Rocky Mountain Driveline balances OE replacement and performance segments

Denver—When Scott Farley sees his signature black oval sticker with flames on cars at hot rod shows and 4x4 events, he said he knows his marketing dollars are well spent.  Although performance and off-road remanufactured driveshafts only make up 20 percent of sales, he said it gives him and his son, Blake, great exposure for their business, Rocky Mountain Driveline.

 

Armed with years of driveshaft experience, Farley said he convinced the former owner of Rocky Mountain Driveline to expand his CV axle remanufacturing business to include driveshafts in the late 1990s. The father-son duo now owns and operates the northwest Denver business, catering to a wide variety of customers for a number of applications, all the while maintaining a small-shop feel.   

 

Farley, a hot rod enthusiast, said he often takes to the road in his 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, spreading the word about his business at local club gatherings.  When customers find him at the shop, he said it’s his intent to make sure they feel at home with personal service.

 

“I wanted a place people can go to, like a ‘mom and pop’ shop,” Farley said, which was the goal when he purchased the business in 2005.  “Greeting customers right away goes a long way.”

 

The shop’s 19 employees are divided into two departments, he said, one for CV axles and the other for driveshafts, which allows for a consistent, quality end product.

 

Wholesale outbound deliveries, he said, account for the majority of business, mainly OE replacement reman shafts and CV axles. To cater to this segment, he said he stocks 1,800 remanufactured CV axles, ranging in applications from Honda, Subaru, and Toyota to the Oldsmobile Toronado, one of the first front-wheel-drive cars.  A good working supply of Spicer and Neapco parts helps with quick turnaround times, he added.  

 

A big portion of the passenger driveshaft business is for a two-piece shaft found in the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne.  A pattern failure for both, he said, is when the driveshaft carrier bearing fails due to vibration, which typically occurs at 60,000-80,000 miles.

 

“It’s a design flaw, mainly because they’re not balanced,” he said, adding “you never see weights on them from the factory.” 

 

Another significant segment is with Chrysler shafts, he said, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, and Dodge Dakota. The shop’s builders use an Axiline Shaftmaster balancer to finish each job, he added.

 

For 4x4 vehicles with a three-inch lift or more, a driveshaft modification is needed, Farley said.  If the application is still in place, it will start to vibrate and simply fall apart because the cancellation angle is too severe. 

 

“Everything is designed in a working position at the factory,” he said.  “Any kind of lift will create movement.”

 

For more extreme 4x4 applications, Farley said he offers a high-travel “slip-and-stub” style driveshaft for rock crawlers.  The shaft can accommodate 12 inches of travel when a suspension flexes, he said, where a stock shaft would flex, causing excess stress, and eventually fall apart.

 

The slip-and-stub application also works for low-riders that bounce their cars with hydraulics, he noted.  

 

Many 4x4 customers walk in seeking those types of shafts for their rigs, he said, several of whom are technicians by day and weekend off-road enthusiasts.  “Guys who work on their own Jeeps know everything about them,” he added.  

 

At the time of the interview, a front slip-and-stub shaft for a Ford Expedition with four-inch travel was painted and ready to be picked up. 

 

Six trucks make deliveries along the Front Range from Castle Rock to Loveland and out to Aurora, Farley said.  For Western Slope and Wyoming customers, he said he uses Pony Express.

 

Lately, the younger Farley said, they’ve been attracting more people through their website, who then call in for orders.  Additional exposure is achieved through Facebook, he added.  Future plans include an e-commerce section of their website, he said, allowing customers to purchase products online.  

 

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.