1962 Triumph TR4 Restoration

Brian Sanborn, Groton, MA

Shocks and Dampers

As the car started to come together mechanically, and I was driving it more and father from home...I started to notice the behavior of the suspension.   Both the front and rear suspension seemed to be very weak.  The rear would bottom out on the rubber stops if I went over certain dips in the road.   This caused a big bang and a little loss of control.

I visually inspected the front and rear shocks.  The front telescopic type shocks had no leaks but they looked like they were at least 20 years old.  The rear  lever-arm dampers were slightly newer looking but showed signs of leaking.  I was scheduled to do work on the suspension until the Winter of 2000... but I decide to do a quick swap out of the shocks and dampers to improve the Summer 2000 ride quality.

I had acquired two brand new (NOS) rear dampers from a New Hampshire parts sale.  For the front I bought two SPAX adjustable gas shocks from BPNW.  When I removed the front shocks.. I was shocked (sorry) to find they were stamped with an August 1962 date of manufacture.  No wonder they were so mushy.  They were 38 years old.  I still find it hard to believe that no previous owner thought to replace the front shock absorbers before I came along.

The SPAX shocks went in without a hitch or any major mechanical challenge.  I did decide to use urethane bushings instead of the standard rubber variety.  I had decided to use urethane bushings for the entire front end rebuild the following winter and wanted to keep everything the same.   The only trick involved here is getting the shocks out.  You can jack up the car and then place a jack stand under the spring pan on the outer corner and the lower the car.  This compresses the road spring and gives you access to the bump plate that retains the shock mount.  This is how I did it... but there is a much easier way.

If you look closely you can totally remove the lower bracket on the frame that holds the lower rubber bump stop.  This gives you easy access to the the bump plate and the shocks can be lowered out from within the road springs.  The new SPAX shocks are installed easily.  I used a setting of 2 out of 14.  Very weak... because I was afraid to push the worn suspension.  The following year when I did the front suspension rebuild I set to 8 which recommended for street sport use.

I will experiment with this setting after the suspension rebuild during Winter 2000.