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Thread: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Hi Forum,

    I have done some extensive research in the rebuilding of my front Armstrong Lever Shocks for the 67 Healey which I want to do "if they need" (and replacement of the upper trunnion assembly, which is a must!). I wish to keep my vehicle original, BTW. *(I believe that is the correct brand type labeled for these shocks)

    I am about ready to remove them. After I remove them and if I can manually lift the wishbone armature up and down easily (enough), or if there is gurgling sounds of oil and "hitch" movement involved, then I believe it's time for either a rebuild or replacement.

    Assuming for the moment I need to have mine rebuilt, I have been a bit unsuccessful in finding sites that show how to rebuild the innards of these shocks. I know about oil removal, cleaning, and installing new oil. Fork 30W Oil is one brand that has been recommended for the Healey--any other thoughts? I don't know if replacing the rubber seals to the pistons would suffice or if there is more involved.

    Has anyone here ever rebuilt theirs? Just curious. I found one site that I can send them out and have it done. Good enough if no other option avail. Some years ago here on the Forum, a few members kept making mention of a fellow who was in the biz of rebuilding these shocks. That was some years ago--no trail possible now, it seems.

    I would like to learn more about rebuilding my existing shocks, if possible. Otherwise, any other options or leads that can be worth investigating?

    Thanks for any additional knowledge provided.

    Paul
    Last edited by pkmh; 06-28-2020 at 04:11 PM.

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    Jedi Knight Lin's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Peter Caldwell, World Wide auto parts is the place to go. http://www.nosimport.com/
    Lin
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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    OK, Lin.

    I have started communication with Peter a couple of days ago. Yes, I feel he's the best choice.

    Thanks!

    Paul

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    Luke Skywalker dougie's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Quote Originally Posted by Lin View Post
    Peter Caldwell, World Wide auto parts is the place to go. http://www.nosimport.com/
    Lin
    Ditto what Lin said.....
    Dougie
    '65 BJ8 3000 MKIII GN.29
    '57 100-SIX MM Vintage Racer GN.1 #414
    Team Healey PDX

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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    If they're not leaking they shouldn't need rebuilding.
    Richard Mayor
    Vintage Racer HBN7L-466
    Portland, Oregon

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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Thanks for the comments, thus far.

    I removed my front lever shocks yesterday. They both need refurbishment, badly (and upper trunnion assemblies, I might add). I can easily enough maneuver the shock's wishbone armature up and down by hand with little or no resistance.

    And as I have read from previous testimonies here and elsewhere, signs to watch for are "gurgling" sounds and "hitch" motion while moving the armature up and down, both found evident in mine, as well.

    I am going to have Peter from World Wide Auto Parts do mine. From what I have learned about his operation, he seems to have the experience and is quite qualified. In fact, he can do more than what I could accomplish if I were to do the shocks myself, even though I would of enjoyed the process, of course. Oh well, I have other projects on the Healey that will keep me quite busy, thank you very much.

    Paul

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    Jedi Warrior BoyRacer's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    No resistance usually means no fluid. Gurgling sounds usually mean air in the system i.e, low fluid. Try adding some fluid first. If the fluid leaks out around the arms then you will need to have it rebushed.
    Richard Mayor
    Vintage Racer HBN7L-466
    Portland, Oregon

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    Jedi Knight Rob Glasgow's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Paul, for what it's worth, I had Peter rebuild both the front and back shocks on my BT7 about 6 years ago and it was one of the best single improvements to the ride of the car I'd done in 57 years of ownership. It was right up there with new tires and wheels from Hendrix. Get them rebuilt, you won't be sorry.
    Rob Glasgow

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    Jedi Knight Healey Nut's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Send them to apple hydraulics and get the uprated valving in them .
    "If it aint broke ....dont fix it "
    " Thats not an oil leak ..........its a special automatic British rustproofing system "
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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Glasgow View Post
    Paul, for what it's worth, I had Peter rebuild both the front and back shocks on my BT7 about 6 years ago and it was one of the best single improvements to the ride of the car I'd done in 57 years of ownership. It was right up there with new tires and wheels from Hendrix. Get them rebuilt, you won't be sorry.
    Rob, I agree with you. And on the subject of ride, Peter will, at some point, follow up as to what valve, damping rate, etc. relevant to the kind of ride I'm looking for before proceeding(i.e. stock, competition, or so I believe). If I'm on mark with that, well, my only real desire is to get that feeling of the car hugging the road without any sense of tilting as I make those curves on the road. Not sure if that's par for rebuilt shocks or if that becomes a bit more specialized (I don't think I ever drove the car ever having decent shocks to start with).

