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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 14th, 2017, 6:27 pm 
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Joined: October 20th, 2015, 6:57 am
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Location: Northern NJ
Clay, I'm impressed as well, although having a helper would've aided me a lot. Still, you really lucked out. There have been many posts and videos on the topic of Ford E series shocks... none of it complimentary :lol: . Just listen to the first minute of this video, for example: https://youtu.be/xuRa_zK5BuQ

Anyway, mine are now installed! Only took about an hour and a half, partly on putting back the sway bar, and greatly due to figuring out how to compress the shocks for installation. (Gas shocks auto-extend to their full length, making it impossible to install them without manually compressing them, which is an often frustrating task. I am no longer strong enough to do that while under the rig, and Bilstein doesn't send them compressed and tied up like some makers apparently do.)

I've previously had my daughter tie them with string or wire while I pushed down, but this time I finally figured out a way to do it myself without the shock expanding on me while I try to hold and tie it with the same hands, an act that is nearly impossible.

Instead, I stood them each on the floor, pointy end down, and using a cushion, sat on the rounded end until it collapsed to its minimum height. This left my hands free. I previously had wrapped Scotch packing tape (the clear kind with embedded reinforcement strips) around the round bottom, and once compressed, I pulled the tape ends tight against the shock body and wrapped another precut piece around the shock to hold those tape wings in place. Looks like this:
Attachment:
shock_compress.jpg
shock_compress.jpg [ 617.65 KiB | Viewed 147 times ]

It was now fairly easy to press the round bottoms onto the bottom suspension bolts, then slice the tape with a box cutter and guide the expanding shock up into the top mounting hole.

Btw, duct tape didn't work. The shock expansion was powerful enough to tear it apart. But not the reinforced shipping tape!

Okay, enough about the installation pain. (I won't even go into the time spent tightening the top nuts one degree at a time, because of the limited space. The Ford engineer who designed this setup really should be ashamed.)

--- RESULTS

The test ride was interesting. The best analogy is that of the princess and the pea. With now working front shocks, the ride felt regal, firm and yet at the same time almost as if we were on comfortable mattresses. Nice and far more stable feeling than before.

Alas, the pea was also felt. Each tiny bump in the road seemed transmitted through the steering wheel. After driving a loop of a few miles, I jumped into my Jeep Commander for a comparison. Aha. Same bumps but far more muted, and felt mostly only through the seat, not the wheel. Is the difference perhaps related to the I-beam suspension? Or was it just the heavy duty shocks I used? Who knows.

The upshot is that I think that I'd recommend the Comfort shocks for the front instead of the HD ones I got. My guess is that they'd likely transmit less of each bump.

Kev

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 16th, 2017, 10:21 am 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Kev - you've convinced me NOT to try to install my own shocks. That's quite a job. I remember putting some KYB's on a Volvo wagon I owned. They came with the shocks compressed by a string. Being an inexperienced shade tree mechanic I cut one of the strings and was amazed when it popped open. Took me and a friend to get that one compressed enough to install. Of course, I was 27 so it wasn't that hard. Now at 66 its a pain to check the tire pressure so I'm letting the pros do mine.

Thanks for sharing the install and the assessment.

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 18th, 2017, 7:19 am 
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Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out how to tighten down the left front top shock nut even further. There's just no access for either a wrench or a socket to turn.

I even bought all sorts of adapters and U-joints trying to figure out a way to do it. Btw, along the way I belatedly realized that the 19mm top nut is almost exactly the same size as 3/4", so there was no real reason to specially buy expensive 19mm sockets. ( 19mm = 0.748 inches or within 2/1000 of an inch of 3/4") D'oh!!

Anyway, guess I'll end up doing like others do, and just jam a wrench in up top to hold the nut in place, and then use a bigger wrench to turn the top of the shock itself _into_ the jammed nut.

