Front Suspension Installation

Front Suspension Installation

November 2014

Just in case you missed the earlier post when I discussed disassembling the front suspension originally, I’ll summarize my experience in two words: it sucked.  Why did it suck?  Because the spring compression that I bought doesn’t fit.  I fought it and fought it some more, but having watched the CJ Pony Parts video where they use the same spring compressor I have, I was sure I was doing something wrong.

Now that the rear axle is back, it’s come time to assemble and install the front suspension so I can hopefully get this car into the garage and start REALLY tearing into it.  The upper and lower control arms went in without issue, it’s the springs that are the big pain in the rear.  Since I’d had so much trouble with the springs before, I decided to spend some time digging online to see how others had compressed their springs to install them.  The one I found most intriguing was the guy who used ratchet tie-down straps to take some of the load off the spring compressor, so I figured that’s what I would do.  But that didn’t work.

First of all, the GT-style front coil springs I bought are heavier gauge than the stock springs.  They are very difficult to compress.  Secondly, once I got the springs in there, I couldn’t get the ratchet straps off.  I must have compressed and decompressed the driver’s side spring eight times.  It took most of the afternoon.  I tried with straps, without straps, with straps only on the middle coils, moving the spring compressor around, going in at an angle, everything.  And finally, I got one in…mostly.  All day for one spring, and even that one wasn’t installed like I’d like to see it…it looked like it might pop out after the first speed bump.  There had to be an easier way.  It was only after I took a break to eat dinner in despair that I happened upon the miracle solution– flat washers.

So after dinner I walked out, took a crap load of flat washers, and added them between the top bolt head of the spring compressor and the top arm.  In literally five minutes I had the passenger side spring compressed, decompressed, and installed.  It took so little time that I went back and re-positioned the driver’s side spring correctly on the saddle…same thing…five minutes.  I almost cried.  I’d wasted an entire day because I’d been determined to make it work like it did in the video.  Gah!  Lesson learned: when something is extraordinarily difficult, you’re probably doing it wrong!

Note: This is a status update post to catch readers up from my 18-month posting hiatus.  For simplicity, this entry is written as if it had just recently occurred, however it actually happened in November 2014, as noted above.