The racing world breeds innovations and advancements that eventually make their way to the performance aftermarket and the street. These high performance advancements translate into better performance for street and occasional track enthusiasts. The resulting parts are often more durable than those born simply for street use. Nowhere is the merging of racing and street technology more prevalent than at Forgeline.
With decades of experience building racing wheels, Forgeline brings the same wheel technology to the street that they use in their proven race winning wheels. Choose virtually any racing series that turns corners around the world and chances are you’ll find Forgeline wheels on more than one car in competition. “We build wheels for competition use and take that same technology and engineering to our products for street cars. We offer our street going customers a wheel that is engineered for good looks, street performance, and occasional track days on street tires,” says Forgeline’s Dave Schardt.
Made famous by their three-piece wheel designs Forgeline has seen growing interest in one-piece designs over the past decade. “We’ve watched the racing and aftermarket make a shift into the one-piece design” says Schardt. We recently paid a visit to Forgeline’s manufacturing facility in Dayton, Ohio to learn more about their one-piece forged Monoblock wheels and get a first hand look at the manufacturing process.
What Is Monoblock
Forgeline has been traditionally known for their three-piece wheels. We took a look at these wheels a while back and even run them on a few of our own project cars. Essentially the three-piece designs consist of a wheel hoop, a center that is CNC machined, and an outer section. Forgeline sources the outer rim shells as well as their raw forgings from California. Then they CNC centers from USA sourced forged aerospace aluminum at their Dayton, OH facility. The wheels are finished and constructed on-site in Dayton and even packed for shipping at the same facility. The end result are high performance wheels that function as good as they look. Racers have relied on Forgeline for decades and the company’s wheels have been on multiple championship winning cars. They’re also found on numerous street going cars ranging from the more common vehicles like our Project Silver Bullet 2013 Mustang GT, to exotics like Porsche and Lamborghini.
If you look at the same design in a three-piece and a one-piece design they’re the same fatigue strength. It’s when you get into those cornering loads that you notice the difference. -Dave Schardt, Forgeline
Schardt says the key advantage offered by the Monoblock is its stiffness. These wheels offer improved stiffness over their three-piece counterparts resulting in better driver feedback and less deflection under rigorous racing conditions. “If you look at the same design in a three-piece and a one-piece design they’re the same fatigue strength. It’s when you get into those cornering loads that you notice the difference. With the one-piece wheel there’s not as much deflection because the wheel is stiffer and there’s better feedback through the wheel.” Schardt says that most casual enthusiasts and weekend warriors aren’t likely to notice this difference. “A guy with a street car or someone running through the auto cross is probably not going to notice a difference, but a guy with a Daytona prototype or another type or race car that’s running laps around a track is going to see that difference in lap times,” he continued.
The Monoblock wheel is typically lighter than its three-piece counterpart since there are fewer parts. Schardt says the difference in weight of the same wheel design between and Monoblock and a three piece is anywhere between one to three pounds. “Is that going to make a difference to someone on the street? Probably not. But to someone who is professionally racing that’s a huge amount of weight. However, the difference in weight between a forged Monoblock wheel and a typical OEM cast wheel is 5-10 lbs and anybody can certainly feel that difference.”
According to Schardt the one-piece Monoblock wheel represents the ultimate in wheel technology. Whether a customer is racing their car, or just driving it on the street the one-piece is lighter, stiffer, and deflects less than the three-piece wheel. It also offers a different look
More Than A Pretty Face
Made In The USA
Forgeline sources everything they use for their wheels from the USA. With the exception of the valve stems, which come from a German company, all of their wheel components come from USA suppliers. From the billet forgings to the final assembly this makes Forgeline wheels a truly American made product. That made in America pride shows in every employee’s attitude and every product that leaves the facility.
One example of the engineering and testing of each design that Schardt discussed with us is what is called a rotary test. This test is used to simulate wheel conditions and loads with a tire mounted on the wheel. “The problem with the rotary test is that it uses a co-efficient of friction for the tire of 0.7. That number is the industry standard and it hasn’t changed in 30 years.” What Schardt is talking about is that much like wheel technology, tire technology has improved. Race and even street tires are vastly different than they were three decades ago. Given their experience with racing teams and event Schardt’s own experience wheeling Porsches on the track he says that the number Forgeline uses to represent the coefficient of friction for their rotary test is “much higher.”
