Fluidampr - Review & How-to - Team Integra Forums - Team Integra
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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Fluidampr - Review & How-to

You invest money building your FI or NA B-series motor to gain more HP, but like many, one critical component is overlooked. Money is spent on sleeves, forged pistons, forged rods, valves, camshaft, cam gears, turbochargers, nitrous etc. These changes alter the motors harmonics and no consideration is given to the damper. Perhaps this is due to the lack of understanding how critical this component is not only to the power levels you hope to achieve, but also the longevity of your motor. The question is, do you continue to use your factory damper or aftermarket?

What is a harmonic damper/pulley/balancer? It is connected to the crankshaft snout. The obvious use case is water pump, alternator and A/C compressor pulley. The inconspicuous purpose is to counter torsional twist and resonance vibrations. Oem damper is tuned for a specific narrow frequency range base on factory setup. Once these resonant frequencies are altered because of aftermarket components, the harmonics the factory damper was designed for has less of an impact across the rpm band providing less protection while robbing horsepower & torque. Changes which are not directly related to composition of rotating assembly, like a bad tune, can also create an out of equilibrium condition the damper was not designed to handle. The oem damper designed specifically for stock setup indiscernibly helps valve train and timing efficiency. Possible damage can range from instantaneous catastrophic failure to long term failure caused by abnormal wear and tear. Components which will be impacted is crankshaft, bearings, oil pump and possible valve train damage in catastrophic conditions to name a few. A damper designed specifically for upgraded components is critical to compensate for the shortcomings of the oem damper.

The B series motor is internally balanced, so the factory damper is just that, to dampen the harmonics as there is no counterweights on the oem damper. The factory elastomer damper is two cast pieces bonded together with rubber type material. Over time you can see deterioration in the rubber as it slowly shows signs of cracking. What you don’t see with the naked eye, I’ve captured with my stereo scope which emphasizes the inconsistency with this material and false sense of security. Rubber in general is a poor dissipater of heat. Damping vibration generates heat and this cycle over time wears the material composition. Environmental changes from hot/dry, cold/wet, climates wear on rubber overtime. As the rubber material encounters these variations over time, it loses its durometer (hardness) and elasticity (adaptability/flexibility). This maintenance oversight can be attributed to the lack of service or maintenance schedule for the oem damper in the factory service manual. This component needs to be inspected and replaced which the factory service manual omits, the interval varies on environmental conditions and miles to prevent catastrophic failure. Most importantly you need to determine if replacing it with another oem damper is appropriate or an aftermarket is warranted when the motor is no longer in factory stock configuration.

Below is what appears to be an excellent shape oem damper with about ~25K miles. What you can’t see with the naked eye is the gaping crack which is developing near the edge which over time will turn into catastrophic failure. Furthermore, the magnification lens (10/20) I used is minimal to capture the obvious, with even larger magnification the inconsistency in rubber is more apparent and cause for concern over long use.

Now that you have an understanding of what a damper does, I caution against using lightweight anodized shiny pulleys or other lightweight alternatives. Oem and quality aftermarket damper is weighted for a reason. Sure you will hear about guys running a lightweight pulley or CTR damper “without problems”, but the reality is part luck and part ignorance. A lightweight pulley/damper does not absorb torsional twist that leads to failure of components. Here is a simple analogy, a bullet fired at a thin piece of steel will resonate, fire the same caliber and grain bullet at a really thick and heavy piece of steel, you can see and hear the difference. I’m assuming, but certain people running a lightweight pulley/damper which they swear has not caused problems, are not building their motor from ground up with precision tools, any reputable builder will not recommend one for obvious reasons. If there are microfractures on the crankshaft you won’t see them until it is too late, it is just not worth the risk in my opinion plus the downside is robbing of horsepower with having all these vibrations traverse the crankshaft back to the motor and head. Here is a great analogy, think of a oem air filter, it is made with cheap material, restrictive and meant to be replaced frequently. When you upgrade to a quality air filter which is less restrictive, you are freeing horsepower & torque, as opposed to forced induction or nitrous were you are creating more horsepower & torque. Using a Fluidampr simply is freeing horsepower & torque, while protecting your motor components and extending longevity.

