Rear Suspension Rebuild

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Contributed by AMC Eagle Nest Member "HokieEagle"

Please note some of the parts used in this rebuild give the car a 2" lift. If you want a stock ride height then you do not want to use the "add-a-leaf" Springs.

Springs, shackles, shocks and bushings are what you want. To see a How To regarding Shock Replacement please go here: Rear Shock Installation

Well, I finally got around to doing the rear suspension and here it is. New Leafs and associated hardware with an add-a-leaf kit and new shocks.

My Eagle Wagon Before the Rebuild
My Eagle Wagon Before the Rebuild
Another Shot of Before the Rebuild

- Leaf Springs from ESPO. About $140.00pr plush shipping (USD). Just call, they know what you need and it will go out next day usually.

- Poly shackle kit from ESPO; $27.00 x 2.

- Poly front leaf spring bushing from ESPO; $12.00 x 2. New leafs come with rubber bushings already installed though.

- New U-bolts and nuts from ESPO; $5.00 x 4.

- New end bolt and nut from ESPO; $3.00 x 2. Highly recommended because I tore up both of my old ones getting them out.

- New shocks available at most parts stores. Monroe Sensa-trac model number 58510; $78.00.

The shock I used. I was hoping the spring would actually help give a little more lift too but the shock ended up being the limiting factor for this setup. I would say it is probably a half inch to an inch too short but should be just right after the car settles.

- Rough Country Add-a-leafs (short) from JC Whitney (mfg part #6104w / JCW catalog #811024); $37.99pr.

- Total = $360.00

The better news...

Leaf springs - Add-a-leafs went in really well. Used c-clamps to hold the pack together, took off the lowest clip using a torch, screwdriver, and hammer. Then took out the guide bolt. took the bottom leaf off, put in the add-a-leaf, and put the last leaf back on the bottom just for the extra 1/4 inch. Put the guide bolt back in not tightening it up yet. Used 2 people to cinch the add-a-leaf down. This was much easier than I expected it to be. We put a 10 inch c-clamp on each side of the guide bolt and took turns turning 1 turn each. It came together really smoothly. Tightened the guide bolt, then put the clip back on to hold the leaf pack together using the same tools. Then painted them red. I decided to go ahead and leave the rubber bushings in instead of replacing them with poly because I didn't have the tools to do the job. Here are some online instructions for putting add-a-leafs in the spring pack.

Disassembly and reassembly of the components was pretty cut and dry. I used this website as general guidance on doing a rear spring replacement/lift. I highly recommend hosing down all the bolts that will need to be taken off with a penetrating oil of some sort, especialy if they are rusted at all;. 20 years is a long time for a nut or bolt to not move. I had one problem taking things apart. One front end bolt for the leaf springs was not in all the way so the threads had come down on the bracket in an odd way and bent to where I could not turn it out or push it out. After spending 2 hours on it I came up with the idea to use a recip. saw to cut the bolt off on both sides right through the bushings. I think I almost caught the rubber bushings on fire doing that. (would have made for a better story.) So after 2 hours of messing with it, the bolt was in 3 pieces and out of there.

Reassembly went fine until the braches on the back of the leaf springs were pointing towards the front of the car when I put the weight of the car on them. Tried brute force to get them to point straight down or to the rear like they are supposed to but it wasn't working. So i got the crow bar out. Placed the end on the top of the leaf and pried against the metal rim above it that the shackle would bottom out on if you put longer shackles on. With a slight force, the shackles popped right down into place. Then, the shocks seemed to be a bit short when the ends were 1.5 inches from the stud on the axle. With the wheels back on and the car on the ground, I just placed the jack under the axle on each side at a time and lifted the wheel a slight bit. Then with a slight push down on the bumper form a person, the shock went down the last 1/4 inch.

Those are really the only 2 pieces of advice I have for the whole job. It was pretty cut and dry. It took two of us 8 hours to do it leisurely including dinner and painting some parts. The leafs were pre-painted another day. OH!! and watch out for how far you drop the rear diff. You may have to unhook the brake line bolted to it on the passenger side like I did so you don't pull the line appart. And watch out the the E-brake cable on the driver side.

And, a realignment of the front end will probably need to be done after you finish the front lift. This is also recommended after completing a stock height rebuild.

Now here comes the good part I can't really find posted anywhere...


Leafs before Add-a-leaf.

Length 51 1/2 in.

Height to center inner 7 5/8 in.

Height to center outer 8 5/8 in.

Leafs after Add-a-leaf - Length 49 3/4in.

Height to center inner 9 7/8 in.

Height to center outer 11 1/8 in.

Height of rear before new suspension (measured from ground to top center of flare) -- 27 1/4 in. After -- 32 in; YES, that is 4 3/4 inches gained from replacing tired springs with OE spec leafs with an add-a-leaf in them! And of course some of that will settle out.

Height from ground to bottom of bumper (center) AFTER - 24 3/4 in. I forgot to get a before measurement.

Here is What it Looks Like After Its All Assembled
Another Shot After the Rebuild
My Eagle Wagon After the Rebuild
My Eagle Wagon After the Rebuild