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So, it's time for new rear shocks for my 96 Impala. Previously I have just had the shop do them, as it looked hard to do. But, having read all the posts describing the hot setup for doing it, I decided to tackle it myself. Armed with a stubby 1/4 inch drive ratchet and a 13 MM socket for reaching the top nuts, and an air wrench and long extension with a 10mm socket on it for the bottom bolts, I tackled the easier inboard one. It went pretty easy. Flush with pride at my success, and filled with a feeling of mechanical mastery, I went on to the slightly harder to reach outboard bolt. When I pressed the go button on the air ratchet, everything started to turn - then bound up a little, and yanked the stubby ratchet out of my fingers and threw it into the frame where I can't reach it.

Anyone else have this happen to them? Anyone succeed in retrieving the tool? Or shall I just hope that it settles in good and doesn't rattle...one thing's for sure, I'm tying a lanyard on the replacement for when I start on this tomorrow...
 

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Can't help you much on finding the lost tool except to say if you have a general idea where it went/landed, try to use a long magnetic tip type tool with a flexible wand. Picked 1 up cheap from harbor freight and it's helped me retrieve many bolts/nuts that were accidentally dropped into unseen or hard to reach areas.

I've only done the rear shocks once but don't really remember having much trouble with all 4 bolts. If you can survive the dreaded 5th brake hose replace, then you can damn near tackle any repair on these cars. ;>). It's been a while since doing this, but pretty sure I managed to get a open or boxed end wrench on top to hold the nut. Then just used a long extension and socket to remove the bolt from below.

FYI - If you've read the threads, then you most likely saw the kit that Bill (NavyLifer) made and sells to make the next time easier. You may want to get his kit if you can wait for it.

Edit - a tool like this.....

http://t.harborfreight.com/flexible-magnetic-pickup-tool-94614.html?utm_referrer=https://www.google.com/
 

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Yep. Same here. Find the box end of a regular combo wrench works best to get in there. Driver side is a 5 minute job when you have single exhaust. A little longer when deal getting your arm up there with exhaust pipe in the way.
 

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This Thing

- and then cut off the other end so it can rotate and bind up on something.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
OK, Thanks all, I managed to get the shock out - used a box end with a steep angle on the head to get onto the outboard nut and spun it right out. Before I put the new shock in I'm fishing for the lost tool...I got the magnet on a flexible wand from Harbor Freight, which is pretty neat but hasn't done the trick. There is what looks like a 1.5 inch rubber plug right next to the top shock mount I'm thinking about pulling out to get more fishing room- before I make any more mistakes, is that a simple rubber plug I can yank out from below, or is it something important not to be messed with? Anyone ever taken it out?
 

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The rubber plug is a body mount. That body mount is only sandwiched between the body and frame, no bolt. You might get it out but you won't get it back in without raising the body off the frame on that side.
Ken
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for that bit of info - I'm glad I didn't yank out that plug.

Yesterday I got around to looking again and finally managed to fish around with the magnet some more and get the lost ratchet out. It felt really good not to leave in place to rattle. And I got the news shocks in using a "Navy Lifer" set of U-bolts, so I anticipate a really easy change next time.

I'm sure it's old news to everyone here, but in case any other first-time changers read this, if you prop the frame up with jack stands and lower the diff as far as possible, it becomes possible to reach a whole lot further into the upper pocket when doing this.

Thanks all for the info.
 

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Another piece of advice is to use a L-O-N-G extension. I believe the one I have is 30" (3/8"). Then you have to stretch your other arm up top with the box end of a wrench to hold the head while spinning the nut loose with the long extension, and air ratchet.

As 4DOORSS mentioned, I have only done this once per vehicle, and in doing so I used the Bill Harper U-Bolt kit. That kit makes swapping out shocks in the future a 5-10 minute job at the most. I'm very glad to have done that.
 

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Anyone try tightening the upper bolt with an impact without holding the top nut? Would it shear off? Haven't done the rear shocks yet and was thinking this might be easier to shear the bolts off than to unbolt them.
 

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you can't get a impact gun on the upper rear.

Usually the shaft just spins when taking off front uppers so hold the shaft top with vise grips and use a box wrench to get the nut off. Spray do liquid wrench on it first
 

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Anyone try tightening the upper bolt with an impact without holding the top nut? Would it shear off? Haven't done the rear shocks yet and was thinking this might be easier to shear the bolts off than to unbolt them.
No, but my question may be "why would you want to?" This is really not a complicated issue but suppose you could if you really wanted to use a impact gun but still need to hold the top nut from spinning. I used a 3/8" ratchet with long extensions to get up in there while I help the top nut. Really not much torque needed to bust these free....at least when doing mine.
 

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I have seen a tool to hold the shaft of the front shock from spinning. I believe it fit on a ratchet. If so, you could hold the nut still, and turn the shaft to extract the shock.


Numerous people have just bent the shaft back and forth until it breaks. It does not take many times to cause it to break. The threads allow for a stress point for cracks to propagate.


Installation is a lot easier.


The top rear nut would probably strip out instead of breaking if you tightened it with an impact. You could no longer wrench it out, and you would be stuck with drilling it out, or grinding/torching the head off. Don't make it harder than it already is.
 

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Anyone try tightening the upper bolt with an impact without holding the top nut? Would it shear off? Haven't done the rear shocks yet and was thinking this might be easier to shear the bolts off than to unbolt them.
I have a needle nose vise grips and if required , lock the shock rod in place up at the top of the rod so it is not going to mess up the shock seals. these come in small sizes so you can get them in place I have also a 4 inch long one.
when I replaced my OEM rear shocks 18 yrs ago with the bilsteins I replaced those GM nuts with a nut that has twice the height of the GM self locking nut . so after all those years I replaced the rear shocks 2 years ago and had no problems removing those rear shocks and installing using the same nuts that I changed 15 years in the past.

the issue is the sockets we have , have a tapered edge. the GM nut tapered edge and not too tall. now its a PITA.
 

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If you are replacing the front shocks, the seals are of no consequence. You just want to get them out.
 

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Ok, now I'm confused. You guys do realize this is the REAR shocks we are talking about? There is no Spinning Shaft or special Shock Tool that needs to be used on the Rear shocks.

The rear shocks are all Standard Hardware and you just need to grip the Top Nut(s) to secure it while removing the Bolt. Again, I don't think we need to overthink this when talking about the Rear shocks. It really boils down to access to those pesky Nuts that are sandwiched on top of the Frame Mounts and below the body. There is limited space/access in this area but it is doable with basic tools.
 

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Some have accomplished the same thing by installing the bolt through the sheet metal (with shock removed),and then installing an appropriate thread thin "jam" nut... Resulting in two shock mounts that do not move when tightening the sock's nuts from underneath after installing the shock itself..
 

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Ok no shearing the bolt it is. I like the idea of a taller nut, or the Bill Harper u-bolt.
I also have 6 point box wrenches . I filed down the tapered portion to get a solid grip . I have special sockets I have also filed down so they have no tapered lip . works great on those tranny pan plugs............
 

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Typically one of the mods I am not afraid to do is file off recessed heads on sockets and phillips drivers. The increased bite NEVER strips bolts/screws.
 
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