even with the lift keys and cranking the adjuster all the way up, I could not get the van to sit at a good ride height. It sat at about 29" from the ground to the fender, which I think is pretty low? I'm an idiot and didn't take that measurement before I started all this work so I'm not totally sure where I started.

If these exact replacement parts hadn't come out I would have gone down the path of adjusting the clocking with my adapters, but I'm just gonna go for the correct parts now that they exist. Thanks to everyone that worked towards getting those made!

If anyone still wants to go down the path of adapting the 1970s bars, like if you want even more stiffness than the exact-fit parts, I'm happy to send you my design files for the adapters and point you towards a laser cutting shop.

TL;DR: Making adapters for the 1970's bars was fairly easy by stacking laser cut steel, but the clocking was wrong when using lift torsion keys and I was unable to install the bars correctly with the left-hand bar on the left side of the van.

Edit to add vehicle details:
2003 GMC Safari AWD, so I had the ~36" torsion bars to begin with, not the 41" like LumaWJ had.
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