I rebuilt my motor from ground up with high end components, upgrading the damper for forced induction setup is warranted. For my build I knew Fluidampr was the right choice for a number of reasons. The damper is 100% manufactured in the USA and the company is ISO certified. If you have read any of my previous how-to/tech articles you know this is important to me to support our manufacturing here in the states. The damper has no rubber or elastomer o-rings, and requires zero maintenance unlike ATI or oem for the life of the damper. Rebuilding the damper or having to worry about oem failure is not something I want to be concerned with, so this is high up on the list of reasons for choosing Fluidampr. The damper is designed to work across the entire rpm range from low to high at all frequencies, self-tuning in real time, this is a distinguishable difference, unlike ATI which is targeted with elastomer o-rings tuned for higher rpm frequencies. Remember the issues with oem damper and environmental conditions, how it wreaks havoc on rubber over time, this is not a concern with Fluidampr, unlike ATI which utilizes rubber o-rings. Fluidampr can brave the element with its viscous silicone, ranging from -40°F to 300°F. Not critical for my need, but this damper is SFI18.1 certified for your sanctioning race organization. The SFI marking is engraved on the damper unlike ATI where the sticker can fall off or wear over time which requires sending the whole damper back to them for a rebuild and re-cert (new sticker), for a nice fee. Just as important, Fluidampr backs their product and will work with customers to resolve problems. I read like many of you rumors about the silicone gel hardening over time, but I have yet to see any shred of evidence other than hearsay, the companies guarantee speaks for itself. Need more convincing, OE use these types of dampers from Ford, Audi to Lamborghini. Vibratech, parent company of Fluidampr, damper is used across our Military on various platforms (cage code 6KAK6), as an Engineer in the Defense industry I can appreciate the level of effort it takes to be down selected as a subcontractor for a critical component. This company has been around for a long time, since the 40’s, which means they are doing something right to stay in business this long and stand behind their products. On a personal level, I’ve read bashing from ATI about fluid type dampers, but they have yet to provide any evidence of failure and comparison testing on an even playing field. On the other hand, Fluidampr never marginalizes their competitors, rather focusing on their own product and trying to educate people on their product. This doesn’t sit well with me when ATI trolls by spreads false rumors about another company for their own benefit. Eventually the information will come to roost and they will have to answer to the misinformation they spread. I personally rather do business with an honest company which refrains from participating in this kind of activity.

What is happening in our motor and how does Fluidampr help? The assumption here is you have some knowledge of how an internal combustion gasoline engine works. When a cylinder fires, there is force (F=ma) transferred to the crankshaft as the piston and connecting rod push against the rod journal causing a torsional twist motion (torque/turning force). The resulting shear stress (τ = F/A) perpendicular to the piston is the rod and main journal. The effect of this motion causes vibrations as varying frequencies/harmonics. There is a lot of factors which determine the frequency from metallurgy, engine rpm, tune and so on. OEM’s design crankshafts with factory dampers to prevent resonance which can be destructive, thus, modification to the crankshaft or aftermarket parts without a proper damper can potentially be catastrophic as these increase harmonic amplitudes. Fluidampr is designed to protect the motor across the entire rpm range and protect against resonance regardless of engine upgrades. Part of this magic is in part to the viscous silicone gel. Silicone aka polysiloxanes, is an excellent dissipater, which plays an important role for how the damper works, the silicone in Fluidampr is proprietary. High temp silicone is used in our motor from sealing to protection from heat, Fluidampr silicone is just a derivative with other additives. Between the outer housing and inner ring called the shear gap, is where this viscous silicone gel resides. As the outer housing spins at the same rpm as the crankshaft, the free floating inner ring if free to rotate at different rpms causing a sheering force, which by definition is opposing forces moving in opposite direction. The silicone gel between the outer housing and inner ring which aids in facilitating phase change absorbs the harmonic frequencies caused by torsional vibration via thermodynamically as heat which is dissipated to the outer hosing. This combination of conduction and convection cooling helps maintain a steady nominal temperature to keep the damper from cooking and preserving its longevity. There is another physics play regarding the overall moment of inertia/rotating mass. The oem damper is essentially one large piece of mass, Fluidampr while overall is heavier than the factory damper, the inner ring is considered free floating from the outer housing, so the moment of inertia (MOI) and rotating mass is actually less or on par with the factory damper. Fluidampr coincidentally states the overall weight and rotating weight on the spec list. Unfortunately, I can’t measure the exact weight of the inner ring, but one can surmise without this ring there is little delta in the rotating weight from oem damper.

