When Springs Break (Part 3)
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.
The “spring splint” kit, marketed by Hellwig, is no longer in production. I did find a couple of kits that were collecting dust on the back shelf of a local 4x4 shop and quickly added them to my “on board emergency spares” kit.
Making the emergency repair was quick and easy, at lest in this instance. My spring break was about six inches from the spring hanger and overlapped the first leaf. It was a simple case of installing the main support and clamping it in position.
First, the jeep needed to be raised to remove the tension from the springs, a simple task with a Hi-Lift jack. Once the tension was off the springs, I was able to align the broken ends and clamp the spring splint in place.
The kit provides a pice of spring steel to clamp on each side of the broken spot. Easy, well, in some cases. The kit has two u-bolts of differing sizes. It quickly became apparent that the u-bolts when tightened would not provide a tight clamp to keep the “spring sling” in place. Additional spacers were needed to fill the void and provide a tight fit to hold the spring in place.
Thankfully, two pieces of steel were readily available; both involving the Hi-Lift jack. One piece is standard equipment with the Hi-Lift. On the end of each Hi-Lift a short piece of steel is bolted that is used in one of the many configurations of the Hi-Lift. The second piece of steel was the clamp used to hold the Hi-Lift in position on my Garvin Wilderness Rack. Both pieces provided the necessary spacing to allow the u-bolts to be securely tighten to hold the spring sling in place.
Within a two week period, I had experienced two emergency repair situations with leaf springs. The first was a challenge to find pieces to stabilize the break. The second was easy with the correct emergency repair pieces.
That leaves a question of what is next for a final spring solution. First, is the step of making temporary repairs. That involved a few hours in the garage to remove and re-build the broken spring pack.
From the first incident, I had one broken and one bent spring. From the second incident, I had one broken spring. Simple solution. In the first, the broken and bent main leaf springs were replaced. Use the bent spring to replace the second broken spring.
Removing the broken spring was quick and easy. Rebuilding the spring pack was quick and easy. Installing the re-built spring pack was a challenge. I have become well acquainted with the use of a Hi-Lift jack.
Jack it up to remove the tension on the springs so they can be removed. Place the new springs in position, insert bolts and tighten. Sounds simple; except, the rear spring would not lip under the frame by the rear spring hanger.
Oh, forgot to undo the limiter -- the Skyjacker 5th Link component used to eliminate axle wrap. Re-position the Hi-Lift and remove the bolt to free the pivot point of the 5th Link. Re-position the Hi-Lift and slip the springs in place.
Well, not quite. The spring centering pin did not align with the mounting hole. As I had to “pull” it to the center, a ratchet strap provided the necessary leverage pull towards center. The centering pin dropped into place and all bolts were quickly placed and secured.
Now, all springs are in place; however, one is bent. So, the driver side rear rides a little high. That will be corrected in Part 4 - When Springs Break. A new set of springs is coming.
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