DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering springs

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valman
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DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering springs

Post by valman » 13 Jun 2012 01:25 pm

well i said i'd do a thread, i'd like to give something back to the community as it were.
this will be a DIY guide on building yourself a set of coilovers for less than the price of lowering springs :shock: i know right? crazy you might add! well unfortunately you will need tools that not everyone has, but surely everyone here knows someone with a welder/lathe etc etc - this could help build community spirit by encouraging tool/help exchanges or any other arrangements you might want to make in exchange for use of tools blah blah.
anyway Ill start with the bits you need first:
- Pair of Volvo struts/Hubs
- Pair of budget ebay Coilovers, i used mk2 golf ones (note: these are the same as 6n2 vw polo struts, b4 passat ones can be used too, theyre just 50mm longer*i think*) you can probably contact the seller on ebay of new ones direct and order just the front pair.
i got a complete set of golf coilovers for £60 from clubpolo.co.uk sign up and scour their classifieds! great for cheap wheel and audio too (not a plug just being resourceful - you have to register to /b/rowse)
note the rear coilovers can be sold on to someone with a polo - they fit mk2 polos, mk2fs etc etc I did this and got £30 back. (they provide a lot of slammage so help a friend with a polo out in the process ;) )
- 3/4"ID spherical bearing, these ones: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Spherical-Bea ... 701wt_1065
please note however, they now stock a few more sizes since ive built mine so its worth measuring the damper tube width and then going from that - i ordered 3/4" because that left some room to place a spacer between the damper tube and bearing to help spread the load.
- 3/4" housing: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Spherical-Bea ... 719wt_1164
- 3/4" circlip: (cant find the link, they are there though)
the above is all you need really, a bit of 4mm steel plate too and some tube with a 2.25"ID to make your spring locators.
first, get these to bits.
Image
Image
i binned the dust shields as they were pretty rusty and looked ugly.
you will want to cut the tubing off the volvo struts (after stripping them down):
Image
cut as close to the casting as you can, this will make it easier later on.
Image
please note - if there is a more efficient method for the following procedure of removing the original damper housings from the castings let me know/add it to here as this method was a pain in the arse.
once thats done, you can begin chain drilling the dome out of the casting:
Image
once its all knocked out, get a hacksaw, remove the blade and thread it through the hole you are left with. you want to cut the tube in the casting into 6 or so equal sections - cut all the way untill youre through to the casting. but be careful and try to minimize damage to the casting itself.
once youve cut the tube thats inside the casting into sections. pop the hub assembly/whatever you want to call it into a vice, get a chisel and a weighty hammer and start bashing one out, then another, etc etc.
eventually youll be left with something similar to this:
Image
hopefully, it will be in better quality and if your chain drilling was spot on there will be less work for you. although i must say the dome at the bottom of the tube did make it difficult to chain drill consistently. basically, using a dremel you can get rid of the remaining unneeded metal. and then use a grinding disc (or dremel - i didnt have a dremel to hand, motorsport engineering college my ass haha) to take away some casting to leave plenty of space for the weld to go into. I dont have a picture of this bit, but you should know what im on about anyway - if not, its probably best you let a friend do this part for you.
Once the hub castings are ready, start work on the coilovers themselves.
first you want to strip them down - i removed the inserts from the housings by placing the captive nut section into a vice then undoing them. It is important you do this because the heat from the angle grinder and then the welder can potentially damage the insert damper. its also a heck of a lot easier to work on these when theyre just an empty tube :)
again i havent got the best of photos, but you should get the jist of things anyway. you want to get a cutting disc on a grinder then gently start cutting into the welds that hold the mounting bracked to the main body of the coilover.
Image
hopefully you can see where the cut is - if you take it slowly and tap it with a hammer you will eventually see cracks - these indicate the end of the weld and the beginning of the housing tube itself. you want to leave it there and move on to the next area of the weld,
Image
then once youre all done jsut use a lever bar or a hammer and chisel and you're off!
Image
then use a flap wheel to grind the remainder of the welds flat. go over the whole damper to get rid of the protective coating, or in my case rust!
you will have to go over the whole tube to make sure it fits snugly. then using a rubber mallet, simply tap it in! i did mine so it sits roughly the same distance into the casting as the standard damper.
Image
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All thats left to do now is the welding. then you can get onto making the top caps.
so turn the welder up to max (i used 160amps for this weld iirc) keep the torch on the casting, briefly sweeping over to the tube itself. this will get VERY hot but its essential to get a strong enough bond with the cast. just try your best not to blow holes in the tube - my technique of just going for it worked well enough, resulted in this:
Image
Image
weld them top and bottom for optimum strength - mine have withstood a run in with a roundabout at higher than average speed and all is straight and good :)

