Work Van Suspension

Work Van Suspension

Postby astronot [OP] » May 5th 2017, 2:14am

So my 97 AWD astro is pretty loaded down with all the shelves, tools and cabinets that I have permanently mounted in it. My tail end is riding rather low and I was thinking that new shocks might help. I wouldn't mind if the ride height increased a bit. What would be the most cost effective way of increasing the payload capacity of the astro? I have heard things about putting s10 leafs in but not sure what that entails. Would gabriel hijackers (air shocks) increase my ride height and reduce the squat? I want to tow a trailer but I don't dare hook it up without doing some suspension work. I am looking on rockauto and can't decide if I should get air shocks or go with heavy duty adjustable ones. Any input is appreciated I am just trying to figure out the best direction to go in. :confused:
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby dramey » May 5th 2017, 2:31am

Either replace the rear leaf springs or have them re-arched.
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby astronot [OP] » May 5th 2017, 2:38am

I noticed the leafs were pretty straight. I must have added 1000-1200lbs worth of steel cabinets and tools/materials into the van. What would be the best direction to go in to do the springs. I love the junkyard if there is a larger truck that I could get springs off that work I would be happy. I could also purchase new leafs but don't mind saving some dough. Really appreciate the help!
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby digz » May 5th 2017, 2:44am

I use a 1991 Safari for my work van. Before I started building all my shelving I replaced the shocks on the front and rear. For the rear I used spring assisted load adjusting shocks. I haven't noticed any sag in the rear even after having all my shelving, tools, and at least 500lbs of materials loaded up.

I think the parts I got from rock auto were the Monroe 58598. Hell of a lot easier to install than anything to do with the leafs!
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby astronot [OP] » May 5th 2017, 2:55am

I hear that! Seems like a cake job to do the shocks, 4 bolts in back 4 bolts up front. I mean I see it might need a little convincing with the torch but thats no problem. I am still torn, the van will be loaded down all the time, and I'd like to tow with it as well. I am almost leaning toward doing both the springs and shocks. I have access to a lift so it might make it a bit easier. The springs in now are only 3 leaf and are worn out. Anyone have any insight on what would be a good junkyard solution or if I should just pony up the dough for some new springs. Did I say that I LOVE the junkyard? :rolling:
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby dramey » May 5th 2017, 8:07am

To my way of thinking, springs carry the load and shocks smooth the ride. S-10 HD springs would get rid of the sag and carry your additional load.

On my 97 cargo van, I re-arched the springs and installed KYB shocks.
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby WoodButcher » May 5th 2017, 2:20pm

I built a pack for my '97.
56697
Rides like a buckboard empty but in 15 years it has only been empty twice.
Measure yours, width and length and search the boneyard for candidates to build your own stack is one alternative. You'll need to use your existing eyelet leaf this way.
You can replace the whole pack from an S-10 or another astro, buy new or re-arch.
No one way is better than the other, there is no one answer for everyone.
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby AstroWill » May 5th 2017, 2:26pm

I'm of the opinion that your springs should be set for your usual loaded weight. If you go beyond that once in a while, then look at Timbrens, airbags, etc.

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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby astronot [OP] » May 6th 2017, 2:26pm

Damn thats a serious leaf pack! I may just go to the yard and get a couple sets of s10 springs or similar and build my own pack. Really appreciate the insight. Yeah I agree, my van is pretty loaded down all the time now and maybe il look into airbags for towing. Thanks for all the input!!
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby Coaster » May 6th 2017, 2:56pm

i like my air bags. a lot
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby kennysmoke » May 6th 2017, 3:27pm

dramey wrote:To my way of thinking, springs carry the load and shocks smooth the ride. S-10 HD springs would get rid of the sag and carry your additional load.

On my 97 cargo van, I re-arched the springs and installed KYB shocks.


This ^... I had a leaf added to the stock spring stack and cranked up the torsion bars... gained almost 3 inches in the rear unloaded and close to 2 inches in the front... loaded up with tools the ride is perfect. Re-arching springs is a temporary fix and the springs will return to their sagged out state after awhile especially if you added 1,200 lbs of permanent weight to the rear.

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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby AstroWill » May 6th 2017, 3:32pm

Coaster wrote:i like my air bags. a lot

I removed mine, they are rotting away in the shed. Now my Timbrens, they are the bees knees.

