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Broken leaf spring - how common?

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aribert
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Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #1 by aribert » Fri Jul 24, 2009 5:35 pm

This past Monday, while giving a co-worker a ride in my Falcon to an off site meeting (where we would find out that we would be (atleast temporarily) be laid off) the RH main leaf spring broke and my car ground to a quick halt in the center turn late of a 5 lane road. Revving the engine way up and slipping the cluch, I was able to force the car off of the road and into parking lot at the expense of a signifigant amount of clutch smoke. THe right rear corner of the car was held up by the emergency brake cable - which was really grabbing.

After determining that both the main and second leaves were broken forward of the rear axle, I had the car towed to my workshop (a mere $177.50!). I did not feel comfortable in renting a tow dolley when the rear axle was only secured to the car on one side.

I'm installing a spare (very rusty, history unknown) set of springs that I already had. Question - how common is a leaf spring failure? Note: my car has just over 250K miles on it. For the cost of the towing bill, I think that I would have been quite a ways toward buying a new replacement set of leaf springs. On closer inspection, I noticed that the second leaf broke first (the break was slighty rust discolored). Short of removing a spring set and dismantling the leaf pack, how would I know that there was a broken leaf in the pack? The thing that is a bit of a bitch is that I intended to have the leaf springs re-arched this past winter (they were definitely going flat) and never got around to it - the spring shop might have discovered the broken leaf or had it break while re-arching

Anything else to pay attention to?
61 , Deluxe trim & original 54 yr old factory padded dash. Custom interior, stock color base/clear, 275K mi, My car for the last 47 years (OK, first decade "ownership" from the left rear seat). '78 200, 3.03 manual trans, '73 dist w/ points & TFI ign, Weber32/36, 15 wheels Image

91 F150 4.9 almost stock

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xzerokidx
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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #2 by xzerokidx » Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:19 pm

Happened to me. I was making a u turn and at the furthest point during the turn "SNAP", I pull over and see one of the springs broke (just behind the axle) Luckily I was able to slowly drive her 2 miles to the shop I was working at the time.

Basically there is no way of knowing other than inspection and the tell tale signs of sagging before the point of breakage.

And yes your tow bill could have bought you your new springs. I believe I ordered mine from ESPO but im not 100% on that right now.
1963 Ford Falcon Futura
'76 250ci, C4, 8" rear

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ludwig
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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #3 by ludwig » Fri Jul 24, 2009 6:51 pm

If these springs are anything like the Mustang springs, then sagging, flex and breakage are normal at 40+ years. When I took my Stang springs off, I could flop them back and forth with my hands. New springs definitely tightened up the ride.
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xzerokidx
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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #4 by xzerokidx » Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:06 am

ludwig wrote:New springs definitely tightened up the ride.


And lift you way higher than you might have ever wanted. I Should have opted for the reverse eye springs. The sagging ride height looked way better IMO.
1963 Ford Falcon Futura
'76 250ci, C4, 8" rear

aribert
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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #5 by aribert » Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:31 pm

THanks for the replys. For now I will be running the rusty leaf springs that came with the '63 3.20 ratio rear axle that I bought a few years ago. I was told that the axle was "low milage" and it did still have Bendix brand brake hardware with the Ford script logo on it (on the other hand the (leather) axle seals have worn a slight groove into the axle shafts so the milage can not be that low). Even though the car is still up on jack stands (awaiting new axle seals - wrong size special ordered at the auto parts store and the correct ones not in stock a the local bearing supply house and being shipped in from out of state) the rusty springs have much more arch to them. With the original spring still on the LH side and the rusty replacement spring on the RH side, there is a significant difference in the spring shackle orientation. I am suddenly spooked to be running another old part for a spring but being (temporarily?) out of work means that I will not be buying new springs untill the winter at the earliest.
61 , Deluxe trim & original 54 yr old factory padded dash. Custom interior, stock color base/clear, 275K mi, My car for the last 47 years (OK, first decade "ownership" from the left rear seat). '78 200, 3.03 manual trans, '73 dist w/ points & TFI ign, Weber32/36, 15 wheels Image

91 F150 4.9 almost stock

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XFlow_Fairlane
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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #6 by XFlow_Fairlane » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:25 pm

broke the left main leaf on my fairlane. the fairlane has a bushing around the leaf mount under the axle which traps moisture. luckily it helped ot hold it all together to get home (I had pretty bad sag before.....with it broke it only sat a couple inches lower.
Rule: Torque = Fun , Turbo's make Torque

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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #7 by rommaster2 » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:03 am

Never broke one but to be honest i'm surprised I never did when i had the stock 3 leaf on my car. The axle used to wrap under light throttle if it was wet outside, and would always wrap when i spun the little 13s.

After replacing em with 4 leaf from mcveigh truck springs (company name on ebay) It doesn't wrap at all and handles good. Too bad nobody sells falcon springs at mid mount or reverse mount for a reasonable price like mustangs.

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powerband
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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #8 by powerband » Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:18 am

When I got my '63 wagon , it had broken springs on both sides. The tires had worn cupped sideways from the axle shifting, evidently it had been driven for a while that way!.

Here's the fun parts I've found:
Early Wagon's (Chero's?) use a rear spring eye "Standoff" rather than "Thru the frame " Bushing. This part had been snapped off from the broken springs and was hard to source... .... Early 61 Comet has different rear shackle and frame bushing apparently not available from vendors...



Back when ESPO was selling Falcon springs, I ordered set with 1" lift for the 63. They are solid and ride great.
The '61 has a JC Whitney spring pair and they don't settle to same height.





The '61 Comet rear spring was found broken at front spring Eye .

Image


Although not recommended, for fun I tried a welded patch. This held up until I replaced 2 years later.

Image

Image

Image


The spring wrap/wheel hop oscillation problem with the light springed early cars have a few options . Here's the Comet road rod 's current setup for HiPo:

Image

Image
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Axle Roads
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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #9 by Axle Roads » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:58 am

My left main broke while jacking up the stang. No sign of flattn' just rust. I'm actually replacing mine today. Watch out for that front bolt, it's a real pain to get out. I'm going to try and push it out with 3 inch hydrolic ram.

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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #10 by LaGrasta » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:08 pm

I've found one broken on my '73 Opel GT years ago as well as one on my '63.
1963 1/2 Falcon 170/C4/8" (alt, a/c, Petronix/42v coil/8mm wires, 16" electric fan, electric fuel pump, Holley 1940, K&N Harley air filter, power dual m/c, 11" disc, 3" drop, Shelby drop, white tuck/roll, Moon steering wheel, '59 Caddy tail lights, fishtail exhaust tip, shaved trim, handles, cowl, fuel, dash, 4" radius trunk/door corners, power windows, 600w iPod system)

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Re: Broken leaf spring - how common?

Post #11 by falcon fanatic » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:17 pm

When I took mine off as I decided to rebuild all the suspension when I first got my car, they where both broken all the way through except for the main spring. Good thing I replaced them: The way I drive they would not have lasted long and would have likely broken at a most inconvenient time.
'63 Futura Convertible. Disc/drum, Bilsteins, beefy swaybars, #480 springs, roller or spherical everything up front, HD shackles on stock springs out back. Megasquirt FI on ported, big valve aussie head w/ roller rockers; 10:1 6000rpm engine; 264/274-12*; C-4, Maverick 8" 3.25 W/trac-lok and perimeter frame inside the unibody. More to come...
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