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My "New" Leaf Springs Need Replacing

Currently, the Tacoma has a stinkbug stance. Too much rake, even for me.

TL;DR - I think Alcan makes great leaf springs, but I'm going to ditch them for Chevy 63s because my second set is too stiff and I want a better ride.

I want to start by saying that I think Alcan makes the best custom leaf packs out there. I highly recommend them (and the owner Lew), if you need a leaf pack that will last a very long time and carry loads well beyond what our trucks were designed for. They are pricey, but worth every penny.

So then, why am I replacing mine less than a year after I installed them?

That's a great question, with a rather lengthy answer. It's a fun story though, so here goes...

When I bought my first leaf pack from Alcan, the company was owned by Bill Ford. Bill was a fantastic fabricator of springs, but not the most communicative/friendly guy in the business. He'd make what you asked for, but provided little help in educating his customers on what to ask for. And, any help that was provided, generally made one feel ...just a little smaller. Frankly, the company is in much better hands with the new owner - Lew - who is just as good a fabricator, and leaps and bounds better on the customer service end of things.

When I ordered my first leaf pack from Bill, I speced out a pack that would support +600lbs over stock weight, with a 3" lift - to carry all my gear and keep the rear of the truck a little higher than the front. Bill was happy to make that for me and leafs showed up on my doorstep in less than a month, which I thought was great given the 8-week estimate. However, when I looked at the packing slip attached to the springs, I was surprised to see that it said “+400lbs w/3” lift.”

I immediately contacted Bill, and was told, “sorry, that was just a typo, you actually got what you ordered.” Funny thing was, he couldn’t tell me what I ordered, even though he was sure that’s what I got. Still worried, I asked if there was a way that I could tell whether they were +400 or +600, he told me to install them, and if they were +600, then I’d have the lift I was looking for. Since I knew that was no way to “really” tell, I asked if he could just make me a new "for sure +600lbs" set and I’d send the first set back, but he said no.

Side note: I also ran into an issue with the placement of the center pin on that first set, and had to go through another rigamarole with Bill (and send another $200 to get another set of top leaves made), but I’ve never really been sure that was his fault; the center pin positioning seems to be a Toyota issue that affects 30-60% of Tacomas. (if you’re curious, see: Updating the Alcan Leaf Pack)

In the end, that first pack rode great and was the perfect +[weight] for my rig ...whatever [weight] really was. Personally (and you’ll see why in a moment), I think it was +400, not the +600 that Bill claimed.

Fast forward to a couple years ago when I picked up my second Alcan pack. I wanted a bit more lift, just to give me a bit more rake in my stance. Not much - just an inch or so, since the truck sat quite level with the current Alcan pack. I also knew that I now carried a bit more weight (dual battery, more gear, etc.) than I when I got the first pack, so I ordered +750lbs and a 4” lift. Lew was great, and once again, I had my order faster than I’d expected - he even rushed it a bit b/c I happened to be in CO, able to pick it up on the way home from running the New Mexico Backcountry Discovery Route (NMBDR). Super cool dude.

I have no doubt that I got +750lbs w/4” lift from Lew. The problem was that it was way too much - stiff as can be, and way too high - even when the Tacoma was fully loaded with fuel, water, etc. It was so much more than the +150lb, 1” height difference that I reached out to Lew with photos. He agreed - there definitely seemed to be a huge difference between the old pack and the new. But he’d sent me what I ordered, and I knew it wasn’t his fault at all. I’d ordered “incorrectly,” thinking that I was running +600lbs springs from Bill, when I was really running the +400lbs springs that were on my original packing slip.

For now - with Lew’s help as to the amount of weight that each “leaf level” supported - I took out a leaf (~200lbs, bringing the pack into the +550lbs range) from the new pack and it got a lot better. I’ve been considering taking out a second to bring it back down to the ~400lb range, since it still has that extra inch of lift as well.

My solution is to move to Chevy 63s. This is a reasonably standard - if relatively uncommon - swap for 1st gen Tacomas, and I'll be following the methodology that Zane @Speedytech7 used, frenching the front hangers into the frame. In fact, I'll be heading to Zane's shop to do the work - hopefully later this winter - and will write up the details when the time comes.


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Suspension | Rear(16 entries)
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