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Old May 5th, 2002, 01:21 AM   #1
skelly
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Report: Arospeed coilovers on 97 PGT

This is FYI if you are interested in Arospeed/similar coilovers, just a small write-up for information purposes:

I have the front coils installed now, the rears will be going on tomorrow. I'm using the stock struts (though they are pretty much shot after ~100K miles).

I cut the perches off as per what seems to be the perscribed method (three slices across the perch from the outter edge across the shortest path to each gap between the three weld points and then bend-fatigued the perch material to crack off at the welds - the first one was cut entirely with reinforced cut-off wheels on a dremel, but this took an excruciating amount of work and on the next round, hack sawing through to the last 1/4 inch and grinding the remainder cut the time & work down to about a third.)

The real pain on this install has been the funny round steel thingamabob (for lack of a technically accurate term) at the top of the pressurized cylinder.. whatever the hell it is, it's 2 shades too big to slide the coilover sleeves over, so has to be milled down by ~ 3/64" around its entire perimiter. Given that it's about 1/8th" thick, it takes a while with a steel cutting bit on the dremel. A word of advice - if you think you've shaved it close, but still can't quite easily slip the sleeve over it, don't try forcing it - you'll likely just end up causing it to bite into the aluminum half way up and bind itself into place - rather take the extra minute to shave a bit more until it slips on without any trouble.

With this done, the sleeve in place, a couple set screws installed on the sleeve (set screws on the UPPER edge, not the lower as the adjusting rings won't be able to drop down over the set screws), then, for the front, the adjusting rings set approximately centered on the sleeve and locked into place - this was sufficient to reduce my wheel gap to about 1".

The Arospeed kit came with about two dozen set screws and rubber O-rings of various thicknesses. The smaller set screws are useful for fixing the position of the adjuster sleeve to the strut cylinder (pretty much for assembly purposes only.. it's not structurally significant) - the other dozen, larger set screws appear to have no function, and neither do the 24 O-rings.. no idea what they're for and they're not mentioned in the directions My guess is that some extra bits & pieces made it into the kit that weren't intended to be in there.

I cut the bump stop.. about 1/2" off the top (thick) part and about 3/8" off the bottom. The dust boot that was installed over it from the factory will not fit within the coilover spring, so that goes away.. as does the OE upper spring mount.

The spring goes on, the bumpstop, then the top hat over the spring, and finally the strut mount assembly.

When lowering the car down onto the coilovers, just make certain that the spring seats into the upper spring 'top hat" or whatever as it will fall out each time the car is lifted. This might be somewhat self-guiding by nature, but I haven't done it enough times to know for sure.

So I'm down to a 1" wheel gap (not bad for a 97 that used to have a 4.5" wheel gap!) and have another 1.5" of adjuster sleeve to drop if I choose, but the lower it goes, the less my strut is going to do for me - a thought I am not fond of.

As for drivability, I've noted that the new springs (front only) are defintely "bouncier" and, though I'm not entirely certain yet, it seems to have improved the responsiveness of the steering, probably the result of the tighter, less forgiving, suspension - but I can no longer attack speed bumps like a madman - ah well: the price of beauty.

So far,
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Old May 5th, 2002, 06:43 PM   #2
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so how would u rate the quality overall for the arospeed kit? i mean i havent installed my GCs yet, but seems that the arospeed is really cheap compared to them, and really hadnt seen much advertisement nor gained complete trust from the probe group.....so what would u say about them sean? i hope i dont have to do too much grinding and stuff (other than perch removal) with the GCs.....
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Old May 5th, 2002, 10:05 PM   #3
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Part II: The rear

The rear went together today. I'm glad the stock springs are much easier to compress & remove from the rear than from the front, but was dismayed to find that the most significant part of the modification to the struts (the grinding on that top plate thingamabob) is about twice the work on the rears as the plate is nearly twice the thickness - I cannot overstate what a profound amount of patience this took, especially with the worst allergy attack of the season in full effect!

That said, other than that, the install was much like the front - Interestingly, they needed to be dropped completely to the bottom to match the 1" wheel gap of the front. One point worthy of note was during initial removal of the rear passenger strut assembly, I discovered (apparently "the classaicly") Ford brilliance where they locked the lower strut mounting bolt into position behind the brake caliper. It's a simple mater to remove the caliper (or at least shove it to the side as I did) and subsequently remove the bolt, but the sheer annoyance of bad planning was undeniable. Anyway, the bolt can be re-installed from the opposite direction, so this can be avoided for the future.

