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.
Forgeline’s Monoblock wheels offer superior strength and lighter weight along with incredible styling and custom fitment for the ultimate in wheel technology.
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
Each Monoblock wheel begins life as a T6-6061 billet aluminum wheel forging like these.
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.
Left Column: Forgeline one-piece forged Monoblock wheels. Right Column: The same face design but in a three-piece wheel. Notice the extension of the wheel spokes all the way to the edge on the one piece vs the three piece.
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
The one-piece forged Monoblock wheels represent the next evolution in wheel technology with their one-piece design. Schardt says that their Monoblock wheel was born out of demand from their professional racing clientele about seven years ago. Those racers were looking for a wheel that was even better than what the company already produced in their three-piece designs. “We saw that the wheel market was going in that direction in the racing world and so we were able to transition those products for racing applications to our street customers as well. Whatever’s happening in the racing world usually tends to transition out to the street.”
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.
Every Forgeline design, Monoblock or three-piece, begins life in CAD software before being taken through numerous engineering analysis. The company takes these steps to ensure every wheel they build can handle the demands put on them.
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.
The Schardt family began building wheels nearly 50 years ago and as a result they have decades of engineering experience to draw upon when designing a wheel. With a stellar reputation in the wheel industry Forgeline doesn’t produce just any wheel design. “Our designs have to meet a variety of engineering analysis including FEA and rotary analysis before we will begin producing, testing, and selling a wheel,” says Schardt. If a wheel design can’t hack it on for enthusiasts who occasionally take their cars to the race track or auto cross on street tires then you won’t find it in the Forgeline catalog or being shipped from the company’s warehouse. “We know that even if we built a wheel that had ‘not for track use’ stamped into it that someone, somewhere would put it on a car and take it to the track. It takes only one accident from a wheel failure to ruin your reputation and we refuse to make those kinds of compromises.”
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.”
Left: A wheel forging is loaded into a CNC lathe to begin the machining process. Center Left: The CNC lathe begins the cutting the wheel profile. Center Right: A wheel profile during machining. Right: This wheel is now considered a lathe profile and is ready to head to the CNC mill.
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.
The CNC mill cuts the face of the wheel as well as the bolt pattern for the lugs and the seat for the tire valve. These four pictures illustrate the wheel as the mill works on it.
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.
Left: In the polishing room each wheel is carefully inspected. All tooling marks, burs, and anything not aesthetically pleasing is removed. Center Left Through Right: From the polishing room the wheels go through a cleaning and coating process. The cleaning will remove any dirt or oils stuck to the wheel surface. The nano-technology coating that is applied in the final steps protects the wheels from corrosive elements. This coating also helps with adhesion of of the powder coating media.
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.
Each Monoblock wheel must pass through a series of CNC machines, with each machine performing a different part of the manufacturing process.
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.
Left and Center Left:: A powder coat technician applies the proper amount of media to each wheel to get a high quality, durable finish. Center Right: Each wheel is hand cleaned and polished prior to packaging and shipping. Right: After cleaning the tire valve is installed and the wheel inspected one last time.
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.
Transparent red is just one of many color options Forgeline offers on their wheels. Schardt says this one has become surprisingly popular as of late.
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.
The Schardt’s believe in using what they manufacture. We were really digging these RB1 Monoblocks on the company C7 Vette.
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.
Renowned Mustang chassis and suspension guru Kenny Brown runs Forgeline Monoblock wheels on his customer cars, his personal track day car 'Ruby', as well as the professional racing cars he's a part of.
Forgeline customer Glen Hunter made it to SEMA last year with his GT500 wearing Forgeline CF1 Monoblock wheels.
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.