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Cutting coils

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Gromit, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726


    I have heard about it, but never done it or seen it. I have bnever really felt it was a good idea, but I'm looking at the Fairlane and thinkng it needs a good rake. Access to the back for shackles is tough, but cutting a coil on the front seems like a better idea.

    Any thoughts on this? I know it's not going to be the best ride everm but....
  2. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726


    alternatively.. Heating coils? Heard of it, never seen it
  3. Da Tinman
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,227

    Da Tinman

    just cut em, been doing it for years. You more than likely wont notice any ride change.

    heating them is a bad idea.
  4. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 6,077

    scrap metal 48

    Don't heat, cut coils with a cut-off wheel.. Spring needs to be removed to do this and make sure you run a chain through the spring and A-arm before removal.. Consult a "Shop Manual" before starting.....

    Joined: Aug 7, 2009
    Posts: 2,069


    My theory, cut a coil makes it stiffer/better
  6. tlmartin84
    Joined: Jul 28, 2011
    Posts: 963

    from WV

    I have noticed a lot of these springs flatten out up top and set in a cup/mold. What do you do for this....

    Like at the fatory the end coils were flattened and pushed together..
  7. BashingTin
    Joined: Feb 15, 2010
    Posts: 270


    To expand on scrap_metal_48, PLEASE be careful removing those springs. You can rent spring compressors to help aid in removal too, and it makes the job a lot safer.
  8. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726


    Interesting.. Cut off wheel then.. I was planning on torch, but I guess the heat would mess with the spring. Glad I asked. I have all the right tools for pulling springs, but yes, a safety chain is a good idea. Now I suppose it varies by car, but I was thinking one coil to start. SOuld right? Just looking to drop a little, I
    m also comsidering a set of cragars with a slightly lower aspect ratio, as current tires are nearly full aspect.
  9. Stukka
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 64

    from SoCal

    From book by Herb Adams. Have used this method, works fine.

    Attached Files:

  10. tlmartin84
    Joined: Jul 28, 2011
    Posts: 963

    from WV

    Hmmm, may have to try that, only thing I would do is grind down the egde of the spring to make it nice and flat like the stock one...

    And cram it in a bucket of sand for cooling.
  11. Torchie
    Joined: Apr 17, 2011
    Posts: 1,091


    I have been using a torch to cut coil springs for years and never had any problems.
    Then I joined the HAMB and found out that me and a thousand other guys have been doing it wrong all along.
    Same with heating them. I guess Gene Winfields been doing it the wrong way as well so I feel like I am in good company
  12. Gromit
    Joined: Oct 13, 2011
    Posts: 726


    Just got in there... springs are broken on the ends lol! Better compare coil numbers and make the same.
  13. rseay
    Joined: Jun 21, 2012
    Posts: 3


    spring steel is special heat treatable steel and heat messes it up. Cut with cut off wheel at the end that is not flattened. Just measure down the amount of lowering you want and cut away. Try one coil at a time, as removing coils changes spring rate and makes ride a little stiffer. You might be able to find coils out of another car with shorter height and same number of coils that would not screw with spring rate.
  14. hutchman
    Joined: Jun 14, 2012
    Posts: 22


    Back in the day, I too used a torch to cut coils. Then one day my wife comes in the house after work and tells me there is something wrong with her car. I went outside and had to laugh......the right front coil had collapsed and the car really did look funny. I ordered and new set of springs and have used a cutoff wheel ever since.

    Of course we al have different experiences.......
  15. You CAN cut with a torch or even lower them by heating them, but the key is to know when to stop and what to expect for settling. By far the easiest way to cut them is by cut off wheel, then there's now need to worry. My first coils I put into a bucket of water while I was cutting them with a cut off wheel, found out you really don't need to do that.
  16. 2drmerc
    Joined: Jul 17, 2010
    Posts: 15


    If the spring has a flat top to it iv added a pic of some springs iv done,
    iv always done them this way and iv never had any problems with them snaping.


    the way i do them is to cut with a gas axe, then heat the spring to the point that they are very hot and glowing for just over a full revolution, then while it is still glowing flip the spring and push down so the spring has the desired flat top.

    DO NOT QUENCH leave it to cool down on its own, or you will make it brittle

    when its cool run a grinder over the top to finish the flat toping process,
    i would recomend trying it out on a scrap spring to make sure that you are happy doing it this way.
    also remember that when removing more than 2 full coils you will notice the suspention will stiffen slightly....

    the springs in the photo are off a volvo amazon that i lowerd about 4"
    i hope this helps
    Joined: Sep 16, 2010
    Posts: 612


    thanks for this. going to try it out.

