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Thread: Front struts - U-van versus A-car - Interchange?

  1. #16
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Gold View Post
    Fantastic info David and thanks for the info and great tutorial! As far as proper tools, just as you said, I _highly_ recommend a set of spring compressors exactly like the ones that David recommends and that he shows in his photographs:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...dp_o_pd_nS_ttl

    The above link is just one specific brand, but many different brands are available that look similar. As a long-time crew chief of a grassroots production-stock off-road race team in Mexico and stuck with production style struts and springs by necessity, I generally do about 6-10 strut/spring changes per 4 day race when individual struts expire from being overheated and the oil becoming aerated... At the start of this adventure 4 years ago, we had ratchets, sockets, extensions and "hook-style" spring compressors. While they worked, they were (IMHO) total death-traps and even using careful practices, I never trusted them. The following year we switched to the style of spring compressor David mentions (along with electric impact guns of varying sizes) with solid, properly shaped spring cradles and latching pins, and the difference is amazing.

    The right tools here, as David mentioned, could save your life and are worth $30-50. If you don't want to buy them, most autoparts stores rent them for a deposit which is returned when you bring the tools back. Totally worth it!
    Those are identical to the ones that sells under the Sears Craftsman brand. They have square threads; much stronger and safer. Scared myself when I tried it the first time with one I got from "Horror Freight." Don't skimp on spring compressors!

    Ken T.



  2. #17
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wagontech View Post
    If anyone was thinking about this upgrade, the Monroe Reflex (p/n 71820) is on wholesale discount at RockAuto for $19.40 each. I ordered two.
    Still on sale, just ordered two as well.

  3. #18
    Senior Member Moonkilla1's Avatar
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    And there still on sale I just ordered 2 right now and also the linked compressor.

    I did want to ask; I am looking to make the alloy upgrade and wanted to know if 15" wheels would work with this strut mod. I am hoping for a set of silhouette wheels from a 91 or 93 im looking at. im trying to keep the Olds rocket on my 90 Ciera if possible.

    Carlos
    “Teach your young children to work, and teach them that honest labor develops dignity and self-respect. Help them to find pleasure in work and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.”

    -Joseph B. Wirthlin

  4. #19
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    The spring perch is in the exact same position as stock. The strut itself is physically the same size. I don't see there being a problem.

  5. #20
    Senior Member Moonkilla1's Avatar
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    Thanks Duke! oh and by the way I love reading up on your threads and I am a big fan of your work. I did have another Question for anyone who might have an idea.

    I am a huge fan of a stiff very precise ride; the whole "feels like a tank moves like a car" idea makes me very happy. perhaps the reason is because I did drive self propelled field artillery during my time in the service lol, who knows. Anyway, im thinking about switching over to the 93 u-van front coil as well. the extra 1" in height the front will get makes me happier about putting bigger wheels and tires on her (very tanky).

    I don't want to pay for a yard strut since I have new ones on the way but the question is, how do I get the coil off the strut in the yard?

    I cant use the compressors because they wont expand enough to let the coil out safely (thanks for all the info on safety David)

    I was thinking I could remove the 3 nuts on top of the tower then the center bolt on the hat WHILE standing in the engine bay so when the spring expands the van is protecting me. once loose I can get the bolts on the knuckle and take the coil.

    am I on the right track here?

    Thanks,
    Carlos
    “Teach your young children to work, and teach them that honest labor develops dignity and self-respect. Help them to find pleasure in work and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.”

    -Joseph B. Wirthlin

  6. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moonkilla1 View Post
    Thanks Duke! oh and by the way I love reading up on your threads and I am a big fan of your work. I did have another Question for anyone who might have an idea.

    I am a huge fan of a stiff very precise ride; the whole "feels like a tank moves like a car" idea makes me very happy. perhaps the reason is because I did drive self propelled field artillery during my time in the service lol, who knows. Anyway, im thinking about switching over to the 93 u-van front coil as well. the extra 1" in height the front will get makes me happier about putting bigger wheels and tires on her (very tanky).

    I don't want to pay for a yard strut since I have new ones on the way but the question is, how do I get the coil off the strut in the yard?

    I cant use the compressors because they wont expand enough to let the coil out safely (thanks for all the info on safety David)

    I was thinking I could remove the 3 nuts on top of the tower then the center bolt on the hat WHILE standing in the engine bay so when the spring expands the van is protecting me. once loose I can get the bolts on the knuckle and take the coil.

    am I on the right track here?

    Thanks,
    Carlos
    Easiest way I found (please don't laugh) is to use exhaust clamps. 2.5" works best. The idea is to compress the coils and when it's free, you can control the decompression. The more clamps you use, the more control you have. A word of caution tho, don't try to release a clamp all at once. Slowly work the clamps loose as a team.....

    AuSSenseiter

  7. #22
    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1987 Black VR wagon Fam View Post
    Easiest way I found (please don't laugh) is to use exhaust clamps. 2.5" works best. The idea is to compress the coils and when it's free, you can control the decompression. The more clamps you use, the more control you have. A word of caution tho, don't try to release a clamp all at once. Slowly work the clamps loose as a team.....

    AuSSenseiter
    An interesting approach, and perhaps could be used with a standard spring compressor in the shop as an added safety measure....

    When I did mine, I felt like I was handling an explosive.... I guess I was!

    Ken T.

  8. #23
    Senior Member Doc Salvage's Avatar
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    Great thread! Thanks to Dave as always, and everyone else who contributes! Still waiting on my strut upgrade : - (

  9. #24
    Senior Member Keiths1976's Avatar
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    Mines in the works got parts coming borrowed spring compressors from a fellow member soon as I get back they will be on ..:-)

  10. #25
    Senior Member Doc Salvage's Avatar
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    Keith, are you going with the Van struts too? Looking at a set of van quick struts--the springs look quite a bit stouter. wondering if they would be a good match for my wagon coils springs on the rear.
    Last edited by Doc Salvage; 10-23-2016 at 02:19 PM.

  11. #26
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    Several months ago, I attempted to put together these struts. I forgot to buy dust boots anyway, so it's a good thing I didn't finish. I would have had to just take them apart again. I bought variable-rate car springs. Using a rented Autozone compressor set, I was unable to compress the spring enough to install the mount. I later looked online for a clamshell-style compressor, but was foiled there as well. All the clamshells I found said they could handle springs up to 7 inches in diameter. My springs are 8 inches.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Salvage View Post
    Looking at a set of van quick struts--the springs look quite a bit stouter. wondering if they would be a good match for my wagon coils springs on the rear.
    I believe the van springs are taller than the car springs, so you might have a bit of a difficult time fitting the assembly to the knuckle.

  12. #27
    Senior Member Doc Salvage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke George V View Post
    Several months ago, I attempted to put together these struts. I forgot to buy dust boots anyway, so it's a good thing I didn't finish. I would have had to just take them apart again. I bought variable-rate car springs. Using a rented Autozone compressor set, I was unable to compress the spring enough to install the mount. I later looked online for a clamshell-style compressor, but was foiled there as well. All the clamshells I found said they could handle springs up to 7 inches in diameter. My springs are 8 inches.


    I believe the van springs are taller than the car springs, so you might have a bit of a difficult time fitting the assembly to the knuckle.
    gotcha--thanks for the heads-up! If I get the van struts, I'll need to order the var-rate car springs.

  13. #28
    Senior Member Keiths1976's Avatar
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    Doc you can find a u van rear springs if you come across one has to be the same year as yours in a way if your a-body is a 94-96 u need a U van the same year cause the changed the rear perches for them as well and a different spring at the end . If it's a 88-93 same set up for the u van . I'm waiting on the struts for the u van to come in by wed . moonkilla did his on his 93 with no issue at all so as David did his going to reuse the original abody hardware and springs and swap them over to the u van strut .

  14. #29
    Senior Member Doc Salvage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keiths1976 View Post
    Doc you can find a u van rear springs if you come across one has to be the same year as yours in a way if your a-body is a 94-96 u need a U van the same year cause the changed the rear perches for them as well and a different spring at the end . If it's a 88-93 same set up for the u van . I'm waiting on the struts for the u van to come in by wed . moonkilla did his on his 93 with no issue at all so as David did his going to reuse the original abody hardware and springs and swap them over to the u van strut .
    gotcha man--thanks for the info!

  15. #30
    Senior Member Duke George V's Avatar
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    When I get the chance, that's probably what I'm going to do on my wagon, Keith. Order some APV cargo springs from Moog. I think the part number is CC667.

    Something I think everyone should keep in mind is, suspension upgrades are not just about handling. The state of your suspension greatly affects your braking. You can have brand new brakes all around and still stop like shit if your struts/shocks/springs are shot. Anecdote: Back when I worked for my stepfather's metal shop as his driver/mechanic, I replaced the completely blown shocks on the fleet's oldest vehicle, a 1992 Ford F-150. It had had all new brakes all around and a new master cylinder prior, but still was mushy when hauling down. After doing all four shocks with some bargain basement shit from Napa, I took it out on a test drive. Jumping on the brakes slowed the truck down so sharply that I got motion sick.

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