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Old 01-27-2009, 04:02 PM   #1
WC LATHE WERKS
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Default OFFICIAL Ultimate Shift Knob Thread + TESTING RESULTS!

This thread is going to be a collection of all the shift knob information I have gathered over the past few years. I want others to add to it also, pics, dimensions, weight, reviews, etc. Yes, this is a new version of my old knob thread in the interior forum. That was posted by my regular screenname: wrxdriftr

General Shift Knob Thread Fitments:
  • Subaru manual = M12x1.25
  • Subaru Automatic = M10x1.25
  • Toyota manuals = M12x1.25
  • Toyota automatics = M8x1.25
  • Honda manuals= M10x1.5
  • Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mazda manuals= M10x1.25
  • Mazda automatics = M8x1.25


Subaru Shift Knob Car Fitments:



  • 5-speed (WRX, RS, Forested, Legacy, etc): The shift knob must have the M12x1.25 thread inside. The shift knob can be for the STi and it will still work. The best type to get is one specifically designed to fit the WRX by having a boot lip on the bottom. The boot lip allows the shift boot to clip onto the knob so it doesn't dangle in the air.
  • 6-speed (STi & LGT Spec-B): The knob must be M12x1.25 threaded inside. The shift knob MUST have a counterbore on the bottom to allow for the Reverse Ring to slide into the knob. If the knob is just drilled out and threaded (without a counterbore), it may interfere with the reverse ring, not allowing it to pull up all the way. Or, the knob will just sit atop the shift lever, adding unnecessary height to the shifter. Also, many WRX knobs have a deep clearance hole drilled in them, so they won't even screw onto the STi shift lever.
  • Automatic 4EAT (Impreza, Forester, Legacy, etc): All auto knobs that are unscrewable must have an M10x1.25 internal thread. The lever is just a plain threaded rod, so basically any knob with this thread should fit onto it. Clearance must be designed into the knob so it doesn't touch the console (only if it is very tall).

Stock Subaru Shift Knob Info:

2002-2007 Impreza RS & WRX 5-speed:

Material: Black leather, plastic threading
Height: 3.0" (not including boot lip)
Hole depth: 2.65"
Diameter: Oval of 1.8"x2.0"
Weight: 94 grams
Imprinted shift pattern

2002-2007 Impreza 2.5i 4EAT:

Material: Black leather, plastic silver cap on bottom
Height: 5.2"
Hole Depth: 4.75"
Weight: ~100 grams?


2004 Impreza STi 6-speed:
Material: Black leather, red stitching, plastic threading, all black
Height: 2.3" ?
Hole Depth: 1.6"
Reverse ring recess: Yes
Weight: 69 grams


2005 Impreza STi 6-speed:

Material: Black leather, red stitching, plastic threading, clear plastic cap, colored shift pattern
Height: 2.5"
Hole Depth: 1.6"
Reverse ring recess: Yes
Weight: 69 grams

2006-2007 Impreza STi 6-speed:

Material: Black leather, red stitching, plastic threading, clear plastic cap, colored shift pattern
Height: 2.5"
Hole Depth: 1.6"
Reverse ring recess: Yes
Weight: ~180 grams??

2006-2007 Impreza S203 6-speed:

Material: Black leather, red stitching, plastic threading, clear plastic cap, RED colored shift pattern
All other dimensions same as 06-07 STi


2004-2007 Legacy 2.5GT 5-speed:

Material: Black leather, plastic cap with silver shift pattern


2004-2007 Legacy 2.5i 5-speed:

Material: Black leather, imprinted shift pattern


2004-2007 Legacy GT 4EAT:

Material: Black leather, brown wood grain center, silver cap on bottom


2004-2007 Legacy 2.5GT Spec-B 6-speed:
(identical to 2005+ STi shift knob)


2004-2007 Forester 4EAT:

Material: Black leather, plastic silver cap on bottom
Height: 5.2"
Hole Depth: 4.75"
Weight: ~100 grams?



