Saturday, April 5, 2014

Valve Spring Compressor

Having collected two spare engines recently, I've been slowly taking them to bits in order to assess what needs to be done in the hope of making a good one from the two. Having already looked at the block, now I turn my attention to the head. Anyone who has ever taken a head to pieces will know that to get the valves out, you need a valve spring compressor.

How to get those tricky valve springs off!

I don't have one so after a quick look on the internet, I could see that they were going from between £20 to £30. Although not too expensive, it's not exactly a sound investment as it would probably lay around unused for years in between the few times it would be needed. A more sensible choice would be to borrow one so I put a few feelers out, but after a week of begging it wasn't looking hopeful. So there was only one thing left to do, and that was to improvise.

Initially I used a pair of pliers and a 100mm G clamp. Although very fiddly, I did manage to compress the spring and get the collets off. But after doing the third spring, I was a bit fed up with the difficulties of getting the pliers just wide enough with one hand while holding and turning the clamp with the other.

Pliers work ...
... but it's very tricky.

From there, I tried using an open spanner instead of the pliers. This removed the complication of needing to set the width of the pliers. Although it was a bit easier to use for getting the collets off, it was obvious that it would be nigh on impossible to get them back on as the spanner obscured one side of the valve stem.

Bit easier...
... but not much.

I was determined to find a solution to this problem without spending any money, so in the end I decided to make my own spring compression tool by altering a G clamp. I had about eight 100mm G clamps kicking about the shed, so re-purposing one was not going to leave me short.

100mm G Clamp.
The first thing was to chop away a
 chunk of  metal from the end of the clamp.
After filing it, I used a spring retainer to workout the size of the metal that 
would need to be removed from the centre.
Then marked it with a pen.
Using a hacksaw, I made as many
cuts into the metal as I could.
Then snapped them out.
I opened out the hole with a circular file using the
spring retainer as a size guide.
After a little filing to tidy it up, It was done.
(Well once I'd reattached the swivel shoe it was)
Voila, it works perfectly.
This was a great little project as it solved a practical problem, required some creative thinking and involved the use of hand tool, which I love. Best of all it was free, so a win win situation all round. Now that I have the new valve spring compressor, the job of removing and reseating the collets was a doddle and I could get on with removing the rest of the valves with the minimum of fuss.