Products to Compare (max of 3)
Compare These Parts

BelAir Leaf Spring Upgrade


If you have a 1949 to 1954 Chevrolet car and want to convert the old torque tube rear end to an open drive, Speedway Motors sells the kit you need. I wanted to update my 54 Belair 4 door to what many old gearheads refer to as a sleeper. I had already acquired a used GM 8.5 rear axle with 3.73 gears and a posi. And I was looking for a kit to install it. The TCI kit offered by Speedway Motors (P/N 91042449) was the definite hands down choice I went with. The kit included everything needed to accomplish my goal. Updated leaf springs from stock to 2 ½”improve both the ride and handling. High-quality bolt in spring hangers, shocks and all the necessary hardware was included in the kit. So let’s get the installation started!

First off, all the old has to come out before any of the new can be installed. Luckily I had spent a good deal of time a few years ago re-finishing the undercarriage of my 54. So everything was nice and clean. After everything was unbolted and the torque tube rear was out it was time to remove the old spring hangers.

The original rivets need to have the heads ground off. Even after grinding the heads off the rivets can be hard to knock out. I ended up using a hammer and chisel to knock the hangers off the rivets first. Then the rivets popped right out of the frame. Something about trying to drive the rivets through the hangers and the frame made things difficult. This method made life a whole lot easier. Make sure you pay attention to the orientation of the hangers before removal.

The replacement spring hangers are side specific so just match them to what is already on the car. Before installing the new spring hangers I painted all the bare metal surfaces and installed them using the supplied hardware.

You will need to drill one new hole for the front brackets. I used a center punch to locate the drill bit. And started with a pilot hole and then stepped up to the correct size bit. For me, one side was easier than the other. It seemed that one frame rail had a hardened spot right where I needed to drill (9).

Once I had the hangers bolted up I installed the new leaf springs. The pressed in bushing side of the spring mounts to the front spring hanger, once in place I just let the spring hang down. I then could assemble the shackles on the rear hangers and simply lift the rear spring eye into place and bolt together.

Now I was ready to set the new rear end in place. First, some prep work had to be done on the axle housing. I removed the original spring perches from the rear end housing using a grinder to remove the welds and a hammer to knock them off. Then I set the new spring perches on the centering pin of the leaf springs and placed the rear end on top and loosely bolted the rear end to the springs using new U-bolts and plates. Now the measuring and centering begin. I centered the rear end from side to side measuring several different points on the car. Once I had the axle centered for proper wheel location I set the pinion angle using an angle finder, such as P/N 91089409. I set the pinion angle at 1 degree down. This allows for suspension load once the car is lowered to the ground. When lowered, my '54 ended up with a pinion angle of 3 degrees up. Once I had everything set, I tack welded the spring perches to the axle. Then I removed the axle one last time to finish weld the spring perches, clean everything up and give it a good coat of paint. Final installation went smoothly, as it should since I had everything mocked up. TCI's leaf spring kit made this axle swap a snap. All the parts are high quality with nice welds and detailed instructions included. I installed this kit by myself using a homemade axle jack, so it can be done by one person. However, a few times it would have been nice to have another pair of hands.

Products Featured in this Article

Related Articles

Installing a Pete Jackson Gear Drive On a Chevy 454
by Kevin Webel - Posted in Tech
Follow along as we install a Pete Jackson Noisy Gear Drive on a Chevy 454. Learn about the installation process from Speedway Motors Street Tech Kevin.
The Intake Manifold Decision
by Kevin Webel - Posted in Tech
Follow along as Speedway Tech Kevin talks about the intake that he decided on for the 454ci in his '54 Chevy, and some of the reasoning behind his choice.
Bel Air Brake Pedal Rebuild
by Kevin Webel - Posted in Tech
Street Rod Tech Kevin W. talks about the first steps in his plans of a disc brake upgrade on his 1954 Chevy Bel Air, upgrading the pedal to an under-dash setup and adding a booster.
DIY Hood Spring Removal Tool
by Kevin Webel - Posted in Tech
Follow this how-to as Kevin explains the process of removing the hood on his '54 Chevy Bel Air using a handmade Hood Spring tool.
Proper Power Steering for a 1955 Chevy BelAir
by John Wulbern - Posted in Tech
In this Tech Tip, a customer asked about the correct parts needed to set up the power steering system on his 1955 BelAir.
Speedway Tech Talk - EFI Fuel Tanks
by Pat Orth - Posted in Chevy Bel Air
Pat talks about our Tanks Inc. EFI fuel tanks.
Solid Axle Choices for Your Traditional Hot Rod
by Eric McMillan - Posted in Tech
When it comes to a traditional style build on an early hot rod it just has to be rolling on a solid front axle of some sort. In this buyer's guide we take you through I-beam and round tube solid axles, spindle choices, radius rod needs, and more.
How to Use a Stud Extractor Tool
by Steve Lewis - Posted in Tech
Broken exhaust studs are a common problem. This article describes what you need and how to remove a broken stud from an exhaust manifold. Learn how simple it is to remove broken or stubborn studs with a Titan Tools stud extractor tool.
Steering Shaft and U-Joint Selection Guide
by Speedway Tech Team - Posted in Tech
Designing a steering system for your street rod or muscle car can be tricky. In this buyer's guide we'll show you how to choose the right steering U-joints, steering shaft, and accessories to complete the job quickly and safely.
Create the Perfect Exhaust Note with Performance Mufflers
by Mark Houlahan - Posted in Tech
We all want that tough, aggressive exhaust note emanating from our hot rod, muscle car, or classic truck's tailpipes, but which muffler is best suited for your project vehicle? We're here to help with our muffler buyer's guide!