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Old 10-02-2018, 10:34 PM   #1
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Sourcing custom leafsprings is hard

Iíve wanted to replace the springs in my van since I bought it, but years later itís getting critical. The rear leaf springs are completely shot and actually reversed arced. Part of the reason Iíve yet to change them has been due to the difficulty in sourcing new ones. I want to eliminate the 4inch blocks in the rear due to excessive axle wrap and get a more progressive spring rate to hopefully improve the ride some. Iíve had lots of folks tell me they can build a custom spring, but when it comes time to get them built, the process seems to end there.

After hopeful discussions with a couple well known Southern California van builders, they no longer return messages or emails. Next up was one of the countryís largest spring manufacturers, (Detroit spring) a company a hot rod builder friend recommended and has used several times. After initial emails with their ďspring guruĒ (who actually turned out the be the owner) the replys stopped, so I called them direct and talked to their head designer who flat told me it wasnít possible to do what I wanted, that is fabricate a spring that would have an additional 4 inches of arch over stock, and more but thinner leaves to provide a more compliant ride ( a more progressive rate). I asked if this was due more to the tooling they use, or design considerations, and he said it was mostly the tooling. I mentioned Dever does this all the time and he checked out their website as we were talking.

He then recommended I contact Alcan spring in Colorado. Before I did, I talked with Dever, who I have been avoiding due to long lead times and extreme expense. Jeff there told me he could do just what I wanted, it would be $1700, and 6 to 8 weeks lead time. Finally I called Alcan, and immediately was talking to the owner. We had a very productive conversation, and he understood exactly what I wanted and assured me he would be able to make it happen.

Hereís where it got even better, cost is $800 for an 8 leaf pack, shipping will be less due to being closer, and the lead time is only 3 weeks, hopefully soon enough to get them installed before I depart for Baja. So, I placed the order today and mentioned I was really hoping to put a rush on the order as I want to use a buddys shop, and he departs on a motorcycle trip at the end of the month. He thought it was possible, even quite likely. So, I hope Iím not getting ahead of my self here, since this hasnít happened yet, but for the first time in a couple years I am fairly confident I finally found a vender that will actually make this happen. Stand byÖÖÖÖÖÖ..
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Old 10-03-2018, 06:53 AM   #2
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Did you try Oregon Auto Spring in Portland at all? Best of luck and keep us posted. I’ll be headed down that same road pretty soon with my Chevy.
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Old 10-03-2018, 10:09 AM   #3
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I had good luck with Dever who had the springs made at Oregon auto springs. Lead time was about 6 weeks however. Oregon put the springs on for me and did the mods needed for the agile shocks. Iím happy now. Also consider the sulastic shackles to soak up the vibration before your springs are engaged.
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Old 10-03-2018, 10:30 AM   #4
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I had good very luck with Standens in AB 403-259-7802 or 258-7800 Chelsie. I was some what passing through there though. I'm not sure about ordering or the shipping from Canada?? But I i think they have outfits in the US? The exchange rate was helpful as well! They added two custom springs to my pack in about 5 hrs. They can definitely do anything and are very large outfit.Mike MG when I was venting my frustration with my springs via this forum recommended Oregon Auto Spring as previously mentioned by another member. I also read somewhere they make the springs for Deaver???? That could be way off but I thought I had read that somewhere.
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Old 10-03-2018, 10:34 AM   #5
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My springs were also made at Oregon Auto Spring. I had them installed as part of my Quadvan conversion; no block was used as typically done on Quadvan conversions. Love how it handles. I will be interested to hear how the Alcan springs work out for you, and also see the finished product.
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Old 10-03-2018, 11:13 AM   #6
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About a year ago I spoke to Oregon auto spring, and yes they do build springs for Dever, but they must be ordered through Dever (along with the high price and long lead time). They told me they would build me a stock set, but if I wanted something custom, it would either have to be through Dever, or my own design (and would be non refundable, even if it doesn't fit). I don't have enough experience to design a custom pack, and, at least at the time, they didn't offer to do custom designs. That seemed to be the case with other builders I contacted too, so to find someone who has the experience and willingness to turn my desires into actual set is hopeful.
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Old 10-03-2018, 11:18 AM   #7
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Arctic, sounds like your plan is set.

I'm curious, did you reach out to Weldtec? Jeremy had me set up with
custom leaf packs in a couple weeks. That was a couple years ago tho.
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Old 10-03-2018, 11:28 AM   #8
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One of the problems I've gathered from talking to many leaf spring companies is that it is so difficult to deal with how subjective ride quality is and each individual customer's preferences for ride and handling. For me, I understand that a 9000lbs van with 1ton running gear is going to ride a bit rougher than a new S-class... Some people are pretty persnickity though. What might be a perfectly good set of custom springs becomes scrap metal for a spring manufacturer with a fussy customer who wants a 4x4 van to ride like a new Mercedes. Perfecting the characteristics of the springs requires experience with the vehicle and let's face it, not many spring companies have lots of experience with 4x4 vans. Oregon Auto Spring will build any spring you want but they won't design a spring for you. They used to do the full service design/make/install but they told me they stopped due to exactly what I said above.
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Old 10-03-2018, 03:53 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mgmetalworks View Post
...What might be a perfectly good set of custom springs becomes scrap metal for a spring manufacturer with a fussy customer who wants a 4x4 van to ride like a new Mercedes...
LOL!

After adding helpers, adding an additional leaf, then a mix-n-match deal from the wrecking yard trying to piece together something that would decent and carry a six pack camper, I gave in and had a set of custom leaf springs made for my old Nissan Hardbody truck by a guy in Oakland back in the 1990's.

According to most people I asked, Dick Gauer's A-1 Spring was thee go-to guy in the SF Bay Area. Hardly advertised at all, but He made his own springs from in-house steel strip, and heat treated them in-house as well. He interviewed me over the phone, then we talked in person, with him feeling me out to see if my expectations were something he could attain, and would only give me a 'round number' +/- 30%, in terms of price. He said building springs can be a little trial and error, and felt we could work together to make me a happy camper.

I dropped off my truck, picked it a up a couple days latter, low end of the price range he quoted me, too! Well he hit it out of the park first try, I was very satisfied with the price and ride quality. Few do business like that anymore, few customers have the stomach for the process, few businesses want to partner with their customers.

Unfortunately Dick has since passed away, but the shop is still in business, building leaf springs. If you are in the SF Bay Area and need springs, it would be worth a call.

A1 Spring Service - Suspension Installation, Repair, Parts - Oakland, CA 94605
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Old 10-03-2018, 08:10 PM   #10
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Good luck! Exciting, hopefully theyíll work out. Wish I had known about them before I got springs sent out from Deaver years ago, woulda saved some coin! But Deaver had experience building springs for our rigs and instilled confidence when I talked to them on the phone, they went through all the parameters with me-weight front/rear, height, how I used it...etc. very happy with them 10 years later. Iíve just added a 1Ē block to bring my rear up a bit due to settling and towing a heavier trailer.

BTW-Youíre in much better shape than I am on getting things ready for Baja, Iím completely gutted, Iíve got no interior built yet and am falling behind on getting things prepped for the new buildout. Driving an hour each way to/from Loveland doesnít help either. Itíll get done though, one way or the other! I might have to start sleeping in it in the garage space Iíve rented for the month across from AVC....
Starting a build thread soon....

I had to check, I thought thereís no way shipping springs to you from Denver is cheaper than from SoCal. In fact, Denver adds around 100 mi. to the shipping distance to you than from Santa Ana. Go figure.
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