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Old 04-02-2010, 02:51 PM   #1
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CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

So right now I'm in the process of reassembling my front suspensionClick the image to open in full size.. I got the K member bolted back in, reinstalled the control arms, and proceeded to install the springs. I thought I had read you can get them in without a spring compressor. NOT true.

Got the external style compressor since that's all I've ever used, but when I got home I realized it wouldn't work for obvious reasons.

I then got an internal style compressor from Autozone. It's a POS. It doesn't have the four adjacent jaws like most do. It has two jaws on one end and a plate on the other end that slides into the spring. It's just plain not the right tool for the job as I can hardly compress the spring even using a spacer (not to mention it feels very unsafe.)

Anyone have any tips?
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Old 04-02-2010, 02:53 PM   #2
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Lowering springs will slip right in. Just a thought
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Old 04-02-2010, 04:07 PM   #3
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

i have used autozones strut spring compressor and coil spring compressor, all though they arent perfect, they do the job just fine and for free..... 2" drop springs can be fitted withought a compressor, as mentioned above....
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Old 04-02-2010, 04:17 PM   #4
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Post #5 of the following link shows the compressor and pipe nipple that you need.

http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/su...g-springs.html (Need help changing springs on a 1991 RS.)

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Old 04-02-2010, 04:28 PM   #5
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jr. Mechanic View Post
I thought I had read you can get them in without a spring compressor. NOT true.
I guess some of us are just miracle workers them.

2 RS, 1 IROC, , 1 97 Tahoe & 2 GTAS.....Never used a compressor on any of them.
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:24 PM   #6
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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I guess some of us are just miracle workers them.

2 RS, 1 IROC, , 1 97 Tahoe & 2 GTAS.....Never used a compressor on any of them.
I'd sure like to know how you managed that, I'll take pictures of it. There is absolutely no way to get them in without compressing them (on mine at least.)

James, thanks for the link. I realize that's the compressor I need, trouble is finding one that I don't have to pay for. I already cut a piece of steel tubing to use as a spacer on the other compressor.
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Old 04-03-2010, 04:07 PM   #7
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Like Stephen I've done this multiple times. The key for me has been to put the strut in, put the spindle on the strut, and hook the lower A arm to the bottom of the spindle. Then you have the strut, spindle, and lower A arm all as one piece that will swing around. Then you stuff the spring in its home and use a floor jack to shove the A arm back up where it goes and put the bolts in.
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Old 04-03-2010, 05:13 PM   #8
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Lowering springs will not just slip right in.

This might help:
Click the image to open in full size.

Put the hooks around the spring, I used the wooden block to protect my freshly powdercoated arms. Can do with jut a steel plate.
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Old 04-03-2010, 05:19 PM   #9
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twin_Turbo View Post
Lowering springs will not just slip right in.
Funny how you say that, yet more of us have done it. Too bad that I don't care enough to set up my video camera & d it, just to show the non-believers......

It isn't hard, just requires a different way than what any book calls for. I tried the compressor on the first set I did. I found it to be more of a nuisance than helpful.

My GTA was done in about 3 hrs, for all 4 corners!

I guess Jr. Mechanic should put "I" in front of "CANNOT" in the title of this thread.

Last edited by Stephen; 04-03-2010 at 05:35 PM.
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Old 04-04-2010, 03:19 AM   #10
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I need to clarify, they don't slip in it you have the arm installed and have the strut separated from the spindle. If you jack up the arm and insert the bolts the spring will just drop in. However, I didn't feel like wrestling the arm with a jack where I had to spread the ears on the X member apart in the 1st place to get the arm with the new bushings in.

With that compressor, I simply had the block of wood under the arm, put the spring in with the hooks on it, used an impact gun to turn the bolt to compress the spring and then I assembled it all. Works quickly and easy.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:25 AM   #11
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jr. Mechanic View Post
I thought I had read you can get them in without a spring compressor. NOT true.
http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/po...994-post5.html
http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/po...29-post13.html
http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/su...ompressor.html (1991 Camaro Spring Compressor)
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:36 AM   #12
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twin_Turbo View Post
Lowering springs will not just slip right in.
Almost all of the lowering springs I have installed slipped right in. I had to jack up the a-arm to keep them from falling out.
I installed a set of Eibach Pro-kits (these almost slipped right in, just needed a little leverage) , Sportlines, and Jamex both slipped right in. When I sold the Jamex springs, I pulled them out of my 86 and installed them in my friends 86 and stuck the sportlines in my 86. I ended up putting the sportlines in my 88 Formula a few years back.

