Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Great Customer Testimonial... (TJ/LJ Suspension Products)

We are truly fortunate to have great customers... and it is emails like this that inspire us to keep doing what we do: Creating the BEST Products and the BEST Customer Experience...



I thought I would pass this along as a testimony. Over the last year I've been doing a build, all work done by me (with the exception of 5:13 gears installed), of my 2004 Wrangler LJ. What started out a bone stock Wrangler has undergone a major transformation. Although I originally didn't plan it that way, a majority of the build has been done utilizing many of your products, to include:

  1. - Short arm long travel suspension kit
  2. - Rear extended corner guards
  3. - Front and rear fenders
  4. - Rocker guards

Because it's such a critical part of any build, I suffered a great deal of angst debating suspension choices. The normal short arm, long arm, and even custom mid arm choices all made for a dizzying array of options. In the end it came down to two short arm choices, including Currie and Metalcloak. Although folks tried to sway me towards Currie, largely due to the proven nature, I was looking for a new and refreshing alternative. Even though your product hasn't been out as long and proliferated, I knew you were on to something that others would be hesitant to adopt, that is your Duroflex joint. Also, others that were uniformed tried to sway me towards a long arm option saying that it's ride and flex would be far superior to any short arm.
I'm here to tell you that they couldn't have been more wrong. After doing the install the ride, with 35" tires, is so much better than any other Wrangler I've driven that had 33" tires. Also, I had chance to enter a RTI contest yesterday at a local Jeep show. Admittedly, I was hesitant to do so, for fear of being dissapointed. However, seeing the number of well built jeeps, I figured it was a good opportunity to see how I stacked up against those short, mid, and long arm variants I had considered. The competition was small, but did include CJ, YJ, TJ, LJ, and JK models, some of which had expensive competitor suspensions. I did a few practice runs, holding back slightly, to see where I stood. When the contest was over I had taken first place, with a perfect score of 1000. Yes RTIs are varied and my score may not have actually been perfect, but it was on that ramp, for that day. Many people gathered round and were shocked at how well a short arm could flex, and were amazed that I beat out a couple of serious looking competitors.
I did also want to mention that I'm impressed with the fit quality of everything I purchased from Metalcloak. I've installed many products over the years, on a number of different vehicle platforms, and everything I got from you fit exactly as it should. I honestly can't say this about any other manufacturer/vendor I've dealt with. Bottom line, I couldn't be more happy with the products and how they work together. Since I'm guessing your not a huge company, please pass my note on to your employees, so they can see the impact of what they do. That is, make a great product that fits and works as it should. I know it's a little thing in the grand scheme of things, but here are some photos to go along with the words (Before the build, After the build, On the ramp, and the Trophy). Many thanks, keep up the great work!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

JK Exhaust Spacers from Metalcloak - Finally.

Metalcloak is proud to now offer Exhaust Spacers for all of our Jeep JK Wrangler 2012 - 2014 customers.

CNC precision machined, the spacers are easy to install and you can now source one more part from Metalcloak when you are getting your Metalcloak Suspension System.

Learn more: http://www.metalcloak.com/JK-Exhaust-Spacer-Kit-p/7078.htm

Friday, June 27, 2014

*NEW* Metalcloak JK Overland Rockers & Flip Steps

So, back in the day, as part of our original Metalcloak Body Armor System for the TJ/LJ we had an innovative Rocker System we called the Flip Step.

Here is an image for those of you who may not be familiar.

We discontinued the product in late 2009 in favor of our Rocker Rail system which was significantly easier for the customers to install.

Well... now it's back. Not for the TJ, but for the JK.

A much simpler version, it is easy to install and looks good with or without the additional Flip Step.

The system has two parts... the base, or what we call the Overland Rocker...

And the Flip Step...

Two positions, the Flip Step can be a low step that hangs down, or a straight out like a truck rocker.

We classify these as Overland, because, while they will protect your Jeep's body, they are not meant to be the strength enduring Rocker Rails that are part of our Rock-Biting Body Armor line.

