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First off ... thanks to the OP for starting this thread!

I've been lurking these forums here and there for the past 4 years. First post here.

Just as with Matt-C and a few others, the torsion bar bracket in the trunk of my 2004 is300 broke (my trunk has the OEM spoiler). I had some boxes and such in my trunk; not sure if impact with those is what caused it, or if it was just fatigue. In any case, as Matt_C noted, the job for replacement of the brackets is not as simple as I'd like (no way I'd pay $400 to the stealership for the fix, either), and the brackets seem so lacking in beefiness that I can foresee the issue occurring again in the future. Additionally, the torsion system never really provided much support for my trunk anyway, and, unless I was on a perfectly flat surface, the trunk wouldn't even stay completely open on its own (I know now that I could have bent the torsion bars for more force, but I guess that's water under the bridge).

Anyway, so I'm looking at this mod, but I'd love it if I could get my trunk to open ALL the way, and to avoid the rubber bumpers. From what I've read on this forum, however, there's a delicate balance between where each end of the strut is placed (speaker side vs hinge side) so that the trunk opens enough, still closes without struts being too long, and the strut doesn't hit the underside on the speaker side. There seem to be several ways to get around the issue:

1) Use a strut that compresses sufficiently short yet extends sufficiently long--doesn't seem all that easy to find.
2) Use the Camry struts used by the OP, but attach them higher on the hinge side (e.g., using the highest OEM hole) while also attaching the speaker side end at a lower position (this would require and additional mod, such as a bracket that extends a bit lower). My intuition tells me that a small increase in the height of the attachment point at the hinge side should result in a relatively large increase in how much the trunk opens, while only increasing the height of the strut body on the speaker side by a relatively small amount. Similarly, the raising of the attachment point at the hinge side should also reduce the forcefulness with which the strut opens the trunk, since the torque it can generate will be reduced. Anyway, it seems like it's just a matter of finding the right balance, which is what I hope to do.

I have some right-angle iron rails that already have a bunch of holes drilled in them that I'm thinking might serve the purpose. Since a picture says a thousand words, I've attached a drawing covering the approach I'm thinking about taking.

If anyone has any input, I'd greatly appreciate it. I have yet to order the struts or any other equipment.

AEM
View attachment 136041
Adjustable mounting is nice. But you will find the force that the strut puts out is high. Specially if you want to run two. Like
Matt_C was talking about doing also.
 

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Sorry for the delay in updating - life, meh... So, I ordered a pair of 400mm long, 400N strength gas struts with ball-ends. I mounted the fixed end as far back as I could towards the rear seat back, and used the existing large hole to get a nut and washer in there to tighten it up - it's still not easy to get anything in there to grip the nut inside, and had I mounted them further forward it'd been easier. But with a 40mm strut there wasn't room to go further forward - and as it turned out, it was far enough back...

The other end I enlarged existing holes already in the hinge arms (one side was for the clip that retains the cable for the interior release and the other side was a bracket to hold the wiring loom in place. Neither are needed, so I repurposed the holes. Annoyingly, I don't seem to have pictures anymore, but if you look at the OP's pictures the rear mount point is roughly the same and the front mount, on the hinge, is the lowest hole.

A single 400N wasn't strong enough to open the boot when popped with the fob (or interior release) but with a bit of assistance it opened it up. It stopped about an inch or os from full opening, and is where the strut maxed out.

The problem came that when closed , the strut bottomed out, meaning it was fully compressed but still not short enough. This pushed the boot (trunk) lid out of line. So I needed to move the strut so it travelled the same length (ie, still opened as much) but had a bigger gap when closed so it didn't bottom out. Going back to the OPs pics, I drilled a new hole between the existing ones (the bottom one I enlarged ad the one above it the torsion bar bracket originally used. The higher one couldn't be used as even though it would work length wise, the geometry wouldn't allow it since the back mounting point was so far back, the strut would foul the "beam" it's mounted on. If like AEMontoya I'd used bracket to mount it, I may have overcome that.

