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Front spring removal...


stealthbob

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I need to change out the front springs on my 54 Roadmaster, I have the entire front clip off and engine removed. So this seems simple enough until I read the procedure in the manual...the engine has to be in for it to provide the weight to compress the spring.

Any tricks other than getting spring clamps?

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I made a compressor that used all thread rod down through the spring. Not for the feint of heart though. If you can find a commercial compressor do so..........Bob

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Heheheh...I can find one just can't get the capital approval from my shop manager :rolleyes:

Maybe I can show her the dangers of failed attempts while not using a good compressor..there should be some on YouTube.

I guess I'll buy one...I could wait until the motor is in but everything is so nice and exposed now. Great chance to complete a proper cleanup.

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1. Jack up the front of the car until the wheels are well off the ground ( at least 4 inches ) and put jack stands under the chassis.

2. Take off wheel covers and unbolt and remove wheels

3. Unbolt top and bottom shock mounts and take out the shock.

4. Unbolt sway bar links top and bottom and remove.

5. Put a hydraulic floor jack under the lower wishbone where the bottom shock mounts are : jack up until the wishbone just starts to move and stop.

6. Undo the nut on the lower outer suspension pin.

7. Unscrew the suspension pin. It will be tight so an air driven rattle gun helps a lot here.

8. Lower the jack SLOWLY and the spring will come down. You may have to prise it out with a tyre lever when it fully extends.

When you put it together make sure the suspension pin is well greased and the grease hole in the middle is not clogged. Don't forget to put the rubber grommets back in. If fitting new springs you may have to give them some a helping hand going back in by tapping with a hammer and block of wood. Check the top rubber mounting bush for wear / compression.

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I messed around once with my ATV rear springs and for a moment I saw my future...didn't like it. I guess I just got freaked out so I went down and had the other done by a mechanic friend.

I hate to borrow tools in general..especially from a pro making a living off them so I think I will just buy a set...more Buick Bucks gone to tools and not directly to the Buick. :(

Thanks..I guess I just needed to hear what I have to do.

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1. Jack up the front of the car until the wheels are well off the ground ( at least 4 inches ) and put jack stands under the chassis.

2. Take off wheel covers and unbolt and remove wheels

3. Unbolt top and bottom shock mounts and take out the shock.

4. Unbolt sway bar links top and bottom and remove.

5. Put a hydraulic floor jack under the lower wishbone where the bottom shock mounts are : jack up until the wishbone just starts to move and stop.

6. Undo the nut on the lower outer suspension pin.

7. Unscrew the suspension pin. It will be tight so an air driven rattle gun helps a lot here.

8. Lower the jack SLOWLY and the spring will come down. You may have to prise it out with a tyre lever when it fully extends.

When you put it together make sure the suspension pin is well greased and the grease hole in the middle is not clogged. Don't forget to put the rubber grommets back in. If fitting new springs you may have to give them some a helping hand going back in by tapping with a hammer and block of wood. Check the top rubber mounting bush for wear / compression.

Thanks but that only works when the whole engine/transmission is in place....my top stop bumper is completely compressed while the car sits on the tires.

On another note..I find it neat that we are both from Perth and both have the beautiful '54 76R. :D

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I was just reading about this process in the Buick Manual for my 78, and it calls for the lower A frame to be disconnected at the pivot bolts, not the ball joint. It also calls for the spring to be chained to the lower a frame running a simple loop up the inner and around the A frame itself.

Of course this is the 78, not the 54. But it also has limits on how much you can compress the springs, leading to concerns about proper use of spring compressors.

Here's an idea. Suppose you recreate the weight of the engine and transmission by afixing a 4x4 to the top of the frame and the opening of your garage door. Basically brace the 4x4 between to the beam above the door opening and then jack the frame up to it untill your A frame assembly raises sufficiently. Not sure of the measurements needed but pretty sure I'd be using some serious metal plates and heavy bolts where the 4x4 attaches to the frame and the beam.

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I was just reading about this process in the Buick Manual for my 78, and it calls for the lower A frame to be disconnected at the pivot bolts, not the ball joint. It also calls for the spring to be chained to the lower a frame running a simple loop up the inner and around the A frame itself.