And they can be used with our Rocker ExoSkins for that complete look.

We look forward, as always, to your Feedback.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Metalcloak's NEW Jeep JK Wrangler ExoSkins, Overland Edition

Metalcloak has expanded it's line of products for those with the Jeep Wrangler JK Overland Fenders or for those who have stock JK fenders with the NEW Rear ExoSkin, Overland Edition.

A simple to add second skin that provides solid protection and strength to the vulnerable rear corners of your Jeep JK Wrangler 2-Door or 4-Door.

The kits includes a Sheet Metal drill template for easy installation.

Combined with our Original ExoCorner Kit, you have a highly functional Corner Guard System for your JK Wrangler...


The Rear ExoSkins and ExoCorners are available now at Metalcloak.com

Friday, April 11, 2014

[From Badlands Off-Road Adventures] Carry Three Ways to Make Fire

Carry Three Ways to Make Fire

(Use this link for a web version: Carry Three Ways to Make Fire )

(Click picture for a larger image.)

Four wheelers know it's critical to be prepared when they go off road. One area that sometimes gets taken for granted is the ability to start fires. We just assume that a book of matches or lighter will be handy when needed.

That's usually the case while in camp or in the vehicle. But what happens when you're alone in the wild? Could you start a fire if you had to? Hikers, campers and just plain vacationers occasionally get lost and find themselves in a dangerous situation. It may never happen to you, but it's always good to be prepared.

I suggest you always carry three forms of fire-starting methods on you along with some tinder, and practice with them throughout the year. Why three methods? Redundancy, as NASA will tell you, is good. In fact, it could save your life. By carrying three forms of fire-starting material, you essentially eliminate the possibility of not being able to at least create a spark. (You still need tinder and a supply of fuel.)

The importance of fire-building capability can't be understated. Fire can be used to:
  1. provide heat
  2. cook and preserve food
  3. purify water & sterilize wound dressings
  4. act as a signaling device
As important as the uses of fire listed above are perhaps the most important use is for comfort and companionship. Humans have been staring into a fire forever during long nights. A fire helps maintain a positive mental attitude and chase away boredom, loneliness and fear.

A fire could literally save your life. Granted, only a tiny number of people get caught in survival situations each year. But those incidents can occur in many areas and in any climate.
Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel
(Click picture for a larger image.)
There are several methods to start a fire that we all can master without resorting to primitive methods like a bow drill. They include:
  1. Butane lighter
  2. Matches (kept in a waterproof case)
  3. Magnesium bar with built in flint and your knife. I like Doan Magnesium Starters because of the quality. There are other metal bars out there; look for pure magnesium. The magnesium burns quickly, so make sure the magnesium power is on top of your tinder. Add a short piece of a hacksaw blade on the chain on the bar so you always have a scraper/striker even if you lose your knife.
  4. Light My Fire Swedish Firesteel. This is a manufactured magnesium fire stick that produces an incredible spark. It includes the stainless striker tools you need to create a spark. There are several sizes. I like the smallest one, because I can carry it in my pocket. (The size determines the ultimate number of strikes - from 1,500 to 12,000.) The manufacturer claims it creates sparks in any weather and at any altitude.
It's also a good idea to carry tinder. Then you don't need to go scrounging for tinder, which naturally will be damp during wet weather. There are numerous commercially available products. Many are well engineered to catch a spark and fire up quickly. A small package of 5 or 6 is only a few dollars. If they are compressed, pull one end apart or use a rock to break up the fibers. You might even be able to reuse one if you can transfer the fire to your kindling and extinguish it before it is all gone.
Ready to make some cotton fire balls.
(Click picture for a larger image.)

My favorite homemade tinder is cotton balls smeared with a dab of Vaseline. These catch a spark in most conditions, and the Vaseline provides a sustained burn which is needed to start larger tinder. Don't overdo the Vaseline. Some cotton fibers are needed to catch the spark.

Make up about a half dozen cotton balls and pack them in a little container. 35 mm film canisters are perfect, if you can find any. You can also use pill or aspirin bottles; many outdoor stores sells small plastic bottles that work as well.