When I installed the stock WS6 springs back into my 86, I had the a-arm down as low as possible, stuck the spring in, slid a rod through the bottom of the a-arm and inside the spring. I then used a long crowbar to lift the spring onto the perch. It was a pain in the *** and took about 10 tried to get it in.
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Old 04-04-2010, 11:53 AM   #13
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I had a hard time with installing my iroc springs. I used the spring compressor you have but I removed the a-arm compressed the spring on to it and then installed the a-arm. Remember to install the forward ear of the a-arm first. I dont know how yall do it with out the compressor, my springs reached past the tip of the a-arm with the arm hanging straight down.
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:03 PM   #14
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
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I had a hard time with installing my iroc springs. I used the spring compressor you have but I removed the a-arm compressed the spring on to it and then installed the a-arm. Remember to install the forward ear of the a-arm first. I dont know how yall do it with out the compressor, my springs reached past the tip of the a-arm with the arm hanging straight down.
That's exactly how my springs are. There is physically no way to get them into both spring pockets uncompressed. Even compress about 4", I can't angle the spring enough to reach the A arm while staying seated in the upper spring perch.

I like your idea though. I think I'll use a block of wood as shown and compress the spring into the arm, the reinstall the arm.
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:16 PM   #15
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zepher View Post
Almost all of the lowering springs I have installed slipped right in. I had to jack up the a-arm to keep them from falling out.
I installed a set of Eibach Pro-kits (these almost slipped right in, just needed a little leverage) , Sportlines, and Jamex both slipped right in. When I sold the Jamex springs, I pulled them out of my 86 and installed them in my friends 86 and stuck the sportlines in my 86. I ended up putting the sportlines in my 88 Formula a few years back.

When I installed the stock WS6 springs back into my 86, I had the a-arm down as low as possible, stuck the spring in, slid a rod through the bottom of the a-arm and inside the spring. I then used a long crowbar to lift the spring onto the perch. It was a pain in the *** and took about 10 tried to get it in.
Did you have the whole arm unbolted or just the strut? I had the entire susp, apart and with the arm installed the Eibach SportLine springs did not slip in, they are too tall without compressing them.
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Old 04-04-2010, 12:54 PM   #16
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twin_Turbo View Post
Did you have the whole arm unbolted or just the strut? I had the entire susp, apart and with the arm installed the Eibach SportLine springs did not slip in, they are too tall without compressing them.
Just had the spindle and sway bar endlinks disconnected from the a-arm I believe.
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Old 04-04-2010, 01:04 PM   #17
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Wow, weird....I had all of it apart (complete car) and there was no way I could get the spring in with the arm all the way down. Granted, I didn't want to ram it in there or use a crowbar and damage the fresh powdercoat but they sure didn't just drop in like that. I had to compress them almost 2/3rd. I did use the top insulators.
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Old 04-05-2010, 12:56 AM   #18
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Once i trimmed my pro kit. I could slip the front right in, first i would slip them in, not indexed.... Then rotate them until they are indexed and no compressor was needed. just have to take off the upper strut mount bolt and sway bar endlinks, and allow the strut to drop down.
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Last edited by 1988-305-tbi; 04-05-2010 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 04-05-2010, 01:04 AM   #19
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen View Post
Funny how you say that, yet more of us have done it. Too bad that I don't care enough to set up my video camera & d it, just to show the non-believers......

It isn't hard, just requires a different way than what any book calls for. I tried the compressor on the first set I did. I found it to be more of a nuisance than helpful.

My GTA was done in about 3 hrs, for all 4 corners!

I guess Jr. Mechanic should put "I" in front of "CANNOT" in the title of this thread.
As you an see, I'm not the only one that has had trouble installing the springs. There's people on another forum that have had the same problem as well. Maybe some different spring height and rate combinations were used through the years. I can tell you that it is physically impossible to get my springs in with out compressing them or removing the control arm bolts. It's not like I've never done something like this before, summers I work as a mechanic and have done plenty of suspension work.

