Hack: Rear shock spring compressor
As much as I love buying tools, I hate spending money on tools I will only use once or twice. The special socket to remove the clutch lock nut is one example for such a tool, another example is the spring compressor for the rear shock(s). While spring compressors are more universal tools because they can be used on a wide variety of shock springs, I have never needed one until this Nighthawk project, and probably won’t need to use one again for a long time, if ever. So, long story short, I am not buying one!
If you google DIY Rear Shock Spring Compressor, you’ll find all sorts of good and bad ideas to compress the spring.
Word of caution: the spring is under quite a bit of tension. Be careful and double-check your steps if you attempt to do this.
Here is how I did it with just two regular ratchet straps and a steel rod.
Start by inserting the rod into the bottom suspension mount and threading the first strap through the spring like this:
Start from the bottom of the spring, go under the spring about two-thirds of its length (arrow 1), pull the strap out and back one-third (arrow 2), threat it under the spring again and all the way up to the top of the spring (arrow 3). You’ll need a wire, a pick or a super-skinny screwdriver to pull the strap through the narrow space at the top of the spring. Hook the strap-hook into the iron rod and pull the strap tight.
Repeat the same process on the other side of the spring.
Before you thread the strap into the ratchet: Depending on the length of the strap on the ratchet side, you may need to use an extra hook to “shorten” the strap (see circled hook in photo below). If you don’t have spare hooks, you can just use the hook at the end of the strap and hook it into the loop by the ratchet (arrow).
Your shock should now look something like this:
Carefully pull the straps tight. Make sure they are exactly at 3 and 9 o’clock (so you don’t bend the spring in one direction) and evenly tight on both sides. Start engaging the ratchets simultaneously.
Go slow and make sure you engage the ratchets evenly on both sides. Don’t compress the spring more than you have to and try to minimize the compression time to prevent permanent damage. Here is another view to show you what it should look like.
I found it easier to tighten the ratchets by setting the shock upright and holding the rod down with my knees.
The spring should begin to release the seat ring (yellow arrow). There is usually a rubber plug (red arrow) at the top of the damper rod that you can push down to pull the seat ring out.
Once you have pulled out the seat ring, you can CAREFULLY release the ratchets. Remember that the spring is now under a lot of tension, so be super careful. Ideally, you want to release the two ratchets at the same time but if you don’t have enough hands, release them separately, a little bit at a time, alternating sides.
Aaaand … done!
In case you’re wondering: this shock is a goner. I just disassembled it for sh*ts and giggles, not to rebuild it.