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Old 03-04-2021, 03:22 PM   #1
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blown out Bilsteins

My front shocks failed on washboard in Saline Valley last week. I had my E 350 converted by Quad van about 3 years ago and it was fitted with Bilstein 5125 Series 33-230405 front shocks. Shocks overheated and oil sprayed out and smoked on exhaust. Glad that was all it was. My thought is those shocks were too light for a 9,000 SMB. I noticed when I 1st drove van on rough roads that a good bump on one side would make van rock side to side a few times. I hadn't put on a rear sway bar but figured it was needed. I never felt like the shocks bottomed out and I go fairly slow on those rough roads. I read my shocks are gas filled. My guess is the shocks had lost some oil and the washboards made them overheat with shortage of oil. Any thoughts? We were only traveling about 10 mph at the time. I previously owned a 2wd Sporty for 13 years, drove it anywhere I could get it to go, and never had issues but it wasn't lifted like my 4wd. Thanks
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Old 03-04-2021, 03:47 PM   #2
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I've fried 1 set of Rancho 9000's and 2 sets of Bilstein 5000 series out there in Saline Valley with my F-250 diesel pickup, always the fronts. Those washboard roads are killers on the shocks, but I was doing more than 10 mph to be fair. I just crossed the southern part of Death Valley, from the Ibex Dunes out to Panamint Valley in my E-350 with 5000 series Bilsteins and luckily no shock issues. You are probably correct about the weight but I can say I noticed a MASSIVE difference in the quality of the ride by airing down my tires. I normally run my BFG KO2 tires at 70 PSI on the highway. I first dropped them down to 50 but then ran them down to 30 and I could not believe the softness of the ride, even on the the washboarded Harry Wade Rd. We drove all total about 150 off-road miles over 4 days and airing down was a huge improvement, not to mention no blown shocks! Aired back up in Ballarat with my onboard compressor and was on my way.
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Old 03-04-2021, 04:50 PM   #3
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Washboard roads can result in the shock absorber oil foaming, reducing the damping.


My experience with ruined shocks is from them either over-extending or bottoming out, breaking the seal of the shocks.


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Old 03-04-2021, 06:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by BroncoHauler View Post

My experience with ruined shocks is from them either over-extending or bottoming out, breaking the seal of the shocks.


Herb

Good point...the shocks shouldn't be the travel limiter at full droop or full compression....they aren't designed for that.


All shocks (dampers) have to have gas in them since liquids are incompressible. If they were completely filled with oil you wouldn't be able to compress the shaft into the body since the shaft moving into the shock displaces oil volume ...and there is nothing that will compress.


The volume of gas in the shock has to be a bit more than the volume of the shock shaft inside the shock body at full compression, otherwise the gas pressure goes through the roof.


Most shocks either use a floating piston with a gas charge behind the piston or a bladder with the gas charge on the backside of the bladder. In theory, bladders result in less "stiction" since there is no piston O-ring to get moving when the shock is in use.


In the old days bilstein and a few other manufacturers made shocks that had a gas/oil mix....instead of separating the gas and oil......these tended to be quite stiff until they stroked enough to be foamed up since the valving was designed for a foamed mixture.


In reservoir style shocks, the piston or bladder is in the reservoir. The idea behind reservoir type dampers is that you can increase the oil volume lowering the oil temperature when the shock is working hard, and you can hang the reservoir in the breeze for additional cooling. Overheated oil loses viscosity and produces damping fade.
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Old 03-04-2021, 06:22 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I was aired down to 45 lbs but felt less would have been better. When they went we'd only been on washboard for 15 minutes, that day. Thanks for the explanation on shock workings, I'm in a learning mode. We were bouncing along for another week, spent quality time in Panamint Valley. Drove up Jail Canyon, a tough little 5 miles and Goler Canyon, stopping before Mengel Pass, of course. Are dual shocks the answer or those shocks with reservoirs?
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Old 03-04-2021, 06:36 PM   #6
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T Are dual shocks the answer or those shocks with reservoirs?

Convince yourself that your shocks are not limiting full compression travel or full droop travel before buying new shocks......since you may be just destroying $$$ shocks on your next outing.


A tape measure and a floor jack will go a long way to figuring this out.
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Old 03-04-2021, 06:40 PM   #7
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Reservoir shocks are cool, but really only add value if you're doing higher speed washboard roads and really cycling the shocks. They are cool though.


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Old 03-04-2021, 08:27 PM   #8
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I now keep 6 Bilsteins in rotation. That way I have a backup when the next one blows. They were originally 5160 series and each time I had them rebuilt they were retrofit to a 7100 series with Schrader valve. So now I can rebuild them or play with shim stacks and valving although I never have.


Anyhow, they will rebuild them if you want. Takes about 2 months. Send tech support an email. John.Trexler@thyssenkrupp.com
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Old 03-04-2021, 08:35 PM   #9
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I now keep 6 Bilsteins in rotation. That way I have a backup when the next one blows. They were originally 5160 series and each time I had them rebuilt they were retrofit to a 7100 series with Schrader valve. So now I can rebuild them or play with shim stacks and valving although I never have.


Anyhow, they will rebuild them if you want. Takes about 2 months. Send tech support an email. John.Trexler@thyssenkrupp.com

Wow..that's pretty cool....so they drill and tap and add a schrader? That's the main difference? Convenient if you are willing to rebuild. Do they sell seal kits?
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Old 03-04-2021, 08:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by BroncoHauler View Post
Washboard roads can result in the shock absorber oil foaming, reducing the damping.


My experience with ruined shocks is from them either over-extending or bottoming out, breaking the seal of the shocks.


Herb
Agreed, that what happens and blows up shocks most of the time on a vehicle with modified suspension.
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