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How to: Chevy 63" Leaf Spring Swap

Discussion in 'Suspension' started by dakotasyota, Jun 13, 2015.

  1. Jun 13, 2015 at 12:35 AM
    #1
    dakotasyota

    dakotasyota [OP] Just a Fringe of the Ging in your Minge

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    Tired of your baby flex? You have dreams of dropping your rear tire beneath your Rock Slider?? Have a burning desire to spend a weekend under your truck burning yourself with metal shavings??? Well look no further! The Chevy 63 Swap is for you!

    ***DISCLAIMER***
    I am not responsible for you ruining your truck. Go into this project with caution, it's not a small endeavor, especially not for someone without a lot of experience. This process involves removing *ALL* of your factory rear suspension components. Leaf springs support your vehicle, center the axle, and can cause vibrations and axle wrap if not setup correctly. Lots of measuring, patience, and custom fabrication is required for the swap. You don't want your cool new taco going down the road dog-legged.

    K a little bit of info here...

    What are Chevy 63s?

    They are 63" long (eyelet to eyelet) leaf springs off of 1/2 ton Chevy/GMC pickups from 1988-2010+. They are favored in the offroad world for their small arch, load carrying capacity, and affordableness? <-- Not a word, I know :anonymous: They make a for a super long lasting, flexy spring. They come in a 2 Leaf + overload (2wd) or 3 Leaf + overload (4wd). If you got lots of junk in your trunk (Bumpers, spare tires, bed racks, canopies, RTTs, Zombie Survival Tools, etc) then you're gonna want the 3 Leaf. Plus with the 3 leaf you can always remove a leaf if needed.

    What will I need?

    Chevy 63" Leaf Springs - Get them from a wrecking yard or your friendly neighborhood tweaker on craigslist. $100 is the average price for them. I paid $125 for the junkyard to remove them for me.

    Ruff Stuff Ideal Spring Swap - *If you have a 2nd gen taco select the following options* 3.25" axle tube, no spring perch, 5" shackle, no shock brackets.

    Shock Relocation - There is no reason to run Chevy 63s without upgrading to a 12" or longer shock. In order to do this you need to move the upper shock mount up. You can only fit a 12" max without going through the bed with a custom shock mounting setup. Both BAMF and Pelfreybilt make a relocation for a 12" shock. Click on their names to check out their relocations. I went with BAMF. Both will work.

    Shocks - Whatever you want really. I got 12" 2.0 King Smoothies w/ Remote Resis. Down South Motorsports usually has the best deals. Send them a PM on here and they will give you a TW discount.

    Bumpstops - , , or any type of bump can. It depends on your budget or application really. If you go with a Pelfrey relocation you're gonna want to go with bump cans since it comes with a mount for them. I went with Wheeler's Superbumps.

    Brake Lines - Stock is 21". I ordered 28" and it has some room to spare. Obviously if you go with a bigger shock you should order longer. I suggest ordering custom brake lines from @OCTaco here. Super fast turnaround from when you order to when they show up at your door. I was shocked! Great guy to deal with.

    Limit Straps - It's very easy to stretch passed the limits of a 12" shock. I used an 18" limit strap from Trail Gear. Depending where you mount them it's all gonna be custom so you'll have to measure and find out for yourself. Trail Gear makes good straps that don't stretch much though. Check it!

    Carrier Bearing Drop - You're going to have a ton of droop so its a good idea to ease the strain on your U-joint and it helps to eliminate vibes. The is good.

    Trac Bar - This is always a good idea to keep from axle wrap and twisting your leafs. I haven't built one yet and I don't have axle wrap so I'm winging it. The downside to this is you can't just buy one due to the amount of droop the Springs will provide. Plus the bolt on ones are easy to strip out the diff bolt that they mount to.