Now I haven't had a lot of experience driving on different types of springs and such, but what I can describe is a difference over the OEM suspension. It is much tighter, translates steering movements into crisp actions (guessing the stock suspension ate up some of this responsiveness previously). Long, rolling bumps in the freeway make the car bounce a little when cruising over them, mid-sized bumps will create quite a jolt in the car at high speed (pops me outta my seat!), but are no big deal at 40 or less, but big bumps are absolutely intolerable unless specifically negotiating them as the obstacle that they really are.
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Old May 6th, 2002, 10:02 AM   #4
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Part III: Day 2 and 150 miles later

I'm beginning to have my doubts about the practicality of coilovers for street-driven cars, especially given the state of repair (or lack thereof) of the city & highway pavement here.. and I hear that our pavement condition is above national average.

My wife hates my car now and I don't blame her. Sure, it looks REALLY damn slick from the outside, but to drive is just brain rattling.

Only the most perfect of condition freeways and streets yield favorable driving conditions. Any slight surface irregularities result in incessant bouncing. Railroad crossings that once were fine at 60 are now 25. I am bound to travelling under the speed limit at night for fear of not being able to avoid serious obstacles now - things that two days ago I wouldn't have glanced twice at. On last night's drive, I would be very, VERY surprised if the car did not become airborne at least once or twice - no exaggeration. Our heads hit the roof, contents are being tossed eveyrwhere, drinks in the beverage holders are not safe... this list of torment goes on.

There also is a very real concern of cracking a rim on average roadway imperfections.

I have also noted a groaning sound being emitted when turning the steering - the sound is most prominent when at a standstill, but is also produced to a slightly lesser degree while in motion. It is very clearly a metallic "pong"ing sound coming from the new springs, seemingly re-positioning/relaxing themselves as the wheels are moved around - but AFAIK, they shouldn't be moving around at all.. I will try to enlist some assistance later today to determine the cause.

I'm close to declaring that coilovers (assuming the situation is the same for pretty much any brand) should not be used on the street for a daily driver as they are incredibly harsh - but not quite yet....
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Old May 6th, 2002, 08:07 PM   #5
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hey.. are u sure u just are not use to them? or having a lowered car?
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Old May 6th, 2002, 09:15 PM   #6
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Well I am, indeed still getting use to them, but I doubt that everyone who's ever lowered a car is dealing with this.. I've ridden in many that were nowhere near as rough.. I've got a couple things to try though, including trimming the bumpstops up even further (I think I'm hitting them..)
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Old May 6th, 2002, 10:00 PM   #7
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Almost for-sure you're hitting them. But don't take too much out or you might risk real damage over the next big pothole or speedbump you hit.

I'd say your main problem is the stock stuts, which you know to be shot. How the heck do you expect a shot weak-to-begin-with strut to dampen those coilovers? Of course the ride sucks. Any car with blown struts has a craptastic ride. Especially with stiffer springs.

I'd say coilovers are fine for street use as long as you don't skimp on the struts. I had GC's and Illuminas raised higher than stock stiffness, and had none of the problems you mentioned. Replace those blown stock struts and give everything another shot, you won't believe the difference.

This post should be retitled "How I learned the hard way not to put coilovers on blown stock struts".
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Old May 6th, 2002, 10:15 PM   #8
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- I've been wondering if the ride would improve or worsen with a stiffer strut adding to stiff springs.. good to hear a vote of confidence for strut replacement being a viable solution though..
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Old May 6th, 2002, 10:35 PM   #9
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well another thing (on top of the obvious junk struts issue ) is that u have no idea (i dont think anyone does at all) of what rate are these springs arospeed had picked for the coilovers.....for GCs, u can specify them to ur desire and usage, these arospeed ones i dont think anyone has been successful of getting them to reveal what rate the springs are....get some new struts (and not OEM replacement) and im sure u'll be alot better off

i hope my softer-than-standard GCs will ride alot better than what u have, and even more so, alot better than what i have now (intrax with shot OEM struts for 1+ yr)
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Old May 6th, 2002, 11:13 PM   #10
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Are you sure you put your strut bearings in the right way? I put mine on the wrong side of the upper strut mount when I installed my eibachs, and I got that "pong"ing sound too from the springs binding and releasing. Saw the car in the Pic forum, looks awesome
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Old May 6th, 2002, 11:16 PM   #11
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Actually.. I did not re-install the "strut bearings" (the upper OE spring "perch" with the plastic "bearing" insert, right?) It didn't seem necessary as the coils are so small, they contacted nicely with the upper mounting plate - was this a mistake? (Eibach's are singnificantly larger springs than coilover springs, so I can see the need for still using the upper perch with those..)
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Old May 6th, 2002, 11:45 PM   #12
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Well theres your problem. I dont know if they are supposed to be installed like that, but I know if there isnt a bearing, then the top of the spring is forced to spin in its mount when you turn the wheel, thats why you get the springy noise. You may be putting excessive load on your power steering sytem if you drive it like that, though I could be wrong, Im going on my experience with Eibachs.
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Old May 7th, 2002, 09:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Blue94GT
Well theres your problem. I dont know if they are supposed to be installed like that, but I know if there isnt a bearing, then the top of the spring is forced to spin in its mount when you turn the wheel, thats why you get the springy noise. You may be putting excessive load on your power steering sytem if you drive it like that...
Cooool.. guess I'll put those back in and shore up those bump stops a bit more while I'm in there..
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Old May 7th, 2002, 09:59 AM   #14
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You're right about the rates for the Arospeed coilovers. I contacted them and they couldn't tell me what the spring rates are. These coilovers can't be good on quality if the people that put their name on them can't tell you the spring rates. Companies like Arospeed and APC cater to people who don't know much about upgrading their components or just don't care and are only concerned about looks.