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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Quote Originally Posted by BoyRacer View Post
    No resistance usually means no fluid. Gurgling sounds usually mean air in the system i.e, low fluid. Try adding some fluid first. If the fluid leaks out around the arms then you will need to have it rebushed.
    Thanks for your thought. Just so you know, I did top them off a few months ago. They leak, so some escaped. I would even go further by saying to drain the oil and start anew. On that subject, my research shows Fork 30W oil is ideal for the Healey front lever shocks. Any thoughts on that?

    Paul

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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Just an update:

    Got my Armstrong shocks back this past Thursday from WWAP. Installed them on Saturday along with new upper trunnion set from Moss. Everything about that is back. Test drove it today, although weather was very hot out. Ride and handling quite an improvement, not to mention a lot of my front end shaking is all but gone. Thinking about it, if I could do it all over again, I wonder if it would of been a good idea to instruct WWAP to make the valving stiffer to the lever shocks because I sometimes would get in the mood to accelerate a little around sharp bends, but not too often.

    I better start on the lower bushings soon. then replace my front brake rotors and pads (slight pulsating). Best to purchase new instead of trying to have old ones recut? I already have a trunnion suspension kit somewhere I purchased quite sometime ago.

    Anyway, as I continue with the front end, guess it wouldn't hurt to start considering having the rear shocks rebuilt.

    Moving forward and the ride and handling slowly getting better and better, little by little. I never realized what I've been missing.

    Paul

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    Yoda
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    You might want to check this out: https://www.apcautotech.com/getmedia...rakeJudder.pdf
    As long as the minimum thickness is observed I see no issue with 'turning' the rotors. Pad break-in is critical.

    Somewhere, I have Carroll Smith's book 'Chassis Engineering' buried in a moving box, but I recall he maintained that for better handling stiffer springs and softer shocks were preferable to the converse.

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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob_Spidell View Post
    You might want to check this out: https://www.apcautotech.com/getmedia...rakeJudder.pdf
    As long as the minimum thickness is observed I see no issue with 'turning' the rotors. Pad break-in is critical.

    Somewhere, I have Carroll Smith's book 'Chassis Engineering' buried in a moving box, but I recall he maintained that for better handling stiffer springs and softer shocks were preferable to the converse.
    OK Bob, thanks for the bit about the better handling. I went with the "Stock" version or the "original performance specification" when I had my shocks rebuilt. Based on what you are suggesting, I made the best choice for my needs. I have no intentions of modifying the springs at this time.

    As for turning the old rotors, I will try that if there are still people around by me and do that sort of thing anymore. We are turning into a more throw-away society these days the last I am aware. Hopefully, I'm wrong. I will investigate. Thanks!

    Paul

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    Yoda
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    As an aside, I think the term the Brits use--'damper'--is more descriptive of the role of 'shock absorbers,' as they do more than just absorb shocks. But, I don't think many Americans would know what you were talking about if you called them that.

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    Jedi Warrior pkmh's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob_Spidell View Post
    As an aside, I think the term the Brits use--'damper'--is more descriptive of the role of 'shock absorbers,' as they do more than just absorb shocks. But, I don't think many Americans would know what you were talking about if you called them that.
    OK, Bob, that might put a damper on things...But good to know. Thanks!

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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    I remember hearing (somewhere?) that the springs were the shock absorbers and the other things damped out the oscillations...or something like that!

    Danny

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    Luke Skywalker DerekJ's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Danny, that is correct. The springs are the shock absorbers, the dampers prevent continued bouncing up and down. The whole purpose of the set up is to keep the wheel in contact with the ground. Stiffening everything up results in better cornering with less roll but the downside is loss of contact with the road surface over bumps and holes. Race cars will adjust springs and dampers depending on the quality of the track surface.

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    Jedi Knight Healey Nut's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Ihad the upgraded valving done in both the sets done by Apple for my now sold BJ8s .
    I will definitely be doing the same on my Tri-Carb project .
    "If it aint broke ....dont fix it "
    " Thats not an oil leak ..........its a special automatic British rustproofing system "
    Best Healey in show ABCD Ottawa 2013
    Best Healey in Show Boot n Bonnett Kingston 2013

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    Yoda steveg's Avatar
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    Re: Rebuilding Armstrong Lever Shocks on a BJ8

    Quote Originally Posted by Healey Nut View Post
    Ihad the upgraded valving done in both the sets done by Apple for my now sold BJ8s .
    I will definitely be doing the same on my Tri-Carb project .
    Is that the setup where an external valve is added so the rebound is different from jounce?
    Steve Gerow
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