Homemade valve spring compressor for watercooled VW four cylinder engines

Here is the homemade valve spring compressor I made when my Golf broke a valve spring.My mechanic had a professional valve spring compressor that he let me take measurements off of and I just copied the design with materials that I had on hand.

This tool consists of three parts: a “L” shaped mounting bracket, a lever arm and the “foot” that presses down on the valve spring seat.
If you use the exact measurements I used, the tool should work fine. If you change any dimensions, then you may want to gather the materials needed, pull the cam and then make the tool – checking your version of the tool on the car as you make it to ensure that it will work properly.
Construction notes:

Material choice:
This tool could be made from a variety of materials. I used some 3/4″ square aluminum stock and some 3/4″ flat aluminum bar stock that I had laying around. Pop rivets were used to attach the various pieces together. Square or round steel stock would work fine also. Rivets, bolts or welding could be used to attach the pieces together depending on what you have available.
Whatever material you choose to use, make sure it’s fairly stout. You’ll be putting a bit of force into the tool to compress the valve spring so you want to use materials that won’t bend or break!

“L”-shaped mounting bracket:
This bracket needs a 5/16″ hole drilled vertically in the short leg so it will fit over the cam bearing studs. The horizontal hole for the pivot for the lever arm should be sized to accommodate whatever you are using for a pivot. A bolt would work fine as a pivot, I used some clevis pins I had laying around.
The exact measurements of this part aren’t critical, however if you make this bracket a different size it will affect the length of the foot and the locations of the holes for attaching the foot to the lever arm.

The “foot”:
As you can see from the pictures, I used two flat pieces of stock with a small piece of the 3/4″ square stock in between to provide stiffness. The legs need to be around 3/4″ apart so they can press down on the valve spring seat and still leave enough room for you to reach in between them and remove or install the valve keepers.
The foot needs to be easily removable. I used some clevis pins I had, a bolt and nut would also work.

Lever arm:
A length of 14-16 inches will give the leverage you’ll need to compress the valve springs.
There are two holes for attaching the “foot” to the arm. Two holes are needed so you can mount the tool on one cam bearing stud and then pivot it left and right to get to the valves on either side of the cam bearing stud and the valves are different distances from the cam bearing stud.
The distances from the pivot to each hole will probably vary depending on the exact dimensions of your “L” bracket. The best way to get those two holes drilled in the correct place is to first mount the “L” bracket to a cam stud. Attach the lever arm to the bracket. Stand the “foot” vertically on the valve closest to the cam bearing and mark one hole on the lever arm. Do the same on the valve farthest from the cam bearing stud make a mark for another hole.

Using the tool:

Using this tool is fairly simple. If you are using it on a head that is installed on the block you will need some way of keeping the valves from dropping into the head when the spring is removed. I used compressed air via an adapter that goes into the spark plug hole.
Remove the cam (duh!). Place the tool over one cam bearing stud. Use one of the cam bearing nuts to secure the tool onto the stud. Just hand tighten the nut as you’ll need to be able to pivot the tool.
Pivot the tool so it’s over a valve. Install the foot in the hole in the lever arm that is directly over the valve.
Place the foot on the valve spring seat making sure it is centered. Press down on the end of the lever arm to compress the spring. Reach in and remove the valve keepers. Gently let the lever arm up to release pressure on the spring.