Air Bags in Coil Springs
Vehicle, Koni and Communications
Click here to jump below to Mick's Koni Shock Absorber reports for 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 - 2016
with pictures illustrating some interesting issues.
Shock Absorbers make everyone's vehicle travel much more comfortably. They are an integral yet often neglected part of your suspension system. A shock absorber is actually a damper, slowing and retarding the action of the springs. Shocks give your vehicle a more stable ride and less body roll in corners. Without them you'd have to include sea-sick tablets in your diet.
We had always used the generally available gas/oil type shocks in the past with reasonable results, but with our increased travel for longer in difficult conditions, particularly corrugations, we felt a different approach was needed. The enemy of shocks is heat, built up from the movement of the oil through the various valves within the unit as they compress and extend with your suspension travel. Put simply the more your suspension goes up and down the harder your shocks will be working so the hotter they will become.
We looked for a full hydraulic shock absorber with a large oil volume as we have learnt that an oil/oil unit normally has more oil and will run at lower temperatures than a similar rated gas/oil unit. The shocks also needed to have the option of being reconditioned when they did eventually begin to wear out hopefully some years down the track.
Koni from Holland were our choice. It turns out Koni have been making shock absorbers since 1932. That they're still in business means Koni must make good gear.
I'll simply list the reasons we chose Koni;
A set of RAID 90s were ordered and fitted with the vehicle having 63,000 kms on the odometer. I was very pleased with the quality of the damper units, bushes, washers and nuts (we also got a single spare 90 for both front & rear).
As our tours and expeditions start & finish as close to the desert as possible we do not do a great amount of travelling on bitumen during our season. There’s no point folk paying us for driving down a real highway. This is reflected in our generally low mileage for a 12 month period, "reading between the lines" that simply means that a good proportion of our mileage is spent off-road & off-track. After all that is our business.
|Vehicle - Land Rover 130 Defender
|(Measured from weighbridge)
|Layman's Temperature Gauge (my hand)
|Hold hand on shock no worries
|Hold hand on shock for about 10 seconds
Odometer at start of season = 63,315 kms
2090kms - 14 days in the Great Victoria Desert, off-road conditions ranges from corrugations to soft sandhills, just about everything really. The Koni's were left at the Factory Settings for that trip. The rear could have been a little firmer at times though. I felt the shock temperature with my hand every now and again and usually they were only "fairly warm".
After the April trip I adjusted the rear shocks up three half turns.
Beadell Tracks Tour
3030kms - 22 days off-road through every type of terrain in the Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts, with the rear shocks adjusted to be firmer the vehicle was as good as a 4WD loaded to the hilt could be.
Shocks were again monitored for temperature with my hand. After bad corrugations (the worst for shocks) they were "very warm", I was pleased with this as our normal gas shocks I can barely hold my hand on for more than a second or two.
2120kms - 28 days, 850kms were spent off-track, where we travel less than 10kms/hr over spinifex and light scrub. The vehicles are always rolling about but as the frequency is low from the slow speed it is not a problem. The shocks were fine and generally maintained a temperature of warm/fairly warm. 1275kms were spent off-road and the corrugated sections the shocks went up to "very warm" as expected from the previous trips.
2390kms - 26 days, most of this trip was off-road with the same results as previously. No loss of handling, shocks were operating as normal.
2835kms - 18 days, this was the trip I was expecting to get the most reaction from the Koni's, as the Gunbarrel has one lengthy section of very bad corrugations. Top-Performance had sent us two temperature stickers which I had saved for that particular area.
Pulling up after the first 20kms of heavy corrugations the temperature stickers read 75oC, both front & rear. I could still hold my hand on them for 10 seconds. I had left the tyre pressures up a little on purpose to make the shocks work harder, but it made little difference. So from then on I reduced the pressure to our normal for those conditions and carried on. The temperature stickers never registered any higher after that, 75oC seems to be the maximum for our vehicle and gear.
We are extremely pleased with the Koni RAID 90 shocks, now we will see how they hold up over the next few years with our workload. We'll keep you posted…
Odometer at start of season = 100,878 kms
Shocks and bushes were removed cleaned and inspected during the off-season maintenance period and found to be in good condition. No new components needed.
April - 2140 kms
Woomera, Centre Line Road to Mt Eba, Anne Beadell Highway, Vokes Hill Corner Road, Nullarbor, Maralinga, Anne Beadell Highway.
The badly corrugated section (covered twice) between Emu and the Dog Fence had the 90s up to "very warm" as usual.
May - 2420 kms
Full length Gunbarrel Highway from "Victory Downs" Station to "Carnegie" Station, one or two detours to various areas, roads and tracks generally OK.