Below is the diagram right from the Fluidampr website. A very clever and simple design best explained on the company website with a cutout of the damper.

“A Fluidampr performance damper is constructed from three main components:
1. Outer housing
2. Inner inertia ring
3. Silicone fluid

The outer housing mounts to the crankshaft. When combustion triggers rapid twisting and rebounding (torsional vibration), the outer housing and inner inertia ring will move in-and-out of phase with each other. The motion of the inner inertia ring through the silicone creates shear. Shear eliminates unwanted vibration.”

Here is my impression of Fluidampr, experience with the product and company. The dampers quality speaks for itself, easily visible timing marks, precision machining, engraved labeling, it arrived well packaged and sealed. The instructions, paperwork all included in the box. The tool set is high quality and only compatible kit I could find with a M14x1.25 adapter for installing the damper properly via press fit. Trust me when I say I looked around, none of the universal kits have this adapter. Due to the press fit requirement, the Fluidampr tool kit is essential, I would not recommend forcing the fit with the crankshaft bolt and impact gun which can potentially damage the threads.

I will provide analysis which is both qualitative and quantitative after switching from oem to Fluidampr. The objective is to provide honest open-minded feedback from my personal experience, some of which will be subjective. The first time I fired the car with Fluidampr running at idle, I immediately noticed a difference compared to oem. The noise level is the first quantitative data point I measured via decibel meter with a delta of -36.4db at peak points. This is a distinguishable difference which does not require any special test equipment to discern. Prior to changing the original LMA in the head to the newer spring design, I could hear a slight knock, the LMA upgrade along with this damper that knock is completely absent. I use aftermarket motor mounts and modified oem mounts via polyurethane adhesive, which stiffens the setup, that translate to feeling more vibrations in the car. This is another quantitative data point measured by a vibration meter which utilizes an accelerometer sensor as a seismic detector. The Mercalli intensity range in the cabin was less dramatic compared to the top of the engine valve cover. When there is less overall vibration, the different frequencies which the motor mounts are designed to handle, work better to dampen and cancel out what the drive feels inside. The readings inside the cabin ranged from level I to II, while in the engine bay the delta was higher from initial reading of IV. Grabbing the steering wheel I could feel an immediate difference as another qualitative data point. I was also pleasantly surprised how easily the car started up compared to oem, this is likely attributed by the reduced rotating weight.

Driving around datalogging, I repeated some of the same tests as idle. While I could not tell much of a difference in sound for obvious reasons, I could feel there was much less vibration at higher rpms. To my surprise the car just felt much smoother going through gears. Hard to quantify the delta but it felt more snappy and responsive to the throttle. One big difference I noticed was shifting gears felt smoother, even though I have a grabby race clutch and race flywheel there was less of a judder and jerky feel between quick shifts. There was less of an rpm drop between normal gear shifting which overall attributes to smoother shifts. The result was smooth acceleration as my speed increased through the gears. This one particular gripe I have always had with this car is my AC. Because of how hot it is in the summers, with the oem damper I’m always worried coming to a stop how much the rpms rapidly drop, sometimes causing the car stall, or how much I need to rev to prevent the car from stalling at idle or moving from a dead stop. I purposely set the rpm close to stock via S300 Hondata even with the lower compression to conserve both on gas and put less stress on the motor, it is a non-issue without the AC on usually. With Fluidampr installed, this cured all my woes related to having the AC on, no more keeping an eye on the rpms or revving to keep the car from stalling, but even with the AC on or off coming off the line felt smoother. This smooth transition from a dead stop meant no more jerky take off which my wife appreciated as she refuses to be a passenger in this car. I convinced her to come for a ride to get a completely dispassionate opinion from her and she immediately noticed how much smoother it felt. Still not enough to convince her to ride along as a daily driver though lol. The next step is a trip to the dyno to find out exactly how much more HP is freed by running this damper. I still have the oem damper so I will be switching between the two for different runs. From the literature provided on the company website it can range anywhere from ~5HP+ up depending on the motor and various factors. Keeping in mind Fluidampr is freeing lost HP/torque. The only gripe I have is the oem Hex tool can’t be used with this model Fluidampr. The tool is very helpful for a number of reasons, so I decided to make my own using simple hardware to achieve the same purpose. Overall for a daily driver the difference is noticeable without a doubt, at the drag strip or road racing the same benefits apply.