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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby WoodButcher » May 6th 2017, 3:53pm

astronot wrote:Damn thats a serious leaf pack! I may just go to the yard and get a couple sets of s10 springs or similar and build my own pack. Really appreciate the insight. Yeah I agree, my van is pretty loaded down all the time now and maybe il look into airbags for towing. Thanks for all the input!!


Well, that van has run right around it's listed GVW of 6,000 lb. for the whole time I've owned it. If you click on my sig pics they will enlarge, you can see the stance of the '97 with those springs. In the pic is normally loaded, 31x 10.50 tires in the rear and 235/70 in the front. Empty it has a bit of rake and can be unruly to drive but not half as bad as the Jeep YJ I'm running now in it's place.
I came from a full size van or larger to the astro safari platform so the shorter wheelbase was an eye opener. I just retired the '97 so in her place I got a rusted out YJ cheap, thought it would be fun, fixed it and set it up for work. Four leaf spring suspension and a tiny wheelbase reminds me of a hardtail sportster I used to have, around a bumpy corner it's like riding a skipping stone,,,

Yours being AWD I would go w/ the heavier leaf pack, having enough leaves to pick and choose you can get the ride the way you want, add or remove leaves till it is just right and level up with the torsion bars or a body lift. for towing you have lots of options, bags, air shocks or Timbren type bump stops. I haven't towed but I think with the leaf pack you build would have enough. I would be more concerned with overall weight and stopping rather than the tongue weight. Stopping my van when loaded could be an interesting proposition. :o
Either road you choose add a rear sway bar to the mix and stick with LT tires. Others on the forum have used General Grabbers and I agree, they are stout and what would be my first pick for the AWD.
My '97 is 2wd so I watched the boneyard for good pairs, AWD I would be buying new sets every time.
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby astronot [OP] » May 6th 2017, 4:03pm

I'm not familiar with the timbren style bump stops, but will research them. I really appreciate the knowledge. I have never built a leaf pack before and am not familiar with the hardware to make it happen. I know I will need new U bolts and also the bolt for the center of the pack, Is there anything else I should research before jumping into this one?
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby AstroWill » May 6th 2017, 4:21pm

There is a link in my sig, Leaf Tech, or something like that. It's good reading.

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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby WoodButcher » May 6th 2017, 4:30pm

AstroWill can point you to U-bolts, plates and the Timbrens.
I used the stock clamshells and went against common wisdom / consensus around here. I had no serious issues but only because I am observant as to the goings on of my vehicles. Or lucky depending on who you ask,,, :lol:

I think the u-bolt / plate is the better road to follow here. :thumbup:
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby astronot [OP] » May 8th 2017, 1:49am

Really appreciate the insight, I have a donor van that is a 2003 and although it's springs seem a little whooped too my plan now is to use the leafs out of it, re-arch, and make a custom pack from my existing ones and those combined. I understand it is spring steel and may be a bi#%$ to cut but my friend just got a plasma cutter and I think that would make short work of it. I also ordered a set of air shocks so if I am towing I can pressurize the shock and stiffen everything up a bit. I really appreciate all the help guys. Any clue where a good place to order the hardware to ditch the clamshells and do everything right?
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby astronot [OP] » May 8th 2017, 2:33am

Enjoying that leaftec article thats great!
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby WoodButcher » May 8th 2017, 3:00am

astronot wrote:Enjoying that leaftec article thats great!


Ditto that Will, but, WTH were you with that info when I needed it in '01... :angry-tappingfoot:


LOL. I've been doing my own leaf packs and suspensions since I was a kid,
we didn't have the interwebs in '76, I was so depraved ived,
underprivileged. :lol:
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Re: Work Van Suspension

Postby AstroWill » May 8th 2017, 3:11am

astronot wrote:...plasma cutter... Any clue where a good place to order the hardware to ditch the clamshells and do everything right?

Plasma cutter = hot knife through butter. Part numbers for u-bolts and plates are in my Tiger GTv8 thread, or https://sites.google.com/site/astrosafa ... pring-lift 4wd.com had the best prices if you get free shipping. 2 plates and 4 u-bolts. They are long enough to handle basically any pack you throw them on, so just trim them to length when you get everything set up.



WoodButcher wrote:
astronot wrote:Enjoying that leaftec article thats great!


Ditto that Will, but, WTH were you with that info when I needed it in '01... :angry-tappingfoot:


Umm, I think I was busy overseas on that day ;)

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