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 18th, 2017, 11:11 pm 
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[quote="kdarling"] Btw, along the way I belatedly realized that the 19mm top nut is almost exactly the same size as 3/4", so there was no real reason to specially buy expensive 19mm sockets. ( 19mm = 0.748 inches or within 2/1000 of an inch of 3/4") D'oh!!/quote]

Gee, I should have figured that out a few weeks ago. I went around town until I finally found a 19mm crowfoot wrench (for installing a Fumoto valve on a car). I didn't have any Imperial crowfoot wrenches either, but I'm sure it would have been easier to find a 3/4". Duh!

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 19th, 2017, 2:20 am 
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It even turns out that some manufacturers actually stamp both "19mm" and "3/4" on the same socket.

I can't believe I spent so much time and money on getting 19mm versions of tools that I either already had, or, as you pointed out, were likely easier to find in SAE versus metric.

Ah well, live and learn! And now everyone reading this won't have to do the same. I'm thinking of starting a Reference section thread called "Tips and things I wish I'd known" :)

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 19th, 2017, 11:47 am 
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Location: Santa Cruz
kdarling wrote:
Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out how to tighten down the left front top shock nut even further. There's just no access for either a wrench or a socket to turn.


Did you remove the grommet under the brake pedal? Access to the top nut is pretty decent that way (on mine, anyway).

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 19th, 2017, 12:07 pm 
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I know what you're talking about, but my '92 chassis doesn't have that access grommet, alas. Apparently added later.

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 19th, 2017, 12:32 pm 
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kdarling wrote:
I know what you're talking about, but my '92 chassis doesn't have that access grommet, alas. Apparently added later.


Oh bugger. That explains it. I can understand how that would be very difficult otherwise.

If I didn't have a factory hole already, I'd definitely cut a hole there and put in a grommet, or screw on a sheet metal cover. It would be a good investment in time, and good for future service. I think an angle drill and hole saw would do the trick. But I understand some folks may not like the idea of poking a two inch hole in their cab.

EDIT: Please allow me to retract what I said about cutting a hole. From the looks of it, and from a couple videos I've seen, the factory hole/grommet situation looked like it would provide very convenient access to the top shock nut, but in recent experience, it turned out to be a bit of an illusion. It didn't really help that much. Couple box wrenches are all that are needed.

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Last edited by Scott on July 25th, 2017, 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 19th, 2017, 12:36 pm 
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Believe me, I considered it!

But then I thought about times in the past where I've had water come up through a hole in a floor, and decided against it. Once burned, twice wary :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Shock Absorbers
PostPosted: June 27th, 2017, 1:30 pm 
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After consulting the forum and following Kev's shock install I decided to have the Bilstein "Comfort" shocks installed by a tire and suspension shop I had used for over 30 years. I had noticed in researching online that several places did not list the Comfort models at all, others only listed shocks for an E350 Class C motorhome, and still others were listing shocks for the E350 based on the wheelbase size. When I went to get an estimate for installation I pointed out that I needed the Comfort shocks and that there was a lot of bad info on suppliers' websites as to which part number was appropriate. I provided the shock numbers based on info on this forum as well as my own research. I even offered to get the shocks myself but they said they have a policy against that.

So, last Thursday I dropped if off for the install. Picked up the rig that afternoon and noticed that there was no improvement in the ride whatsoever. Got home and looked at the part numbers. Sure enough they had ordered the Heavy Duty shocks. When I returned this past Monday the installer called the supplier and was told "there is no difference in the stiffness between the Comfort and the Heavy Duty" and that the only difference was that one was intended for a short wheelbase and the HD's were intended for long wheelbases, and that the HDs wouldn't fit on the short wheelbase E350. Given that the shocks they sent were HDs and they were installed on my short wheelbase rig that made no sense either. Finally the installer called Bilstein directly and was told that in fact there IS a difference between the Comfort and the HD shocks, and that wheelbase has nothing to do with the correct part numbers. The 3rd option out there are the Bilsteins made for Class C motorhomes, but those would obviously be too stiff for a Chinook.

So, at the end of the day the parts numbers I had gotten off this forum proved to be the correct ones. My rig goes in tomorrow to have the correct shocks installed and I'll update with a review later. Thought I would share my experience as a caution to others who are looking to replace their shocks - lots of bad info out there and plenty of good info on the forum!

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