If you want my opinion, there is no better option as a replacement oem damper than Fluidampr for the various reasons I described in this article and my personal experience with this product.

Below is a how-to guide to install and remove a Fluidampr on a B-series motor. Parts of this guide can be used for other applications as well. Fluidampr part number is 590601 in this guide. I’m a firm believer in using the proper tools for the job, not taking shortcuts that can cost you more in the long run. The Fluidampr tool set for install and removal is part number 300001. Do not use a hammer and beat the damper on, this can not only damage the damper but it could damage the crankshaft snout as well. This damper is supposed to be press fit, if it does not fit the specific tolerance honing will be required. Per Fluidampr the bore is “1.1008”: which we hold =/- .0008”, putting the low at 1.1000” and high at 1.1016”. The worst case scenario I would recommend pressing on is a .003” press, and ideally should be .0005”-.0015”

If you have a quality precision micrometer like Mitutoyo, measure your crankshaft snout, if not have a machine shop measure it for you, don’t use the cheap foreign knockoffs with poor accuracy. If you have a quality bore gauge like Mitutoyo, you can also confirm the Fluidampr 1.1008” bore. My snout high point measured 1.10335” and damper measured 1.1008” on the spot per specification. The difference is =<0.00255” which is within the maximum press fit range without needing to hone the damper.

First thing I did was trim the plastic cover flush with the opening surface of the damper hole. This is required to fit the damper and fairly easy to accomplish with a hot knife that cuts through the plastic like butter.

If you have not already removed your factory damper do so. There are several methods to accomplish this, the easiest is by using a hex crank holder tool and an impact gun or a flywheel holder tool as a substitute for the holder tool. Keep in mind the crankshaft bolt is right hand thread. If you don’t own this tool Autozone rents this tool for free. As you pull the damper out pay attention to the key and do not lose it as you will need this for install. I mentioned earlier my gripe with not being able to use this hex tool with Fluidampr, so I made my own unrefined crude tool fairly easily with a steel bar and 3/8”-24 grade 8 bolts from Lowes for a few bucks. Bore out the existing hole in the bracket, if you have a 3/8” or 1/2” square cutout punch you can use a ratchet to turn it, or weld on a nut to get the same result with a ratchet and socket. Cut the end of the bolt off with a angle grinder and notch it for a flat head screw driver or phillips if you desire. TDC for maintenance and testing is much easier with a crankshaft tool, some use the cam bolts but I’ve also seen the gear skip teeth on the belt causing more headache. Simply screw in the bolts by hand and use the bracket to turn the crankshaft/motor counterclockwise until it settles where you need it.

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-01-2018, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Apply some anti-seize to the crankshaft snout and Fluidampr bore.

Take the M14x1.25 insert adapter (-005) and screw it into the crankshaft hand tight until it is snug.

Take the main shaft with the high nut and insert the washers and bearing as such.

Slide the main shaft through the damper and hand tighten it on the insert adapter (-005).

Once the main shaft bottoms out against the insert adapter (-005), back of 1/2 turn counterclockwise. To remember where this 1/2 turn is, I used a red marker and marked the main shaft as a point of reference.

