Introduction: Valve Spring Compressor Tool Adapter

About: I would say I grew up in Eastern South Carolina, if I HAD grown up. I've moved WAY too many times. I've loved building, fixing things, and learning about science and math, since as far back as I can remember…

If you want to replace the valve seals in your engine head, but don't want to buy expensive tools you may never use again, try this.

At many car parts stores, they have loaner tools you can use, by providing a deposit. If you don't take the tool back, then you bought it; but if you do take it back, you get all of your money back. This service is a life-saver for people like me. I was able to do a $2000+ head gasket replacement for about $450, 2-3 weeks of time, and a lot of grief from my wife (this includes replacing almost every gasket and o-ring, the valve seals, the timing chain, timing chain sprockets, timing chain tensioner and guides, the oil pump chain and sprockets, the spark plugs, a couple of the vacuum hoses, the oil, filter, and coolant).

If you "check out" a valve spring compressor tool at an auto parts store and you find that the jaws do not work on your particular head because the springs are recessed into tight sockets, you may be able to use this adapter with the compressor to get the job done.


Thick-walled (around 3/32" or 0.095") steel pipe or tubing to match the width of your valve springs.

An angle grinder with a cutoff wheel, and a grinding wheel

A permanent marker

A vise or locking pliers (something to hold the finished, hot workpiece)

A nut or press-in threaded insert of some sort slightly larger in O.D. than the I.D. of your pipe

A flat washer and bolt (about 1-1/2" to 2" long) to match your nut

Step 1: Draw Lines

I don't know where to tell you to get the pipe for this. I found a piece of thick-walled steel tubing buried in the ground as a stake on this property I bought. I pulled it up to keep from running over it with the lawn mower, but figured it would become useful one day. It turned out to be absolutely perfect for this project. The dimensions are 5/8" ID X 13/16" OD X 3/32" THK. You'll have to measure your valve springs to see what you can use. A home improvement or hardware store is likely to have pipe that will work.

To make it possible to access the spring keepers, we will need a cut-out at the end that will engage the spring. Draw a line around the pipe about 2" to 2-1/2" from the end. Then draw a shield shape, about 1-1/2" long, using 4 lines, with the wide part of the shield touching the end of the pipe. From the front, the shape looks like a shield. From the side, the shape looks like an "L". Using these lines, it is possible to cut the section out with two cuts, but I used 4, so as to not bog down too badly. Hold the piece tightly and wear PPE (eye protection, ear plugs, dust mask), so you don't get a head full of metal, fiberglass, etc. Once the cutout is finished, switch to your grinding wheel and grind off the burrs, before cutting the piece off of the pipe. Use leather gloves or locking pliers to pick up the piece, as it will be hot from the cutting/grinding process. Put it in the vise and grind off the last of the burrs, or if you're like me and didn't use a vise, just sand it on a concrete paver.

Step 2: Insert Threads

You need some way to fasten the adapter to the jaws of the spring compressor. It is important that the adapter does not fall off while you are trying to use it, as you do not want to damage your camshaft journals, etc. There are many ways to do this. If you have a welder, you can weld a nut to the pipe. I had an aluminum push-in, threaded insert, so I put this in through the cut-out and used the bolt to pull it into the adapter. That solution is not great--the adapter kept loosening and falling out of the compressor jaw. I kept having to re-tighten the bolt. I could have put epoxy on it, but I really didn't have time to wait around for that to set. If I was doing this again, I would try hammering an appropriately-sized nut into the straight-cut end and distressing the pipe edges to keep it from pulling out.

Step 3: Attach the Adapter

I wish I had remembered to get pictures of the tool in use. Using a washer, it's pretty self-explanatory how to attach the adapter to the jaw of the valve compressor. Just make sure you look over the compressor before you go through the trouble of picking it up from the auto parts store. This adapter is for the C-clamp style compressor--not the screw-type. There would be no way to use the screw type for the valves that we are removing with this setup.