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Old 03-19-2009, 06:45 AM
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Cutting A Front Coil Spring

My 72 chevy sits a little high in front. Maybe an inch or two. No big deal. A friend of mine who is pretty good working on cars is telling me to cut the front spring and lower the car. I have a big block in the car, so I have big block springs (new), and that's why the car sits a bit high. There is no air conditioning, so the absence of the added weight of an air conditioning system (probably 100 lbs) makes the car sit an inch or two high.

Anyway, I'm doing a front brake conversion soon (drum to disc) and the front springs need to be compressed, and possibly removed anyway, so he says "lets cut the front springs". I told him I heard that is a bad idea, and changes the shape of the end of the spring so it won't seat correctly in the spring pocket. Then, there is always that potential problem of the car sitting to low after they've been cut, and then I'm screwed. He said "I've done it several times and never had a problem"

This is a 600 HP 72 chevy nova - street car.

what do you guys think?

Lee

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Old 03-19-2009, 07:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leejoy
My 72 chevy sits a little high in front. Maybe an inch or two. No big deal. A friend of mine who is pretty good working on cars is telling me to cut the front spring and lower the car. I have a big block in the car, so I have big block springs (new), and that's why the car sits a bit high. There is no air conditioning, so the absence of the added weight of an air conditioning system (probably 100 lbs) makes the car sit an inch or two high.

Anyway, I'm doing a front brake conversion soon (drum to disc) and the front springs need to be compressed, and possibly removed anyway, so he says "lets cut the front springs". I told him I heard that is a bad idea, and changes the shape of the end of the spring so it won't seat correctly in the spring pocket. Then, there is always that potential problem of the car sitting to low after they've been cut, and then I'm screwed. He said "I've done it several times and never had a problem"

This is a 600 HP 72 chevy nova - street car.

what do you guys think?

Lee
Converting to disc brakes will lower the front of your car....marginally. Cutting the springs is easy to do, make sure you use a spring compressor to prevent grievious bodily harm if a spring gets away during dissassembly or re-assembly. Use a cut-off wheel, not a torch. Also remember to make sure the springs go into the pockets correctly.

IMHO the best way to lower your car and maintain the ride is to go with dropped spindles, or a different spring. Have a look at the Eaton website,they have an amazing selection to choose from. Be careful and good luck.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:40 AM
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Most springs are somewhat flat on the ends that allow them to sit flat in the pockets. If you cut it, you will lose the flat area. I would look at buying shorter springs to get the height you want.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:53 AM
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I wouldn't cut it more than 1/2 a coil........that should drop it enough.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:58 AM
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It will bounce a lot more on the front end.Cutting the spring is the easiest way to lower it,But not the best way.
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:57 AM
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I have cut several over the years. On a typical GM, I have found 1 full coil is approx 2" drop. If you do cut it cut the top only. It will increase the spring rate slightly.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:51 AM
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Spring cutting

Good advice here !!!!! Do NOT use a torch to cut for obvious reasons. Use a die cutter with a thin cut-off wheel. As far as cutting off one full coil turn or even more then a half inch in length of the spring (not height) you will be very unhappy. You will have a very bouncey front coil package. ALL COIL SPRINGS HAVE A DEGREE OF VARIABLE RESPONSE BUILT INTO THEIR DESIGN. When you indiscriminatly cut off some of the spring, some of this vari. res. is lost. It just doesn't react the same anymore. I always cut the bottom end and then grind a seat on the leading edge of the coil to fit the seat on the lower spring pocket. You should make the spring end set into the pocket stop seat in the lower control arm. Otherwise the spring end will have an un-natural seat position and will make noise, or even chaffe and make noise or break.

I speak with knowledge:-) I've experimented and screwed up a few coils attempting to adjust my ride height. A lot of street rod guys have also missed their original ride height on their builds and end up playing this game. Thats why sooooo many street rods appear that the front ends are made for plowing up sod. Cutting is a good way too screw up the dynamics of a front ends ride. Tweaking the height in this manner is OK but not really the best way to go.

