Modifying Ford Explorer Leaf Springs for Lift using F-150 Leaf Springs | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Modifying Ford Explorer Leaf Springs for Lift using F-150 Leaf Springs


Nobody Home
November 17, 2003
Reaction score
City, State
Elk Grove, IL
Year, Model & Trim Level
'17 Expedition XLT
First, being new to Explorers and to this forum site (well, not anymore :D ) I would like to acknowledge, in no particular order, those who have helped me to understand the dynamics and variables involved. 1 - GJarrett (Gerald Jarrett) who was kind enough to document all of the trials and tribulations of the work he put into 'Herc', his '99 EB Explorer. Gerald was nice enough to reply to several of my Private Messages which gave me insight and direction when I got started. 2 - My best friend, Russ, fellow Explorer owner and holder of a Master's Degree in Manufacturing Engineering from R.P.I. Even though Russ has no interest in modifying his Explorer, it's invaluable for him to be able to him look at his truck while I'm looking at mine. If he didn't live so far (Boston) from me (Chicago), things would have been a little easier. 3 - My brother-in-law, Dave (Bucky), fellow off-road enthusiast and holder of a Mechanical Engineering degree from Clarkson University. Having modified a Toyota SR5 pickup to run 33" tires, Bucky knew exactly what I was trying to accomplish. Thanks to all of you for your insight and fielding my endless questions. If I had it to do over again, I'd have studied Engineering and not History....maybe.

For those of you that have no inclination to get dirty (and possibly injured) and have the necessary funds, Eaton Detroit Spring will make a leaf pack for you with two inches of lift built-in for $419.00 (as of December 2003) for the pair. Shipping is not included. To give you an idea of shipping costs, I was quoted $52 from Detroit to Chicago. Most of you know that A.R.B / Old Man Emu also builds springs for Explorers (part # OME36, for my '96). I was quoted $540 per pair from my local A.R.B. dealer (Roverland Products in Gurnee IL). Stock leaf packs are still available from Ford at $360 per pair.

Here are some terms that will help you to understand what is involved. Thanks to Eaton Detroit Spring Company for this information ( (LINK FIXED: 9/23/09 by Maniak)

RATE - is half the difference between the loads 1 inch above and 1 inch below a specified position. Put another way, rate is the amount of weight required to deflect the spring 1-inch. The lower the rate, the softer the spring.

LOAD - is the amount of weight the spring is designed to carry at a certain height. This is also called the Design Load or Load Rate. LOAD RATE is not to be confused with Rate. Load Rate is the amount of weight a spring is designed to carry at a certain height. Let's say a spring has a rate of 200 lbs. per inch and is designed for a 3-inch deflection when deflected 3-inches the spring is supporting 600 lbs. Therefore the spring has a Load, or a Design Load, or a Load Rate of 600 lbs., not a Rate of 600 lbs.

FREE ARCH - is how much arch is in a leaf spring when there is no load on the spring. To check the Free Arch draw a line through the center of the spring eyes. Then measure from that line to the top of the main plate (the leaf with the eyes) next to the center bolt. This measurement can be positive or negative.

LOAD HEIGHT is measured the same as Free Arch except the spring is under load. Again this measurement can be positive or negative. There is nothing wrong with a spring that has a reversed arch when under load. A spring is dumb, it will still flex with a positive or a negative arch. If your vehicle sits good and rides good, who cares which way the arch is. In fact many springs are designed at the factory to have reverse arches when under load.

DIVISION LENGTH - because the eye to eye length of a spring changes as the spring flexes up and down measuring eye to eye does not provide accurate information. Also remember that the axle location is determined by the location of the spring center bolt, so knowing the location of the center-bolt head is very important. The correct way to measure a spring is to measure from the center of the front eye to the center bolt then from the center bolt back to the center of the other eye following the curve of the spring as though the spring was flat Normally the front is known as the Short End and the rear as the Long End. These terms hold true even on a centered spring. A 1956 Chevy rear spring is 58-inches long and is measured as 26 x 32; and a 1948 Ford front spring is 44-inches long and is measured as 22 x 22.

