What do you first think of when you hear about hydraulics? It is likely something you would find within a large, construction machine. But, hydraulics systems are also installed in something much closer to home -- the automobile.
Of course, hydraulics systems do not come standard in an automobile that you drive off the lot. Car hydraulics have been added as an aftermarket customization to allow a driver to adjust his or her car height at will. Car hydraulics were first introduced in the 1960s and took a lot of customization to make them fit; the first hydraulics were often retrofitted from hydraulics meant for airplanes!
Nowadays, car hydraulics are manufactured for use in an automobile. This does not mean that you can just buy some hydraulics off the shelf and install them in your car. It still takes a custom, automobile shop with the help of a machine shop to determine how to best fit custom hydraulics to your car, how best to install the controls for you to access, where to place batteries to run the hydraulics, what needs to be custom machined to allow for the best fit, etc.
Hydraulics installation requires significant work that takes expertise across multiple areas, from machining parts and removing old parts to welding the new hydraulics in place. Also, there is varying complexity based upon what you want your hydraulics to control. In older systems, all four hydraulics would raise or lower at once, allowing just an "up and down" range of motion. Newer systems allow independent control of all four hydraulics so you can raise and lower the car at multiple angles.
In many cases, the hydraulics are not a perfect fit, especially if you are not using a kit for your particular car, are adapting hydraulics from a different car kit, or there is no kit for your car. In these cases, you need the services of a specialized machine shop.
The machine shop is like the "customizer" for your custom automobile shop. A machine shop can do all sorts of adjustments to make your hydraulics fit correctly. These include:
- Custom frame reinforcement to handle the added stress and weight of the hydraulics
- Machining custom fitments that allow non-kit hydraulics to fit into OEM brackets or spacing, create a tight fit for batteries and accessories in car trunks, or fulfill other fastening needs
- Custom hoses for hydraulic lines
- Measurement and machining of custom body drops that allow your lowrider to sit flat on the ground
A custom, low rider can provide great joy and entertainment. Making sure that yours is done properly requires knowledge and the support of a great automobile shop and machine shop.