Here is a tip when you align the damper against the snout to line up the key slot since the timing mark on the plastic cover is not very accurate and you can’t see the oil pump TDC mark. Turn the high nut away from damper as much as possible and pull the washers and bearing away from the damper. Use a flashlight to see where the key slots is on the snout and damper. Once lined up, hold the damper steady with one hand while turning the high nut until the washer makes contact with the damper holding it in place.

With the red reference mark facing up, hold the main shaft while turning the high nut to press fit the damper. You will slowly see the damper press on and eventually bottom out. Take the Fluidampr install tools off and insert the key, use a punch if necessary.

Don’t forget to tighten the crankshaft damper bolt to the proper spec. If you are using an OEM bolt, replace it with a new one. I bought a new ARP bolt which has specific instructions using ARP lube and specific torque value. During this process, since the Hex tool is no longer an option you should use a flywheel holder tool which can be rented from Autozone if you don’t have one. The alternative crude method is the tool I made or using a pry bar against the provided removal bolts in the tool kit, however, I recommend the flywheel holder tool as it minimizes the potential damage to the damper threads and possibly bending or breaking the bolts clean in the damper.


Take the crankshaft damper bolt off, using the flywheel holder tool.

Insert the puller bushing into the crankshaft snout opening.

Screw the puller flange to the main shaft.

Insert the pivot center into the non threaded end of the main shaft.

Line up the pivot center to the puller bushing and use the supplied 3/8”-24 bolts to tighten the puller flange against the damper snug by hand. It does not hurt to apply some anti-seize to the bolts, I did this and cleaned it afterwards.

Tighten the main shaft clockwise, you will see the damper slowly come off the snout.

After I completed this article, I reached out to Fluidampr to ask some questions which I believe are relevant to my review, and readers would be interested in knowing. This is normal for me to reach out and get the manufacturers perspective on my reviews, positive or negative, I give them a chance to talk about their product. Ivan was gracious enough to provide some feedback:

1. Are the screws and other exposed hardware stainless steel to prevent rust, if not, why not (cost)?
“No, they are black oxide steel fasteners. They were chosen for strength and cosmetics.”

2. Can you provide details on the metal used?
"All of our Fluidampr’s conform to SFI Spec 18.1 for rotational integrity. SFI spec 18.1 calls out minimum tensile and yield strengths of 60,000 and 40,000 psi, along with a minimum of 12% elongation for ductility. We balance that with steel grades that are able to be welded for hermetic sealing."

3. Type of Silicone used, is it proprietary? Why was silicone preferred over other compounds and is the formula changing or being improved over the years or is this the same silicone used prior and we can expect in the future?
"The silicone used is a proprietary blend for thermal and longevity performance. The fluid is similar on a base level to the original invention, however, the refinement, blending, and performance characteristics are something that is continuously improving with technology."

4. The hex key is on other Fluidampr units like K-series and S2000, why is it not part of the design on this B series model so the OEM damper tool can be used?
"At the time of development (our first Honda Fluidampr), the B series damper was used on many more race oriented applications and the design of which was originally requested to be as light as possible, the hex key added additional weight and that was not desired by the original customer. This is why you see the third belt pulley is made out of aluminum. Dampers do require some weight to operate effectively, however, that weight is the internal ring. Any additional weight that can be removed from the housing or hub of the damper will provide a more efficient part."

5. Are any OEM’s specifically using Fluidampr or are they using Vibratech TVD?
"Typically, OEM’s are contracted through Vibratech TVD. Fluidampr is a brand name (or product line) of Vibratech TVD. However, when SFI certification is requested by the customer, the Fluidampr brand name will be used (SFI certification is a registered certification and only used on Fluidampr products). Confidentially agreements are in place that do not allow us to discuss OEM customers. The only time we can discuss this is if the OEM publicly references Vibratech TVD and/or Fluidampr; as was the case with Corvette Racing (IMSA GTLM) in the Sep.-Oct. 2017 issue of Race Engine Technology magazine."