As lately the Great Central Road is taking the bulk of the traffic the Gunbarrel Highway is actually not as badly corrugated as it used to be. However it can and still does do damage to the unwary. The 90s as usual got to "very warm" and carried on, no fuss, no bother.
June / July - Calvert Expedition - 2070 kms
Quite simply the hardest expedition we have done on both man & machine. Pushing north through the Little Sandy & Great Sandy Desert over hundreds of sand-ridges with no road or track is not for the faint hearted.
The 90s performed flawlessly bouncing up over the sand hills, most times they were only "warm". (Corrugations are still the hardest work for shocks in our business.)
July / August - 4120 kms
Gary Junction Road, Sandy Blight Junction Road, Old Gunbarrel, Connie Sue Highway, Anne Beadell Highway, Lake Rason Road, Spackman Track and Anne Beadell Highway.
This was a long trip with many patches of bad corrugations and all other manner or road conditions. No complaints from the 90s front or rear, they just don’t seem to mind the conditions at all.
August / September - 1550 kms
Gunbarrel Highway from "Victory Downs" Station to Warakurna, Docker River Road to Yulara.
A short trip with pretty reasonable road conditions that were handled with ease by the 90s.
Not much to report really, the RAID 90s just seem to absorb punishment and continue on with the job. Handling has remained the same now after two seasons of work. I see no need to make any adjustments to the dampers at this stage.
Odometer at start of season = 132,277 kms
The dampers, bushes and washers were again removed, cleaned and inspected during the off-season and not much was found. The dampers had no oil leaks or other defects. A couple of the front bushes I changed out as they were looking a bit hard, but the rest felt good and weren’t squashed or damaged.
April - 1710 kms
Anne Beadell Highway, Vokes Hill Corner Road, Nullarbor, Maralinga, Anne Beadell Highway.
The badly corrugated section (covered twice) between Emu and the Dog Fence had the 90s up to "very warm" as usual. This section seems to be getting worse with the popularity of the Anne Beadell over the last few years.
May / June - 4170 kms
Gary Junction Road, Sandy Blight Junction Road, Old Gunbarrel, Connie Sue Highway, Anne Beadell Highway, Lake Rason Road, Plumridge Lakes, Connie Sue Highway and Anne Beadell Highway.
This was another long trip similar to last year with many patches of bad corrugations. No change in the performance of the 90s, wonderful gear.
July - 2010 kms
Full length Gunbarrel Highway from "Victory Downs" Station to "Carnegie" Station.
The corrugations put the 90s up to "very warm" as they have done before. The big red shocks keep soldiering on regardless.
August / September - Unknown Ranges Expedition - 2040 kms
An easier off-track trip this year of 662 kms looking at little visited and unnamed hills and ranges in the Great Victoria Desert.
No complaints from the front or rear dampers. On very close inspection it looks like the bushes will need replacing before next year. I planned to do that in any case as "nothing lasts forever" and renewing bushes and washers is part of normal maintenance as far as I’m concerned.
September / October - 1850 kms
Lake Rason Road, Plumridge Lakes, Connie Sue Highway and Anne Beadell Highway.
This was a slow paced trip to observe plants and birds. Nothing better than slowing down on bad corrugations! Tyre pressures were reduced a bit more than normal and no adverse effects were noticed on the vehicles in general.
Damper bushes particularly in the front were starting to shows signs of hardening and rear bushes in the top have begun to wear after 15 trips. The damper units themselves seem unaffected by the workload.
After 15 trips in the western deserts the dampers themselves seem 100%, when you think of how many corrugations they have travelled over it is remarkable. As part of our long term maintenance for these units we’ll get them off and have them serviced. Should be interesting to see how they come up. I’ll replace all of the bushes over this summer as well it is just a sensible thing to do and good maintenance.
Koni make exceptional quality gear, the RAID 90 shock absorbers have performed faultlessly for three years and millions of corrugations while on our vehicle. There is not much else to say really, the gear works and works well.
Odometer at start of season = 159,671 kms
Odometer at end of season = 181,763 kms
Total odometer distance = 22,092 kms
(Koni Raid 90's were fitted at 63,000 kms)
During the off-season I spoke to Top Performance in Melbourne and ordered a new set of bushes, washers & nuts for the 90s. While speaking we discussed the amount of work the units had done and whether it was worth while having them reconditioned. In a nutshell it came to this; the units don’t get hot enough for the oil to degrade by any substantial amount, therefore there was probably no real need to have them stripped and serviced. Between us we decided to let them go for another period of time and see what happens. All of the rubbers, washers & nuts were replaced and the damper units inspected at the same time. Apart from some damage to the rear units from gravel and stones thrown up by the rear tyres there were no issues with any of the dampers that I could find.
We made a major change to our suspension set-up just before the season kicked off. I fitted airbags into the rear coils. There were a couple of reasons for this and I’ll mention those at the end of the report in the results.
