26/10/2019: Okay, so not much of a horror! One of the front shock absorbers is leaking. I called Protech a month or so ago now and they were extremely helpful. I was looking for help identifying the model of Protech so I could replace it. They were kind enough to let me know that all of their shocks are serviceable. So, there is a good chance that if I send them back they can refresh both for me for a fraction of the price! Excellent!
I got a little carried away at the garage this morning and stripped the shocks and the brakes. The brakes were the real horror show but that’s for another page! Once I’d taken the wheels off (which I now know how to do!) the shocks were as simple as two bolts. A little fiddly as I only have one 17mm socket so was using grips to hold the bolt head. Only took ten minutes to get them out.
I thought at first I would need to support the bottom suspension arm to find the point at which I could easily take the bolts out. This wasn’t the case a little wiggling and they came free.
I’ll grab some close ups of the shocks tomorrow and pop them up. I’ve dropped an e-mail to Protech asking them if they need me to take the springs off before I send them in. I did buy a set of spring compressors but the hooks are too big for gaps between the spring.
So far a pretty simple job!
28/10/2019: Protech got back in touch this morning. They have excellent customer service. Replies to e-mails have almost been real time (allowing for weekends!). They requested that I take the springs off and give the shocks a bit of a clean. I’m glad really as I wanted the experience of taking the spring off.
So with a different set of spring compressors, with less of a hook, it was a pretty straightforward job. The process was to attach the spring compressors on opposite sides of the spring and as best as possible tighten them at the same rate. This compresses the spring in a straight line and allows the spring seat (I think this is what it is called) to slide off the shock. Then it’s just a case of unwinding the compressors.
It’s worth taking some care as I had a compressor slip and come off the spring when under load. Fortunately it launched itself away from me! The grease on the new set of compressors probably didn’t help. Neither did the fact the clearance between the shock and the spring on my setup is so tight that one set of hooks for the compressor couldn’t seat properly.
Here’s a picture of the spring under compression with the spring compressors still attached. You can see the top set of hooks aren’t seated properly:
You can see how the spring seat at the bottom is now loose and just see (on the left hand side) the slot in the seat that allows it to slide off when not being compressed by the spring.
The difference between the shock that is leaking and the shock that is not is clear to see:
I’ve given the spring, shocks and all the bits and pieces a thorough clean and they are now ready to head off to Protech.
The slots in the spring seats are really clear in this picture. You can also see the number written on the top of the spring. I’ll need to investigate if this gives me any information about the type of spring. I suspect it does if I can find where to look.
For now, there isn’t much more I can do than to wait for pay day and get the shocks off to Protech. If does strike me how some relatively big (well certainly in my mind) jobs can get completed for little cost. We just paid £325 (ish) for two shocks to be replaced on my Wife’s Vauxhall Adam. So far I’ve spend £20 on a set of spring compressors and perhaps an hour of my own time. I did already have the socket sets and jack. The refurb from Protech is going to cost about £36 a shock. I’ve saved over £200 by doing the job myself and probably more.
01/11/2019: Payday and the shocks are off to Protech. Looking forward to getting them back and on the car.
07/11/2019: Call from Protech and the shocks should be back with me tomorrow… I hope so. I’d love to get them back in this weekend.
08/11/2019: The shocks are back in from Protech. It turns out that it’s a good job I sent the second shock in. It had a worn piston and was close to developing a leak.
My inner child loves the stickers too! Not sure what I’m going to do with them yet. If I had a proper mechanics tools box I’d stick them on there but I don’t (yet!).
So I set about reattaching the springs and it was a nightmare! The issues with the hooks of the spring compressor not fitting in the gap between the shock and the spring made taking the springs off difficult (there’s a picture higher up on this page). The same issue made putting them back on impossible.
Even when I started with the spring on the compressor the whole assemble was moving around too much. The compressors came off twice, once under full load, and I decided it was too dangerous to carry on. I was also risking the hooks from the compressor deeply gouging the thread on the shock (there was a little bit of cosmetic scratching which I’m a bit miffed about!).
It took a most an hour of huffing and puffing (and dodging flying spring compressors before I put the tools down and gave up). This isn’t really in my nature though and my mind kept returning to what I might do as a work around. If you look at the picture higher up you can see that one set of hooks does have space to seat properly. I then remembered that I had a 1 inch thick piece of seasoned oak in the cupboard and this was born:
Hardly the most challenging piece of woodwork I’ve done but one that was very successful. I should probably apologise to the neighbours for drilling after 22:00 (but I wasn’t going to sleep if I didn’t give the idea a go!). It worked wonderfully:
The contraption allowed me to pull back against the wood, rather than against the spring itself, and both sets of springs were back on in less than 15 minutes. I was a little worried about the shock slipping out at the bottom at first. However, as soon as a little compression was on springs the whole things was rock solid. It felt much safer than wrestling what felt like an octopus before!
09/11/2019: So the shocks and springs were back together and I was researching a little about lubrication. It seemed strange to me that the shock bolts weren’t lubricated when I took them off. After a little bit of research, which uncovered the usual contradictory advice(!), I decided that it made sense to lubricate the working surfaces. If nothing to help protect the hardware from corrosion.
I found this chap (Mark Larkham) talking on YouTube. Whilst my suspension bolts don’t fit into bushings most of the underlying logic is the same. Understand what the parts do and take it from there. I also found this neat site talking about what grease to use for bushings. At some point I am going to strip the front suspension to address the surface rust on the wishbones. This information with come in handy then.
Anyway, the decision to lubricate was finalised when a trip to the Tiger Owner’s Forums didn’t return a torque setting for the suspension bolts. To me it doesn’t feel right that the bolts should be done up too tight. However, the advice on the forum was to go FT (full tight… if you are being polite). So I went FT with grease. I used TRIPLE QX Multipurpose EP2 Lithium Grease. Greasing the centre of the bolt and the working side of the washers. I was careful not to get grease on the thread of the bolt that would be used to tighten the nut. I then tightened everything down as hard as I could with a normal ratchet.
Because I’m an idiot, and in my defence had a number of jobs on the go at once, I didn’t take any pictures of the parts back on the car. I’m back down to the garage tomorrow to finish the spray painting and perhaps take the car out for a spin. I’ll grab some shots then and update this page.
However, for now… this job is done!
11/11/2019: I promised a few pictures of the shocks back on the car. Here you go: