Lightweight Lean

Well, it’s not the bushes…

After measuring the distance between the centreline on the front bolts for the rear springs and tyhe chassis rail, and getting a measurement of within 1/8″, I removed the rear springs to set about replacing their bushes.  Once they were clear of the vehicle, I put them side by side (I actually stood them on their spring eyes to check them, but it didn’t work too well for photos).  The left spring has lost an awful lot of its camber, the centre sitting just under two inches lower than the centre of the right spring (that’s about the same as the thickness of the springs at their centres).  So, there’s no point in fitting the new bushes to those!

I did fit the bushes in the rear chassis eyes, which was a pig of a job.  To get the old bushes out, I initially tried drifting, pressing and pulling them, but with no luck.  I then tried to cut through one longitudinally with a hack saw to allow it to curl a bit tighter and release its grip inside the chassis tube, but found the rubber didn’t cut well – it just prevented the blade reaching the outer sleeve of the bush properly.  So, I resorted to burning the rubber out with a blow torch, just like in all the horror stories I’ve read from other people to clear the outer sleeve for direct cutting.  Once a slot was cut along the full length of the outer sleeve, it was very easy to drift it out with a club hammer.

Fitting the new bushes involved cleaning out the chassis eyes and lubricating them with copper grease before pulling the bushes in with long bolts and washers.  It sounds simple, but was very long winded and difficult as they’re so tight, and setting up spacers to pull the outer sleeve level with the chassis tube while the inner sleeve is further displaced in the direction of the pull made life harder, but I got there in the end.

Finding replacement springs was disappointing.  The only stock I could find of genuine 7-leaf rear springs (part numbers 562631 and 562632) was PA Blanchard.  They tend to stock a vast range, but their prices are becoming very steep.  The only other springs of the same type I could find were all Britpart, regardless of supplier.  I had hoped to find some Bearmach or GME (who were the late genuine parts manufacturer and now supply Paddocks) springs, but drew a blank.  Given that every report I could find on Britpart springs claimed they went soft within months, and my suspicion that these prematurely failed springs on outr Lightweight were from that same brand, I have had to opt for the Blanchard springs.  The only other option was fitting standard 88″ GME (Paddock) rear springs, but with 11 leafs, they’d stand out as non-standard for a Lightweight, even though their £56 price tag and softer ride were a little tempting.

At £125+VAT each, plus carriage, this job is hurting my wallet a lot more than expected.  Unfortunately, Blanchards also only have stock of the driver’s side springs, so I’m having to buy two identical springs (562632s, driver’s side) rather than have them slightly differently profiled.  That means that the vehicle should sit straight when empty but may lean just a tad to the driver’s side if used without passengers, instead of leaning slightly left when empty and levelling with one occupant.  Since we generally use the vehicle as a whole family, that matters little, and we can always use the left fuel tank more than the right if need be to ballast the lack of spring bias.  To be honest, it was a spring configuration I had previously been considering, as used on parabolics (which are always in matched, symmetrical pairs), as I hate that little lean…

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  1. Iam rebuilding a series III 1976 landrover and had and awfull time replacing the shocks and spring bushes.Getting the rear shock out was unexpectedly hard.There is literally speaking no space to freely get out the bottom rusted bolt (considering that I had no torch to just flash it out) I resorted bending the shock hard to break the stud. I had luck on on side,the stud broke right above the nut.Not any luck on the other side,the stud broke just under the the shock (whoops!!!!….puntured the shock…) and getting the stud through the bracket was another unexpected task that took us another hour or so to file the big end to go through the eye. changing the bushes was another hell of a task,on the springs side,it was a lot easier than the chassis end……..could not get these out (again needed a touch to flash them out) The best way I have come to understand is that you need things like a touch when working with an old car as most things wont just easilty come out and will eat up most of your time.I have found also free services of manuals on the net very helpful.

    I bought the landy at 1,000 pounds (8.5 million Zambian Kwacha) and have spent way above double that and still not near completed.Thanks to Nick Selby at Foleys here in Zambia who has been helping me with spares from the UK.



  2. Ken Donnachaidh says:

    My series 3 has been leaning to the drivers side for the past 12 years. I cured this by loosening the u-bolts on the passenger side, raising the axle slightly, and inserting metal spacers between the spring and the axle. This lowered the body on the passenger side and now my Land Rover is almost level.

  3. Hi Ken

    That’ll work as a cheap fix for a very slight lean, but when the lean is significant, then it won’t help with steering geometry and assymetic spring rates. It will also drop the chassis and body ground clearance and bring the plates and nuts under the spring closer to the ground. So, it’s not a bad idea for shimming up 1/4″, but I’d be reluctant to do it for a greater lean than that, treating the cause rather than the symptoms. Howver , your fix needs a bit more work, as the way you describe it makes me suspicious there is little of the head of the spring’s centre bolt locating the axle – the bolt head is circular and locates in a hole in the axle’s spring saddle to prevent the axle sliding fore and aft or laterally on the spring, and if you only have a small amount of penetration, then the hole and bolt will wear and soon allow that movement. You need to make the shim with a bolt hole in its centre and remove the centre bolt and refit it so the head still protrudes fully above the shim level.

    In this case, one of the rear springs was significantly misshapen, though the other turned out to be fine. However, for brakes and suspension (and generally tyres too) I never change just one side, and I was glad for the peace of mind of fitting genuine springs in place of the pattern parts on the vehicle.


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