Only three trips were undertaken this year as I had sporting commitments in the U.S. midway through our touring season. Compared to previous years when 4-5 or 6 commercial trips are completed 2010 was much easier, sort of.....
One problem arose at the end of the expedition, but this was not a Koni issue, simply a wear & tear problem with the mounts for the rear dampers. Even though this was a vehicle based problem I’ll include a run-down of what happened and a couple of images.
May - "Beadell Tracks & Oil Roads" Tour - 3717 kms
Nullarbor, Connie Sue Hwy, Parallel Rd, David Carnegie Rd, Gary Hwy, Telfer Rd & Skull Springs Rd.
This rather long trip covered all the types of off-road conditions from the hard limestone of the Nullarbor to the soft sandy creeks of the Pilbara. Once again we could find nothing unusual with the performance of the 90s. They simply soldiered on.
June / July - Expedition - 1975 kms
A pretty tough trip on vehicles & tyres but the group came through without any major problems.
It was at the end of this trip that the above mentioned problem surfaced. On Land Rover Defenders the bottom bracket or mount for the rear shocks has cups for the rubber bushes to sit in, they are spot welded onto the brackets during manufacture. These cups replace the normal shaped washers that control the squashing of the bush during the damper cycle. Until now they have worked exceptionally well, much better than shaped washers in my experience.
Land Rover Defender - rear bottom damper mount
You can see the steel "cups" on both top & bottom of the bracket
After about 130,000 kms of off-road & off-track work the gravel and stones thrown up by the rear tyre on the left had eroded or worn away the bottom most cup almost completely. I had noticed it wearing out but there wasn’t much I could do in the bush until it broke away entirely.
At Old Halls Creek after the trip it started to clunk so I removed the squashed & damaged rubber bush from the bottom and fitted a poly bush instead. This was a simple and quick fix that worked well. The poly material doesn’t flatten as easily as the rubber and can handle being positioned and worked without a cup or shaped washer. I kept an eye on it but no more repair work was required.
Land Rover Defender - rear bottom damper mount
Bottom cup eroded and broken off - Poly used as replacement
August / September - "Central Ranges Explorer" Tour - 2227 kms
Gunbarrel Highway, Old Gunbarrel Highway, Sandy Blight Junction Rd & Gary Junction Rd.
This was a pretty straight forward tour around the Central Ranges. Most of the roads get a bit of maintenance now again. The exceptions being the Old Gunbarrel & the Sandy Blight Junction Road which have a tendency to be either corrugated, sandy or washed out which are always good conditions for shock absorbers.
I hadn’t repaired the damaged cup for the rear left damper as time was very short and I didn’t have on hand just the right materials to make a good repair. I would have to make a cup and weld it on and I simply ran out of time. However I wasn’t too worried as the poly bush was performing well and I was confident that I would have no trouble from it. This proved to be the case.
Results & Observations 2010
The big red Konis we have fitted to our vehicle have never faltered, so I’m at a bit of a loss to write anything about them. I guess the results speak for themselves.
Airbag & Shock Absorbers
As usual I put my hand on the dampers quite often, I’m that used to them now I already know how they will feel after any given road or track condition. For the 2010 season we had air bags fitted in the rear coil springs for the first time and I could find no real evidence (even with our very rough heat measuring system) that the air bags changed the shock absorber temperature noticeably. I was hoping the shocks would run a little cooler but without better monitoring gear I don’t think this was the case. On the other hand I don’t believe they ran any hotter either. By the way the air bag pressure was 24 psi all season with the rated maximum at 30psi. Click here for a more detailed report on Air Bags in Coil Springs .
Managing Damper Heat
Over the last couple of years I also have made a habit of feeling everyone else’s shock absorbers after rough patches of travel. The smaller volume units are normally hotter but it depends on many factors how hard the damper has to work. Tyre pressures, weight being carried, driving style and the list goes on.....
Carrying the heat issue further, one of the ways we regulate tyre pressures these days is by shock absorber heat, too hot and we simply drop some air out of the tyres. It is a very simple system that works very well. The other way is also very simple, stop travelling now and again and let the shocks cool down. Both methods of reducing shock absorber heat are cheap and effective, think about it.
After about thirty commercial trips I can’t think of any shock absorbers that have "blown" from only overheating on our trips. The dampers that have been lost (maybe 6 or so) have been caused by incorrect fitting, lack of maintenance or the fitting of incorrect length dampers. The bulk of shock absorber problems we have stem from worn out bushes, which is a direct result of poor maintenance. On average during a season of multiple trips I might be called upon to replace worn damper bushes maybe 2-3 times.
During our travels we always hear stories about other travellers and other commercial groups damaging dampers and having trouble. What causes these problems we don’t really know but there are many sets of shock absorbers sent to many remote post offices & roadhouses every winter.
