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Front suspension question

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Growe58 Avatar
Growe58 Greg Rowe
Hatfield, PA, USA   USA
I’m getting a squeaking from the front passenger side. After some investigation, I noticed that I could move the top of the shock absorber side to side about half an inch on that side. The driver’s side doesn’t move at all. That seems to be the source of the squeak and I’m thinking the movement isn’t normal. I did remove the coil spring/shock unit and everything appeared to be properly bolted together with no visual breakage of spring or shock or anything else obviously wrong. Without a spring compressor, I couldn’t dismantle for any further investigation although I did notice that the shock top didn’t seem to want to move when off the car. Any idea what the problem is? I would like to know what I need to replace before dismantling so I can have the parts on hand.

And while I’m asking, do coil springs wear out over time? I know a lot of folks replace them to lower the car or improve handling, but I am perfectly happy with the stock ride. But do they likely need to be replaced after 38 years and 150,000 miles? Cheap enough if I have it apart anyway although I don’t want to replace just to replace.

Thanks in advance!

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colodad Avatar
colodad Silver Member Calvin Williams
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA   USA
Greg,
post two photos, one with the shock top pulled to one side, the other pushed to the other side.

TheFlash300 Avatar
TheFlash300 Dave Gutknecht
Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA   USA
1979 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "Lil Spit"
I started disassembling my shocks and springs last night. I had the same issue on my drivers side. When I loosened the 3 mounting bolts, the shock was then tight and centered in the spring (spring was overcompressed?) I found that the shock arm had rubbed and worn the top plate hole...it is no longer a round hole, but is oblong. I am fitting new shocks and springs, so I am considering how to address that, sleeved bushing or new part.

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IanF Ian Furqueron
Croydon, PA, USA   USA
Greg,

Sounds like the upper shock bushing may be worn. The spring definitely shouldn't be able to move with weight on the car. Rather unusual for movement with the longer stock US springs as well, as they are usually pretty tight even if un-weighted.

I have a couple of spring compressors that can do Spit shocks.



"Lisle" - '72 GT6 basically stock and original. For now... T-9 conversion pending.
"Winnie the Poo" - '79 Spitfire 1500. Rubber to chrome bumper conversion, otherwise stock at the moment.

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, Florida, USA   USA
Greg's description was not the top of the spring that's moving, it's the top of the shock.
As installed, the upper shock bushings are not loaded by the spring at all.
They only see a load as the suspension moves and the shock resists change in position.
When the coilover is removed, the spring extends the shock to it's internal stop, and so the bushing
is then loaded.

The top shock bushings are worn out and/or mis-installed.

Yellowhawk Valley Avatar
walla walla, washington, USA   USA
1969 Triumph Spitfire "Walla Walla"
1969 Triumph Spitfire "Portland"
1972 Triumph Spitfire MkIV "Spokane"
1975 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "Dayton"    & more
Make sure your shock on the bad side has all the right pieces in there. This photo (hopefully) shows the 6 parts that must be there. The usual culprit to a shock moving around is a dead set of rubbers. However, I have found on some of my cars that DPO's had failed to always put both of the metal cups back on with the rubbers. One car had the bottom side missing of both sides. One car just one.
But, once that rubber goes south there is nothing left to keep the shock shaft centered in the retainer, as Carter discussed.
Dan


Attachments:
Shock top.jpg    28.9 KB
Shock top.jpg

69gt6stopp Avatar
69gt6stopp Paul Stopp
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
Hi Greg,
Note, when you are replacing the top shock bushing be sure not to over tighten the the shock securing nut. They say the rubber should just squish out a little more than the diameter of the cup washers. In my case, because of the slop at the top of the shock, the turret hole was also elongated oval, so I welded it up and re-drilled it first.
Regards,
Paul

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clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, Florida, USA   USA
Also don't neglect the locknut, if the main nut loosens you will get the same failure again.

Growe58 Avatar
Growe58 Greg Rowe
Hatfield, PA, USA   USA
Thanks to all for the responses and tips – you guys are the absolute best! Sounds like bushings is the winner and instead of replacing just them, I’m going to get new shocks. Cheap enough and includes the necessary bushings. Might as well pick up an upper mounting plate at the same time as I’m sure mine has ovalled at this point.

The struts on my wife’s car just went so I had to get a new tool (so sad!), a spring compressor. Hopefully it will fit the spit as well, otherwise I may be begging for some assistance from you Ian.