Of course this is the 78, not the 54. But it also has limits on how much you can compress the springs, leading to concerns about proper use of spring compressors.

Here's an idea. Suppose you recreate the weight of the engine and transmission by afixing a 4x4 to the top of the frame and the opening of your garage door. Basically brace the 4x4 between to the beam above the door opening and then jack the frame up to it untill your A frame assembly raises sufficiently. Not sure of the measurements needed but pretty sure I'd be using some serious metal plates and heavy bolts where the 4x4 attaches to the frame and the beam.

Oh boy. Here comes a UTube moment.............

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Oh boy. Here comes a UTube moment.............

Funny yes...but also clever.

They make tools for a reason, sometimes one just needs to be reminded of that fact......as tempting as the beam on the garage door idea would be. :P

Its neat to see all the different approaches we all take to problems..which is why I asked in the first place. I just wanted to make sure I was not missing some easy and safe idea. That procedure Rooster spoke of seems elegant and safe...just not without having the engine in-place.

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On another note..I find it neat that we are both from Perth and both have the beautiful '54 76R. :D

Yes, who would have thought that !!

Now, if only both our names were Bob. ;)

I didn't pick up on the fact the engine was out until I re-read your post. Oh well, at least somebody can use the info if their engine is still in.

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Have a "spring" party. When they all arrive have 4-5 of your friends (the larger the better) sit in the car and engine bay while you work away. smiley.gif

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After obsessing about this and starring at it I may now have an idea that doesn't involve me gathering dead weight....friends or otherwise :D

I need to know however, if the top shock mount can stand my idea....

I could remove the shock then insert a threaded rod, as big as can fit diameter wise, all the way through past the bottom a arm. Use some heavy plate steal at the bottom and top. Then all I need to do is thread down a nut on some washers at the top until its compressed enough for me to remove the top a-arm. Then slowly thread it all out until the spring has no more extension.

My only question is...will the top shock mount be damaged from this? Its heavy gauge...as is everything on this car but is it heavy enough?

Spring.pdf

Shock mount.pdf

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That's what I said right off in my first post. Yes it works. Yes the shock perch is plenty strong. The problem is, as the A-Arm decends it's angle to the rod increases dramaticaly and the rod bends dramaticaly. It gets real scary real fast but once you are commited you have to press on. The bottom plate that butts against the A-Arm needs a hinge so it can change angle while the rod stays straight. BTW an impact wrench is what you want to trun the rod and grease it well. If you want I can EMail A pix of the tool I made. It works well..............Bob

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Yikes...maybe thats where I thought of it. :rolleyes:

Sorry about that, I guess I was thinking of something else when I read your post.

What diameter/tensile strength of rod did you use? Man if it bends bad that would scare the bleep out of me!

After reconsideration, I am "faint of heart" as you put it.......

I learn safe work practises at work, certainly this would never even be considered there so why am I now considering just because I'm at home? I guess it took me posting the question to make me realize that fact.

I will be buying the proper tool....

Thanks for all your input and thanks Bob for the suggestion, I just don't think I could stomach seeing that rod bend the way you described :eek:

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Yup it scared the crap out of me when I did the first side. The trouble is it doesn't start bending until you are well into the process. Then you have to decide wheather to screw it back up or press on. I welded up a hinge plate to do the other side and it was fine both for removal and installation. It's been used on about 4 cars since but every time I watch that coil being compressed as the screw tightens I ask myself what the Hell am I thinking........Bob

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Me & the Ottawa Buick Gang will head up to Perth........you just have to go clean out the Beer Store :D:D

Got a neighbor with a backhoe or tractor, drop the hoe in the engine bay & force down:confused::eek:

That statement should get some responses...........

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Can you move the car around so that the front crossmember is underneath a STRONG truss in your workshop roof ? If so, get a piece of 4X4 timber or comparable strength steel pipe or square tube and cut it so that if fits tightly between the chassis rail and the truss. Then you will be able to do the procedure I outlined.

I've used the steel truss in my workshop to do similar jobs before including pulling and re-fitting heavy Buick engines.

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Very, very dangerous. You can easily be killed by the spring. When I was a teenager and mentioned to the mechanics I knew at a Buick dealer in NYC that I was going to replace the front springs in my '55 Super Conv., they lined up to say good-bye to me. They would use the lift to release an A frame, while squatting down, hiding behind another car for protection.

