Oh, the puns just write themselves! I mean, this truck spent most of the last 40 years in a fire department, why would they ever bother with replacing the shocks? Would they have been replaced in the truck’s first 10 years? Maybe... but even then, that puts them over 40, closer to 50. And in my first year... okay three years of ownership, my focus was on reliability and safety, not comfort. Sure, I greased everything under the truck but I also ignored the appearance of even the easy-target suspension parts.
Anyway, check these bad boys out.
Pictured above with my favorite persuasion tool. Along with the hacksaw just in the corner of the frame, I used - of all things - a cordless Dremel with a cutoff wheel to cut the bottom nuts. It was easier than using a hacksaw due to their placement, and yes, amazingly, it worked great! Why not an angle grinder? Something about heating up compressed gas cylinders right next to my face, and it just wasn’t that bad with the Dremel and hacksaw. While it generated SOME heat, I just don’t think it’s powerful enough to cause any trouble.
They DO have some damping action left in them, amazingly, but they also will just compress and stay like that, and with very little effort too. Compared with the new ones, it’s night and day. I was briefly tempted to paint them the same color as the truck, or else just black.
The mounting holes are quite a bit larger than the diameter of the rod at each end. I’m not sure if that’s by design, or by years of the old ones rattling around and making those holes larger - there’s quite a bit of wear on the shaft of the old shock:
But in any case, the rubber bushings had a little protrusion that fit into that space a bit, and after tightening top and bottom some, it doesn’t seem to move. I feel like it could move, though, under normal driving conditions on a bumpy road, even if I can’t move it with my hands in the driveway (I can’t exert 1/100th the force of a good pothole).
So should I have those holes filled, or have an extra little plate welded in place, then drill that out to the right size? Or, is that space okay because the rubber bushings fill it in, some unknown amount?
In any case, I only had time to tackle the fronts, as both top and bottom nuts had to be cut off for removal. The rear has me a bit worried because the shaft that supports the shock on each end is not really removable - it stays with the truck. If I can’t get the nuts off or if I break them, it’ll be a trip to my friend’s house for some welding. Which takes this from an hour by myself to several hours and coordinating with a friend. Right now they’re soaking in PB Blaster after a nice wire brush treatment. They look... like trouble.
At least this can all be done with the wheels on and without even so much as a jack. I find that comical, and wonderful. To access the rears, I crawl underneath and then sit criss-cross applesauce (ask my kids) behind the rear axle, there’s plenty of room to sit up, almost straight. I can then kneel and lean over the axle to reach the top mounts. Let’s hope they come off easy!
I can’t wait to feel the difference on the road. I don’t expect Cadillac Eldorado comfort, but at least it should be quieter and a bit softer on the bumps. Stay tuned for another - shocking - installment. (see what I did there - installment?)
I’ll shut the door behind me.
[update!] The nuts holding on the rear shocks came off... pretty easily! I needed my picklefork (ball joint separator) to get the shocks off the studs, but hey, there’s nothing like the right tool for the job - it worked perfectly! All four new shocks are in place, and now I probably won’t get to drive it until Friday. Woooo!
I didn’t take any pictures because my hands were covered in a thin layer of rust and PB blaster, so I didn’t want to touch my phone. Hence updating this post rather than writing a new one with no pictures to keep you all entertained.