By John Gunnell
Bob Hansen has taken to calling me "Strap Meister" because of the ways I have found to use ratchet straps around our auto restoration shop. In addition to securing an old car to a trailer, we have used different types of "tie-down" straps to squeeze front suspension parts together, to line up bolt holes and to squeeze the ends of an ant-sway bar together to fit the threaded ends into the holes.
Ratchet straps can hold a car to a dolly and the dolly to a trailer. The heavier, wider yellow straps are the ones to use for the jobs described here.
The first time we used straps in a novel way was when we were rebuilding the front suspension of an MGTD. We carefully took the suspension apart using an internal spring compressor to remove the coil spring. Then, we blasted all the parts, replaced the rubber bushings and ordered a pair of new coil springs.
Of course, the final step of sandwiching the coil springs between the upper and lower control arms is the tricky part. You will place the top and bottom of the coil spring on the spring seats in the upper and lower A-Arms and squeeze them towards each other until the large bolts (called pins) can be slid through the holes in the outer ends of the A-Arms and the holes in the vertical link. Once all the pins are slid into place and nutted, they will hold the spring between the A-Arms.
One book on MG T Series restoration outlined how to squeeze the A-Arms together by wrapping a chain around the A-Arms and under a floor jack. Then you pump the jack up, with a block of wood on the jacking pad. The jack is positioned so the block of wood rises up against the bottom of the lower control arm. The jack wants to raise the whole front end, but it can't because the chain is under the jack and keeps the front end from lifting. So, instead the tension forces the A-Arms closer together, until the upper and lower pins can be inserted.
An MGTD suspension. The coil spring has to go in between the upper and lower A-Arms. As you can see, the pin bolt has already been inserted in the upper A-Arm. The trick is to squish the spring so the bottom pin can be inserted.
Restorer Vince Sauberlich has the hook of the ratchet strap fastened to the bottom of the floor jack. He then wrapped the strap behind the upper control arm and hooked it to the other side of the floor jack.
Positioning the strap in the best spots takes a little thought. Note how Vince has run it behind the upper inner fulcrum pin so it stays in one place.