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Front Coil Spring Replacement - Tips or Advice?

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madra View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 17 at 21:23
Well, I'm making some progress now.

I managed to get the new spring in today. In the end I gave up on trying to beat the bottom wishbone balljoint into submission and followed the manual's advice to remove the top wishbone balljoint, if the bottom one proved to be too recalcitrant.

Even when I found a wee bottle jack in the house and tried to jack the wishbone arm down with that, the bottom balljoint refused to budge. So I knew it was time to give up and go for Plan B



The top balljoint came out pretty easily, with a couple of taps on the knuckle from my trusty lump hammer:



And I was then able to wrestle both bits of the old spring out. It took some wiggling and twisting but eventually they emerged:



I really wasn't looking forward to trying to fight the new spring into place. It was about an inch taller than the one I removed, the bottom wishbone didn't swing down as far as I hoped it might, thanks to the steering and track-rods and there was also the fact that, unlike the old spring, the new one wasn't conveniently in two pieces.

In the end, I managed to squeeze it into place by sitting on the ground, bracing my back against a neighbour's conveniently placed car and pushing it in with my feet. As you may be able to see from the photo, I also had to remove the left-hand raised nut from the rubber bump stop as this was in the way of where I was trying to push the bottom of the spring into its home in the wishbone.

New spring in place. It really looked like I wasn't going to be able to get it in. It was just a cm or so too long, with the wishbone arm pushed down as far as it would go. I thought I was going to have to start dismantling the trackrod arms as well to try and buy another inch or so downward motion of the wishbone arm. But luckily, as I said, I managed to press the bottom end of the spring into place with my mighty leg power:



So, before darkness stopped play, I'd started to reassemble everything. All was going quite swimmingly until it came time to tighten up the upper balljoint nut. Unfortunately I think I did a bit too good a job of lubricating it and freeing it from the clutches of its knuckle as now I can't get the nut tightened as the balljoint is just spinning as I turn the nut.

I've tried jacking the suspension right up to force the top balljoint further downwards and expose more thread, but even then it's still spinning. And I've tried the opposite, letting the suspension down to pull the balljoint tight. But same result. So I've sent off for a 27mm ring spanner to see if I can somehow contrive to turn the nut while holding the bolt end from turning, with mole grips or pliers. The end of the balljoint bolt seems slightly squared off as if it's meant to be held to stop it from turning. No doubt there's a special VW tool made just for the job and costing a wallet-rapingly ridiculous sum. As ever, I shall have to improvise!

Meantime, any suggestions to the usual address.
1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

My camper conversion blog: |carry on herman| <--not quite abandoned. But ever on the "ToDo" list!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 17 at 23:17
You need to lever it side ways to stop it spinning, have a look on youtube there are a few different ideas which might help.
LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 Aircooled Camper, 98K
1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1997 Disco V8i 158k miles

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 17 at 17:21
More progress...

...and more questions!

Well, the good news is that I managed to get that damned balljoint tightened. By the cold light of day, I was able to see a bit more clearly that it's bolt end did indeed have a squared off lobe on the end. So I was able to grab that with some mole-grips and tighten the nut with an adjustable spanner until it was as tight as I could get it with that. I was then able to fasten it up the rest of the way with a socket, as it was now tight enough that the balljoint didn't spin any more.

One odd thing; the manual has an exploded diagram of the entire assembly and gives the torque settings for almost every nut and bolt, including some of the insignificant wee ones, but doesn't give any settings for the two balljoint nuts. So, I just lathered them in thread lock and tightened them to 180NM [top] and 200NM [bottom], which felt about as tight as they were when I took them off.

After that, getting the rest back together was pretty straightforward.

So, jobs a good 'un:



or is it...?

As ever, you answer one question and up pops another one!

As I mentioned previously, the new springs aren't quite identical to the old ones. For a start they were about 2,5cm [or an inch, if you're an imperial-minded guy] longer than the one I took off. Although i did wonder if this was because the old ones had settled a bit, over the years.

Also the new springs aren't as thick as the old ones. According to the manual, the springs should be 19,4mm diameter wire Standard, or 19,8mm Heavy Duty. I've measured these new ones with calipers at 19,5mm, so they're within spec and just a smidgeon over Standard gauge. Thing is, the one I've taken off is 21,1mm. So I'm wondering if the van was fitted with extra Heavy Duty springs at some stage --possibly when being converted to a minibus.

