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Old 10-20-2003, 04:07 AM   #1
Patrick Olsen
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Default The Koni insert / Ground Controls install has begun (long)

Spent quite a few hours this weekend working on the new suspension. I was actually hoping to get this all done this weekend, but doing this "right" entailed a bit more than I expected. I've been taking some pics with my new digital camera, but I'm on not on the right computer to upload stuff, so the pics will come later.

First, the basics. I'm installing Koni inserts into a set of '97 2.5GT struts. Along with that I’ll be putting on some Ground Control coil-over sleeves with 325# springs up front and 280# springs in the rear – 100# higher than my DMS Golds were at both ends of the car. The setup will be complemented by a set of Noltec caster/camber plates in front, some Sti top mounts in the rear, plus my already-installed Whiteline swaybars front and rear and comfort-bushed ALK.

I had to contact Koni to figure out the right fitment, as their catalog is (not too surprisingly) based on UK/JDM model years and model designations. With some emails bounced back-and-forth with Koni, and an email to Subaru of America, I figured out that what I needed was 8610-1318 for the front and 8610-1317 for the rear. The Koni online catalog only shows a rear application for the '96-98 model years, so I had to email SoA to confirm that my '97 front struts were made by Showa, and sure enough they are, which meant that the 8610-1318 shown for earlier years will work for me. The rears are clearly stamped "KYB", but the fronts don't say Showa on them anywhere - they say "SUNBURY", which I guess is a factory location or something like that, I dunno.

Last week I acquired a spare set of '97 2.5GT struts, so I've been able to butcher them without worrying about my car being out of action. Step one is to drill a small hole (3mm per the instructions, I used a 1/8") in the bottom of the strut housing to drain out the original fluid. I was a bit worried about how much pressure might be in the housings, and what kind of mess I was going to create in doing this. Well, with the fronts I learned my fears were unfounded - drilled the holes, pumped the fluid out (by cycling the strut by hand), good to go. The rears were another story. With the longer housing and strut rod, I had to compress the strut to get it into the vice I was using. I drilled the first one, and as soon as the housing was breached pfffffftttt this spray of oil comes out! Pressurized oil spray + small hole + spinning drill bit inside of hole = mess. Fortunately I was wearing safety goggles while drilling, but I still got a bit on my face and head. So, for the 2nd rear strut I figured, "Ahhhh, compressing the strut to fit in the vice is a bad idea!" so I rearranged how I put it in the vice so that the strut was fully extended. Yeah, uhhhh, that didn't help, and I got sprayed again. Oh well, live and learn....

Once the fluid was drained/pumped out of the four struts, it was time to cut the tops of the strut housings off so that the stock innards could be removed. The Koni instructions show how far down the strut body you're supposed to cut, and the dimensions are based on the location of nubs on the sides of the Koni inserts up towards the tops. Those nubs are what locate the inserts tightly inside the factory housing, so you have to be sure you don't cut off too much of the housing or the nubs won't be inside the housing and hence the insert would be free to wobble around. Make sense? I measured the nub locations (which are different on the front and rear struts), subtracted the 7mm the Koni instructions specify, and came up with 1.47" for the fronts and 1.72" for the rears (or something like that). I ended up deciding to just cut them both to 1.5", and then if I needed to I could take more off the rears.

I already had one of those chain type pipe cutters, so I figured I'd use that. Well, that gave me mixed results. On the rear struts, the cutting point was in thinner metal, with a wall thickness of 1/16" thick or so - a little thicker than your typical exhaust tubing. The cutter didn't have any problem with that. Once I had made the cuts I could see that just below where I had cut the metal thickened up a bit, which would have made it more difficult to get through. Turns out, on the fronts I had to cut through that thicker metal. The first one I went most of the way through with the chain type pipe cutter, but the little cutting wheels were starting to bottom out and it couldn’t quite finish the job. So, I finished that one off with my Dremel. I decided to skip the pipe cutter for the second one, and instead went with a hacksaw (which is actually what Koni’s instructions show). It actually wasn’t too bad using the hacksaw.

