Date registered: Nov 2007
Vehicle: 2004 E500
Location: NW Chiburbs
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I had to take my cupholder out to see what you were talking about. The "T" end of the spring evidently hooks into the the slot near the top on the right side, but I'm not sure how you would get it there. If you could fish a loop of thread through the slot and hook it onto the "T" end of the spring you might be able to pull it up and through the slot that way.
If that doesn't work, as I recall the original poster in the other forum thread dispensed with the flat spring entirely. He simply got an ordinary spiral compression spring, maybe 1/2" diameter by 4" long, and dropped it into the right side of the cavity where the flat spring was. He put one loop of the spring around the bar at the bottom that goes crossways left to right, just to hold it in place, and let the other end bear on the upper mechanism and push it up. That was his $3 solution.
Since you have the cupholder out, you could take it to the hardware store and try different springs until you find one that fits and has the proper compression. It shouldn't need a very heavy spring. If you can get it to work in the store it should work in the car. It may not be as elegant as the original, but no one else will know the difference.