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Front coilover install: fully disassemble or just cut through


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I am going to be installing BC coilovers on my 76 280z.  This question is for the fronts only.  I have seen/read a lot of install information.  It seems some people fully disassemble the strut, spring, gland nut, etc and then cut the tube.  Others just cut right through without disassembling anything.  Would be really nice to not have to deal with the spring compression and gland nut hassle.  Any thoughts?

 

Thanks

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My thoughts, and I absolutely mean no disrespect and I think others will agree with me, is that, with the questions you are asking, whether you should even be attempting this task. You absolutely need to disassemble everything first. You can't just go cutting through a compressed spring (extremely dangerous) and a strut housing with a strut cartridge inside of it. And, sooner or later, you will need to remove the gland nut to insert a new strut cartridge to replace the one you cut in half with a new, shorter one.

 

Mike Milesk

Tucson, AZ

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Absolutely agree with @Mike Mileski. A lot can go wrong and you need to have everything disassembled and on a bench. Suspension is a bad place to cut corners and save some time. I’m not familiar with the BC kit, but most kits out there require very close attention to measurements, alignment, etc. my approach required sectioning my struts which has many pitfalls if rushed. 
 

good luck! 

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You're probably thinking of dropping the strut and letting it swing out while still attached to the inner mounting points.  Sometimes it's possible to do that, sometimes you still need a spring compressor to get enough room to get under the fender lip.  Then, even if you do get it swung out, you still need to remove the spring, and gland nut and strut guts (stock internals or aftermarket shock), before cutting the tube and installing the BC parts.  How you decide to do it depends on how much room you have and how good you are at figuring things out.  It's actually somewhat convenient to have the strut attached to the car, if you don't have a bench and vice and fixtures.

 

The guys are right though, if you're asking about the gland nut and avoiding spring compression, you'll want to do some more studying before starting.

 

This one?

 

https://www.bcracing-na.com/product/br-series-coilover-datsun-260z-280z-1974-1978

 

 

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The springs on a Z are soft and aren't compressed that much. I've taken plenty of them off by just aiming the strut away from me and zipping the nut off with an impact. The top hat will only fly a couple feet. It's not a big deal on a Z. On most newer cars, MUCH different story and very dangerous. IIRC though the 240 front spring rate is under 100 lbs rear is just over, and is compressed an inch or two. Not that much force. 280 has slightly stiffer springs and similar compression distance. If you removed the springs and then couldn't get the gland nut loose  then I would think that using a sawzall or a cutoff wheel and cutting through the strut tube without cutting the insert itself would be pretty easy to do and should work fine. 

The problems I can see arising are: 1) if you have OG Nissan struts with the oil in the tube, when you cut through the strut tube it will leak everywhere and 2) if you have inserts and cut into them then you'll squirt pressurized oil everywhere. 

Also, if you didn't remove the spring first, it's going to go flying when the strut tube is cut, so whichever way you do it, get the spring pressure alleviated before you cut the tube.

 

You're going to need to clean the thing up before welding the new tubes on, so I don't know how much time this is really going to save.

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Thanks for all replies.  No offense taken.   The reason I asked is because I have seen several videos where they just cut the strut tube without removing anything.  Also mentioned on the forum.   Examples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not saying it's the right way, just have seen it done.  Also I read that removing the gland nut can be a huge PITA.

 

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I will agree with everyone above that when dealing with unknown stock suspension on a Z to just play it safe given how easy it is to disassemble the entire strut tube. Those videos were likely done by people who had already redone their stock suspension so they know what kind of oil (if any) they put in the tubes and what struts they had (though cutting through a strut is something I would still never recommend). You definitely don’t want the oil to ignite from a spark and definitely don’t want a strut blowing up on you.

If you really want to avoid renting a spring compressor you can do what I did which is set the car on full chassis weight, loosen the wheel, take 2 ratchet straps and tighten them down well around the spring on opposite sides. Remove the wheel then jack it up and it should hold the spring compressed even if you have some slightly stiffer performance springs on the car. After that follow normal disassembly procedures.

As for the gland nut I only had an issue with 1 of 4 that required more than a large pair of channel locks. Some penetrating oil, taps with a hammer and pipe wrench got it off with out too hassle.

Edited by Sanchez
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To be honest, if the gland nut is your primary concern, I personally have never had a problem removing dozens of gland nuts over the years.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

 

Are your gland nuts square or round at the top?  There are a couple different shapes and sizes.  For the square ones, I use a big pipe wrench...plenty of gripping power on the nut and plenty of leverage with a long handle.  For the round nuts, the pipe wrench may work as well, but I fabbed myself a custom spanner wrench years ago.  It’ll be easier to remove the gland nuts if you leave the strut tube bolted to the LCA (vs removing the strut and then trying to remove the gland nut).

 

Obviously, heat and penetrating oil can help if the nuts seem particularly stuck and frozen.

Edited by jhm
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