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Old 05-12-2009, 07:54 PM   #1
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Talking Spring swap and hose mod (pics)

What is this "hose mod"?:
The hose mod simply consists of slipping rubber tubing over the top coil of your rear springs, allowing you to ditch the large rubber isolator that comes on the car from the factory. It normally provides a very small drop in rear ride height.

Spring swap?:
Cutting springs was not an option, and 1LE springs are near-impossible to find. I went with LT1 springs which I thought had the highest spring rate for all OEM 4th gen F-body springs, aside from 1LE springs. Unfortunately this was not the case, as they were very soft. OEM springs are not only cheaper than aftermarket springs, they are also a taller ride height than any aftermarket springs available. Moog Cargo Control rear springs are even softer than stock V6 springs, so that was not an option. I have since switched to Hyperco Hypercoil rear springs using the same isolator combo as described below.

Why?:

I have a '99 V6 which has some pretty soft springs. My goal is to retain a reasonable ride height yet maximize cornering abilities.

The car:
1999 Pontiac Firebird. Full tank of gas, no rear seats.

The springs:
1996 LT1 Z28, 78k miles, with isolators: free

The hose:
GoodYear 1/2" heater hose: $3

The setup:
  • Drivers side has LT1 rear spring, 1/2" heater hose around top coil
  • Passenger side has LT1 rear spring, LT1 factory isolator.
I initially did the hose mod to both sides, but the normal F-body "gangster lean" caused the passenger side to be extremely low - so much that it looked bad. So, I de-hose-modded that side and put the factory LT1 isolator on it.

The pics:
My car is dirty as hell. My parents and I just moved my dads business and our residence in town to the desert house, so we are still sorting stuff out.





The LT1 springs and rear isolators are different heights than my '99 springs and isolators. The LT1 springs are not only shorter than my '99 V6 springs, the isolators are also shorter! Don't believe me? Look at these pics:

Above: The LT1 spring/isolator combo is on left, '99 V6 is on right. When sitting in the isolators, the V6 spring is still a taller spring when uncompressed.
Below: a closeup of the isolators. '99 V6 isolator is on left, LT1 is on right. Huge height difference. Could probably lower the car a bit just by switching isolators!


P.S. the Firehawk wheels are in storage. Don't want to put too many miles on my rear NT555R's.
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:26 PM   #2
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Wow, after comparing that to your sig picture, you can really tell a difference. How hard was the install? This may be something I do if I can find those springs.
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:38 PM   #3
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cincybird98 View Post
Wow, after comparing that to your sig picture, you can really tell a difference. How hard was the install? This may be something I do if I can find those springs.
It's not incredibly mentally challenging. Just time-consuming and if you don't remove the endlinks, a bitch. I'll write the following directions assuming you already have a new set of springs on the side.

Prep:
  1. Grab one of the new springs and a length of 1/2" heater hose. 1ft should be enough.
  2. Spray WD-40 inside the length of hose, or put some light grease onto the top coil of the spring
  3. Slide the hose over the top spring coil until you complete the circle.
  4. Cut hose if there is excess
  5. Secure hose with zip ties if it feels loose

How to:
  1. Jack up car high in the rear. You're going to be dropping the rear axle and pretty much letting it rest on the swaybar endlinks.
  2. Once the car is jacked up in the rear and properly secured on jack stands and wheel chocks up front, move the jack to the lift point under the differential pumpkin - NOT THE COVER. Raise the jack until the pumpkin is resting on the jack and not the swaybar endlinks, and the shock absorber bottoms are level.
  3. Pull the e-brake and remove both rear wheels (I had to to remove the tall V6 springs).
  4. Go to your jack which should still be under the differential, and jack it up slowly while looking at the bottom mounts of the shock absorbers. You don't want the shocks to compress but you do want the nut/bolt to be level with the bottom of the shock absorber when fully uncompressed. Just make sure the center point of the bottom of the shock absorber matches level with the nut holding it to the axle.
  5. Unbolt large nuts holding the bottoms of the shock absorbers to the axle, and push shock absorber bolt out using the butt of a hammer or your wrench. Turn the bolts so that they are facing towards the pumpkin so that they do not snag on the LCAs or the shock mounts when you go to raise/lower the axle.
  6. Lower the jack pretty much all the way until the axle is being held up only by the endlinks. You should be able to pull out your old springs now. Do not crush the hard brake line while attempting to remove spring! Installation is reverse of removal. I used one hose-modded LT1 spring on the driver side and the factory LT1 spring and isolator on the passenger side (no hose-mod). If you can't remove the springs now, then you will have to follow step 7.
  7. Disconnect the endlinks. I believe this requires a 13mm wrench to hold the top nut, and a 13mm socket/wrench down below. Turn the bottom while holding the top in one place. If you have air tools, this is especially the place to use them.
  8. Insert the springs (you will probably have to get creative) and make sure they are centered on the upper spring seat. Insert the passenger side spring and center it as you jack the rear end up, and make sure the drivers side spring is centered too.
  9. Jack the rear end high enough to bolt one shock absorber back in (tighten it snug!) and then lower/raise the rear end enough to bolt the other one back in.
  10. Lower the car onto the ground, open the door, step on the sill, and shake the car up and down like you are jumping. This helps settle the springs faster than normal and lets you see what the ride height will be. Repeat for the opposite side.
  11. If you need to raise/lower one side of the vehicle, I have read that you can adjust the height a tiny amount by rotating the coils (if they are GM springs).
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:22 PM   #5
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Hey Zex, I just got some 1LE springs from an 02 Ws6 today and Im considering putting them in soon. I was wondering where you got your goodyear hose from?
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cincybird98 View Post
Hey Zex, I just got some 1LE springs from an 02 Ws6 today and Im considering putting them in soon. I was wondering where you got your goodyear hose from?
Damn you found a 1LE car? 1LE's can be WS6's but not all WS6's are 1LE's, just FYI... So being a WS6 car doesn't mean it comes with 1LE springs. It will still be better than stock V6 though.

Check Autozone/Advanced/Oreilley or whatever auto parts stores you have in your area.
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:37 PM   #7
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Well I got them online and I was told they were from a ws6 with the 1LE package and 38k on it. Is there any way to tell if there 1LE by the springs themselves? Thanks for the info too, I will get some pics up of it when Im done.
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