Good luck & safe travelling
Odometer at start of season = 185,085 kms
Odometer at end of season = 210,398 kms
Total odometer distance = 25,313 kms
Koni Raid 90s have completed 147,400 kms
During the summer off-season (2010/11) I did very little to the damper units at all apart from a good long inspection, the bushes looked in good order and the poly bush remained in place due once again to a lack of time. This sounds very poor but the reality was there were maintenance issues on the vehicle of much higher priority. I knew the poly bush would handle the conditions just fine, after all it is designed for a shock absorber!
I’ve also added what happened to customers shock absorbers this year. I just thought it may be of interest. The vehicle report does have some of these happenings, but many of the minor problems I don’t bother writing up in that report.
At the end of this splurb is a "problem" section and it makes interesting reading. We are starting to see a few issues with our Konis but all of them are mounting related and more the result of vehicle design. The damper units themselves have been flawless. Have a read and see what you think.
May - Canning Stock Route - Tour - 2515 kms
The entire stock route with all of the wells and all of the detours we are currently allowed to do. A really historical trip with no shock absorber trouble at all.
June / July - Off-track Expedition - 1347 kms
Spent 28 days poking around the Great Victoria Desert, we had a very interesting time. Our Koni 90 shock absorbers performed flawlessly as usual, I’m beginning to wonder if they’ll put a foot wrong at all.
One of our travellers did have a shock absorber problem however, but it was vehicle related not an issue with the damper itself. The bolt holding a rear bottom unit came loose and fell out somewhere in the bush. I sorted through my spares box and came up with another bolt. Otherwise we would have had to take the unit off. This was another example of maintenance not quite 100%. As I mention elsewhere these sorts of things should be "thread locked" with some goo to stop this very thing happening.
Lost mount bolt - oops!
August - Beadell Tracks Tour - 3281 kms
This trip was a large loop using Len’s roads as the focus and included quite a number of detours along the way. No trouble with our Koni 90 shock absorbers.
September - Anne Beadell Highway - Tour - 2011 kms
This trip was simply the Anne Beadell Highway, but we did throw in an extra 500km detour down into the south west as well. The Anne Beadell Highway is notorious for being very hard on gear and both Connie & I wholeheartedly agree with this. On the South Australian side you can be sure that if you gear has a weak point it will be shown up while you rattle through there. Apparently we don’t have any weak points as we went through without a problem, much the same as the other dozen or so times over the last few years.
We had a couple of shock absorbers on camper trailers that needed new bushes about halfway through that trip, but apart from that we had no major trouble.
October - Nullarbor & West - Tour - 1916 kms
This trip went right across the Nullarbor, from Nullarbor Roadhouse to Esperance. Road conditions in these areas are a lot different to the deserts to the north. There are few if any corrugations but the limestone is very hard and on the old Overland Telegraph tracks the tree roots and potholes are consistent. On the whole though, gear doesn’t work as hard in these regions as the more famous country further north.
Our set of Koni 90 dampers didn’t miss a beat once again.
While doing an unrelated repair on the front end of a vehicle we found the front left shock absorber, a gas/oil type, wasn’t holding pressure. By that I mean that the unit didn’t extend by itself from the internal gas pressure when we took it off the vehicle. There isn’t much you can do about this so we just fitted the new spare the vehicle carried.
Results & Observations 2011 - Mount Related Problems from Bush Work During 147,000 kms
OK, I’ll just run through the few things that are happening to our Koni shock absorbers. All of these problems are due to wear and tear from long periods on gravel roads & tracks and have taken a very long time to develop to the point I have to do something about it, remember these dampers have now completed 147,000 kms. Now some of you will be thinking "oh that’s not much", but consider that a large percentage of our travel is actually off-road etc, not bitumen. I’ve included our mileages for each season so you can see how much remote area work our vehicle does. What I’m describing won’t happen on bitumen roads.
The way the shocks are fixed to the vehicle has caused these problems it wouldn’t matter what brand of damper was fitted these same issues would come up in time.
Thread Erosion on Shaft
On Land Rover Defenders the way the bottom of the rear shocks are mounted leaves the end of the threaded shaft exposed to shrapnel such as gravel & stones thrown up from the tyre just alongside it. Halfway through the 2011 season I took the rear shocks off and filed off the damaged portion of thread so the nut wouldn’t get knocked about screwing over rough broken threads when I needed to remove them for maintenance.
This isn’t a huge problem until you want to fit new rubber bushes etc. Chances are because the new rubber is full thickness or uncompressed the nut will have little or no thread to get started on. That can be a problem.
I’ve tried to make it clear in the images, but apologies for the photo quality.