You will need to release the lower A frame at the pivot bolts. You must use a spring compressor - not to do all of the work (see below) but for added safety. Removal of the spring does not require the weight of the engine, but without the weight, the floor jack will not lower the A frame. Instead, what will happen is that the body will jump up and uncompress the spring dangerously fast. So in addition to using the spring compressor, you can replace each of the four A frame bolts ONE AT A TIME with very long ones or threaded rods with doubled nuts at each end. You can then loosen them each a little in sequence, using them to control the rate at which the spring expands or help to compress it on reinstallation, along with the spring compressor. Using both the very long bolts or threaded rods to gradually lower the A Frame (or gradually compress the spring by raising the A frame) adds redundancy in the control of the spring, and thus increases the element of safety. I'd never trust the floor jack alone and it will not compress the spring enough without the weight of the engine. The front end will just lift instead of the spring compressing. VERY VERY dangerous.

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I use a combination of methods: some weight on the front of the car, a floor jack, 1/2 inch hardened steel threaded rod, chains and straps for safety and think ahead while standing behind the exit path of the spring.

Willie

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Here's another lame brained idea.

Planning to do only one side at a time, lay a 2x12 perpendicular to the side frame rails, and lay a length of heavy chain under the 2 x 12 in the general area where it can be looped around the side rail , out of the way of the A frames. Roll the car onto the 2X 12 and then jack up the side you will do first, Support the frame on two jack stands, one fore, and one aft of the A frames. Note, the length of the chain should be sufficient to reach up and over the side rail when the frame is high enough to get the tire off and allow the lower A frame to swing. It should also be heavy duty chain and it might be a good idea to get two lengths to be used simultaneously.

Then place the floor jack under the A frame to complete the removal and re installation.

Theoretically the jack and the opposite tire would simultaneously hold down the 2x12 and the car frame while lifting the lower A frame.

Seems as though this would work, and then you might be able to use Strut Spring Compressors, which are much cheaper then a coil spring compressor. Again, as 54 Buick Doc says, not to do the whole job but just to assist in compressing the spring to take a little of the tension off.

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Well if its one thing I do well its take pictures... :rolleyes:

I get Buick Bucks every week on payday, I will be buying the compressor and removing it this weekend.

If you don't hear back from me, you can assume that I'm in the hospital getting my new found appendage removed from my face :eek: :D

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I have nothing useful to add except that changing springs has been one of the most frightening automotive experiences of my life, and we did use all the right tools. My friend refers to them as the Coiled Chinese Cobras of Death. Utterly fricking terrifying when you're almost done, you're taking a quick break... your heart is pounding at the thought of the massive unnatural amounts of tension contained only by cheap Chinese steel... and then the spring makes one little "creak" noise. (OH YOU *HAD* TO MAKE THE CREAK NOISE. Then you don't want to touch it. At all. Ever. Sell the house. Move to another state.)

Seriously, be careful because the coil is not a flat, level surface. Yes that's obvious, but if any part of your rig isn't well-seated, it can whip around those coils and come loose much faster than your visual cortex can respond.

I have a friend with a big hole in one wall of his garage where his BMW flung an errant spring one day. He never saw it -- he just felt the wind as it missed his face by who-knows how little...

I have done the springs on several cars, and at this point I'm just going to pay somebody to do the next one. I swear I've lost several years of life from sheer fear.

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I'm with McGuire. Even rear springs scare the hell out of me. Took me 2 days. (I usually take the flat rate manual and multiply the estimated time by 10...that's how long it will take for me to complete the job!)

I'd rather pay someone to do that. Their worker's comp is surely better than my health insurance (or worst case, life insurance).

54BuickDoc....LOVE your story too!

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Hi-I'm getting ready to remove the powertrain from a 53

Roadmaster and will then go over the suspension while the engine is out because it is so accessible. Last time I did this kind of thing I decided to try adding weight to the engine compartment by placing a plywood sheet in there and adding sandbags to the tune of about 500#. It worked out just fine in a 55 T-Bird. Your comments make me think I should go over the suspension checkup before I pull the powertrain.

