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Thread: Need E30 spring compressor help!

                  
   
  1. #1
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    Need E30 spring compressor help!

    I'm 3/4 of the way through putting back together my e30, but I'm at a standstill. I am replacing the front shocks and springs, but I can't get the shock insert to go back up into the access hole at the top of the strut tower. (See attached photo.)

    I think that the problem is that my spring compressors will only let me compress 4 of the spring coils, not 5. It seems to me if I could compress one more coil, then I'd have enough room on top of the strut/spring tower to maneuver the shock into place.

    Has anyone done this job before with the "correct" spring compressors, i.e. ones that worked? If so, would there be anyway that I could borrow them? I'm located in Bethesda and can come to your house to pick them up. I'll leave a security deposit if you want.

    Thanks much,
    Jim
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  2. #2
    Member 87325is's Avatar
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    The compressor should not be on the spring when you are going to install the strut if i understand the tool you have from the picture.

    Assemble the entire strut (with bushing) off the car. Then install the complete assembly at once. if you don't have an impact wrench for the top nut, get it on the best you can (should see threads through the nut) and tighten it after the weight of the car is on.

    Also when the ball joints will spin when you tighten them...put the jack under it to cause a little pressure. I assume that might be the next question:-)

    If you still think it is the compressor, i am in gaithersburg.

    Jared
    Last edited by 87325is; 05-03-2009 at 03:52 PM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 87325is View Post
    The compressor should not be on the spring when you are going to install the strut if i understand the tool you have from the picture.

    Assemble the entire strut (with bushing) off the car. Then install the complete assembly at once. if you don't have an impact wrench for the top nut, get it on the best you can (should see threads through the nut) and tighten it after the weight of the car is on.

    Also when the ball joints will spin when you tighten them...put the jack under it to cause a little pressure. I assume that might be the next question:-)

    If you still think it is the compressor, i am in gaithersburg.

    Jared
    +1 You shouldn't have any problems if you install the whole strut before putting it in. Let me know if you need help. I'm in NW DC.

  4. #4
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    I never fully removed the strut from the car. During disassembly, I disconnected the tie rod, disconnected the sway bar drop link from the control arm and compressed the spring to take the pressure off the strut. The following is the procedure that I used...

    With the spring compression removed from the strut assembly, and the springs loose on their perches, now move to the engine compartment. Pry off the small black cap in the center of the strut mount and remove the center nut that is attached to the top of the shock. (NO PROBLEM. I DID THIS.)
    With the top nut removed, place your floor jack underneath the bottom of the strut. This will relieve some of the pressure from the weight of the strut assembly. Now disconnect the three nuts that hold the top shock mount to the chassis, and lower down the strut. Reach up inside the wheel well and remove the top strut mount, the upper spring retaining plate, and the old rubber gasket. (AGAIN, NO PROBLEM.)
    Now you’re ready to remove the shock insert. Remove the dust cover from the insert and you will see a threaded collar that secures the insert to the strut housing. Once the collar is loose, you should be able to remove the shock from the car by pulling it up through the top inside the engine compartment. (AGAIN, NO PROBLEM.)
    With the shock removed, you should simply be able to lift the old spring off of the bottom spring perch. (AGAIN, NO PROBLEM.)
    Compress the new spring and install the compressed new spring assembly back onto the lower spring perch. Install the new shock absorber through the top of the engine compartment, and tighten the collar to the strut. Reinstall the dust boot / rubber bumper assembly over the shock to protect it from road debris and grime. (AGAIN, NO PROBLEM.)
    Reinstall the upper spring plate and spring pad, taking care to verify that the plate is nestled correctly against the top of the spring. Inspect your upper strut mount carefully. This part is manufactured out of rubber and has an integrated ball bearing inside. This part will wear over time – I recommend replacing it if it looks old, or if it hasn’t been replaced previously. (OK, HERE'S WHERE I START TO RUN INTO A PROBLEM. I CAN GET THE UPPER STRUT MOUNT TO SIT ON TOP OF THE SPRING PLATE, BUT AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE PHOTO I CAN'T GET THE SHOCK'S THREADED ROD TO GO HIGH ENOUGH TO GO THROUGH THE SHOCK MOUNT. I CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHAT I'M DOING WRONG OTHER THAN NOT COMPRESSING THE SPRING ENOUGH FOR THE THREADED SHOCK ROD TO CLEAR THE TOP OF THE SPRING.) Reinstall the upper strut mount on top of the spring plate, and zap it on with an impact wrench.
    Once the shock rod nut is affixed, have an assistant raise the strut assembly up with the floor jack while you guide the upper strut mount into place. Reattach the three nuts. Now, carefully release the tension on your spring compressors and the spring should seat between the upper and lower perches.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Thanks for chiming in. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    Jim

  5. #5
    Member 87325is's Avatar
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    I guess i am not going to be able to answer your question but will try again.

    You should not have to do what you are doing if i understand the picture. Just assemble the strut with bearing, off the car and install complete. It is that simple.

    Your spring compressor is not at fault if the spring is not compressed enough. it is because you are cramped under a wheel well that you cant do what you want it to do. In the picture you can go up more on the spring if you were not under the car. It looks like you tried because the undercoating is scraped.

    My compressor is the same but will be happy to let you try it.

    Jared

  6. #6
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    I am going to guess you are using the 101 performance book from pelican....He has a different compressor then you (and I). When you compress the spring you are tightening from the top.

    http://www.101projects.com/BMW/Proje...s/DSC00005.JPG

    If you cant or dont want to take it off, you can try to jack the strut up i assume.