Other ways to start a fire include:

- Steel wool and a battery. Fine grade (00) steel wool and a D cell work nicely. If you don't have a D cell, try two AA batteries. You'll drain the battery rather quickly. Assume one shot with a AA battery and maybe a couple tries on a D cell.

- Magnifying glass - Easy to slip into a pocket. You need sun, however.

Whatever methods you choose, make sure you practice them several times a year and under various conditions. Don't wait until disaster hits. Between your emotional state and the weather conditions, you'll have a heck of a time making it work.

Carry your three fire starters and tinder in your pocket. While you may have extras in your vehicle, backpack and tent, you need to keep these tools on your person. You could be separated from your vehicle, backpack and even fanny pack. Tuck your materials in a pants or shirt pocket each time you step outdoors.

Remember to replenish any supplies you use. Also, add a category on your preparation checklist http://www.4x4training.com/Articles/Camping/Checklist.html for "pocket fire starter." That will remind you to add this important outdoor gear each time.

Going forward, you will always be prepared to start a fire if need be.
# # # #

I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.
Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2014, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Understanding Suspension Spring Dynamics & why we use Dual Rate - a white paper on coils.

The following information was extracted from the infamous JKOwners.com thread entitled "Metalcloak Suspension Build" - the story of this thread is now legend -- A simple post by a Metalcloak customer became a firestorm against a small company (us) and how we won over even the harshest critics with simple, straightforward, tech.

Written by "Jeepineer" our co-founder and chief engineer, and the inventor of the 6Pak shock and Duroflex joint, the following was used to help us all understand coil rates better and why Metalcloak uses True Dual Rate Coils. 


Enter "Jeepineer"...

Understanding Suspension Springs & their Design (and why we use Dual Rate)...

The diagram shows three types of springs commonly used in the offroad industry. I will do my best to describe each in the following posts. I think it is important to describe linear rate springs and their short comings before discussing progressive and dual rate springs.

I am going to provide specific values for spring rate, load at ride height etc. for discussion purposes only. These are not actual numbers because most manufacturers have proprietary spring rates and loads that they believe are ideal for a quality ride or are tuned for their specific systems (so does MC). All numbers are examples only.

Linear Rate Springs...

Stock springs are linear rate springs. Many of the larger suspension manufacturers use Linear Rate Springs. Linear springs cost less, are simpler to design, simpler to inspect and provide fairly consistent ride heights.

Unfortunately they are not good for long travel suspensions for the following reason. I will use an example to explain.

Assume the front driver side spring of a JK has to hold a load of 600lbs at ride height.

Assume the spring must compress to a length of 10” at ride height for a given lifted JK. (Lift height does not matter for this discussion)

Assume our example is a lifted average travel suspension system and the Free Length (fully extended length) of the Spring is 14”

The spring rate of this spring is equal to the Load at Ride Height (600lbs) divided by the Length the Spring must compress (4”).

Actual Calculation

600lbs / (14” - 10”) = 150lbs/in

Let’s assume that 150lbs/in is the perfect spring rate for the perfect ride quality of a JK. Not too squishy (move all over the place) not too stiff (feel every little bump on the road).

Now, let’s look at what happens when we need a spring that will remain seated in a long travel suspension at the same lift height.

So let’s assume that we need the Free Length (fully extended length) of our example spring for this long travel suspension to be 18”.

The 10” compressed length of the spring at the same lifted ride height remains the same.

Again The new spring rate is equal to the Load at Ride Height (600lbs) divided by the length the spring must compress (8”) .

New Calculation

600lbs / (18” - 10”) = 75lbs/in

The new example spring rate of 75lbs/in will feel too soft to driver of the vehicle. The vehicle will role or bounce at the slightest motion.

This is the problem with Linear Rate Springs when you want to make a longer travel suspension that requires longer free length springs....the spring rate just gets too low by the time the spring compresses to the desired lifted ride height.

