December 2019 UPDATE -
Well it final came time to pull down the rear shocks on our tour rig. These shocks were fitted at 202,000KM a couple years ago, and the Odo now sits at 267KM.
In that time, as we covered below, our set of Dobinson MRR have travelled more than most people do in a lifetime, and the punishment they received was sustained.
Cory & Jake at Malaga Springs & Suspension, took some time out to run through the shock design and process involved in rebuilding. We also made a small valving adjustment to the rebound of the rear shocks, to improve with our sustained heavy loads. We may revisit this in the future.
First of all, I want to take the time to say thanks to Cory for taking the time out to go through this exercise. The benefits are two fold, we get a look at what is arguably the most real world R & D testing one of the MRR shocks has been through, the shocks get a freshen up and we get to try some small custom adjustments which are more than possible with the Dobinson MRR and upcoming MRA (Adjustable) shock designs.
For those that don’t know, Malaga has a new test bench custom built for handling rebuilding and customising of these remote res shock absorbers that have become so popular. Having local access to such a service means no more sending shocks ex East, paying for transport and having extra down time on the car. It’s a huge win for the consumer here in Western Australia; Furthermore, those with highly modified touring rigs now have the means to have custom modified shocks to suit their specific application. Just like being one of the last places in Perth to be able to custom reset leaf springs, Malaga Springs & Suspensions have a commitment for their customers to offer unique services such as this. Big Kudos!
So the burning questions? How are they? Have I destroyed them? What did they look like?
Well it was great experience to see it all happening and then going back together. It’s important to note, both shocks we’re preforming without any complaints so this rebuild was conducted purely for the purposes of getting a real idea of how these popular shocks have preformed in an application that’s on the high end of their intended use.
These Shocks we’re gassed back a while ago ( see below ) & came back with readings off 100 & 110 PSI for the left & right respectively. They had lost pressure again, but were within spec. 65,000KM of muck and grime, we cleaned off the shock housing and reservoir to restore to a workable state. When rebuilding shocks, its important to have a workspace as sterile as possible as contamination is a huge enemy of the process.
De-gassed and working on the canister end first, our LHS shock had no more than a few drops of oil that had bypassed, removing the top plate around the shaft exposed some corrosion issues on the housing itself. Cory hasn’t seen any to this extent so far, however, everything’s been retained to report to Dobinson HQ and they can see if there are any engineering solutions moving forward that could potentially improve this. Extra cleaning was required but the piston & block assemblies were removed in the press. We did have to do some extra clean up inside the housing to clean it all up. A new seal & piston kit was added as well as a change in oil ( an experiment ) to a Penrite Product, mineral based oil.
Charged to 148 PSI & stickered that was one down.
The process for the second shock was repeated, however we did observe much more Bypass in this shock canister, likely around 80Ml. Corrosion under the plate was evident again (these are upside down so wouldn’t think they would retain much moisture). Gas pressure was set at 148PSI, running lower with this different oil type than our last re- gas, but it’s a bit of a test as well.
Both Shocks Oil, was very surprisingly in excellent condition. I was at least expecting them to have some degree of tarnish from extended corrugations of the Canning Stock Route, but there was not even a hint of burnt smell or colouration. It was definitely surprising & obviously a quality oil. A small sheen, not really sure you could call it a metallic sheen, but very light film was the only visual indicator the oil wasn’t in brand new condition straight from the bottle.
Both shocks had some valving adjustments, no point getting into the nitty gritty, just wanted to firm up the rebound slightly to help with the heavier presentation of our vehicle. This was achieved relatively quickly with some consultation with Dobinson HQ. This is an adjustment we may revisit, test out, change & modify into the future.
The hardchrome on the shafts were both in good condition, a few small marks on the RHS shock outside of the stroke range were cleaned up with some 1000 grit sand paper. Both protective boots were replaced.
All mounting rubbers, we’re in perfect condition. Point & case, they handled everything the shock did. We took the chance to replace them anyway.