OK, pulled out the stock innards, time to move on to the next step. The instructions say to enlarge the holes in the bottom of the strut housings to 14mm. Again, no metric drill bits to play with, so I went with a ˝” (12.7mm) and figured I could enlarge that as necessary. My drill was being a real PITA at this point, kept slipping on the bits no matter how hard I tightened down on the chuck. I’m thinkin’ the spray of strut oil straight up the 1/8” bit into the chuck probably didn’t do much for its ability to grip. Eventually, though, I managed to get all four drilled out. Turns out (from what I can see thus far – haven’t finished the install yet) that 12.7mm is plenty big as long as you are careful about getting the hole right in the center of the bottom of the housing. I had to Dremel two of them a little bit, but the other two were fine as is – I would guess the bolt that holds the inserts in is only 12mm, so the 14mm the instructions specify is probably just to give you a little wiggle room to account for drilling slightly off-center.

At this point I could have installed the inserts into the housings, but I decided to do a couple other things. First, since this is a spare set of strut housings, I can safely cut off the spring perches since I won’t ever be putting stock springs on these. That’s what I spent time doing today. Even using an air grinder and cut-off wheel it took me quite a whle, probably 15-20min for each strut. I guess it makes sense, though – those perches are holding the weight of the car, so they gotta be pretty beefy. I left about a ˝” lip – basically, the horizontal part of the perch right up against the housing – for the GC sleeves to rest on.

Once that was done it was painting time. The housings were already in pretty good shape, but the bare metal exposed with the various cuts needed to be covered up, and spray paint is cheap so I figured I’d paint the things completely. Off to Lowe’s I went to pick up some paint and a couple other things (to be discussed later). I debated a variety of colors as I stood in the aisle of spray paint – red to match the GC/Eibach springs, silver to match the car, fluorescent whatever just to be crazy, or – even more crazy – metallic gold or chrome for the ultimate in bling bling suspension. It coulda been sweet, but I decided to stay conventional and just went with some flat black Professional Grade Rustoleum. During commercial breaks while watching Rally France coverage on Speed I sprayed the housings down so they’re all purty again.

So, at this point I’m basically ready to put everything together, but I need to get some 4x4 style shock boots to protect the Konis, and the one 4x4 shop I knew of out here was closed today, and they’re closed Monday too, the bastards. Once I have the boots I’ll be ready to put everything together. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish everything after work this week, get the suspension installed, and get an alignment. I’ve got an auto-x coming up next Sunday, and I’d really like to have everything done by then, but we’ll see.

There will be further updates, including my pictures, as the week progresses.

Pat Olsen
'97 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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Old 10-20-2003, 09:31 AM   #2
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Pat it sounds like its going well. Based on those numbers it seems like you may have the car setup to kill on auto-x but I'm not sure your kidneys are gonna love you on the street. But no pain no gain.

On a side note how did you like your DMS coilovers? How did you go about setting them up? Pre-load, ride height, then damping?

ss
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Old 10-21-2003, 12:56 AM   #3
Patrick Olsen
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I'm sure the new ride will be an eye-opener, but that's OK. It should definitely kick ass auto-xing - on the stock struts and springs I was very, very competitive, so with this setup I should pretty much lay the smack down.

You can search the Suspension Forum for my name and DMS and find plenty of feedback. Their ride was marginal due to incessant bouncing, and the reliability/durability was unsat. As for setup, I put them about 1" lower than stock and then fiddled with the damping, I never had them on the car long enough to bother with corner weighting.

Pat
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Old 10-21-2003, 08:58 AM   #4
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Pat- good to hear things are coming together. I'd heard that doing the Koni inserts was fairly labor intensive- this pretty much confirms that.

It does sound like you'll have quite the nice setup when it's all done.

Can't wait to see the pics!

-Brian
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Old 10-21-2003, 12:02 PM   #5
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very cool. Sounds exhausting! can't wait to see pics so I can get the visual gist of what's going on here.

p.s. you should have gone with the bling: neon pink. ha!
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Old 10-21-2003, 05:55 PM   #6
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nice!

I can't wait to hear some ride reviews... even though my GT would be using the Whitelines (much lower spring rate) I am interested in what you think of the Koni's

-Chad
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Old 10-23-2003, 03:51 PM   #7
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I am using a similar setup on my SVX.

