||purchased struts from RockAuto, AMS 4818. The instructions lead me to believe I was supposed to reuse the ball studs on the old struts. Little did I know there were new ball studs tucked inside the 3' long cardboard sleeve the new struts came in. (It's dark in there.)
Anyways, I eventually got things figured out thanks in large part to Bernie (Nova)'s write up, which I should have read first. So, if you're a hatch strut tyro, check it out. Thanks, Bernie!
[ http://twinturbo.net/net/viewmsg.aspx?forum=technical&msg_id=842930 ]
Chance favors the informed