So, I drilled new holes in the middle of the existing ones, and mounted my ball end. Closing the boot I could measure from ball to ball to give a fully closed measurement of ~255mm. The hole to hole spacing on the strut when fully compressed is 240mm so this gives the required room so they don't bottom out when the boot is closed (I tested this by fitting the strut and getting in and closing it, and can see ~10-15mm of exposed rod). Problem here was whereas the lower holes were perfect for the struts fully extended (when open), the new holes meant the struts weren't fully extended, so needed to be compressed about 10-15mm. And believe me, trying to compress a rod by hand inside the trunk is stupidly stupidly hard. Almost impossible.

However, I'd ordered a 200N (400m long) strut, with a mind that the 400N ones were too strong - two together opened the boot lid nicely, but was really hard to close - you needed two hands and really had to push down from the spoiler. So even though a single 400N wasn't strong enough to open it unassisted, I'm going to try a pair of 200N, hoping that two together might just be strong enough. If not, I can try 300N versions. So, thanks to the 200N being that bit softer, I was just able to compress it enough to mount it (I had to lie in the boot, with the lid mostly closed, the front (hinge) end already connected and use both hands to compress the strut enough to pop the back end onto it's ball stud. Wasn't easy!

End result is it closes fine, once fully extended actually opens to boot more than the first mounting holes did (it's less than 1/4" from the original bump stops resting together when open) and it's strong enough to keep the boot lid open once you've assisted it past say 75% of it's travel. So I'm hoping that two together might be the ticket. We'll see.

Sorry for the lack of pics, not very helpful. I'll try to get some more when I'm next back inside to mount the second strut. For the time being, here's a video of the two 400N struts in place so you can see how they open the boot lid, and a picture of the 200N version mounted. There's next to no additional clearance: the cylinder of the strut is as near as resting on the beam it's mounted to and the ball end on the hinge is pretty much touching the metal shelf under the speakers when open. I might put a 5mm rubber spacer on the original bum stops just to add a little offset.


Video

Pics - first is hinge with the ball studs installed: bottom one is the original placement, once above is the new hole I drilled. I left the original in place while I messed around getting it mounted. Second pic is (not a very good pic) of the 200N strut in place.

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Bro! That looks great! You put a lot of thought into that, and it looks like you're just about to get it. It seems like it's just a matter of picking the correct force for the struts (maybe, 2x200N or 2x300 N, it seems). I've been considering all of the same obstacles you've encountered. I'm currently waiting for a bunch of gear to come in the mail. After living in the trunk with a flashlight and a ruler over the course of last week, I ended up placing an order for 3 different length struts of a variety of different forces (free shipping to, but I'll have to bite the bullet when I return what I don't need). Anyway, what I concluded is that, due to the difficulty of finding a strut of the right length that also has sufficient travel, it's best to get a strut that's slightly too long, followed by compression prior to installation. In other words, you and I came to the same conclusion. Based on the physical limitations of the ratio of the extended length to compressed length of struts, it may be the only way to get the trunk to extend fully. There is one other significant factor, though: how high you drill the hole toward the hinge also plays a role--as you mentioned--since the arch length of the swing decreases as the hole gets closer to the hinge. This equates to less compression of the strut. It will also require the seat-side mounting point to be lower so that the strut body doesn't strike the metal above when closing. Based on my measurements, this can be overcome provided that a bracket is used, like you pointed out. I ordered two different bracket types to test out. The other issue that comes up with making the hinge-side hole higher on the trunk arm is that a higher force strut will be needed, which, as you said, will make it harder to compress the strut prior to installation. My solution to that will be to install the seat-side mount first, and then use the lowest OEM hole on the hinge arm to compress the strut partially (my strut will be short enough). While compressed, I intend to wrap bailing wire around the base of each of the strut's ball heads. From videos I have seen on YouTube, this should keep the strut compressed just fine, prior to install. Then, I'll move the ball head to the highest hole on the hinge and install the strut. I can then simply clip the wire and remove it from both ends.. This is my plan, anyhow. I hope to get around to the full install by the end of this weekend, life permitting. I'll take a bunch of pics for further discussion.

