Rebuilding E30 struts

My front struts are worn out and a reputable shop is willing to rebuild them for $600. If I do the job myself I will spend maybe 1/3 that cost in parts.
I have the Bently manual, lots of experience working on this car and others, and can borrow a spring compressor for free, but have never done anything so labor intensive as this job looks.
Just wanted the opinion from someone who has been there and done this as to whether or not this job is such a PIA as to make it better off to pay someone to do it. Also, while a lot of that front end is apart, is there anything that I might as well replace?
FYI, the car holds alignment and there is no unusual tire wear. However, if you push down on either corner of the front bumper the car will bounce around for a while when you let go. 1988ic with about 115K on the odometer.
Thanks, Christopher
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

You can do it. I'd recommend a 'mentor' when using the spring compressor because it can be downright dangerous if done improperly. I'm no E30 expert, but I'd guess that, at this age, any major suspension parts with rubber in them (control arm bushings) ought to be replaced as well as any ball joints or tie rod ends that show any movement. -- C.R. Krieger (Been there; done that)
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I have never done this on an E30, but I have done E36 and many VWs and it is very do-able.
My advice would be to use a good spring compressor, I have something like this http://www.drapertools-online.com/b2c/b2citmdsp.pgm?pp_skmno=31497 which is far more stable (and you want stability do to the stored energy as pointed out by E28 Guy) than something like this http://www.drapertools-online.com/b2c/b2citmdsp.pgm?pp_skmno=14173 which friends of mine seem to get away with using.
Another thing to consider (but dont let this put you off doing it as it is a rewarding task - and we all need those!) is the camber. Looking at the design http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts.do?model=1232&mospid=47263&btnr=31_0110&hg=31&fg=10 it appears that the upright is part of the strut and that you can just change the internals. I cannot see how the upright (And strut) fit onto the wishbone (this needs input from others with more knowledge). Are there slotted holes? Even so, after doing the struts, if the camber is upset, you can take it to a specialist guy and I would guess setting it would be perhaps $50 (I am in the UK, so this is a guess based on how much it costs here).
E28 Guy is probably right that bushes may need replacing too, and this may require special tools. You can tell this by looking for play in the steering system, best done IMHO whilst driving, i.e. drive in a straight line and move the steering wheel side to side to see how much movement is needed before you start to change direction. My E46 had about 5 minutes (assuming the steering wheel is a clock) an this was due to worn bushes at the rear of the front wishbones (I think yours will be a similar configuration). In addition, on straight roads, it would wander and you had to concentrate on keeping it in a straight line, especially at high speeds. Special tools were needed to change these, an extractor and a press (and a ramp made it easier), I gave it to a mechanic to do. Once changed, it is much more resposive to steering wheel movement. For the bushes and bearings at the top of the strut, you will see whether these need attention and they are easy to fit and quite cheap.
Good luck
Nick
E28 Guy© wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

It all depends on how much you like or dislike working on your car(s). As I've often said, I happen to find it Therapeutic. Especially so when I know there is a problem, know that the job will resolve that problem and I'm going to be saving some major coin in the process. But the key is I *enjoy* it.
OTOH, if the idea of doing the job sounds like a lot of work, then you may be better off farming the job out and spending your valuable time doing something else that you do enjoy.
Money is only money. You can get some more. We only get about 27k days to live. Why waste ANY of them doing something you really don't like? You can't get your time back.
--
-Fred W

