John Stewart

When Springs Break (Part 4)

Front spring installedWas it the springs?  Was it the installation?  Was it the combination?  Within a two week period, I had experienced two emergency repair situations with leaf springs; overall, two broken and two bent springs.  The suspension was a not performing as it should.  4x4 isn't much good without a functional suspension system.

The “Spring Saga” began with “Options for the height challenged” which was a spring-over lift for my 1994 Jeep YJ.  As I was replacing a 4 inch spring lift, new springs were necessary.  The basic lift components were Rubicon Express and I opted for Rubicon Express springs which provided 1.5 inch of spring lift in addition to the spring over lift.  And, I was able to remove the two inch body lift and still clear 35 inch tires.  

While the combination was a great performer on the articulation challenges of Ocotillo Wells SVRA, a major deficiency was soon apparent.  After the breaks and emergency repairs, serious questions were in order.  Why should brand new springs break and bend that easy?  What is it about a spring-over that created this situation?

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John Stewart

When Springs Break (Part 3)

Broken spring with 'spring splint' installed'The "Spring Saga" began with "Options for the height challengedwhich was a spring-over lift for my 1994 Jeep YJ.  As I was replacing a 4 inch spring lift, new springs were necessary.  The basic lift components were Rubicon Express and I opted for Rubicon Express springs which provided 1.5 inch of spring lift in addition to the spring-over lift.  I was able to remove the two inch body lift and still clear 35 inch tires.  

While the combination was a great performer on the articulation challenges of Ocotillo Wells SVRA, a major deficiency was soon apparent.  The Rubicon Express springs were not up to the stress of extreme flexing.  In Part 1 of “When springs break”, emergency repairs were made in order to get off the trail and into the shop for correct repairs.  Time was of importance as Tierra del Sol Desert Safari 47 was coming.  Part 2 of "When springs break" covered the install of a spring hanger reversal and new main leaf springs in the front to replace one broken and one bent spring.  I did make it to Desert Safari and some wheeling.  Final day, while driving slow on a washboard road, I heard an ominous snap.  This time, a rear main leaf spring snapped.  At least this time I had the proper “spring splint” kit to provide emergency repair.

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John Stewart

When Springs Break (Part 2)

Shackle Reversal Spring Hanger

When Springs Break (Part 1) covered the basics of spring flex and potential problem that can arise.   Springs are a critical part of your suspension to provide for tire contact with the ground and keep the axle of your 4x4 centered while allowing movement.  So, what are solutions to reducing the chance of spring failure?  Certainly, moving to a coil spring suspension is one option to eliminate the flex issue with leaf springs.  Another option is to install to a shackle reversal.  That is a simpler and more cost effective option.

As noted in Part 1, leaf springs have a fixed point and a movable point.  For the front leaf springs, the fixed point is about mid-center of the vehicle.  When the front wheel encounters an obstacle, it is pushed back against the fixed point.  The force can cause undue stress on the spring and a potential for breaking near the rearward spring hanger: the fixed point.

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John Stewart

When springs break...

There comes a time when venturing off road that leaf springs do fail.  Your day of 4x4 fun comes to an abrupt end.

Such an occurrence recently happened to me. Luckily, the main leaf spring did not completely break and I was able to make it home after some scrounging and rigging a "splint" to keep the spring from flexing and completing the break.

Time for a little break analysis.  For starters, the springs were new when installed with the spring-over lift in November and had seen 6 days of on the trail use.  Springs are designed to flex and should offer trouble free action over an extended life.  Spring failure can result from abnormal stress or metal weakness due to improper tempering.

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John Stewart

Conservation Triangle – Extraction, Preservation and Recreation

Much is said today about the changing lifestyle that allows more freedom for leisure time activities, more time for recreation.  During leisure time, people have the freedom to engage in a variety of activities and outdoor recreation is popular.  Some recreationists are informed and experienced; others are uninformed and inexperienced.

The term "uninformed recreationist" refers to the one that is gung-ho go anywhere at anytime without a care in the world for what is happening.  Someone that has the attitude that they "own" the land and their “rights” come first, above all else.

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