Leaf Springs: Clean, Grease, and Wrap?

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    Hi; anyone doing this? Seems some in Britain are greasing their springs and, rather than trying to duplicate or buy fitted gaiters, are wrapping them in petroleum tape, such as Denso, and then a protective vinyl layer. I know we use this in plants sometimes to protect process piping where it meets the soil surface, for example.

    The wrap would be flexible enough to allow the springs to flex without significant interference.


    As my daughter in Boston would say, this is a wicked bad topic. Oh, wait, that means a good topic, so maybe not!

    You’ll get a lot of opinions on this one.

    There was/is a tool sold for spreading spring leafs, so that grease could be put between them. Many Pierce Arrows had burlap-wrapped springs, the burlap supposedly slathered in grease, then metal gaiters installed in sections over the burlap.

    If you grease the leaf springs, make sure your shock absorbers are in tip-top condition. One function of a leaf spring is to dampen the bumps, using the friction between the leafs. A well greased spring will have greatly reduced dampening function.

    Many people put Teflon tape (or other as you mention) between the cleaned and primed leafs.

    So, as someone states on another old car forum, get your bag of popcorn and sit back and watch the show, I bet there are many opinions on this topic!


    Rudy Rosles


    Custom Made Gaiters, Leather Boots, Fabric couplings

    Cleveland, OH.


    I noticed the leaf springs on the rear of my pickup have plastic spacers between the leaves, I suppose for the same functions: no squeak and lubrication of a sort. The chassis on display at Kerrville had fitted gaiters installed.

    This may be a “can of worms”” topic similar to the subject of engine coolant on the Rolls-Royce forum!”


    Okay, I was going to sit this one out, but I can’t help myself! Here is my part of the show.

    I am unfamiliar with “DENSO” but the idea of greasing and wrapping with something perhaps better than canvas as described seems basically sound from a practical standpoint – if it is as tough as canvas when being flexed by the spring. Does the Denso have a fabric reinforcement? I would wonder about the resistance to not tear up as the springs flex, but probably not hard to replace if they don’t stand up. The canvas itself is easy enough to deal with but might rot in the next 50 years if the car is driven in the rain.

    I don’t doubt that in ’35 Pierce springs had a canvas wrap below the metal gaiters – so did senior Packards. I know because I had to clean the dried up remains – what a mess! I reused the original gaiters – including the screwdriver holes probably poked in by someone trying to grease without taking the springs apart- new canvas and new grease.

    An old 1944 SAE report on keeping overloaded springs alive during WWII stated that leaf springs do not perform a significant damping function. Basically if your shocks are not working and your springs have enough friction to damp it means your springs are squeaking and wearing quickly.

    I have no experience with plastic interleaf sliders but the description of “tape” worries me that it won’t be thick enough to last very long. There is a significant force on the leaves as they slide. Restoration Supply has interleaf sliders that I believe are Teflon. UHMW might work well at lower cost – it is not as strong as Teflon but has comparable wear resistance and friction depending on extra lubricants and additives infused in the plastic. Both are available from McMaster-Carr. The plastic should have a long term advantage in not trapping moisture like the canvas and grease combination. The extra thickness will throw off the ride height for an overslung spring. The friction coefficient of plastics will be higher than grease – until the grease eventually dries up, likely not in our lifetimes.



    I’m not adding an opinion, but here’s a blurb from Wikipedia (and yes, I realize that it’s not the end authority):


    The leaf spring acts as a linkage for holding the axle in position and thus separate linkages are not necessary. It makes the construction of the suspension simple and strong.

    Because the positioning of the axle is carried out by the leaf springs, it is disadvantageous to use soft springs i.e. springs with low spring constant.

    Therefore, this type of suspension does not provide good riding comfort. The inter-leaf friction between the leaf springs affects the riding comfort.

    Acceleration and braking torque cause wind-up and vibration. Also wind-up causes rear-end squat and nose-diving.

    The inter-leaf friction damps the spring’s motion and reduces rebound, which until shock absorbers were widely adopted was a great advantage over helical springs.” [this last sentence is referenced as being taken from “Springs – A simple study of car suspension”, The Automotor Journal, August 10, 1912, pp936-937″]


    Of course the Pierce-Arrow with its torque arm, does not wind the rear springs up on acceleration or braking. They still carry the weight, push and pull of driving and braking, and position the axle of course.

    Denso as I know it, is a product to protect process piping from corrosion; for example we would wrap a welded joint where the steel is bare with Denso then the vinyl overwrap. it is a grease-impregnated woven cloth which is fairly strong. the vinyl protects the outer surface from damage due to exposure or incidental contact.

    One can envision cleaning, then greasing the spring thoroughly, then wrapping fairly tightly with Denso, therby holding the grease and excluding most water and dirt; then an overwrap with vinyl to complete the protection. As it is all flexible it should not interfere with the operation of the spring. Necessary or not, I am not certain, but greasing and outer protection seems to have been common back in the era of these Cars.

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