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400i Rear Suspension Woes
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Posts: 7From: MillburnRegistered: Feb 2004
Jay
Junior Member


Monday, March 29, 2004 9:14 PM

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Last week I purchased a 400i that I was told by Ferrari of Atlanta needed new rear shocks. I get the car back to my mechanic, who informs me that in 1984 Ferrari had changed over to 4 hydraulic leveling units manufactured by Koni that are no longer available which are controlled by two actuators that are no longer available. What to do?

We found that Truechoice, will manufacture replacement gs filled adjustable coil over shocks to replace the entire system.

We found a guy in Arizona, Jeff LeBlonde, who will rebuild the hydraulic units that no one else can seem to do? Why is he special?

We were informed that a Mercedes actuator unit can be made to fit the 400i.

Has anyone been here and done that?

New to Ferrari's and I think I have another dependant to declare on April 15th.


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Posts: 1202Registered: Dec 2001
BillBadurski
FCA Technical Chairman


Wednesday, March 31, 2004 5:12 AM

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Have you contacted Koni to see if they will rebuild them? I have phone number 606-727-5000 for them.

-------------------------
William V. Badurski
FCA Technical Chairman


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Posts: 7From: MillburnRegistered: Feb 2004
Jay
Junior Member


Wednesday, March 31, 2004 11:58 AM

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I have tried that number. The number does not work. I have been told that these hydraulic units cannot be rebuilt.




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Posts: 9Registered: Feb 2004
John Ashburne
Junior Member


Sunday, April 04, 2004 2:45 PM

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Jay

Sorry to hear about your rear suspension woes, I hope that the purchase price reflected the work that needs to be done. I've owned a 400i for 5 years and think that it is a great car for the money.

First of all, I have not had the pleasure of having to re-do the rear suspension on my 400i, but have been collecting information for that day. Everything you have said is true and I have heard of people doing each to fix their 400i rear suspensions.

1. Jeff LeBlond is about the only alternative if you wish to keep the original rear shock setup, as the Koni shocks are no longer available and Koni does not rebuild them. I heard a rumor that Koni may have changed their mind on the rebuild aspect but can't confirm that. He is in Arizona and the contact information that I have for him is:

Jeff LeBlond
22045 N. 88th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85383

tel. 623-566-1628

I don't know him and have never dealt with him, but he apparently is the man when it comes to rebuilding 400i rear shocks.

2. I know of one person who converted to an air shock setup and he said that it took some care in selecting the shocks and engineering the mounting points, but he was happy with the result.

3. I too have heard about the Mercedes actuator being a good substitute for the original, but don't know the specifics.

Good luck with your new 400i. I know you will enjoy it when it is sorted.

John



-------------------------
John Ashburne
1983 400i 5 speed, silver/black


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Posts: 7From: MillburnRegistered: Feb 2004
Jay
Junior Member


Sunday, April 04, 2004 9:35 PM

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John,

Thanks for your encouragement. The Mercedes actuators are only about $150 each and they are on order to see it that fix works. I will advise you if that is the case.

Ferrari of Atlanta inspected the car prior to purchase. Their report said...
"Road test found rear shocks to lack dampening resulting in excessive bounce fromt he rear of the vehicle. SHock may be replaced or rebuilt. Originals may be difficult to source and cost approx $250 each plus 6 hrs of labor. Conversion kit to coil overs may also be available."

Yes, I got a price adjustment on the car of $500 for what may cost me thousands. I don't know if anyone else has had this type of experience with Ferrari of Atlanta.


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Posts: 9Registered: Feb 2004
John Ashburne
Junior Member


Sunday, April 04, 2004 10:49 PM

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Jay

I haven't heard any specific bad things about FoA, but a pre-purchase inspection from the seller may be soft on some aspects about a car's condition, in this case the cost of the fix. In their defense, the new car dealers may not be all that familiar with the 400i series or its cost of parts since they never were officially imported into the US.

Can you isolate the exact problem out back? Is the damping weak, indicating bad shock absorbers, or is the self-leveling not staying at the correct height, indicating that the accumulators are leaking?

Good luck with the MB actuators, please post on how it works out. Would you also let me know the part number? I figure that it is only a matter of time before I will need to know that for my now 21 year old car.

John

-------------------------
John Ashburne
1983 400i 5 speed, silver/black


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Posts: 7From: MillburnRegistered: Feb 2004
Jay
Junior Member


Friday, April 23, 2004 4:57 PM

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I got my car back from my mechanic Brian Vignale. He did a great job. He got Mercedes accumulators. They are made by Lemforder in Germany, the part number is 11090001 and a cross reference number is 1233200215. They cost about $170 each and a mounting bracket needed to be fabricated and some of the fittings adapted. But for about $750 including labor, the car rides like new. If anyone has needed this fix, contact me and I will give you Brian's contact information.

By the way, FOA was contracted by me to do the inspection. Maybe they don't see may 400I's.




