Thursday, May 25, 2017


by Bob Walsh

I used to do almost all of the work on my cars. Partly because I am a cheap bastard. Partly because I used to enjoy doing it. I am, however, now old and creaky (relatively speaking) so it isn't as much fun as it used to be.

I have a 65 Mustang and a 64 VW. I still do a lot of the work on those myself as I understand the cars and it isn't physically demanding. Plus I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing it. Plus I am still a cheap bastard. I also have a Saturn sedan and a Dodge Dakota. I do very little of the work on those as they are modern computerized cars and there isn't all that much I CAN do to them.

I finally decided to change the rear shocks on the Dakota. When I go over railroad tracks at speed (a lot of railroad tracks around here on 55 MPH rural roads) the rear end danced around like the first cut contestant on Dancing with the Stars. Got squirrely to the point of being dangerous.

So I called Rock Auto and ordered up a set of the best, most heavy-duty KYB shocks for this thing and waited for a nice day. (I don't crawl under cars when it is 100 degrees. I may be stupid but I am not crazy.) These days I do a little recon before such jobs as I HATE to get halfway and find out I need something. I did that, and was glad I did. Turns out the rear shock bolts and nuts are 18mm. Most metric fitting sets jump from 17 to 19. So I had to go to Harbor Freight and got two 18 mm sockets and also a couple of 1/2 inch drive extensions for my electric impact wrench which I thought I might need. Glad I did.

In any event it took well over two hours to do the job. I found, for instance, that I could not compress the shocks enough by hand to get them to fit so I had to jack up the truck to fit the shocks in the mounting. I also found that it is MUCH HARDER to manhandle a truck tire and rim than a VW tire and rim.

In any event the job is done. I saved a couple of hundred dollars and did not hurt myself (too much) and ended up with the satisfaction of a job well done. Might not be wonderful, but it doesn't suck either.. . .

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