Thanks to a complete machine shop and rebuilding facility, and components to adjust damper valving, the UK HQ can operate with super-fast turnaround times – essential to keep the motorsport industry moving. During our visit Aaron commented, “we found that to give a really high level of service to not only race and rally teams but also our road customers we had to have the facility that could tailor and rebuild dampers right here in the UK. This has now grown to a bespoke engineering service that caters for unique sports cars, off road vehicles and military applications too.”
So, what is involved in a BILSTEIN damper rebuild? “The journey always begins with the customer, it’s important to know their goals above all else.” Aaron commented. It sounds simple but with so much science and theory involved in suspension design it’s easy to forget the human element of the driving experience, it should inspire confidence in the driver and allow a suitable range of adjustment to cater for the individual application, especially in motorsport.
Once the damper is taken into the rebuild department the damping characteristics are checked against the original spec. This is done on BILSTEIN’s in house damper dyno that can measure peak force vs peak velocity and display a damper curve. Original damper curves can be pulled from a huge database and compared to each individual damper. From this analysis, it’s possible to see where a race damper can be changed to give a new adjustment window or where an old damper is falling short on performance due to wear.
Next is the tear down of the damper unit. This is undertaken in a separate room to the build-up of the refreshed units to ensure a perfectly clean build area. Here worn items are inspected for tolerance and a report is built around the findings. This ensures each damper that leaves the rebuild program meets the exacting BILSTEIN factory spec and will be reliable and robust in use.
If a damping adjustment change is required, this is taken care of in the next stage. BILSTEIN MDS motorsport dampers use shimmed valves to give a huge range of adjustability and can be adapted to just about any application. Individual shims are selected to create a stack height that spaces the damper to give the desired characteristics. From here the damper rod must then be inserted back into the body and the all-important damper fluid is inserted. This is a very precise operation and requires an exact amount of fluid to balance the characteristics of the dampers, especially important on dampers set for a life of endurance racing where fluid temperature in operation can become a factor in the damping performance itself. Once full of fluid the damper receives new service items like seals, damper rod bushings and bump stops and it is ready for the final damper dyno test.
This final damper dyno test gives a unique validation to the changes; engineers can ensure that every damper leaving the facility meets the customer’s needs discussed right at the beginning of the rebuild process and the customer can see exactly how the rebuild service has changed the characteristics of the damper. This gives huge peace of mind and is just as important for customers looking to revive old suspension as it is for race teams looking for a new adjustment window.
BILSTEIN offers a full damper rebuild service at its UK Technical Centre
Each damper is tested on BILSTEIN’s damper dyno
Each damper is tailored to suit the customer’s requirements
The damping rates and characteristics of the unit can be altered as part of a rebuild