In other words, if we want to maintain the example perfect ride quality of 150lbs/in in a long travel suspension it becomes impossible with a Linear Rate Spring.

Therefore long travel suspension companies that want their springs to remain seated throughout the travel of the suspension and provide a ride quality at least in the same realm as the stock vehicle they must use a spring other than a Linear Rate Spring.

Two solutions are Progressive Springs and Dual Rate Springs. We will describe those next.

Progressive Rate Springs...

This post will discuss Progressive Rate Springs (in marketing jargon also referred to as Triple Rate or Quad Rate). I am going to provide specific values for spring rate, load at ride height etc. for discussion purposes only. These are not actual numbers because most manufacturers have proprietary spring rates and loads that they believe are ideal for a quality ride or are tuned for their specific systems (so does MC). All numbers are examples only.

Progressive Rate Springs- Many top end long travel suspension manufacturers use Progressive Rate Springs.  There are two ways to produce a progressive rate spring.

1) Continuously Variable Rate (Pitch)....or the winding of the spring coils such that the distance between each subsequent active coil (coil pitch) of the spring increases as you progress from the top coil to the bottom coil.  In other words, the coil pitch continouosly changes throughout the entire length of the spring.   Production of this type of progressive rate spring is rare as it requires specialized CNC spring winding machines.

2) Combining 3 or more Spring Rates (Pitches)....most Progressive rate springs are produced using a combination of 3 or more linear spring rates (coil pitches) wound into a single spring coil.  Some manufacturers use marketing terms like Triple Rate or Quad Rate springs, however these are really just progressive rate springs with a fancy name.  Let me explain what I mean...when one uses three spring rates (coil pitches) in a single spring, each spring rate must also have a transition rate (coil pitch) between each of the three spring rates, therefore a spring with three spring rates must effectively have a total of 5 spring rates.  Once you have that many different spring rates in a single spring coil it is effectively an estimate of a progressive rate spring.  In other words, Progressive Rate Springs, Triple Rate Springs, Quad Rate Springs are all the same thing with just different names.  I will refer to all of these as Progressive Rate Springs in this post.

Progressive Rate springs are generally more expensive to make, harder to design, harder to inspect and do not have the ride height consistency of linear rate springs.  They are excellent springs for long travel suspension systems.  Look at the Progressive Spring in the image above.  Notice that the distance between the active coils (Pitch) steadily increases as you progress from the top coil to the bottom coil.  This is how you can identify a true progressive spring from a marketing progressive spring.
A true Progressive Rate Spring is progressive by RATE. Meaning the spring rate increases the further the spring is compressed.

Unfortunately a Linear Rate Spring is progressive by FORCE. Meaning the load force of the spring increases the further the spring is compressed. I have seen some manufacturers claim there springs are progressive and technically they are progressive by force but not by rate.

Notice how the last two active coils are the furthest apart (I will return to this later in the post).

So I am going to use the same spring assumptions I used in the last long travel suspension example:

Assume the desired spring rate for the perfect ride is again 150lbs/in
Assume the compressed length for the Progressive Spring at ride height is again 10”
Assume that the Free Length for the Progressive Spring is again 18”

So in summary we need our spring to compress a total of 8” (18” - 10”). When it compresses this 8” and reaches the desired length of 10” it needs to handle a load of 600lbs and have a rate of 150lbs/in at that specific point.

The following is a chart of what is happening with the progressive spring as we compress it to the desire ride height. I hope this chart works on your screen.

Spring Compression___Spring Rate at Compression__Force at Compression___Length of Spring
___0_________________________0____________________ _0_________________18”
___2”_____________________20 lbs/in________________40 lbs______________16”
___4”_____________________40 lbs/in________________120 lbs_____________14”
___6”_____________________90 lbs/in________________300 lbs_____________12”
___8”____________________150 lbs/in________________600 lbs_____________10”

So this is an example of a progressive spring with a continually changing rate that will work in the example long travel suspension used above.