Bottom of rear shock, exposed to damage from gravel, sand & stones
Correct amount of thread on shaft of Koni Raid 90
What is left of the thread after I filed off the damaged bits
My first thought about solving this problem was a barrel nut so the entire thread is covered and protected. The other possibility would be to weld a "cover" onto the bracket itself to shield the exposed bottom of the shaft. This would also help with the erosion of the cups for the bushes. Using both would probably be the best.......I’ll let you know.
Wear on Shaft & Mount Bracket (side effect from cup problem)
With the correct set-up the cups and rubber bushes hold the shock absorber threaded shaft in the centre of the hole through the mount bracket. I found that the shaft on the left hand rear side was wearing because with only one cup & bush the shaft under heavy pressure can move around in the hole through bracket.
Sorry this is a bit hard to describe so I went and took a few more pictures.
The shaft should be held in the centre of the bracket hole.
You can see how the hole is now out-of-round, worn on the left side
(Spot welds from the broken off cup can also be seen)
This isn't the shock absorber shaft, but a bolt worn away in the same manner.
This should give you the idea about what happened.
After the second trip of the season I found this happening so decided to repair what I could to finish the rest of the trips and get us home without further problems. With a small hobby welder I filled the worn area of the shaft with weld and then made it oversize to help minimize movement in the larger than normal bracket hole.
Oversized weld repair to worn shock absorber shaft.
This worked really well and I didn’t have to touch that shock absorber until we got home (after another three trips) and this report was being put together. It was only a temporary fix and while welding I was very careful to not heat the base of the damper to much for fear of damaging seals & o-rings etc.
Due to the eroded threads and the weld repair I’ll talk to Koni/Top Performance and see if we can get new shafts welded onto the bottoms of the rear dampers. I’ll make a new cup and get that onto the bottom of the bracket so we can start from scratch next year.
Steel Bush Wearing on Steel Mount (annoying clunk)
This little issue is the only problem I have with the Koni product and to be honest it’s a minor thing as it has to do with a rubber/steel bush in the "eye" type mounting, nothing at all to do with the dampers themselves.
The mounts are steel obviously and so is the inner sleeve of the large rubber bush that fits very tightly into the large "eye" of the shock absorber. Over a long period of time this steel on steel fitting wears enough to get some slop or movement in it. So you end up with a "clunk" whenever you drive over something that makes the suspension and shocks move quickly, like a rock or pothole.
The quick fix is pretty simple, just keep the nut tightened up and the large washer will hold the sleeve against the mount shaft base and prevent the movement. I’ll admit it took me a while to figure this one out as there can be over time many clunks from underneath a well worn heavily laden bus that sees a lot of rough country work.
Eye mount; large rubber bush & inner steel sleeve on vehicle mount shaft.
I’ll also add here I’m beginning to see the same small problem with another vehicle that travels with us every year and has the same eye type fittings, and it isn’t a Land Rover.
With the Defender you can replace the worn mount by undoing three bolts and slipping on a new one, a pretty handy feature. You can also with a bit of effort insert a new bush and sleeve into the eye of the shock absorber. But doing this doesn’t solve the original problem which is steel on steel wearing enough to cause movement. I guess it’s a small thing really but I work hard to keep the clunks out of our vehicle even though this problem doesn’t seem to have any side effects such as developing a stress raiser & cracking something.
I’ll talk to Koni/Top Performance and see if there is a rubber bush without the steel sleeve or maybe those fellas have a better solution that they’ve worked out over the years. Once again I’ll let you know.
No Dents in Damper Tubes from Stones
I hadn’t taken much notice of tube dents until I went to remove the Konis from the rear of our bus and put the old spare shocks on. It was very noticeable that the Konis haven’t dented in 147,000 kms, or about 25 trips whereas the spares I fitted, just generic gas/oil units (well known 4WD brand actually) were pretty badly knocked about. From memory these old shocks had travelled maybe 80,000 kms, and about 11 desert trips.
Have a look at the picture and you’ll see what I mean.
You wouldn't think the Koni (on the left) had done twice the work would you......
Cup damage - eroding due to gravel, sand & rocks - see 2010 report above
After another season of 25,000 kms I’m happy to report that the Koni’s performed the same as usual, perfectly. I had no cause to do anything to the damper units themselves during the 5 trips except put my hand on them during the rougher sections of travel to check the temperatures. The mounting problems listed above are vehicle design related and do not reflect on Koni’s quality in the least.
Koni make exceptional quality gear, the RAID 90 shock absorbers have performed faultlessly for five years now. There is not much else to say really, the gear works and works exceptionally well.
Odometer at start of season = 219,515 kms
Odometer at end of season = 242,071 kms
Total odometer distance = 22,556 kms
Koni Raid 90s have completed 169,956 kms (approx. 25 desert trips)
In short our travelling during 2012 was no different to any other year, the bulk of the time in the western deserts and the rest of the time between trips in areas bordering the desert, no surprises there. I’m pleased to report that yet again our set of Koni Raid 90s performed perfectly.