So now, of course, I'm paranoid as to whether the new springs I've got are too lightweight for the job [even though they're within spec]

The van is definitely sitting a tiny bit lower on the side I've put the new spring in. In my not very scientific on-the-ground measurements; on the new spring, I can get a finger between the coils and not quite get a finger between the top of the rubber bump stop and the metal bump plate [?] above it. Meanwhile, on the side with the old spring, I can get a finger between the coils, with a couple of mm to spare and, similarly can get a finger between bump-stop and plate with similar wiggle room.

So, does the gap-age on the new side sound normal, or are these new springs duds?

They're Monroe SPO190 which are listed as being compatible, as well as being a decent brand. But, although they came with all the appropriate markings and boxes, I did buy them off eBay and you can never be 100% sure what you're getting.

Hopefully I'm just being paranoid and it's just that the new springs are 'normal' duty so sit a bit lower than the existing ones. But I'd hate to have to go through all that palaver again, if they're not right for the job. And it's got me in two minds whether or not to start on the second one yet.


One factor that might be a slightly mitigating factor, is that my car-parking space has a slight sideways slope which would mean the spring on the 'new' side is slightly downhill of the other one. But whether that would make a difference or not, I don't know. This is one of these things where you never even notice it, before you do the job in question and then you start obsessing about it afterwards.

Here's the new spring in situ, showing the gap between coils and [not very well, sorry!] the gap above the bump stop:


1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

My camper conversion blog: |carry on herman| <--not quite abandoned. But ever on the "ToDo" list!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 17 at 19:20
Your LT is a different model to mine so can't measure etc.
What I would do is take it for a spin and hit a few pot holes, you should feel if the bump stops come into play. If they don't then I reckon you will have a softer ride than before.
LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 Aircooled Camper, 98K
1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1997 Disco V8i 158k miles

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 17 at 20:05
Well, I went for a quick spin before and went over a few of the speed bumps that were causing it to 'clunk' before, when the spring was cracked and it was fine in that regard. I didn't feel like it bottomed out on any of them. Mind you, I wasn't exactly thrashing it, as I just managed to hit school chucking out time, so the roads were a bit busy.

So, when you say..

Originally posted by AndyT AndyT wrote:

...you should feel if the bump stops come into play. If they don't then I reckon you will have a softer ride than before...


..do you mean it's OK if it bottoms out on the bump-stop occasionally? [on big potholes or bumps, say]. I wasn't sure if the bump stop was meant to ever come into play in normal-ish use, or was only there as a last line of defence, if the spring compressed more than it should.
1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

My camper conversion blog: |carry on herman| <--not quite abandoned. But ever on the "ToDo" list!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 17 at 21:23
Apart from off road I don't think it's a problem, in that case just take it steady.
Only my opinion but you could fit smaller bump stops if it becomes an issue.
As far as I know they are not an mot issue.
LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 Aircooled Camper, 98K
1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1997 Disco V8i 158k miles

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Sep 17 at 10:47
Been out for another spin this morning to a place I go running, which is down a lane filled with pot-holes. No clunking and no bottoming out [that I could feel, anyway]. Also, the carpark at the end of the lane is more level than my parking place at home and, when parked up there, I measured the height at the highest point of the wheel arch on both sides, [again, not very scientifically: with a piece of string] and it was the same.

So I'm feeling happier now. It seems that the slight sideways slope on my parking space at home is enough to cause about 1cm difference in height between the two sides.

I've also realised that I was being a bit daft in worrying about the new spring coils being closer together than on the old spring. Since I could just get a finger width between them, I was thinking that the spring could only compress by that amount before the coils would be flattening out against each other. But, of course the amount of compression available is multiplied across all the coils, so the suspension would hit the bump stop long before the spring compressed completely --Duh!

Now I just need to see if the rain is going to hold off today, before I start tackling the other side.
1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

My camper conversion blog: |carry on herman| <--not quite abandoned. But ever on the "ToDo" list!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LTCamper89 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Sep 17 at 12:15
Thumbs Up

Bit by bit.
1989 LT28 2.4D    Saviour of 6Music, well one of them. Now playing http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_6music

VW LT Camper not Cramper

....at least the roof is not rusting away....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 17 at 20:37
Phew! -- 99,99% finished.