A better way is to go to a parts house and hit the books. Almost any ride height can be had by knowing which spring you have and then cross-ref in spring specs. to come up with load response, ride height, etc. Then you end up with the right spring doing the right thing. Spring pairs are really cheap and better then cutting and guessing what you will end up with. New springs that suit you application is the most cost effective way of doing this.

Sometimes when you trim a coil spring you do not trim enough. Then you have to do it all again, and maybe again to hit the mark. Then maybe you trim a hair too much, OOPPSS! Now what? Each time you take the springs out and then put them back, repeat and repeat again, costs money and time. And I've got the broken fingers to prove it!
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:59 AM
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that's pretty much how I feel about it. I'm unsure of the result, so why take a chance. I like the idea of just installing different springs. I know the part number and manufacturer of the springs I have now, so it's possible to compare spring specs to other springs and make a decision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Don
Good advice here !!!!! Do NOT use a torch to cut for obvious reasons. Use a die cutter with a thin cut-off wheel. As far as cutting off one full coil turn or even more then a half inch in length of the spring (not height) you will be very unhappy. You will have a very bouncey front coil package. ALL COIL SPRINGS HAVE A DEGREE OF VARIABLE RESPONSE BUILT INTO THEIR DESIGN. When you indiscriminatly cut off some of the spring, some of this vari. res. is lost. It just doesn't react the same anymore. I always cut the bottom end and then grind a seat on the leading edge of the coil to fit the seat on the lower spring pocket. You should make the spring end set into the pocket stop seat in the lower control arm. Otherwise the spring end will have an un-natural seat position and will make noise, or even chaffe and make noise or break.

I speak with knowledge:-) I've experimented and screwed up a few coils attempting to adjust my ride height. A lot of street rod guys have also missed their original ride height on their builds and end up playing this game. Thats why sooooo many street rods appear that the front ends are made for plowing up sod. Cutting is a good way too screw up the dynamics of a front ends ride. Tweaking the height in this manner is OK but not really the best way to go.

A better way is to go to a parts house and hit the books. Almost any ride height can be had by knowing which spring you have and then cross-ref in spring specs. to come up with load response, ride height, etc. Then you end up with the right spring doing the right thing. Spring pairs are really cheap and better then cutting and guessing what you will end up with. New springs that suit you application is the most cost effective way of doing this.

Sometimes when you trim a coil spring you do not trim enough. Then you have to do it all again, and maybe again to hit the mark. Then maybe you trim a hair too much, OOPPSS! Now what? Each time you take the springs out and then put them back, repeat and repeat again, costs money and time. And I've got the broken fingers to prove it!
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leejoy
.... I have a big block in the car, so I have big block springs (new), and that's why the car sits a bit high. ....
How "NEW" are the springs. I thought you can expect new springs to settle with a little age. Not sure that they would settle 1" or not. Maybe someone can chime in on this
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1ownerT
I have cut several over the years. On a typical GM, I have found 1 full coil is approx 2" drop. If you do cut it cut the top only. It will increase the spring rate slightly.
This has been my experience also with several GM A-body cars. The end to cut depends on the configuration of the spring. The A-body cars have one end that is ground flat with a closed coil (the top, in this case) and one end that is simply a full coil cut off. The latter is the end you need to cut. Cutting the spring will stiffen the spring rate a little.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Don
Good advice here !!!!! Do NOT use a torch to cut for obvious reasons. Use a die cutter with a thin cut-off wheel.
I've done it both ways. The trick to using a torch is to submerge the spring in a bucket of water so that the water line is just below the cut. This way the water cools the spring and avoids heat damage to the heat treat.

