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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry if this has been asked before:
I am finally done powder coating my front suspension parts and today I started re-assembly. I installed upper and lower control arms without a problem but the coil springs are P.I.T.A..
Initially I tried to insert the spring into the upper pocket then use a floor jack to compress the spring with the lower control arm. This procedure didn't seem to work because the spring will not align properly. The second procedure involved renting a spring compressor from Autozone. I had a heck of a time time trying to align the compressor properly and I felt that the the spring only compressed a half inch. Can anyone give me some pointers? I rebuilt my control arms (bushings/ball joints) without a hitch and now I feel like Bubba. Help!!
 

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Hey Markk, this topic has come up a time or two in the past because it is a PITA, especially with stock springs. The method you tried by jacking up the lower arm should work so long as you use a chain to secure the spring and prevent it from flying out of the pocket if your jack slips. Safety first of course :thumbsup:

Another alternative is to use some 5/8" threaded rod, a sturdy steel plate, and some nuts to draw the lower arm up into place while compressing the spring. The threaded rod goes down the center of the spring just as the shock normally would and the plate goes under the arm. See below:
http://www.digitalcorvettes.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80318&highlight=vbp+spring+550
http://www.digitalcorvettes.com/forums/showthread.php?t=146221&highlight=vbp+spring+550

Some guys use spring compressors, but the time I tried it I ended up getting the thing lodged up in there after I had the lower arm all buttoned up. Real pain...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. I did look at all of the old posts but I couldn't find anything on how the spring doesn't seat in both arms properly while lifting the lower arm. Will I be able to slide or pry the spring into the pocket while lifting the lower arm with the jack? I've read other chevy posts where people have taken the Autozone spring compressor and threaded it through the shock tower compressing the spring up. Has anyone tried this on a C3? The spring seems to be at a big angle though.
Thanks
 

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I bought a spring compresser too for the front coils and couldn't figure out how to get it out. I've used the 5/8" rod process a few times and it is much safer than the jack method, which I've also done.

With the front end arrangement, the lower control arm wants to move sideways. With the rod down the center of the spring, no matter what happens, the spring is captive. Just my 2 cents.
 

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are you installing the stock springs? Given that they're so long I can see where it would make it pretty hard to get them lined up during installation. With the top of the spring seated in the pocket can you get the inboard edge of the spring lined up with the pocket in the lower arm?
 

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Been using this one for about 40 years

So you put the squeezed spring in the pocket and push up the lower control arm and secure it. Then what? Unscrew the center threaded rod, I assume. How do you get the 2 hook assemblies out? I didn't think there would be enough room. (Not trying to be a smart ass, I just want to be a smarter ass.)
 

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So you put the squeezed spring in the pocket and push up the lower control arm and secure it. Then what? Unscrew the center threaded rod, I assume. How do you get the 2 hook assemblies out? I didn't think there would be enough room. (Not trying to be a smart ass, I just want to be a smarter ass.)
I zip up the spring with a impact gun, then hold it in the upper spring pocket in the frame, raise the lower arm to start the lower ball joint nut and put a floor jack under the lower arm. Before raising the lower arm further, I but the top spring end against the temporary bolt in the upper pocket guide hole to align the spring, then raise with the floor jack and tighten the castle nut. After removing the floor jack, I just unzip the spring compressor and the 4 hooks are on pivots and the tool just comes out the bottom of the shock hole in the lower arm.
From compressing the spring to installing a shock takes about 10 minutes.
Here is a pic of the temporary guide bolt.

 

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first time I tried it with a spring compressor like that I ended up with one of the hooks pinched between coils of the spring and it took a lot of wrestling around and curse words to get it out. I had the entire spring compressor disassembled by the time I was through. That was with the stock spring that has the tapered coil pitch at the top end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I zip up the spring with a impact gun, then hold it in the upper spring pocket in the frame, raise the lower arm to start the lower ball joint nut and put a floor jack under the lower arm. Before raising the lower arm further, I but the top spring end against the temporary bolt in the upper pocket guide hole to align the spring, then raise with the floor jack and tighten the castle nut. After removing the floor jack, I just unzip the spring compressor and the 4 hooks are on pivots and the tool just comes out the bottom of the shock hole in the lower arm.
From compressing the spring to installing a shock takes about 10 minutes.
Here is a pic of the temporary guide bolt.


How much do you compress the spring? I rented an OEM spring compressor from Autozone and I'm not too fond of the set-up.
It has two jaws on one side and a tongue fitting on the other. I'm afraid if I use my impact gun it's going to get dangerous.
If I draw the spring from the top of the shock tower how do I line it up with the lower control arm? It's seems to be at an angle?
 