~Chris M
Founder & Machinist
www.LatheWerks.com


Last edited by WC LATHE WERKS; 02-01-2009 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:02 PM   #2
WC LATHE WERKS
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Talking Testing

THE PROBLEM:

Simply put, metal shift knobs get hot in the summer, cold in the winter. Although I have many solutions for this, from knob protector booties to wrapped knobs, one good solution is to use a different material. I have been producing the Copolymer shift knobs for some 2 years now. Here is a brief description of the material:

ACETAL COPOLYMER is very similar to ACETAL HOMOPOLYMER (trade name: Delrin, by the DuPont company). Both of these materials have physical properties within 10% of eachother. For example, Copolymer has a compressive strength of 15K psi, while Delrin is 16K psi. Copolymer has a better chemical resistance than Delrin, and slightly less porosity, meaning it has a more consistent appearance. Overall, there is not much of a difference here, especially when considering the use of a shift knob, so we can consider the two materials equal.

The main problem with Polymers is that they are basically strong plastics. Plastic threads tend to get messed up easily compared to metal threads. Cross-threading during installation or stripping during hard use are two common issues myself and my early customers faced when I make copolymer knobs with threads cut directly into the polymer.

In my desire to produce the best all-around shift knob available, I decided to find the best solution to fix the weak polymer thread issue. I began using a brass thread insert that I custom-machined for each knob. I first tried using epoxy, superglue, and loctite to secure the inserts in. The inserts kept coming loose during regular use. I then tried making the hole smaller than the brass piece and pressing them together with glue. This did not help as the insert still came loose.

Over time, I developed the unique brass insert attachment method I call "WC-Lock". The specific technical details of this attachment method will not be discussed, but I will show proof that it is extremely strong compared to polymer threads with no metal threads.


THE TEST

This testing was conducted by two outside sources:
  • Dr. Clemow, PhD.
  • Ms Roth, Mech.Engineer

I made 4 samples for this test.
  • 2 samples - copolymer cylinders with standard polymer threads (no inserts)
  • 2 samples - copolymer cylinders with "WC-LOCK" Brass Thread Inserts


Each sample was tested using an identical stainless steel M12x1.25 threaded rod with a pin hole. The samples were all threaded with the Subaru M12x1.25 internal thread into the polymer/brass.

The steel rods were screwed into each sample 0.250 (1/4) inch deep and the pin was attached to the head of an MTS Mini-Bionix servo-hydraulic closed-loop testing machine with data logging software. This machine is capable of pulling approximately 4500 pounds vertically via hydraulics.




The sample was then lowered so it contacted the table of the machine. Heavy-duty steel machining clamps were then used to hold the sample down at 4 locations.




The machine was then programmed to pull upwards at a slow rate. The results of the test showed that the polymer-thread sample (no metal insert) failed relatively early. The 1/4" of threads pulled right out of the knob as shown below:





In contrast, the sample with the WC-LOCK brass thread insert was tested under the same parameters and maxed-out the machine pulling force without failing. This force was 4 times the failure force of the first sample without failing. Here are the pictures:





Data image of the second test:



Here is the graph of the results:




This shows that using a brass thread insert with the WC-LOCK attachment yields a tensile strength MORE THAN four times that of solid polymer threads. You can see in the black line how the polymer thread first failed at about 50mm, and then the second thread failed around 65mm with the third thread breaking around 72mm. The brass continued to increase in load without a failure. An important note is that the brass threads were not damaged by the test and still worked smoothly.

I think it is impressive that they could not even break one of my shift knobs using the machine.

To convert the 17,800N load that the brass thread was subjected to, that is about 4,000 pounds!

You can hang a fully loaded Subaru off of one of my shift knobs without it breaking!



Sure, these values are more than you can inflict with your hand, but you can still easily cross-thread a polymer knob and damage the threads permanently. This test is a good example of the amount of force needed to really damage a good-quality knob, specifically with my WC-Lock insert.


~Chris M
WC Lathe Werks LLC

Last edited by WC LATHE WERKS; 03-26-2010 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:03 PM   #3
WC LATHE WERKS
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Default

************************************************** ******************
************************************************** ******************

SHIFT KNOB MATERIAL SELECTION

Shift knobs come in a variety of materials, and each has its own advantages. I'll discuss them below.

ALUMINUM:
Aluminum knobs are generally middle-weight knobs, much ligher than steel, a little lighter than titanium, but heavier than plastic. Aluminum knobs are sometimes anodized in a variety of colors, but most come in the pure silver finish. Some are even wrapped partially in other materials (like half-leather on the Momo). Aluminum is a metal, so it is strong enough to have threads cut directly into the material without risk of easy thread damage. Many large production companies with shift patterns on the knobs put plastic threads in them. (Same is true on some mass-produced Titanium and Steel knobs). This allows you to turn the knob until it faces the proper direction so the shift numbers are facing you. The plastic allows you to manually force the thread deeper because it is soft. This does make cross-threading more of a risk though. Aluminum (like all metals) gets hot in the summer, and cold in the winter. This leads to discomfort when you touch it, but I have some solutions for this (discussed later).