Now you need to make the top caps.
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these are easy to do, firstly, make the spring locators/caps. these have a secondary role too - they provide a mount for the lower top hat shim that will go between the bearing and the damper tube.
Image
get some steel tubing, i used 3mm thickness and cut it into 7-10mm lengths. 7mm is plenty it just has to sit inside the spring a little bit.
Image
i used a band saw to get relatively straight cuts.
dont have pictures of the next bit, but you just need 3 or 4mm steel plate, and mark out a circle on them thats the diameter of the spring itself, so 2.5" or so (never actually measured mine, just made them :lol: )
i used a guillotine to cut them to the rough round shape then welded the rings to them.
Image
these dont need strong welds so 3 even ones spaced similar distances from each other did the job.
after the ring is welded on, you can pop them into a lathe and spin them down to a nice round size. luckaly for those of you with access to a lathe, its 90% likely to be better than the one at my college,(1 -2mm of play on the one i used :shock: ) therefore you will get better results than me.
now you can start on the upper bit, use the standard mount to mark out the 3 bolt holes. (i dont really have pictures of the remaining process but its quite straight forward and chances are if you got this far, you can figure out the rest without too much difficulty.)
so anyway, 4mm steel plate, mark out a circle, get the center marked up, mark out the 3 holes - drill them out, tap them with a thread, job done. popped the two into a lathe afrer to get them semi round. (i wasnt bothered by appearance/quality by this stage i just wanted them done)
then measure the bearing housing youve got. the External diameter of it, and mark out a hole in the metal caps youve already started on. i decided to weld the housing through it rather than on it as this gave me more room for weld which meant more strength.
when you are welding the housing on, make sure you take your time, my welds dont look very good in the picture because i only did them in 10mm sections at a time, on maximum power. also dont forget to put a taper on the hole you cut into the plate - more room for the weld :)
when welding this bit, do one weld on one cap, then a weld on the other. leave it a minute, repeat process - weld evenly (so one weld, weld on the opposite side, in the middle of them, etc etc) for best results place it onto a massive bit of copper as that works as a good heatsink. then once one weld is done, flip it over and do the same on the underside, again its important you take your time as the housing can potentially distort then your bearing wont fit in and youll have to start over.
once theyre welded up, chuck em in the vice and the welds on the underneath just machine them flat, alternatively use a grinding disc, just take more care.
the next bit is time consuming, you basically need to make shims that go between the damper tube and the bearing - i dont have pictures of these however i will get some and add them later, or ill do a diagram (im supposed to be finishing a college writeup on this but instead im doing it here. failing life 2k12.)
the shims need to be in two parts. use a solid bar of steel, about 23 mm or so in diameter - machine one section so it can be welded to the spring location cups you made earlier. then the top part of it, spin it so the bearing sits on a step and then has 5mm of material going inside the bearing between the damper tube and the inner part of the bearing itself. sleeve is the word im looking for i think. then make the part that will go into the top - it only needs to be a 10 - 12mm tall. have 6 -7 mm of it as the sleeve part going inside the bearing, make sure you leave a mm or so of a gap between the upper and lower sleeve - you dont want these to touch as when you do up the damper top bolt they will just compress and push against eachother but the damper will still be free to move up and down. (i know its obvious, but making it clear). once youve made those just put it all together and enjoy i guess.
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there we go, first guide ive ever done i think. its very vague but w/e for half hours typing it will have to do! hope its understandable, if anyone wants to copy paste this and make it clearer/add their own experiences go ahead, lets make it a team effort :P
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by Attack2001 » 13 Jun 2012 01:54 pm

