There are four road springs and shocks on the rear suspension of the Jaguar XKE E-type. The shocks have metal collars that hold the springs under tension and the shock shackles bolt the spring-shock assembly to the rear suspension frame. Now, you can remove and replace the shocks and springs while the rear suspension cage is still bolted to the car. In fact they are relatively accessible with the car jacked-up and wheels removed. So there is no excuse not to change out the shocks when they get tired. Of course, I had the whole rear end out of the car and it made sense to change out all the shocks and springs while I was doing u-joints, brake calipers, pads and rotors.
The one potentially scary aspect of replacing the rear shocks and springs on the XKE E-type is the fact that the road springs are held under great pressure and you you need to compress the springs to remove the metal lock collars from the old shocks and then compress the new springs around the new shocks in order to put the lock collars into place and assemble the new spring-shock combos. The pressure on the springs is great and the potential for a painful to lethal accident is high… Don’t even think about using standard spring compressors! There are real problems with that approach. The springs are pretty short and you have to attach the compressor levers relatively close together along the spring – that means you are using a LOT of pressure trying to compress a short section of spring a long ways. Danger here. Also – the securing levers on really good and robust spring compressors typically do not fit into the narrow space between the spring coils – if you use a lighter and thinner compressor you are in grave danger of catastrophic failure. Now – if you are at all uncertain about this there is help – you can buy already assembled shock and spring units from places like XK’s Unlimited and avoid any danger. This is the safest option and costs only a little more.
Ah – but there is also a nifty trick to compress the rear springs on Jaguar XKE and E-type cars. Only do this if you are an experienced mechanic and are careful… Remember the rear brake rotors that I removed in my last posting? Through one of those odd turns of fate… – the center hole in rear brake rotors is just the right size to fit over the shock collar so you can compress the spring and remove the collar lock. Absolutely perfect fit! Wait – there is more wonderment! The bolt holes in the rear rotors are just the right size and distance apart to fit on threaded rods that you can put nuts and washers onto and voila – use the rotors, threaded rods and nuts as safe and solid spring compressors custom fit to the XKE. It is pretty simple – just use two rotors to sandwich the springs, insert the threaded rods, place washers and nuts on the rods and evenly tighten side to side. You will compress the spring gradually – and since you compressing the entire length it does not take scary amounts of pressure to compress the spring enough to remove the split collar locks from the shocks and free the springs. You use the same set-up to compress the new springs and fit them to the the new shocks. It makes the whole process pretty fast and relatively safe. Again though – if in doubt purchase an already assembled set of shocks and springs.
Make sure to save all of the collars, split rings and the metal protective cylinders from the old shocks. Your will use these in assembly of the new ones. I found the collars and split rings cleaned up nicely. I stripped and baked enameled the metal protective cylinders in the original shade of gray that they came in. It is a shame – but no one will really see all of this nice work once the rear suspension is back up in the car. Oh well – I know it is there and looks good!