One final thought is that I plan to install the strut the reverse direction (with the rod arm toward the inside). From what the manufacturer recommends, it appears that it's best to have the strut body higher than the rod arm, for the purposes of prolonging the strut's life. This positioning should also make vertical clearance on the speaker-side mount slightly easier.
 

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Interesting point about having it installed reversely. I'd have to get back in and see which end is lower when closed to see if that's viable (I'm sure it is since you've thought of it). As you say, the thinner diameter of the rod vs the cylinder means more clearance on the pivot point when the boot is open.

I might thread a half-height nut onto the ball ends I have mounted at the fixed end, on the under shelf, so as to make the mounting point bit lower (half nuts are 4mm thick) and then reinstall. That way there's that bit more clearance when it pivots.

I'm hoping that a pair of 200N's will be sufficient to open on it's own and stay up, and be easy to close, as the ones I've bought are non-returnable after fitting (and I'd have to pay the return shipping like yourself), so I'm already out one pair, it'd be nice not to be out two pairs! We'll see in a few days. Hopefully I'll get on it over the weekend
 

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That sounds like a plan. I wonder how the shop you ordered from knows that you've fitted the struts. Maybe they have a seal? The place I ordered from has no such policy, fortunately.

Don't forget that changing the position of the hole along the hinge arm should make a good impact on how much force is needed to close the trunk. So, with some adjustments to the attachment points on both ends of the strut, I'm thinking you might be able to make at least one of the two pairs of struts you have work.

About lowering the ball joint on the seat side. I'd say simply to not forget how that extra length will create a bigger lever arm, which might end up bending the shelf metal out of whack a bit. Maybe you'd be better off placing a stack of washers until the height is just right. That would spread the force out over a larger area (you can get washers of all different diameters, even with the same hole size). Since you'd be taking the ball joint off completely anyway, it might be a good idea to place some washers on the upper half of the ball joint side for the same reason.

About the difficulty of holding the nut on the topside of the seat-side ball joint, I was thinking about using some non-locking nuts (ones without the teflon ring inside them) coupled with a star-shaped lock washer. I'm thinking that, with one of these types of lock washers under the nut, you'd simply have to screw the ball joint in from the underside, as the lock washer would dig into the paint and nut above it, causing the nut to be held in place without any other--or at least very minor--intervention. Anyway, just an idea.

And, yes, the strut rod does stay below the strut body when reversed, regardless of whether the trunk is open or closed (at least when using the highest OEM hole).

FWIW, here are some videos of how others have pre-compressed struts for mounting:
 

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I was thinking about the half-nut idea just a minute ago actually, I thought that although any additional length I give to the ball stud (downwards) will increase gap between the strut body and the shelf it's attached to, it will also make the pivot angle more acute, so more chance of the strut popping off the ball stud. So I'll probably leave it and see how we get on (check it in a couple weeks worth of use and see if there's any significant marring of the cylinder body where it contacts the shelf material.

Re the bolt anchor point, I have a decent sized penny washer either side, so I'm relatively comfortable with load spread vs bending. I think it has bent to a degree because of trying to shut (well, actually shutting) the boot lid where there isn't enough room for the strut once fully compressed. I noticed I had to retighten the the nuts on it after a few days (when I checked them) and I've got them cranked down as tight as I can muster right now, and will check them in a while to see how they're doing. If they come loose again I'll either need a nyloc nut to lock in place, or a locking washing like you mentioned (maybe a decent sized spring washer) or even some thread lock.
 