How about the coil springs? Are they typically a wear item or a lifetime of the car item? I’ve read some posts about other folks replacing them and getting higher or lower ride height than desired. I’m perfectly happy with the current ride height and the ride/handling balance but if they really should be replaced after 150,000 miles, I’m willing to do it. Thoughts? Is there a way to check their condition without advanced math and a bathroom scale (only one of which I have)? spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

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69gt6stopp Avatar
69gt6stopp Paul Stopp
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
Regarding the the springs, when you get them off, there should be a relaxed length that you can measure, although I do not know what this should be for a 1500. Also if it is the same as my GT6 you will find a spacer on top of the drivers side spring, because this side always has the drivers weight so they compensate for this with the added spacer.
See if this link helps you http://www.triumphspitfire.com/frontsprings.html
Regards,
Paul

Yellowhawk Valley Avatar
walla walla, washington, USA   USA
1969 Triumph Spitfire "Walla Walla"
1969 Triumph Spitfire "Portland"
1972 Triumph Spitfire MkIV "Spokane"
1975 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "Dayton"    & more
In reply to # 1498045 by Growe58 Thanks to all for the responses and tips – you guys are the absolute best! Sounds like bushings is the winner and instead of replacing just them, I’m going to get new shocks. Cheap enough and includes the necessary bushings. Might as well pick up an upper mounting plate at the same time as I’m sure mine has ovalled at this point.

The struts on my wife’s car just went so I had to get a new tool (so sad!), a spring compressor. Hopefully it will fit the spit as well, otherwise I may be begging for some assistance from you Ian.

How about the coil springs? Are they typically a wear item or a lifetime of the car item? I’ve read some posts about other folks replacing them and getting higher or lower ride height than desired. I’m perfectly happy with the current ride height and the ride/handling balance but if they really should be replaced after 150,000 miles, I’m willing to do it. Thoughts? Is there a way to check their condition without advanced math and a bathroom scale (only one of which I have)? spinning smiley sticking its tongue out

Sounds like you are on the right track. I will advise early on, be very cautious with the spring compressor that works on the struts. Most of them have the hooks made for a larger diameter spring and usually go inside far enough to rum on the shock and mark it up. Being intended for the larger spring means that usually only one hook on each end actually will fit over the coil, the other one being sort of over the coil. It is quite easy to make your own safety compressor for these springs.
I will be the first to say, if the springs keep your car at your desired right height, leave them alone. If they get to the point the coil bind (completely compress when hitting normal bumps) then they should be replaced. Otherwise you are good. The shocks will make the biggest difference.
Dan

69gt6stopp Avatar
69gt6stopp Paul Stopp
Richmond, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
Here is a spring compressor that I made with some pieces in my workshop, and buying a 36" length of 1/2" UNC threaded steel rod. In place of the metal ring pieces you could make something out of a chunk of 1" thick plywood just make sure it is strong and add side stops (thru' bolts), on underside of top plate, to stop the spring jumping out at you. The bottom of the shock is held in the bench vice.
Just as Dan states above, I originally bought an off the shelf spring compressor and it was no good because the hooks were too big.
Good luck,
Regards,
Paul



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017-11-16 11:10 AM by 69gt6stopp.


Attachments:
spring compressor.JPG    62.9 KB
spring compressor.JPG

IanF Ian Furqueron
Croydon, PA, USA   USA
I've gone through a few spring compressors over the years, bearing in mind I work on modern cars (mostly new MINIs) as much or more than Triumphs, and my tool collection reflects this.

Most recently, I bought one of These from Amazon. Which is nice because it stores easily in its case when not in use. The small plates fit Spit springs (I've used them). Yes, it's more expensive than the typical $20 compressor from your FLAPS, but it more easily works on a wider range of applications.

I also have an OTC Strut Tamer (like this one, but previous version. It will also do Spit springs (and just about anything else you can imagine). The killer for me is set-up. I don't have a place to leave it set-up permanently and it usually takes longer for me to set up the damn thing to use than it does to actually swap struts/shocks. I keep debating on selling it because I tire of tripping over it in my attic, but it's also possible that some day I'll have a shop large enough to justify having it permanently mounted on a wall.



"Lisle" - '72 GT6 basically stock and original. For now... T-9 conversion pending.
"Winnie the Poo" - '79 Spitfire 1500. Rubber to chrome bumper conversion, otherwise stock at the moment.

Yellowhawk Valley Avatar
walla walla, washington, USA   USA
1969 Triumph Spitfire "Walla Walla"
1969 Triumph Spitfire "Portland"
1972 Triumph Spitfire MkIV "Spokane"
1975 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "Dayton"    & more
My homemade unit. About 2 hours work, mostly just scrap pieces from the pile except for the 1/2 inch threaded rod. There is also a safety bolt on the back side but I have yet to see any attempt for the spring to leave as there has been no side pressure from any of the springs I have worked on so far, but it is still there.


Attachments:
Spring comp 3.JPG    46.7 KB
Spring comp 3.JPG

clshore Carter Shore
Beverly Hills, Florida, USA   USA
Just a friendly tip:
Make the threaded rods only as long as required, else you will spend all your time wrenching the nuts down to compress the spring.

Even better, capture the nuts to the bottom plate, and double jam nut the top, with a washer between the plate and nut.
This allows you to use an electric drill and socket to spin the threaded rods to tighten them and compress the spring.
Light grease on the washer and the threaded rod is recommended.

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