Updated: May 13
Springs: What we need to do is to understand what goes into making a spring and how changing the process effects the outcome of its performance, this is what we are racing on in today’s market. As I have said before springs are a marketing tool they are not performance driven, not on this level that we are on. In other forms of racing (Nascar) they put a ton of work into their spring program, tuning springs to shocks and lower control arms. We have made big steps to improving the springs that we race on, by improving the process and not taking short cuts in the manufacturing. Spring life, “that’s the feel you get when you put new springs in your car” that comes from the design of the spring and when you take short cuts in the manufacturing process you have to change the design and that reduces the life of the spring. Feel in the race car comes from just three things, tires, shocks and springs and as you can tell, we can’t fix either the tire or the spring. So it is very important that the spring design is done well by the manufactures and that the material matches the design, this will produce a very strong spring that will allow for feel in the car and life in the spring. Here are a few things we do to increase the life of the spring and to add performance to it too.
Higher grade spring wire, for better life of the spring
Maximize the spring design
Shot peen, to stress relief the spring
Temper, to hold molecules in place
Preset, to reduce height loss
Remember when it comes a to better springs we need to change the way we have looked at the spring and what we have learned about them. Spring rate is important but it is not the tool we need to check the quality of a spring, it simply tells us the rate. We put the quality in the hands of the manufactures so if you see your spring company handing out spring for free you can guarantee one thing, they don’t care about performance.
Rates: Spring rates are over sold and the guarantee that they offer is to, if we have a spring go bad it is going to be from a mistake in the process and not from a poor design or the lack of process, and when that happens we will replace it for free. From what I can see everyone’s spring raters are different and read somewhat different too, and building a spring within a few pounds of the desired rate is also hard to do. The more advanced the design the harder the rate is to be spot on, not impossible just harder, so some times between design and spring raters the rate maybe off some, our guy for example has a million dollar rater that rates in rebound, to where my $1800.00 rater works in compression. Even with that being know that is not where the problems is, unless you know how the spring is made you don’t know how to rate it. For example the old 1 inch x 1 inch thing that we have used for years is not how all springs are made and when used will give a false reading. The best thing to do is to rate the spring and set a bench mark for that spring and make sure that it does change over time. We rate and free height all of our spring and log it to a file which you can see on our web site. Each spring comes with a sn# on the end of it and it is important that you maintain that number so you can log that spring over its life.
Remember that when it comes to springs they aren’t going to last forever, they wear out just like a tire will and the springs needs to be replaced at least every year, but if your car has been off the ground due to an accident you need to inspect your springs real close and maybe even replace them for performance and safety reason.
Springs are often overlooked because of how we have been trained to understand and rate them, this is a byproduct of their growth over the years. In today’s market springs are a marketing tool more than a performance product and that is because, when you look at a spring you see an object that is unfix able, which means it is not broke until you see it in pieces. The truth about a spring is they can add a ton of grip to a race car and improve the handling and still don’t have to cost a bunch. When we set out to build a spring we turned our effort to a company that builds springs for performance with an engineering staff that was backed by racing technology. This allowed us to improve on what the current market had and to build a spring that could enhance the performance of your car. With a higher grade of material than a standard race spring and a better design we have produced a spring that will increase the grip level and handling of your car. As I have said the three things that produce the most feel are the spring, shocks and tires, so why are you overlooking the springs? So, let’s look a little more into our springs to better understand what is going on.
Spring rate is the amount of weight or force that is necessary to compress a spring one inch. If the spring is “linear” it means that if it takes 250 pounds to compress the spring one inch, you will need another 250 pounds to compress it another inch. Another 250 pounds of force will compress the spring a third inch. As you have 750 pounds to compress the spring 3 inches, the spring rate remains 250 pounds.
If the spring is “progressive” 250 pounds may compress it 1 inch, but another 250 pounds, may only compress the spring ¾ of an inch and another 250 pounds might compress the spring 1/2 inch. For the most part all springs are linear or that is how they are going to look when you rate them at 1” and 1” and this is how we rate most springs. Let’s look at some thing that determine spring rate and what we really need to understand when rating a spring.
Spring rate is determined by three factors:
· The diameter of the wire used to construct the spring. The larger the diameter of the wire, the higher the spring rate
· The larger the diameter of the spring, the lower the final spring rate will be, when the same size wire is used.
· The final factor in the spring rate is the spacing (or pitch) between the coils, or the number of coils that make up the spring. The higher the number of coils, the lower the spring rate.
Knowing the actual spring rate of each spring is critical. Even though automated equipment is used in spring manufacturing, spring wire is not consistent. Due to this inconsistency, not all springs will come out exact. Also, not all spring are made from the same mold to say, some springs are design to be checked different we have been tough to use the 1”- 1” method for many years and this is not always the case. I have sold some front springs that were rated at 1700 lbs. plus one inch. The reason most spring manufacture rate springs from full compressed to one inch is because of the tolerance call out. Ours is the rate need to be in tolerance over 80% of the travel and we don’t check the 1st inch or from free height to one inch of travel. In a high travel spring this may get you in a little trouble depending on how you race that spring.
Here is some of the ways we have tested spring in the past.
· 1” plus 1” this has been the standard for years, maybe not the best.
· 1” plus 2” I like this better because it gets rid of the worst part of the spring.
· 1500 lbs plus 1”
· 1700 lbs plus 1”
· The rate (200 lbs) plus 2” also like this one.
Somethings thing to remember when rating your springs: the manufacture rates in rebound and not in compression and this is going to change some things, things you don’t see when rating over and inch area. Setting the car on your springs all week long will shorten the life of your spring. Hitting things on the racetrack will change the outcome of your spring and you shock and yes even if you think you have never hit anything you have.
What is the reason we rate our spring, to check the quality of our spring? WRONG, We free height and rate every spring we sale, and we do this to set a standard for the spring. We log them and enter them on our web site for the whole world to see, even when we don’t like what they say. We do this because the rate is not that important to the outcome of the spring but is important to the outcome of the car. Spring rate is simply spring rate and it doesn’t determine the performance of the car if it did than all 500 pound springs would perform the same. Spring life will determine the outcome of the spring and is determine when the spring is manufactured and the process that is used to make it. Unfortunately, we can’t measure spring life, only the manufacture knows this, and they aren’t talking mainly because they are doing thing to decrease the life of the spring to improve the profit of the spring. Spring life is determined by things like, wire size, material type, heat treat, shot peen, preset, end grind and other things that happen during the manufacturing process. These things drive up cost but also increase the performance level of the spring, this is the dirty little secret in spring manufacturing. I have always said there are two types of springs, one for profit and one for performance and unfortunately, we don’t get to decide. Every spring has some amount of spring life in it, you will need to determine at what level the life is gone for the brand of springs you run.