Leaf springs tend to be pretty sturdy in blacktop caravans, but they are not a completely trouble-free item. Some will begin to sag and others will break a leaf. In either case, the leaf pack will need to be replaced.
The main rear leaf spring on the tandem-axle van were working on had broken near the rear hangar and was due for replacement. This damage can happen for a few reasons but, in this case, the load-sharing suspension did not appear to cope with being towed over a steep driveway. So it was time for a new spring set.
This is a very simple job but the safety rules still apply. You’ll need level, firm ground to work on and you must use stands to support the van.
With the van jacked up and then on stands, remove the road wheel to get at the leaf spring pack. The wheel nuts are best loosened before jacking the wheel off the ground. With the road wheel removed, the offending spring pack can be removed. First remove the nuts securing the U-bolts and clamps that secure the axle to the spring pack. You might find the U-bolts have a locknut (that is, two nuts threaded onto the bolt) as a safety net to ensure that the nuts do not loosen. Make sure you keep these as you must replace all lock nuts later.
The U-bolts and plate should come off easily with the nuts removed. Then it’s time to tackle the leaf spring attachment points at the front and rear. This load-sharing leaf spring suspension is bolted to a hangar on the chassis at the rear and onto the Roller-Rocker load-sharing pivot at the front. Simply remove the nuts and bolts securing the leaf spring pack. In this case, the nut was tack-welded to the hangar as a way of locking the nut so it would not loosen. This was simply ground off with an electric grinder. The bolts may prove reluctant to slip out of the hangars and will probably need a tap with a hammer to release them.
With the bolts removed, the leaf spring pack should drop out and be easily removed.
Fitting the new leaf spring pack is simply a reversal of the process, but it needs a few checks to make sure the axle is aligned. If the axle is not tracking true, tyre wear will be uneven on the van. The bolts securing the leaf spring pack at each end (at the eyelets) should be cleaned and regreased before re-fitting. The nuts securing the eyelets and the U-bolts should be tight. The nut securing the rear eyelet does not need to be spot-welded again, although all securing points on the spring should be re-checked after 1000km.
The full feature appeared in Caravan World #522. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!