1993 Volkswagen LT 4x4 - Suspension
One of the biggest differences between a Volkswagen LT and a Mercedes Unimog is the type of suspension they use. The Unimog uses coil over springs and the LT uses leaf springs. In my opinion the Unimog has the better suspension because the coil overs allow a much greater range of suspension travel. I don't have the time or resources to install springs on all four corners of my LT so adapting the Unimog axles to use leaf springs is what I did. Also, as you will see in some of the photos, the Unimog axle pinion is close to the oil pan of the LT which required me to build the spring platforms 2.5" taller than the original VW spring platforms so there would be sufficient clearance between the pinion and oil pan under full suspension compression.
The first thing done was remove the Unimog spring platforms and shock mounts from the axles.
Coil spring perch removed from rear axle
Then I duplicated the spring platforms that Volkswagen built for the original axles only better. 1/2" plate steel and 6.5" high at the front instead of 4" in order to have enough clearance for the oil pan. The upper torque arm mounting points were installed later. The lower torque arms will be installed at a later date as I will be using a slightly different angle than stock.
Spring platform - design copied from the original LT
Next with the help of my frau and my friend Mike (THANK YOU MIKE!!!) we installed the Unimog axle in place under the front of the truck. A word to the wise here... make sure you have lots of brownie points to burn and some beer to make everyone happy when you are done as it's a lot of work moving an axle with a top heavy ring and pinion. I think I have to go help Mike do some roofing this weekend! After the axle was in place and the weight of the truck was on the axle I adjusted the pinion angle.
Setting front pinion angle
Once the pinion angle was dialed in, a phone call to a trusty certified welder made the spring platforms and axles one piece. I can weld, but I just wanted the certification behind these ones!
Have your certified class 1 welder attach the spring perches to the axles!
Next, the rear axle went into place as seen here without the U bolts and welding holding everything in place. Ground clearance went from 25 to 41cm under the differential - it will be a sight to see with the 11.00R20s I have ready to go on there when this project is done! Because of the additional lift and the port hole axles I will be installing torque arms at the rear even though Volkswagen didn't do this originally on the LT.
Lots of ground clearance!
The only issue that I am going to have is the rear drive shaft - with the drive flanges parallel the universal joint angle will be 24 degrees, which is too much... we'll see how we solve this problem in the next section!
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