Koni Yellow inserts, Ground Control collar, and GC supplied Eibach linear race springs.

I'm running 380lb springs in front, 350 in rear. I have to turn the rebound damping all the way up to handle the spring properly, but it kicks ass in the corners and rides smooth on the commute. I can't say enough good things about it. On track it proved to be almost completely neutral.

-Porter

P.S. - GET GROUP N STRUT TOPS! I destroyed my stock mounts with crazy cornering loads and I'm now having to engineer new ones.
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Old 10-25-2003, 10:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Porter
I am using a similar setup on my SVX.

Koni Yellow inserts, Ground Control collar, and GC supplied Eibach linear race springs.

I'm running 380lb springs in front, 350 in rear. I have to turn the rebound damping all the way up to handle the spring properly, but it kicks ass in the corners and rides smooth on the commute. I can't say enough good things about it. On track it proved to be almost completely neutral.

-Porter

P.S. - GET GROUP N STRUT TOPS! I destroyed my stock mounts with crazy cornering loads and I'm now having to engineer new ones.
Wow Porter those are some mad rates. And the ride is still ok? What do the diferences in the color of the inserts mean?

ss
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Old 10-25-2003, 02:48 PM   #9
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Well, my ability to hose things up strikes again! When I ordered the GC stuff, Tony at GC told me to make sure I installed the GC sleeves before installing the Koni inserts, because the inserts have a lip at the top that is too big for the GC sleeves to fit over.

When I had all the parts on hand, I pulled out one of the sleeves and one of the inserts (a front one, it turns out) and the sleeve easily fit over the lip on the insert. Huh, maybe the Impreza ones are slightly different?

Last night I actually started putting the inserts into the strut housings, starting with one of the rear ones. First one went in just fine, and I started to work on another one. At that point I noticed, Hmmmm, that rear insert seems to have a bigger lip on it than the front insert... Sure enough, the GC sleeve won't feet over it. Dammit!! So, my first thought was to try to knock the insert back out (the inserts have nubs that are an interference fit in the housing, so they're in there pretty damn tight). I didn't make much progress, since I don't have a vice to hold the housing in, but I did manage to mess up the threads that the bolt goes into on the bottom of the housing. Double Dammit!!

I also figured out that the rear sleeves are just a little bit too tall, and will interfere with that lip on the inserts, so I'm going to cut off about 1/8" on the sleeves to make som more room. Fun, fun, fun!!

Edit: Upon further investigation, there actually is enough room, so I don't have to shorten the rear GC sleeves. I don't have any pictures of that yet, but will eventually. Next reply has some pics, with more to follow...

Pat

Last edited by Patrick Olsen; 10-26-2003 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 10-26-2003, 01:51 AM   #10
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OK, picture time!! Install still isn't done, haven't had any time during the week to work on it, and even today I just didn't get much accomplished.

Anyway, here are the struts:

Fronts (made by Showa, marked "SUNBURY"):


Rears (made by KYB and stamped as such, but smaller):


Chop the tops off...


...pull out the guts...


...and voila!, an empty stock strut housing...

You can kind of see in that picture that just below where I cut the inner wall of the housing is beveled, so it gets thicker just below where I cut. Lucky cut on my part. With the fronts I wasn't so lucky.

You can also see the strut fluid in the pan in the background. Strangely enough, each strut seemed to have fluid in a different condition. The first one I did was really pretty clean, but one or two of the other ones had really dirty, crappy-looking fluid.

With the guts removed I cut off the spring perches and slapped on the black Rustoleum:

You can tell I'm a car guy by my choice of paper weights to hold the newspaper down.

I put duct tape around the housing to keep the GC sleeves nice and tight. The sleeves come with little O-rings, but the feedback I got on the Suspension forum is that the duct tape works way better since it supports the sleeves over a larger area.


Note in that picture the edge of the upper lip of the insert is all shiny - that's a result of my grinding it down so the sleeve will fit over it. Took 5 or 10 minutes with a cut-off wheel on an air grinder.