Nice guide :D I like this idea also, as for the people with 13's (i dont know how much travel is in these coilies?) You can just slide the coilover further through the hub before welding to give it more travel when its lower to floor on the 13's :D

Thomas....................
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by valman » 13 Jun 2012 01:57 pm

cheers dude! i wouldnt put it much further through, as my wheels sometimes catch on the wheel wells but i have cut the bumpstops down :P. need to get a picture of one of these next to a standard item really, quite a height difference lol
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by Attack2001 » 13 Jun 2012 02:00 pm

valman wrote:cheers dude! i wouldnt put it much further through, as my wheels sometimes catch on the wheel wells but i have cut the bumpstops down :P. need to get a picture of one of these next to a standard item really, quite a height difference lol

More pictures the better! :D Who doesnt love pictures? What do you mean the wheels catch on the wells? you mean there rubbing inside the arches? Your on 15's arent you? :)

Oh, this made me chuckle, dont hate, im still a child really :lol:
valman wrote:and start bashing one out, then another, etc etc
Thomas...............
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by valman » 13 Jun 2012 02:13 pm

the bit thats directly above the tires on the front, and nope on 13s with 175/60s and still catching :P

haha that bit was left there on purpose for some lols for those who bothered reading :D

ill get more pics pretty soon, i can do a guide on adjustable lowering blocks too haha, although thats quite straight forward!
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by Attack2001 » 13 Jun 2012 02:20 pm

valman wrote:the bit thats directly above the tires on the front, and nope on 13s with 175/60s and still catching :P

haha that bit was left there on purpose for some lols for those who bothered reading :D

ill get more pics pretty soon, i can do a guide on adjustable lowering blocks too haha, although thats quite straight forward!
Ooh so your quite low then :P Any ideas how much further you can wind them down before your on the bumpstops?

:lol: always gotta have the lols :P

Adjustable lowering blocks? eh? :?: The more guides the better! We all love guides :mrgreen:

Thomas....................
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by Chris_C » 13 Jun 2012 03:17 pm

I like that, looks like a neat way of doing the job. Your welds on the casting look really nice, I've always been *very* dubious of welding steel to cast but that seemed to go well! Only thing I'd be a bit dubious on is your top cups, I wonder if without the "lip" pressed into the outer edge if they'd loose strength to the original which are already flimsy.

As a random aside but nearly related... when I ran my old springs, my wheels touched the arch under hard cornering (hence why I got longer and stronger ones). How much rolling radius change do the proper low cars go for and do they just ignore speedo error? Stationary on the old springs my car was around the same lowerness as Magnum's was on 13's, but he was running a bit of sidewall.
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by Attack2001 » 13 Jun 2012 03:22 pm

Chris_C wrote: do they just ignore speedo error?
Yup, they just want em to look good :lol:
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by Chris_C » 13 Jun 2012 04:36 pm

Valman, let me know when you've tweaked, fiddled etc and I'll copy it over to the Technical section if you want? Reminds me... I don't think any of us ever did that with the FAQ :oops:
'89(G) 340 GLE B172k
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Ex:
'89(F) 340 GL F7R (ex B172k) - Fake -> SBKV 300 Runner Up 08, 12; '91(H) 340 GL B14.4E - Kar; '88(F) 360 GLT B200E - Jet -> BKV 300 Runner Up 09; '89(G) 360 GLT B200E - Beast

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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by macplaxton » 14 Jun 2012 05:03 pm

We even had a Wiki once too... :roll:
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82 Volvo 343DL CVTImageImage 88 Volvo 340DL Diesel

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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by classicswede » 14 Jun 2012 08:05 pm

Interesting way of going about it and for budget money well done.

