Friday, May 7, 2010

Adlan Eagle Shocks

Aldan Eagle shocks have an excellent, well-earned reputation, but sometimes people get in the way.

My '37 Plymouth coupe uses a ladder-bar and coil-over rear suspension installed by the owner of Hunter's Hot Rods in Pennsylvania.

The shocks are red steel Aldans from about 10 years ago when the car was constructed. The coil springs don't carry the typical Alden paint ID so it's impossible to easily tell what the spring rate is; the shocks themselves have no model ID on them other than the Aldan logo.

The original builder did a poor job selecting the shocks and springs. The springs were sized incorrectly (too light), as were the shocks themselves (too short as I later discovered) with the end result being the shocks would constantly bottom out, especially if I had any luggage in the trunk. Needless to say, the ride quality was awful and I decided to have the shocks re-built and get the appropriate rate springs (which I calculated to be 400#).

I went to the Aldan web site and sent them an email giving the specs of my installation and requesting a quote for re-building the shocks. Rather than an email address at aldeneagle.com, their email address used the NetZero domain. NetZero is a free-to-low-cost dial-up ISP. That should have been my first warning something would go awry.

After a few days, I received an email from Ferrel Alan of Alden Eagle which asked me to call him at the business number. Why give an email contact if you prefer to do business over the phone? Oh, well.

We discussed my needs and I found him to be very knowledgeable and helpful. He suggested a shock that was physically longer than what I had and he agreed with my calculation on the spring rate. He also suggested that I use flexible bearings in the upper mount vice the standard rubber bushings because of the front-to-back movement of the shock due to the ladder bars. He then asked me for the mounting stud size and I could not find my notes and was not near the car. I later emailed the measurements to him.

When we did get back together by phone, Ferrel seemed to have a difficult time recalling our conversation and did not have the stud size info, so I provided it again (5/8" top and bottom), asked that he add an ALD-20 shock spacer to the order and provided my credit card information. He shipped the shocks after I made a follow-up phone call to see why they had not yet shipped: "They went out today".

When they arrived, the bearings were not included, nor were the ALD-20 mounting spacers that I ordered. When I spoke with Ferrel, he apologized and sent the bearings without additional charge but suggested that I contact the manufacturer of the spacers, Paul Horton of Welder Series in Canada, since Aldan did not have any in stock. I did as he suggested and everything arrived in a few days.

When I went to install the bearings, I discovered that the bearings only accommodated a 1/2" stud, not the 5/8" stud I had. I called Ferrel who said that the 1/2" bearing was all that would fit in the shock without extra machining and suggested that I contact Horton's or SpeedWay Motors to obtain a 1/2" shock stud. I have to wonder why he didn't tell me all that to begin with since he had the stud sizes?

The shocks are now mounted and the ride is great, but I'm left in amazement at the customer service that Aldan's provided. The process should not have been so haphazard, drawn-out and frustrating, but maybe I should have expected nothing less from a business that uses NetZero to get their email.

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