A little R&R can revitalize first-gen Corvette leaf springs

C1 Corvette springs before (top) and after being re-tempered and re-arched | Eaton Detroit Spring photos

First-generation Chevrolet Corvettes were produced from 1953 through the 1962 model year, and by now, notes Eaton Detroit Spring, the rear springs on those cars might be looking a little worn, or a lot worn. 

Although it notes that such springs were made with steel “that had a groove in the bottom side of each spring leave,” a type of steel not produced since the mid-1960s, Eaton Detroit still has a possible solution for those doing a restoration:

Re-shaped leaf goes into oil bath after being annealed and re-shaped. Next comes a second heat-treat furnace that finalizes the re-tempering process

“Eaton offers an R&R process — that’s re-temper and re-arch — than can make them as close to new as possible,” it said in a recent news release.

The goal is to make first-gen parts look like new, and that is accomplished through a multi-step process that includes re-tempering of each spring and, while red-hot and before they are re-tempered, a re-arching back to the spring’s original shape.

“They then go into an oil bath after being annealed and reshaped,” the company explained. “The next step is to go through the second heat-treat furnace that finalizes the re-tempering process. Once through the second heat-treat furnace, the leaves are shot peened to relieve the inherited stresses caused by the heat-treating process before being assembled.”

Company president Mike Eaton — his grandparents founded the firm, explained, “We had a customer in this morning who happens to be the designer of the original Corvette suspension who I have known for years. He brought in a couple of sets of C1 rear springs to be reconditioned. Even though we do a lot of these, there are a lot of ’Vette owners who don’t know we offer it.”

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For more information on the process, visit the Eaton Detroit Spring website.



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