My biggest concern is that with welding the strut tube to the hub any missalignment is going to cause poor road holding and uneven tyre wear. If it was combined with an adjustable strut top then taht could be used to correct small deviation. After doing anything like this 4 wheel alignment is esential.


When welding the hub I would highly recomend pre heating either in an oven of with a torch . This will give a much better and stronger weld.

Be very carefull how much heat you put into teh coil over. Welding dampers can be very dodgy due to the oil/gasses.
Dai

Please email me directly on dai@classicswede.co.uk

http://www.classicswede.com

phone/text 07824887160

Web shop http://www.classicswede.co.uk/

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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by valman » 15 Jun 2012 06:19 pm

thanks for the positive comments, i'll make diagrams of the top cap soon as i need to do it for my writeup anyway ill pop them on here and ill try to tidy it all up.
i thought that too Dai, about the tubes being off center, but to be honest using a straight edge it matched up to the standard ones give or take .5 of a mm,
top cap wise, the easiest thing to do is to buy s13 mounts and just weld on thick sheet with the right pcd mounts to the suspension turrets as itll be a lot easier than making top caps from scratch.

ill sort this thread out soon, then chris or the powers that be can move it to wherever is best suited.

as far as adjustable lowering blocks go, the key is the word adjustable being in quotation marks. what it essentially is, is a normal lowering block with a thick plate top and bottom with the 4 holes + captive nuts. this gives you the option to put in shims to raise/lower your car. (oobviously the highest the car will go is how tall you make the block + metal plates initially) then to secure the shims it is possible to drill out a hole that the shim could have a dowel to go into. then its jsut a matter of loosening 4 bolts per side and job done. adjust-ability wise, it will be possible on both sides within 10 minutes? as you dont have to tit about with removing driveshafts etc to get at the abnormally large 4 bolts that usually hold down the standard blocks
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by FREJ » 12 May 2013 08:01 pm