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Posts: 2Registered: Jul 2004
martin o
Junior Member


Wednesday, July 14, 2004 7:48 PM

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Any leads on front suspension work for the 400/412?
I am in need of a new steering ball joint bar or replacement ball joints for my 1986 412. Ferrari UK respources are out of stock and it was suggested I look for an engineering firm to help. Any ideas appreciated!!
martin




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Posts: 113Registered: Jan 2004
scaglietti
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Thursday, July 15, 2004 11:54 AM

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For what it's worth:
It's interesting that TRUECHOICE couldn't provide the KONI solutions. I've used them for KONI rebuilds, and they have all of the orig parts, and even have the KONI dyno. They gave me the dyno sheets with my last quad rear shock set up. Very nice.

I found a sympathetic contact at KONI in Holland. His name is Ludvig Grooters. I have communicated with him only via FAX, and his help was excellent. This was a while ago, but it might be a starting point contact at KONI - if needed.

I love the 400i / 412. Never owned one.
All the best
Bruce


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Posts: 1202Registered: Dec 2001
BillBadurski
FCA Technical Chairman


Friday, July 16, 2004 6:35 AM

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Martin,
I recently purchased the entire front suspension rebuild components, including ball joints from Ted Rutland's. This was for a Daytona, but some of the parts may be the same. Try calling him.

-------------------------
William V. Badurski
FCA Technical Chairman


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Posts: 6Registered: Jul 2004
thewap
Junior Member


Saturday, July 17, 2004 7:42 PM

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Hi, I have a 1985 400i which I converted the suspension. I never liked self leveling units as they
limit shock and wheel size opportunities. I converted the 400i by having a Ferrari dealership remove the actuator . The shock mounts were converted and the 400i sports twin rear ajustable racing shocks by Q1A racing. The front are single Q1A racing adjustables. This gave the 400i the capability of using 18" HRE rims with low profile tires and completely transformed the car to a high performance handling car. Ride height is now adjustable which gives me many opportunities for different wheel size/tire combos and custom brake systems. Bonuses is that now the car has better aerodynamics, incredible handling and looks outrageously sexy. I believe that customization of the 400i definitely brings out it's potential and is in line with Italian tradition of performance customization to Ferraris, Lancias, Alphas and the like. Purist might argue that originality is key to restoring, but then again the 400i in the US has an unjustified reputation as a "non Ferrari, Ferrari". But having lived in Europe, I know that this car is highly respected and commands decent prices. The car is built like a Ferrari, is very reliable and is one of Pinninfarina's most beautiful design. This car begs for simple improvements. Restoring the 400i's suspension to original is expensive as it was to cutomize mine. But my 2+2 will outperform any stock 400i and handles like a Testarossa. So to me, spending equal money on a suspension system which could use improvement did not make sense. Just my opinion. Marc




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Posts: 1202Registered: Dec 2001
BillBadurski
FCA Technical Chairman


Sunday, July 18, 2004 7:29 AM

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Marc,
Great post and a good solution. I agree completely. Why be saddled with ancient technology that both is no longer readily available, nor worth the effort. Obviously I'm not a "purist" either.

-------------------------
William V. Badurski
FCA Technical Chairman


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Posts: 6Registered: Jul 2004
thewap
Junior Member


Sunday, July 18, 2004 6:52 PM

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Hi Bill, thanks for your approval, it means a lot to me. I have been maintaining
and improving my car and I get many thumbs up wherever the 400i is seen. I am looking into
electronic and ignition performance enhancements lately. Any suggestions would be welcome.
The V12 is fast on the open road, but I am sure I could eek out more bottom end juice without
going into the engine. Do any of you guys post pics?
thanks again, Marc


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Posts: 38From: AuburnRegistered: Sep 2003
C4
Member


Friday, October 29, 2004 4:48 PM

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Thought I would share my self-leveling experience with the ’72 365gtc/4, which came with 2 Koni Self Levelers (those funny looking “fat shocks with the bellows on the bottom – that often leak).

Bottom line, I settled on the same solution as “thewap” using QA1 with 150 lb/inch springs -had to fabricate some bushing/adapters - used this spring constant to achieve a balance between “ride” and the “change in ride height”, as the 300 lbs of gasoline behind the rear axel is use up. I’m happy with this solution – the ability to adjust the ride height also is nice – the handling enhancement potential was addressed in a previous post.

When my Knoi levelers first lost oil/went flat. (Being the engineer I am) I took one apart and evaluated the function. (According to Jeff LeBlond’s sources, Ferrari designed this device and Koni was tasked to make them.) The basic functional idea is that when the car bounces up, oil is pumped into an upper chamber from the lower chamber through a check valve. The more the bounce the more oil goes into the upper chamber and the higher the car rides. When the car reaches the correct level, a level sensitive vent opens in the piston and allows oil to flow back out of the top chamber into the lower chamber until the vent closes at the correct height. A more or less constant spring force is provided by nitrogen balder (pressurized to around 400 PSI) that takes up about half the space in the upper chamber. The nitrogen pressurized balder and the oil that occupy the upper chamber create a force on the Piston (about an inch in diam.) that provide the added lift to level the car.