STEPPING - is the distance from the end of one leaf to the end of the adjoining leaf. Stepping is very important. Stepping controls the shape and strength of a spring when under load. Too short of distance between the ends of the leaves will cause the upper leaves to bend downward at the ends and upwards toward the center, too long will give the spring a wavy look. Both conditions produce an ineffective spring. A correctly stepped spring can support nearly double the amount of weight than an incorrectly stepped spring.

RE-ARCHING - a leaf spring is when the arch of a sagging spring is raised back up to the original height. Prior to re-arching any spring it should be examined for fatigue, that is has the spring outlasted it's useful life. To check for fatigue look at the spring from the side before taking it apart. Are the leaves close together at the center and separate from each other towards the ends? Then take the spring apart. Look at the flat surface of each leaf. First look for any breaks or cracks. Next look for small spots that look like rust but are a darker shade then the surrounding area. Then look for lines like those on the palm of your hand running across the flat surface of each leaf. If any of the above are present then the steel is fatiguing. Do yourself a favor and replace the spring. If none of the signs of fatigue are present then the spring is a good candidate for re-arching. There is a couple of ways of re-arching a leaf spring. The first and most popular way is to use either a press or a hammer to raise the arch. Using this method will result in short term results. A spring has a memory, cold setting a spring this way will not erase it's memory and over a short period of time the spring will return to the height it was prior to raising it. The second way of re-arching is to erase the springs memory and give it a new one. This can only be done by annealing (that is remove the heat treat) this is done by heating each leaf to at least 1650 degrees. Then the spring is re-shaped. And finally the spring is re-heat treated. Bear in mind that very few spring shops have the equipment required to heat treat springs.

If any of you decide to visit Eaton Detroit Spring's web page, you'll notice a link to email a technician at Eaton Detroit Spring, it's Mike Eaton, the owner. I contacted him and he was kind enough to answer a few questions. He will be more than happy to dispense advice but stops short of helping with design or providing instruction. Here is an excerpt of our conversation:

Q: Is there a way to modify the leaf spring pack in my Explorer by either adding a leaf (or leaves) or substituting a leaf (or leaves) that would, essentially, re-arch the pack and provide two inches of lift without installing shackles?
A: Shackles will not provide any additional suspension travel. In fact, they will cause increased instability. The only option you have is to replace the existing springs with springs designed with the lift. Add-A-Leafs will raise you about 1 inch and stiffen the ride.

Q: Add-A-Leafs stiffen the ride because you're adding another leaf to the leaf pack, correct?
A: Yes, the more leaves in a spring, the stiffer the spring.

Q: Would the ride be stiffened if you substituted (took a leaf out and then put the Add-A-Leaf in) instead?
A: No, removing a leaf would soften the spring, then adding the add a leaf back in would stiffen the spring. Effectively not changing a thing. It is a bit more involved than this, but this is close enough.

Q; How does the Add-A-Leaf provide an additional inch of lift? Is it simply due to the arch of the spring or the thickness, too?
A: By the thickness, the added arch and the increased stiffness of the total spring (leaf pack).

I then proceed to explain to Mike what I'm going to explain to you. He confirmed that this will work but may change the way the truck rides (more harsh), which would make sense. When GJarrett told me he substituted leaves from an F150 for leaves in his Explorer's spring pack, I searched local junkyards for old F150s. Gerald told me that he used a leaves from a 'mid-80s F150'. Well, a little research revealed that Ford redesigned the F150 in 1987 (from boxy square grille and stacked headlights/turn signals) to a more aero look (wrap-around turn signals incorporated into the headlights). Asked again, Gerald thought his springs came from a 1985 F150. That said, I went in search of 1980-86 F150s. My first stop allowed me to take measurements which verified that this would work, not that I didn't trust Gerald but I am ****. The #2 F150 leaf is slightly shorter than the main Explorer leaf and the same width (2.5"). But, the yard wanted to remove the springs themselves and wanted $45 per leaf pack (too much!). I knew of a couple of other yards about 45 minutes away and decided to check them out. One of these yards was a 'you pull it', meaning that you are on your own when it comes to removing parts. You bring your own tools and assume all the risk. A quick survey revealed two F150s, an '84 and an '86. Closer inspection revealed something I wasn't prepared for, different gross vehicle and gross axle weight ratings. The '86 had a GVWR of 6100 lbs. and a rear GAWR of 3750 lbs. with five leaf springs, the '84 had a GVWR of 5450 lbs. and a rear GAWR of 3166 lbs. with four leaf springs. Based on my (limited) knowledge of F150s (I owned an '89), I think this would be due to a factory tow package on the '86. I am also going to guess (I say 'guess' because I did not actually measure) that the '84 had the same leaf springs as the '86 with the exception of the #4 leaf (found on the '86 but not on the '84). Analysis of individual leaves would later bear this out.

