Vehicle Leaf Springs
A leaf spring is a type of spring, used on some automobile's suspensions. The design of this suspension has been used in vehicle's almost since the beginning, due to its simple design, and reliability. The leaf spring is shaped like a slender arc, and is attached to the frame on both sides of the vehicle. Shackles are used to connect the spring, to the frame, in order to reduce elongation from the spring when compressed. Shackles are common on all- terrain vehicles because, their suspension is subjected to much rougher conditions than average vehicles. Shackles reduce the possibility of a stationary spring anchor being damaged, due to rough terrain. Once the spring is in place, the axle is connected to the center the spring, which evenly displaces the vehicle's weight upon the spring. The leaf spring design is simple, therefore, making maintenance of the leaf springs, and the components around them, convenient. The simplicity of the leaf spring's design, makes it a desirable suspension for those interested in lifting or lowering their vehicle.
U-bolts are typically used to attach the axle and spring. U-bolts are attached across the axle, and down the sides of the springs, and then fitted with a plate, under the springs, and secured with bolts. Multiple springs are often used, in order to attain the proper amount of cushion desired. The leaf springs are stacked, and their size gets smaller towards the bottom of the stack. Average vehicles typically incorporate a few springs per stack, however, some heavy duty vehicles may have stacks exceeding 10 springs.
Leaf springs are subjected to extremely heavy loads, for long periods of time, therefore, the metal used to make them must be very strong, and flexible. The preferred metal used in leaf spring manufacturing, is spring steel. This steel is a low alloy, medium carbon steel, or high carbon steel, with very high yield strength. Spring steel allows the spring to return to its original shape, after being bent, or twisted, without becoming deformed. Over time, the spring steel will begin to sag, which causes the vehicle to sit lower, which may cause the vehicle to bottom out, while travelling over bumps, or potholes. This sagging can be fixed by replacing the leaf springs, or attaching a helper spring to the stack, which allows the leaf springs to return to their original shape.
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