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Anybody else had Varishock failure on their 308?

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by greg328, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
    4,133
    Austin, TX USA
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    Greg
    I've now had all 4 of my new Varishocks fail. They eventually leaked the clear fluid out from the top, where the piston enters the shock body.

    Hal Lees rebuilt them, being the original assembler. He told me, months ago when my first failure occured, that maybe the seal design was flawed, or maybe the seal was installed upside down!

    Now, since all 4 have failed, we had a discussion today where he indicated it may be excessive SIDE LOAD causing these failures. Does that seem possible? During hard cornering, he postulated, too much force is placed on the extended piston, causing the seal to give way and leak fluid.

    Sounds like hogwash to me.... My 308 doesn't have that much suspension travel anyway...

    Anybody else experiencing Varishock failure on their Ferrari? If these rebuilt shocks fail again, I'll have to consider changing to a different brand...


    Greg
    77 308
     
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  3. Sean F.

    Sean F. F1 Rookie

    Feb 4, 2003
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  4. Harta320

    Harta320 Karting

    Nov 6, 2003
    169
    Sarasota, FL
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    Bill Smith
    Hey Greg,

    I had only one shock leak so far. Sent it back to get rebuilt and 2 days later started leaking agian. I just sent it back this week, hopefully for the last time. I noticed that Caribou racing is advertising Koni adjustable shocks for various older Ferraris. I did not see any for the 308 specificaly but Russ(SNJ5) has a set for his Mondial. Looks like a plug and play but you will certainly pay!

    Bill
     
  5. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
    4,133
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    Greg
    I can't go back to Konis. I bought new springs which wont fit Konis. Plus I want a lighter, adjustable, more modern setup.

    Can anybody comment on the veracity of "side loads" causing shock leaks?

    Harta320--Did you track your car? Any explanation given for your leaking shock? Did Hal Lees in Florida rebuild it for you?

    I'm hoping the first time they were assembled some nitwit didn't know what they were doing, and the rebuild finally got it right...

    If they fail again, anybody care to recommend another shock that will go with my Varisprings and QA-1 springs? (Narrower than original)

    Greg
     
  6. mk e

    mk e F1 World Champ

    Oct 31, 2003
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  8. Harta320

    Harta320 Karting

    Nov 6, 2003
    169
    Sarasota, FL
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    Bill Smith
    Greg,

    The Konis I am talking about are Modern adjustable coil overs with the proper fitting on the ends of the shock, so no spacers. Take a look at Carobu's web sight. I do not know for sure but from the looks of it, the spring size is 2.5". I have not checked into them yet do to the fact that I know they will lighten my wallet a little more than I am prepared for right now. I'll make do for now.

    No, I have not tracked my car yet. I actually messed up the shock when I first installed it and I think they did not properly rebuild it because it started leaking as soon as I got it back. So far the other 3 have worked great but I have been keeping my eyes open for replacements just in case. I would love to get rid of those spacers. Mine are a PITA to install.

    Mk E?

    What size Olins, Model, spring size, do you have installed? Other than spacers any major mods to get them to work?

    Bill
     
  9. Mike C

    Mike C F1 Veteran
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Aug 3, 2002
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    Mike Charness
    You can change to QA1 shocks, which many folks here have, and keep your new springs. But you'll need different spacers and/or ferrules since their mounting head is quite a bit smaller.

    QA1 Front shocks: HAL-4855P
    QA1 Rear shocks: HAL-5855P

    Notice that their part number still carries the "HAL" which is Hal Lees -- same designer as the Varishocks, but he sold off the QA1 business to another company.

    By the way, after replacing my bad rear springs, no more problems here (at least so far) with issues I had with the springs rubbing on the shock bodies.
    www.ferrarichat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=39712
     
  10. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
    4,133
    Austin, TX USA
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    Greg

    You believe the "ferrule-within-polyurethane" setup is prone to binding on the mount bolt? Is that where the lateral force on the shock is occuring? Because the mount point doesn't rotate freely enough on the mount bolt?

    I keep hearing about Olins shocks. Can anybody attest to their quality/value?

    Thanks everybody. Mike, glad your problem is fixed.....
     
  11. Sean F.

    Sean F. F1 Rookie

    Feb 4, 2003
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    Olin's makes some of the best shocks in the world... but you'll pay $$$ for them too. A friend had some 4-ways on this FF2000 car and they were ~$3000 for the set.
     
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  13. spang308

    spang308 Formula Junior

    Jul 17, 2004
    887
    York, PA
    You probably don't have a problem binding or side loading unless your installation is very Mickey Mouse (please don't take that the wrong way). To check, remove the spring from the shock and re-install on the car. Use a jack to run the wheel thru it's range of motion. If it moves freely up and down between full droop and compression just shy of full collapse, it is fine.
    Do NOT jack the wheel up to the point that you compress the shock fully and lift the car off the jack. It will destroy the valves inside the shock.

    He may have been referring to "sticktion", which is a condition where the shock piston rod drags on the seals due to adverse loads. Unlikely on the rear of a 308, but possible in the front. I'm betting they have some quality control problems on those units. Just a hunch, but Mike Charness and a few others have had similar problems.

    For the record, I'm using QA1's on my car and only have a month of driving on them, so I can't definitively say they are the answer. So far, so good.

    I'll keep you posted. If you need any help, let me know.

    John

    P.S. Ohlins shocks are top notch stuff. Used by many successful race teams, however they are quite pricey and a little overkill for a street car that sees limited track use.
     
  14. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Greg
    Thanks Spang308...