We had no trouble at all with our well used Koni 90 shock absorbers.
Bottom of Rear Shocks Problems - (read 2011 Koni report)
Over the summer off-season (2011/12) I did a bit of work on a couple of problems I described in last year’s Koni report. I’ve added a couple of pictures below to show what I have done, as well as images of the mount & damper from the report last year.
Bottom of rear shock, normally exposed to damage from gravel, sand & stones.
You can see the steel cups both top & bottom of the mount for the rubber bushes.
Bottom cup destroyed by erosion and fixed with poly bush & an extra washer.
A good enough temporary fix.
Modifications made in the workshop over the off season (summer).
New cup (can’t see it here) and stone shield.
New cup & shield after the 2012 season of 4 western desert trips.
I had thought about what to do for this issue for quite some time, several years in fact. I had both axle housings completely out of the Land Rover over the summer during our normal maintenance so it was a good time to make some modifications.
I made some replacement cups for the bottom and then added another lump of steel to act as a shield to stop the stone, gravel & sand eroding the threaded rod at the bottom of the shock absorbers.
Simple solutions to simple problems; they seem to be working so far and I’ll let you know how they go for the 2013 season & beyond.
Customer Shock Absorbers
More than 20 different vehicles travelled with us this year and looking through my notes kept during the trips I can’t find any shock absorber issues at all, I can’t remember any either. So, I don’t have much to report which makes for a pretty short wrap up of our travelling.
After 25 trips & more our Konis keep on working!!!
There is not much else I can say that I haven’t said before.
Connie & I made the decision to recondition our much worked set of Koni 90s during our Christmas in Melbourne in 2012. We didn’t have any issues with the dampers but as we were going to be in Melbourne it seemed an ideal time to get the units looked at & serviced. Also we had never met the Toperformance team in person so it seemed we could get a couple of jobs done at the same time. Toperformance were contacted and arrangements made to do the work just before they knocked off for the Christmas/New Year break.
Over 2-3 hours 5 damper units were reconditioned. Firstly they were tested on the rig and nearly all were in good condition. One unit was down a little bit but hardly enough to notice. Next the dampers were stripped to inspect the oil and seals and look for damage to the pistons, shaft & valves. The boys were pleased to see & smell the old oil was not "cooked" or damaged from excessive heat. (It is easy to spot. Burnt oil has a very strong aroma that can’t be mistaken for anything else.) I was pleased by this, after 30 odd trips the old oil was really good so our method of travelling and handling conditions had been working.
The worn bottom pins of the rear units were cut off and new pins welded on before the units were put back together with fresh oil and seals. Back onto the test rig for a few cycles and I was given the thumbs up.
Toperformance technician at work servicing shock absorber units – the boys are very good
The test rig that cycles the damper up and down to check function
Just some of the Koni stock on hand at Toperformance in Melbourne Victoria
The reconditioned damper units were refitted with new bushes, washers & nuts. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the service and expertise shown by the whole team at Toperformance. I was sure we would now be able to go on for another 6 years or more before the dampers would need major servicing.
As I have mentioned before, Koni make exceptional, reliable gear and with the back-up of Toperformance it would be very difficult to look at another shock absorber brand.
Beadell Tours will continue with Koni 90s; reliability, strength, economy & peace of mind are very strong selling points for our business.
Odometer at start of season = 250, 600 kms
Odometer at end of season = 276, 165 kms
Total odometer distance = 25, 565 kms
Koni Raid 90s have completed 212, 900 kms (35 commercial desert trips & 8 private desert trips)
Connie & I headed off for our 2013 season with our "new" shock absorbers very confident that we would have 5 trouble free trips. Turns out we were correct......This is a very short report. It’s hard to report on problems if they didn’t happen!!!!!
May – Anne Beadell Hwy & Nullarbor – Tour - 1630 kms
Short trip along the Anne Beadell & eastern Nullarbor, plenty of corrugations – no trouble at all.
June – Full Gunbarrel Highway – Tour - 2190 kms
The full length of the Gunbarrel Highway, once again plenty of corrugations – again no trouble.
July – Gary Highway, Kidson Track, Windy Corner Road – Tour – 3330 kms
A longer trip using the Gunbarrel, Eagle Highway, Gary Highway, Kidson Track, Windy Corner Road and back to the Gunbarrel Highway, a mixture of track conditions over a wide area – no trouble at all.
August – GVD Expedition – Tour - 1800 kms
25 days spent off-track exploring in the Great Victoria Desert, no trouble at all. Shock absorber issues travelling off-track are rare. The frequency of the suspension travel is very low so things don’t have to carry a great amount of stress.