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How much do you compress the spring? I rented an OEM spring compressor from Autozone and I'm not too fond of the set-up.
It has two jaws on one side and a tongue fitting on the other. I'm afraid if I use my impact gun it's going to get dangerous.
If I draw the spring from the top of the shock tower how do I line it up with the lower control arm? It's seems to be at an angle?
Most compressors available for rent are for struts and made to work on the outside of the spring, not the inside. Be sure you have the right kind.
I literally have done a couple hundred springs over the years with mine with no problems and no chains etc.. Don't know exactly how much I compress them, just till they look good and fit in the upper pocket and will allow the lower arm to start to seat, them raise the lower arm the rest of the way with a floor jack.
If you feel unsure about it, use a different method like a threaded rod thru the upper shock hole.
Post a pic of what you have and maybe you can get some better info.:thumbsup:

 

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I zip up the spring with a impact gun, then hold it in the upper spring pocket in the frame, raise the lower arm to start the lower ball joint nut and put a floor jack under the lower arm. Before raising the lower arm further, I but the top spring end against the temporary bolt in the upper pocket guide hole to align the spring, then raise with the floor jack and tighten the castle nut. After removing the floor jack, I just unzip the spring compressor and the 4 hooks are on pivots and the tool just comes out the bottom of the shock hole in the lower arm.
From compressing the spring to installing a shock takes about 10 minutes.
Here is a pic of the temporary guide bolt.

Guess I should read more, never knew to put a temporary guide bolt in there. I'm going to cut half a coil off of the stock 330 lbs springs.

BTW, the reason I said the control arm may try to move around is that I'm using a 4 post lift, so I have been unbolting the control arm from the frame end and leaving the ball joint untouched. I realize that this is not as good as popping the ball joint, as far as the arm moving around, but that's how I have to do it now, since the rear is out of the car and I can't move it. To be safe, I should use the 5/8" rod down the center to release the spring tension when getting the spring out. Then I'll try the spring compresser method putting the spring back in.

I don't think anyone mentioned loosening the cross-shaft bushing bolts on the upper and lower arms to let the car settle with the new springs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
one more question.

I'm still playing with the front springs. I had one more question: I'm having a hard time figuring out which is top and bottom? I had them powder coated so I have no tags. I can't see a difference in spacing at either end. The only difference I can see is a notch cut into one end. This is the same on both springs. Does anyone know if this indicates top or bottom. I'm going to try and give this a shot again tomorrow. thanks
 

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Guess I should read more, never knew to put a temporary guide bolt in there. I'm going to cut half a coil off of the stock 330 lbs springs.

BTW, the reason I said the control arm may try to move around is that I'm using a 4 post lift, so I have been unbolting the control arm from the frame end and leaving the ball joint untouched. I realize that this is not as good as popping the ball joint, as far as the arm moving around, but that's how I have to do it now, since the rear is out of the car and I can't move it. To be safe, I should use the 5/8" rod down the center to release the spring tension when getting the spring out. Then I'll try the spring compresser method putting the spring back in.

I don't think anyone mentioned loosening the cross-shaft bushing bolts on the upper and lower arms to let the car settle with the new springs.
If I remember correctly that was GM's suggested method and they had a pricey tool to do that.
 

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I'm still playing with the front springs. I had one more question: I'm having a hard time figuring out which is top and bottom? I had them powder coated so I have no tags. I can't see a difference in spacing at either end. The only difference I can see is a notch cut into one end. This is the same on both springs. Does anyone know if this indicates top or bottom. I'm going to try and give this a shot again tomorrow. thanks
Tighter coils to the top.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Finally figured out the whole coil spring thing. I used the autozone compressor, pulled the spring up through the shock tower then used a ratcheting strap to pull the spring over to seat on the lower control arm. (Then jacked up the control arm and connected the spindle)
One problem, I forgot to put the boot on the lower ball joint. Now I have to separate the whole thing and start over. At least I know how to do it now.
Thanks for the help.
 

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You don't have to do everything over, just put a floor jack under the control arm and lower it enough to slip the boot on.:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Yes, I'll do that. I already tried but I need a ball joint separator because the lower is tight already. I'll be renting one again at autozone.
 

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You can justtry to loosen the nut a couple turns and smack the side of the spindle next to the joint with a heavy hammer while backing the other side with another heavy hammer and it should just pop loose, especially since it's so new.
 
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