Front Struts Continued
Take the cleaned up old strut pinch bolt and thread it in from the other side of the upright. Take one of your quarters and, while holding the quarter in the slot continue to tighten the pinch bolt until snug. Tighten two full turns more and then stop; that should be enough to spread the upright enough that the shock is now actually loose (a little; just enough to get it out with some help.) Note that the quarter will deform, and if you over-tighten it you can punch a hole in the quarter!
This photo shows the new shock getting installed, but is the best shot I have showing the quarter-pinch bolt trick:
The other thing to note in the photo above is that there is a tang on the backside of the strut that locates in the slot in the upright. When you are installing the new strut be sure to rotate it to make sure this aligns properly, else the strut won't go all the way in.
If you rock the upright inwards, you'll hear a soft, but satisfying clunk and you'll see the old strut move a little. At this point you can start to pry out the strut using ever-increasing-thicknesses of flat-blade screwdrivers (not the vodka/orange juice kind; those come later!):
Once you have the strut most of the way out, you'll be a little stuck because at this point the lower control arm bushings are actually pressing up. You'll need to use the BFI Method (Brute Force and Ignorance) to press the upright down enough that you can wedge a screwdriver in the opening. Note that if you get too brutish and go down too far, you can tear the brake line and/or over-extend a half shaft, effectively disassembling it. So, be careful!
Once you get the screwdriver in you can just maneuver it to pop the strut laterally out of the upright. That you loosened the upper mounting bolts earlier makes this part easier:
Now all that needs to be done is to remove the outermost and rearmost strut upper mounting bolts from above. Then, either on a stool or on your knees, support the strut with one arm and remove the remaining strut upper mounting bolt with the other (this requires some arm strength) and then remove the old strut being careful not to damage the brake line, wheel speed sensor wire, etc.
Leave the old pinch bolt screwed in the wrong way against the quarter, put the old strut assembly aside, and clean out the inside of the upright where it binds on the strut. After it's clean, apply a thin coat of anti-seize, and then go get a fresh set of clean gloves and go fetch the shiny new pre-assemble Mountune front strut.
The top hats have two flat sides and one curved side. The curved side faces inward on the car. After you torque the top nut, rotate the top hat appropriately. You can rotate the strut on the car too if you wish.
Place the new strut in position and thread at least one of the strut upper bolts into the top hat. Like the final removal step, this part requires some arm strength and coordination and will be a lot easier with two people. Once you've got the strut hanging, thread the other two strut upper mounting bolts in place. Double confirm you put the curved side oriented inwards then tighten the strut upper bolts not quite finger tight so we have a little fore-aft play to make it easier to get the strut into the upright.
Big Problem Of The Day
Try as I might, I couldn't get the new front strut to seat all the way into the upright. I had it aligned properly, and it was well-lubed too, but it just wouldn't go in that last 1/2" or so.
I took out a micrometer and measured the diameters of the old and new struts, and found the new strut was about a spark plug gap greater in diameter. I also noticed some of the paint had started chipping as part of the insert operation. So I popped the strut out of the upright, cleaned the upright inner and applied fresh anti-seize, then scraped the paint off the part of the strut that would be inside the upright, and sure enough it went right in. I did NOT want to use a chisel to spread the upright more than that which was done by the quarter, because from others' posts this can cause the new pinch bolt not to line up and become cross threaded, requiring a new upright. It's not pretty, but it works and with all the anti-seize I was not concerned about rust.
The final 1/8" insertion needed a little help, so I jacked up the suspension with a floor jack, and using the brass drift and the ball peen hammer, I tapped the side of the upright and the strut slid into position with the removal pry tang firmly up against the top of the upright.
After that, then all that needs to be done is to remove the old pinch bolt and the quarter, insert and torque the new pinch bolt, reattach the sway bar upper mount, the wheel speed sensor wire and the brake line.
Check that there is no anti-seize or WD-40 on the brake disc and you can put the wheels back on and lower the car. Reassemble the fascia up top, put the vent covers back on and get ready to tackle the rears!