    Greg
     
  15. miked

    miked Formula Junior

    Feb 7, 2001
    653
    Cincinnati, Ohio
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    Mike Dawson
    I agree with Spang308 about checking the mounting points. The shock needs to rotate slightly on the bolt's axis to accomodate the geometry changes as the lower suspension arm moves. The original bushing's rubber has the flexibility to do that even when the inner ferrule is held immovable in the frame by the compression applied load by the bolt. If you can unbolt one end of the shock and try to rotate it about the bolt on the other end you might be able to sense how free it is to rotate. I haven't looked at my suspension lately so I don't know if there is enough room to swing the shock. If there is it would be worth a try.
     
  16. Mike C

    Mike C F1 Veteran
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    Aug 3, 2002
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    Actually, I didn't have any problem with the shock seals... my problem was due to bad rear springs which eventually rubbed through the shock bodies.
     
  17. Birdman

    Birdman F1 Veteran

    Jun 20, 2003
    6,687
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    Now more than ever I think I have decided to just leave mine stock!

    Side loads? Give me a break. Greg is not going to trash his shocks driving around on the street with side loads. Not all 4 of them. There is something wrong with them. Just my $.02. If it were me, I would be demanding a brand new set of 4 immediately.

    Birdman
     
  18. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
    4,133
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    Birdman,
    You're right. I do not "hot dog" this car around! I don't track it.

    I think they were assembled incorrectly the first time.

    Time will tell if the rebuilds are correct.

    If they're not, THEN I'll start rattling Chris Alson Varishocks' cage.

    I've already hade to pay 1/2 shipping to Florida, AND R & R of the shocks
    ( I did 2 myself, 2 at the shop)....

    However, I DO NOT miss the stock Konis. They were really soft for my taste.
    At least they didn't leak, though.....!!

    Greg
     
  19. velocityengineer

    velocityengineer Formula Junior

    Nov 8, 2003
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    Eric Dahl
    I thought I would toss in 2 cents as well.

    I have designed suspension systems in the past, and helped design some really far out active systems when I was with Prodrive.

    Any shock not mounted exactly vertically or horizontally will experience side load. There are force vectors that follow the shock rod of course, and many smaller force vectors working perpendicularly to the rod to bend the shock in half. This is especially true of a coil-over unit, where the loads of the spring are placed on the shock body.

    If the seal and guide system for the shock rod allows any movement other than in the intended in-out direction, the problem will compund quickly.
    Any side movement or bending will allow the spring to generate force in a lateral direction as well, imagine pinching a spring top and bottom on one side only, and you will understand the force acting on a shock body and rod.

    So my opinion is that had one shock gone bad, it might have been one thing, but all four indicates a problem with the design of the shock or possibly a batch with flawed assembly. Either way the manufacturer should make every effort to work with you on the problem.

    Eric
     
  20. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
    4,133
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    Greg
    Thanks for your 2 cents, Eric. They did rebuild them all, at no cost other than my 1/2 of the freight to Hal Lees in Stuart, Florida. (BTW, they moved to North Carolina).

    I can't imagine any shock not being able to handle normal side loads. The stock 27-year-old Konis I took off the car were not leaking, and they were also coil-over. I hope these will now prove to be OK. If not, I'm going to have to pursue some course of action w/ Chris Alson/Varishock.

    Is the 308 suspension design known for exerting excessive side loads on suspension components? Hope not...

    Eric, also, I'm hoping to order your Girodisc 308 brake upgrade soon for my 1977. I have 17" Speedlines--any chance of a larger disc kit in the future, to accomodate larger wheels?
     
  21. velocityengineer

    velocityengineer Formula Junior

    Nov 8, 2003
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    #18 velocityengineer, Sep 4, 2005
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Hi Greg,

    Yes we have considered a larger system for the 308, and have designs on the board. The issue is, as always, the rear caliper and its integral parking brake. Changing to a high performance caliper in the rear means the parking brake goes away. We have not found a method of retaining or adding a parking brake without significant costs and modifications to the stock parts.

    So we are limited in how much to grow just the front without really throwing off the balance of the car. The system we have designed is very good, and will accomodate road and racing events without fade, but I understand the desire to fill up wheels as well. We will keep poking at it, and see what we can come up with.

    The 308 isnt known for any significant wear or issues with shocks. So the Varishock problem is puzzling. I am glad they reponded quickly to the issue. I wish you luck.

    I am also going to add a quick note of a product used in racing to help eliminate these sude loads. Hypercoil makes it, http://www.hypercoils.com/Products/Hyperco-Hydraulic-Spring-Perch.aspx
    and I understand it works quite well. There are lots of tech papers and even a video there if it interests you.

    From their website:
    "In racing, tire grip and low wear rate, are critical for maximum performance. Unfortunately, one of the common characteristics of coil springs is that they do not naturally distribute their load evenly around the face of their end coils thus generating a lateral load. The lateral force creates a bending load in the shock absorber, significantly increasing its friction; the result is lower tire grip and increased wear. The Hyperco/ICP Hydraulic Load Centering Spring Perches substantially improve performance by allowing the spring forces to remain centered on the shock. By precise shaping of the sealing wall of both the perch and cylinder body, the perch can freely tilt as needed to evenly distribute the load of the spring. The result, a reduction of bending load on the shock absorber of up to 96% along with an enhancement in mechanical grip at the tire."

    Hope that proves of interest.

    Eric
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  22. greg328

    greg328 F1 Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
    4,133
    Austin, TX USA
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    Greg
    Thanks, Eric. That sounds like a product that might benefit me! I'm going to look into it. I guess the trick will be finding perches that will fit onto my Varishocks. I guess I can find the shock body size/thread specs and match them.

    I'll watch this space for any announcements regarding 308 brake systems.

    Thanks so much for the link!


    Greg
     

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