Nice sunny day today. So I attacked the other spring. It was a complete twat to get in. Much harder than the other one, for some reason. But I managed it in the end with plenty of swearing, prising with metal bars and good ol' leg power.

The 0,01% remaining is one bastard f**king bolt of the two that hold the rubber bump-stop in place. I just can't get it to go back in at all.

For some reason beyond insanity, VW have made the 2 bolts that hold the bump stop in place pass through the top half of the lower wishbone and fasten through two holes in the Radius Rod, the end of which slots into a hole in the edge of the wishbone and sits inside it.

So, no access from underneath, no way to see how bolt and holes are lining up from above [as the holes in the top of the wishbone are no bigger than the bolt, so no room around them] and the whole enterprise depending on trying to position the rear end of Radius Rod with mm precision, so everything lines up. Said radius rod of course moves position as the wishbone is lowered or raised.

I literally spent well over an hour trying to get that one bloody bolt in, before giving up. I was trying to raise and lower the wishbone a couple of mm at a time on my trolley jack, so the Radius Rod would come into the magical alignment. But although I thought I had it a hundred times, the bolt just refused to bite. So I've given up for now. I'll have to try and find a suitable self-tapping bolt with a tapered end so it can wiggle its own way in there, or try filing the end of the existing bolt into a bit of a taper without ruining the rest of the threads.

Absolutely infuriating!

1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

My camper conversion blog: |carry on herman| <--not quite abandoned. But ever on the "ToDo" list!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Sep 17 at 21:48
I did say  a while ago that as far as I know the bump stops are not an MOT requirement.
Just glue the bugger in place with gorilla glue etc. It is very unlikely that it will even be used.
LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 Aircooled Camper, 98K
1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1997 Disco V8i 158k miles

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Sep 17 at 08:02
Well, I did get one of the two bolts on the bump-stop in yesterday. So it's not going anywhere. I'll have another wee crack at the other one today and then consider my options, if it still refuses to pay nice.

Edited by madra - 15 Sep 17 at 08:04
1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

My camper conversion blog: |carry on herman| <--not quite abandoned. But ever on the "ToDo" list!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Sep 17 at 18:24
Yay! --victory is mine!

I thought I'd have one last go at getting that fecking bolt in. So I decided to make a 'ghetto self-tapper' out of it by cutting off a corner of the business end, so it would be easier to get it wiggled into its hole.

Hand-crafted self-tapper


A bit of a wiggle and a couple of persuasive taps with the hammer and I managed to get it to bite and was able to tighten it up. Probably cross-threaded it, as it fought me all the way down. But at least it's nice and tight now and my "if a job's worth doing..." OCD is satisfied. I know that, even though not that important, if I hadn't managed to get it in, it would have niggled away at me.

Take that, you bugger!


So... Job's a good 'un!
1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

My camper conversion blog: |carry on herman| <--not quite abandoned. But ever on the "ToDo" list!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Sep 17 at 18:44
You got there mate that's the important thing.
Doing any job the first time can be a real pain, but you have created a good guide for anyone else.
LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 Aircooled Camper, 98K
1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1997 Disco V8i 158k miles

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Sep 17 at 20:55
Thanks. Jobs like this are best enjoyed in retrospect. Before you start, you dread it, wondering if you'll get so far and then get stuck --not having access to specialist tools like a garage would. Then, after you've done it, you're oddly glad it needed doing as you've now added another string to your bow.

In fact, if it hadn't been for that nemesis of a bolt, I'd probably have taken not much over an hour to do the second spring as I knew:

* it was possible to carefully bend the brake pipe out of the way without having to remove the wheel cylinder

* not to waste time with the bottom ball-joint, but go straight for the top one

* even though it looks like it's not going to go, the spring can be forced into place with a bit of brute force and after moving the bump-stop out of the way.

One other tip I didn't mention before: if you gaffer tape in place the rubber cap [?] that fits over the top of the spring, it stops it falling off, or getting moved out of position, while you're trying to twist and prise the spring up into its housing

Edited by madra - 15 Sep 17 at 20:56
1993 LT35 2,4D hi-top

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robbydoo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 17 at 13:38
Happy days, good thread, good info Smile
1985 LT40 2.4TD Coach built Pioneer Diamond
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