Titanium:
Titanium knobs weigh a bit more than aluminum, but are lighter than steel by about 50%. Titanium is an extremely expensive material, so it normally is priced much higher than other similar knobs of different materials. Titanium has the ability to form colors on the surface when heated, so you'll sometimes see them with blue, bronze, and purple colors. Titanium is also a metal, so it gets hot and cold like aluminum.

Stainless Steel:

Steel is a much heavier metal than the others. It normally weighs 3 times more than Aluminum, and 2x more than Titanium. It makes the heaviest shift knobs available for most applications (true for Subarus). Steel can also form colors on the surface by heating. I found that I can control the color change to get bronze, purple, blue, and a gunmetal gray in a variety of combinations. The weight of steel results in a very smooth shifting feel, reducing the notchiness of the shifter compared to lighter knobs. The steel often can make shifting "feel" faster, but unless your arm moves faster, that isn't true. It does help get solid shifts during competitive driving though. Steel also gets hot and cold like the other metals.

Solutions to the Hot/Cold of metal knobs:
I have found several ways to protect your hand from a hot or cold shift knob:

* A par of driving gloves: must be the right material to provide grip and comfort
* A leather or alcantara-wrapped shift knob: provides a comfortable area to hold the knob from
* A shift knob protector 'bootie': slips over the knob to protect it from scratches and protect your hand from temperature



Polymer Knobs (Copolymer / Delrin):
The polymers known as Acetal Copolymer and Acetal Homopolymer (trade name Delrin) are very similar. Derived from the same bonds, they have phyiscal strength and chemical resistance properties within 10% of eachother. These materials are basically high-tech hard plastics that retain their shape and are suited well for use as a shift knob. The material has a very low thermal conductivity, so it will not feel as hot or cold in extreme temperatures. This is because it doesn't transfer as much heat into or out of your hand like metals.

This material is avialable in black & white for delrin, and a rainbow of colors for Copolymer. The material has a smooth finish to it and a very comfortable feel. It basically eliminates the discomfort with hot and cold temperatures.

The major downside to polymer knobs are the weak plastic threads. As shown in my tests above, the polymer is a fairly low strength in tension, and I have personally found it to cross-thread many times in my own use and with customers. To prevent these thread issues, I offer the WC-Lock Brass Thread Inserts on all the Copolymer shift knobs I produce. In addition to making the threads more than 4 times stronger, it also increases the weight of the knob by 20-60% ! The cost is a bit more for these inserts because they are all custom-machined, but its definitely worth it for a much better overall product.



************************************************** *******************
************************************************** *******************

SHIFT KNOB SHAPES:

There are many shapes that shift knobs come in, especially when considering custom designs. I am going to group them into only a couple categories based on overall geometry:

SPHERE:
The Sphere shift knob is usually considered the most comfortable and more ergonimic. Its possible that many people also think it just looks better. I sell more sphere shapes than any other shape of knob, so it proves to be a fan favorite. The sphere knobs can be shaped as just a ball, or some have a collar below it (specific use on the Subaru 5-speed is a collar to hold up the shift boot). The sphere shape allows your hand to be positioned vertically, horizontally, or angled to hold the knob so it is open for any driving style.

PISTON / CYLINDER:
The piston shape is one that provides mainly a vertical hand position. The vertical nature also helps with feedback to tell the driver which angle the shift lever is pointed (something that a sphere shape does not convey).
Not as many people get this shape, but I find it the best to use in my own car.

CONICAL / TAPERED:
The cone shape is a cross between the sphere and piston, where it has a comfortable rounded surface on top, but a vertical cone section below to hold it vertically.

Last edited by WC LATHE WERKS; 03-26-2010 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 01-27-2009, 11:42 PM   #4
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Cool work. You really do go out of your way to do better then basically everyone out there.

I wish I could play with cool toys like that. I kind of can for school but not so much for fun.

