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Discussion Starter #1
I'm reading a lot about various lift options. I see the value in a SAS for sure which leads me to my question. Everyone talks about either coils or leaf, but I haven't found a thread yet that compares the two directly, only individually. I know that the leaf is relatively easier to install, but the particular thing I am interested is actual perfomance of coil vs leaf; articulation, travel, turning radius, etc...the whole package.

Lets say for the sake of arguement we limit this to "normal" SAS without coil-over shocks and to a hight of 6-8 inches MAX.

~Jeff
 

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FSB's Resident A$$HOLE
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its a two headed beast. both can be built to give you the same amount of flex, i havent heard of turning being a problem, with coils and radius arms you shouldnt have much of an issue, if you do you can purchase arms that have a bend in them to keep the tire from hitting them. as far as leafs again i havent heard of any issues there.

like i said one guy will tell you coils is better one will say leafs is better, just read through here and the stickys at the top and you form an opinion of your own

oh, and read read and read some more to learn what exactly your talkin bout and how hard this can be....that way you dont dive into something you arent able to do
 

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negative creep
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turning is not an issue either way. unless you are running the stock arms and a decent amount of backspacing you won't rub the arms until you step up to big tire territory (40+"), never met a dude with leafs that rubs period. the axles are the same so the only real factor in turning radius is how much you change (or don't) the wheelbase.

my self and plug ugly are at pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum, kinda makes for a good comparison. he is running a pretty good coil setup, my leafs are also very good.


as you can see the flex is pretty close, enough that you'd wouldn't necessarily notice a difference on the trail.

the big difference tho is axle wrap. leafs will always have more wrap, in fact most coil setups have little to none (radius arms have more than true link setups), pretty much regardless of how soft of a spring you use. leafs are opposite, the softer you go the more wrap you will get. unless you implement a front traction bar (i'd love to see someone try, not much room up front) you will have to be concerned with bending/breaking a mainleaf and/or busting u joints and yokes at the pinion. depending on the shackle setup you can improve it if you run a shackle at the front but personally i am not a fan of this setup. i've also noticed that leaf setups seem to have a better roll center and aren't as "tippy" as some of the coil setups i have ridden in. not enough to really make a difference, either can be flopped just as easy. leafs are pretty cheap, i spent $40 on the leafs i am running vs $200? for the springs and $600? for a set of cage arms like plugs.....

bottom line: the same amount of flex can be had from either kind of setup. neither swap is that hard to do, as long as you realize you will have to fab something and it won't just fall in. in actual trail performance i would give the edge to coils because of the lack of axle wrap and lack of change in pinion angle. but if you break a coil spring you can't exactly duct tape and hose clamp it back together.....:toothless
 

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the **** above me nailed it pretty good. :goodfinge except I used to rub all the time with leafs. Had to get some 2" backspace wheels and that cleared the 40's fine. I think I might have to run some spacers to keep the new 44's from rubbin.
:thumbup

 

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The only real advantage to coils IMO is on crumple zones. Its easier overall. If i didnt have a crumple zone, i would go leaves if I had to do it again.

OTH, i really like how my truck rides. I dont know about how andy's is now, but i definately think mine rides better than his did originally, but he added different springs I think.

Both can be made to work well. people like to throw the cost of arms around, but we dont need histeer or anything like that, so the costs becomes a little more moot.

How many coils have people seen break?

One of the cool things about leafs IMO, is that when yo mke that front crossmember, you get a nice place to mount a winch too. Leafs are certainly easier to install, as it requires no wedges to be welded on, and less bracketry overall. BUT, it seems some of the leaf guys are now adding track bars, so that may be moot as well.

All in all, the differences can be argued just like ford v chevy or auto v stick. Its what ever you prefer.
 

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negative creep
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plug ugly said:
OTH, i really like how my truck rides. I dont know about how andy's is now, but i definately think mine rides better than his did originally, but he added different springs I think.
it rides much better than it did, but leaves are still a little more "harsh" feeling. and my handling payed with the softer springs, it drives a lot looser and rolls more but nothing a sway bar couldn't fix. seems to me that with coils the spring rate doesn't affect handling as much as it does with a leaf spring since the spring is locating the axle as well. with coils your arms/links locate the axle and dictate where its going to move.

like damon said its like chevy vs. ford, you can beat it to death and get no where. either works and both have their quirks.
 

