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** Disclaimer: This is a non technical way to explain extended top hats in relation to shock/damper travel and suspension.**

So, I have seen a number of people ask this very same question, and unfortunately there is little information on this topic. It all seems to be spread over the site. So here is your one stop shop for extended top hat info.

Exhibit A: This is a picture of extended top hats thanks to the Google:


Exhibit B:This is a picture of the extended in red, and oem in black:


If you aren't blind, you can clearly see that the red top hats are "taller" than the black top hats.



Problem #1:
The first problem that we run into with top hats and suspension is that people want to lower their cars improperly, or "slam" their cars to the ground for whatever reason. When you "slam" your car, the shock body sits closer to the top hat, giving you less available damper travel, or less room for the shock body to move. If you then hit a good sized bump, your shock body may hit your top hat (hopefully hitting a bumpstop first) causing damage.

That said, the first purpose of Extended top hats is to solve the problem of hitting your top hats with the shock body.


If you look at the above pictures, the bottom picture best shows the difference between the two. The middle part of the extended top hat is "taller", and just happens to be big enough to allow for the shock body to slide into it. That is not coincidence. Because of this extra room, when you hit that "good sized bump" your shock body now has the extra room it needs to travel to not hit the top hat.

Again, when a car is lowered, the shock body will sit closer to the chassis/top hat. Because of this there is less available suspension travel to handle bumps making it more likely to cause the shock body to have impact with the top hat. If you were able to provide an extra inch or 2 of extra shock body travel with the extended top hat, you would effectively increase the room in which you have to work with, and lower the chances of hitting the top hat.


Problem #2:
Another reason for extended top hats is to help your shocks/dampers travel within their optimal range. The problem here is that each shock will have an optimal working range usually not known by the general public until you blow out your shocks. Some companies will give you a suggested drop measurement range, let's face it... not everyone listens to that.

The way extended top hats help your shock to travel in their optimal range is by changing the resting point of the shock body in relation to the damper shaft. If you are starting out an inch or two further extended then you would without the extended top hat, you are then giving yourself the proper range in relation to your starting point to work with. How much more room you need depends on your drop and the shock/damper you are using. Unfortunately, there are way too many options to have a solution layed out for each situation. You should just make sure that your shocks/dampers are properly rated for the spring rate and height that you want to achieve.

What extended top hats DoN'T do:

Extended top hats will NOT change the ride height of your vehicle. This is because your car is resting on springs, not solely on your shocks/dampers. The extended top hats are only moving the point at which the damper shaft bolts to the chassis and top hat, pulling the shaft out of the shaft body more, not extending your springs.

Extended top hats will NOT make blown shocks work... if your shocks are blown, they are done for. Replace them with proper shocks/dampers for your setup.

Extended top hats will NOT make OE shocks, or shocks not rated high enough for your application work. Use the right shocks/dampers for your application. Extended top hats will not be the end all solution to a poorly designed suspension setup. They have their purposes, and will only work when used properly.


**once again, this is a NoN TECHNICAL way to try to explain extended top hats to the masses. I know that there is physics behind all of this, but let's keep it there ie: behind all of this.**
 

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Well put together. This will be very useful for many in the future. I actually just lowered my car on koni str.t socks and h&r sports but i didnt get to install the extended top hats, maybe in the future........Thanks for the info
 

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just a quick add to the ops post...


Ground Control Extended Top Hats (although name brand... WASTE OF MoNEY)... I made the mistake in spending $250 on them

you can go on eBay and find the literally IDENTICAL strutmounts for cheap ($120 shipped for all 4)
the red ones pictured above are actually from eBay... the ground controls look IDENTICAL
 

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^ i bought the ebay ones. they're a gem. i'm on ebay coilovers and stock front shocks(with ebay top hats) and kyb rear shocks(should get extended top hats..)

nice write up!
 

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Any idea on where to get these in black? Seems as though all the ones on eBay are red, and I cant even find them through ground control.
 

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Good "for dummies" write up Trish. Shined a good basic light on extended top hats that I'm sure MANY people were unaware of prior to reading this.
 

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Wow, after the half dozen "suspension build list" threads this last week or two, I'm really glad to see this little gem of an article pop up to help blanket about top-hats. Nice job.

Might want to mention a possible interference with some aftermarket strut bars though. Edlebrock 3-point as an example.
 

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Mirrorimg on Dec/27/09 said:
Any idea on where to get these in black? Seems as though all the ones on eBay are red, and I cant even find them through ground control.
Hit up the nearest powdercoater in ur are... I'd be hardpressed to believe he/she would charge more than $15 per tophat for such a small item

Or you could go dirt cheap... The long studs come out the bottom... Then spray some aircraft paint thinner and ur favorite black followed by a clearcoat... Can't run you more than 25 for the entire job

But that's just me... ;)

Ps. Send a message to the eBay seller, they might have em in black ;)
 

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Great Job Trish! Another option to point out is the 'DIY Extended Tophat' as well. This involves taking a set of OE tophats, cutting the shock 'mount' off of the shock itself, then simply welding in a spacer to raise the mount from the body of the tophat. The nice thing about this is that it is 'adjustable' to your application IE you're car is lowered 1.5" so you extend the tophats 1.5" and whala you're running inside your normal OE operating range. The bad part is that you have to know how to weld...or pay someone to weld for you.

 

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^rear top hats would've prevented my stock shocks from blowing. but they are helping my front ride in a more comfortable zone.

it depends on your setup. it will most likely always help.
 

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SweetTeg on Dec/29/09 said:
it depends on your setup. it will most likely always help.
Certainly does depend on the setup. Most aftermarket shocks already take into account you're probably dropped somewhat.


I'd really only consider top hats on more extreme drops.


You dont want the shock to limit suspension travel and using a top hat can do this (which is real bad ummkay?)
 

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chickwithastick on Dec/27/09 said:
Extended top hats will NOT change the ride height of your vehicle. This is because your car is resting on springs, not solely on your shocks/dampers.
I actually lowered my car to the point where it was sitting on a 1/2" bump-stop, so that the weight of the car was on the shock, completely bottomed out. When I installed the OEM extended hats that Casey sent me, the car was finally able to rest on the spring, and not the strut, so it did go a bit lower. That's only going to happen if you don't cut the bump-stops and get within inches of the ground though. I also think that it had something to do with the DA rear shocks being much taller.

Here are those hats Casey sent me. I sprayed them all black before putting them in.

The taller, oval shaped ones went on the rear.





This is BEFORE, where I had the perch all the way down, and the weight was resting on the shock. I still had gap:







...and this was after, when the weight could finally rest on the spring, and the shock now had travel:

 

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I like the custom strutmounts... Its a novelty idea... But I should also note that ground control/ebay extended strut mounts have longer studs... Because most of us run struttower bars and rear strut bars it also comes in handy that you have plenty of threads :)
 
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