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Matt B
Matt B Dork
10/15/12 8:49 a.m.

Apparently, I need to go to a remedial shop class. ]

I've swapped out a handful of coil spring/strut suspensions in my lifetime and I've never had such a PITA time as I've had this past weekend. I'm having a hard time getting the springs re-installed on the new Konis I bought for the (99) Integra. It's been an issue of correctly compressing and then releasing the springs after I've got the strut/coil assembly bolted back together. Mostly, I blame the use of stock springs in this particular job - they're really frickin long requiring a fair amount of compression with a ton of tightly spaced coils, which are difficult to get the spring compressors in-and-out of.

First I started with the Autozone rental type of compressor, but the "hooks" are so thick that I had to thread them in from the bottom of the spring. Even then they intrude into the center of the assembly so much that they kept ruining my dust boot/bump stop setup.

So then I bought a different type from Napa that didn't have that problem. Unfortunately, those slid around the spring when I tightened them with an electric impact, causing the spring to curve. Unfortunately in the process of trying to remedy the situation one of them popped off the spring (due to said curvature) and the other was bent and ruined on it's first use. Overall, I'm not impressed with them. Tolerances seem waaay loose for what they're being used for (there's lots of play between the threaded rod and hook assemblies).

So, what would you guys do? I have a few ideas, but I'm open to whatever you guys might recommend.

First, is there a different spring compressor I should use? If so, where do I get it? The autozone style is way too thick and the napa "hook" style doesn't seem to be very stable. I've also looked at this type below, but the hooks are designed for a larger diameter spring and don't seat correctly on my springs.

Second, I though of maybe adding some sort of (rubberized?) material to the Napa hook style compressors so that they are less likely to move around. Maybe a spray-on texturized rubber coating?

Third, and probably most likely - I just need to slow down a bit. I've been getting real happy with the impact wrench to speed through the job and I think that may have a significant role in the compressors moving around on the spring.

Finally, AAAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!! I just had to get all that out. Thanks.

Matt B
Matt B Dork
10/15/12 8:54 a.m.

BTW - does anyone know what the smaller hooks, wingnut, & slotted brackets are for with Napa hook style compressor? There are no instructions and I've never run across these before.

Wally
Wally UltimaDork
10/15/12 8:54 a.m.
Matt B wrote: Third, and probably most likely - I just need to slow down a bit. I've been getting real happy with the impact wrench to speed through the job and I think that may have a significant role in the compressors moving around on the spring. Finally, AAAAAARRRRGGGHHH!!!! I just had to get all that out. Thanks.

Thy this. I have found those compressors to be somewhat frustrating, all three of the types you posted I've only had some luck with them by going back and forth between the two bolts a few threads at a time. That seems to keep the spring relatively straight. I eventually gave up on them and got the Harbor freight clamshell type compressor which comes with it's own set of issues.

92CelicaHalfTrac
92CelicaHalfTrac MegaDork
10/15/12 8:54 a.m.

I've NEVER had luck using an impact to do these things...

Try hand tools for more control.

glueguy
glueguy Reader
10/15/12 9:01 a.m.

yes, I'll add YIKES to using an impact on a spring compressor. Patience here to keep the spring from sproinging.

the hooks and wingnuts are supposed to be used to go around a coil, so should the compressor slip off with the spring compressed/energized, it will take some of the force in deforming those parts. The equivalent of the fende crush zone. That particular style I never use because it's too clunky.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH PowerDork
10/15/12 9:06 a.m.

The ghetto method is lots of beefy zip ties and then wire cutters...requires extreme caution, needless to say.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OX9dCZz9vI

Ian F
Ian F PowerDork
10/15/12 9:07 a.m.

First... I'm pretty sure those type of compressors are not meant to be used with an impact wrench. So yeah... slow down and get done quicker and more safely.

Second... I have one of these: http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/p-8672-otc-6591.aspx

...hate the thing... Getting it to compress the spring evenly without shifting is a pain. Right now, I've learned it really doesn't get along well with Volvo struts... Plus, it really is meant to be permanently mounted on a wall or on a sort of hand-truck assembly. Setting it up temporarily is annoying. Currently, I have it bolted to a 4x4 with a piece of angle that I can clamp in place with a bench vice - this sort of works. Lastly, it weighs about 70 lbs and isn't the easiest thing to carry upstairs into my attic when I'm done with it.

I've been planning to replace it with one of these at some point: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Macpherson-Strut-Spring-Compressor-BMW-TOYOTA-HONDA-/251164734788?pt=Motors_Automotive_Tools&hash=item3a7a95b544&vxp=mtr

I'm hoping it will work better for the occasional work I do.

Matt B
Matt B Dork
10/15/12 9:16 a.m.

Don't use impact - check (thanks universe I didn't get Darwin award).

I'd love one these - but somewhat cost prohibitive right now.

02Pilot
02Pilot HalfDork
10/15/12 9:24 a.m.

I've used the second (Napa-style) a bunch of times without any real problems (mine are fairly old and beefy Made in USA pieces with square-cut threads; I don't know if yours are the same). They do move around a bit if you use an impact, but with the threads well-greased and being careful to go slowly and not to compress the spring unevenly it works OK. The small hooks go on either side of the single large hook facing the opposite way so as to make it impossible for the hook to pop off; tighten the small hooks down to help secure the assembly.

