How to rebuild a Manitou suspension fork, replacing the elastomers with springs.
The early Manitou forks are well designed, light, simple, and work well. They don’t have as much travel as offroad forks of today, but they are very good for street riding. Their springs (elastomers) often decay over time, but can be repaired.
I recommend replacing the elastomers with springs. Now there is good and bad to this: Springs can be had at your local hardware store inexpensively, but they are slightly heavier, and don’t provide damping. Use a combination of springs and rubber to gain some damping.
Here is a link to some Manitou 1 info, .pfd, what is good is the diagram: http://www.suspensionforkparts.net/manitou1.php
The only complicated tool you need is a really long allen wrench, or long socket extension with allen socket. You have to get down into the bottom of the tubes to get to the screw for disassembly.
Gently pry out the top caps on both tubes. Once inside, I use the socket extension method. Disregard the tape on its end, I used that previously for a long distance greasing operation.
That allen screw is torqued pretty tight. When you pull it out, it’ll have a stack of stuff with it. You can fish out any other things inside with a spoke. Remove both screws, then pull off the lower outer legs. You’ll see a stack of elastomers and steel washers, plus white plastic bushings.
The bushings ride is grooves at the ends of the stanchion tubes.
I went to the hardware store with the original washers and elastomers to match sizes. I picked out a few rubber cylinders I found including some rubber feet and thick walled rubber hose. These things should be quite firm, they function as top-out and bottom-out bumpers as well as resisting the spring rebound (damping). The spring should be pretty firm, with flat ends. These were from a door closing thing, also check small engine valve springs. After a few different tries at varying positions of the springs and rubber, I came up with this stack configuration.
To reassemble, get the seals from the top of the lowers, gently slide them down the stanchions. Put the white bushings on the ends of the tubes. Use a lot of grease. Put your screw with bumper and washer inside each tube. Put the other stacks over the screws when they poke out. Then slide on the lowers. When it hits bottom, gently get the screw started, don’t cross thread it. Screw it down and torque it tightly, just like it was originally.
Then press it the aluminum caps at the top of the stanchions. Step back and admire your good work. Then hit the street.