Monday, 8 October 2007

Red 9 Design EZRider - Shocks

It's taken me a couple of days longer to post this than I expected. Damned CFS. However:

In my previous post I explained my reasons for purchasing Red 9 Design's EZRider kit and my thoughts regarding the safety concerns expressed by some. In this post I'll describe what I've installed so far, namely the shocks/dampers (which I will refer to as "shocks" from here on).

The EZ Rider kit consists of 2 elements:

The first is a pair of metal bars that replace the torsion bars. These are metal rods with the necessary dimples machined into them and swivelling ends that will allow the trailing arms to pivot freely.

The second element is a pair of Spax coil over shocks.

In order to lower a van from stock height you need the rods in place or the torsion bars will continue to determine it's height, however as my intention was to raise a van that had been lowered too far it occurred to me that the shocks alone might do it. Given that they were going to be easier to fit than the rods I decided to try them on their own first and see what happened.

The only problem I encountered in fitting the shocks was that the bushes in the lower end of the dampers wouldn't go onto the spindles. I didn't measure it but we're talking about maybe a thousandth of an inch too tight, two at most. Given that this was an issue with the shocks I decided to phone Spax as opposed to Red 9 Design and they suggested, given that it was such a small amount, that I check there was no rubber fouling things and if there wasn't then maybe making the hole in the bushes a little bigger. There was no problem with rubber and I found that a 12mm drill went snugly thought the bushes. Running the drill backwards and forwards a few time removed a tiny amount of metal after which they went snugly onto the spindles. Everything was easy after that and it was unnecessary to compress the springs.

Before moving on to the results I'd just like to mention an interesting aspect of the phone call to Spax: while talking to them I found out that these shocks are made especially for Red 9, to their specification. Given that I was wanting to raise my van and was speculating that the shocks alone may be enough to do, I had wondered whether the purchase of a pair of coil over shocks alone might be enough. Indeed I asked VWHeritage about using their GAZ coil over shocks for this purpose however they doubted that their springs would be powerful enough to actually raise the van. I didn't fancy gambling 200 quid on something that might not work. Better I thought to pay 320 for something that WILL work even if it turns out that I don't need the entire kit.

So how about the results?

Here she is before:

and after the shocks were fitted:

As you can see she's now about 2.5" higher at the front than she was before; which is just what I wanted because I now have about 4.5" inches of ground clearance under the low points on the beam.

She still has low profile tyres on the front and although I'll leave them in place for now I'll change them to something bigger when they need changing. That'll take her up about another half an inch however at that point I might use the adjustments on the coils to bring her down half an inch, maybe a full inch.

She is actually about an inch higher at the front than she is at the back now but I'd like to take her up an inch at the back. At the moment you have to deflate the tyres to get them out from under the rear arches. Going up an inch will remove that hassle.

As for the ride, I can't really say at the moment. To be honest it doesn't feel much different but:

1. I haven't driven her much since doing it.

2. I haven't fitted the torsion bar replacements.

3. I haven't touched the adjustment screws on the shocks.

I'll report back on the ride in a few weeks time. By then I'll have done a few more journeys and will have Dee's opinion too. Up until now she's been complaining that if I couldn't improve it she'd have to invest in some sports bras so we'll have to see how the ol' bounceometers rate it now. I may also have twiddled with the adjusters (on the shocks, not on the bounceometers).

What I do about the torsion bars is another issue. As I said before, if I were lowering the van I'd have to swap them but given what I'm doing I can't really see much point. As I understand it, it can't improve my ride as her height is already being governed by the springs on the shocks i.e. the torsion bars ain't doin' nuffin' guv. The rubber seals on the ball joints are fubar (torn up, I've been told, as a consequence of her being lowered to much) so maybe I'll swap the bars when I deal with those rubbers. Maybe not. I haven't decided yet. At the moment I'm just chuffed that I don't have to worry about scraping the beam on every little bump in the road.

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