Quote:
As far as cutting off one full coil turn or even more then a half inch in length of the spring (not height) you will be very unhappy. You will have a very bouncey front coil package. ALL COIL SPRINGS HAVE A DEGREE OF VARIABLE RESPONSE BUILT INTO THEIR DESIGN. When you indiscriminatly cut off some of the spring, some of this vari. res. is lost.
I'm afraid I must disagree here. The stock 64-72 A-body springs (yes, I realize the original question was about a Nova) are completely linear. No variable spring rate at all.
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:57 AM
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I'm pretty sure that both ends of the springs are "flat". That is my concern. I'd be cutting off a factory "flat" end of the spring. If the ends of the springs were not "flat", I would probably not have a problem cutting off a little bit.

The springs were installed about 3 years ago. They were new when I installed them. The guy I bought the car from had the original 1972 small block springs in there. Then he installed an all iron big block and never changed the front springs. The front end of the car was very low. Now with the big block springs the car sits just a little high - because I don't have all the added weight the factory would have installed at that time. I'm probably 100-200lbs lighter than the factory 396 option with all accessories they offered back then.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:57 PM
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On my '68 Nova, I cut one full coil off, it lowered me one inch in front, small block, 8-71 blower, no accessories. I've since raised it with new springs as these settled even more causing my header collectors to barely clear the lip/transition onto my garage floor.
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Don
Good advice here !!!!! Do NOT use a torch to cut for obvious reasons. Use a die cutter with a thin cut-off wheel. As far as cutting off one full coil turn or even more then a half inch in length of the spring (not height) you will be very unhappy. You will have a very bouncey front coil package. ALL COIL SPRINGS HAVE A DEGREE OF VARIABLE RESPONSE BUILT INTO THEIR DESIGN. When you indiscriminatly cut off some of the spring, some of this vari. res. is lost. It just doesn't react the same anymore. I always cut the bottom end and then grind a seat on the leading edge of the coil to fit the seat on the lower spring pocket. You should make the spring end set into the pocket stop seat in the lower control arm. Otherwise the spring end will have an un-natural seat position and will make noise, or even chaffe and make noise or break.

I speak with knowledge:-) I've experimented and screwed up a few coils attempting to adjust my ride height. A lot of street rod guys have also missed their original ride height on their builds and end up playing this game. Thats why sooooo many street rods appear that the front ends are made for plowing up sod. Cutting is a good way too screw up the dynamics of a front ends ride. Tweaking the height in this manner is OK but not really the best way to go.

A better way is to go to a parts house and hit the books. Almost any ride height can be had by knowing which spring you have and then cross-ref in spring specs. to come up with load response, ride height, etc. Then you end up with the right spring doing the right thing. Spring pairs are really cheap and better then cutting and guessing what you will end up with. New springs that suit you application is the most cost effective way of doing this.

Sometimes when you trim a coil spring you do not trim enough. Then you have to do it all again, and maybe again to hit the mark. Then maybe you trim a hair too much, OOPPSS! Now what? Each time you take the springs out and then put them back, repeat and repeat again, costs money and time. And I've got the broken fingers to prove it!

Don's pretty much nailed it here. If you take off too much you will hate the ride and handling. Everything gets wavy and mushy (techical terms) If you dont take enough off, you are doing it again. After the second or third time of compressing the spring, separating the ball joint (maybe tearing a good boot in the process) trimming a little more, grinding it flat and re-installing the cost of a new set of correct springs becomes very reasonable.
Just my 2 cents
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:19 AM
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I have cut springs and screwed them up .and i have cut springs and got it right.and sometimes like they said in other post sometimes you have to do it more than once and that does get old quick.so if you have doubt about cutting your new springs and can and dont mind buying new lowering springs then i would buy the new ones. cole
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Old 03-29-2009, 10:13 PM
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I don't mean to hijack this thread, but I have to move the rear upper spring pockets down, and was planning to cut the springs. It also thought I'd try reshaping where I cut them by bending the spring. Figured I'd put em in a bucket of water and heat it with the torch? The springs will only be temporary during the build, but if it works, maybe not. Any thoughts? Stupid idea?
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