Tow-Rig Revival: Breathing New Life Into a 21-Year-Old, 210,000-Mile Ford F-350 Workhorse

    We bring our aging Midwest truck’s suspension back from the dead

    Mike McGlothlinPhotographer, Writer

    With trailers to tow and cargo to haul, diesel pickup owners are always on the go. And as is par for the course in this blue-collar segment, there’s not always time to keep regular tabs on the truck’s suspension. After 21 years of use, you might be surprised at the kind of shape you can find a leaf-spring system in. Such was the case for this 210,000-mile ’97 Ford F-350 4x4. After more than two decades of living in the Midwest—where road salt, humidity, and regular exposure to precipitation had all wreaked havoc on the iron underbelly of the vehicle—its factory leaf springs, bushings, hangers, shackles, and hardware had all seen better days.

    Because this 1-ton crew cab is a workhorse whose duties include towing 4x4s to the trailhead, the owner opted for OEM replacement suspension components. The direct replacement strategy would keep things simple in a suspension job that was anything but easy to pull off. Fighting rust-riddled hangers, dilapidated shackles, brittle bolts, and seized bushings would ensure this project consumed a 10-hour day. However, in the end it would prove to be more than worth the effort, as the truck now drives, tows, and rides like new—not to mention that it’s much safer while sharing the open road with everyone else.

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