Removal - I decided to remove the leaf springs from the '86 after the yard priced them at $26 per pack. I was smart enough to put my tool box in the back of my Explorer and used a small duffle bag to carry tools into the yard. Twenty year old u-bolt nuts will more than likely be rusted on no matter how much WD-40 you use. Bring a hacksaw and several spare blades. You will also need a breaker bar and 13/16" deep socket, c-clamps and scissor jack. Those are the tools I used. You may need more. F150 rear axles ride under the leaf springs (SOA) so you can cut the u-bolts without having the rear of the truck fall, unlike Explorers. You will need to remove the rear wheels and it helps if the truck is up on something so you don't have to grovel in the dirt. The truck I worked on was sitting on four steel rims, double stacked with a stack on each side of the differential. It was more solid than I would have guessed. I was able to get the hacksaw between the outboard u-bolt and the brake backing plate. I used the last few threads on the u-bolt as a convenient place to start sawing. If your blade is sharp, it should go pretty quickly. Be aware that those u-bolts are under tension. If you cut all the way through, they will pop, as I found out on the first one. Fortunately, my head was not inside the wheel well. From then on, I would cut three quarters of the way through and then use the breaker bar and deep socket to twist and break the u-bolt. You will need to cut the outboard u-bolt twice so it can be completely removed. Then cut the inboard u-bolt once, in front of or behind the axle tube is your choice. The retaining plate can now be flipped off the top of the leaf pack. Since I did not need the main leaf, I decided to cut the retaining bolt (holding the leaves together), jack the bed off the axle tube and pull out the leaves. Use the c-clamp to keep the pack compressed and hacksaw through the retaining bolt (only the nut will be visible in the middle of the main leaf). Release the c-clamp and use the scissor jack to lift the rear of the truck. I put the jack on the axle tube (using a short piece of 2x4 as a spacer) and located the cradle of the jack on the frame rail, where the bump stop is located. You will need to jack up enough to compensate for the decompression of the leaves and provide enough space to pull them out. Use another small piece of 2x4 (or something convenient in the yard) to fill the space where the leaf pack was and lower the jack. Repeat the process on the other side. It took me the better part of 2.5 hours to complete the job. But, I used one hacksaw blade. If you bring spare blades, it should go faster.

As with an Explorer, F150s have the gas tank on the driver's side of the driveshaft. Your weight plus 7 lbs. per gallon of gas adds up to 'driver side spring sag'. So, keep the leaf packs intact, separated and know which is which. It will make a difference when you install them on the Explorer.

Clean-Up - I decided to clean the leaves with a stiff wire wheel on a hand grinder. I was not looking to make them concourse condition, just remove the rust scale so they would accept a coat of flat black paint. You may find that the Teflon spring pads have worn through or decomposed. The ones I encountered were shot and I discarded them. Be sure to maintain the identity of each individual leaf during clean-up. It is pretty easy to determine the leaf's location in the pack (due to length) but you will want to know if it is driver side or passenger side. GJarrett made us aware of the fact the 5/16" leaf pack center bolts can shear. I plan to use 7/16" Grade 8 bolts (7/16" x 2.75") with 'all metal' lock nuts that distort the treads (as opposed to lock nuts with the nylon washer). This way I will not have to worry about the NyLocs failing or working loose under severe heat, which might cause the nylon to melt or become soft. I noticed that the factory center bolts are mostly unthreaded, that is, the shaft of the bolt that goes through the leaves has no threads. This is done for strength and I will be sure to purchase bolts with the same length of unthreaded area. Mil-Spec bolts that have correct portion of unthreaded length can be purchased, if you are so inclined. Simply cutting off the extra threads is another choice.