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I have a 79 that obviously came stock with coils and a straight axle. I went for leafs for an easy of installation on the dana 60. I'm running 44s and pretty much stick to mud and some trails, simple rocks only if I'm just messing around.... Anyway, the way I feel is what you want it for. I would have gone with a 4 link and coilovers if I wanted to do the rocks all the time, but as far as leafs and axlewrap... get a traction bar on it and thats fine.

It's totally up to you and what you want to do. But I do have to say on my old truck (94 F-150) It was swapped straight into the same suspension as a 79 f150. radius arms and coils. crumple zone was a problem, unless you wanna hack it off and make an extension to the frame but theres a whole new pandoras box of problems if your not careful.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Cool guys....that is along the exact track I have been researching. I especially like the pics, but the feedback from guys who have actually done and rode in both is much appreciated.

I've been considering just going with a 6" BDS/DC lift system, but it just seems that a SAS might be worth it. If I get lucky at the 'yard, it might even cost about the same in the long run anyway. Between the two, I'm leaning toward the leaf setup as I don't have the welding skills or a shop to set the BKO in for longer than a weekend to fabricate stuff.

Kinda like flipping a coin here really...SAS or TTB, coils or leafs...I still have a lot of reading, measuring and consideration to do between SAS and TTB, but I appreciate the side by side fellas.

~Jeff
 

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so if you don't have any welding or fab skills how are you planning on going to leafs anyway? It's still envolved...

If you don't have the skills/means to have someone do it/cash to do it.... I would go with a superflexy lift... the 6 inch BDS should do the trick, just watch for normal TTB problems...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
FordTruckMan said:
so if you don't have any welding or fab skills how are you planning on going to leafs anyway? It's still envolved...

If you don't have the skills/means to have someone do it/cash to do it.... I would go with a superflexy lift... the 6 inch BDS should do the trick, just watch for normal TTB problems...
I have the fab skills, just not the welding skills, but I know some folks who do. The BIGGEST problem I have is no where to stash the truck while I'm working on it. I have access to a metal shop to fab parts, but I cannot keep the truck there, meaning a lot of going back and forthe. A TTB lift would take a weekend and would be relatively little problem, but I'm not fooling myself into believing a SAS can be done that fast.

~Jeff
 

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IF you have all the parts and pieces, including hardware, a SAS can be done in two days pretty easy, including removal. BUT, very few people i have ever known have everything together. There is enuf info on this site to fully prepare, but it would take lots of research and study
 

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andy,
I guess i am missing the point then, if you need sway bars and a track bar to make your rig handle better. It seems to me that all that superfluous shit makes coils and leaves almost the exact same. Fabbing a track bar for both, and with coils you dont need a sway bar IMO (tho bill is running one now) so that negates the radius arm mounts. i guess the only sticker is the wedges on a 60, but 44's seem to match up pretty fair.
 

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negative creep
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plug ugly said:
I guess i am missing the point then, if you need sway bars and a track bar to make your rig handle better.
what i was getting at is that with the soft springs i am running now the axle "wanders" more than it used to. i wouldn't say i need a sway bar, at least not any more than i ever have. scott added a track bar to help his handling but i don't feel its like a life or death necessity. the softer you go with leaf springs the more the axle will wander IMO. i don't think coils would act quite the same since you have a track bar and solid links/arms to locate and coils just provide the suspension.
 

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Leaves are easier as far as setting up caster and camber vs coils, "locate" the axle easier, don't have the likelihood of popping off that coils can have, in some ways are easier to lift. Coils theoretically have more travel and thus flex, although in actual applications, I have not seen a lot of difference. IMHO for a Bronco, leaves are fine, for a Rock Buggy, I'd want coils.
 

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Andy351 said:
what i was getting at is that with the soft springs i am running now the axle "wanders" more than it used to. i wouldn't say i need a sway bar, at least not any more than i ever have. scott added a track bar to help his handling but i don't feel its like a life or death necessity. the softer you go with leaf springs the more the axle will wander IMO. i don't think coils would act quite the same since you have a track bar and solid links/arms to locate and coils just provide the suspension.
I don't have a pic of the latest incarnation of my track bar set up. I ended up rebuilding it to incorparate the mount for the ram.