Front shocks, we’re at around 100PSI ( see below they were changed out recently)
These have been upped to 128PSI.
THE ROAD TEST:
Immediately on the road test we could feel the difference by the feel of the seat, but a trip away on the weekend re-affirmed the change was significant in the handling of the vehicle over whoop’s and bumps off-road. The rebound is noticeable, potentially we could even go a little more.
Our first trip offroad was through the Karri forrests of the Southwest. The week of offroading re affirmed we had struck a better balance with the tweaks & the fresh shocks made a noticeable difference to offroad comfort. We didnt encounter sustained corrugations, so nothing to report in the way of fade or that kind of thing – we will get to test this out next year.
One thing we think is the front’s are probably slightly too hard now, backing off to 120 or 115 PSI will be a smart move as it is rather firm up front.
Overall the degredation of suspension components over time can be hard to pick unless there is a failure. We’re happy with the new found performance, but equally impressed by how they have held up over time considering what they have endured.
This info will be provided to Dobinson HQ for ongoing development and research purposes.
To get in touch with Cory & the team at Malaga Springs & Suspension contact them on (08)92481130
THE STORY CONTINUES - AUGUST 2019 UPDATE Scroll Down to see our Original Article.
Our Dobinson MRR shocks have now completed 50,000km of rigorous off road KM, so it is well overdue for an update to this article.
The current situation is we are now running 2 new shocks in the front & the original shocks in the rear of the Landcruiser. The 2 new shocks were fitted after the front diff was overhauled on exchange, and in undoing the bottom nuts had undone the shocks internally due to an incorrect shaft design from factory. It turns out our original shocks we’re among some very early developed units. The decision was made to just switch these out.
This occurred around 41,000KM and the only other maintenance in that time has been re-gassing them to spec.
A very interesting note for people running this style of shock absorber is the need to gas up to spec periodically. This is 175psi for this particular application.
It wasn’t until we went for a drive in a friends car, we noticed just how soft the set up had become, almost boat like. Investigating around 40,000km found pressure were down from the 175PSI factory spec to as follows.
FR – 105PSI
FL – 100 PSI
RR- 95 PSI
Due to the combined set up weight & in consultation with Malaga springs & Suspenion & Dobinson HQ, pressures were upped’ to 195 PSI
Follow on in the next installment where we tear down the rear shocks to see what 50,000km of abuse looks like & do another pressure check all round. If you’re like us you will be looking forward to seeing the results.
Up there ^^ in the original article you will see we snapped a bracket, Dobinson subsequently released a thicker 3mm bracket to suit & we have had no issues since fitting these.
Both Rear Shocks are the original units fitted to the car. One unit has developed a small knock for the last 12,000km and there is some slight shaft play but absolutely n0 leaks, and performance is unchanged. We have been monitoring this for a while to see if it will develop, however it hasn’t changed a great deal, especially in the last few thousand KM.
The next step to the Dobinson Journey is to test out the new Test Down & Repair Bench at Malaga Springs & Suspension where Dobinson MRR Shocks can be stripped & rebuilt on the spot here in Perth! This has been kept under wraps for the most part, as Cory has been finalising tooling for the vast range of shocks on offer in the Dobinson catalouge, but the implications for a local test & repair bench means for customers here in the West we now get local serviceability!
Curiosity has gotten to both me & the Malaga Springs & Suspension team so we have decided to do a full strip down of the rear shock absorbers for R&D purposes and to identify the knock, sample the oil condition in a laboratory and general assess how life has been under a 3.5tonne Landcruiser touring some tough country for 50,000KM.
Stay tuned for a new article as we cover the strip & report of the MRR shocks.
We will leave you with a hit list of just what country the shocks have seen!
You can get in touch with Tom & the team @ Malaga Springs & Suspension on (08) 9248 1130 for more info the on the Dobinson MRR Range for your vehicle.