valman wrote:well i said i'd do a thread, i'd like to give something back to the community as it were.
this will be a DIY guide on building yourself a set of coilovers for less than the price of lowering springs :shock: i know right? crazy you might add! well unfortunately you will need tools that not everyone has, but surely everyone here knows someone with a welder/lathe etc etc - this could help build community spirit by encouraging tool/help exchanges or any other arrangements you might want to make in exchange for use of tools blah blah.
anyway Ill start with the bits you need first:
- Pair of Volvo struts/Hubs
- Pair of budget ebay Coilovers, i used mk2 golf ones (note: these are the same as 6n2 vw polo struts, b4 passat ones can be used too, theyre just 50mm longer*i think*) you can probably contact the seller on ebay of new ones direct and order just the front pair.
i got a complete set of golf coilovers for £60 from clubpolo.co.uk sign up and scour their classifieds! great for cheap wheel and audio too (not a plug just being resourceful - you have to register to /b/rowse)
note the rear coilovers can be sold on to someone with a polo - they fit mk2 polos, mk2fs etc etc I did this and got £30 back. (they provide a lot of slammage so help a friend with a polo out in the process ;) )
- 3/4"ID spherical bearing, these ones: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Spherical-Bea ... 701wt_1065
please note however, they now stock a few more sizes since ive built mine so its worth measuring the damper tube width and then going from that - i ordered 3/4" because that left some room to place a spacer between the damper tube and bearing to help spread the load.
- 3/4" housing: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Spherical-Bea ... 719wt_1164
- 3/4" circlip: (cant find the link, they are there though)
the above is all you need really, a bit of 4mm steel plate too and some tube with a 2.25"ID to make your spring locators.
first, get these to bits.
Image
Image
i binned the dust shields as they were pretty rusty and looked ugly.
you will want to cut the tubing off the volvo struts (after stripping them down):
Image
cut as close to the casting as you can, this will make it easier later on.
Image
please note - if there is a more efficient method for the following procedure of removing the original damper housings from the castings let me know/add it to here as this method was a pain in the arse.
once thats done, you can begin chain drilling the dome out of the casting:
Image
once its all knocked out, get a hacksaw, remove the blade and thread it through the hole you are left with. you want to cut the tube in the casting into 6 or so equal sections - cut all the way untill youre through to the casting. but be careful and try to minimize damage to the casting itself.
once youve cut the tube thats inside the casting into sections. pop the hub assembly/whatever you want to call it into a vice, get a chisel and a weighty hammer and start bashing one out, then another, etc etc.
eventually youll be left with something similar to this:
Image
hopefully, it will be in better quality and if your chain drilling was spot on there will be less work for you. although i must say the dome at the bottom of the tube did make it difficult to chain drill consistently. basically, using a dremel you can get rid of the remaining unneeded metal. and then use a grinding disc (or dremel - i didnt have a dremel to hand, motorsport engineering college my ass haha) to take away some casting to leave plenty of space for the weld to go into. I dont have a picture of this bit, but you should know what im on about anyway - if not, its probably best you let a friend do this part for you.
Once the hub castings are ready, start work on the coilovers themselves.
first you want to strip them down - i removed the inserts from the housings by placing the captive nut section into a vice then undoing them. It is important you do this because the heat from the angle grinder and then the welder can potentially damage the insert damper. its also a heck of a lot easier to work on these when theyre just an empty tube :)
again i havent got the best of photos, but you should get the jist of things anyway. you want to get a cutting disc on a grinder then gently start cutting into the welds that hold the mounting bracked to the main body of the coilover.
Image
hopefully you can see where the cut is - if you take it slowly and tap it with a hammer you will eventually see cracks - these indicate the end of the weld and the beginning of the housing tube itself. you want to leave it there and move on to the next area of the weld,
Image
then once youre all done jsut use a lever bar or a hammer and chisel and you're off!
Image
then use a flap wheel to grind the remainder of the welds flat. go over the whole damper to get rid of the protective coating, or in my case rust!
you will have to go over the whole tube to make sure it fits snugly. then using a rubber mallet, simply tap it in! i did mine so it sits roughly the same distance into the casting as the standard damper.
Image
Image
All thats left to do now is the welding. then you can get onto making the top caps.
so turn the welder up to max (i used 160amps for this weld iirc) keep the torch on the casting, briefly sweeping over to the tube itself. this will get VERY hot but its essential to get a strong enough bond with the cast. just try your best not to blow holes in the tube - my technique of just going for it worked well enough, resulted in this:
Image
Image
weld them top and bottom for optimum strength - mine have withstood a run in with a roundabout at higher than average speed and all is straight and good :)