Matt B
Matt B Dork
10/15/12 9:28 a.m.
02Pilot wrote: The small hooks go on either side of the single large hook facing the opposite way so as to make it impossible for the hook to pop off; tighten the small hooks down to help secure the assembly.

Does anyone know of any pics with the smaller hooks in place? I think I understand, but would like to be sure.

Bumboclot
Bumboclot Reader
10/15/12 10:18 a.m.

I've used this style in the past, with an impact wrench, with great results.
http://www.harborfreight.com/single-action-strut-spring-compressor-43753.html

Woody
Woody MegaDork
10/15/12 10:21 a.m.

My gut tells me that eBay and Harbor Fright aren't the best places to shop for a tool as dangerous as a spring compressor.

glueguy
glueguy Reader
10/15/12 10:29 a.m.
Bumboclot wrote: I've used this style in the past, with an impact wrench, with great results. http://www.harborfreight.com/single-action-strut-spring-compressor-43753.html

I've got that one, and the problem I had is the spacer in the middle of the threaded rod - that limits how much compression you can get. I'm sure it works in some cases, and I wish I could have used it because it seems like a better design, but I couldn't get enough compression to unseat and loosen the top nut.

Bumboclot
Bumboclot Reader
10/15/12 10:32 a.m.
glueguy wrote: I've got that one, and the problem I had is the spacer in the middle of the threaded rod - that limits how much compression you can get. I'm sure it works in some cases, and I wish I could have used it because it seems like a better design, but I couldn't get enough compression to unseat and loosen the top nut.

I wonder if that sleeve could be shortened to give more compression...

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltraDork
10/15/12 10:39 a.m.

If you are having problems compressing a spring, go to the spring shop and have the spring "banded". Makes the install so easy without killing yourself with substandard "tools". Just have to cut the bands off when it is in position and you are done.

Raze
Raze SuperDork
10/15/12 10:47 a.m.

I've had this exact same problem, and I took them to a shop with all the pieces parts and had them swapped over, for $35, or about the cost of a set of spring compressors...

glueguy
glueguy Reader
10/15/12 10:47 a.m.
Ranger50 wrote: If you are having problems compressing a spring, go to the spring shop and have the spring "banded". Makes the install so easy without killing yourself with substandard "tools". Just have to cut the bands off when it is in position and you are done.

Learn me more, please?

Ranger50
Ranger50 UltraDork
10/15/12 10:56 a.m.
glueguy wrote:
Ranger50 wrote: If you are having problems compressing a spring, go to the spring shop and have the spring "banded". Makes the install so easy without killing yourself with substandard "tools". Just have to cut the bands off when it is in position and you are done.

Learn me more, please?

Think metal ziptie around a bunch of stacked coils. Cut the tie and it expands out.

fidelity101
fidelity101 Reader
10/15/12 10:59 a.m.

i used my Bob Costas ass 3/8ths electric to assist in that situation. lots of control less time wasted cranking those things down.

porschenut
porschenut Reader
10/15/12 11:27 a.m.

I got a harbor freight hydraulic with jaws that look like the KTC ones. Works great

Travis_K
Travis_K SuperDork
10/15/12 12:06 p.m.

That harbor freight kind seems to work alright, they are really easy to jam in the compressed position. I dont really like Chinese spring compressors either, but better quality ones are in the price range where only shops can likely afford them. I have a w126 mercedes which you have to get a special spring compressor for, a Chinese one was about $200, but the original one is almost $2k.

Wally
Wally UltimaDork
10/15/12 12:44 p.m.

In reply to Woody:

I have the one in the picture. I did the struts on my Malibu and a friend's Saturn L wagon and it worked ok, but has a tendency to get stuck in the spring and has to be wrestled back out. Grease the bolt threads and under the head good, throw away the spacer in the middle, and lose those 4 little hitch pins and it's not bad.

My wife always makes sure the life insurance check goes out ontime just in case and she has some kind of deal with the guy down the block to drag what's left of me down and throw it under a bus. Something about an at work accident paying extra or something.

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse Reader
10/15/12 1:47 p.m.

I bought the HF compressor, I think it was like 40 bucks or something, and it worked OK for the 4 Miata springs I had to do. Even used the impact with it. But I wore all the PPE I could find and kept it at arm's length, not pointed at my face or body. Springs store a lot of energy.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy SuperDork
10/15/12 1:57 p.m.

I've struggled with this myself.

Hand tools, and do the same number of turns on each side. I do 12 full turns, switch, 12 full turns, etc. It takes a long time.

The last suspension I bought (for the Forester) I had Primitive Racing assemble everything for me and ship it. All I have to do is bolt it in and align it now.

foxtrapper
foxtrapper PowerDork
10/16/12 5:11 a.m.

Every one of those above has caused me troubles clearing the shock inside the coil. They are ok if there is nothing there, but if there is a shock, the thickness of the arm or finger invariably jams up against the shock. Especially imports and smaller cars. Not such a problem with 1960's era American Iron.

Finally went and hunted down one of these: It uses U bolts to clamp onto the spring. This actually clears the shock. And since you actually tighten the U bolt, it isn't prone to slipping as the spring compresses.

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