Need help for Konis on Gen3

Discussion in 'V8 - Emergency Issues' started by 98SF19, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. 98SF19

    98SF19 AlphaKennyBuddy

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    I seriously need some advice from anybody with experience installing Koni's in a Gen 3.
    Bought used SLO struts from a '96 off ebay to use with Konis (didn't want to hack up my SARC struts - will probably ebay them one of these days). Got them cut down as needed, drilled 1/4" hole at bottom, etc. and had a shop put them together with Koni inserts and lowering springs (Motorcraft "LOW" code). Now I'm reassembling and hitting some major snags.

    Most critical issue:
    The shaft diameters of the '96 strut housings seem to be a bit more than the OEM SARCS, just enough that getting it into the knuckle could not be done any other way than by having both off the car and hammering the strut into knuckle using a pry bar as shown here:
    STRUT-KNUCKLE_HAMMER.jpg

    I probably hit the pry bar 1000 times to get the strut far enough for pinch bolt bore to line up. 1000 is not an exaggeration - this would normally be done with a pneumatic press. (FYI that is spray paint, NOT powdercoat and the pinch bore is unpainted).

    My reason for going ahead and doing this, knowing that I'd be unable to get it installed assembled like this, was for the less critical issue below.

    Less critical issue:
    I didn't have a pair of the right size allen-head bolts to hold Konis to bottom of strut, so I ordered a new pair. Didn't know they'd have to be sent from Europe and I didn't have time to wait, so I found bolts with same thread. But due to length, they also needed a bushing nut. I wanted to put in strut temporarily to see if I'd have enough clearance between hex head and axle boot, shown here:
    STRUT BOLT_BOOT.jpeg

    The knuckle is not fully seated on the axle here, and although it does seem like there would be very minimal clearance when it is (right of the big rubber ridge), I'm just not comfortable with it. Yes, I coulda-shoulda-woulda had bolt threaded shaft machined down if I'd known it would be so tight.

    Another issue:
    Apparently I need to install camber plates, which I bought from Nimz a long time ago. The installation calls for removing the strut mount plate and removing the threaded studs. But it doesn't appear that I'm able to pry up the plate, shown here:
    STRUT PLATE ANGLE.jpg STRUT PLATE SIDE.jpg
    I'm a bit hesitant to put too much into the prying considering the loaded condition of struts. I'm also unsure what the offset needs to be set at. It allows 5 increments from 1/4 degrees up to 1-1/4 degrees of positive camber. Knowing ahead of time will aid greatly in avoiding having to disassemble all over again.

    So to address the main issue,
    I suspect that the SLO strut housing is just slightly off "round" from my knuckle bore, or the two are otherwise just out of sync geometrically. I believe the best solution would be to hammer both struts into knuckles, crank down pinch bolts nice and tight and let them sit for a while, maybe adding some heat to the knuckles on a daily basis for a week or two.

    Any thoughts? Anybody willing to talk on the phone about any of this, PM me your number and a good time to call.
     
  2. gamefanatic

    gamefanatic SHO Member

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    Can you widen the strut whole anymore? Most times that I have troubles getting the struts to fit it's an angle issue or I hadn't separated the knuckle pinch hole enough. Once you get the strut started and are sure you don't have fitment issues you can put them on the car and use a jack to get the hole aligned using the weight of the car to push it into place.


    I haven't done this before, but it sounds as if you added a nut between the bolt head you decided to use in order to reduce it's over all length. If this is the case, just use a dremel cutting wheel or hacksaw to shorten the length of the bolt. You could at that point even cut down the nut you are using to gain additional clearance or if you can get the bolt cut enough remove it all together.
    Though it does not appear that after everything is assembled there will be clearance issues. Looks as if you are going to have about an 1/2-1" movement of the axle to the hub allowing for enough clearance. There isn't a lot of movement on the bushing, and definitely not in the direction that would cause additional binding. That being said, is the strut in far enough yet that this would be the final clearance? Even eliminating the nut you could have clearance issues if you have to move the strut another 1/2" down...