  18. Done both, heating is a bad idea. Cutting coils is a good idea if done in moderation. Once you go past a coil (or maybe two on some cars) your ride quality goes to crap. I very seldom cut very much more than one coil off of them.
  19. VooDoo Child 56
    Joined: Mar 5, 2010
    Posts: 49

    VooDoo Child 56
    from Jersey

    I did it with a torch but put the spring in a bucket of water like 1oldtimer, the only thing out of the water was what was being cut off, inproved the handling of my 69 Pontiac.
  20. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,333


    I use a porta band saw
  21. there are 3 types of coil springs.

    pigtail (small at ends, uncoil to wider dimensions in middle spring, then back to small )

    square (set it down, it wont fall over, ends are "squared" to fit the perch/pockets)

    tangential (spring coil just abruptly stops , not bent or shaven at its end)

    the tangential spring is the only (theoretically) safe bet when cutting coils. remember though, when you shorten the coil, you reduce the amount of give, so it will stiffen up accordingly.

  22. 60galaxieJJ
    Joined: Dec 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,525


    heating them is a bad idea because they can become un even, one can end up being stiffer, and it can also weaken them
  23. ed_v
    Joined: Jun 2, 2008
    Posts: 242

    from Kentucky

    I never had one myself, but I use to build mini trucks back in the late '80' and early '90's. I always preferred cutting the coils over heating them. With heating them, it seemed like the two sides never quite balanced right and the cut coil always had a better ride. Of course none of the rides were ever very good. The frames were usually to the ground!

  24. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    from Texas

    Always remember you are dealing with a spring on an old car that is old too. Most likely it has settled and just plain worn out over 3-4-5-6 decades. So what you have is a spring that doesn't have much "spring" left in it and sits way lower than the stock car did new.
    There are many springs out there that can be replaced by later springs with similar spring wire size, spring rate and coil diameter and may be the same height as stock (surprisinging, I have found worn out stock springs do not lose free height and are almost always the same height as brand new springs) or even an inch or two or three shorter(get this?). The Moog Coil Spring catalog on the net or in your local auto parts store shelf is a very handy tool for dropping cars without losing the stock ride and handling. These new springs are much cheaper than aftermarket "dropped" springs. Note the various posts here about the Ford mini-van springs fitting the 52-56(?) Fords and lowering them as well.
  25. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,415

    Dan Timberlake

    I believe there's heat, and then there's HEAT.

    "How to make your car handle" by Fred Puhn describes a method of shortening a coil spring without making it stiffer (which cutting coils does). Basically he squishes it an unspecified amount with spring compressor then puts the assembly in a 400F oven "for a few minutes", takes it out, lets it cool, and sees how short it got.

    400F is in the range of tempering temperatures used on steels that will end up around Rockwell 60, like ball bearing components, so it causes a tiny amount of stress relief (which is probably why the spring gets shorter) and barely any "softening."

    Fred Puhn's credentials are he was a sports car driver and designer of some success in the 60s and 70s. (He finished 4th at the SCCA run offs in 1970 driving one of his Quasar race cars -
    His handling book is criticized by some (mostly by owners of late model rice cars far more highly developed right from the factory and with more aftermarket support than anything available in the 70s), but I think most of the principals are sound, and it has a "do it yourself with what you've got " flavor that was a necessity then and I think still desireable now.
  26. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 9,155


    Use a 1mm cut off blade and glasses if cutting a coil. Measure twice, cut once. Unless a progressive spring it won't impact on ride quality and only 1 full coil. Any more than that and it's going backwards. Heating and/or cutting affects the tempering and sooner or later they will fail. Don't quench in water. I've used old sway bars and made body spoons to access hard to get to areas. Use old engine oil to quench.
  27. Mooseman
    Joined: Apr 4, 2007
    Posts: 309


    Silly question but if you cut the spring whats to stop the spring falling out of the seats should you oneday need to jack the car up and take the weight off the front end as now your uncompressed spring length is shorter but your mounts are still in the same place. I only ask because I have never seen it personally on old cars but have seen it on modern strut cars and you get them up on a hoist and the cut springs just flop around in the strut.

    I tend to over think stuff am I over thinking this.
  28. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,415

    Dan Timberlake

    Hi Mooseman,
    It's possible that the spring can become loose at full rebound, but most passenger car springs have a pretty long free length to achieve reasonably low spring rate and still hold up the car. So, full droop/rebound is limited by either the shock or more likely rubber stops between the upper control arm and the frame long before the spring unloads.

    I've had such problems compressing strut springs to be short enough on the 4 or 5 cars I've done I'm thinking I'd have to cut multiple coils to have it unload. Is it possible they were stiff, lowered aftermarket springs, not cut stockers?
    Joined: Jan 28, 2008
    Posts: 519


    What is the rule of thumb! One coil is 1 inch or 2 drop. Want to drop car about 4 inches in front.
  30. TULSA
    Joined: Sep 27, 2008
    Posts: 659

    from Tulsa

    I Just cut my 51 Poncho springs. The car sat higher than stock due to SBC rather than stock straight 8 anchor. I took 3 coils off... here is the result.

    I started with 2 coils and it looked good but not right. For a simular vehicle with stock stance, I would recommend 2 coils, if not enough redo.

    Attached Files:

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