by Rob Mullner, Chief Enthusiast-JC Whitney
Photos by the Author and Eibach Springs
For the next episode of Made in America we traveled to Corona, California to visit Eibach Springs. Since 1987 this renowned German manufacturer of performance suspension systems has been thriving and expanding its markets, products and workforce in Southern California. We had a chance to see all of the operations at Corona starting with the Research and Development workshop and installation testing center. Here Eibach creates new products including springs, shocks and sway bar applications while continuously test-fitting current product applications to ensure fitments are accurate across model extensions as well as real world testing on new products that Eibach engineers create.
Jared Reyes, Eibach Springs Assistant Sales Manager was our host for the tour which began in their busy installation garage with the latest rear drive sedan from Kia, a new Civic being fitted for competition suspension and off road RZR ATV’s just back from a romp in the desert. Jared shared that Eibach recently entered the UTV market and their products have been a big hit, solving a sagging issue that many RZR owners have experienced with their factory springs.
Beyond the workshop area, we visited the testing center where Eibach subjects their products to salt, stress and real world forces until failure so they can find flaws and engineer better products. We saw a number of Eibach products being cycled through a simulated life time of abuse in a matter of weeks.
One of the most telling indicators of quality is the relationship Eibach has created with NASCAR; their springs are the standard for Super Speedway tracks like Daytona and Talladega where the loads and forces encountered during a full race distance can compromise lower quality springs leading to non-compliance with NASCAR’s stringent ride height specifications.
Next we toured the Damper (shock) Department where Eibach machinists create new shock bodies, shafts and valve combinations for the R&D team to fit and test before commercial production is approved. Beyond prototyping and on-vehicle testing there is more destructive testing; we saw a machine that can simulate multiple loads and compression frequencies to ensure that Eibach shocks are up to the challenge, whether the Eibach shock and springs are installed on a lowered Jetta,a lifted Jeep or a leveled Ford. The Truck shock market has seen a comprehensive selection of Eibach product added to their offerings across their Pro-Truck lifting and leveling systems as well as their broad range of lowering kits.
Considering that Eibach products are OE on McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus and other high performance vehicles it’s no surprise that their engineering, manufacturing and quality control are world class. In fact the Corona plant uses the same quality standards and manufacturing processes as the worldwide Eibach operations in Germany and Asia.
As we moved through the shock assembly section we saw batches of products being organized and staged for production and a small group of dedicated workers operating highly specialized machines with the most intricate final assembly done by hand. We saw the intersection of automation and hand assembly multiple times throughout our tour and Eibach is obsessed with machine consistency and the human touch working together to produce the highest quality products.
Jared led us through the finished goods and raw materials warehouse to the manufacturing floor where Eibach winds, cuts, quenches, grinds, tempers, shot peens, tests and powder coats its world famous springs for a huge range of vehicle applications. Giant coils of steel wire ranging from 2mm up to 25mm are loaded into winding machines that are precisely programmed to handle a specific gauge of steel and turn it into an Eibach Spring that is guaranteed not to sag, settle or crack for the life of spring. Through its elaborate manufacturing process Eibach ensures that their finished goods are ready for whatever type of driving their customer aspires to whether it’s off-road, circle track, circuit or solo racing, rock crawling or just cruising.
The spring winding machines make a huge hum and clatter as they turn the coil steel into springs. The newly formed springs have many more steps to complete before they are ready to be packaged and shipped to customers around the United States. Tempering is the next step in the Eibach process where huge ovens heat and hold the springs to an exact temperature for a precise amount of time.
Tempering “sets” the spring so that its metallurgy won’t sag or fail after repeated compressions and varying loads. Then the springs are loaded into carousels for an automated process that uniformly grinds a specific amount of material off the spring forming a “seat” for the spring. Shot-peening is the next operation; the springs are blasted with steel shot to increase strength and create an even surface to ensure the best finish for the upcoming powder coating process. Prior to powder coating each spring is subjected to QA via a pre-set test where the spring is compressed and measured against a standard height, if the spring doesn’t meet the spec it’s rejected.
The last stop on the tour featured the sway bar production line where one of Eibach’s most popular products is produced. Machine operators load blanks into machines that create intricate bar shapes to fit the various front drive, rear drive and all-wheel drive vehicles that Eibach covers.
Jared showed us one of the differentiating factors of Eibach sway bar manufacturing-rather than weld the bar end and create a “weak” spot prone to cracking under load, Eibach created a process to shape the bar end with pressure and heat that creates a stiffer bar that can transfer cornering load more effectively.We came away very impressed with Eibach’s endless pursuit of quality.
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