    1/4" or 5/16" Steel - This is to make your own custom rear spring perches. On a 2nd gen the frame tapers so you need to build your own perch for the rear shackle :/ We'll get into this more later. Update 2/10/18: RuffStuff makes pre-fabbed spring perches!!! ---> Here and here

    Tools - Full socket sets, open ended wrench sets, an impact wrench if you got it (REALLY HELPFUL), a welder, grinders, sander, sawzall, screwdrivers, TAPE MEASURE, press, jackstands, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Chances are if you're going to be tackling a Chevy 63" swap you or the person who's helping you will have enough stuff to do it. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I highly suggest doing this with someone else. It makes things so much easier with a second person.


    Some Acknowledgments:

    I couldn't have done this without the motivation and help from
    @SMKYTXN - Build - His write up
    @Pdugan6 - Build
    @VanCity4x - Build

    Thanks guys! Go check out their builds and feel free to ask them questions. They're all very helpful.

    Also gotta thank the dude who wrote this FAQ on Pirate4x4.com

    http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/toyota-truck-4runner/20665-63-chevy-1-2-ton-spring-swap-faq.html

    Super helpful!

    Ok on to picks and destructions :D

    THE PROCESS:

    K first of all get your old rusty dirty leaf springs :D

    Cool now it's time to paint these bad boys! I also removed my overload because I knew they were already gonna provide a ton of lift and the overload prevents flex. A little bit of negative arch on these suckers won't matter.


    Ok time to start piecing together your Ruff Stuff Kit. Your front hangers will need to be welded together. This is a good time to dial in your welder and maybe suggest that your friend do most of the welding if you weld like me... :anonymous:



    Rock on you're now like an 1/8 of the way there! Put dat taco on jack stands. Throw your tires under there. Shake it to make sure it's safe. Be safe please. Also disconnect your battery. You're going to be doing a lot of welding on your truck. I've heard mixed opinions on the whole wrecking your ECU thing... bottom line is it takes 5 seconds to disconnect your battery and #BetterSafeThanSorry



    Ok now time to remove your stock brake lines. Be careful not to strip them. Also be careful with the brake fluid. It dissolves paint and isn't too good for you...

    Next you take your stock leafs and shocks out. I didn't take any pictures of this but if you can't figure it out by yourself then stop now!! Haha :p


    Cool now it's time to finish the prep on your Chevy leafs. Ruff Stuff kindly provides all new bushings for them. Use a press to get your old bushings out. This is my crazy/I already regret this face

    *WARNING* Ok so the ruffstuff kit bushings were too big to fit in-between the shackle hangers AND were loose inside the spring. No good. I've heard this has something to do with Chevy changing bushing size after 1998. As luck would have it I got my springs off of a 1999. So here is how we fixed it. We sanded down the bushings.


    Then we smeared silicone on them prior to squishing them inside the leaf spring. Cool - crisis averted :cool:

    Ok now time to grab your grinder and mask. You have A LOT of cutting to do. Cut off the rivets holding on your front spring hanger and your rear shackle hanger. Then it will take a lot of prying and grinding to get them off. You should also cut off your stock shock mounts while you're at it. After that grab your sander and make everything where you're going to weld shiny :D




    Now attach your new springs to the new front hanger and to the new rear shackle hangers. This is where you just have to take your time. Measure, measure, measure, then measure again. Set the center pin of your leafs inside the mount on your axle to hold it in place on your axle. Then you will need to center your axle front to back and side to side. This takes time! Centering the axle front/back is fairly easy. Line up the center pin with the center of the bump plate. Centering it side to side is a little harder. We held a small level straight up and down against the hub, then measured the distance from the edge of the level to the frame. Make that equal on both sides then you're good to go. Now tack in your front spring hangers. You will need to cut into your gas tank skid to make the driver side spring hanger fit. Make sure they are mounted on the exact same spot on each side of the frames. This is serious suspension work, the robot welded factory stuff is gone. You want everything to be perfect. We measured off of the transmission crossmember to make sure they were the same. Take your time, this can be very frustrating.