Any-hoo

Soft springs don't do a good enough job locatings the axle. With the addition of the track bar it stops the unwanted lateral movement when turning. It has made all the difference in the world.

I ran a coil set up when I was running a 44 and now I'm running leaves with my 60.

I'm happier with the leaves. My $.02.

As started before both swaps require fab work. The one that requires the least is a coil set up using stock 78/79 arms and brackets. With that set up all you'll need to fab is a frame mounted track bar mount with a brace, a lower track bar mount on the axle, and box the frame where the radius arms mount on it. You'll of course need to build a custom steering set up and track bar but you'd need the steering parts with a leaf swap any way.

The only other addition to the required fab work of that set up is if you are going to run a 60. You'll need to weld on "C's".


On a side note. If you can't weld then you can't do fab work. Welding and fabrication go hand and hand. That's like saying you can do machine work but you don't know how to run a mill.
 

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negative creep
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plug ugly said:
I understand what you are saying, what I am missing is how leaves are supposed to be easier. It seems that they are a very close compromise.
yea its pretty close, only reason i would give the edge to leaves is the kinda fab work you have to do is pretty basic. with coils you have to weld on the C's at the right angle and figure out what to do with the radius arm brackets as far as laying back the angle or building new mounts etc. leaves all we did was bolt on some rear hangers, weld on a front x-member and hangers and thats about it. but i agree its pretty damn close, neither one is hard at all IMO.
 

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Horizon said:
I have the fab skills, just not the welding skills, but I know some folks who do. The BIGGEST problem I have is no where to stash the truck while I'm working on it. I have access to a metal shop to fab parts, but I cannot keep the truck there, meaning a lot of going back and forthe. A TTB lift would take a weekend and would be relatively little problem, but I'm not fooling myself into believing a SAS can be done that fast.

~Jeff
you can do an SAS as easily as a TTB lift. here's how:

MOST important, keep it simple. Decide on a D44 axle, late seventies. nothing fancy, leave it 5 lug, no rear axle. get the whole thing, hub to hub, and preferably with all the radius arm stuff. Decide how much lift. Many of us are now running the superflex 6" coil. So there ya go. go buy from JBG:
coils
78-79 towers (or reuse old ones from a 78-79 Bronco if you want)
lower coil mounts
whatever you want to slap under the rear for lift....AAL's, blocks, new leaf packs, shackle flip, combo, whatever suits your fancy.

you can then go through and recondition your whole axle in your garage.

Lay everything out. get ALL potential issues figured out PRIOR to starting. I mean, think the whole thing through. Write it down, step by step, that's what I did, I basically wrote myself an install instruction sheet.

steering can easily be done using stock stuff that came with the axle or DOM, not much fab work needed there other than a little "mental fabrication" in terms of thinking up what you want and how it will work. track bar, I'm using the stock axle location, no fab needed there really (actually I did fab a little spacer, easily done). Upper trackbar mount is again pretty easy fabrication, you probably could do it without a welder (at least my design you could).

There you have it. mine was done in my garage over the weekend. invite your friend over, make sure you have thought through everything. air tools are a huge help, as are 2 sets of jackstands, one being a tall set. take out TTB, TTB coil towers, locate new coil towers, slide axle under truck (remember, you've already pre-built it), locate radius arm to frame attaching points, and you're now about ready to start bolting everything up.

The trick is just to make sure you've thought it all out and have everything ready (and have a plan B for anything you are unsure about). Laborwise, with a couple good hands, it does not take long.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
dogonmut said:
On a side note. If you can't weld then you can't do fab work. Welding and fabrication go hand and hand. That's like saying you can do machine work but you don't know how to run a mill.
No offense, but you don't need to know how to weld in order to machine something....ie, fabrication. Welding comes into play when you want to either mount what you fabricated or to otherwise attach it to something else you fabricated without bolts....but I digress.

~Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Shadowfax....cool man, thanks. I'll look into a late 70's axle; that sounds like the single most expensive part actually and hardest to locate.

It doesn't have to be out of a Bronco, does it? I mean, the 78-79 half tons had the same set up?

~Jeff
 
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