As you can see the Spring Rate is changing as the spring is compressed and aproaches the desired ride height. This is what makes it more difficult to provide a consistent ride height because the Rate and the Force of the spring are both changing at the point that the user wants his/her ride height. Remember I said it makes it more difficult not impossible.

In addition, as the Progressive Spring in the image above, compresses every coil of the spring will move the same distance resulting in the top coils slowly collapsing on top of one another before the lower coils collapse on one another. As a coil collapses on a previous coil it becomes fully supported or solid and no longer acts as an active part of the spring at all. This collapsing of coils onto one another is the exact mechanical feature that causes a Progressive Rate Spring to act as a Progressive Rate Spring.

In other words, as spring coils are removed from being active the fewer remaining active coils result in the spring becoming stiffer. It is the same concept as a long rod being easier to bend (softer) than a shorter rod of the same diameter (stiffer).

This is another way to identify if you truly have a progressive rate spring or not. If the coils of your springs do not progressively stack directly on top of one another (touching) during a good portion of the compression cycle of the spring you likely do not have true progressive rate springs. Or your spring has not reached its progressive rate stage within the compression cycle that you viewed.

Progressive Rate Springs have a very nice feature in that they substantially increase in rate as you compress beyond ride height. This helps to reduce the force of impact of the axles on the bump stops under extreme off road conditions. Nice feature over linear springs.

Now for the number one reason MC did not choose to design our springs as Progressive Rate Springs.

We use a lot of up travel in our suspension systems therefore our springs get very close to the fully compressed (all coils touching) condition. Progressive Rate Springs do not like to be fully compressed as they are susceptible to sagging. If you can picture an almost fully compressed Progressive Rate Spring, all of the top coils will be collapsed on one another and inactive while only the very last active coil will be active. In this condition the largest amount of spring stress is concentrated in the final active coil. Substantially more stress than what is in the first coil that collapsed and became solid long before the fully compressed condition. This large concentration of stress in a single coil can cause the spring to fatigue and sag over time.

Therefore MC chose to use Dual Rate Springs.

Dual Rate Springs (used in MC suspensions)...

The diagram above shows three types of springs commonly used in the offroad industry. This post will discuss Dual Rate Springs specifically shown in action in the diagrams below. I am going to provide specific values for spring rate, load at ride height etc. for discussion purposes only. These are not actual numbers because most manufacturers have proprietary spring rates and loads that they believe are ideal for a quality ride or are tuned for their specific systems (so does MC). All numbers are examples only.

Dual Rate Springs – are just another type of progressive rate spring, however a Dual Rate Spring’s progression is from a first rate (Flex Rate) to a second rate (Ride or Road Rate) as opposed to the continually changing rate of a traditional progressive rate spring. I think very few long travel suspension manufacturers use Dual Rate Springs. Dual Rate Springs are generally more expensive to make, harder to design, and harder to inspect than linear rate springs. But Dual Rate Springs do have the similar ride height consistency of linear rate springs. Dual Rate Springs are excellent springs for long travel suspension systems.

Look at the Dual Rate Spring in the image above. Notice that the distance between the top approximateLY 4 active coils (Pitch) is smaller and identical to one another. Notice that the distance between the bottom approximately 4 active coils (Pitch) is larger and identical to one another. This is how you can identify a true Dual Rate Spring.

Because of the unique appearance of a Dual Rate Spring it is easily identifiable from a Linear Rate Spring. In other words it would be very difficult to market it as anything but a Dual Rate Spring.

Using the same spring assumptions from the previous two posts for the same example long travel suspension:

Assume the desired spring rate for the perfect ride is again 150lbs/in
Assume the compressed length for the Dual Rate Spring at ride height is again 10”
Assume that the Free Length required for the Dual Rate Spring is again 18”

So in summary we need our spring to compress a total of 8” (18” - 10”). When it compresses this 8” and reaches the desired length of 10” it needs to handle a load of 600lbs and have a rate of 150lbs/in at that specific point.

The following is a chart of what is happening with a Dual Rate Spring as it is compressed to the desired ride height.