Maybe you have hulk like strength to force them in? I sure as heck don't. Since your criticism isn't even constructive, please keep your comments about me to yourself.
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Old 04-05-2010, 05:08 AM   #20
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

You could always try it this way http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/at...r-dsc07473.jpg
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Old 04-05-2010, 01:15 PM   #21
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I spent hours saturday trying to figure out how people were putting in lowering springs without a compressor and couldn't get it either, glad to know I'm not alone! I have the pro kit too so they're shorter than what came out. I eventually went to autozone and got a spring compressor that looks like the setup twin_turbo's picture shows and that worked. I tried taking the control arm to K member bolts off and raising it up with a jack that way, but I don't have an engine or transmission in the car and the springs lifted the front of the car off its jackstands before the control arm got up high enough!
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Old 04-05-2010, 03:30 PM   #22
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Try this:

http://www.thirdgen.org/techboard/su...ompressor.html (1991 Camaro Spring Compressor)
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Old 04-12-2010, 05:09 PM   #23
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I had to cut my coils down last week and the internal compressor wasnt doing its job. Pry bar wouldnt shove them in enough and even if it did, Id never be able to index them

Solution I found was to remove the A-arm and use a jack to compress them back into the pocket. Once the jack started lifting the chassis I attached a ratchet strap from the K-member to the jack and kept going. Pushed the bolts through the A-arm bushing, finger started the ball join nuts and it was in

I wouldnt suggest beginning this job without some sort of chain or strap wrapped around the bottom few coils. Both sides slid off the jack atleast once and without the safety wrap the A-arm and coil would have gone flying

If you can get the springs in without a compressor, great. Most cant without some form of outside thinking. My compressor kept bending the upper section enough to bind the threads on the rod. My air gun couldnt overcome the angle it had so I had to stop and rethink things
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:19 PM   #24
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I got one side in! I tried compressing the spring into the A arm, then installing arm. Compressing it as much as I could wasn't enough to get the bolts back in. I didn't feel comfortable using a jack to compress them, so I tried the compressor again. After several attempts, I was able to get it.

The key for me was to compress the spring so it was at a bit of an arch.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 04-17-2010, 09:40 PM   #25
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

i just finished putting my springs back in today, and like others i couldn't do it without a spring compressor. luckily i have a friend who works at an auto body shop, so i had access to a 4 jaw internal spring compressor and an impact gun. i tried using the a arm to compress it, but i couldn't even get the spring in the pocket without it being compressed.
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Old 04-18-2010, 11:53 AM   #26
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
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i just finished putting my springs back in today, and like others i couldn't do it without a spring compressor. luckily i have a friend who works at an auto body shop, so i had access to a 4 jaw internal spring compressor and an impact gun. i tried using the a arm to compress it, but i couldn't even get the spring in the pocket without it being compressed.
I did the same thing, couldn't get it any farther by manual means. The 4 arm compressor i had was a bit too long so I had to shave off quite a bit of the thread stem to get it inside. Scarey while using the impact gun, was praying the arms didn't let go and I'd have a new grill - both on the car and myself.
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Old 04-18-2010, 12:42 PM   #27
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

yea, the impact gun makes it easier, i just HIGHLY recommend going slow with it, and not just pulling the trigger and hopping it holds
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Old 04-18-2010, 02:12 PM   #28
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
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I did the same thing, couldn't get it any farther by manual means. The 4 arm compressor i had was a bit too long so I had to shave off quite a bit of the thread stem to get it inside. Scarey while using the impact gun, was praying the arms didn't let go and I'd have a new grill - both on the car and myself.
As mentioned earlier in the thread, use a spacer (thick wall rolled steel tubing or a steel pipe nipple) rather than cutting threads off the puller.

I used my impact as well. I think what makes it the hardest is that most of the universal type pullers aren't designed to exactly contour our front springs, just close enough to work.

The safest way to do it is to put some tension on the spring, and knock the puller around to make sure it's seated well. Run it down a couple of inches and make sure it's still on there well, then run it home.

Do it away from the car in an open area, and never put your face or any part of your body over top of the spring while it is under compression.

Same goes when you carry it to the car. Also watch your fingers so that they aren't in a position in which they could get pinched if the puller let go.
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:31 AM   #29
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

i Just used a big-@ss crowbar.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:30 PM   #30
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I just changed springs in a 92 Trans Am yesterday, fronts took about 30 minutes and the rears were just 30 seconds/side. took longer to jack the rear up than it took to remove and replace the springs.

no spring compressor required this time either. just pulled the old spring, put the new spring in place and held it up while I jacked up the a-arm.
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Old 07-03-2010, 04:31 PM   #31
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

the question i have for you zepher is do you remove the a-arm or is it still bolted to the k-member. The stock springs in my iroc without isolators will reach about even with the balljoint with the arm hanging straight down and the spring full seated up top.
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Old 07-03-2010, 04:56 PM   #32
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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the question i have for you zepher is do you remove the a-arm or is it still bolted to the k-member. The stock springs in my iroc without isolators will reach about even with the balljoint with the arm hanging straight down and the spring full seated up top.
All I do is unbolt the strut from the spindle, unbolt the brake line brackets from the strut and body, unbolt the swaybar endlink, and lower the a-arm with a jack. A-arm stays bolted to the k-member.