Now you need to make the top caps.
Image
these are easy to do, firstly, make the spring locators/caps. these have a secondary role too - they provide a mount for the lower top hat shim that will go between the bearing and the damper tube.
Image
get some steel tubing, i used 3mm thickness and cut it into 7-10mm lengths. 7mm is plenty it just has to sit inside the spring a little bit.
Image
i used a band saw to get relatively straight cuts.
dont have pictures of the next bit, but you just need 3 or 4mm steel plate, and mark out a circle on them thats the diameter of the spring itself, so 2.5" or so (never actually measured mine, just made them :lol: )
i used a guillotine to cut them to the rough round shape then welded the rings to them.
Image
these dont need strong welds so 3 even ones spaced similar distances from each other did the job.
after the ring is welded on, you can pop them into a lathe and spin them down to a nice round size. luckaly for those of you with access to a lathe, its 90% likely to be better than the one at my college,(1 -2mm of play on the one i used :shock: ) therefore you will get better results than me.
now you can start on the upper bit, use the standard mount to mark out the 3 bolt holes. (i dont really have pictures of the remaining process but its quite straight forward and chances are if you got this far, you can figure out the rest without too much difficulty.)
so anyway, 4mm steel plate, mark out a circle, get the center marked up, mark out the 3 holes - drill them out, tap them with a thread, job done. popped the two into a lathe afrer to get them semi round. (i wasnt bothered by appearance/quality by this stage i just wanted them done)
then measure the bearing housing youve got. the External diameter of it, and mark out a hole in the metal caps youve already started on. i decided to weld the housing through it rather than on it as this gave me more room for weld which meant more strength.
when you are welding the housing on, make sure you take your time, my welds dont look very good in the picture because i only did them in 10mm sections at a time, on maximum power. also dont forget to put a taper on the hole you cut into the plate - more room for the weld :)
when welding this bit, do one weld on one cap, then a weld on the other. leave it a minute, repeat process - weld evenly (so one weld, weld on the opposite side, in the middle of them, etc etc) for best results place it onto a massive bit of copper as that works as a good heatsink. then once one weld is done, flip it over and do the same on the underside, again its important you take your time as the housing can potentially distort then your bearing wont fit in and youll have to start over.
once theyre welded up, chuck em in the vice and the welds on the underneath just machine them flat, alternatively use a grinding disc, just take more care.
the next bit is time consuming, you basically need to make shims that go between the damper tube and the bearing - i dont have pictures of these however i will get some and add them later, or ill do a diagram (im supposed to be finishing a college writeup on this but instead im doing it here. failing life 2k12.)
the shims need to be in two parts. use a solid bar of steel, about 23 mm or so in diameter - machine one section so it can be welded to the spring location cups you made earlier. then the top part of it, spin it so the bearing sits on a step and then has 5mm of material going inside the bearing between the damper tube and the inner part of the bearing itself. sleeve is the word im looking for i think. then make the part that will go into the top - it only needs to be a 10 - 12mm tall. have 6 -7 mm of it as the sleeve part going inside the bearing, make sure you leave a mm or so of a gap between the upper and lower sleeve - you dont want these to touch as when you do up the damper top bolt they will just compress and push against eachother but the damper will still be free to move up and down. (i know its obvious, but making it clear). once youve made those just put it all together and enjoy i guess.
Image

there we go, first guide ive ever done i think. its very vague but w/e for half hours typing it will have to do! hope its understandable, if anyone wants to copy paste this and make it clearer/add their own experiences go ahead, lets make it a team effort :P
Because of the lack of pictures in this guide, I took the freedom to google most of them up.
Submit them now and link them in the quote above. Picture owner can send me an message if that is not OK.
Regards Frej
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Last edited by FREJ on 12 May 2013 08:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by FREJ » 12 May 2013 08:02 pm

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Volvo 360GL 1987, B230A with high comp. 531+V-cam
MS1 V2 + 337cc injectors, fuelpressure 3,5kg. Running Ethanol since 2004
Timo Extractor Manifold 4-2-1
http://www.300power.com

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thododd
Posts: 303
Joined: 22 Jul 2012 09:58 pm
Location: Gloucester/ Bristol

Re: DIY coilovers for less than the price of lowering spring

Post by thododd » 17 Jul 2013 09:01 am

I shall be buying a thread sleeve and lock rings from gaz, rally design, compbrake etc when I come to do mine

Ive read that the strut bodies are a little large for 2.25 od sleeves, but im concerned about going 'coil bound' with 2.5" springs and a relatively soft spring like one of my axs did before I went to 2.25" springs.

I know the platforms have a lot of adjustment, but, with the lower pan in roughly the standard position, what length mains and helpers will I need to get ~50mm drop? And how high a spring rate will the standard damper get away before feeling really under damped, in the long run theyll be replaced with uprated items and new springs to match.

Thanks
Tom

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