No, I haven’t decided to put airbags in the FZ12 !
What I have done is put a variable ride height system into the car though. I wanted to be able to have the car ride at its normal ride height, but also be able to lift when needed to clear speed bumps, and lastly to be able to lower itself also into race mode.
As with a lot of things in this project, I did some research and found someone who made something that did part of what I needed and then I planned to adjust it to suit our needs. Now there are plenty of systems out there that are made to “lift” the front end of a car to clear speed bumps etc, but they’re only intended for a temporary lift. Our system will only be used temporarily for lifting, but it will need to be stable for normal ride height and traditional airbag type lifters won’t be able to provide that rigid platform we need.
What I found was a company who were making a lifter that was hydraulic and not air based. This means that we can have a stable platform in any position. What this system doesn’t do is lock in a specific position so I needed to create my own system to do that.
It would need 2 things it didn’t currently have. 1. a way to measure the position of the hydraulic cup and 2. a valve to lock the hydraulic fluid. You can see in the photo below how the hydraulic cup fits onto the suspension strut on the left. It’s in its compressed position. When fully open it will be 40mm longer. That will raise the car approx 80mm.
As mentioned before I needed a way to measure the position of the hydraulic cup and also to lock the fluid once it got to the right position. To do that I purchase some linear position sensors and some electronic valves.
I attached the new position sensors to a digital dash and configured it quickly to test to make sure they were going to do what I need. Here’s a video to give you the idea.
Next I made up carrier to hold the sensor to the side of the hydraulic cup. They are just attached with a urethane bonding agent, so are very solidly in place, but can be removed if I needed. That carrier will hold the linear position sensor. Then I re-made the original spring holder that came with the Viking suspension but added a small tab that stuck out to the side so that I could attach the other end of the linear position sensor. The guys from Melbar engineering CNC’d the carriers and new spring platforms for us and did an awesome job as always.
So how the system will work is that I will be able to select one of 3 positions from the touchscreen in the car. The first is lift (160mm), then road (normal ride height 120mm) and race mode (80mm). It will work something like race mode on the McLaren P1 shown here.
When I select a specific mode it will check the position of the 4 linear position sensors and see if they match what they need to be. If they need to go up it will open the 4 valves and then let the cups extend until the position matches the preset value and then it will lock the valve. Once all 4 valves are closed the pump will stop. Pretty straight forward once I have the ability to measure each cup and close each valve.
More to come once we have the pump and all the lines mounted in the car.
If you’ve missed the last part of our story then click here FZ12 – Part 26
or if you want to go right to the beginning then click here FZ12 – Part 1