After cleaning the individual leaves, I took some measurements (in inches):

Driver Side

Flat Length / Free Arch / Division Length / Thickness / Radius / Chord

51.2500 / 6.313 / 22.75 x 28.5 / 0.3125 / 1984.7753 / 49.1250 - Leaf #2
44.6250 / 4.875 / 20 x 24.625 / 0.3125 / 1168.3456 / 42.6875 - Leaf #3
38.1875 / 4.5 / 17 x 21.1875 / 0.3125 / 794.9531 / 36.5000 - Leaf #4
30.8750 / 1.125 / 14 x 16.875 / 0.6250 / 132.6028 / 30.6250 - Leaf #5

Free Arch
Entire Pack - 6.875
#2 & #3 - 6.625
#2, #3 & #4 - 6.875

Passenger Side

Flat Length / Free Arch / Division Length / Thickness / Radius / Chord

51.3750 / 7.438 / 22.75 x 28.5 / 0.3125 / 2356.7102 / 48.6250 - Leaf #2
44.6875 / 6.000 / 20 x 24.625 / 0.3125 / 1450.7607 / 42.3125 - Leaf #3
38.1875 / 4.375 / 17 x 21.1875 / 0.3125 / 772.9416 / 36.5625 - Leaf #4
30.8750 / 1.125 / 14 x 16.875 / 0.6250 / 132.6028 / 30.6250 - Leaf #5

Free Arch
Entire Pack - 7.375
#2 & #3 - 7.438
#2, #3 & #4 - 7.500

One of the first things I noticed is the Free Arch on the Driver side leaves is less than on the Passenger side leaves. This would be 'driver sag', plain and simple. The two right side columns in the table are the calculations I took to determine the lift that each individual leaf contributes to the entire pack. After measuring the Free Arch, I could not figure out how the smaller leaves, that had less Free Arch than the entire pack, contributed. Then, it hit me, each leaf shape is a portion (arc) of a unique circle. You can determine the radius of each circle by using the Free Arch measurement and the Chord measurement. Determine the Chord by flipping the spring over so that the ends are on a flat surface. Now measure the distance from end to end along that flat surface. Essentially, the Chord (C) squared plus four times the square of the Free Arch (A) divided by eight times the Free Arch will result in the radius of the circle [ ((C*C)+(4*(A*A)))/8*A ] . In other words, the shorter the leaf springs get, the tighter the arc they have and therefore the more they contribute to the Free Arch of the entire pack (lift). OK, so, now that we know that, how many leaves should we substitute into the existing Explorer leaf pack? Based on my measurements and calculations, leaves #2 & #3 contribute the most Free Arch to the entire pack, so, I?m going to swap #2 & #3 F150 leaves for #2 & #3 Explorer leaves. Also, I plan to swap the 'second stage' (overload or helper) spring, which is the extremely thick leaf at the bottom of the pack. This leaf only contributes when the entire pack is almost fully compressed. If that happens, I want this thicker leaf to help maintain ground clearance (frame to ground) by causing the entire pack to stiffen. One thing that concerns me is the amount of 'harshness' I'm going to be introducing into the spring pack. But, I thought of another reason to add more load carrying capability, the amount of gear we carry when we are off-road. I am sure that you are all generally aware of the weight of camping gear, coolers and the required off-road equipment. Most of this is loaded into the cargo area of our trucks. Why not give your Explorer the ability to carry this load and maintain the two inches of lift (remember the difference in weight rating between the two F150s)?

