Join Date: Oct 1998
Location: Redmond, WA USA
Having just changed the springs on my '67, I'll tell you what I know. My previous front springs were stock with one coil cut out. It sat rather low, but looked good. The rear end sat way low and I could only get the rake I wanted by using air shocks.
I installed Hotchkis springs (PN 1901). The Hotchkis front springs are shorter but heavier gauge than the ones I had. The same goes for the rear. after installing, the front was up about one inch higher than before, but the back was not up high enough for my taste. The car does sit level, but I like a little more rake than this. Hotchkis rates their rear springs at 135 lbs/inch. I guess something like 150 lbs/inch would give me the rake I want, but I'm just going to install air bags to correct this.
'66 and earlier Chevelles use a different rear spring (Hotchkis PN 1900) than '67 and later. The earlier rear springs are tapered (pigtailed) on one end only while the later ones are tapered on both ends.
Installation of the rears was a breeze. Do one side at a time. Support the side of the rea end with a jack and disconnect the shock at the lower mount. My lower mount was at a bit of an angle and required the a little persuasion to get it out. Lower that side of the rear until the spring is loose. Watch that you don't stretch the brake line going to the rear end. You might need to wiggle the spring a little to get it off the lower seat. Take the upper rubber isolator (if it has one) off of the old spring and install it on the new one. Replace the isolator if necessary. Slip the new spring in and jack up the rear end while watching the spring alignment until you can reconnect the shock. Repeat for the other side. This is a good time to change the rear shocks if you want to.
The fronts are tougher. Check with your local parts stores and find one that will rent you a coil spring compressor. Only rent an internal compressor, the external ones are worthless. Remove the wheel and the shock. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack and remove the cotter pin from the lower ball joint. Loosen the ball joint nut so that it remains fully engaged on the stud. Lower the jack and separate the lower ball joint. I was rebuilding my front end, so I was able to use a pickle fork to do this. If you don't want to replace your lower ball joints, you shouldn't use a pickle fork ause you will probably trash the ball joint. At a minimum, you will trash the grease boot. The manual says you can tap on the spindle with a hammer where it mates with the ball joint stud, but I didn't have any luck with this. When they separate, the ball joint nut will keep everything from flying apart. Once you have the stud separated from the spindle, insert the spring compressor through the shock hole in the lower A arm. When you see the compressor, you will know how it works. Compress the spring and then support the lower A arm with the jack again. Remove the ball joint nut and then *slowly* lower the A arm. If something doesn't seem right, stop the jack an double check everything. The spring can turn into a missile if it not properly compressed. Once the lower A arm is hanging free, you should be able to pull the spring out without any problems.
Because the new spring was shorter than the ole one, I didn't have to compress the new spring to install it. With the lower A Arm down, slip the spring into the upper seat and lift the lower A arm until the spring is seated in the lower A arm. My A arm had a palce for the end of the coil to go, so I lined this up and started lifting the lower A arm with the jack. Check the alignment of the spring in the upper and lower seats as you raise the lower A arm until you can reengage the lower ball joint stud. You might need to lift everything (the lower and upper A arm) up to get the stud and spindle to line up. Replace the nut on the stud and tighten to spec. If needed, tighten more until the hole and the castellation on the nut line up and insert a new cotter pin (cheap insurance). Lower the jack and replace the shock and the wheel and you are all set.
Have fun with this. It's messy but the results are enjoyable. E-mail me if you have any questions.
[This message has been edited by Strohm (edited 03-24-99).]