I went ahead and installed the sleeves on the two front struts today. Cosworth (over on the Suspension forum) advised me to use polyurethane sealant to keep things water tight. Thus far I've put a bead of sealant around the top of the housing to seal the gap between the housing and insert (visible on the right edge of the picture below), and then at the bottom of the sleeves to try to keep the tape dry for as long as possible. Here's a shot of what I did to put the sealant on the front sleeves:

I put the bead on about 1/2" above where the bottom of the sleeve will end up, then slid the sleeve down over the bead of sealant. It might not be perfect, but with the shape of the spring perch and the way the sleeve rests on it I couldn't see any way to get it to seal any better. The rears will be tougher to do, because (as you can see in the previous picture) the housing just isn't as tall above the spring perch, so the tape pretty much fills the whole area. I think I'll take the tape off and tear the tape so it's half as wide, which will leave me a gap at the bottom to seal. We'll see...

Here's one of the front sleeves installed.


The sleeves are actually taller than the housings, so sealing the tops of the sleeves to the housing is going to be difficult, if not impossible. In the front the overlap is only 1/4 - 1/2", so I could probably get in there with the sealant, but it won't be easy. In the rear the overlap is probably over 1", so there's no way I'll get that.

Pat

Last edited by Patrick Olsen; 03-24-2014 at 08:21 AM. Reason: To fix picture links
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Old 11-12-2003, 12:13 PM   #11
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Pat... Looks like the Legacy is going to be NASTY at the local auto-x's. I already feel sorry for the local HI guys.

Mike
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Old 11-12-2003, 01:30 PM   #12
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wow, so how do the struts hold up after you do all of this? what happens when you need to replace the struts?
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Old 11-12-2003, 02:22 PM   #13
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guess I missed the update a few weeks ago - looks like it's coming along as well as these things do

Keep us updated on the ride! (I am probably going to have to do something with a year or so)

good luck Pat!


\threadjack\ I wonder if the RS struts would work as a donors? My AGX's are from an RS, and my whiteline springs are legacy specific - but I had to get different springs for the fronts (due to, apparently, the AGX having a taller spring perch than the Legacy) to get a level ride... if any of that makes sense? In other words, I want to have the same ride heights I have now with the donor struts/Konis as I have with the AGX.


-Chad
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Old 11-13-2003, 03:58 AM   #14
Patrick Olsen
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Chad,

If you talked to Koni North America you might be able to figure that out. I didn't ask about the RS, but I did ask about the WRX, and was told there were different part numbers, so I would have had to figure out the fitment issues myself. All three (RS, GT, and WRX) use the same diameter strut housing (it's almost exactly 50mm outer diameter), but as you found the spring perch heights are different and the actual height of the housing itself may also be different.

Haven't made much progress since the picture-filled update, just been busy with other stuff. Parent's are on island this weekend, so I don't foresee any progress until they leave. Current goal is to be on the car and aligned before Turkey Day, as the next auto-x here in HI is that Saturday.

Pat
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Old 11-28-2003, 05:56 AM   #15
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I continue to be busy, busy, busy, so I haven't been making as much progress as I would like. I might be able to get everything installed tomorrow, but there's an auto-x on Saturday so that really doesn't give me any time to try to "dial in" the suspension before I run. I'll probably install it anyway.

In the past couple weeks I have gotten a couple things taken care of slowly but surely. The latest "hitch" has been rear top mount fitment. I have a set of STi rear top mounts that I acquired back when I had the DMS Golds on the car. One of the three times I sent my beloved coil-overs back to Dave Clark to be fixed, he modified the rear top mounts so that I wouldn't have to use the offset spring spacer. Basically, he cut off the stock spring perch and provided a couple of spacers and a "normal" coil-over upper spring perch (the same type used on the front Golds, rather than the weird offset upper perch I was using originally). In the picture below you can see the bottom of the rear top mount with the spring perch cut off. The tapered spacer went into the top mount (narrower side up) to apply the load to the metal center portion of the top mount. That tapered bushing was on top of the spring perch, and then under the spring perch was the other, smaller spacer (about 1/4" tall).

This was actually the one thing DMS-USA did to my struts that worked - significantly reduced rear top mount noise. But I digress...