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I was thinking about the half-nut idea just a minute ago actually, I thought that although any additional length I give to the ball stud (downwards) will increase gap between the strut body and the shelf it's attached to, it will also make the pivot angle more acute, so more chance of the strut popping off the ball stud. So I'll probably leave it and see how we get on (check it in a couple weeks worth of use and see if there's any significant marring of the cylinder body where it contacts the shelf material.

Re the bolt anchor point, I have a decent sized penny washer either side, so I'm relatively comfortable with load spread vs bending. I think it has bent to a degree because of trying to shut (well, actually shutting) the boot lid where there isn't enough room for the strut once fully compressed. I noticed I had to retighten the the nuts on it after a few days (when I checked them) and I've got them cranked down as tight as I can muster right now, and will check them in a while to see how they're doing. If they come loose again I'll either need a nyloc nut to lock in place, or a locking washing like you mentioned (maybe a decent sized spring washer) or even some thread lock.
If the video is 2x400n. What are you after? Just to pop and you lift it or what?
 

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I'd like pop and self lift, like the video (whilst it lifts nicely from popping with the fob, it's a little powerful when it gets to the top). But I'd also like it to be easier to close, one handed if possible (like when I had it with just 1x 400N lifter). So I'm looking for a compromise between the two. And that might be 300N, I don't know yet. Won't know until I try 2x 200N in it and see how it is.

I've never had pop and fully open. I'm pretty sure when I got it, it opened half way and needed a little assistance to go to the top. Then it got steadily worse a few years later, to the point that if you pull the interior handle, it doesn't even pop - you sometimes had to do it several times just to get it to release. I think the remote button function is different, as that seems to use a solenoid to actually push the boot lid away from the latch. But even then, pressing the fob button only popped the lid and I had to lift it by hand. When the brackets for the torsion bars snapped, the only way to open it is with the remote button; the interior handle only works if someone else is lifting it at the same time I pull the handle. So it'd be really useful to have a pop and self-lift function.
 

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Yeah, that's my whole goal, too: Have the trunk open itself, while still being fairly easy to close afterward. It's definitely a matter of fine balance, and we might even have to choose one over the other.

My torsion bar setup did the same thing: it popped the trunk only (fob or lever) and got worse over time, until the torsion bar brackets snapped apart a few weeks ago. I never had a situation where the inside lever didn't pop the trunk, however.

Really hoping the brackets I ordered come in by Friday so that I can get to the project this weekend. So much going on, so little time, as it goes.
 

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If I end up with is a situation where it's not strong enough to fully open by itself but can support itself open and closes easily (with just a bit of resistance), in which case perhaps the addition of one or two of these springs to give it that "kick start" to open. I don't think these will work on their own, without any torsion bars in place - I think they require the torsion bar set up to still be in place, and assist it to open when it's weakened (how ours were before the brackets snapped)

 

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Ok. So, all the parts came in, and I found what seems to be a decent solution for me. Struts are perfectly parallel, and I didn't have to pre-compress any of the struts before install, yet the trunk opens all the way. However, using the current poundage, the trunk does not open all the way by itself. I could get it to do so, with stronger struts, but then I know that it would be more difficult to close. It's just a matter of a trade-off, and I rather like it like it currently is: it swings open easily, it shuts easily, and I can stop it anywhere near the middle. Here's a video of it functioning ...


Tools I used:
-Plunge saw/oscillating saw (to cut out rivet; take under 10 seconds)
-Right-angle drill (to drill holes in rear trunk shelf)
-1/4" bit (for bracket holes), 5/16" bit (for enlarging highest OEM hinge hole)
-Crescent wrenches