6. What does Fluidampr have in the works? Any other products we can look forward to?
"Currently we are working with a multiple high profile OEM’s (again, confidentiality does not allow me to say). In addition, we have partnered with individual companies to offer non-catalog Fluidampr aftermarket dampers for BMW 335d/X5 35d, Nissan VR38 and VW/Audi 3.0T. There are also BMW applications we are looking to add to our catalog offering over the next 12 months."

7. How much R&D was put into the design and testing of this damper?
"As with any Fluidampr or Vibratech TVD product, we follow our strict manufacturing ISO 9001 compliant design and development process. This starts with the initial product request and continues through prototyping, validation testing, and through production. We do not release any parts for sale without validation testing to ensure proper form, fit, and function. We also periodically review designs to improve product performance as engine performance gains increase. One good example of this is when we tightened up the Honda B series damper bore to make it a light press fit from a slip fit, to help keep the damper more securely fixed to the crankshaft nose for high horsepower builds."

8. There are lots of rumors, is there any proof from the past a Vibratech TVD or new Fluidampr failed?
"The only returns we ever see are typically because of external damage (dropped, accident damage, damaged bore from improper installation, other installation error, etc.). When joining the Fluidampr team in 2010 after working for our parent company as a machinist for over 12 years, I was faced with many of the same rumors which included “the silicone freezes in the winter”, “Fluidampr’s do not work because you cannot balance an engine with the damper installed”, “they break crankshafts”, etc. I soon realized that this was all hearsay and they were false after not being able to locate one single instance of truth to any of these statements. After getting involved in many online forum discussions, I would ask for any ounce of evidence to suggest there was evidence of failure, which usually followed with I heard from a buddy or this engine builder… again, no factual evidence. I would simply follow up with “Fluidampr has been providing viscous dampers since 1946 which includes many OEM’s and renowned engine builders. Would any of these OEM’s or engine builders continue to use Vibratech TVD or Fluidampr products over the course of 70+ years of there was any truth to these statements”, the answer is simple… absolutely not! With all this being said, there have been instances where a damper (which would be true with any damper) may have failed. Let’s face it, in motorsports, we are constantly striving for just a little extra, to push the envelope a little further. Eventually performance parts will reach their limit. I have seen performance diesel applications in excess of 3000+ h.p. in which complete blocks explode… has a damper ever broke loose, sure… but there are so many other factors to consider. Nothing that simply suggests a damper has failed due to the fluid design or intended purpose of the damper. On the contrary, in many cases, we are initially contacted because the current rubber type damper fails."

9. What is the most challenging aspect of designing this damper?
"The most challenging part of designing this damper was fitting the required inertia ring into the small envelope size, while maintaining the ability to attach an accessory drive and maintain a reasonable weight."

10. HP is not the important reason to use this damper, but some readers will always look for that number. What kind of HP gains on average have you seen freed up from using this damper on B series motors, (1-10HP)?
"On average we would expect to see a 2-5+ h.p. depending on the starting power levels and overall vibration levels. As you mentioned, the damper does not create more power, it improves the overall efficiency of the engine by reducing vibratory related power losses. On other applications we have seen upwards of 15+ h.p. on a mildly tuned engine."

11. Lastly is there anything you would like the readers to know about you, the company or the product?
"All Fluidampr/Vibratech TVD products are designed and manufactured in our facility just south of Buffalo NY. The products are made from 100% U.S. sourced materials. Vibratech TVD has been supplying OEM and aftermarket diesel applications since 1946 and Fluidampr has been supplying the automotive performance market since 1985. As engine technology becomes more and more advanced, the demands for viscous dampers in high performance applications have been steadily increasing and becoming more popular at the OEM level on their vehicles. As far as myself, I have been with Vibratech TVD/Fluidampr’s parent company as a machinist since 1997 before, as previously mentioned, joining the Fluidampr team in 2010. I currently have a job that any auto enthusiast would love. Not only do I get to attend national and local trade events, such as SEMA and PRI, I also work closely with our engineering team to visit OEM’s and high profile engine builders performing torsional vibration analysis in which I get to see first hand how much an engine can benefit when equipped with a Fluidampr, both from a torsional vibration and from a performance standpoint."
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