It’s All in the Details – How Our Support Rod Clevis is Made

We put a lot of pride and care into our support rods. From start to finish, they’re machined, assembled, and shipped completely in-house. I’m excited to share the process of just one single component of the rods: the clevis.

Since our support rods are our “bread and butter”, our typical production run of clevises lasts about 24-32 hours. At two minutes apiece, thats just over 700 parts produced in a 24 hour period. The key to these efficient production runs lies in our bar-fed 4 axis lathe, which can machine the majority of the part in one operation, fully automated, with no human help.

First, material is loaded into the bar feeder magazine and automatically fed into the machine. From there, the machine performs the initial turning operations.


Our 4-axis capable CNC lathe precisely drills and mills the features of the clevis.


Two minutes later, the machine uses a parting tool to cut the completed part from the rest of the bar, and drops the clevis into the parts catcher.


Once the initial machining is complete, a worker meticulously deburrs each part, one by one, on a soft wheel.


Each part is loaded into a manual lathe where the back of the part is finished, the threaded hole is countersunk, and the part is inspected.


Finally, the clevises are assembled along with the rod ends, barrels, and pins to create the finished product.

Splitter Support Rods


Is Your Job Shop Right for You? The Rise of Specialized Machine Shops


No matter where in the country you are, chances are theres a machine shop within 15 miles of you. Many times, working with a local shop is preferable, for ease of communication and transportation. However, these days you can set up a Skype meeting with your machinist and they can ship a full box of parts from coast to coast in two days for under 20 bucks.

Geographical location should not take precedence over choosing the right shop for the job.

While many shops work across several industries, there are many specialty shops out there who have experience and skills that can be relevant to your project. For example, our specialty is motorsports, so when we have a new client in racing, off-road, etc, there’s a lot of advantages to be had.

CNC 4 Axis Machined Part

A Deeper Understanding of the Product

Often when clients approach a shop, they don’t have a full dimensioned drawing – maybe just a sketch on paper or an example part. When you choose a specialty shop, you’re working with someone who understands how the entire assembly works, so they can help provide proper tolerances to make sure you get parts both work perfectly and are economical to make.

sorting machined parts

Prior Experience With Your Parts

I’m going to speak from the perspective of Motorsports here – 90% of parts we make, for a range of different clients, fall into one of the following categories:

  • Link – Cylinder of a given length and diameter, threaded in both ends
  • Clevis – “U-shaped” part which assembles with a thru-pin or bolt, and either a female or male thread on the end
  • Sleeve / Bushing – Cylindrical part used as a standoff or to adapt one diameter to another
  • High Misalignment Spacer – Allows greater articulation of a heim joint
  • Bung – Threaded part which is generally welded to the end of a tube
  • Pin – Cylinder of a given length and diameter

With this in mind, if you bring your part to a specialized machine shop, they likely have made your exact part before, or something really close. This means that they already have all required tools, fixturing, and likely an existing program to work off of, which eliminates cost, time, and trouble, ultimately saving you money and reducing turnaround time.


Specialized Shops Across the Industry, From Race Cars to Wine

A great example of this is York Machine Works in St Helena, CA who built a strong following within the wine industry by machining custom components for fluid processing (such as venturis and flanges) as well as releasing their own product line. While each part is unique, the application is similar, allowing many parts to be designed and manufactured based on proven designs and on-hand materials.

So How Do I Find a Specialty Shop?

It’s actually really simple – just ask around. Often times parts companies who sub out their work tend to be a bit stingy when it comes to sharing the details of where their products are made, but if you have an existing relationship with a friend in the industry, just say “Hey look, I want to have this made. Know anyone?” If they make their products in-house, its likely that they also do contract manufacturing, and if they don’t, they probably know somebody.

Looking for a motorsports manufacturing shop? Shoot me an email, maybe we can work together.

The all-new Ford F-150 Raptor race truck competes in the grueling Best in the Desert Mint 400 off-road race in Primm, Nev., March 12, 2016. Photo credit: SnM-Media

Footnote: This is the first in a series of blog posts about manufacturing and product development for small and mid-size firms. If you’d like to follow these updates, please go give our Facebook page a like. Thanks!

Bump Steer Explained

What is Bump Steer?

Bump steer is the tendency of wheels to steer themselves without driver input. This undesirable effect is caused by bumps in the road or track surface, as well as suspension travel due to braking and cornering, and their interaction with improper angles in the steering/suspension geometry.

From the factory, cars are designed so that bump steer effects are largely negated. However, when cars are lowered this geometry is compromised and must be corrected for. On a completely stock vehicle, bump steer compensation is not adjustable since proper geometry is engineered into the vehicle’s suspension.

For zero bump to be achieved, the tie rod’s motion must follow the arc of the suspension travel.

Simply put, bump steer is the amount of toe change throughout suspension travel.

Mustang Bump Steer Explained

Prep for Initial Bump Steer Measurement

Since the front suspension acts together as a system, you should have every parameter set before bump steer is adjusted.

  • Set Ride Height
  • Proper size wheel & tire
  • Camber is set
  • Caster is set
  • Toe is set
  • Tie rod length is set.
  • Steering is centered (wheels pointing forward)
  • Steering locked static
  • Ideally, sway bar & springs are disconnected. This is not necessary although it makes adjustment easier.

Jack the suspension on one side through ~3” of travel up and down, and record the changes in toe.

Make Bump Steer Corrections

Shimless Bumpsteer Kit
A shimless bump steer kit offers easier and more precise adjustment

Once you know your baseline level of bump steer, you are now ready to make changes to the level of bump steer compensation by changing the length of the outer tie rod.