As far as the metal knobs, ever look into coatings at all? I know you've done etched surfaces to reduce thermal transfer. Why I bring up coatings versus simply using the copolymer is in the use of "heavy" knobs, basically stainless steel ones. I assume one can't get away with a large enough insert to add sufficient weight, so one would need to simply use the heavy material. If you want a 1 lb. knob, you still need about 3.5 in^3 of stainless steel. The Greddy Counterweight is a good example. I own one and like it a lot. I will eventually switch to one of your knobs but would stay with stainless as the base. I don't have a big gripe about heat and cold (don't really care enough), but it kind of see it stuck at using some type of coating to keep heat transfer down. Maybe even a two piece system would work, using a stainless steel base with a copolymer cap fastened like you do with the brass insert. You'd get the weight plus a temp insensitive surface to touch.

Sorry for the thread adjunct, me just thinking.

Cool stuff though. You've got to be the best shift knob maker out there.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:40 AM   #5
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Awesome demo!

as a note: the '06 WRX knob is not the same as the '02-'05. The '06 knob is significantly heavier and is black plastic beneath the leather (not white like the other years.)

Last edited by Spenk; 01-28-2009 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 01-28-2009, 10:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Back Road Runner View Post
Cool work. You really do go out of your way to do better then basically everyone out there.

I wish I could play with cool toys like that. I kind of can for school but not so much for fun.

As far as the metal knobs, ever look into coatings at all? I know you've done etched surfaces to reduce thermal transfer. Why I bring up coatings versus simply using the copolymer is in the use of "heavy" knobs, basically stainless steel ones. I assume one can't get away with a large enough insert to add sufficient weight, so one would need to simply use the heavy material. If you want a 1 lb. knob, you still need about 3.5 in^3 of stainless steel. The Greddy Counterweight is a good example. I own one and like it a lot. I will eventually switch to one of your knobs but would stay with stainless as the base. I don't have a big gripe about heat and cold (don't really care enough), but it kind of see it stuck at using some type of coating to keep heat transfer down. Maybe even a two piece system would work, using a stainless steel base with a copolymer cap fastened like you do with the brass insert. You'd get the weight plus a temp insensitive surface to touch.

Sorry for the thread adjunct, me just thinking.

Cool stuff though. You've got to be the best shift knob maker out there.
You are right, the only way to get a 1-pound knob is to make it from pure Steel. I'm not sure what types of coating are durable enough to withstand use, and cheap enough to do in low quantity (rubberized or something?)

I've already got a design using the steel / copolymer combo like you suggested. They are about 60-70% of the weight of pure stainless for the piston and GF4 styles, but only 30% the weight in sphere shapes.
Here are examples of what I mean:



so the other thing I tried was a leather or alcantara band wrapped around the steel knob:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenk View Post
The '06 WRX knob is NOT the same as the '02-'05. The '06 knob is significantly heavier and is black plastic beneath the leather (not white like the other years.)
Ok, I'll make the changed. Thanks!

~Chris M

Last edited by WC LATHE WERKS; 05-26-2011 at 11:31 PM.
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Old 01-28-2009, 01:35 PM   #7
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That steel/copoly combo is neat. Is it a big chunk of copoly or is it more of a thin shell that's threaded/hammered on? My only think personally is the desire for a decent amount of weight. Lead inserts come to mind, but that's only a 40% gain meaning potentially a lot of lead for a little bump. The other equivalent is leverage. For example, the Greddy Counterweight is relatively low on the shaft. Despite being 383 grams, it's low, so a lighter knob with a higher CG could be made equivalent.

I like your creativity.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WC LATHE WERKS View Post
so the other thing I tried was a leather or alcantara band wrapped around the steel knob:
I'm sorry if this thread wasnt intended for this kind of discussion, but will this knob be available anytime soon? I couldnt find it on the website.
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Old 06-12-2009, 01:48 PM   #9
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so the other thing I tried was a leather or alcantara band wrapped around the steel knob:




could you pm me either the link for this knob or the price. Can the stock shift boot clip direclty to this knob?
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Old 01-28-2009, 08:44 PM   #10
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Those are faily solid pieces of copolymer on top of the steel, but its attached in a way that it'll never come apart by accident.
I can't work with lead, the dust from machining would probably kill me
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Old 01-29-2009, 12:06 AM   #11
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You just couldn't call this the Shift Knob FAQ could you? Nice post though with lots of cross platform info, so I'm gonna sticky this heap. I still want an inconel shifter though :hint-hint:
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Old 01-29-2009, 11:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unabomber View Post
You just couldn't call this the Shift Knob FAQ could you? Nice post though with lots of cross platform info, so I'm gonna sticky this heap. I still want an inconel shifter though :hint-hint:
You can rename the thread to the "Shift Knob FAQ" if you like. There will be plenty of more info coming out soon including shape and material advantages for certain applications. Thanks for the sticky!