When it came time to bolt up the top mounts on the Konis, I realized that things weren't gonna work out so well. The threaded "neck" on the Konis must be shorter than that on the DMS struts, because there was no way I could use such a big spacer and still have any sort of thread engagement. Here's the top mount "installed" on the rear strut without any spacer:


As you can see, plenty of thread engagement. However, if I didn't use a spacer, the GC upper spring perch wouldn't fit right. Basically, the perch couldn't reach the metal center portion of the top mount, and instead would be riding on the lip where the stock-style spring perch had been cut off:


to be continued....

Last edited by Patrick Olsen; 03-24-2014 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 11-28-2003, 05:57 AM   #16
Patrick Olsen
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With the spring perch riding on that lip, you can see in this pic that there's still a healthy gap between the perch and the metal center portion of the top mount (sorry about the picture quality):

Not only would that result in that cut-off edge of the top mount mangling the aluminum upper spring perch, it would also mean that I had a direct metal-to-metal link between the rear struts and the body! Not a good thing!

Well, the tall, tapered spacer was definitely out - I would have zero thread engagement on the strut rod because the spacer was just too tall. So, I figured I would just use the 1/4" spacer from the DMS setup. Great idea, but even using just that smaller spacer would result in insufficient thread engagement:

Unfortunately it was just a weee bit too small in inner diameter to slip over the shoulder on the strut shaft. Sooo, I had a machine shop open it out about 1.5mm so it would fit.

Now I can have good thread engagement at the top mount, and the top mount will actually be able to perform its function since the load will be transmitted to the rubber rather than metal-to-metal. Here's the top mount and perch with the spacer in between:


Tomorrow I need to finish getting everything assembled, and then see about installing things tomorrow afternoon/evening. Here's one of the front struts put together loosely just to see how everything looks:


I've elected not to go with any sort of shock boots for a couple of reasons. First, I bought some at a 4x4 shop, but they're too fat to fit inside the 2.5" springs, and I'm too lazy to return them for a different option. Second, I've had un-booted Konis on my Mustang for 7 or 8 years now without any problems. Koni doesn't say anything about it, so I think it's a safe bet they're unnecessary.

So that's the current state of affairs. More to follow...

Pat

Last edited by Patrick Olsen; 03-24-2014 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 12-18-2003, 03:39 AM   #17
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Still haven't gotten these babies installed. The sense of urgency isn't there since I won't get to another auto-x until late January. I've spent some free time working on the Mustang and haven't played with the Subie in few weeks. I should have the install done around the new year, as I'll be off from work and will have time to do the install and get the car aligned. Should be fun.

Pat
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Old 12-18-2003, 09:02 AM   #18
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"You can search the Suspension Forum for my name and DMS and find plenty of feedback. Their ride was marginal due to incessant bouncing, and the reliability/durability was unsat. As for setup, I put them about 1" lower than stock and then fiddled with the damping, I never had them on the car long enough to bother with corner weighting."

Apparently you were definatly stuck with the old stuff were the grease moved away from the bushings. Also from what I gather from this thread, it sounds like you really got screwed around by previous DMS representatives. Sorry to loose a customer.

I hope you enjoy your new setup.

Regards,
Mark
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Old 07-09-2004, 01:48 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Patrick Olsen


The latest "hitch" has been rear top mount fitment. I have a set of STi rear top mounts that I acquired back when I had the DMS Golds on the car. One of the three times I sent my beloved coil-overs back to Dave Clark to be fixed, he modified the rear top mounts so that I wouldn't have to use the offset spring spacer. Basically, he cut off the stock spring perch and provided a couple of spacers and a "normal" coil-over upper spring perch (the same type used on the front Golds, rather than the weird offset upper perch I was using originally). In the picture below you can see the bottom of the rear top mount with the spring perch cut off. The tapered spacer went into the top mount (narrower side up) to apply the load to the metal center portion of the top mount. That tapered bushing was on top of the spring perch, and then under the spring perch was the other, smaller spacer (about 1/4" tall).

This was actually the one thing DMS-USA did to my struts that worked - significantly reduced rear top mount noise. But I digress...


.....


With the spring perch riding on that lip, you can see in this pic that there's still a healthy gap between the perch and the metal center portion of the top mount (sorry about the picture quality):

Not only would that result in that cut-off edge of the top mount mangling the aluminum upper spring perch, it would also mean that I had a direct metal-to-metal link between the rear struts and the body! Not a good thing!