On a classic “shim-style” bump steer kit, this adjustment is made by removing the rod end and changing the amount of shims between the rod end and the spindle.

On an FTR Shimless Bump Steer kit, this adjustment is made by simply loosening the jam nut and rotating the vertical adjuster to the desired location.

Symptom Correction (Shim-Style) Correction (Shimless)
Toe out on compression, in on rebound, in the same direction Remove shims between outer tie rod and spindle Turn adjuster clockwise
Toe in on compression, out on rebound, in the same direction Add shims between outer tie rod and spindle Turn adjuster counter-clockwise

How Much Bump Steer Do I Want?

In an ideal world, you want as little bump steer as is physically possible given your suspension geometry. This will keep your steering predictable over uneven surfaces commonly experienced in autocross events, and even some road courses.

A bit of bump out (toe out in compression) will make the car more stable upon corner entry, but bump in is almost always not wanted. Small amounts of bump steer will create an Ackerman type effect during a corner causing the inside tire to turn a bit further, increasing stability.

As a general rule of thumb, run a small amount of bump out (toe out on compression), and do not allow any bump in.


Further Reading:
Bumpsteer Explained – Mustang 360
The Ultimate Guide to Suspension and Handling – Bump Steer/Toe Steer – MotoIQ

SN95 13″ Rear Cobra Brakes

The time is finally here… 13″ Cobra front brakes on the rear of the SN95. Coming soon!

SN95 13 Inch Rear Brakes

Stock SN95 Rear Brakes
Stock SN95 Rear Brakes
13" SN95 Rear Brakes
13″ SN95 Rear Brakes
13" SN95 Rear Brakes
13″ SN95 Rear Brakes

SN95 Center Dash Delete / Gauge Panel

Working on getting rid of the center dash area, replacing with switches as well as water temp & oil pressure gauges.

SN95 Radio Delete Switch Panel

SN95 Center Dash Delete

SN95 Center Dash Delete
Bonus usb ports in the bottom for convenience.

SN95 Center Dash Delete Panel SN95 Center Dash Delete Panel SN95 Center Dash Delete Panel SN95 Center Dash Delete Panel

S550 14″ Brakes on SN95 2001 Mustang GT

People have been asking about putting 2015 brakes on the SN95, so I thought I’d just go for it. Here’s the best part:

Total cost was under $1000!



Required hardware:
S550 Calipers – $100 each (+$50 core)
Rotors (2x): Blanks $60 ea from an auto parts store, slotted $100 ea from StopTech.
FTR Brembo Kit – $450
MM Stainless Brake Lines – $85
Pads (currently only available from Ford) ~$100
Caliper Pin Kit (2x) – ~$12

Total cost: $979!

First off, I started with our GT500 Brembo Adapter Kit (…brake-kit.html). The S550 calipers use the same mounting pattern as S197 brakes, but there are some clearance issues so we had to machine down a section to get it to clear the bracket. The only other modification we made was to add a 1/8″ washer between the bracket and the spindle so everything would line up.

There was a fair bit (maybe took an extra 30 min) of modifying to the caliper, so I’m thinking we’ll probably come out with a bracket specifically for the S550 calipers if there’s enough interest.

The S550 Caliper is a bit larger than the GT500 Brembo, and also has larger pistons as you see here.


S550 Caliper
S550 Caliper
S550 Caliper Piston Size
S550 Caliper Piston Size
GT500 Brembo Piston Size
GT500 Brembo Piston Size
GT500 Brembo vs S550 Caliper
GT500 Brembo vs S550 Caliper
S550 14 Inch Brakes on SN95
S550 14 Inch Brakes on SN95

Developing a Quality Splitter Support Rod Design

FTR Splitter Support Rods Made in USAA brief history – back in 2013, when FTR was barely in its infancy, I need some support rods for the splitter I was making for my ’96 Mustang. Looking online, there were only a few brands out there, and frankly, they all looked like crap. I decided to machine something up myself. The first prototype was a janky manually machined clevis design with an ugly bolt going through it. After a few revisions we ended up with the low profile pressed pin design we use today, and it has barley changed since late 2014.

The big issue with the other rods on the market was the amount of rattle in the design. In our splitter support rod design, we integrate a heim joint in the end to make sure that no play or rattle is introduced

Boss 302 splitter support rod upgrade
Our Boss 302 Support rods installed on a track car

Another thing we developed was a Boss 302 support rod, which is literally just our normal support rod design with a 1/4-20 thread instead of a 5/16-18 thread. A lot of Boss 302 owners are quality obsessed, and find it obscene that such a great car comes with those pieces of junk on the nose. The stock support rods lack rigidity causing the stock Boss 302 splitter to vibrate at speed, reducing the aerodynamic benefits of the splitter. By replacing the stock part with the FTR unit, that vibration is eliminated, thereby increasing downforce and consistency.

Diffuser Prototype

We’ve been working hard, the night before our Grand Opening, Andrew stopped by the shop and we installed the first prototype FTR diffuser on his car. We worked together with Wicked Motorsports to bring Rob’s signature design back to the market, along with some new modifications.


Grand Opening Event – February 6th, 2016

If you’re in Northern California – this is the place to be! Saturday, February 6th at 9am at our new shop in Roseville.

We’ll be having:

  • Open House
  • Car Meet
  • Car Show
  • Prizes
  • Giveaways
  • Live demos
  • Free food
  • Live DJ

It’s gonna be off the hook!

7251 Galilee Road Suite 165, Roseville, CA 95678