Alcan springs and Downey shackles

Please note: The following text and photos are modifications that I have made to my own 1998 Toyota Tacoma. This article is not intended to suggest that anyone else should add this modification to any vehicle, nor is it intended to be comprehensive instruction. The owner of this website, and it's contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for any damage done to any persons or property due to modifications as shown herein. If you wish to perform or install such modifications as illustrated on this website, you must do so at your own risk.

I actually installed the Downey shackles before I ever ordered the Alcan springs. As I mentioned in another article, I used the shackles to gain back some height that I had lost when my re-arched spring pack started to sag a bit. So when I finally ordered the Alcans, I figured these shackles into the equation so that I didn't end up with too much lift. It worked out perfectly. The shackles really allow the rear suspension to perform to its potential on the trail. They are of very high quality and are an excellent value in my opinion.

My experience with the Alcan springs has been interesting. The process begins with the customer providing detailed information to Alcan regarding the vehicle specifics. Alcan then builds a custom set of leaf springs to suit the buyer's application. This is a very specialized and valuable service. Something that I learned (after it was too late) is that Toyota makes the rear leaf packs for the Tacoma with a bias. In other words, one side is slightly different from the other. If you look at a pair of Toyota leaf packs, they are marked "R" and "L" for "right" and "left". Alcan spring knows this. However, they must have overlooked this fact when they made my springs and sent me a pair of identical packs. I installed them and noticed that the truck was leaning considerably to the left. After discussing it with Alcan, they informed me of the bias, and told me to check the labeling on the springs. They figured that I may have installed them with the sides switched around from what they should have been. I checked the leaf packs, and the only label was the same on both packs - they spelled my first name, and "Tac98R2005". So begrudgingly, I spent the time to uninstall the springs and flip them, and reinstall. Before I put them back on, I checked the dimensions of each pack, and they measured identically. I swapped them anyway, but it made no difference. Another call to Alcan yielded a response that they would send me a spacer made of 3/8" spring steel, with a new center pin. I insisted that I didn't want a spacer, that I wanted one pack adjusted to the correct measurements, but they refused.

From the FAQ page on their website...   "Q: Do you make left and right springs?

A: Yes, for vehicles that were designed to have them and in certain exotic applications. For example, some vehicles such as Toyota 4x4 trucks and 4Runners have front springs with different arches and heights on the left and right. Yet some spring companies make identical front springs and expect you to use a block or shim plate to make the truck sit level. However, in all such left/right cases, Alcan Spring makes the correct left and right springs without ever relying on blocks or spacers."

I ended up installing the spacer (which required another removal and install of one side) and all seems to be well. I am surprised that Alcan didn't offer anything for all of the extra time I had to spend disassembling and reinstalling the leaf packs (did the left side THREE times!), not to mention all of the time on the phone. Anyway, just be aware of this left and right bias if you order custom springs for your Tacoma. Despite the inconvenience I must say that I am really impressed with the Alcan springs. I am impressed that they were able to take the information that I gave them without actually having the truck in their shop, and get the perfect amount of lift, load carrying ability, and articulation just right. Only time will tell how they hold up, but so far I am really pleased.

Here is the contact info for Alcan spring.

The springs in brand new condition - nice and clean. They didn't stay like this for very long.

I am not going to include any instruction with this article, because unfortunately, I didn't do much to document my installation. I can say that I did this project by myself, so it is not anything that a single person can't handle. Perhaps one of the most challenging things for the average person with average tools is finding enough stuff to support everything that might need it by the time you get done taking everything apart. Here you can see that I have 2 jackstands for the frame, two bottle jacks for the axle, a floor jack for the differential...

On to Part II