    Jared

  7. #7
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    Jared,
    You are correct on both counts. I am using the Pelican 101 procedure and he does have a different spring compressor than I have. If I had the spring compressor that their procedure uses, I could get the spring to compress a lot more and I'm guessing I would have a lot more room on top of the spring pad to maneuver the shock rod back into place.

    Do me favor, give me a holler at work if you can. I have a question about how you assembled the strut/shock/spring when you removed it from your car - and how it all goes back together.

    Thanks much,
    Jim
    *301-227-1376*

  8. #8
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    From the pic you provided, you did not remove the 3 nuts that hold the strut mount in place and remove it from the car. You will need to do that in order to reassemble. The compressor just can't fit in the area you need it to while the strut mount is still on the car. You can do it with the tie rod and control arm still connected, but it is a royal PITA.

    To reiterate, the correct steps I use over and over:
    Raise & support car
    Remove nuts from ball joint and tie rod ends. With either an impact hammer or brute strength & a sledge hammer on the side of the knuckle, get them disconnected.
    Remove the top 3 nuts that hold the strut mount to the car.
    Remove strut as one assembly.
    Install spring compressor, compress spring
    Remove top nut from strut.
    Remove strut mount
    Remove spring with compressor still on it.
    Remove collar.
    Remove strut insert
    Drain oil from strut
    If using boge, add required small amount of oil to strut housing
    install insert
    install collar
    install spring
    install upper strut mount using the top shock bolt
    remove spring compressor
    install upper mount into the car (the strut isn't that heavy that you shouldn't be able to hold it up and get one nut started)
    reinstall ball joint and tie rod (you may need to put a jack under them to keep them from spinning)
    torque all to spec
    lower car, go get alignment

  9. #9
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    OK, now I'm hosed. I took the advice to take the whole strut tower out of the car, so I went to remove the ball joint on the control arm with a ball joint remover. Well, all the ball joint tool did was to flatten out the top of the threaded spindle so that I can't get the nut back on the spindle.

    Any suggestions short of replacing the whole control arm, which I really don't want to tackle right now? Is there some trick to getting the nut back on? I was thinking of filing the first thread or two down, but I'm not sure how that would work. Ugh.

    Thanks much,
    Jim

  10. #10
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    I don't think that those ball joints are replaceable. I'm not sure I follow why you were trying to pull that joint apart. The whole control arm is a wear item I believe.
    The 101 projects book is way to vague and broad in its scope to tackle repairs with, you need a bently repair manual.
    To get the nut back on you may be able to find a die with the correct thread pitch to re-cut the first couple threads. Maybe get a new lock-nut also.

    On an 86 the pitch is M12X1,5
    Good luck.
    Last edited by SamB325es; 05-04-2009 at 07:49 PM. Reason: clarity

  11. #11
    When i did my E30 suspension, i removed the front strut assemblies, thus:






    So the main ball joint on the control arm is all mushroomed up. You didn't end up taking the strut out then?

    Anyway, to fix the ball joint spindle, i would say grind or file the "mushroom" bit off, but make sure you have enough thread left so that the nut is fully threaded when tight.

    BUT before grinding, i would suggest removing the strut assembly first for better ease of access and so that you don't have to do it AFTER grinding the balljoint spindle.

    To hammer on the same nail, you DEFINITELY want to remove the front strut assemblies to do spring or shock work. That said, make sure you fully re-assemble the strut assemblies before reinstalling, so all you need to do is lift the assembly into place, have someone thread the three nuts on top of the shock tower in the engine bay, and then fasten the control arm and tie rod back on.

  12. #12
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    FYI spring changes will put you in tuner class for NCCBMWCCA autocross.

    Come join us...

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    Thanks for the advice, IAMSAM. I'm going to dremel the top part of the ball joint spindle off so that I can get the nut back on. It just pisses me off that I was using the "correct" tool, i.e. the ball joint separator and it still effed up the threads on the spindle. I was trying to avoid using a pickle fork as I know it will destroy the ball joint boot, but it looks like that's where I'm heading. Oh well, like I said, I need to replace the control arms anyway...

    Thanks again,
    Jim

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by beckley View Post
    Thanks for the advice, IAMSAM. I'm going to dremel the top part of the ball joint spindle off so that I can get the nut back on. It just pisses me off that I was using the "correct" tool, i.e. the ball joint separator and it still effed up the threads on the spindle. I was trying to avoid using a pickle fork as I know it will destroy the ball joint boot, but it looks like that's where I'm heading. Oh well, like I said, I need to replace the control arms anyway...

    Thanks again,
    Jim
    whoa whoa!! no fork!!!

    don't ruin your ball joint, they are not replaceable!

    Here is how i removed the ball joint: I placed a floor jack under the strut (you have to find a place to put it, use a wooden block) and then i threaded the nut onto the ball joint shaft just so the top of the nut was flush with the top of the shaft, and then banged the bejeebers out of it with a hammer. The nut prevents the shaft from mushrooming.

  15. #15
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    I was going to do that, but the way my luck is running, I figured that I'd probably bend the ball joint spindle (or worse) while I was pounding on it. Then I would be totally hosed.

    I used the "big whammer" method on an old truck of mine, but those ball joints were so beefy I figured that I couldn't break them no matter what I did. I'll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again for your help,
    Jim

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