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Strut installation problem

1816 3
I bought the parts I needed to install new struts on my 87 Sundance. I memorized the instructions in the manual, as well as the ones included in the parts kit. Popped the old strut off, assembled the new one, and tried to pop it in. The strut sits about 1/4 lower than the steering knuckle. I can't fit the spring compressor in to compress the spring to give me the correct height. Any tips? Have I missed something not covered in the manual?