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(And yes, there are specific springbar pliers, but they seem to be springbar tool ends on a set of pliers, which I think would present the same problems in holding onto bare springbars with no strap present. These locking pliers have a grip on the springbar, so it doesn’t fly off when compressing it without a strap.)
Anyway, google didn’t show this particular method being discussed, so I thought I’d put it out there in case it can help anyone else.