As of the New Year (Jan. 2004) fellow forum member Joey p. was advertising a 'double AAL (Add-A-Leaf)' kit (Explorer Pro Comp part number - EXP13135). Pro Comp states that this kit should provide 1.5 to 2.5 inches of lift (without shackles) based on your existing springs' condition. This sounds just like what I was trying to accomplish. Joey was kind enough to take some measurements for me (these measurements have been verified with a call to the tech line at Explorer Pro Comp):

Explorer Pro Comp Kit - EXP13135

Flat Length / Free Arch / Thickness
48.55? / 6.75? / .320 - Leaf A (13135-1)
40? / 4.75? / .320 - Leaf B (13135-2)

Additionally, the instructions indicate that these leaves should be added (hence the name, duh) to the existing leaf pack. That makes for a six leaf pack after installation. However, based on my conversation with Mike at Eaton Detroit Spring, adding more leaves will stiffen the entire pack. So, you may get 1.5 to 2.5 inches of lift out of this AAL kit but it may cost you in flexibility and make the ride more harsh, if that's a concern. Doing a little compare/contrast with the measurements of the F150 leaves versus the Explorer Pro Comp kit, I noticed that the dimensions of the leaves in the kit are similar to the Numbers 3 and 4 F150 leaves. But, the leaves in the kit provide more arch. So, I've now decided to remove everything but my Explorer's main leaf and use the F150 leaf pack in it's entirety. That should provide the lift I want and not cost too much in off-road flexibility or ride harshness.

Removal & Replacement

Tools Used:
3/8" & 1/2" drive ratchets
1/2" drive breaker bar
hand held grinder (with cutting & grinding discs)
15mm wrench & 15mm socket (3/8" drive)
18mm deep sockets (3/8" & 1/2" drive)
10mm wrench & 10mm socket (3/8" drive)
Vise-Grip 'Kwick-Clamp'

Disclaimer: Doing the following work is inherently dangerous. It would be very easy to be permanently injured or killed if you do not use common sense with respect to safety. The following is a guide and by no means is this the definitive way to do the job. If you think you have a better way to complete one step or the total job, do so. I cannot be held responsible for any injury or damage done to you or your vehicle. Use eye protection. Use jack stands and do not rely on a jack to hold the truck off the ground. Jack stands are inexpensive and provide an extra margin of safety. If in doubt, feel free to ask me, or fellow forum members, for direction. If necessary, get a friend to help you. At the very least, have someone check on you from time to time (to ensure you're not hurt or trapped).

Let me mention this: With the exception of the last six months, my truck spent it's life in Georgia (Atlanta area). It has been driven in snow once (by me). The underside of my truck still has most of its assembly-line paper stickers intact. Most of the hardware is rust free, I'm sure this is not typical of most Explorers. Struggling with rusty hardware will most likely be your largest battle. Speaking of hardware, most, if not all that you will encounter, is metric. A selection of metric wrenches and sockets is necessary. That said, on to the prep work.

Prep: (At least 24 hours in advance): Lower and remove the spare tire. Crank the cable & cradle to the 'raised' position (so it's out of the way). Apply some sort of penetrating fluid (I used 'PB Blaster') to the U-bolts (above & below the lower shock mount plate), leaf spring center bolt nuts (there's an access hole in the center of the lower shock mount plate) and upper & lower hardware for the rear shocks.

Use an 18mm deep socket and 1/2" drive breaker bar (a 1/2" drive ratchet may or may not provide enough leverage) to loosen the U-bolt nuts. I decided to do this before jacking the truck off the ground. I didn't want to take the chance that I'd inadvertently shift the truck off the jack stands if the nuts were real tight. If the nuts will not loosen, you may need to cut the U-bolts off.

Jack up the truck as high as your floor jack will allow (without being unstable). Place jack stands under the frame just forward of the leaf spring eye mount bracket. I decided to use this location because it allows unobstructed movement under the rear of the truck during disassembly/assembly.

Remove the rear wheels. For additional safety factor, you may want to leave them on. I think this would impede access to the leaf springs and cause you to work exclusively under the truck. But, it would prevent the truck from crushing you if it fell off the jack stands.