Just be careful when you liberate the coil springs that you do have adequate weight and a good jack and, maybe, a friend to help you. I'm not a fan of spring compressers even tho I have one-the screw type of thing. Years ago I watched a professional mechanic compress my 55 Buick's springs and add some spacers under the coils to aling the front end on this older car. That's the way to go if you have the dough for fancier equipment.

Right now I'm replacing the a-frame pivot pins on a 49 Chrysler with engine in- No problem releasing the coil springs but I haven't gone the other way yet and suspect it will not be nearly as quick. Found out there are no spring silencers on either end of each spring (as there should be) and both rubber bumpers on both upper and lower a-frames missing. Steele Rubber will revulcanize the upper bumpers but nothing for the lower bumpers so I'll probably buy something similar and make it work with some modifications.

Found lots of really bad mechanical work on this late 40s charmer.

Forgive me for droning on so long but do be careful.

Marty Lum

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Success! Well at least half success as I still have the other side to do... :o

Anyways it was easier and safer than I thought it would be. It took forever to get the clamps just right inside the spring and crank it down. I then put the jack under the a arm for added support then proceeded to remove the lower a arm bolts. Once they were removed all it took was a nice slow drop of the jack and the spring gently came out. Removed the clamp and that was that.

All my appendages still intact... :P

4526900512_835dce8bdc.jpg

Thanks to all who took interest in this and offered some ideas....ok now off to do the other. :cool:

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If you haven't done the other side yet I'd add that you might want to measure the length of the spring once it's out of the frame, and before removing the compressors. That way you know how far to compress the new ones when you put it back together.

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Bob,

Congratulations and do not relax your guard now that you have done the first one. Pay special attention to what you are doing. I have been reading this thread and know the danger involved even though I have never done this.

Be careful and take it easy. I was hoping that Les would not be calling us to tell us to get up there to console your family. (just kidding)

Easy now, easy does it!!!!

stevo

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Well both are out....

The last one was a bit of an adventure. The main shaft of the removal tool has to extend through the upper shock mount when the spring is compressed. Well on this one it got hung up when I lowered the a-arm. So there it was stuck..do I pull it out by hand, maybe wiggling it? My only other choice was to knock it from the top. Not wanting to tug on this by hand I decide to just tap it lightly on the top. It came right out with a bang!

Now I had done it..one of the arms was off. :eek:

I got the compressor out with no issues but dam this spring stuff scares the bleep out of me.

Again thanks for all the encouragement... :)

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Well both are out....

The last one was a bit of an adventure. The main shaft of the removal tool has to extend through the upper shock mount when the spring is compressed. Well on this one it got hung up when I lowered the a-arm. So there it was stuck..do I pull it out by hand, maybe wiggling it? My only other choice was to knock it from the top. Not wanting to tug on this by hand I decide to just tap it lightly on the top. It came right out with a bang!

Now I had done it..one of the arms was off. :eek:

I got the compressor out with no issues but dam this spring stuff scares the bleep out of me.

Again thanks for all the encouragement... :)

Probably only cost you 1 of your 9 lives. :)

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:eek:Hi,

I did this ONCE with my LaSalle, with the engine in place. Per the Cad-LaSalle book, I used jack stands under the frame and a hydraulic jack slowly to lower the suspension arm. No spring compressors.

Never again. My significant fear motivated me to add a safety chain through the spring and around the frame. All went OK, but it's scary to think of all that stored-up energy just trying its best suddenly to break free. I am glad that chain was there--like all safety devices it's best for it not to have to do its job. If that spring does break free you'll not only never know what hit you, you'll likely never even know that you were hit at all. Remember that last scene of The Sopranos--when Tony just went suddenly to black?

It's been 25 years or more, and I still shudder at the thought... :eek:

--Tom

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So there it was stuck..do I pull it out by hand, maybe wiggling it?

Man, I read that and got the same sinking feeling as my days in the garage working on springs for real.

Rest assured, installing the new springs can be just as adventurous... it'll be fighting your attempts to bolt that A-arm back up. I remember watching in amazement as the spring refused to compress, instead lifting up the whole damned car. They are definitely nowhere close to being at-rest when the suspension is fully extended.

Fun like that, I don't need any more. I'd rather go racing. Much safer. :)

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