swap steel spring for fiberglas?

swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby cybrvanr [OP] » June 21st 2009, 11:00pm

My 1988 Astro van will tow my 3000# camper without using a weight distributing hitch. My 2000 van though drags bumper with the trailer hooked up. The overall suspension on the 2000 van seems cushier than the one on my 1988 too. I attribute this change to the different springs. I like the firmer suspension on my 1988 better, so my idea was to find a junker first-generation van, yank the fiberglas springs off it, and install them in place of the steel springs on the 2000. Is this do-able? Are the springs the same length on the shorty and the long body 'stro's?
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby Leeann_93 » June 22nd 2009, 3:03am

I would NEVER put fiberglass springs in place of steel.

I'd attribute the change to different shocks, personally.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby cybrvanr [OP] » June 22nd 2009, 4:03am

Yep, I do have nice Rancho RS5000 shocks on the 1988 shorty, and only stock OEM shocks on the 2000, but even sitting in the driveway stationary, my 1988 seems to handle the camper much better than the 2000. It just doesn't squat much at all with my camper...or with any load in the back for that matter, like my PA and band equipment. I have been real happy with the composite / fiberglass springs on the 1988. It's handling is crisp and responsive. Granted, the 2000 is about 600 pounds heavier, but it seems like the difference between driving the 1988 versus the 2000 is like driving a Camaro through some turns versus a Caprice Classic. What sorts of troubles have the composite springs been causing? They don't seem to sag or anything, and with 300,000 miles, they still drive like they are new. I know steel springs tend to start sagging and soften up with age.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby Spike99 » June 22nd 2009, 4:41am

.

If I had your 2000 Astro/Safari van (with stock suspension) that has "sloppy / mushy" rear suspension feel, I would:

1 - Install Timbren SES units in the rear. Timbren SES units (that replace factory bumps stops) are like air bags without pressurized air inside them. One of those "install it and leave it" products. And, one doesn't need to worry about air leaks. If wondering, Timbrems SES rubber blocks are designed to reduce suspesnion "downward depth". To me, Timbren SES units are great for towing 2,000+ lbs trailers and/or loading down the van with internal cargo. For more details, surf:
http://www.timbren.com/ses-van-suv.htm
http://www.truckspring.com/timbren-ses-kits_603.html
Note: Do shop around because selling prices do vary.

2 - Intsall Blinstien shocks in the rear. I've read many times that Blinstien rear shocks are top-notch quality and are great for reducing "ease of up/down" movement. Especially across washboard / double railway track driving conditions. I hear Rancho shocks are "better then factory" shock replacements as well. For more details, surf: http://www.bilstein.com/suvs.php
http://www.shockwarehouse.com/site/prod ... pingdotcom

If wondering, I installed Timbren SES units on my previous AWD Safari van. Also installed them on my new 2009 Montana van. Loved the Timbren SES units. To me, all towing and/or "loaded more then average vehicles" need Timbren SES units as well. That's how much I love the Timbren SES units. Especially in the rear.

Hope this helps in your "rear suspension" improvement research....

.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby kidhauler » June 22nd 2009, 5:00am

I have a 99 and have the same problem as you The rear suspension on the 96 and newer vans is pathetic they make a Caravan look tough. I have asked several members and they have had good luck with adding in a airbag system that goes between the axle and frame to boost the spring rate. that way the van can ride nice and soft when its empty and when you start to load it up you can level the rear end out again by adding some air. Either that or I plan on going to the wreckers and adding 2 leafs to the rear spring packs.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby astro355 » June 22nd 2009, 2:24pm

Adding some leafs would not be a bad idea. I always thought the fiberglass leafs on my van were a little spongy. And since I've broke the passenger side one, I had to make some torque arms to help the rear end stay in place.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby guyonearth » June 22nd 2009, 4:24pm

I think they softened the later ones due to the many complaints about the ride. Unless you have a cargo version like mine, in which case it rides like there are no springs, just solid blocks.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby cybrvanr [OP] » June 23rd 2009, 4:32am

