“Bolt-on” It’s a phrase that conjures up images of cheap chrome bumpers, curb feelers, and other doodads that serve no real purpose, except to add some bling to your ride.
However, in the case of more serious upgrades to your 4×4, some bolt-on parts can make your life easier. In this case, it was a new set of Emu Dakar leaf springs for our project Land Cruiser. That’s the beautiful part of leaf sprung, live axle 4-wheel drives. A suspension upgrade can usually be accomplished in a day, or over a weekend, barring any unforeseen problems. So, in our case, this “bolt-on” was a magnificent thing, sans the bling of course.
A few months ago, we bumped into the folks from ARB (OME and IPF too) at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Intrigued by some of their new products (and always an admirer of their super-soft, super-flexy OME springs), we were pleased to discover that they recently released a new version of the leaf springs. Even better, a set of springs that almost anyone can afford!
In order to appeal to a broader market, ARB spent many months sourcing a new manufacturer with more efficient processes who could produce a leaf spring with the same physical features and performance characteristics as the traditional Old Man Emu line, but at a reduced cost. ISO Certified and currently servicing OE contracts, ARB has finally located a manufacturing facility for the Emu Dakar line. Following the same quality assurance procedures as the original Old Man Emu facility, and with more than two years of testing complete, Emu Dakar leaf springs are here.
The new OME Dakar springs offer all of the same features that the regular OME springs have including:
- Military Wrap: designed to provide added safety
- Draw Tapered & Diamond Cut Leaves: to reduce interleaf friction and to ensure that load distribution occurs at the leaf tips – this significantly contributes to spring life
- Anti Friction Pads: regreasable nylon interleaf liners reduce friction at the leaf tips, where the load is the greatest
- Graphite Coating: to further reduce friction between the spring leaves and friction pads
- Bolt Clamps & Liners: the leaf clamps are bolted to allow installation of anti-squeak nylon liners
- Shot Peening. The tension side of all leaves is shot peened to reduce spring stress. This process can double the life of a spring
- Flat Axle Seat Area. Allows a positive, safe axle mount reducing spring stress & increasing spring life
- Fully Scragged & Load Tested. Scragging ensures the spring takes a permanent ‘set’ which reduces the risk of sagging. Load testing ensures the spring meets the required specification
At the time of print, the Emu Dakar leaf springs were available for the 40, 60, 75, 78 & 79 series of Toyota Land Cruisers. More models will be available shortly.
Our set of Emu Dakars provided our ’74 Toyota Land Cruiser (FJ40) with 2.5″ of flexible lift, and a super-soft-yet stable-ride. Our kit also included a set of ARB’s anti-inversion, greasable shackles and fluted polyurethane bushings. Bottom line: this suspension system is nothing short of amazing.
Follow along with our pictorial install below and see what a set of “bolt-on” springs can do for your ride:
Installation of Emu Dakar Springs
Our Emu Dakar Spring kit came complete with everything we needed to perform our installation
Apply a liberal amount of grease to the bushings before inserting them into the military wrap spring eyes. Then you can bolt on the spring to the spring purch
Slide the front spring eye into the purch. Then insert the spring retaining bolt
Here’s a trick we use from time to time when installing leaf springs… if the shackles are a bit too tight for the leaf spring to slide in, try using a piece of sheet metal or a steel ruler to help guide them into place
The greasable shackles provided for our Cruiser didn’t provide enough lift in the front, so we used our old ones. We did however, use the greasable bolts
After the spring is hung on the frame, bolt the leaf pack to the axle purch and torque appropriately
Next we started on the rear of the truck. Be sure to safely support your rig and then prep the axle for the leaf swap
The night before, we soaked all of the bolts and nuts with WD40. After the axle was prepped, we suspended the rear axle with our floor jack so that we could lift it above and out of the way fo the springs
Remove the axle-to-spring UBolts from the leaf pack. Being that our leaf springs are still mounted under the axle, we didn’t have to worry about the axle falling out from under the springs during this step
Next we solicited the help of my wife to remove the front spring hanger bolts so I could snap this picture. We also removed the rear shackle bolts and removed the old leaf pack
This is where we changed things a bit… Our old lifted springs had a centering pin that was offset by about 5.5″ in comparison to the OE springs. The centering pin on our new Dakar springs was offset by about 6 inches in comparison, but within a 1/4″ of OE Springs. If you flip the springs around backwards, you can lengthen the wheel base by the difference (we netted about 4.5″). We’ve always wanted a longer wheelbase and did just that. We had to trim the fender wells, get a new rear driveshaft and lengthen our brake lines though.
Note the modular, greasable spring shackles supplied by ARB
Installing the other half of the greasable spring shackle
Note the anti-inversion “ears” on the outside of the greasable shackles. This extra tab prevents the shackle from flipping too far forward and inverting, when going to full droop
Install the rear spring’s, front spring purch bolts
Only one set back during the entire installation. Even though we were using a torque wrench, this grease zerk decided to let loose about 1/2 way to our specified torque setting. An easy-out tool made for a quick repair and we were then ready to grease all of the zerk fittings on the truck
ARB USA and Austrailia ARB USA
20 South Spokane Street
Seattle Washington 98134
Tel: (206) 264 1669
Fax: (206) 264 1670
web site: www.arbusa.com
42-44 Garden Street
Kilsyth Victoria 3137
Tel: + 61 3 9761 6622
Fax: + 61 3 9761 6807
Web site: www.arb.com.au