ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
9/9/20 10:08 a.m.

Instead of buying a pre-assembled strut set for my F150, I think I'm going with a Bilstein set that will require a spring compressor and using factory strut tops. (partially availability, partially part choice)

I've got an old harbor fright (intentional) compressor set that's basically 2 long screws with hooks on them. The retention device is a series of cup hooks with metal plates and wingnuts. Not the built in pins like the newer units use. It's a total faff and feels like tying up an alligator with a shoe string.

I've used this compressor on multiple spring changes - both off-road and race stuff - but it terrifies me. Is there a less scary tool? or is it significantly better on the units with the built in retention pins? I don't change springs THAT often, but I'd prefer not to be in fear for my life every time.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/9/20 10:19 a.m.

I have a number of them.  Most recently, I bought one of these, which works pretty well and doesn't take up a lot of space when not in use.  For some peace of mind, I wrap a nylon strap around everything when compressing the spring.

But for "least scary" one of the fixed, "shop style" compressors are nice.  I have an older OTC Strut Tamer and when it's set-up works very well and feels safe since you can really lock the jaws onto the spring. The downside is it is really meant to be set-up in a shop and left there.  For the "once every decade" use I have for it, it's a bit of a PITA and takes up a lot of space.  And it's friggen expensive.

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/9/20 10:25 a.m.

I've got one like Ian linked. Different brand and red, but same same. It has worked well for me and is a lot safer than my old screw and hook compressor.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
9/9/20 10:37 a.m.

I wondered about those but couldn't initially figure out how they worked with only one screw. With a closer look I get it now.   What sort of safety retention does it have for the spring?

bludroptop
bludroptop UltraDork
9/9/20 10:52 a.m.

The least scary spring compressor I know of is mounted to the wall at my friendly local indy shop.

For once-every-five-years use, I will happily leave my screw-claws in the toolbox and pay $40 to outsource the strut assembly.

Because for me DIY is a lifestyle, not a religion. 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) UberDork
9/9/20 3:48 p.m.

Lisle 62300.  They use a U-bolt with a pair of nuts on it so that the coil is captured 360 degree around, there is no way for them to slip off and send the spring flying across the shop.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000COA1F8

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
9/9/20 3:54 p.m.
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) said:. It's a total faff and feels like tying up an alligator with a shoe string,

 

+1 for clever use of language.

 

twowheeled
twowheeled New Reader
9/9/20 3:58 p.m.

and then there's me that lays a towel over the coil and let the impact rip. 

Will
Will UltraDork
9/9/20 5:22 p.m.

I agree that wall mounted is the best solution, but I have one of these and it hasn't killed me yet: https://www.harborfreight.com/single-action-strut-spring-compressor-43753.html?_br_psugg_q=spring+compressor

einy (Forum Supporter)
einy (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/9/20 5:24 p.m.

Man, I guess I successfully cheated certain death for many years with my homemade spring compressor setup that I built back in college metal shop.  Who knew.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
9/9/20 6:03 p.m.

In reply to einy (Forum Supporter) :

Not certain death, but it's one of those situations. There's not a huge chance it will go wrong but if it does the consequences can be severe. As I'm getting older I find I like to do everything possible to minimize those odds

I broke a HF set last year. A friend that needed to borrow the shop replaced them with a set from a local auto parts store. 

They are much better built, and slightly less scary to use. 

noddaz
noddaz UltraDork
9/9/20 6:32 p.m.
Will said:

I agree that wall mounted is the best solution, but I have one of these and it hasn't killed me yet: https://www.harborfreight.com/single-action-strut-spring-compressor-43753.html?_br_psugg_q=spring+compressor

 

I have one of these also.  I find it slightly terrifying to use.  The scare factor goes up as I tighten the spring.

But I just used it the other day and am still alive.  But I still have to replace the spring on the right side of the car.  

I still cannot figure out why the arms on one side are welded but the other two arms pivot.  All 4 arms need to pivot to seat on the spring properly.  I have used (in the distant past) the OTC spring compressor that this is based on.  And the HF tool is a cheap copy.

 

einy (Forum Supporter)
einy (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/9/20 7:01 p.m.
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to einy (Forum Supporter) :

Not certain death, but it's one of those situations. There's not a huge chance it will go wrong but if it does the consequences can be severe. As I'm getting older I find I like to do everything possible to minimize those odds

I’m with you ... that’s a big reason why I am now in the market via another thread for a new floor jack vs trying to half a** rehab the 20 year old one that is becoming unreliable.  And yes, I do use jack stands although come to think of it, those are also pretty old.

No Time
No Time Dork
9/9/20 7:05 p.m.

