Friday, May 22, 2020

Replacing seals/oil on Fiona's Shock Absorbers

I returned from camping on Wednesday, May 20.  I didn't want to be out camping during the Memorial Day Weekend when seemingly EVERYONE wants to be outside seeing the sights/camping/riding/driving...etc! 

Better to stay at home away from the maddening crowds surely to hit the mountains and campsites after weeks/months of "stay at home" or "safer at home" or whatever your particular state/country dictated.

Once the Memorial Day weekend debacle passes, it'll be time to go camping with Martha in the URRV, destinations are unclear as I type this.

So, with the arrival (Covid-19 delayed) of the seals from the ebay vendor located in Belarus, it was time to try and replace all the seals on all five of Fiona's shock absorbers.  All five had been leaking for a while now, and they were quite the mess.

I followed the great photo tutorial published by Bill Glaser:  LINK so plenty of pictures there with instructions.

My photos just show the differences I ran into:

On the first shock to be repaired (left front shock absorber), I put a green piece of tape to remind me of the forward orientation for the lower mounts.  The tape didn't last long.  No worries though, I learned the hard way that one side is threaded (which goes inboard) and the other side isn't.  If you mistakenly install it backwards, the bolt will not work!

Here's a view of my version of Bill Glaser's homemade shock spring compression tool.  It presses the spring down until you can access the two half moon clips that hold everything together under pressure.

I did the front wheel's shock absorbers thinking they'd be the easiest.  I was wrong.  The left side shock went just fine but the right side shock proved to be a bugger in terms of installation.  First, I forgot to put in one of the components inside the shock which I believe restrict/regulate the flow of oil through the shock assembly along with others.

the disk I forgot to put back in is the third one from the left
in the above pic

I also placed the lower legs backwards so that the threaded hole was outboard, and wasted a lot of time fighting that error, till I realized my mistake!

It proved to be such a pain to align things (had to ultimately remove the front wheel in order to see the other side of the threaded hole to align things, that I am NOT going to take it all apart to put the missing metal disk in place. 

We'll see how that goes eh?

Just doing the two shock absorbers on the front wheel proved to be so taxing that I stopped and left the remaining three shock absorbers for the next day!  Just as well, as I had to tackle a failed sprinkler control valve when I went to activate the lawn sprinklers for the season!

Dale, my friend from the neighborhood, came by and showed me how to easily diagnose and fix the issue.  A $20 part later, I was back in business.  Thanks Dale!

Did incur a metal splinter while cleaning components of one of the shock absorbers.  I got through the day with it embedded in my right thumb and finally managed to dig it out, with Martha's help in cutting an exit for it, later that evening.  So yes, blood was shed.

A much magnified view of the splinter:

Friday, May 22.  Resuming work on the shock absorbers.

Started with the sidecar's shock absorber.  It removed easily enough from the frame but then proved to be very tightly screwed on, the cap that one uses the pin wrench on, and I had to resort to a vise, heat, penetrating oil and lots of effort to get it unscrewed!

After a thorough cleanup of the parts and the threads involved, everything went back together pretty well after replacing the rubber seals.  Installing it back onto the frame was easy.  Good stuff I though, two more to go.

The fourth shock absorber to be done was the left side unit for the rear wheel.  Again, it came off easily enough.  It also came apart easily as it wasn't over tightened. and once taken apart, it proved to be missing the slightly concave washer which sits on the bottom of the oil seal for the shock's shaft!  (Item 1 below).  I put in a flat washer of similar dimensions which hopefully will do the same job of protecting the deal from the spring which is below it.

The last shock absorber, the right side unit for the rear wheel proved even more difficult to take apart!  It came off the frame easily enough, but I couldn't unscrew the cap to access the inner shock components using the same methods as with the sidecar shock!

Even with Patrick holding down the shock's top eyelet to help keep pressure on the pin wrench failed to yield more than perhaps a 1/2" of movement!

We then used a ratchet strap, anchored opposite sides of the workbench and it finally provided enough downward pressure on the eyelet to compress the rubber donut seal onto the pin wrench to allow me to use full force on it.  Much grunting and effort later, the cap started turning easier and easier and finally we got it off!  Yikes.  Definitely cross-threaded!

While cleaning components and replacing seals, I noted the damage to the cup portion of the inner shock assembly:

The above damage, coupled by the fact the shock tube's threads were so damaged due to previous cross-threading either by the factory of P.O. that I abandoned attempts to use this shock absorber further.

I'll be ordering a refurbished one from ebay from the same vendor as the seals, just waiting on confirmation the one I selected is compatible. 

In the meantime, I mounted one of Scarlett's old Sachs shock absorbers so that Fiona is rideable.  The shock proved to be a bit of a bugger to install, two long screwdrivers, hammers, the ratchet strap and at times a crowbar were involved in getting the upper eyelet lined up with the frame's mount point to get that sucker installed!  Yikes.

Note: I ended up using a different nut/bolt to secure the bottom legs of the Sachs shock absorber as it didn't have the threaded inboard hole to secure the stock bolt onto.  The stock bolt, and the damaged shock housing/cap along with working components will go into storage for now.

All done for now, I am beat.  My hands hurt, my knees hurt, got myself a blood blister when some tool pinched my left thumb but it's done!  We'll see if she rides better, at the very least, there won't be unsightly dripping of oil from the shock absorbers.


SonjaM said...

I hope that all the work and pain was worth it, Dom ;-)

redlegsrides said...

Indeed SonjaM, indeed! I have doubts it'll make the ride more comfortable but if it stops the leakage and resulting mess....