Parts I used:
-2x Strongarm strut brackets (SKU SA3100; have multiple holes and oblong holes for fine adjustment)
-2x struts SKU: SE140P80S10-W (14.0" long, 8.25" compressed, 5.4" stroke, 80lb, 10mm socket)
-4x 1/4"Diam"x1/2"Long course thread SS bolts (for mounting bracket)
-4x 1/4 hex nuts for bracket (avoid tall nylon lock nuts, as vertical space is tight, and locknuts will be difficult to hold while tightening; jam nuts are even lower profile than hex, but aren't needed)
-4x 1/4" star lock washers for the bracket (to aid in holding nut and to prevent bracket from loosening/slipping)
-8x 1/4" standard washer for bracket
-2x 10mm 5/16" SS ball studs with 1/2" length for bracket side
-2x 10mm 5/16" SS ball studs with 1" or 1.25" length for hinge side (13mm is a tight fit and is overkill)

Tips:
-To hold nut while fixing bracket, put a flat piece of metal through shelf hole and wedge it against nut while tightening head on bolt.
-Cut OEM hinge rivet with plunge saw; much easier than drilling out
-Attach hinge-side of strut first. Attach trunk-side bracket slightly too far forward (like 1 to 3 mm only). Then, pop trunk-side strut socket onto ball head BEFORE tightening ball head. Then, when ball head is tightened, it will straighten out and put some compression into the strut such that when the trunk is fully extended there will be zero bounce or play (see the 7th picture below).
-Cut small notch in trunk backing so that bracket can slide into place easier.
 

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Ok. So, all the parts came in, and I found what seems to be a decent solution for me. I didn't have to pre-compress any of the struts before install, yet the trunk opens all the way. However, using the current poundage, the trunk does not open all the way by itself. I could get it to do so, with stronger struts, but then I know that it would be more difficult to close. It's just a matter of a trade-off, and I rather like it like it currently is: it swings open easily, it shuts easily, and I can stop it anywhere near the middle. I'll add more details later, but here's a video of it functioning ...

Not bad. Glad you added parts list. So others can do it.
 

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My result is much like Montoya's - two 200N struts aren't strong enough to self-lift the boot lid from popping with the fob (or internal release), but once it's had a bit of assistance it will open fully and hold itself open. I can stop it at pretty much any point (past about 1/4 or 1/3 open) and it will "hang" there, and it's very easy to close (although it won't drop shut: if you let it gravity drop it won't close the catch so you need to lift and push down to close fully). So, my options are to either try a pair of 300N strength struts OR use one or two of those lift springs I mentioned earlier. On the one hand, I might find the 300's open it fully (or not) by themselves but make it harder to close.

Anyway, I snapped a few pics (sorry they're not great). I flipped the struts round to "reverse" as Montoya mentioned earlier. This is partially because, as he mentioned, it should keep them oiled internally longer but also because I found with the pivot angle I have, the strut body was touching the metal beam they're mounted on when fully open and was trying to pop them off the ball stud. With the locking pin in place they didn't come off, but without it they did, so I figure it's only a matter of time (or x amount of opens) that they bend the little pin and they pop off. By flipping them round so the shaft is at that end, when fully open there is complete clearance between the shaft and the beam - no contact. So they seem happier there. Fortunately, when closed the angle changes to the cylinder body doesn't touch the metal. I think, unfortunately, when I had the first pair of struts installed on the OEM holes I enlarged, which meant there wasn't enough room when fully compressed when closed, they actually bent/mishaped the metal where the ball studs are installed on the beam, making them lean back slightly which of course throws the geometry out. I didn't want to try and bend this back (by tapping them with a hammer) so I've left it as is. It's not a huge distortion, but enough to see it.

As Montoya also said, I found it easier to install them struts on the hinge end first, then I had to compress, by hand, about a half inch or so from the back to get them on the back studs. Looking at his pics, I kinda wish I'd used brackets like that to mount on the beam - looks a great solution.