Remove the rear shocks: This can be a real pain due to the location of the upper shock hardware (Who designed that?!) which is 13mm. The lower hardware is a 15mm bolt & 18mm nut. It helps if the truck is high enough (on the jack stands) so you can sit upright under the rear load floor. Set the shocks aside (or discard, if you bought new ones).

Remove the U-bolts: (18mm deep socket 1/2" drive). Mine were rust free and I reused them. If yours are rusty and/or you had to use heat to help remove the nuts, consider replacing them. Set the lower shock plates and U-bolts aside. Don't forget to unbolt the e-brake cable bracket from the lower mount plate on the passenger side (10mm). The axle tube is now loose. If you have another set of jack stands, jack the axle tube off of the leaf springs (I used an old early Mustang scissor jack) and support the tube near the sway bar mounts. If you don't have another set of jack stands, use the jack to lift one side of the axle tube off the leaf pack. The tube will need to be about 3 inches above the top leaf spring so you can install the new center bolt.

Remove the lower leaves: I used a hand grinder with a cutting disc to remove the steel retaining strap (located between the axle tube and the front spring eye mount). To maintain the leaf pack's compression, use some type of clamp (Vise-Grip Kwick Clamp or a c-clamp) near the center bolt. I was able to remove this bolt with a pair of Vise-Grips, to hold the round bolt head, and a 15mm ratchet/socket combo. You may have to cut this bolt with a hacksaw or the cutting disc on your hand grinder. Release the clamp and the leaves will fall off. My leaves still had the circular Teflon sliders (at the tips) and the rectangular spacer pads. The F150 springs did not have these so I decided not reuse them.

Prep the center bolt: The circular head of the existing center bolt is 5/8". I used 7/16" x 2.75" Grade 8 bolts with all-metal (not nylon) lock nuts. You will need to grind the corners of the bolt head down so that it will fit in the hole (5/8" diameter) in the spring pad on the axle tube.

Install the F150 springs: Insert the center bolt through the hole in the existing main spring. The bolt will help to align the leaves. Compress the first F150 spring into place with hand pressure and some sort of clamp (the Vise-Grip Kwick Clamps worked great here). Make sure the center bolt keeps the holes in line. I used a pair of Vise-Grips to hold the two leaves tight. Repeat the process of using the clamp to compress the springs and then holding the compression with the Vise-Grip. When you get to the 'second stage' (overload or helper) spring, (the thicker short bottom spring), there should be enough bolt available to install the last leaf. Thread the lock nut onto the bolt (hand tight) and use it to retain the leaf stack. Slowly release the Vise-Grip (the leaves will try to spring downward, be ready!). Re-align everything and use the Vise-Grips to hold the rounded bolt head and an 11/16" wrench or socket to tighten the retaining nut. There should be no gaps between the leaves in the pack once the nut is tight. The hole in the lower shock mount plate will not accommodate the size of the lock nut, you will have to grind the corners off the nut (same as the bolt head) so it will fit. This is why I did not use a nylon lock nut (Nyloc). The heat from grinding might cause the nylon to melt.

Replace the axle tube: Lower the axle tube onto the bolt head. I had to wiggle the axle tube around a little before it slid onto the bolt head. You can also wiggle the leaf pack from side-to-side. Re-install the U-bolts and lower shock mount plate. My local Ford dealer could not provide me with a torque spec for the U-bolt nuts. Eaton Detroit Spring recommends 65 lbs./ft. for 1/2" u-bolts and 90 lbs./ft. for 9/16" u-bolts. I tightened them with the 18mm deep socket and breaker bar. Install the rear shocks. Jump up and down on the rear bumper to cause the springs to settle. I measured 1.75" of gained lift (wheel rim to wheel well lip). At this point I double checked all of the hardware, to be sure it was tight and inventoried my tools.

Test drive: I took the 18mm deep socket and breaker bar with me on some short test drives. After a couple of miles, I would find a convenient place, pull over and re-tighten the U-bolt nuts. They would never come loose but I could tighten each nut a 1/16th to an 1/8th of a turn each stop. I plan to do this until they won't tighten anymore. At that point, I'll see if I can get a torque reading.

