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Valve Spring Removal and Installation

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  • Engine: Valve Spring Removal and Installation

    Hey Fellas and Gals, How about some advise? I have two replacement heads for my hawk that I want to install. Before I do I want to remove the valve springs check seats and install new oil seals. What type of tool do I need to do the job? I bought one of the little claw type spring removers but it isn't going to work to remove the springs let alone to reinstall them. What is your experience and advise? I found a large C-clamp like device at NAPA for sixty bucks but have no experience with it. Also, when installing the heads should I apply a sealant to one or both sides of the metal head gasket and should I or should I not use any type of ant-seize product to bolt threads after cleaning them and chasing the bolt holes? A little help please and thank you all in advance for your help. Jim in Washington

  • #2
    Have you tried one of the auto parts stores that loan tools? Perhaps they have the valve spring compressor available. The easiest one to use is the "big C clamp" one.

    I use Permatex "copper coat" on head gaskets. If you clean out the bolt holes blow them out afterwards with air. I then use a lube distributed by ARP that coats the threads & allows accurate torque.
    59 Lark wagon, now V-8, H.D. auto!
    60 Lark convertible V-8 auto
    61 Champ 1/2 ton 4 speed
    62 Champ 3/4 ton 5 speed o/drive
    62 Champ 3/4 ton auto
    62 Daytona convertible V-8 4 speed & 62 Cruiser, auto.
    63 G.T. Hawk R-2,4 speed
    63 Avanti (2) R-1 auto
    64 Zip Van
    66 Daytona Sport Sedan(327)V-8 4 speed
    66 Cruiser V-8 auto


    • #3
      With the heads off, the C clamp one is certainly the easiest.

      I use this type...

      ...but it is somewhat of a PITA until you get in a rhythm.
      Dick Steinkamp
      Bellingham, WA


      • #4
        Thanks Warren! Hi Dick, I bought one of those and agree on the PITA factor. Haven't figured out that rhythm thing yet. Did manage to pinch my fingers. I think I will look into one of the c clamp type since the heads are already off unless someone offers a better idea. Thanks guys!


        • #5
          Only a bit OT, but I've watched the production engine rebuild shops remove valves and it's interesting. While the head is still on the long block, they take a deep socket about the same OD as the valve spring retainer, place in line with the valve and whack it a couple of times with a dead-blow hammer. This compressing the spring causes the keepers to pop out. They throw the springs, retainers and keepers in the scrap barrel, pull the heads, throwing the head bolts into the re-use bucket, pull the valves and throw them into the scrap barrel. Takes them about a minute per head.

          For re-assembly, they have an air powered C-clamp suspended on a counterweighted overhead cable. They have a tray with the valves, springs, keepers, retainers and seals all lined up. Again, years of experience makes it look easy. They're done, vacuum tested and bagged before I've found a place to set my coffee cup.

          But for the rest of us, the large manual C-clamp is the way to go. I've got two of them, because some CASO is always wanting to borrow one. If you were closer, I'd loan it, but as suggested, try the larger auto parts stores for rental/loan.


          • #6
            As above, the "C" clamp tool works best w/ Stude' springs. That said, i made a tool that looks like (probably dimensional diff's) the one shown in the Shop Manual. The reason? just in case the valves need to be removed while the head is on the engine - The same tool will do the job.
            Also, Copper Coat is recommended by Best Gaskets and many shops - Must be pretty good. The tech @ permatex said to waiit a couple minutes after applying the sealant (let it get tacky) but not to let it set up - Install while still very tacky.
            i followed the manual w/ the head bolts - cleaned the bolt threads, Used a thread chaser (not a tap) to clean the block threads and applied motor oil to the bolt threds. Any other lube will require an adjustment in the torque value to use.
            Paul TK
            Last edited by Paul Keller; 10-02-2013, 03:20 PM.


            • #7
              I coat my head gaskets with plain ole silver spray paint from a rattle can. Been working for me for over 50 years.
              Jerry Forrester
              Forrester's Chrome
              Douglasville, Georgia

              See all of Buttercup's pictures at


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jerry Forrester View Post
                I coat my head gaskets with plain ole silver spray paint from a rattle can. Been working for me for over 50 years.
                Well thanks guys! About what I figured but wanted to hear the voices of experience. Do you fellas thing there is any driving reason to change out the springs? Jim


                • #9
                  I've used both styles of valve spring compressors. I like the big C clamp style the best. You may have a bit more trouble finding one these days. The replacement for that style is the screw down type. Its cheap at Harbor Freight Tools. Problem with the screw type is that it does not hold the valve in place while compressing the spring. So it gets a little tricky to knock out the keepers as they sometimes get sticky, and the screw type can pop off the spring if not careful.


                  • #10
                    Change "out" ?

                    Changing the springs would mostly depend on the use of the car/engine. If you are going to be hot rodding around, hitting the local drag strip, etc., then yes, probably a worthwile swap.
                    But if it's just a cruiser, with the occasional short freeway trek, then it might be a bit of work for little gained.

                    Actually, if you don't have hard exhaust seats and you drive it fairly normally (lower rpm), this might be a good thing to extend the seat life a little.

                    The stem seals are still a good deal if it's been a're back where you started...pulling the springs. You'll just save a few bucks not buying springs...but the work is still there.



                    • #11
                      Do you fellas thing there is any driving reason to change out the springs? Jim
                      Yes, if one uses the engine to its potential. How often do you take it above 3500 RPMs? As the engine revs higher, sometimes used springs are too weak to keep the valves following the cam.

                      No, if one drives conservatively and keeps the Rs below 3,500. But why worry about what will happen if one needs to wind it up to pass quickly and safely?

                      Maybe, PM me. I just discovered a box containing several sets of NOS springs which had gotten pushed to the back of the shelf. I'll make you such a deal, you won't hesitate to replace the springs.

                      jack vines
                      Last edited by PackardV8; 10-03-2013, 08:53 AM.


                      • #12
                        Do the keepers ever fail?


                        • #13
                          Rarely if ever with stock springs, even with R series springs. The same keepers are used in MANY engines with the same 11/32" stem dia. Most of these other engines have even higher spring pressures than the Stude used/uses without problem.

                          There are some inferior stamped (offshore) keepers out there, but as long as you are using the original Stude parts, you'll be fine.