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That looks pretty good, too, Matt. I'm actually surprised that just the ball joint works on the seat-side without permanently bending the metal shelf; those struts apply a lot of force. I actually bought two different brackets for attachment to that point. The first one allowed for the ball stud to be oriented like yours (vertically, that is). The second one, which is what I ended up using, mounts the ball stud sideways. It was actually your comment the other day, Matt, that made me go with the second option. You mentioned that the ball joint itself may actually want to pop off the ball stud (which, incidentally, is what you ended up dealing with prior to reversing the direction of the stud). By using the second style of mount, the strut always ends up being perfectly perpendicular to the ball stud, so no such issues exists.
From what I have seen, I'd recommend anyone trying to do this mod to use the top OEM hole and a 14.0" strut, along with a bracket. This seems to avoid all of the issues inherent in this job. And, since the bracket is adjustable in terms of both height and forward/backward position, you really can't go wrong. After that, it's just a matter of selecting which strength strut you want, depending on how you want the trunk to open.

On the theme of how the trunk should open, I'm still pretty sure I'm going to stay with what I have. I'm pretty convinced that a person has to choose one or the other ... either the trunk opens itself and substantial force is required to close it from its fully open position, or the trunk doesn't open itself, but the force required to close it from its fully open position is comfortable. Like I was saying before, I actually like that the trunk assists its own close (but doesn't actually lock by gravity), stays anywhere near the middle, and assists itself open when past halfway. Indeed, I think many car makes come adjusted like this from the factory, and it's actually likely a harder balance to be struck then a trunk that just swings itself open.
 

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I think I’d still rather it open fully on its own: pressing the button on the remote and it opening all the way by itself is incredibly useful (as is pulling the handle inside the car when the engine is running, which the remote button won’t do)
 

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@matt:

It sounds like you might have something going on with your latch, since you say that the inside manual lever does not unlatch the trunk unless pulled several times (I read on one of the other forums where someone else had this problem, and it was a matter of tightening where the cable attachment point was, IIRC). I wonder if when you installed the 2x 400N struts, which caused the trunk to completely self-open, if that problem went away. Whether I use the fob or the inside lever with my current strut setup, the trunk pops up and is then free to be opened; it was the same way with the original torsion bar setup.

I'm still toying with putting higher power struts in for complete self-open. I'm curious to hear what you end up doing. Here are some thoughts I've been considering regarding all that:

In my mind, one hand still has to be tied up with pushing the key fob or pulling the inside latch; so, even if the trunk opens up hands-free, one hand must still be tied up at the moment of unlatching. In other words, it's still not like those trunks that self-open when you kick your foot under the bumper while you have your hands full of gear to be loaded into the trunk. It could conceivably save you a short trip from wherever the gear is to the trunk, however, since you wouldn't have to walk to the trunk after unlatching, manually open it, and then go back to the gather the gear. In the end, though, it sounds like a strut setup strong enough to allow for self-opening also might require two hands to shut, unlike with a more "balanced" setup, which sort of negates the previous advantage, since you're just as likely to be carrying stuff out of the trunk as putting it in. Even if only one hand is in fact needed, it will nonetheless likely require a good deal of force to get it going, followed by presumably constant force from full open to full close, lest it spring back open again. In general, I like to close the trunk from the lip below the license plate, rather than having to reach up high to the spoiler (I'm 5' 11" FWIW). I give a quick downward swing on this lip, and the trunk closes nicely. If I tried to use the same lip with a relatively powerful self-opening trunk, I'm guessing that I'd have to either keep my hands on the lip from full swing to full close, which would require me to have to bend over or dip my whole body, or I'd have to reach up high and over to pull the full swing from the spoiler. Additionally, getting the swing started from the lip and then raising the hand to catch and push down on the spoiler for the final portion of the swing sounds less than ideal with the self-opening setup (you'd have to get your timing right and be quick with your hands, since it'd want to immediately swing back up on you). This method of closing is a good option, however, for my current non-self-opening setup, since it merely bears the weight of the trunk within the middle 1/3 or so of the swing. One of the other drawbacks of full self-opening that I see is if I forget something on my trunk, there's a semi-open garage door or branch above, my bike rack is pushed too far forward toward the trunk, ... in either case, something bad might happen. Plus, sometimes I like to open my trunk, as I'm walking up to, or getting out of, my car--or even when I'm driving up to a location. I don't like the idea of the trunk just swinging open under these conditions, especially if there are a bunch of people around to readily peer into my trunk (not that I harbor dead bodies in there, but I think people are much less likely to get nosy if you're standing in front of the trunk and opening it, versus walking by a trunk that magically just pops open in front of them, while you're sitting in your car or walking 15 to 20 feet away). Anyway, the above are some considerations that others might want to take into account as they decide what strength struts to install.

