7. The next step is putting together the piston and valve stack on the piston rod. This picture shows a cassette that is being assembled by factory workers. Each cassette holds thousands of thin metal discs that make up the valving of a shock. There are literally millions of possible valve profiles for thousands of shock combinations. These are all programmed into a computerized assembly tool. The machine takes each cassette and using vacuum, pneumatic, and hydraulic power, selects the discs necessary for a given shock model and assembles them on the piston rod along with the piston. Next, each rod assembly is dyno-tested on a "VDA" tool, which essentially simulates a shock body full of oil. Each rod assembly is plunged several times robotically into the oil at speed, and measurements automatically calculate whether or not the valve stack is within design intention or not. We couldn't photograph this process because of proprietary interests, but we watched as rod after rod cycled rapidly through the machine. It was like something out of a science fiction book: robotic arms going to town, moving parts all around as a large spinning cam mounted overhead transferred power from a huge electric motor through something that almost resembled the drive system of a 19th century steam locomotive. Just the sight of this incredible machine in action was enough to bring out the inner child again. 8. Here is a finished rod assembly for a late-model Chevy 1/2-ton pickup. Interestingly enough, this part is not perfect. The VDA tool determined that this particular assembly did not meet build criteria in some way. So it spit it out of the production line and into a bin of others that will receive personal attention to identify what happened. These fail-safes prevent imperfect products from reaching consumers.8. Here is a finished rod assembly for a late-model Chevy 1/2-ton pickup. Interestingly en 9. These shocks are fresh out of the paint booth. The majority of OE Bilstein shock absorbers come in a yellow color. In some cases, some automakers stipulate different colors, however all painting is done in-house.9. These shocks are fresh out of the paint booth. The majority of OE Bilstein shock absorb 10. A Toyota FJ shock in the final assembly stages. This machine presses the rubber bushing into the shock eye. Toyota specified a silver paint scheme for these models.10. A Toyota FJ shock in the final assembly stages. This machine presses the rubber bushin 11. Here you can see rubber shock boots being installed on the popular Bilstein 5100 shocks.11. Here you can see rubber shock boots being installed on the popular Bilstein 5100 shock 12. A machine then applies a label to each shock prior to boxing. The worker here is shown readying a 5100 Series shock for shipping. Once boxed, shocks are shipped out through Bilstein's national distribution system.12. A machine then applies a label to each shock prior to boxing. The worker here is shown We had the opportunity to spend some time with Daryl Bays, a validation and development engineer for Bilstein's OE shock division. Daryl spends his time working on future cars and trucks in Detroit and other areas where future vehicles are track tested. His job requires a thorough understanding of chassis dynamics. He is directly responsible for final shock tuning on vehicles such as the Dodge Power Wagon, Viper SRT10, and SRT8 Grand Cherokee. He has a plethora of experience driving concept vehicles that may or may not ever see production. We caught up with Daryl after the tour and had a chance to quiz him on OE proving grounds, future suspension concepts, vehicles he tested, and other unique driving experiences. Despite some pretty cool opportunities that come along in the magazine business, we couldn't help but feel slightly envious of Daryl's position. Who else gets to flog supercars and pick apart ride characteristics behind closed doors each day? SOURCES Bilstein 14102 Stowe Dr. Poway CA 92064 858-386-5900 www.bilstein.com « | 1 | 2 | View Full Article Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!