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It is a relatively simple job and easily done as long as you have a helper to line things up when putting it back together.
When I did mine, I removed the struts and took them to a shop that did struts. They changed the inserts for $15 each which was worth it to me not to have to frig around with a spring compressor in my garage.
I have seen it done without a spring compressor by using the weight of the car and hydraulic jacks. The guy jacked up the front of the car, put the frame on blocks and removed the wheel, compressed the strut with a hydraulic jack, removed the nut on the insert, then the nuts on the strut hat then lowered the jack. The strut swung out so that he could remove and replace the insert.
Reversed the procedure to put it back together.
The next time I need to do this, I am going to do it this way. Note that I may have missed a few things that needed removal (I think he removed the caliper to keep it out of the way) so proceed with caution if you try this and you will still need a helper to hold things in line when jacking.
Bentley manual outlines the normal procedure.
Cheers, Bob
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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Did this recently on an E36. I don't have a spring compressor and I made the silly mistake of telling my girlfriend how dangerous they can be. So I was promptly banned from buying one!
I handed the new struts to a local mechanic, assembled but needing to be compressed and tightened. He charged me 10 quid for the pair :-) Chaeper and safer than buying a compressor.
--
Who needs a life when you've got Unix? :-)
Email: snipped-for-privacy@unixnerd.demon.co.uk, John G.Burns B.Eng, Bonny Scotland
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Don't think decent quality screw thread ones are dangerous - if you use your common sense. I'd be very wary of unbranded ones, though. The actual pressure on them isn't that great - no more than a jack, for example. It's the *stored* energy that is the problem if they break.
--
*Red meat is not bad for you. Fuzzy green meat is bad for you.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Thanks all. I find automotive work to be theraputic by the way.
I read the Bently manual again last night and just had a few more questions. The manual describes some special tool for removing the nut at the top of the shaft, after the spring is compressed. Some tool that threads on the end of the shaft and I assume keeps the shaft from turning. I assume I can improvise by gripping the shaft with some pliers. Any comments on this special tool?
Also, the picture of the locking collar which retains the insert shows it as a disk with holes in its face, somewhat like a drilled roter. While you could probaly grip the perimeter with channel locks and unscrew it, I wouldn't want to damage it. Do you just hook an allen wrench thru one of the holes and twist it out or is there some other trick?
Just a few more FYIs, while I haven't seen my friend's spring compressor, knowing him it is a good quality one, and if it isn't I will buy or rent one since I am safety concious. Also there doesn't seem to be any wear on the steering components. When I first noticed the bad handling I had my wife ease the steering wheel back and forth maybe half an inch or so each way, while the car was parked and running in the driveway. Both front wheels pivoted slightly in each direction so there didn't seem to be any slop.
Christopher
Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

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I used a Stilson wrench - one was seized solid on my E28 and needed heat to free it. Don't worry about damaging them - new ones come with the inserts.
--
*If at first you don't succeed, redefine success.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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On 11 Nov 2006 10:45:55 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

USE IT - Gripping the shaft with water pump pliers or "mole" grips will damage the surface and will cause the plating to rust and then drop onto the seal or if done too low the markings will damage the oil seal and cause leaks and make the strut US in about 2 mins.

Expect so but if this is your FIRST don't piss about.

I hope this spring compressor is plural like a pair or a 3 piece set. However I have got by in the long past by using some heavy duty steel rod 1/8" bent and hooked after getting 3 heavy mates to sit on the hood first but I DO NOT advocate this.

Sir Hugh of Bognor
The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. Intelligence is not knowing the answer but knowing where and how to find it!
Hugh Gundersen snipped-for-privacy@h-gee.co.uk Bognor Regis, W.Sussex, England, UK
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snipped-for-privacy@h-gee.co.uk wrote:

Who cares? He's going to be replacing the strut cartridges anyway. I assume we are talking about the removal of the failed one here.
The new ones will come with new Nylock nuts. There is usually either some flats ground or a hex hole (for an allen wrench) in the end of the shaft that will suffice for the re-installation.
--
-Fred W

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

It's not too tough. Last one I did was a VW Beetle. I did the fronts, wife did the rear. First time for her. No big problem.
Just treat the compressed spring with great respect. It can literally kill you if it comes loose from the compressor. Just keep an eye on the hooks and coils as you load the compressor. Do not pull the nut off until you are satisfied that the compressor has engaged the spring correctly and cannot slip. this does not require a mechanical genius, just attention.
You can usually free the upper nut with a air wrench. If you have to grip the shaft to keep it from turning, it's OK on the old one, but not on the new one.
Take a look at the upper mounts, just under the nut. This is a bearing and it does go bad. If there is any play or other deterioration, get new ones. Note that they may be hard to find on a weekend.
Good luck!
Rex
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Rex B is correct. Blast the top nut off and on with an impact wrench. Takes seconds. Use channellocks on the retainer that holds the insert into the tube. Be careful with the spring under tension! I would strongly recommend using a safe, brank name compressor *that fits* to compress the spring as they are DANGEROUS! Biff B
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Rex B wrote:

Screw taking a look at 'em! They're like $20 each. Replace em! -- C.R. Krieger (Been there; done that)
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