If a self-opening trunk is still desired, along with a comfortable one-handed close, perhaps Matt's idea of using springs would be the key, as he previously mentioned. If the spring is only stretched when the trunk is closed, yet lax when the trunk is open, this is entirely possible.
 

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It's possible that my interior release/cable has gone bad coincidentally at the same time the boot issues began, but I think it's likely that it's just because there's no lift on the boot lid. Even before the torsion bar brackets snapped, they'd been "tearing" for a while and the lifting effect of the torsion bars had been declining for years (there's a "fix" you can do so soft-lifting torsion bars if you're brackets are still intact, and involves putting an 8mm bolt between the bracket and the torsion bar to "push" the bar back a bit. Didn't work for me as my bars had already lost too much tension). So what used to happen was I'd pull the interior release and the boot lid would open just enough to sit on the catch - there was just enough tension in the bars to lift it off the latch but not enough to open it. As that tension declined (and then disappeared completely when the brackets broke off) when I pull the handle the catch releases, but the boot lid doesn't move a mm, because there's no lift on it at all. So when I let go of the release, the catch re-engages. With the remote, I believe (possibly wrongly) there's an actual solenoid that "pushes" the latch out the catch, which is the "popping" noise you hear when pressing it.

With the 2x 400N fitted, pulling the interior release was same as pressing the fob button - the boot sprung open as the struts were over powerful and immediately lifted the boot lid out the catch. With the 2x 200N fitted, they're not strong enough to pop the latch out of the catch so the interior release doesn't really do anything: sometimes I pull it and then grab the boot lid and tug and it opens, sometimes it doesn't and a second pull of the release does the trick.

As for options from here on, I think I've got three:

1) Buy and fit a pair of 300N and see how that is.
2) Buy a pair of those lift-assist springs and hook them up, hoping they'll provide enough "initial lift" to kick-start the boot opening and the struts do the rest
3) Fit a pair of die-springs on the shaft of the struts so that when the catch releases, they provide that initial kick-start to the struts.

Potential problems with the above:

1) Might make closing more difficult (and still might not be strong enough to auto-open)
2) Might not work in my application as they're really designed to work with torsion bar set ups. Couldn't say without trying and they cost marginally less than a pair of struts anyway.
3) Seen good results with these (on BMW E46's
and E46 Saloon Automatic Boot Open) and they're fairly inexpensive, but it'll be trial and error (again) and although since moving my strut mount points on the hinge I have a bit of exposed shaft when the boot is shut, there may well not be enough for one of these springs when fully compressed.

So I'm probably gonna go with option 1 and see how I get on. Worst case is they don't work and I go back to the 200N's and live with lifting it by hand. The 200's are giving me the same functionality I had before the torsion brackets snapped off: I have to lift by hand as they're not strong enough to auto-open, but once up past halfway it will continue to open and stay open - meaning I don't need an umbrella to prop it up!
 

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It's weird that your trunk lid won't unlatch manually like that. Even when my struts/torsion bars were completely removed, and the full weight of the trunk lid was pushing down, my interior lever always unlatched the lid every time.

After option 1), I think option 3) seems like a good idea. That's really clever. But, yeah, fitting the springs might be an issue in terms of clearance, along with the potential to need a spacer, or multiple springs, to get the force/travel needed. There might be other springs on the market that have small diameters that could work, and, if all else failed, you could still install a bracket like I did to get some extra clearance, perhaps.
 
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