I like the air bag ideas! That would work great for towing the trailer around. I've seen some newer cargo vans in the boneyard too, so maybe I could yank some steel springs off one of those too. I'm also throwing the option up in the air of raising the suspension too about 2 inches for both a little more off-road capability, and for better load carrying ability. Overland's kit though is just frame spacers for the front and it doesn't really raise the clearance...but at this point, I'm just throwing a few things up in the air and seeing what sticks!
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby guyonearth » June 23rd 2009, 4:47am

You can install air shocks in the back as well. I've had those on a number of vehicles.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby Mr_Bowtie » June 23rd 2009, 5:57am

Air shocks are kind of a band-aid don't you think?
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby GaryZ » June 23rd 2009, 4:46pm

I've owned a 1985 Safari, 1991 Safari, and now a 1998 Astro AWD. I prefer a softer ride that soaks up the poor road conditions that are common today. With its multi-leaf rear springs the '99 is by-far the best riding of the three when unloaded or lightly loaded. I also regularly tow a trailer (5x10 enclosed, steel).

I added air shocks on the '91 Safari and it would tow ok. About 20lbs of air was adequate for my loaded trailer. Unloaded it was stiff and miserable. 10lbs of air (minimum) would bounce around like an empty 1 ton truck.

I added air shocks to the '98 and it would tow ok. Unloded it was ok for a while, until the air shocks lost their damping. Air shocks' damping seems to go away very quickly and the mounting isolators quickly wear out causing irritating thumps and bumps from the back when unloaded.

I recommend air springs or the Sensa-Trac load-adjusting shocks.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby h2omelon » June 24th 2009, 12:36am

Another reason for the extended van sagging in the rear is simple Leverage.The weight is further behind the axle and makes it easier to push the rear end down if this makes sense. So even with the composite springs you may have the same issue. A set of load helper air bags in the rear would solve your problem while still maintaining a good ride.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby butch27 » June 24th 2009, 4:11am

Hijack: Astro355- When you broke the rear spring (before you made the torque rod) did you hear like a tire rubbing when you turned right??
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby astro355 » June 24th 2009, 5:04am

butch27 wrote:Hijack: Astro355- When you broke the rear spring (before you made the torque rod) did you hear like a tire rubbing when you turned right??


No, there was no rubbing sound. Let's just say I was going straight and leave it at that. :whistle:
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby butch27 » June 24th 2009, 9:31pm

Oh Boy!! LOL
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby mdal » July 8th 2009, 3:27am

When I bought my RWD 1995 it had the composite springs on the back. One was broken and that side sat quite low althought the other side also sat low. The ride over all was more soft and the body swayed from side to side. I got a guy to put steel leafs on and I love the difference. The steel gives the van a truck look. The ride is more stiff and the van feels more stable. The steel carries load very well too.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby Mr_Bowtie » July 8th 2009, 5:44pm

I hauled a 36" tube screen TV behind my back seat the other day & I can't believe how bad my rear end was saggin'......granted the TV was heavy, but man.... :lol:
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby rev_les » July 9th 2009, 6:01am

36" tube tv.... those are heavy.. you talking about yours, or the vans?? :lol: On my '99, I run air shocks, they're not too harsh,I adjust the pressure for what I'm doing though. I tried those load helper springs, they made it ride like a log wagon, right up till one of them broke. The '95 seems to ride a bit better, but I haven't had the opportunity to load it yet, heck, I haven't even looked to see if they're steel or composite.Whoever had it before went through the trouble to put a damned nice class III hitch on it though.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby tex star detail » August 5th 2009, 9:11pm

I have Fiberglass springs on my 95 Cargo. One word, Horrible. I haul a load daily, it's actually my work van. The springs are actually bending the other way. Instead of the natural arch, it is actually arching the other way. If that makes any sense at all. I installed airshocks, but doesn't seem to change the fact that these springs are junk. I am getting ready to purchase steel springs and front hangers and have them put on.
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Re: swap steel spring for fiberglas?

Postby GTZ » August 17th 2009, 5:10am

Ive noticed my 97' rides alot softer than our old 87' did. I was planning on adding overloads to mine. not sure if leafs or coil overs are better.
All I know is my friend who works at a junkyard said lots of people come in to replace their broken composite leafs.
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