    Ok now once you got the fronts tacked in in the right spot, now you have to make sure your leafs are perpendicular. Measure the distance between your bottom leafs all the way down the spring. Should be the same at the front, axle, and rear. It's time to set up the rear now. Like I said you need to build a custom shackle hanger. This is what we did. (Or use pre-fabbed mounts from RuffStuff)


    Just tack it in place because I guarantee you will have to adjust it. You want to position it so your shackles are at about 45 degrees before you add weight like so:

    Then add weight and see if you like your ride height. Mine is at about 20 degrees at ride height. That seems to be the most coveted angle with a 5" shackle. (Note: At full droop your shackle should be straight up and down)

    Loosely bolt up your u-bolts and set it on it's feet. If you like then rock on it's time to go weld crazy!


    Triple check all your measurements before going weld crazy. After welding everything torque everything down (I went 75 ft lbs on spring hangers/shackles and 85 ft lbs on the u bolts)

    You're not done yet. Install your shock relocation. I'm not gonna post details about that because both have instructions or it will be your own custom deal. Next install your bumpstops. I had to lengthen my Superbumps by almost 3 inches. Throw your shocks in there. Then throw your new fancy brake lines on. Bleed your brakes. Then cycle your suspension and install your limit straps. Take the shocks out of there or mask them off then paint everything. Reconnect your battery. Then flex 'er out and make every one jealous! Have a beer, or 5... you deserve it! It definitely isn't an easy process but boy is it worth it. Enjoy! Don't forget to install your stickers! You're gonna want that added HP :D Hopefully this write up helped!

    Here's some pictures testing out my truck. This is with 1.5" of shock travel left before I strapped the rear.



    Here's my rake. Keep in mind I'm definitely not at 3" lift in the front anymore.

    Here's real world application:



    Also I do slightly rub my shocks. Keep that in mind. Depending on your wheels you may need wheel spacers.

    -Dakota
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018
  2. Jun 13, 2015 at 3:56 AM
    #2
    HHIRunner

    HHIRunner Heep Traitor

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    Good shit bud
     
  3. Jun 13, 2015 at 6:57 AM
    #3
    SMKYTXN

    SMKYTXN If it can't be overdone it's not worth doing Vendor

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    Nice writeup! :thumbsup:

    I'll add to it that you can also run aftermarket lift chevy 63's to get even more travel, but you do have to put your shocks through the bed as 12" shocks won't cut it.

    I used a set of skyjacker 5" lift springs, 6" shackles, and 18" 2.5 Kings.

    Here's a comparison.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Jun 15, 2015 at 12:55 PM
    #4
    OCTaco

    OCTaco Well-Known Member

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    Dude awesome job on the write up! Hope you're enjoying those lines.

    JP
     
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  5. Jun 22, 2015 at 4:31 AM
    #5
    ahspurlock

    ahspurlock The TW Mechanic

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    nice write up makes me want to start it now
     
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  6. Jun 22, 2015 at 8:10 PM
    #6
    HomerTaco

    HomerTaco also HomerTaco Vendor

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    HomerTaco ...................................................................................................................................................... Core-Hurst short throw shifter & T-handle / Carbon Fiber Interior / custom console light / De-badged / leather interior / Heated Front seats / Red Line Hood Struts / Painted speaker grills /one-off TRD Satoshi Grill with 12-15 front-end swap/ Pioneer AVIC-X920BT HU / Scangauge II / Black LED Tails / Dash Mount for iPad mini / Safari Snorkel / Auto-pilot mode / Leer 100XQ Cap / 4x Innovations sliders / Rear Diff Breather Mod / front windows tinted to 35% / Brute Force Fab Hybrid Front Bumper / BAMF Rear Diff Skid / Budbuilt Skids / CBI Trail Master 2.0 rear hybrid bumper / Fox rr coils/ TC UCA's/ TC spindle gussets/ TC Cam Tab gussets / Dakar leafs / Defined Engineering shackles / All pro U bolt flip / Timbren Rear Bumpstops / BAMF LCA skids / Exhaust re-route / Fog Light anytime Mod / LowRange Off Road extended rear brake lines / ATO Shackle Flip / sectioned Bushwhacker flares / re-geared to 4.56 / ARB Front & Rear Locking Diff / ARB CKMA12 compressor / PrInSu full rack system / 1" body lift / Inchworm 4.7 crawlbox / twin stick FJ t-case / Davez off-road triple-stick kit/
    Great job kid! :thumbsup:
     
  7. Jun 22, 2015 at 10:17 PM
    #7
    Haws

    Haws Well-Known Member

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    Lot's of stuff (-;
    Looks like I found my rear suspension set up (-; How are you factoring your lift into this setup?
     