September/October – Beadell Tracks Wanderer – Tour - 2800 kms
A long trip covering a variety of Len’s roads between Laverton & Alice Springs with the usual mix of corrugations, wash-outs and rough stone shelves. The Konis just soldiered on without complaint.
Once again our travelling during 2013 was trouble free in regard to shock absorbers. After a rough bit or a bad section of corrugations I would check the temperatures with my hands, but as I have found over the years they were warm to very warm only as I could keep my hand on them for quite some time, many many seconds. Testing customer vehicles the same way wasn’t always as nice, ouch......
Top Performances workmanship was faultless with no leaks or anything unusual occurring during our many months in the western deserts.
We had no trouble at all with our reconditioned Koni 90 shock absorbers
Our trips were well booked this year so we had many different vehicles travelling with us all over the deserts. We had no shock absorber troubles that I can recall with any of the vehicles, although we had a few suspension issues none were with damper units.
We’ll see what happens in 2014......
Thank You Toperformance
Safe travelling everyone
Mick Hutton Copyright
Revised : November 2013
| Koni 90 Raids fitted at 63,315 kms
Odometer at start of season = 280,267 kms
Odometer at end of season = 306,133 kms
Total odometer distance = 25,866 kms
Koni Raid 90s have completed 242,818 kms
(39 commercial desert trips & 9 private desert trips)
Once again four commercial tag-a-longs were conducted with a bit of poking around between trips in the western deserts for Connie & myself during the cooler months of 2014. It has nearly got to the stage where I almost forget about our shock absorbers apart from checking the bushes and putting a hand on them after a rough bit to check the temperature.
It’s really simple; these big heavy Koni’s seem to be verging on indestructible. Our results should speak to Koni’s reliability.
May - Great Victoria Explorer - Tour - 1,763 kms
A short trip using a great many forgotten tracks & roads in the south west of the Great Victoria Desert – Our Koni’s had no trouble at all.
June – Forrest, Carnegie & Hill - Expedition - 1,397 kms
Another off-track expedition following explorer routes & looking for water in the western deserts, always interesting and well worth the effort – Once again our Koni’s did their work without complaint.
August – Desert Oaks, Red Sand & Ranges – Tour - 2,140 kms
An easier ramble along mostly maintained roads in the central ranges west & south west of the Olgas. Even though I say maintained many of the roads are still not brilliant and your vehicle works hard or harder because you’re travelling a bit quicker than the rougher roads.
Anyway, still no trouble with our Koni’s.
September/October – Beadell Tracks Wanderer – Tour - 2,760 kms
A longer trip starting at Coober Pedy and finishing at Carnegie Station covering a variety of Len’s roads & a couple of the roads put in for oil & gas exploration.
No complaints from our Koni’s.
To sum up - once again we had no trouble with our well travelled Koni 90s.
We’ll see what happens in 2015.......
Safe travelling everyone
Koni 90 Raids fitted at 63,315 kms
Odometer at start of season = 313,167 kms
Odometer at end of season = 338,589 kms
Total odometer distance = 25,422 kms
Koni Raid 90s have completed 275,274 kms
(43 commercial desert trips & 12 private desert trips)
Well, another winter in the deserts without a major problem after 9 years of using the same set of Koni 90 Raid shock absorbers. The following is what we got up to during the cooler months of 2015.
April/May – "Sandy Blight to Emu" - Tour - 3036 kms
Another selection of Len Beadell’s roads through the western deserts; we started in Alice Springs and ended up in Coober Pedy after more than 3000 kms of desert travel over a great variety of road & track conditions.
No trouble with our Koni’s.
May/June – "Series in the Scrub"- Tour - 1117 kms
This was a shorter trip with a bit of a twist. It was a trip for the older Land Rovers. We had five Series 1 vehicles made between 1950 & 1955. The tour was 14 days on the Nullarbor between Nundroo & Eucla. A very good trip with plenty to see, you just have to know where to look......
Halfway through the tour I started to notice a bit of a knock from the rear. After about a million kilometres in Land Rover Defenders I knew what it was and also knew it wasn’t doing any damage. So we carried on finishing the trip and began our mid-season break when Connie & I catch up on paperwork and do any maintenance that is required.
|New bushes as described
Small Noise in Rear
The problem (and we have had this before) was that the rear shock absorber top bushes were wearing out and starting to make a bit of noise. On a Defender the top rear mount is a bolt on cast steel piece and the Koni’s have a steel insert inside the rubber bush. Now over time & millions of ups & downs the steel on steel wears a little and eventually there is enough play in the bush to allow a small "knock" as the damper cycles.