Pat
Pat along with my other questions in the other thread, this has been messing with my head.

Its the point about where the load for the rear springs is being placed and I have been trying to sort it in my head.

Lets consider the stock condition first. The spring perch either rests against or is integral with the fixed outer perimeter of the topmounts, meaning there is a solid metal link between the body and the spring coil. The strut shaft on the other hand is what goes through the rubber insulated center bushing in the topmunts. So unless I am confused, in the oem condition only the strut is insulated from the body via the rubber insert not the springs. [This may be common knowledge for you already but is a bit of a revelation for me as I had never thought about it.]

Now getting back to your solution, what you did if I understand correctly is additionally moved the spring load to that center rubber insulated bushing as well. Meaning now instead of just the damping force of the strut being transmitted to the center section, you have essentially the weight of the vehicle resting on it.

So, is that safe and wont that make the ride kinda(or more) bouncy? Is this how the front setup works too? Are all GC setups like this?

Thanks
ss
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Old 07-19-2004, 03:55 PM   #20
trojan9x
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Old 07-19-2004, 05:51 PM   #21
subysouth
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I think Pat may be doing his best Capt Nemo.

ss
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Old 07-27-2004, 05:24 AM   #22
Patrick Olsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subysouth
Pat along with my other questions in the other thread, this has been messing with my head.

Its the point about where the load for the rear springs is being placed and I have been trying to sort it in my head.

Lets consider the stock condition first. The spring perch either rests against or is integral with the fixed outer perimeter of the topmounts, meaning there is a solid metal link between the body and the spring coil. The strut shaft on the other hand is what goes through the rubber insulated center bushing in the topmunts. So unless I am confused, in the oem condition only the strut is insulated from the body via the rubber insert not the springs. [This may be common knowledge for you already but is a bit of a revelation for me as I had never thought about it.]

Now getting back to your solution, what you did if I understand correctly is additionally moved the spring load to that center rubber insulated bushing as well. Meaning now instead of just the damping force of the strut being transmitted to the center section, you have essentially the weight of the vehicle resting on it.

So, is that safe and wont that make the ride kinda(or more) bouncy? Is this how the front setup works too? Are all GC setups like this?

Thanks
ss
You know, you are (I think) absolutely correct. I just went and looked at my stock struts (still assembled with the stock top mounts) and it appears you're right - my fears of direct metal-to-metal contact are unfounded. And, along with that, now that I see what I've done I'd say your fear that the rubber center section of the rear top mounts isn't designed to take the stress is well-founded. I need to fix what I've done because the rubber section of the top mounts shouldn't be carrying the weight of the car. Strangely enough, I did it the way I did because that's the way my DMS Golds had been setup by Dave Clark back in the day. I wonder if that rubber insulation alone explains why the rear struts became noticeably quieter after he did that? Hmmm.....

With that said, because my rear STi mounts are hacked up the way they are, I still think it would be a bad idea to put the top mounts against that rather jagged cut-off edge. I'll probably order some new STi top mounts.

I'll probably pull off one of my stock top mounts to get a really good look at it, just to be sure before I go changing things around.

Pat
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Old 07-27-2004, 12:20 PM   #23
subysouth
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So what GC would have wanted you to do is something like this:




To rest the upper spring perch against that(in oem condition) portion of the rear topmount. That doesnt seem like the best solution itself. It would seem like it could squeak or worse case wear down that aluminum GC upper spring perch under deflection.

Or were they wanting it to rest against the oem rear upper spring perches which rellegedly are supposed to be integral with the rear topmounts(although in my case, mine seperated upon removal )?

Thanks again Pat for all your work on the posts. Without the pics I for one would have never been able to see how this actually worked.

ss

Last edited by subysouth; 07-27-2004 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 07-28-2004, 03:25 AM   #24
Patrick Olsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subysouth
Or were they wanting it to rest against the oem rear upper spring perches which rellegedly are supposed to be integral with the rear topmounts(although in my case, mine seperated upon removal )?
Yeah, I think that's probably the case.

Pat
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