By John Gunnell
Tie-down straps are sold everywhere these days. You see them at Wal-Mart and at every classic car swap meet. They come in all colors and sizes in a wide variety of strength ratings. We like to have as many types as possible—thin, wide, short, long, ratchet and plain—to use inside our restoration shop.
Some people think hold down straps are for securing cars to trailers. In this case, they are holding a bare body that is strapped to a body cart that is strapped to the trailer.
Tie-down straps can actually come in handy for many things. It pays to have a wide variety of different straps stored in your shop or, in this case, in your car hauling trailer.
We had E-track installed to the floor of the Gunner's Great Garage trailer. Now we use short tie-down straps that clip into the E-track and have a loop on the other end to secure parts to the trailer floor with bungee cords.
Inside the shop? You bet! While many people think of tie-down straps only as a means of cinching a car to a trailer, we have found many other uses for them. And we're guessing there's probably dozens of uses we haven't thought of. Anytime you want to hold something stationary or put gentle pressure on a part to force it into place, the right tie-down strap may be the tool that will do the job.
We discovered one of the many uses for tie-down straps in the shop when we were redoing the front suspension of our 1952 MG TD roadster. A well-known book on MG T Series restoration suggested a way to compress or decompress coil springs between the upper and lower A-arms by using a chain wrapped around a floor jack and around the front suspension assembly.
As we read about this technique we realized we did not have a chain long enough to do the job, but then we thought about using a strong tie-down strap in place of the chain to help disassemble the front end parts. With the jack raised against the frame, we carefully slid the strap under the floor jack and around the suspension parts, making sure it hooked on something for a secure connection. Then, we used the ratchet mechanism to tighten the strap around the A -arms.
Next we loosened the links between the upper and lower A-frames with the jack holding tension on the strap. Because the strap goes under the jack and over the front A-arms, the jack is working against itself and the frame doesn't lift. The coil spring is sandwiched between the strapped A frames. Then, as you very slowly lower the jack, the compressed coil spring slowly decompresses, releasing its energy gradually. When the energy is gone the spring can be safely removed.
Vince Sauberlich prepares to use a thick, strong tie-down strap and a floor jack to help take apart an MG TD front end assembly without sending the coil spring bouncing around the shop.
Positioning the strap carefully around the upper and lower A-arms is important for a safe job of disassembling the front suspension. The heavier tie-down straps can be used in place of chains and won't scrape paint off.