I see numerous cars on the road that are dropped and when they hit some bump in the road the car starts to bounce like it's on hydraulics or something, makes me laugh.

I hope you don't enconter many more problems with them. Good luck
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Old May 7th, 2002, 11:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rayman
well another thing (on top of the obvious junk struts issue ) is that u have no idea (i dont think anyone does at all) of what rate are these springs arospeed had picked for the coilovers.....for GCs, u can specify them to ur desire and usage, these arospeed ones i dont think anyone has been successful of getting them to reveal what rate the springs are....get some new struts (and not OEM replacement) and im sure u'll be alot better off

i hope my softer-than-standard GCs will ride alot better than what u have, and even more so, alot better than what i have now (intrax with shot OEM struts for 1+ yr)
Rayman. A buddy of mine just ordered these for his Base. the spring rates were listed on the side of the spring with the fronts being 450 and the rears being 350.
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Old May 7th, 2002, 11:59 AM   #16
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Quote:
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Rayman. A buddy of mine just ordered these for his Base. the spring rates were listed on the side of the spring with the fronts being 450 and the rears being 350.
That was posted before I believe, but that is incredibly high. If that were true I could see why the ride would be so intolerable.

Also of note skelly, Illuminas (so I'm told) are not as large in circumference as KYB's or Blues. Thus if you were to utilize Illuminas you would probably not have the requirement of modifying your strut (other than the perch).

Reading this is quite scary for me as I have GC's & Illuminas on order. Ray & I went with lower rates for a more comfortable ride (I'm happy to set mine higher & have a more comfy ride).
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Old May 7th, 2002, 01:14 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Probe 2C

Reading this is quite scary for me as I have GC's & Illuminas on order. Ray & I went with lower rates for a more comfortable ride (I'm happy to set mine higher & have a more comfy ride).
while i will only have tokico blues, so mine will be like 3-4 on the illuminas all the time the rates me and chris both got are 325 fronts and 225 rears
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Old May 7th, 2002, 09:30 PM   #18
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Part III: Day 4 - Revelations

Well on my lunch break today, whilst peering in the midday sun through the crack between the fender and the tire trying to get a view of the coilover assembly, I was shocked when suddenly became visible the fact that I was not just hitting the bump stops.. i was riding ON them full time! No damn wonder.

So, later I performed some surgery:

1) Front bearings re-installed (thanks Derek, this was a life-saver!)

2) Trimmed another 1/4 inch off the bottom of the front bump stops (this leaves approximately 1/2 of the original top (thickest) and the full middle segments)

3) raised the coils by 3/8 of an inch on all 4 corners.

The result: a barely noticable increase in ride height, about 3/4" of steel shock shaft now visible below the bumpstop and a 500% improved driving quality. (Maybe I can coax my wife back into the car again!) I am far more satisfied now - even with the shot shox.

Further Observations

1) The springs: The front springs with the weight of the car on them compress to nearly 1/2 of their relaxed height. With the perches removed, the seat adjustment would have to be at nearly the very top of the sleeve in order to gain 1" or more of possible wheel motion before hitting the bumpstops. It's just an interesting tradeoff for a spring that is supposed to allow lowering of the car AND driveability, by using such a short (or low rate?) spring, Arospeed shoots themselves in the foot by limiting the reasonable adjustability range.

2) Adjusters: With the perches cut, the adjusters having been raised 3/8", the front ones are now about 3/4" from the top of the sleeve (yes - if the struts would permit it, the front could be dropped another full 3"!), the rears are 3/8" from the bottom. On both the front and the back I have oriented the sleeves such that the set screws are at the top edge (the bores are approx 1/4" from the upper edge of the sleeve). Curiously, the set screws do not recess below the level of the threaded surface, so the last 1/2" or so of the upper threads are unusable... unless of course the set screws are removed (are these really necessary?) Anyway, if I wanted, I could not lift the front ride height by any more than 1/4" now without tearing down the entire assembly and flipping the sleeves over, so my recommendation is that anyone doing a fresh install on these, put the front set screws on the bottom edge, and the rear set screws at the top edge - this will allow a tight drop on the rear and a controlled lift on the front without having to worry about the screws getting in the way.