This all sounds wonderful except that it works as a closed system and as the initial oil is pumped out of the lower chamber into the upper chamber, a vacuum is created in the lower chamber, which effectively negates the continued pump action. So – they really do not work as conceived. The actual function is little more than a gas (Nitrogen) spring, which lifts the car as a function of the charged pressure. (it was a good try)

Jeff LeBlond does indeed work on them. His contribution in addition to aesthetical restoration is mainly about replacing the shaft seal and providing a Schrader valve by which the units can be re-pressurized. Unfortunately even with his skill level, he cannot fix something that was design to be broken. What he will provide is working authenticity.

Also – the levelers provide very little in the way of damping. If they are replaced with a spring over shock, the damping level needs to be minimal at best, or both the forward Knoi “spring over” and the replacement shock for the Leveler must be recalibrated to provide the correct additive damping – the damping specs are in the shop manual.

Have fun -

Aaron


-------------------------
365gtc4


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Posts: 9From: OrlandoRegistered: May 2003
400iGuy
Junior Member


Thursday, October 13, 2005 8:36 AM

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<< Hi, I have a 1985 400i which I converted the suspension. I never liked self leveling units as they
limit shock and wheel size opportunities. I converted the 400i by having a Ferrari dealership remove the actuator . The shock mounts were converted and the 400i sports twin rear ajustable racing shocks by Q1A racing. The front are single Q1A racing adjustables. ....... Marc
>>



Marc,

You have accomplished exactly what I would like to do to my 1984 400iA. I would very much like to get some specifics from you on making the conversion (what was done to remove the actuator, which Q1A shocks and springs worked, shock mount modifications, etc.) I would be very appreciative of this information and am willing to communicate via any mechanism acceptable to you (email, phone, carrier pigeon, etc.)

I don't know if you've addressed the ingnition issue yet but I had a MSD 6 Off Road (PN 6470) installed (left the dinoplex in place so it looks stock). Used the Off Road version because it's installed below the right headlight and it's exposed to the elements. It is waterproof and vibration proof (it is also black so it is very hard to detect). Anyhow, this change made a significant improvement (in additon to silencing the noisy dinoplex).

Thanks,
Al

-------------------------
Al Cartlidge
Central Florida
407 341-2238 days


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Posts: 14Registered: Jan 2005
afwrench
Junior Member


Monday, October 17, 2005 9:29 AM

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Can one of you guys give a part # and phone or website for Q1A and the adjustable shocks to replace the self levelers.




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Posts: 1Registered: Apr 2006
Marolda
Junior Member


Monday, April 17, 2006 5:40 PM

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Hey guys,

I'm have an 84 400i Straman conversion. The rear shocks are starting to leak and I have to replace them. From what I understand this is, like all other things about owning this car, a real experience not soon to be forgotten.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to proceed. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated I assume I will be replacing the springs as well. I like the Q1A racing solution. Does anyone have a number for them? Are they the best solution for a conversion?


Any other ideas?

Thanks.

JM


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Posts: 4Registered: Dec 2014
Slowboot
Junior Member


Friday, December 12, 2014 4:02 PM

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I am ready to embark on replacement of my OE Koni hydraulic rear shocks on my 1986 412. Like everyone else, I have tried to find someone who could rebuild the unique OE units including a very informative but unsuccessful conversation with Koni. I understand Q1A shocks and springs have been used successfully in the past (circa 2004). Does anybody have details of exactly what I should order or have more recent experience with replacement units?




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Posts: 4Registered: Dec 2014
Slowboot
Junior Member


Thursday, January 22, 2015 9:08 AM

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I completed the replacement of two of my four OE Koni Hydraulic Dampers with QA1 DS602 coil over shocks. I must say that the car drives amazingly well now and I am very pleased with the solution and result. If anybody would like a pdf of the solution, parts list and photos complete with details of the simple machining work required, let me know and I’ll send the details to you.




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Posts: 9From: OrlandoRegistered: May 2003
400iGuy
Junior Member


Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:16 PM

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Are you sure the problem is the shock absorbers or the actuator?

I have used the Mercedes actuator on my '84 400iA a few years ago. I that to fabricate a simple mount since the mounting is different. I also had to create an adapter for the hydraulic fluid connection. This is simple too because the Mercedes uses a larger hose end. I found a metric plug (like for an oil pan) that fit the actuator then I drilled and tapped it to fit the Ferrari hose.

I've considered replacing them completely but then I'll have to figure out how to stop the cam driven pump from pumping since there won't be hydraulics for the shocks any longer. I want to leave it looking like it's still functioning so I will look original.

Al

-------------------------
Al Cartlidge
Central Florida
407 341-2238 days


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