~Chris M
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Old 02-01-2009, 03:32 AM   #13
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pics broke?
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kh15 View Post
pics broke?
no, pics are fine. sometimes they just take a few seconds to load
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:09 PM   #15
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just added new info in post #3
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Old 02-18-2009, 07:02 PM   #16
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apologies for being such a noob, but i bought a new-to-me 02 wrx last week (yay!!!) with an STI piston shift knob but the threads on the plastic bit are stripped. sucks when it goes rolling across the floor as i'm going for second on an on-ramp. anyway, "first: do no harm" so didn't want to plug the thing with dev-con, duct tape, or chewing gum. does anyone know the plastic part i need to replace or have a solution that won't render things permanently fixed (for just in case). i read all the threads. thanks for your attention, folks. and wow. lathe werks, huh? great stuff.
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Old 02-19-2009, 01:16 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valueape View Post
apologies for being such a noob, but i bought a new-to-me 02 wrx last week (yay!!!) with an STI piston shift knob but the threads on the plastic bit are stripped. sucks when it goes rolling across the floor as i'm going for second on an on-ramp. anyway, "first: do no harm" so didn't want to plug the thing with dev-con, duct tape, or chewing gum. does anyone know the plastic part i need to replace or have a solution that won't render things permanently fixed (for just in case). i read all the threads. thanks for your attention, folks. and wow. lathe werks, huh? great stuff.
I do not know where to get the replacement plastic part, if its even possible. See if you can somehow get metal threads in the knob if you want to keep the same one, otherwise you may have the same problem again later on.

~Chris
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Old 02-19-2009, 07:22 PM   #18
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thanks chris. actually, the threads in the knob are titanium. but the adaptive thread cap that goes on the actual shift rod is plastic and those threads are gone. it's part of some sort of conversion from the stock shifter to the STI knob. i'll call some service centers and figure something out. thanks for your help. -Noah
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Old 02-20-2009, 10:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valueape View Post
thanks chris. actually, the threads in the knob are titanium. but the adaptive thread cap that goes on the actual shift rod is plastic and those threads are gone. it's part of some sort of conversion from the stock shifter to the STI knob. i'll call some service centers and figure something out. thanks for your help. -Noah
Ok good luck with it. Please post your results here so others can solve this problem too
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Old 03-19-2009, 02:59 AM   #20
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For those who live in Arizona desert...

When the ambient temp gets over 110 F in Arizona summer, you can imagine how hot it gets in the car. The metal knob absorbs all the heat and it will really burn your hand. I used to have one and I quickly switched to a leather knob.

Just a little thing to be aware of when choosing your knob.
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:35 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hklatte View Post
For those who live in Arizona desert...

When the ambient temp gets over 110 F in Arizona summer, you can imagine how hot it gets in the car. The metal knob absorbs all the heat and it will really burn your hand. I used to have one and I quickly switched to a leather knob.

Just a little thing to be aware of when choosing your knob.
Several ways to avoid this:

1) Copolymer knob
2) Leather or alcantara-wrapped knob
3) Driving gloves
4) Knob protector bootie
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Old 05-15-2009, 10:09 AM   #22
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Chris,

I have been using your aluminum sphere for several months now. I live in the NW so the temperature isn't so much of an issue for me, though I do have driving gloves if I choose to use them. I really like the product, and your fitment is spot on. Keep up the good work. I will likely contact you down the road for a heavier weight option.

Travis
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Old 07-08-2009, 03:10 PM   #23
ranger_spider
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good luck!
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Old 09-30-2009, 04:49 PM   #24
nrowensby
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Do you have any photos of the different colored polyco?
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Old 10-29-2009, 11:26 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrowensby View Post
Do you have any photos of the different colored polyco?
Copolymer?

I have in stock:

  • Black Copolymer (2.25" diameter max)
  • White Copolymer (2.25" diameter max)
  • Gray Copolymer (2" diameter max)
  • Red Copolymer (2" diameter max)
  • Blue Copolymer (2" diameter max)
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