3) "Top hats"- or whatever the stoopid things are called that go on top of the coilover springs (comes with them, not an OE part) I suddenly realize why the springs in the kit are marked for front & back - I didn't get this at first because everything looked identical front & back, but I figured I'd better not question it in case the springs were different rates or something, so I kept the front-to-back relationship as directed - good thing to as I discovered today the difference: the top hats for the front have a recess on top of them that perfectly fit the strut bearing - the rears do not. All the other parts it would see, however, are identical.

Thanks for everyone's input!
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Old May 8th, 2002, 03:56 PM   #19
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Glad you got it figured out. If / when you spring for new struts, I think you'll see another huge improvement as big as what you got raising it off the bumpstops.

Getting it off the stops certainly helps soak up the bumps, so the initial hits aren't as bad. Getting good struts will help make that just be one hit, as opposed to a couple of bounces following afterwards.

The way you mention the front springs being set near the top - If you run out of strut travel right now before you get the springs to coilbind, you're doing OK. But - if your springs do coilbind first, which could really lead to problems, you may have the option of getting newer springs of the same rate but maybe an inch or two longer. You could set the lower perch a little further down the collar, which would keep the same ride height but gain the distance the spring could compress before it bound up. May not have any problems though...

It would be nice to have short struts, wouldn't it? I wonder why no one makes them?
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Old May 9th, 2002, 12:50 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by tracer bullet
Getting good struts will help make that just be one hit, as opposed to a couple of bounces following afterwards.
Yep, that's where I'm at now, but at least it's tolerable.. riding on the stops was brain-rattling (literally)


Quote:

The way you mention the front springs being set near the top - If you run out of strut travel right now before you get the springs to coilbind, you're doing OK. But - if your springs do coilbind first, which could really lead to problems, you may have the option of getting newer springs of the same rate but maybe an inch or two longer. You could set the lower perch a little further down the collar, which would keep the same ride height but gain the distance the spring could compress before it bound up. May not have any problems though...
Yeah.. I have about 3/4 to 1" of strut, but about 1.5" of spring left, so I think I'm good there, though that had never really struck me `til you mentioned it...

Quote:

It would be nice to have short struts, wouldn't it? I wonder why no one makes them?
No doubt.. I was thinking the same thing, but thinking about this, spada's recent "ghetto camber" post and another posting I read a while back about re-drilling holes has me thinking:

why not a bracket that mounts to the spindle in place of the strut and has the strut mounted to it further down (1/2"? More? not sure what's left in there without looking it over more closely) This combined with one of the holes being slotted (an arced slot, actually rather than straight) would permit not only further strut extension, but also some adjustment of the camber (via the slot) without sacrificing integrity by using smaller bolts. This, of course, would only work for coilover setups since you can't really get the lower spring perch much closer to the wheel without rubbing - though I suppose it might work with careful measurement and no over-sized wheels)..

whaddya think? seems pretty straight forward to me...
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Old May 10th, 2002, 09:31 AM   #21
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What should i do???

Hey guys i have arospeeds with 450 fronts and 350 rears! Should i even bother to put these own on my car or not??? I am confused now...i didnt have any idea about the spring rates when i got these...but this post is freaking me out...i dont want my baby to be all bouncy,....help suggestion!
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Old May 10th, 2002, 10:43 AM   #22
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Bouncy shouldn't be much prob if your shox are still in good shape - at least for a while.. it's pretty brutal on them, so you may need better `n OE shox to perform well..
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Old May 10th, 2002, 10:44 AM   #23
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Anybody catch this? Would like some feedback before I start experimenting on it and doing something blatently stupid..

Quote:
Originally posted by skelly

why not a bracket that mounts to the spindle in place of the strut and has the strut mounted to it further down (1/2"? More? not sure what's left in there without looking it over more closely) This combined with one of the holes being slotted (an arced slot, actually rather than straight) would permit not only further strut extension, but also some adjustment of the camber (via the slot) without sacrificing integrity by using smaller bolts. This, of course, would only work for coilover setups since you can't really get the lower spring perch much closer to the wheel without rubbing - though I suppose it might work with careful measurement and no over-sized wheels)..

whaddya think? seems pretty straight forward to me...
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Old May 10th, 2002, 12:26 PM   #24
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450 and 350? thats stiff......
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Old May 10th, 2002, 01:33 PM   #25
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Quote:
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450 and 350? thats stiff......
How does the spring rates work? The higher the stiffer or the other way ??? What the stock spring rates anyways? I have a 95 base!
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