Ride Quality: I decided to replace my shocks with ARB/OME units. Before installation, I compared them to the O.E. shocks with respect to compression and rebound. The OME shocks did not feel that much different and my original shocks had 77K miles on them. So, how does it ride? It's stiffer, that's for sure. Is it noticeable? Yes. Is it harsh and obnoxious? No. Do I feel every little pavement joint? No. After approximately 50 miles (highway and local roads) the springs settled to about 1.625" (1 5/8") of total lift. GJarret mentioned that the shocks were a bright color. They're canary yellow and really stand out under the truck. But, they don't bother me enough to take them off and paint them. I have not done the torsion twist and installed the front shocks yet. I'm curious as to how that will change things, if it does at all.

Torsion Twist Recently, I completed the TT. I found it easy enough because the bolts were not frozen. I simply cranked them up a couple of complete turns, threw the breaker bar, socket and measuring tape into the truck and went for a ride. After several miles, I'd stop and measure and crank up (or down) on the torsion bar bolts to achieve the height I wanted. Eventually, I was able to get the measurement (from wheel rim to wheel well lip) the same, front to rear. I never noticed a change in alignment (no pulling). However, the toe measurement probably changed. I'll get an alignment when I buy new tires (in a few months).

To anyone considering this mod but doesn't want to search thru junk yards for old F150s:

Eaton Detroit Spring is offering an 'upgrade kit':
Leaves (w/o main plate), retaining clips, center bolts, inserts and u-bolts w/nuts and washers (for both sides) $260.00 plus shipping (as of April '05, contact Eaton Detroit for current pricing).

This is a complete kit and nothing else is needed (except your mechanical expertise).

Feel free to email or PM me with additional questions and/or for contact information.

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Holy mother of god.

pics. pics. pics.

holy cow... can i get a cliffs note version? :) thorough post man!!! i'm sure it will help someone out

Hartman, I think that's a compliment, thanks.

swak, I have some pictures of the F150 leaf springs before install as well as 2 "before & after" pics on the Explorer. But, I was so filthy I didn't want to make a mess of our digital camera. Later on, I discovered my wife had left it in her office. So, no "step by step" shots, sorry.

jason, cliff notes version: Remove the leaf springs (with the exception of the main leaf) from an early to mid-80s F150 with tow package (five leaf pack). With the exception of the main Explorer leaf, substitute the F150 leaves for the Explorer leaves. Enjoy the additional 1.5+" of suspension lift.

Regards, Dave.

Could you just swap the entire assembaly from the F150 onto the explorer?

Great post, Dave! Man you are thorough, LOL - I simply eyeballed mine and slapped the F150 leafs in there. :D

kevinj, the F150 main leaf is way too long. The method Dave just outlined works perfectly.

Gerald, your other posts (about the creation of 'Herc' and the one about installing a front diff locker) were the inspiration for this post. That and the initial idea of using F150 leaf springs. Thanks.

Mike, from Eaton Detroit Spring let me know that they recommend a 65 lb./ft. torque rating for 1/2" u-bolts and a 90 lb./ft. rating for 9/16" u-bolts.

If you're going to torque the u-bolts, I would use a "stepped" process. That is, instead of torqueing each nut right to 65 (or 90) lb./ft., I would torque to 35 (or 45) lb./ft. first and then on to 65 (or 90) lb./ft. as the second "step".

Also, leaf spring center bolts (the ones with the round heads) are available from them as well. 5/16" are $2.95/ea. and 3/8" are $3.50/ea.

hhmm.. time to hit the junkyard. mine is sagging like crazy. i was thinking of addaleaf but i think this wil be cheaper.

Cool, thanks.

I nominate it for a sticky in the useful threads forum

Well I think he covered about everything.:eek: Good job.

