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A cautionary tale - Terrafirma Dampers


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Just thought people might be interested in this little incident from last week.

I've just got back from the Highlands from helping out a friend guide an off-road tour and one of the vehicles we had was a well kitted out (read heavy as well) Puma 110. I'd possibly put them in the camp of people who may have bought into the Defender for the "life-style" image since everything was bought and nice and shiny, unlike I suspect the vast majority of people on here's setup. Anyway to their credit they were getting out and enjoying the countryside and using it off-road.

Due to the amount of stuff they had in the back it had been fitted with dual dampers on the rear axle, and not knowing any better it had two Terrafirmas on both side, I can't remember the spec of what they were but they weren't parallel just one in front and one behind the rear axle. The dampers has been fitted about 4 months ago.

Anyway halfway around one of the tracks on day 2 they radio saying they hear some clonking. Everyone stops and we find that the cylinder of the damper has sheared off from the top mount, metal looked very "Chinese". Anyway since they've still got three on the rear we remove the broken one completely and carry on.

Day 4 they hear a scraping and we pull over again off the road and find another damper has parted company - this time shearing off at the bottom (where the damper body joins onto the threaded stud to go through the bottom). Luckily only rubbed the tyre but has destroyed the inside of the rear wheel.

About 50 miles up the road and a quick toilet stop for the ladies and the boys jump out and check things over, to find a third damper has parted company (not sure where this one broke as I was higher up the hill to free up some space). Anyway we "abandoned" their vehicle on the private island we were wild camping on and they jumped in with a couple of the other guys to do the penultimate track. On Saturday morning we sent them down to Hamish at Inverness 4x4 to put some proper dampers on and they set off.

The boys took some photos of the carnage so if I get a copy of them I'll post them up - I know Terrafirma aren't the best but the way these "lasted" is downright dangerous. That particular 110 hasn't had a hard life and not been used off-road much - only the odd towing duties in fields. I've certainly given my Koni's several orders of magnitude harder life and they've been absolutely fine.

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If they have polybushes especially, just tightening up the bolts/nuts too much can cause this sort of failure, there just isn't enough flex in them.

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12 minutes ago, mmgemini said:

Just one in front and one behind. How ? might I ask were they actually fitted

Didn't actually pay attention - I tended to be at the back of the group unless a difficult section came up, so by the time I got there others (couple of mechanics there) had removed them. The front was standard but can't remember what the rear was.

8 minutes ago, Bowie69 said:

If they have polybushes especially, just tightening up the bolts/nuts too much can cause this sort of failure, there just isn't enough flex in them.

Fairly sure they weren't poly-bushed, when I lent my strength to undo #2 I did think the bottom (normal) bushes looked a bit squashed.

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Well Ed quite a few years ago as I was preparing my Defender 110 SW I was advised to fir double rear dampers, I even got the extra axle brackets todo the job. THEN I realised that fitting one in front and one behind wouldn't allow any movement, the only flex would be in the shocker mounting rubbers. I also at the time drove a TD4 defender fitted with shocks fitted tht way and it was really hard on the road.

SO. I bought a new set of ordinary rear shocks from Land Rover. Never had any problems

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I did wonder at the "benefit" of the setup. Our advice (one of those being Hughie of Portal Rover fame) was to throw them out and fit some decent single shocks (Koni, Fox, OME).

If he's got pictures then I'll post them, these were arranged in a V about the axle rather than being twin. Only potential benefit I see is on rough roads but then you're probably better off with bigger and remote reservoirs.

At least with this setup he had backups :ph34r:, to a point. I was slightly surprised the one that ended up single went as well but I guess it had had the damage done by then. 

Still wouldn't expect any damper to fail the way this has. It didn't get much of a workout.

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31 minutes ago, landroversforever said:

As much as I don’t like the quality, or lack of, in the terrafirma shocks, even decent shocks can be broken in that manner if they’re done up too tightly. 

Decent shocks have correct size washers that pull up against an inner collar/spacer tube and are supposed to be tight to this . Most likely chinese camembert steel and nasty rubber bushes . 

Steve

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Haven't had any issues with my Terrafirmas, but have heard of it happening before.

How recent were these shocks? IIRC they were pretty carp early on but got better lately.

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Maybe this had something to do with it :rofl:

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Unsurprisingly my 110 with all three lockers engaged just dug a hole further up, needed some lardiness in the form of Hughie's 3.2t 80 series (weighed when it was fully loaded ready for camping / expeditions) and the 7.5t winch on the front of it to give me some assistance.

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9 minutes ago, Bowie69 said:

I remember similar issues around 10 years ago with OME shocks, there's a thread on here somewhere...

Probably this thread 

 

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31 minutes ago, Maverik said:

This has been brought up before regarding terrafirma shocks.

I ran a set of big bores for 8 years with no problems.

Correct 

 

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Yep, it has been a common Terrafirma problem on here.  One member even ran through the manufacture/shipping/wholesale/retail costs and showed they’re manufactured for just a couple of pounds each.  They’re utter rubbish, far worse even than ProComp, which merely suffer rapid piston rusting, not fracture or shearing.

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Not that it really adds anything here but our 110 has the shocks arranged one front and one back on the rear (ala early rangie). As far as I can tell this was only done on very early 110's and rangie's. I'm guessing the factory had issues with the rear mounted shock and fitted them both front on later vehicles.

Mike

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IIRC on the right hand side of a 110 chassis the 3 bolt holes are still there, certainly we're on my old 1989 chassis, 

Yes they were different on early RR & 110, I think it was a axle articulation problem which made LR swap them to leading the axle. 

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2 hours ago, miketomcat said:

Not that it really adds anything here but our 110 has the shocks arranged one front and one back on the rear (ala early rangie). As far as I can tell this was only done on very early 110's and rangie's. I'm guessing the factory had issues with the rear mounted shock and fitted them both front on later vehicles.

Mike

Mike you will find that the latest 300Tdi chassis still had the chassis drilled to fit one shock forward and the other rearword although the shocks are both the same way on the axle. Is that I wonder a left over from the Range Rover

 

 

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I don't think having two shocks a side, one front/one rear will make a jot of difference to the pin/eye loading, certainly it won't lock up the suspension or whatever was suggested above.

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9 minutes ago, Bowie69 said:

I don't think having two shocks a side, one front/one rear will make a jot of difference to the pin/eye loading, certainly it won't lock up the suspension or whatever was suggested above.

I think people get hung up about it being a triangle of two shocks and the chassis and therefore rigid. The suspension arm controls the movement of the axle thus the movement of the shock. If diagonal opposing shocks did not lock up a RRC then it won't if both on the same side its the same movement.

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37 minutes ago, missingsid said:

I think people get hung up about it being a triangle of two shocks and the chassis and therefore rigid. The suspension arm controls the movement of the axle thus the movement of the shock. If diagonal opposing shocks did not lock up a RRC then it won't if both on the same side its the same movement.

I agree.  I would suspect the reason the original configuration was changed to a symmetrical one was because of some small amount of bump steer or asymmetrical behaviour.  A triangle is only rigid if the sides can’t change length; dampers are made to do just that.

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1 hour ago, Snagger said:

I agree.  I would suspect the reason the original configuration was changed to a symmetrical one was because of some small amount of bump steer or asymmetrical behaviour.  A triangle is only rigid if the sides can’t change length; dampers are made to do just that.

How would it cause any bump steer?! The geometry of the suspension doesnt change

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