Low Gas Shocks
We have an increasing problem with low gas builds and a struggle between feel and rod force. We have been looking at this issue for some time now as the trend for low gas increases but as this occurs we run across the problem that occurs too. This problem is never associated to the shock but is totally created in the shock and can be fixed in the shock.
Here is the problem: drivers want more feel from their cars so they rely on the shock builders to produce that feel in the car. At 1st it is very easy to increase feel you just lower the gas pressure to a level that will control the compression side of the shock and bam, you have more feel. 90% of the time the driver is happy and heads on down the road but this is where the issues begin because the driver starts having problems that he can’t fix with chassis adjustments or doesn’t have the adjustments to make so he turns back to the shock builder to fix the problem. Unfortunately the shock builder and the driver are taking the same path to solving the issues and it is the easiest route they can find and as we know this is often the wrong choice. The problem lays in the compression side of the shock as the piston moves towards the divider piston and tries to process the oil between them. The force causing the piston to compress is greater than the pressure that the divider has to hold the oil column in place allowing the piston to push the entire oil column up in the tube until a time in which the gas has increased enough to stop it. This is cavitation, where the entrained air will separate from the oil. What happens is the car doesn’t handle well at this point and maybe at the same time you pick the gas up and it causes the car to be tight or it may happen on corner exit. But never the less, when it happens you will not say it is a low gas problem you may think it is a shock problem or a bad spot on the track or even a hole you hit this lap but the guy that just passes you made it by just fine. SO YOU ASK, how do we fix it, well most shock guys will tell you that you need to spend more money on different shocks and a lot of the time this just moves the problem to a different area. Some would say Base Valves and even though that will fix most of the issues it will also create some too, but this is not about base valve shocks this is about fixing the low gas issues in a standard shock that we have. We are battling between rod force vs feel, and we need them both but that is not how it works. With rod force or gas in the shock we have car control but not feel, and with the lack of gas we often lack in car control, so we have been working with new piston technology to improve oil column control with less gas pressure. We have come to this understanding of what is going on by how our base valve shocks have been working. As we have changed guys from a non BV shock to a BV shock we have seen improvements in grip and car control this has made us think what are the improvement and how did the BV make such a difference in grip level when the valving didn’t change. O.C.V. or oil control valve was designed to reduce load on the oil column to allow us to run lower gas pressure while maintaining a stable environment for the main piston to run in, this will increase load to the tire and allow the driver to feel more grip in his car. This is not a smart valve and will not involve tuning like a base valve, but by reducing the load to the oil column, this allows for the use of less gas and along with our low drag divider assembly we can control the oil with no cavitation while maintaining less gas pressure and lower rod force. This OCV will be offered in our 25 Series shock along with a TINC coated shaft as a part of our low coefficient to friction design and an overall improvement to feel.
Updated: OCV valve 4/11/2020: The definition of low gas shock is one that has a gas pressure lower than the compress side oil pressure and is running it without a base valve. I want to make some update to this because we are doing thing different now than we did when this was written. The OCV is a good design and functions well but we don't see a place for it in the market and by adding it it would drive the cost of a base valve shock up and we don't see the point in that. With the current configuration of our base valve it makes more sense to use it than an OCV, also the space in a 15 or 20 Series shock for gas is incorrect when adding the OCV . This should of be done 20 years ago when developing the gas shock so doing it now just seems impractical now.
Update: TINC coated shafts 4/11/2020: The coating in which is great seems to be impractical to use on a shock shaft that is of a Rockwell hardness less than 50c. Although the coating allows for a decrease in stiction the cost and it's poor ability to function on a soft shaft brings us to stopping production on this design. If we see a need to have a harder shaft in the future we may bring back TINC coatings but for now we see it as a marketing tool only.