Product Review: Marlin Crawler Leaf Springs

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By Erik Bibelheimer- November 2005

Broken spring clamp and main leaf.
The trail fix necessary to get home.

These days there are several options available for lifting the front of your solid axle Toyota. These vary from junkyard leaf springs to high dollar coilover conversions. All of these options have some sort of drawbacks though, such as price, articulation, or durability.

Originally when I performed my solid axle swap I used stock rear Toyota springs in conjunction with Mazda pickup leaves and shackle hangers under the frame. While inexpensive, the result was far too tall and soft for the street driving my 4Runner is required to perform. To remedy the problem I added a front sway bar from a Tacoma and swapped in All-Pro 4 lift springs that I acquired used for a good price. These springs served me well for a number of years before I broke one of the main leaves at the u-bolt plate when the rear spring clamp broke.

I liked how the springs had performed and considered having a new main leaf made for the pack locally, however for the same cost I was able to purchase a new set of springs from Marlin Crawler. Marlins 4 front leaf springs are made from 6 shot peened leaves with nylon pads between the leaves and raised spring clamps for a smoother ride and better articulation. The springs are custom made to Marlins specifications and feature a 1.5 center pin offset and a military wrap on the fixed end of the spring.

The new springs came complete with bushings and extra goodies. A comparison of the new Marlin Crawler springs with the old springs.

The springs bolted right in place of the previous springs.
The spring clamps are designed to be loose for maximum articulation.

I ordered the springs online and they arrived within the week. Since I had already relocated my shackle mounts through the frame and had a spring hanger that accommodated the longer than stock springs, installation was a breeze. The new springs came with bushings, which was a good thing since my old bushings were pretty well shot. Unlike the stock springs, the Marlin Crawler springs are not specific to the right or left side of the truck, but they come with a spacer to provide a level stance on a truck with a Toyota solid front axle. This was not an issue with my Dana 44 front axle but it is an indication of the attention to detail provided with these springs. Other advantages to the new springs were the beefy spring clamps and a center pin that moved my axle another forward.

The new springs flex to the stock bumpstops under compression.
The shackle is vertical when the springs are fully drooped.

After mounting up the springs I noticed that the ride was comparable to the old, broken in springs. I was pleased with the ride quality before so I considered this a benefit. I broke the springs in with a few runs through the Fordyce Creek Trail and they did not sag at all, another indication of build quality. Coupled with my extended brake lines and 15 travel BBCS shocks, the new springs allow plenty of travel on the trail while maintaining control in off camber situations. The only complaint that I have is that the rear spring clamp allows the main leaf to slide sideways from the other leaves during extreme articulation, as can be seen in some of the pictures if you look closely. If this becomes an issue I will add an extra spring clamp to the pack.

The new springs definitely proved their mettle on the Fordyce Creek Trail.

I wanted a set of springs that would provide good control on road and flex well off road. They had to be built with an offset center pin to allow my 37 Goodyear MT/Rs to clear the firewall and match the 4 lift my rear Chevy spring swap provides. Marlin Crawlers leaf springs provide all of these features at a reasonable price, making them one of the best options in an increasingly crowded market.

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