Honda CRX Forum banner

Valve Spring Compressor (Help!)

6257 Views 28 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  downest
I have a 1990 CRX Si, everything is stock except for the salvaged 89 distributor that I'm using since the original one went south. It is burning oil pretty badly at lower RPM or when I do something that decreases engine RPM, but when I'm running (actually driving) the smoke abates or disappears entirely. I've researched this and asked questions and it turns out that this is a classic symptom of bad valve stem seals. Great! Now on to the meat of my problem...

I can't find a farking Valve Spring Compressor that will actually reliably work for me.

The research I've turned up so far:

CRX Performance Forums

Now for some special tools! Get a valve spring compressor. These are $15 from Sears, but they need to be modified for the little tiny valves in the CRX. Get the one that's for overhead valves. Squeeze the end that pushes on the top of the spring in a vice so that it's small enough so that both parts hold the spring (you will know how wide this is when you get to this point). Also, grind down the ends of the arms, otherwise they wont fit between the spring coils.
I'm a little wary of actually modifying the tool... but, here's the ones I've seen that are similar to that.

Little Ebay one
Little Snap-on Ebay one (i think this one looks the best so far, on the budget end)
One from Sears
Snap-On YA9140 Master Tool (A bit more than I'd like to spend, but if it is the only guaranteed option, well...)

I would greatly appreciate any advice you have on the matter, as well as any anecdotal advice concerning the model of compressor you may have used in the past.

Thank you.
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
Are you planning to swap the seals with the head on or off? If you're planning on swapping them without the head off, you may want to look into getting a air attachment for the spark plugs which pressurize the cylinder so the valves stay in place once the springs come off. The cheaper way would probably be just to try to do it with that cylinder at TDC, which is probably another option.

If you are planning to swap it with the head on (it sounds like you are), I can't give you any advice. With the head off, I've had luck with the wraparound ones (looks like a giant vice grip, holds the valve from underneath). You can rent them at any Pepboys/Checkers/etc. for free.
@lessoninspeed: good question, definitely with the head on. thanks for the reply.

Also, as I only work on the car on Saturdays, and I cannot seem to find the spark plug compressor fitting, I'm using the "rope trick" as described in the manual with some nylon rope with the cylinder at TDC. I'm also only doing one valve at a time, per cylinder. That will take longer, but also reduces my chances of losing a part or getting too far before I screw something up.
Okay, you need two things:

1) COmpression tester with 14mm threaded adapter and a quick release gauge. ... mber=39224

This will allow you to more accurately diagnose where your leak is coming from. Also if you thread in the adapter and the hose, disconnect the gauge and connect compressed air it will hold your vavles up too.

2) Valve Spring Compressor. ... mber=92900

Depending on the diameter of your ratainers you may need to bend the inner silver part in to make the two sides closer together. Also, you will want to grind down the bottom "teeth" to make them a little bit thinner to fit between the coils of our springs.

And if you don't already have a dremel or air rotary tool or a bench grinder to grind the valve compressor, then you can also pick up on eof these: ... mber=90003

Although its heavy so you may not want to ship that. I'm not sure where you are located but if there is a local store near you, then you can just pick this stuff up after work.
See less See more
Compression has already been checked by previous owner as ~160psi. I still have not looked that up to see if that is good or bad, but I probably need to do that again, and check up on it.

Thanks jmart.
Well you found what I did...

I can't find the picture of it on my computer, it's been off my webspace since I re-organised it, I'll try to dig it up. Why don't you want to modify the compressor? It's pretty easy and it doesn't cause it to fail or anything.

Really? Because I want something surefire, as I only get one day a week really to work on it, and would rather not run about town looking for something different after the first one didn't work.

Trying to be efficient with the use of my time, really. Though the one jmart linked seemed a far cry better than the first one I tried, it was way too large, heavy modifications would have been needed. I wasn't really feeling up to it, so I just returned it.
I can loan you mine, I don't need it at the moment. I can promise you it works, I've used it a few times on different engines.

I appreciate the offer, but the difference in our geographic locations leaves me inclined to decline, unless you want to ship it down here. I'd be more than happy to ship it back, but I'm a bit lazy at doing things like that.

The generosity of this community astounds me.
Yeah I meant shipping it... send me a PM or something with your info.
I think I read this trick back on the resource... You don't need compressed air to hold the valves up. Just feed a fair amount of nylon rope down into the combustion chamber and then rotate the crank to TDC. The piston will push the rope against the back of the valves so they stay in place when you remove the springs.
True Bobski, but really, hooking up some compressed air is much easier and quicker than feeding in nylon rope. Not to say that the rope trick is not cheap easy and very effective in a pinch. At least thats my opinion, I've done both.
Rope trick is much cheaper, and not too hard with only 4 cylinders. Plus it'll do in a pinch. :D
Seems to me like it would be a royal PITA to get the seals off and the new ones on with the valve in there. Why not pull the head? You can clean off the carbon on the valves and stuff too, and install a MLS headgasket.
Honestly, because I'm hoping this fixes the problem. If it doesn't, I'll be doing it again, but this time in my own garage instead of the hobby shop where I tried to get it done. Seems that I'm more impatient than I need to be.

And c'mon, the rex is a blast to drive, can you blame me for wanting to finish it up?
I just don't think it will take that much more time, and you can do a more thorough rebuild on the head, replace the headgasket, timing belt etc.
I may be missing something about the job then. According to the manuals I've got to drop the engine and such to get the head off, then I need to get new bolts and get it re-machined.

Part of my problem stems from not wanting to leave it at the hobby shop that it is currently at. I went to the hobby-shop because I thought they would be a lot more help than they really were, at least tool-wise.

My point is now, I would like to get it working, and get it home before doing the rebuild from my own garage.

The hobby-shop charges 1.25$ / day. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I'd feel much more comfortable if it was in my own house. Plus the hobby shop is on the Airforce Base, so i can't get on the base without an escort.

All in all, I'd like to get it home, and right now that would take a wrecker, as I snapped one of the rocker arm assembly pedestal bolts while torquing it down to bring it home in the first place (unfixed). Apparently (they told me this after the bolt snapped) that wrench hadn't been calibrated in a long time.

Probably doesn't help the bolts are 17 years old.

Long story short, I want to do this to see if it fixes the problem and regardless get the darn thing home.
See less See more
You can easily pull the head while the block stays in the car. I rebuilt my old A6 in my dad's driveway last summer, it's really not hard. You don't need any special tools to do the head other than the valve spring compressor. There are a lot of parts in the head (~100 for the valve assemblies alone), but it's not terribly complicated and it's almost all 10, 12, and 14mm bolts.

Basically, you have to drain the oil/coolant, take the timing belt off, and unbolt the intake and exhaust manifolds and you're ready to take the head out. If you want a more extensive description, I posted an article a while ago, looks like you found it in the link above.
downest said:
take the timing belt off
You don't even have to go that far. Taking the belt completely off requires removing the crank pulley... The pulley bolt can be a royal pain without the proper tool(s). All you really need to do is loosen the timing belt tensioner and slip the belt off the cam gear.
Most of the time you can reuse the head bolts (even though you're not supposed to), so you just need a new head gasket and whatever parts you intend to replace.
the snapon universal ohv tool that they sell is not their design just their name start looking around i bought mine for under 100 and its the same thing.

and also this tool is what honda says to use in the service manual. its worked very well for me, while working with the valves with the head still on.

here is one i found real quick ... 3HBGAHDJQB

note: i didnt read through all of the posts but wanted to contribute a little.

1 - 20 of 29 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.