Roadmaster active suspension

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  1. CK5

    CK5 WhooHoo! Administrator Moderator

    Feb 9, 2005
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    Roadmaster active suspension install on a 1997 Chevy K3500

    Article and photos courtesy of Bob William Gagne, AKA "Kaiser_Soze"​

    Why would anyone need more springs with a 1-ton truck? I constantly use my truck for hauling heavy items such as concrete bags and haul rebar with the occasional car hauling trailer and boat. I also wanted to improve the no-load driving characteristics of the truck.​

    I have a Airlift system in another truck but wanted a system that would retain the flexibility of a factory leaf spring. I feel that the airbag system limits the suspension. Not what I want for a 4x4 that has a 6” suspension lift and a 3” body lift. I would not recommend towing with a 5 “ block lift, that’s why I changed to a shackle reverse lift and a 1” zero-rate spring pack with a 6.5” heavy-duty shackle from Offroad Design.​

    I purchased this 1-ton application at J.C. Whitney’s. com for $249.00 including shipping. Delivery only took 3 days from warehouse to my location. I will be going over the factory installation, and what I had to do in order for this to work with my modified suspension.​

    Place blocks under the front tire to keep the vehicle from moving while lifting the truck off the ground. I have learned that if the axel is raised before the bed, tilt is non-existent. Very appropriate when using the Hi-lift jack, lifting to around 46” off the ground. The springs must rest with no-load on them to set the appropriate pre-load.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    First of all safety is first. Use appropriate Jacks, jack stands, and eyewear. Common sense also helps.

    The assembly comes fully assembled so take a photo of this before breaking it down for assembly.​

    Fully Assembled

    Loosen the nuts on the U-bolts so the Axel anchor plate can be bolted on top of the leaf spring. This bracket must be located directly in the center of the nut of the spring pack. I noticed that keeping this there would be a challenge, so I got out my c-clamps and rearranged the nut and bolt plus added some hardened washers to make sure this bracket was centered and would never move after the assembly.​

    Washers added

    Axel anchor plate installed

    Reassemble the locating plate and tighten the U-bolts to the proper torque setting for your truck.​

    Now it is time to remove the jack and jack stands from underneath the axel assembly and let the suspension hang free so that the rest of the assembly and the pre-load can be set.​

    locating plate reassembled

    The threaded rod has two nuts located near the center of the rod, turn the threaded rod out of the tension spring until only an inch of the rod remains. The other end of the rod inserts into the eye bracket with a cup bearing on the rod. It is important to grease this fitting before tightening the nuts to the eye bracket.​

    Rod Assembly

    Slide the eye bracket over the rear shackle eye of the leaf spring. On the rear swinging shackle end. This is where my modified suspension was giving me problems with the installation. I had to cut the heavy-duty shackle in order for the eye bracket to fit over the leaf spring.​

    Then I went ahead and cut out a new backing plate to weld in as a gusset to re-support the shackle.​

    Eye bracket installed over rear shackle

    New shackle backing plate

    Connect the tension spring to the anchor axle bracket by turning the cap screw into the tension spring until the nut on the cap screw seats against the tension spring.​

    Tension spring installed

    Now lock the nut on the cap screw against the tension spring using a wrench on the nut.​

    To adjust the pre-load the tension spring to the correct tension use a socket and turn until there is a 2mm gap between the coils. It is approximately the width of a quarter.​

    Adjust the pre-load on the tension spring to the correct tension

    Now turn one of the two nuts on the threaded rod to lock hard against the tension spring. I went ahead and put a couple of drops of thread locker on the rod at this time. Now tighten the other nut against the first. Also use some thread locker.​

    Tighten tension spring nuts

    The installation is now complete! Time to let the truck off the jack stands and take it for a test run. I found out that this system improves the drivability of my 1-ton. Having this auxiliary spring in constant tension does this. This therefore takes the shock-load of small road bumps out of the equation before the heavy-duty leaf springs making it a much more comfortable drive.​

    When I hooked the boat back on the improvement was indeed noticeable. It was a much smoother ride.​

    Install complete

    1997 Chevy K3500

    Disclaimer: When fitted, never load the vehicle beyond the manufacturers' maximum GVWR.
    Roadmaster Active Suspension kits are designed to vastly improve road handling and load carrying ability, with or without a load, when fitted to pickups, vans and sports utilities, with rear leaf springs. Refer to the Roadmaster application guide for the correct kit for your vehicles.​
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2015
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