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

That looked interesting until I saw the customer photos.  The photos make it look scary, so I must be missing something. As a point of reference, I've used one like this to replace a Ford Granada loaded upper  control arm on the side of the road:

 

LopRacer
LopRacer Dork
9/9/20 9:47 p.m.

Strut Tamer...

It isn't mounted to a wall, but it might as well be. This is what we have at our shop and it gives me a great sense of security, but it costs about half a challenge car sooooo.

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa Dork
9/9/20 10:00 p.m.
bludroptop said:

The least scary spring compressor I know of is mounted to the wall at my friendly local indy shop.

For once-every-five-years use, I will happily leave my screw-claws in the toolbox and pay $40 to outsource the strut assembly.

Because for me DIY is a lifestyle, not a religion. 

All of this.  $40 is a great price for someone else to risk having a spring shoot across their shop

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/10/20 6:33 a.m.

In reply to No Time :

I have a set of those as well.  Unfortunately, they don't seem to work on every spring design. The Strut Tamer has worked on every coil-on-shock set-up I've bought, but I'm always looking for something better.  Plus, the car I work on the most is my Spitfire and the Strut Tamer just barely gets the jaws into those tight springs.  So I really just need to suck it up and buy yet another compressor - the one specifically meant for Spitfire/GT6 front shocks.  Eventually I'll be able to permanently set up my Strut Tamer in my shed, which should make life easier for the once every few blue moon times I work on struts these days (I bought it when I was doing a lot of work on MINIs).

TheTallOne17
TheTallOne17 New Reader
9/10/20 6:50 a.m.
Toyman01 (Moderately Supportive Dude) said:

I broke a HF set last year. A friend that needed to borrow the shop replaced them with a set from a local auto parts store. 

They are much better built, and slightly less scary to use. 

These are what I use. Beefy enough to hammer into the tight part of the coil to keep them 180° apart, then just 1 dugga per side til youre free.

Just dont try to take them off the spring til youre puttung it back on the strut. Did that once to try to paint old rusty springs, and recompressing was quite scary indeed

AAZCD (Forum Supporter)
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/10/20 7:22 a.m.
Mr_Asa said:
bludroptop said:

The least scary spring compressor I know of is mounted to the wall at my friendly local indy shop.

For once-every-five-years use, I will happily leave my screw-claws in the toolbox and pay $40 to outsource the strut assembly.

Because for me DIY is a lifestyle, not a religion. 

All of this.  $40 is a great price for someone else to risk having a spring shoot across their shop

I agree with this except I do not have a local shop that I can walk into and have them drop everything to compress some springs for me. At best, it's going to take a couple hours to get loaded up, drive to a shop, wait for them to do it, then drive back home. Often, time is more important than money so I buy tools.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
9/10/20 7:41 a.m.
AAZCD (Forum Supporter) said:
Mr_Asa said:
bludroptop said:

The least scary spring compressor I know of is mounted to the wall at my friendly local indy shop.

For once-every-five-years use, I will happily leave my screw-claws in the toolbox and pay $40 to outsource the strut assembly.

Because for me DIY is a lifestyle, not a religion. 

All of this.  $40 is a great price for someone else to risk having a spring shoot across their shop

I agree with this except I do not have a local shop that I can walk into and have them drop everything to compress some springs for me. At best, it's going to take a couple hours to get loaded up, drive to a shop, wait for them to do it, then drive back home. Often, time is more important than money so I buy tools.

yeah, this is kind of where I'm at. There aren't any local shops I know of that would do this on demand, so it probably adds a full day at best. I'm willing to endure some risk for the massive time and PITA of taking it elsewhere. Certainly I don't feel it's risky enough to farm it out based on risk alone, but I do feel like the tool I've been using is riskier than it needs to be. I feel like using the right tool makes it only slightly more risky than crawling under a car on jackstands, another situation where the risk can be greatly decreased using the right tools and procedures but it can kill you if done wrong or slipshod.

glueguy (Forum Supporter)
glueguy (Forum Supporter) Dork
9/10/20 8:47 a.m.

This thread had me wandering around and I found this - looks interesting?

 

TheTallOne17
TheTallOne17 New Reader
9/10/20 8:54 a.m.
glueguy (Forum Supporter) said:

This thread had me wandering around and I found this - looks interesting?

 

Its interesting, but given its almost 1/10th the price of the real thing posted earlier, and the fact that I wouldnt trust the pictured chain to hold up an elementary school swing, I would go for a quality set of the screw style (i think i paid $60ish for mine), or a whole lot of reinforcement and replacing all the fasteners before use

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