Front spring removal - need help

Discussion in 'Chassis restoration' started by John Annecone, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. John Annecone

    John Annecone Member

    72 LeSabre ragtop

    I need to replace lower control arm bushings. I have removed calipers, sway and everything else. Ready to pop the ball joints so I can lower the control arm. I have never done it before and am just nervous about releasing all of that force in the spring. Can someone give me some advice on how to do it safely?
    One technique I saw was with car on stands, put a jack under spring. Loosen ball joint nut just a little, and hit the knuckle with a BFH until the knuckle pops down a tad. Remove the nut and then lower the jack/spring.
    I'd rather not buy any special tools if I don't have to...
    Thanks!
     
  2. buick64203

    buick64203 Right wing conservative Staff Member

    I'll tell you the way I do it. Im sure there are other methods but this one works for me- Put your jack under the lower control arm. I place the saddle right under the spring pocket right under where the shock hole is. I orient the jack so the handle is by the front bumper out of the firing line so to speak.

    I remove the castle nut. If it makes you feel better, leave it on a few threads. Whack the ball joint with a pickle fork if that what you have. Or give it a few whacks on the side of the spindle. What your doing to breaking the taper. I don't like either of these methods- the pickle fork tends to rip the boot and the hammer leaves, well hammer marks on your part. The service manual lists a neat tool to separate the joint. I think I posted a picture of it somewhere on here. It works rather well.

    Anyway, once the joint separates, go around to the front bumper and lower the jack slowly. Once the control arm is all the way down, you'll need to pop the spring out of the pocket. Take a long pry bar and just pop it out of its pocket. Don't worry, there is little to no pressure on it at this point.
     
    PCUB likes this.
  3. gsx455-4ever

    gsx455-4ever Gold Level Contributor

    Every thing you state is true. Just make sure you have the car high enough so that when the arm is released and hangs loose it is at least 4 inches from the floor. Use the floor jack placed at a 90 degree angle to the front of the car . Unbolt the shock at the bottom but Leave the shock in until you break loose the ball joint

    To break loose the ball joint the jack cannot be under the spring . You need the force of the spring to break the joint loose . After the ball joint is loose then put the jack under the arm at the spring bottom . I like to work the jack from the other side of the car . Say if I'm dropping the right side arm I am on the left side of the car . That way if the spring get away you at least have the lower control arm between you and the spring.

    I've done 100's of springs this way . Just remember to go slowly . And have a couple of long ( Over 4 feet ) pry bars for starting the spring back in .
     
  4. gsx455-4ever

    gsx455-4ever Gold Level Contributor

    Jason said about the same as me. He was typing faster .
     
  5. buick64203

    buick64203 Right wing conservative Staff Member

    The echo what Lou said, work slowly. Like every other job on a car, you need to keep you wits about you at all times. Just like driving, the second you stop paying attention is when bad things happen.

    Here is the factory GM tool I use for separating the joints. Like someone said in the thread, it beats bashing the hell out of your suspension

    http://www.v8buick.com/index.php?th...-guess-what-this-tool-is.309950/#post-2576097
     
    TrunkMonkey likes this.
  6. TrunkMonkey

    TrunkMonkey Well-Known Member

    The above method is with engine/transmission installed.

    You do not want to try this without the weight.

    - Cap'n. Obvious
     
  7. John Annecone

    John Annecone Member

    OK, sounds like I was on the right track then. Thanks so much for the confirmation! Seriously. This has had me hung up for weeks.
    Is the shock staying in critical? I already took it out. Do I need to put it back?
    That tool is $180!! Dang...
    What's with the pry bar? Should I just worry about that later?
    Anyone wanna make any recommendations about suspension parts/suppliers. I am doing all the bushings at the very least.
     
