Hands up all those who have undertaken something that looks like to should take a couple of hours and it ended up taking all day…….?
OK, ALL of you
can put your hands down now, this is not quite one of those, but it so easily could have been.
I bought the ‘E-Z Flex heavy duty’ rubber suspension linkage upgrade kit from ‘etrailer’ a couple of weeks ago after soliciting your advice in these very pages. Thanks again to everyone who chimed in, your input was greatly appreciated and it made me a more enlightened buyer.
The kit in the box, consists of the two equalizer units with the three bushes (center where it mounts to the chassis and the two that attach to the front and rear leaf springs) already installed. Score.
The shackles, (all four of them look like they were engineered for a battleship or some similar behemoth) too come with the ‘wet bolts’ press fit into one side of them. Excellent.
After checking that the quantity of loose ‘wet bolts’ and bronze bushings was correct I put the box aside until I had a window of opportunity to install everything.
Today was perfect. The Florida weather has been blistering already, but this week it cooled down somewhat, nothing like up North, but cool nevertheless. If you’re stuck up there in the middle of the snow, my heart goes out to you. Been there, done that.
My wife likes me the shape I am, so she insists I employ the ‘Belt AND Braces’ approach to anything remotely dangerous, ie getting under ‘Harvey’ with the wheels off. It’s a sound attitude, and I wouldn’t do it any other way.
I have a couple of 3 ton bottle jacks with built in ratcheting axle stands. I had a local engineering shop make me a couple of extensions so I can use them to level or lift directly under Harvey’s chassis.
Either jack will comfortably lift one side and both wheels off the ground, but to follow my rule, I placed them both under one side about two feet either side of the wheels. After jacking Harvey up and removing the wheels, I placed them under the frame which was clear of the ground by exactly their diameter figuring if the jack/s fail it’ll sink only onto the wheels. Belt AND Braces.
I studied a video of someone doing the exact replacement posted on the etrailer website. It all looked so simple and straightforward. (it really is, but things don’t always behave like they do in movies)
His sequence was to drop the center equalizer, replace it with the new E-Z Flex unit, then tackle the opposite ends of the springs where they bolt to the chassis. This didn’t work for me and I struggled for far too long trying to align the new wet bolts through the chassis hangers. But hold on, I jumped ahead.
Following the video, I removed the wheels and began taking stuff apart. I had doused the all the bolts the day before with a quality penetrating fluid. I was surprised at how difficult the bolts were to remove, but nowhere near as horrified as I was at the quality of the factory installed nylon bushes.
I’ve put about 7,000 miles on Harvey since buying him brand new off the lot in December 2016. Already the bushes were almost worn through, the one in the photo is a relatively good one. They popped out with a push from a screwdriver, I am disappointed, they're so soft I could crush them between a finger and thumb.
For those who didn’t consider this a worthwhile upgrade, after what I found on my 2016 TT, I urge you to at least inspect your suspension bushing. I doubt a failure here would be in itself dangerous, noisy perhaps, but the potential for misalignment of axles could lead to tire failures and that’s a different matter altogether. I’ll get off my soapbox right now.
The driver’s side took me about three hours, including jacking, greasing and torqueing down. Three quarters of what I anticipated. After a break for lunch it was on to the other side.
This time after supporting the chassis as before, I removed all the bolts from the equalizer, and those from both ends of the springs. To my amazement, I had it all stripped in under thirty minutes. Result.
I should mention that the instructions suggest hammering the new bushes into the spring ends. This is not as easy as it sounds as the springs are, well, springy. A steel block behind them would help but I haven’t got three hands, or a steel block for that matter.
What I do have is a big ‘Gee’ clamp. Using a short bolt the same diameter as the inside of the bushing to protect the end from burring over or deforming in anyway, I used the clamp to press the bushings home. They look so much better than factory already.
I installed the E-Z Flex to the center hanger first, hand tightening the nut on the back, then the chassis hanger ends of the springs with their respective new ‘wet bolts’ to their hangers. This left the springs disconnected only at the equalizer. By placing a small trolley jack under each axle where the ‘U’ bolts secure it to the spring, I could accurately raise the axle until the spacing between the E-Z Flex and the spring matched the two ‘wet bolts’ already pressed into one side of the shackle. The other side of the shackle was then fitted and the nuts hand tightened. Easy peasy.
I should mention, in the photo above, taken doing the first side, the shackles are not correctly aligned as the end of the spring to the right is not yet connected to the frame hanger. Which is where I had all the trouble and wasted a lot of time.
The entire second side took an hour, so my guesstimate of four hours for the job was spot on, but I have a feeling it could so easily have gone all pear shaped and taken six or eight.
Therefore, in theory, if I had to do it all again, now I know what I’m doing, it should take just two hours.
Haa haa haa ha arrggh.