[DML] New Shocks - Yeah! (ouch)
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[DML] New Shocks - Yeah! (ouch)



(this post is a little long but contains both some tech tips and an
unsolicited review of Special-T-Auto's "E-Z rider" shocks)

DMC-thusiasts,

My D had never had the shocks changed and the ride and handling were a
bit stiff and vibrational.  So after a little research, I decided to try
John H's "E-Z Rider" kit of shocks.

With the car on jack stands, some wrenches and a 3-ton floor jack, I
went to it.

Since the front coil springs are supported by the lower link control
arm, shock removal and installation is very straight forward and went
off without a hitch.  In the rear, however the coil springs are mounted
directly to the shock and I knew they would be a bit more of a
challenge.

Using the floor jack for compression assistance, the left one changed
pretty quickly but the right (the last one, of course), was a different
story.  I soaked the top shaft/nuts in Liquid Wrench before starting
(hey, they've been on there 25 years so I figured I could use all the
help I could get).  Using a 7mm open end on the top of the shaft and a
14mm box on the nut I removed the top (locking) nut and then began on
the lower one.  I couldn't get enough leverage on that smaller wrench to
keep the shaft from turning so I went to using Chan-l-locs and then
Vice-Grips but all to no avail.  No matter what I held the shaft with, I
couldn't get the nut to turn off of it.

After any number of four-letter explicatives and couple of failed
attempts at compressing the spring (to try and remove the bottom
retainers) to reduce tension on the shock, I finally resorted to the
universal disassembly tool.......the hacksaw (thank God for Sawzall).  I
figured by cutting the upper piston shaft I could free the coil spring
and gain better access to the shaft to immobilize it.  With the jack
beneath it for support, I began sawing the piston shaft off.  If you are
going to do this, be sure to keep your legs and feet out of the way when
it lets go because nobody can predict the trajectory of a coil spring
when released (as the bruise on my left knee evidences, having caught
the first bounce).

With the spring and lower portion of the shock out of the way, I was
able to Vice-grip the shaft and really crank on the top nut.  The result
was the shoulders of that nut rounded off and I was left with no way to
unscrew it.  I considered using a torch to expand the nut, but I wasn't
thrilled about the idea of that much heat within 2-3 inches of the epoxy
underbody above and around it so I went back to Mr. Sawzall (Dewalt
reciprocating, actually but hey, facial tissues are always "Kleenex" and
demo reciprocating saws are all Sawzalls).   I cut through the botton
rubber mounting bumper and then into the top shaft.  This gave me a nice
buffer between the flailing blade and the frame/spring support so that I
was not going to do damage there.  At last, I got the remainder of that
old Girling out and installed the final new shock.

Upon test drive, I thought that the handling was a little soft at slow
speed (under 50 on a twisty road) but then realized that it was just
less stiff than it had been with the old setup.  But the real magic
showed up on the highway.  Before, at speeds between 60 and 100 I found
handling to be a little skittish - drift apparent with any washboarding
or rough road and lots of vibration evident, up from the road.  Now,
it's like the tires are glued to the road and the ride is much smoother
and more comfortable.

The upshot of all this (in my opinion) is:

1) If you are still on the old Girling shocks....change them - they're
25 years old!

2) Give Specialty Auto's E-Z Riders a serious look as the
replacements.....and

3) At least for the rear shocks, consider having DMC or even Midas
replace them for you - if you have any respect for your knuckles, knees
and nerves.

Hope this helps,

Craig Werner

07181




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