I had been running a 4" Skyjacker Softride suspension lift under my 1977 Scout II for about 9 months when I dumped the clutch and broke a bunch of stuff. I had just swapped a 304 in, and was showing off with a Scout full of members of the opposite sex.. and I did the very foolish thing of dropping the clutch at 3,000rpm.. on pavement. With 4.09 gears, a limited slip, and 33x12.50s. BANG. At the time, I thought I had only smoked a driveshaft.. then found out I destroyed a Dana 20 (broke the case) in th e process as well. That was all, I thought.

After a year of running the Skyjackers, including 2" extended rear shackles to raise the saggy-rear up, I began to notice the Scout "pulling" kinda funny, and a definite clunk when I'd get on the gas.

Upon closer inspection, I had broken the driver's side rear spring perch off. I needed to drive the Scout to Havre, MT in a couple days, so at the time I just removed the tire and re-welded the perch to the axle. I forgot to go back and repair it proper ly until after another fourwheelin' trip.. during which I blew a front axle-shaft U-joint and front hub apart while backing up a very steep rock face.

When I got home, I found out I'd also re-broken the spring perch off. Must be time to do something about it!

The Skyjackers hadn't provided as much lift as I'd hoped, and they sagged VERY badly with any additional load in the back (like an overnight wheelin'/campin' trip would require), and I was tired of banging shocks n' U-bolt plates on rocks so... I figured I would just do a rear spring-over.

I had acquired a set of VERY shot rear springs from a '73 SII a while back. I put new spring bushings in the springs, then removed the center pin, removed the shortest leaf, and then installed a new center pin.

This is what I started with. 1977 Scout II, 4" Skyjackers all around with 2" extended rear shackles, with 33x12.50s. Notice how low the rear spring runs.

I then fabbed some new rear spring-perches. I bought a foot or three of 2"x2" square tubing, with 1/4" wall. I bought a 2.75" steel bi-metal hole-saw.

I put the 2x2 into my drill press, and used the hole saw to make two semi-circles, with the top of the semi-circle stopping just before the wall of the box tube.

New perch in the drill, both semi-circles finished

With the holes cut, I moved the steel tube to the chop-saw/cut-off saw. I made each perch approximately 5" long.

I put the perches back into the drill press, and drilled the hole for the spring center-pin. I upgraded to 3/8" diameter center pins, so I used a 9/16" drill bit for the center-pin hole. I made TWO holes. One "centered" and one hole offset by 7/8" to t he "front" of the perch. Offsetting the center pin hole relocated the axle assembly rearward 7/8" and fights spring-wrap-up. I made the centered hole to give myself choices on where to locate the axle by redrilling the spring center-pin if need be at a later date.

I then cut some 2" wide by 1/4" thick steel strap. I made two pieces just 2x2, and two pieces 2x5. I welded the 2x2 to one end of the square tube spring perches to "cap" it. The 5x2 piece was welded to the opposite end, with the 5" length being horizon tal, and thus sticking "inboard" of the spring perch. In hindsight, I would run the 2x5 strap vertically to make it hang DOWN. Cut it so it doesn't hang any lower than the axle housing (use a 3" long strip) and enable the use of longer-travel s hocks.

With the the two caps welded on, I then ground the top of the spring perch smooth with my 4" Makita grinder. I wanted the spring to rest on the entire spring perch. I also took the opportunity to drill the lower shock mounting holes on the drill press.

The finished perches.

With that all done, I set to work on making new U-bolt plates. Since I had offset the center pin hole in the perch, I needed a custom U-bolt plate with the center hole offset. I used my new U-bolts as a template, along with a stock U-bolt plate, to mark and drill the 4 U-bolt holes, and the center-pin hole.

Painting the U-bolt plates and the new shackles

I had to cut the old extended shackles off, so I grabbed some 2" wide by 1/4" thick steel strap, and made a set of new shackles. I made the holes 3" center-to-center, just like stock.

With the prep work done, I jacked the Scout up and removed the old springs. I cut the HD extended shackles off because the shackle bolts had rusted to the bushing sleeves.. this, just one year after I installed all new bushings and springs!

With the old springs out, I tried removing the axle shafts, then leaving the drum brake backing plates in the truck, and then reinstalling the axle shafts and tires to roll the axle housing out from under the Scout. In the times I've done this since, I w ould vote for pulling the axle shafts, removing the drum backing plates, and then leaving it as-is. The "empty" housing is VERY easy to heft around by yourself.. but putting the axle shafts back in doesn't help one bit.