  8. gsx455-4ever

    gsx455-4ever Gold Level Contributor

    You can take the shock out if you like . I prefer to leave it in as another safety till the ball joint is broken loose . You will need the pry bars to start the spring back in after you replace the arm
     
  9. buick64203

    buick64203 Right wing conservative Staff Member

    You can get it on Ebay for pennies on the dollar. Just search by the J number

    Shock must be removed obviously. If your leaving it in place as a safety concern while breaking the ball joint, you really don't need to. You have the jack under the control arm and the castle nut. That's enough of a fail safe for me anyway

    So when you reinstall the spring, you have to kinda arc the spring into the lower pocket. What I do is make sure the top of the spring is seated in the upper pocket, then I take my 4 four foot long Snap On pry bar and put it through the lower coils of the spring. Then put a slight arc in it and pop it in the lower pocket. Again, you shouldn't need much pressure to do this. The pig tail of the spring should be lined up with the hole in the pocket. Its all explained in the service manual. You do have a service manual RIGHT?
     
    Smartin likes this.
  10. TrunkMonkey

    TrunkMonkey Well-Known Member

    Most auto parts stores rent specialty tools. Many are "free", just taking a deposit that is returned when the tools are returned.

    You should be able to get the correct coil compressor and that will make the job much easier/safer.

    Make sure the tools are in good condition, threads are not stripped or galled and a little grease applied before you use them.
     
  11. John Annecone

    John Annecone Member

    I do have the service manual, but its not the easiest read, so wanted to check with you guys.
    Thought about spring compressors, but always felt they were a little sketchy. Guess it couldn't hurt to see if my parts store has anything free that will work.
    No love on Ebay for the tool. Just toolsource.com for $180.
     
  12. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    Taking the spring out as mentioned is low drama once you have done it. Putting it back is not. I have never found a good way that doesn’t involve lots of sweating. I don’t like the prying in method because you can’t orient the spring. I rent a compressor from Taylor. It’s pretty heavy duty. I did buy one but I bent the claw. Talk about scary. It’s like dealing with a loaded shotgun. My friends wife works at a car dealership and an experienced mechanic shattered his jaw when a spring let go. I don’t know the circumstances however.
     
  13. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    Also if you use a compressor point the ends of the spring side to side and not at you. I have used long cables and looped around Frame and through spring if I am feeling super paranoid. Make sure it is tight.
     
  14. gsx455-4ever

    gsx455-4ever Gold Level Contributor

    Putting the spring back in is easy . You need 2 pry bars. Position the spring close to where it needs to be . Place 1 pry Bar thru the hole in the bottom of the spring saddle .This can be a large pry bar . I use one that's like 36-40 inches long . Slide the spring in as far as you can . Then take your second pry bar and place it thru the spring about 2 or 3 coils up the spring . The bar I use is the Snap-On one that is like 5 feet long and pointed at the one end. That's the end I place completely thru the the spring .

    Then holding the long bar thru the spring with my left hand and applying pressure downward I have the shorter bar under the spring and apply Pressure upward . The spring POPS right in . It doesn't take a lot of pressure . Once the spring pops in pull the large bar out and then the short bar and put the jack under the saddle of the lower Control arm with the wheels positioned so it will move outward as you jack up . Like I said I like to jack from the other side or the front of the car as close to center as I can be .

    I've used this method for 50 years and still have all my fingers and toes
     
  15. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    Here you go. He does not show knocking ball joint loose however. I have never needed to pry out the spring after lowering jack? Mostly just fell out.
     
  16. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    Not sure if I would sit so the spring is aimed at my nuts like this guy did. His music:rolleyes: gives me a headache too.
     
  17. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    Anyone ever take the springs out of a frame with no engine or body on it? Want to know how high a frame can leap in the air?? Newton’s laws perfectly exhibited.
     
  18. gsx455-4ever

    gsx455-4ever Gold Level Contributor

    The jack in this picture needs to be rotated 90* clockwise. The jack will not ROLL as the arm is lowered .
     
  19. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    You can get some fat friends to sit on the frame if you try it for a fun adult seesaw.:D
     
  20. copperheadgs1

    copperheadgs1 copperheadgs1

    Yes I always have my jack arm towards front of car.
     

Share This Page