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  8. Jun 23, 2015 at 7:36 AM
    #8
    ckeene9

    ckeene9 Well-Known Member

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    Sweet write-up! It's something I'm considering doing.
     
  9. Jun 23, 2015 at 9:18 AM
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    T4RFTMFW

    T4RFTMFW Well-Known Member

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    Affordability. :cheers:
     
  10. Jun 23, 2015 at 1:48 PM
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    lemons

    lemons LOCO 4X4

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    Good write up....Been thinking bout doing this just not sure how much more flex I'll get over the AllPro Expo springs. If the time and effort is worth it. If it's a few more inches then Hell yea.
     
  11. Jun 23, 2015 at 2:52 PM
    #11
    SMKYTXN

    SMKYTXN If it can't be overdone it's not worth doing Vendor

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    I have 4" up and 12" down with the skyjacker leafs.
     
  12. Jun 23, 2015 at 6:29 PM
    #12
    dakotasyota

    dakotasyota [OP] Just a Fringe of the Ging in your Minge

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    Awesome. What do you mean? My front lift?
    Do et!
    The biggest difference you'll see if from moving up to a longer stroke shock. The great thing about Chevy 63s is they open up a new level of opportunity for customizing your rear suspension to your liking. Like I said, I could have gone with a longer shock (something I'm still considering) and achieved more droop. The other great thing is if you somehow manage to wear them out they're only $100. Expos are expensive and notorious for wearing out, especially with a shackle flip.
     
  13. Jun 24, 2015 at 4:18 AM
    #13
    Haws

    Haws Well-Known Member

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    Lot's of stuff (-;
     
  14. Jun 24, 2015 at 12:44 PM
    #14
    dakotasyota

    dakotasyota [OP] Just a Fringe of the Ging in your Minge

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    Are you looking to be level? Your lift height is all dependent on your shackles. You move them forwards or backwards on the frame to adjust the height where they are gonna ride at. If you don't want as much lift you could go with a shorter shackle. The 5 inch is great because it prevents you from going negative arch, but really negative arch isn't as big of a deal with Chevy 63s...
     
  15. Jul 21, 2015 at 9:40 AM
    #15
    Rattletrap66

    Rattletrap66 (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

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    can't I use 12" Bilstein 5125's with the stock mounts?
     
  16. Jul 21, 2015 at 9:41 AM
    #16
    dakotasyota

    dakotasyota [OP] Just a Fringe of the Ging in your Minge

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    Negative.
     
  17. Jul 21, 2015 at 9:45 AM
    #17
    SMKYTXN

    SMKYTXN If it can't be overdone it's not worth doing Vendor

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    Check the extended and compressed lengths and then go measure between the stock mounts. You'll find the compressed length is too long.
     
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  18. Jul 21, 2015 at 9:48 AM
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    ckeene9

    ckeene9 Well-Known Member

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    If you don't want to relocate, you can run 11's.
     
  19. Jul 21, 2015 at 9:49 AM
    #19
    dakotasyota

    dakotasyota [OP] Just a Fringe of the Ging in your Minge

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    You have to extend bumpstops though right?
     
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  20. Jul 21, 2015 at 9:50 AM
    #20
    ckeene9

    ckeene9 Well-Known Member

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    I'm running timbrens and at full compression of the bumps is just shy of full shock compression.

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1437497559.768501.jpg

    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1437497643.963083.jpg
     
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