I moved the axle onto some jack stands in front of my shop. I put a floor jack under the pinion to tip it up and down.

The first thing I did was grind down the axle housing where the old perch had been (the one I'd broken off). I ground down the weld that was still present, and then, since I had broken a piece of the axle tube out when the perch came off the second time, I welded up the hole in the axle tube and ground it flush again. With the repairs complete, I moved on to the spring-over.

I put a magnetic angle finder on the still attached passenger side spring perch. It was at this point I also noticed it was BENT. I had broken one side off, and bent the other!

I jacked on the pinion until the angle finder (suspended UNDER the axle from the OE perch). I then placed the new driver's side perch onto the housing, and smacked it down (close tolerance) with a hammer to get it to sit flush. I then re-zeroed the pass enger side OE perch, and then moved the angle finder to the new perch, and rotated it around until it was also at 0-degrees. I then double checked the distance from the differential case to the spring perch, and the spring perch to the axle retaining fla nge (aka backing plate area). This was to make sure the perches would be the same width as stock. I double checked the angle against the stock perch, and again the distance from the diff to the perch a few times.

Once I was positive the perch was oriented properly, I put a big C-clamp over it to keep it in place. I then checked everything again.

With things clamped in place, I pulled out the welder and drew a small bead along the perch and the housing to hold it in place. I removed the clamp, and again, I checked the distance (spacing) and angle against the stock perch.

With the driver's side perch held in place, I then placed the new passenger side perch onto the passenger side. I left the stock perch in place. I set the new driver's perch to "0 degrees" and then zeroed out the new passenger perch. Again, I checked t he distance from the diff case to the perch a few times, clamped it, double checked everything again, tack welded it in place, and checked again.

Once I was satisfied the two perches were where they needed to be, I proceeded to fully weld them.

I would alternate one side then the other, drawing only one bead at a time, trying to keep from getting the axle housing too hot and warping it. I would rotate the axle forward and backwards to help make the welding easier. At one point, both sides were sufficiently hot that I took a break and let the housing cool before finishing the welding.

While the axle housing cooled, I installed the 1973 rear leaf springs and new shackles.

I then finished the welding, and drug the axle housing back to the Scout. I did it a few times, but ultimately I routed the e-brake cable and the drum backing plates UNDER the leaf springs.

I put the axle under, lifted it into place with my floor jack, and installed the U-bolts and custom U-bolt plates. I torqued to 80ft-lbs.

I installed my shocks, and put things back together. My driveshaft was not long enough, and I took it to a driveline shop and had it lengthened approximately 1.75". I believe it's 1" for the SOA, and 7/8" (or 3/4") for moving the axle back 7/8".

I took measured my "total net lift" at 4", and took this photo.

Unfortunately, when I tried to check articulation, I didn't have much luck.. and ultimately decided I was sitting on my shocks!

Removing the shocks, I only had 3" of lift! Those are some REALLY shot springs! I had to remove the axle, remove the center-pin and re-installed the 4" leaf, and then added a 1/4" thick steel "lift block" into the spring pack and re-did everything. I'm not at 3.5" of lift, which is about where I was with the Skyjackers and extended shackles, but with a LOT more ground clearance and load carrying capability.

I ultimately ended up with:

But I still didn't have any rear shocks, and I wasn't going to order new ones just yet. So I got creative, and relocated the upper shock mounts inboard, putting the shocks at an angle, to let them work in the "cramped" quarters.

Using a spare frame to make test-fitting easier, I used this piece of 2x2x1/8" angle to make a new upper shock mount. It's approximately 17" long, with holes drilled every 1.5". It is designed to be bolted in using the stock shock mounts, and then you c an choose whichever upper bolt hole is necessary to run the shocks. Ultimately, I want to re-work the lower shock mount, and run doubled shocks. Note that I had to "rip" 1 inch off the side of the 2x2 angle to make it fit properly.

Check out how much angle I have on these shocks!

My rear axle is now more or less centered in the wheel well. My wheel travel is nearly vertical. My rear springs are flat at-rest. I can carry more gear than before with less sagging, and I no longer drag my U-bolt plates and shocks through the rocks. I have, however, ripped off my rear exhaust, since the tailpipe can no longer pass between the axle and the frame, or it gets crunched by the leaf spring. I'm about to have the exhaust re-done to route straight back to the gas tank, turn, then come back farther and finally turn out behind the rear shackles.

You may also want to read the First Cut I took at this writeup a few months earlier..

-Tom Mandera