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Thoughts on '45 Suspensions
#1181857 Fri Sep 09 2016 07:56 PM
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 7
New Guy
Good afternoon,

I have a 1945 Chevy Pickup which I acquired recently. The truck is listing to the left side like a boat with a leak. I would guess 1.5 - 2.5 inches more than the right-side elevation. The truck is close to original but does have some modification. The suspension has an original configuration i.e. leaf springs, single-action shocks, etc. The engine has been upgraded to a 235 and it’s running slightly larger tires on original sized rims. The truck does no towing and rarely will be used to move anything heavy.

I was told by the seller that the truck will need new shocks and now I suspect new suspension work as well. So now I find myself with a conundrum. Do I keep it close to original or consider other options due to the cost involve. I priced rear springs, shackles, U-bolts, pins, etc. from Carter’s. I came up with nearly $1,300 in parts alone. Knowing I will also have to do the front as well… I’m now wondering if I should consider a different configuration such as air-ride suspension. I have space under the truck bed for the compressors and set up.

Problem is I know very little about air-ride set ups and was hoping someone might be able to shed some light for me. Can the original single-action shocks be replaced with airbags easily or is fabrication / welding involved? If I go to airbags, would I still need to replace the springs or can I continue to use what’s on the truck?

I appreciate any thoughts as this is one of those areas where I don’t know what I don’t know. Thanks in advance for the help.


Re: Thoughts on '45 Suspensions
BigHealey #1181860 Fri Sep 09 2016 08:25 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 8,386
Extreme Gabster
Since your question is about major modifications I moved it to HiPo. However, the leaning might be due to broken or rusted out cab mounts.

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Re: Thoughts on '45 Suspensions
BigHealey #1181864 Fri Sep 09 2016 08:38 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 991
If you plan to drive it and the lean and worn suspension doesn't bother you- don't worry about it. If you want a modern ride with independent front suspension and modern shocks -,invest in the upgrade, or invest in air ride technology like you indicated - and don't worry about the cost. If you want a tighter but true original look and feel -,go with new springs, shackles, and king pins (for steering and tracking assist). Or just replace the old style shocks with modern shocks and new springs etc for a lower budget upgrade.

The lean on the left or, drivers side could also be due to normal spring wear over time - that is fairly normal for the driver side to have that. But 2.5 inches could mean other things like broken springs, and shackle parts, or a combination of all.

Last edited by tom moore; Fri Sep 09 2016 08:42 PM.
Re: Thoughts on '45 Suspensions
BigHealey #1181871 Fri Sep 09 2016 09:15 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 8,374
Sir Searchalot
Bags are not your fix. You will be tearing up a good old truck. Air components are expensive and can tear/break and can't possibly be as long lasting as steel springs, etc. You didn't buy an old truck to make it ride like a Benz. First figure out if it's body mounts rusted or rubber disintegrated as Cletis says. Find out if it's saggy springs or a broken bracket/shackles as tom says. That's just to get it level again. Of course there are many worn parts on a 45 truck. Fix as needed to do the type of driving you do with it. Check that all tires are the same diameter. Shocks don't cause sag. I don't know much about air bag installation either but I am guessing a coil spring vehicle is what they are designed for not a leaf spring vehicle. They don't make a bag "kit" for your truck so you will have to "build" a system and make things. If you are going rod truck/show truck then maybe you want bags. To fix a sag, get salvage parts or shop for good price on new. AFTER you are sure what's wrong.
Just buy what you need, shackle bushings or a leaf spring for one side/one corner or body mount kit. Why would you need to buy new U bolts? You may find a whole donor chassis. Trucks that old have rusted out bodies beyond repair but the chassis may be cheap or free. Not many 45's (build in 44) were built except for the military. Some were let out to farms and such. I guess 39-46 are same spring parts? The parts wanted forum here could be very helpful.
The good news is some of the spring shackles are 34-55 and the spring bolt and bushing is 41-55. Which could mean many source options. NAPA, O'Reilly's. Rockauto, speedway, Amazon, etc.

Watch out for careful drivers!!!
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Re: Thoughts on '45 Suspensions
BigHealey #1181875 Fri Sep 09 2016 09:44 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,693
Shop Shark
First off take you're truck to a truck spring shop in you're area if you don't know whats going on.Next you can buy new springs and shackles locally or from a place like Truck springs much cheaper.I got both front springs and all the hardware from Truck Springs and the shipping was free.


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