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All Sprung Out: Leaf Spring 101

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on October 1, 2010
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We ain't like them fancy magazines what get all uppity with them coilovers and chain-link suspensions. If two pairs of leaf springs were good enough for those WWII GIs, they're good enough for us.

Well, actually, coilovers, multi-link suspensions, and all that fancy jazz have their place. But for all the technology, geometry, and intricacies of making them work, it's really hard to beat good old-fashioned leaf springs. When you think about it, leaf springs are amazing critters. They locate your axles longitudinally underneath your vehicle while still allowing a semi-elliptic arc of travel to smooth bumps. And they do it all with a steadily increasing, linearly compounding spring rate that can deliver smooth-yet-predictable performance off-road. As the top leaf compresses, it encounters the leaves below it. The spring rate ramps up at a rate determined by the thickness and number of leaves in the pack. A good spring builder can tailor a spring pack based on vehicle weight and usage that will rival the plushness of most coilover systems without the worry about all that anti-sway, body-rolling, tire-jacking nonsense. So follow along as we check out a few leaf spring factoids that may make you go vintage on your next suspension design.

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