I'll shove a rod up through the a-arm into the spring to keep it from going anywhere when I pop it out with a pry bar.

Then we tape the rubber isolator to the top of the new spring so it doesn't fall out of place, probably best to buy new isolaters.

We place the spring back in to the car aligning the coil with the lower perch and then raise the a-arm with the jack.

Putting in stock WS6 springs are much harder since they need to be compressed a bit to get back into the car.
I won't install stock height replacement springs since I have no spring compressor.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:21 AM   #33
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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Lowering springs will not just slip right in.
I will second Zepher's motion and say "Yes they will." Just finished reinstalling mine about a half hour ago. Not a spring compressor in sight. I followed Zepher's advice and taped the used isolators on top of the spring (because I don't see the point of spending money on new ones & I'm that cheap). Then put the springs up into the upper mount with the A-arm still attached to the K-member. Made sure the springs were indexed properly before I pulled the A-arm up high enough to get the jack under the ball joint. Then just used the miracle of hydraulic pressure to raise the ball joint through the spindle. Job complete without any need for a spring compressor. Springs are listed in my sig.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:58 AM   #34
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

hi, i had the same trouble installing my springs (front)..they would not go back in...i went to a machine shop...the guy there put the spring on a press...he compressed the spring one at a time...installed steel straps while the spring is compressed..then let go the press and did this for the other spring...this way both springs are compressed and once i installed them on the a-arm ..i jacked the arm back up with spring still compressed with the straps...once up...i cut the steel traps and pulled them out with a plier...it was so easy this way..i'm sure this is not a conventional method...but it works...this guy at the machine shop was at least 70 years old!!..he said he has been doing the compressed spring method for at least 50 years....
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Old 07-10-2010, 04:35 PM   #35
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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hi, i had the same trouble installing my springs (front)..they would not go back in...i went to a machine shop...the guy there put the spring on a press...he compressed the spring one at a time...installed steel straps while the spring is compressed..then let go the press and did this for the other spring...this way both springs are compressed and once i installed them on the a-arm ..i jacked the arm back up with spring still compressed with the straps...once up...i cut the steel traps and pulled them out with a plier...it was so easy this way..i'm sure this is not a conventional method...but it works...this guy at the machine shop was at least 70 years old!!..he said he has been doing the compressed spring method for at least 50 years....
That's a pretty cool method. Simple and safe.
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Old 07-11-2010, 01:47 AM   #36
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

^^^
interesting...
my stock springs almost feel like they wanna fall out just jacking up the car with the front off the ground O.o
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Old 07-11-2010, 07:49 AM   #37
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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I just changed springs in a 92 Trans Am yesterday, fronts took about 30 minutes and the rears were just 30 seconds/side.
Hardly fair when you're installing Sportlines or anything else that low .

It is possible to install fairly stiff springs that don't drop the car without using a spring compressor by jacking the lower arm up into the chassis. But it's not easy.


Jr. Mechanic - you've got lots more room down there to work in than people with G-body cars (they can use F-body springs - ex. Moog 5660 - and I think the same lower arm).


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Old 07-11-2010, 08:04 AM   #38
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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Hardly fair when you're installing Sportlines or anything else that low .

It is possible to install fairly stiff springs that don't drop the car without using a spring compressor by jacking the lower arm up into the chassis. But it's not easy.

Norm
Do you have someone sit on the hood of the car?
We put the Pro-Kit on my friends 82 about 9 years ago and when we jacked up the a-arm it lifted the car before the spindle and strut bolts lined up.
I had to put all my weight on the car to get the spring to compress a little more so we could get the bolts in.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:20 AM   #39
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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Do you have someone sit on the hood of the car?
Nope. Did the job alone.

As long as you jack near the end of the A-arm that is being lifted into place, you shouldn't lift the car before you can make the last connection. The spring should not be under so much preload that you lift the car before you get the arm up to the suspension's fully drooped position.


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Old 07-11-2010, 09:43 AM   #40
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

i got a pep boys one it had 2 claws on the top and bottom. but i had to cut the rod down to compress it more
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Old 07-11-2010, 03:22 PM   #41
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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Nope. Did the job alone.

As long as you jack near the end of the A-arm that is being lifted into place, you shouldn't lift the car before you can make the last connection. The spring should not be under so much preload that you lift the car before you get the arm up to the suspension's fully drooped position.