Spring Compression___Spring Rate at Compression__Force at Compression___Length of Spring
___0_________________________0____________________ 0________________18”
___2”_____________________25 lbs/in________________50 lbs______________16”
___4”_____________________25 lbs/in________________100 lbs_____________14”
___6”_____________________25 lbs/in________________150 lbs_____________12”
___7”____________________150 lbs/in________________300 lbs_____________11”
___8”____________________150 lbs/in________________600 lbs_____________10”

So this example of a Dual Rate Spring meets the goals for the design of the example long travel suspension. In this case the transition from Flex Rate (1) to Road (Ride) Rate (2) occurs at about 7” of compression or 1” above the desired ride height.

Note that the Spring Rate is not changing as the spring compression approaches the desired ride height, only the force is changing. That makes it much easier for the manufacturer to maintain consistent ride height. I am not knocking progressive rate springs or saying they do not maintain consistent ride heights I am only saying it is more difficult to do so with progressive rate springs.

As the Dual Rate Spring in the image above compresses each coil will move the same distance relative to one another resulting in the approximately top 5 active coils collapsing on top of one another and therefore are fully supported or solid. At this point those 5 coils become inactive which facilitates the transition from the Flex Rate to the Ride Rate. In the example spring this transition occurs at approximately 7” of compression. The remaining bottom approximately 8 active coils will not collapse until the spring reaches a fully compressed condition at which time they will all touch each other at effectively the same time. In other words the bottom 8 coils will remain active throughout the rest of the compression cycle.

The fact that the bottom 8 active coils remain active throughout the full compression cycle of the spring is the main reason we chose Dual Rate Springs for the MC suspension. As stated in the previous Progressive Rate Spring Post. MC uses a lot of up travel in our suspension systems therefore our springs get very close to the fully compressed (all coils touching) condition. But even when our suspension is close to this fully compressed condition the stress in the spring is distributed equally across all of the 8 bottom active coils. In other words, we spread the heavy lifting out to multiple coils. This feature of Dual Rate Springs helps to prevent spring fatigue and sagging which MC believes is a major concern of customers.

Properly designed Dual Rate Springs and some Progressive Rate Springs (depending on design) have a unique feature that results in added spring stability and therefore added suspension stability. MC calls this feature “dropping the virtual spring bucket”. This feature is illustrated in the image above.

In order to discuss we have to agree on the following assumption.

If one compares a LONGER spring to a SHORTER spring both having the same wire diameter, same number of coils and same spring diameter, the LONGER spring is more likely to buckle and demonstrate lateral instability than the SHORTER spring.

As you can see in the image above when the Flex Rate Coils collapse they become solid and fully supported by one another. In effect…it is like the spring bucket that is retaining the top of the spring moves down to a new location or “virtual spring bucket”. This in turn results in the spring effectively becoming SHORTER and therefore more stable and less likely to buckle.

I hope this information is helpful.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Personal Note About Veterans Day...

America has much to be proud of.

Our history is truly unique in the overall story of mankind and the development of nation-states. The single gathering of people for the express purpose of Freedom, was, on it's own, revolutionary.

To then form a nation, with Guaranteed principles of Freedom, was remarkable.

Since the Revolutionary War, however, it has been the men and women of our Nation's Armed Forces that has risked life and limb to ensure that our constitutional guarantees are honored.

Today, we honor those men and women. We honor those vets from every service and every discipline. We honor the soldier on the front lines and the administrator in the back office. We honor the Shippies, the Jocks, the Ground-Pounders. We honor the Corpsman, the Ward-Mamas, the Holy Joes. We honor not only those who served, but their families for standing by and standing strong.

However, it is not enough to just honor our vets. For while we spend this day showing our pride, we must spend every day saying Thank You.

Saying Thank You directly by thanking those that have served at every opportunity, and indirectly by living our lives in ways that preserve the Freedom and show we understand and appreciate what it means.

Friends, we live in amazing times, in an amazing country, don't waste it.

God Bless You, God Bless Our Veterans and God Bless America.

- Matson