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Thread: GU Coil/Leaf farm ute with new suspension

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    GU Coil/Leaf farm ute with new suspension

    Hey there. Though I should contribute our decision making process, experience and findings as a result of installing a new suspension setup to our 2002 Y61 TD42 coil/leaf farm ute. You never know... someone might find it useful.

    The ute itself is 16 years old, has been in the family since it was new and has done just 70,000 km. The only modifications it has had in that time is a towbar, a hydraulic tipper unit based on a steel tray and a spotlight wiring kit (but no spotlights). A TJM bullbar with a winch attachment (to carry an old Ramsey REP 8000) was purchased but it was never installed.

    It has lived all its life on the NSW Central Coast where it provided property support duty for my parents and as a second vehicle. Usage was infrequent but intense. The property is now gone and it has come to us on the NSW Central Western Slopes and Plains to be our property ute.

    Despite the low kilometres and the regular maintenance, this thing has been somewhat battered. It had a new clutch and flywheel installed just a thousand kilometres ago after the original clutch plate collapsed. Once the mechanic got in there, the flywheel was found to be both 'blued' and cracked...so that was binned as well.

    Our primary issue since it came across was always the suspension and handling. It jiggled and jolted when unladen, it wobbled and weaved in the corners, hated going in a straight line and the steering was mushy and prone to oversteering.

    We had a look underneath and found the steering damper to be weeping, the rear shocks also weeping, the leaf springs ran nearly flat even when unladen and the front springs were only just keeping the bump stops apart - there was certainly plenty of evidence that the original components were stuffed.

    A new spring set was easy enough to figure out in terms of suppliers given the limited choices of Oz spring makers.

    Shocks were a bit more open to choice but going with an oil based shock rather than a gas one thinned the herd. In the past, I have found gas shocks on a working 4x4 to be too hard in their nature to be comfortable despite the fact that they were very very effective. I had some OME gas shocks under both a Series 3 Landie cab chassis and a Lada Niva and, despite making the things handle amazingly well, neither had much small bump compliance. So they were both stiff, jarring and somewhat exhausting to drive...the Lada even more so when the stiff shocks kept breaking the feeble front shock mounts...

    The last time I did a suspension back in the 90s I used an oil foam shock from Tough Dog/4 Way that worked very nicely on a stock Defender in my wanders around Oz. So we decided to go that way again.

    But what load rating and could we do it without a lift? The load rating was straightforward enough. The combined weight of the tray & tipper unit, towbar, bull bar and winch probably amounts to 300-400 kgs so this was its expected continuous load. Talking to the mob at 4 Way Suspension, they suggested going with the setup for a 500 kg continuous load. The only problem is that their spring set for this also provides a nominal 50mm lift over stock height.

    I had two problems with this. One was the ute tray was already high enough off the ground as it was. The other was that the OE springs were stuffed and it was probably actually lower than stock.

    So I had a hunt about but it appears that everyone else supplies much the same spring set in their kits (if they could/would even supply something that suited a 500 kg continuous load). So we'd have to accept the height gain unless we wanted to spend more going custom...

    So the bullet got bitten. And 4 Way got the coin. 41 mm Tough Dog foam cell shocks, HD coil springs (that appear to be Kings), 11 leaf rear spring packs (the OEs are 8) with greasable pins and shackles, U-bolts and a return to centre steering damper. All up just shy of $2400...

    The latter is like a coil over shock for your steering - it might be voodoo lipstick on a pig but having had one in the past that cured a wayward Defender I figured that there might be something to a bit of spring bling.

    Unfortunately, my shed is non-existent at the moment and my bigger tools are mostly tucked away in storage...so the local shop got this job. 4.5 hours and $700 later, all done.

    The front end came up just shy of 50 mm. As expected, the back end came up more but even I was surprised how far...90 mm! So the original leafs were stuffed!

    That then made me worried how it would drive empty. However, it sat there looking quite normal so maybe it was okay. And it has turned out to be okay. No jiggles, no skittishness, just the sort of behaviour you'd expect from a properly sorted working vehicle. It's no sporty handler but it handles just fine. The new steering damper is a treat too since it now easily goes where it's pointed and stays there to boot.

    I suspect that despite the lift, the heavy duty nature of the suspension is not going to make the farm ute the most compliant and capable off roader that it could have been. There's probably not enough flex in it for that. But then that's not really what this is for...

    Next trick is to fit the winch and bull bar plus some new spotties and a new radio along with a replacement aerial. Then the ute will be set up for another 20 years.

    Anyway thanks for reading. Hopefully it has been useful.

  2. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Silentbutdeadly For This Useful Post:

    MB (6th July 2018), MudRunnerTD (6th July 2018), mudski (6th July 2018)

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