Very nice write-up. I have been contemplating using another vehicle OE leafs to solve my sagging rear problem and gain a little lift as well. I have the small AAL in my leafs now and I am not happy with it. I also have the WAR153 shackles but not installed yet. I got a set of 2dr leafs from my buddy when he swapped in a set of 4dr leafs on his Ex. visually I couldn't ID which set was drivers and passengers side. I made the wrong choice and swapped my drivers pack for his drivers pack and thus my rear sag was still there. I didn't have the energy to do again and figured I wanted to go a different route anyways.

I was hoping to find another set of leafs that would be arched for 2" lift and the overall length would be right to just bolt up.

In my searching I came across this and it seems like a likely answer to my problems.

I think I will begin to scour the yards for a pair of passenger sidw leafs from identical trucks.

If you look for F150s as I described, obviously, the fewer the miles, the higher the spring arch will be (theoretically). If you cannot find any trucks with the five leaf pack, I think a four leaf F150 pack and an AAL or double AAL would provide the same results. It depends on comparing the free arch of the springs I used versus the springs you find. Let me know if you need any help.


Follow-up: U-bolt torque

I finally crawled under my truck to complete the u-bolt torque this weekend. I measured my u-bolts at 7/16". Using a bar-type torque wrench (as opposed to the "clicker" type), I referred to Eaton Detroit's recommendation and final torqued to 60 lbs. / ft. This was not easy since the scale on the wrench faced down (toward the ground). I had to use a mirror to read the scale. My inital torque, with the breaker bar, was not even close so be sure to follow up with a torque wrench. Using the "clicker" type wrench will save you trying to read the scale in the mirror's reflection.


That post is grate. when do you think you will have pics?

I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I had planned to take pictures but found out later in the day that my wife had left our digital camera at her office. So, I have no 'step-by-step' pictures, sorry. Also, I was so dirty that I really didn't feel like taking pictures and making a mess out of the camera.


Thanks, I just completed the project. I purchased a James duff system, but they were out of rear AALs so I got the front stuff and did the F150 swap as you described in the rear. A buddy had purchased th entire system but was unhappy with the AAL they supplied and ended up installing a second AAL to get the lift he needed. So I did not mind doing something different. I installed home made shackles (Just like the Duffs a buddy had purchased). This added an inch. I found a good donor truck at a bone yard and after $80.00 for the leafs (they cut them off for me) $ 10.00 worth of sandblasting $ 10.00 for the spring pads and $ 8.00 worth of spray paint and misc hardware I ended up with a total of 3.25 inches of actual lift in the rear. Now I know the stock leafs were totally dearched but this is sooooo cool. The ride is very stable it looks great and the spring actuate very naturally. The ride is a bit more stiff but I bought it to go camping and wheeling. I decided to conduct an experiment and added a bunch of weight in the back (two buddies) and drove it around a bit. It rode perfect with the added weight. The install was easy with the only real snag being having to replace the spring pads (had to dig around the bone yard for a while to find enough good ones to do the project & found that Mid 90's dodge Caravans are a great place to lookfor these spring pads). The ones on the ex and the F-150's were both totally shot.

Thanks again the detailed and enlightening post, dont know what I would have done or had to spend without it.


Glad to hear things worked out for you. There was a little bit of trepidation, on my part, when I posted this. You are the first person, that I know of, that has follwed my procedure for lifting your truck. I've answered a couple of emails but I haven't received any feedback that leads me to believe that anyone else, except you, has attempted the swap. Please feel free to document anything I may have missed. I noticed, recently, that my leaves are starting to 'fan' (become un-aligned) a little. I purchased leaf spring clips from Eaton Detroit Spring. It's interesting that you decided to replace the spring pads. I could have reused the pads from my Explorer leaves (they were in great shape) but Mike Eaton told me they weren't really necessary. I decided to skip that step.
Regards, Dave.

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Leaf pads

The reason I replaced the pads was simple. When I took apart my leafs I found considerable wear at the ends where the pads had disintegrated. I also found in the junk yard that many of the F-150 springs that had the pads intact had much less wear then other springs that did not have the pads and some of those were worn nearly to a knife edge at the tip. Well, so I thought, if Ford put them there then I might as well. I also did not want any squeaks and other noises. I think the pads may help limit the noise and I have no noise at all when I flex the springs.