The solution is pretty simple, just put some new bushes in the shocks & if the mount is worn as well, bolt on some new ones (that is the advantage of replaceable mounts). So I contacted Toperformance in Melbourne and got them to send me a new set of bushes, both the large rubber bits & the steel inserts which they make. As it happened I ran out of time to fit the new bushes at the time so I just put the spare rear shock absorber on which had a top bush that had done little work. The "knock" vanished and we carried on with our tag-a-long work without further incident.
To sum up; I have said previously that this is not a shock absorber problem, more of a mounting issue. Steel on steel that cannot be lubricated when in a dusty tough environment will wear and develop problems. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. Since 2007 I think I have had to change these bushes once or twice. I don’t think that is much of an issue as these particular bushes outlast all of the other bushes by some years.
July/August – "Lost Waters of the South West" – Expedition - 1565 kms
Off-track through the south west of the Great Victoria Desert looking for explorer sites & natural water points for 27 days. A very enjoyable trip for us even though it can be hard work when the scrub is bad and there are holes in many tyres, such is off-track travel.
Shock absorbers don’t work hard on these trips but they do "long cycle" a great deal as you push over spinifex lumps and other scrub, whereas corrugations on the roads have a very high frequency of cycling which creates an enormous amount of heat unless you have a large volume shock absorber fitted.
Another trouble free trip.
September – "Beadell Tracks Wanderer" – Tour - 2386 kms
A pretty standard trip at a relaxed steady pace along quite a few of the Bomb Roads in the north-west made by the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party during the 1950s & 1960s. We didn’t have any damper problems as almost everywhere we went there seemed to be a grader working quietly away giving the roads a bit of a scrape. We were very surprised by this as we almost never see any road work in the more remote areas. Normally we find out that the grader has gone through after we have, if one is working at all. Such is life as the saying goes.
No damper problems at all.
Another season in the western deserts without having any problems of significance, this will happen if you use quality gear and treat it properly.
We’ll see what happens in 2016.......
Safe travelling everyone
Koni 90 Raids fitted at 63,315 kms
Odometer at start of season = 346,735 kms
Odometer at end of season = 377,682 kms
Total odometer distance = 30,947 kms
Koni Raid 90s have completed 314,367 kms
(47 commercial desert trips & 14 private desert trips)
2016 was another commercial season with a few other desert travels thrown in as usual. Over the off-season maintenance period I fitted new top bushes to the rear units; they were worn and were beginning to knock (as they do when older – see 2015 report). Once again we had no trouble with the Koni 90 Raids. This year we didn’t travel Len’s "Bomb Roads" much at all. We sort of had a year off & did different tracks in other western desert areas. The following is what we got up to during the cooler months of 2016.
April/May – "Canning Stock Route & the Explorers" - Tour – 2,646 kms
The full length of the CSR over 28 days with as many detours as we are allowed to do these days and the track was as usual corrugated in parts and rough & lumpy on the sandhills. Our old Koni’s couldn’t have cared less, no problems at all.
June – "South West Explorer"- Tour - 1,743 kms
Our little trip within the south west of the vast Great Victoria Desert. We spent much of the time poking around on overgrown forgotten tracks to places of interest from the old explorers. Not a hard trip on vehicles so not surprisingly we had no trouble with shock absorbers.
Desert Discovery Scientific Project – Great Sandy Desert – 2,521 kms
Connie & I spent a couple of weeks working for a scientific project in the Great Sandy Desert between Kiwirrkurra & Balgo. Our job was largely putting wheel-tracks into areas that the boffins wanted to investigate. The established tracks we used don’t see a great deal of tourist traffic so are not overly corrugated or damaged. Off-track work isn’t hard on shock absorbers either so in truth this job wasn’t all that hard on gear compared to the known "4WD" tracks.
August/Septemebr – "C96 Two Soaks" – Expedition - 2,520 kms
This trip was an off-track exploration looking for two water sources that explorer David Carnegie used deep in the Great Sandy Desert during 1896. Off-track work is a great deal different to normal outback touring. Essentially it is easier on things like shock absorbers. Largely it is because the frequency of movement is very slow at 15 kms/hr compared to thundering over corrugations at 40-70 kms/hr. Think about it. Anyway, we had no trouble with our old Koni’s once again.
September/October – "Nullarbor Explorer" – Tour - 2,577 kms
A steady trip through country not seen by the masses. Nullarbor is a hidden gem for folks interested in history & the bush. Road & track conditions are very reliable and so we didn’t have any damper trouble at all. It’s easy to get used to gear that works all of the time.
Apart from maintenance, which means new bushes now & again, it’s pretty hard to complain about gear, or find fault if nothing ever goes wrong. In many cases now I don’t bother or forget to monitor the Koni’s because after so many trips I know what they will feel like in regard to heat. We don’t need to make any sales pitch about the Koni’s, the raw results speak for themselves. Koni 90’s were a very smart move for our small business.
We’ll see what happens in 2017.......
Safe travelling everyone
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