Norm
Precisely what I did. I put the jack under the outer edge of the ball joint and didn't have any problems.
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Old 09-14-2010, 05:15 PM   #42
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I was just about to replace my front springs/coils (I did the rear no problem) and noticed this thread. Why so many problems? I have both the GM service manual and the Hayes manual and both have entirely different methods. YOu all seem to be doing the GM method where you disconnect at the top of the A arm (spindle, etc) but the hayes method seems easier.

The Hayes method puts a jack under the bottom of the A where it meets the K member, put on a spring compressor, unbolt the anti-sway bar, unbolt the two bolts holding the K member and the A arm, lower the jack to lower the A arm, take spring out, replace with new one (spring compressed), then reverse.

Has anyone done this method? It seemed easier to me. Kinda hitting it from a whole other end of the A arm.
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Old 09-14-2010, 07:15 PM   #43
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Stick the spring compressor up in there and youll find out quickly why we're having trouble
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:30 PM   #44
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
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Stick the spring compressor up in there and youll find out quickly why we're having trouble


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis-Z28 View Post
Has anyone done this method? It seemed easier to me. Kinda hitting it from a whole other end of the A arm.
I've done it both ways. Without trying to sound like a smart-a s s, GM has over a century of engineering experience (including designing and manufacturing our cars) while Haynes does not. Not to difficult to figure out which method to follow. For those without both manuals and/or experience with the front springs, here's a quick synopsis:

GM's method: Uses leverage of jack to counter spring tension. Only issue is lining up the ball joint vertically with the spindle.

Haynes' method: Puts the jack closer to the fulcrum (i.e. the spring) thereby reducing leverage. Additionally, you now have to line up the a-arm horizontally in two places. Getting those two bolts lined up and threaded is a pain without the tension of the spring. With it, it is insanely more difficult than GM's way.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:08 PM   #45
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Hands down, the easiest way was using the 4 jaw puller and installing the springs with the spindle disconnected.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:21 PM   #46
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Easier than my just pulling off the top strut mount nuts, lowering it all down (on a jack), pulling the springs out, putting the new ones in & putting the strut nut back on?

Sway bar, ball joint...Everything still attached?

Seriously...Only 2 nuts total to do all 4 corners (besides the lug nuts). The rears just pulled out with a good tug & slight pry with a bar.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:57 PM   #47
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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Easier than my just pulling off the top strut mount nuts, lowering it all down (on a jack), pulling the springs out, putting the new ones in & putting the strut nut back on?

Sway bar, ball joint...Everything still attached?

Seriously...Only 2 nuts total to do all 4 corners (besides the lug nuts). The rears just pulled out with a good tug & slight pry with a bar.
that is what I do, but I do unbolt the swaybar endlinks otherwise the a-arm wont' go down enough.

I just put in 2 different sets of springs in my friends 92 GTA in 2 months.
1st set was too low in the front and gave it a raked look so he bought an Eibach Pro Kit and we put those in and the car looks and handles great.
Didn't need any spring compressors at all.
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Old 09-15-2010, 03:30 AM   #48
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

I have done it both ways too, unbolting the A arm metod is more time consuming, more dangerous and the spring compressor is a must.
I would not suggest this metod without a car lift.
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:52 AM   #49
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

Quote:
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Easier than my just pulling off the top strut mount nuts, lowering it all down (on a jack), pulling the springs out, putting the new ones in & putting the strut nut back on?

Sway bar, ball joint...Everything still attached?

Seriously...Only 2 nuts total to do all 4 corners (besides the lug nuts). The rears just pulled out with a good tug & slight pry with a bar.
Okay, just because something has worked for you, doesn't mean it will work for everyone else. My springs were plain TOO LONG to fit in the spring pockets without being compressed. With the A arms at full droop, my springs extended past the ball joints when seated in the upper spring pockets. Unless you've devised a way to defy physics, there was no way to install them your way.

Maybe it could have been done with a lot of prying and hammering, but that would have been UNSAFE and NOT good for my freshly painted parts. Even then, I doubt I could have gotten them in without the compressor.

Unbolting the A arm method didn't work either, as the front end of my car is nothing more than a shell at the moment with no weight to act against the spring.
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:16 PM   #50
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Re: CANNOT get front coil springs back in!

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Okay, just because something has worked for you, doesn't mean it will work for everyone else......
I just know that I am not the only one who has done it that way or just unbolted the sway bar too, as posted above.

I was just sharing MY install. I didn't criticize you, so why did you feel the need to criticize me?
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