    Not sure which camber plates you have, but I just installed a set of Ingalls. I am thinking the Moogs aren't much different.
    1. You will have to use a spring compressor to release the tension on the strut mount. Springs will need to be compressed nearly all the way.
    2. Remove the retaining nut on top to remove the plates. Be watchful when removing the the bearing doesn't come out / separate. You can usually just pack it back in, but you don't want to lose those little balls.
    3. With the plate removed, press out the bolts from the plate. I just used my vice, but you could just pound them out if you properly support the bracket and tap on the bolt (with the nut).
    4. You may want to install the camber plate retaining bolts before putting the plate back on, as there may not be enough clearance to get them on.
    5. Re-install mounting plate on strut and retaining nut. Be sure things are level and not being pushed in any direction as this can cause the bearings to separate.
    6. Bolt on Camber plate using nuts. There should be a "0" slot for the camber plate to chassis bolts. Start with that and let the alignment shop make any changes. Keeping in mind that just installing the plates will modify your angles.
     
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  3. 98SF19

    98SF19 AlphaKennyBuddy

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    Wow, thanks for the thorough response!

    I couldn't get a deep enough start to make it work, and even if I had (if the weight would be enough), I'd worry about the strut insert bolt punching a hole through the axle boot. I think I'm going to start out by just getting both struts into knuckles and cranking down pinch bolts for a while. 97 ft-lbs is the torque spec max, so I won't really worry about over-tightening using a standard length wrench (might bust out the breaker for a bit more). Hopefully this will result in the strut and knuckle playing nicely together. I'll be getting new pinch bolts and nuts for this also.

    Yep. What you see in the pic is with the pinch bolt through the knuckle and strut. I'm a bonehead for not cutting off the end of bolt like you suggest. It's a moot point since I'm going to wait for the correct hardware to come in. The allen bolt mentioned is very shallow with a slightly domed convex head. With the toothed washer, it will extend no more than about 1/4" below bottom of strut, much less than the horrendous bolt-nut combo shown.

    Hell's bells, the instruction sheet didn't even mention compressing the spring. It works out though since I'll have to compress springs to replace the insert mounting hardware mentioned above. So do I have this right - the standard mount plate gets removed and small bolts replace the existing larger ones only for the sake of holding on the camber plate? Then, did you forget a step between #5 and #6? I thought the longer bolts (for final attachment to wheel well) needed to go up into bottom of camber plate before it got secured to original plate. So once this is done, will the shop doing alignment need to remove strut to make camber adjustment?

    Your help is very much appreciated!
     
  4. zak

    zak SHO Member

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    For the bolt length get a Dremel and cut the bolt length down to match the Koni bolt length.

    Have you checked that the strut travel will be similar between the 96-99 and 89-95 cars? One place to verify is looking at the Monroe specs on Rockauto.

    For installing strut to knuckle, you want to lower the subframe to give some length to work. Be certain that each subframe bolt is screwed in four or more full turns nad use a wheel or other item as a secondary safety. Basically you will be lowering the whole subframe and engine relative to the car. Use your jack underneath each corner as you remove and then partially reinstall each bolt (4 turns minimum) should get you an extra inch and a half or so.

    Get the strut started in the knuckle and then a floor jack is used to ease the knuckle over the strut while prying apart the ears with a large screwdriver. Keep an eye on your primary jackstand as once you lift the car off the stand (by jacking up the spindle under the ball joint) that is far enough you are at max weight.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017
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  5. gamefanatic

    gamefanatic SHO Member

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    Keep in mind you will need to have the hub / strut assembly off the car or the strut out in order to get your new bolt in. I totally understand about overlooking the easy steps... Too many times my projects take 3x longer as I have to back up several steps to go forward!

    You are correct on all counts. Sorry about not getting all the steps. I had to write it out twice and must have missed them the second time around... Shop will make adjustments to the adjustment bolts as required. So much fun for them.... ;)

    Excited to see these finally in the car! This is going to be a sweet setup!
     
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  6. 98SF19

    98SF19 AlphaKennyBuddy

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    You guys have given some great advice. I still think I'm going to clamp struts down into the knuckles for a few days once I get 2nd one hammered in, during which I will take them back to the shop that assembled struts to have camber plates put on and fastening bolts replaced (with knuckles still on if possible).

    Z, I'll take your advice re: subframe bolts and wedging pinch "ears" apart to get strut in. I'll try to get another pair of hands to assist as well. It would have been nice if there had been a welded ring around middle part of strut to keep it from plunging too far into knuckle and damaging axle boot.
     
  7. 98SF19

    98SF19 AlphaKennyBuddy

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