what spring compressor has worked for you?

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JamesR
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what spring compressor has worked for you?

Post by JamesR »

Going to replace the front coil springs on my '65 Landau. Looking at some of the spring compressors out there and I'm not sure which one I should use. It's been 40 years since I last used one. Some reviews say that some compressors work better on big trucks than cars, I presume because of the limited space on a car. Of course I know that the shock inside the spring means the internal type won't work.

Looking for recommendations beyond, "Get a good one." If you have a type that you've used successfully on your flairbird, I'd appreciate a make and model of compressor, or maybe a photo of what you've used.

Many thanks! - Jim

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cacockrum
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Re: what spring compressor has worked for you?

Post by cacockrum »

Jim,

Be careful. These springs are long, heavy, and store a lot of energy when compressed. No matter which tool you use, you will need to remove the shocks first --- that’s the easy part. And of course the brakes and spindle will eventually need to be removed. As for the compressor, any I am aware of work from the inside of the spring, although others may know of some that grab the outside. I replaced the springs on my ’66 using one with that has two sets of hooks which grab the coils near the top and bottom of the spring plus a long bolt that draws them together as the spring is compressed. (You can see one in Mac Tools on-line catalog under “suspension”.) It was a bit dicey because the springs bowed outward as they become compressed (at least in my experience) making them difficult to position, especially when I reinstalled them. Prior to reinstalling I wound up building a 3-sided box to keep them fairly straight and held them in place with some long c-clamps while compressing them. Also, I put a thrust bearing under the head of the bolt to make it easier to turn, especially as the spring became more compressed. Even with all that, I couldn’t compress the spring as much as I wanted, so installation was a challenge. In hind-sight I suspect that tool would be ok for a Mustang, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a TBird.

So before tackling the springs on my ’68, I went hunting for better tools --- and found two. One is the MOOG compressor which comes with several very sturdy discs with different diameters to fit different springs. A pair is used along with a long bolt and a special wrench to turn the bolt. I suspect this may be the best approach for the ’64 through ’66 TBirds because the bolt can be inserted from the top end of the shock tower. The other tool is a Mac Tools spring compressor number CC520. (It’s quite old and I didn’t see it in the Mac Tool catalog.) It operates like the one I described above but is much better designed. The bolt is much heavier and longer, and the hook arrangement is much sturdier and designed to handle the heavy load of large springs. Rather than using hooks on the other end, it uses a one-piece part that slips between the coils, and the thrust bearing and bolt head fit against the outside face of that part. It wasn’t especially easy to compress the springs, but they stayed straight and I was able to comfortably compress them enough to make installation easy.

Art

jtschug
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Re: what spring compressor has worked for you?

Post by jtschug »

When I bought my Moog spring compressor inside it had a set of instructions that looked original to the tool specifically for 64-66 Thunderbirds where the spring tends to curve when the car is jacked up. It instructs to put a bottle jack under the spindle and compress the spring (and straighten it a bit) by jacking it up a bit before installing the spring compressor.

JamesR
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Re: what spring compressor has worked for you?

Post by JamesR »

Thanks for this awesome, detailed and helpful info, guys. Great care will be taken.
And of course the brakes and spindle will eventually need to be removed.
Art, I've been looking at and photographing at my existing springs, as well as looking at youtube videos dealing with removing coil springs on flairbird T-birds and other cars with similar suspensions. I'm not sure I understand the need to remove brakes and spindles in order to replace the coil springs. It doesn't seem to be indicated in the other info sources I've seen (though I haven't found a section in the '65 shop manual for replacing coil springs.) Is that part of the procedure to put the coil springs back in? I just want to make sure I understand and am familiar with the proper procedure. Thanks man!
When I bought my Moog spring compressor inside it had a set of instructions that looked original to the tool specifically for 64-66 Thunderbirds where the spring tends to curve when the car is jacked up. It instructs to put a bottle jack under the spindle and compress the spring (and straighten it a bit) by jacking it up a bit before installing the spring compressor.

Thanks for the tip, jtschug. A big help.

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cacockrum
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Re: what spring compressor has worked for you?

Post by cacockrum »

Jim,
My mistake. I had just finished the front end in my ’68 where the spring is positioned between the lower control arm and the frame, and kept in position by the spindle which is bolted between the lower and upper control arms. So that’s what I had on my mind when I last wrote. Anyway, you are right in that the brakes and spindle don’t need to be removed on your car. However, the shop manual does say that the upper control arm shaft needs to be disconnected from the frame and the arm rotated out of the way after compressing the spring in order to remove the spring from the car.
Perhaps someone in the Forum who has used the Moog compressor can describe how they did the job, but I’m thinking that once the spring is compressed there might be enough room to move the spring and tool together out of the car. And, I recall that someone in the Forum has a Moog compressor that is available for rent.
Also, I’m curious as to why you are replacing the springs, and while you are at it have you considered replacing the control arm bushings and ball joints?

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sseebart
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Re: what spring compressor has worked for you?

Post by sseebart »

Yes, with the Moog compressor, you can easily maneuver the spring in and out of the car. It was a safe, predictable operation. I also tried using the type offered for rent by most auto parts stores, the kind with hooks to pull the spring closed. There were two issues with that style: first, the hook are difficult to insert into the tight coils on our cars. Second, and more importantly, the compressor is not long enough to decompress the spring once it's out. So, unless you're comfortable with some kind of explosive decompression, this is not the way to go.

I bought a Moog compressor off eBay for my job, then resold it. Chances are, it's still floating around out there. (It sure looked a lot like this one: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Moog-Vintage-S ... SwfZpeem~s)

I can't think of any reason you'd want to replace the springs. Unlike the rear leafs, these really don't wear out. (Though there are plenty of reasons to rebuild the rest of the front suspension!)

~Steve

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