These high engineering standards create a few challenges when creating a new wheel design. “For our street car customers we want them to be able to drive to the track, enjoy their car, and drive home without the need to change wheels, or own multiple sets of wheels for the street or track,” says Schardt.
The result of these stringent engineering guidelines and principles are products that truly follow the old cliche “race on Sunday, sell on Monday.” Nearly everything in the Forgeline catalog can be had for a racing or street application resulting in parts that perform as good as they look. The downside to this as Schardt says is that they are often approached by enthusiasts asking why can’t you make a wheel that looks like this one from XYZ company? “Our response to that question is that it’s not that we can’t make that wheel, it’s simply that the design doesn’t meet our engineering criteria so we won’t make it,” says Schardt.
Making One-Piece Wheels
Forgeline’s one-piece forged Monoblock wheels begin life as a solid chunk of 6061-T6 billet aluminum. Each forgings tips the scales at a whopping 100-110 pounds depending on its diameter and depth. Forgeline stores these forgings in their warehouse in various sizes ready to go through the CNC process at any time. By the time the process of turning a wheel forging into a finished wheel is complete they will have shaved more than 80-percent of that weight away for a wheel that weighs 19-20 pounds. “The smallest Monoblock we offer is an 18×9, it weighs just 19 pounds, and we can make a 19×12-inch Monoblock that weights 20 pounds,” says Schardt.
For our street car customers we want them to be able to drive to the track, enjoy their car, and drive home without the need to change wheels, or own multiple sets of wheels for the street or track.
The raw forging is placed into a CNC lathe first to have the back profile cut out of the wheel. From here the forging is then loaded into a different CNC lathe to have the front profile machined away. This is where the majority of the mass is removed from the forging. From this step the wheels are considered a lathe profile. This process cuts the front and back of the wheel, the bead seat, hoop area, and cap profile creating the wheel barrel.
The next step in the process is the CNC mill where the face design takes shape. In this step a CNC mill cuts the spokes, the design for the face of the wheel, and drills the bolt pattern. This step also mills the pad area of the wheel where it will make contact with the hub for mounting, setting the backspacing.
Looking The Part
When the wheel comes out of the mill it looks like something that’s ready to be shipped. That’s not the case at Forgeline, there are still multiple steps that each wheel will go through. This includes a strict inspection process before it can be boxed up and shipped to the customer.
From the mill the wheels are sent to the polishing room. “The wheels will head over to the polishing room to have all the burs removed, and be inspected for inconsistencies in the milling process, marks from a tool path, etc.” All of this is done by hand with each technician spending time at a work station vigilantly inspecting and carefully grinding areas of the wheel to get the finished product perfect.
Wheels that will be powder coated will get an abrasive blasting to help promote adhesion of the powder coat media. From the polishing area the wheels are sent to be cleaned. This multi-step process involves placing the wheels in separate vats for each step. The process strips away oils, finger prints, or any foreign material that might have been left on a wheel during the machining and polishing steps. The final step also applies a nano-technology based anti-corrosive coating to the entire wheel. These steps help promote adhesion of the finishing product and give the wheel resistance to corrosive elements.
In the powder coating area a technician will carefully apply the necessary colored media to the wheel. In the case of Monoblock wheels the entire wheel is coated the same color.
Once the powder coat has been cured in a temperature controlled booth, the wheels are sent to the next station for final cleaning and inspection steps. Here the valve stem seats are machined to remove powder coating material, and the wheels are given a final visual inspection. They are then polished and either packaged for shipping, or sent to the tire department to have tires mounted before being sent out to customers.
The total machining time takes about four hours per wheel. With typical order levels Schardt says most customers have their wheels shipped about two weeks after placing an order. This can take longer if there’s a high volume of orders in line.
Many of Forgeline’s Monoblock designs originated as three-piece designs. Engineering analysis proved that these designs would work well as a one-piece wheel also and so they were offered. Forgeline is also working to offer unique designs as exclusively Monoblock these weren’t a three piece design and probably never will be. One-piece Monoblock designs are also available with any of Forgeline’s powder coat finishes.
Forgeline offers their one-piece forged Monoblock wheels in sizes ranging from 18×9-inch all the way to the 21 inch diameters and widths up to 13-inches. Whether you’re looking for a set of wheels for a dedicated track car or just trying to set your car apart from the crowd Forgeline can offer a solution for you with race proven technology and engineering behind every product.