Its been 16 thousand kilometers since we fitted the Dobinson MRR remote res shocks to our vehicle & you may be wondering how that can qualify as a “long term review”.
But we can surely say in that time, these shocks have worked more than most people will do in a very long while.
We have just arrived home after nearly 3 months in the Kimberley region including our return journey of the Canning Stock Route.
Out on the Canning Stock Route – 2000km of Desert travel
The trip included a couple trips of the Gibb River Road & Mitchell Falls, 15 days cutting in the track at Oombulgurri & another 15 days down the Canning Stock Route. That’s enough to make most shock absorbers scream, let alone on a fully loaded coil sprung wagon being thrown around by yours truly.
Check out those for boondies
You can see what we thought after getting the shocks fitted here in our earlier Blog Post
The quality of the ride of road in soaking up bumps is fantastic. A marked improvement over the countless monotubes we have run over the years. Generally speaking, we never felt the resovoirs hot to the touch other than after a stretch into Well 33 on the Canning Stock Route – Some of the most horrible corrugations in Australia. On compression, the feel is positive & smooth. An almost progressive action makes it a lot less tiring behind the wheel & overall the actual feel of the car makes it less taxing when putting in long hours. Im finding it hard to know what words to use but on the rebound stroke, the shocks feel as if they are “gently bouncing back” rather than aggressively throwing the car about. Technical terminology at its finest!
It was on the Canning Stock Route I figured would be amoung the biggest test for the shocks. They performed really well & I didn’t notice any fade. They did get hot & on a car next to me with Kings remote res shocks, felt just as hot. The other monotubes in our group could of been removed and used as a bed of coals to cook lunch. The key here is to give them all a bit of a break & thus we weren’t pushing them any harder than we had too.
On the road I cant comment a great deal other than the car drove as well on the road heading up as it did back.
The only issue I had was through the middle of the Canning Stock Route on the horrid Well 33 section where I snapped a mount bracket on the front remote resovoir bracket that fixes to the coil tower. A quick bush fix & it held in place for the remainder of the trip. I popped down to the guys at Malaga Springs & Suspension, my Dobinson agent to show them & let them know my experience & I think its important to pass on feedback. Tom knew about the issue & for my particular model Dobinson currently have a revised mounting system being manufactured. Glad to know they were onto it. If that’s the only drama I have for back to back trips then Im happy with that! I’ve sinced replaced the bracket & will do both fronts with the revised mount brackets as soon as they are available.
This isn’t an issue for us, but make sure whoever your fitting agent is for these style shocks, uses industrial spiral wrap house guard to protect the hoses from sharp edges. If your suspension fitter is onto it, they will have this covered from the get go.
The bush fix lasted until we got a new bracket – No worries!
How are they after a few months of torture?-
The same as the day I put them on. No strange noises, all the rubbers & bushings are acceptable. Id love to crack them open after the next trip & have them serviced and see just how the internal condition of the oil & components are – It would be cool to see but not out of nessecity, for now they are performing just as well as the day they were fitted. That’s a huge kudo to these shocks as sometimes id be through 2 sets in a tour season, particular the rigours of remote & sustained bush travel.
The rubber boots on the rear shocks are still in descent condition considering the terrain driven & almost never ending rocks and gravel being thrown up along the undercarridge. The housings all look in good nic, probably a good scrub up they will be nice & shiny again but hey, that’s not what were about. They are doing a job & that certainly isn’t to be shiny!
While away I did regular checks of fixings and didn’t have to adjust them once, which means they were quality fixings to start with and torqued to spec.
Morning checks are important out here
We’re straight back up the highway & off into the Eastern Pilbara for some more remote travel action. That means another beating of 3 for the suspension on the car & we cant wait to get back again.
I think we will give the shocks another 10,000km and update with anything further, but im not holding my breath for anything drastic to change in that time.
I really can say the Remote Res Shocks are one of the best things I fitted to the car & wish I did it earlier with our last tour vehicle.
Corrugations to rattle fillings loose