Project Pathfinder Part 7, External Shock Adjusters
In our previous installments of Project Pathfinder we corrected the sloppy handling and loose steering of our machine. Our project is handling superbly, more like a sports sedan than an SUV. Our next mod is one more for convenience than adding any additional performance.
Our Rancho RSX 9000 9-way adjustable shocks work quite well. The only issue is that since Project Pathfinder is used for a wide range of conditions, from normal driving, to mountain roads, to off road and finally towing, it is necessary to adjust the shocks frequently, even several times per drive depending on what you might want to do. When towing, you might want to stiffen the rear shocks for better control, for off road, both shocks, for handling driving you might want to stiffen the rear more than the front to reduce understeer, for comfort soften the shocks.
RSX 9000 – Adjustable Shocks
Rancho's In-Cab Adjuster Kit
Adjusting the shocks was pretty easy but it did involve getting out of the truck and diving under it to turn the adjusting knobs, meaning that you had to get dirty and it was somewhat of a hassle (hey we are spoiled, you could adjust the stock shocks with a push of a button from in the cab). To make things a touch of a button easy like a stock Pathfinder, we installed Rancho’s in cab adjuster kit. The Rancho kit consists of a control panel where you can monitor the shocks stiffness level and adjust the shocks by varying the air pressure to them.
Rancho’s kit also contains a small electrical compressor, some air lines, and special fittings that replace the adjustment knobs on the shocks. Air pressure from the compressor works a small piston inside the shock, the more pressure on the piston, the firmer the shock’s damping gets. Air pressure gages in control panel monitor the damping level of the front and rear shocks respectively. Bleed valves in the control panel allow you to easily adjust the air pressure and thus the amount of damping force of the shocks. A button on the panel activates the compressor, pressurizing the system and the bleed valves allow for fine adjustment of the pressure.
|Rancho's In- Cab Adjuster Kit Control Panel|
We installed the compressor in the Pathfinders drivers side wheel well, high up in the fender, behind the fender liner where it would be invisible and well protected from water. The air lines were routed to the front and rear shocks inside the factory wire looms or following the factory brake line routing. This kept the installation invisible and well protected. Where the lines were exposed to possible impact damage, they were run inside plastic conduit to help protect them. Our careful installation should help ensure the systems reliability no matter how hard the use.
The system works like a charm, we can now adjust the shocks from the comfort of the drivers seat, even while in motion, making shock tuning a snap. At first we though that the kit was not a necessity or even a bit silly but now we find ourselves always tweaking the shocks trying to get the most out of our suspension.
Our mods have transformed Project Pathfinder. Before the Pathfinder was considered “the wife’s car” and we could care less about driving it. With the concerns about SUV rollover safety, we were trying to find a suitable replacement that combined good handling, cargo area and towing capacity. With our new suspension we find ourselves driving the Pathfinder more because its actually fun to hang corners in. More than once we have heard the comment, that’s crazy Volks on a SUV uttered.
Stay tuned, in the coming months we will talk about some simple bolt on power mods to make the Pathfinder less of an embarrassment to drive while we build our killer 3.4 liter super torquer tow motor.