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Better ride adding air bags

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randallandchris

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Better ride adding air bags
« on: December 01, 2016, 04:58:18 pm »
Anyone add or know someone added rear air bags?  Looking at Kelderman 2-stage rear suspension,  seems should work better than just adding helper air bags as the Firestone or others.

https://kelderman.com/shop/2011-e-350-cutaway-2-stage-rear-air-suspension

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Ron Dittmer

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2016, 05:13:44 pm »
Hi randallandchris,

Here are my thoughts and experience.

Adding the Firestone style of air bags to the stock suspension will toughen the suspension, making the ride rougher.  I say this from my experience with "added" air bags in our first motor home.  Because that rig had no rear stabilizer bar of any kind and no such bar available, the air bags were used to improve stability.  Putting in lots of air for best stability, the rear lifted 3" and the ride was very rough.  So I would add more air only when conditions called for it.  Otherwise I kept the minimum in for a softer ride.  I was able to adjust it while driving.

"Replacing" the rear leaf spring suspension with a full air ride suspension is designed to improve the quality of the ride, making it more comfortable.  The problem with these types of suspensions is that if there is a failure with an air leak of any kind, the vehicle is incapacitated.

Where I volunteer as a mechanic, our church receives donated hotel shuttle buses with full air ride suspension failures.  When I see one, I always think...."Not For Me".  I much prefer the bullet-proof reliability of the stock leaf spring suspension.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 05:25:39 pm by ron.dittmer »
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randallandchris

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2016, 05:42:54 pm »
Thanks Ron I suspected helper air bags could hurt ride quality.

The Kelderman air bag unhooks a leaf spring shackle from the frame to combine them and first compress the air bag reserving the spring for larger bumps.  No idea if it works as advertised.

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Ron Dittmer

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2016, 07:18:38 pm »
From your comment, the Kelderman system sounds like a hybrid utilizing both leaf springs & air bags within the same system.  I don't know what to think about that.

Someone on another RV forum brought Sulastic Shackles to my attention.  Watch the video on that website.  I really like their simplistic method for reducing road vibration & jolting but wonder how well they really work for motor homes.  I also wonder how well they hold up to the weight of a motor home over the years.  $400 is a bit much for me to perform a multi-year experiment.  I would be willing to try a free pair and report to you all how effective they are  :)

Anyone from Sulastic reading this?  :) :) :)
« Last Edit: December 01, 2016, 07:34:48 pm by ron.dittmer »
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RheaNL

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2016, 08:08:12 pm »
We have added the standard air bags to the rear springs on our 2100. The goal was to raise the tail which it did by about 3". As Ron said, the ride is rougher. We feel it the most on sudden rod hazards--pot holes, speed bumps, drain ditches and the like. Not so much on just rough roads like gravel. We live with it because when fully loaded it had serious tail drag.

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bhgareau

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2016, 08:41:24 pm »
We have a 2400. Almost anyone we consulted with about the effects on ride height and ride quality recommended adding one or more leafs to the rear spring set instead of air bags. We had a suspension shop add at a leaf to each side four years ago. We have been very happy with the ride and extra 1.5 in of ride height. It was a relatively cheap and simple solution. There was no noticeable effect on handling.

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Ron Dittmer

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2016, 08:55:07 pm »
We have a 2400. Almost anyone we consulted with about the effects on ride height and ride quality recommended adding one or more leafs to the rear spring set instead of air bags. We had a suspension shop add at a leaf to each side four years ago. We have been very happy with the ride and extra 1.5 in of ride height. It was a relatively cheap and simple solution. There was no noticeable effect on handling.
I like that idea.....a lot!
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Michelle Dungan

Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2016, 02:33:39 am »
Similar issues; different era: My parent's 5th tow-vehicle was a '73 Buick Electra Limited towing the 3rd trailer, a '77 Ideal 21 1/2 footer.  Dad and I installed Air Lift Poly-Aire bags into the rear coils to provide a slight lift to restore the inch or two lost due to the weight of the heavy equilizer hitch reciever, hitch, and a few items in the trunk in order to level it before hitching up and using the spring bars only to maintain the same vehicle attitude with the addition of the trailer tongue weight.  These vehicles were undersprung unless one had a trailer-towing package, which this one didn't.  With the right amount of air, and spring bars adjusted for whether one had full propane and water tank (inside and also near front) at the time vs. a few days later with a full holding tank in the rear, ride and handling were extremely good, also due to the heavy Buick's very low center of gravity.  But, after dealing with air bag tubing that would somehow chafe and leak no matter how I mounted and routed it, and air bags that eventually did the same due to our only needing a little more inflation than the minimum required to prevent chafing, we gave up on them.  I concluded the best thing would have been rear coils slightly stiffer and taller, just enough to make up for the additional weight of the hitch receiver, etc. identified above.  Too much air easily made for an overly tall rear ride height and even though air is progressive in firmness, it exceeded the damping ability of the shocks and would make the rear of the car bounce like a dribbled basketball.  Ultimately, a 3/4 ton '82 Suburban was purchased due to the Buick's chronic overheating issues, and the firm suspension of the Suburban, and no air bags, air shocks (an earlier experiment in the '60's), etc. made hookups easy and not in need of constant adjustment, tinkering, and repair.  

I'm no expert, but would guess that the addition of a very thin but highly arched leaf would aid the PCs, and not add too much firmness or too much ride height.  You're probably only needing to make a fully loaded vehicle have the same effective spring rate as the dry one, and restore ride height to what it was when dry, plus another inch for good measure since many report their E-350-based units sag about an inch or so.  On most with an E-450, I couldn't imagine any more firmness (effective spring rate) being desirable except on the heaviest models, and ride height change needs would be mixed.  So, talk with a good spring shop or someone else who also deals with suspension changes and go over your options, which might be supplemental air systems, additional leafs, re-arching of your existing leaf springs or some combination of above, or completely new, different leaf springs.  On my father's '97 Roadtrek (Dodge Ram Van 2500), Roadtrek originally added one thin leaf to the driver's side where more weight is.  According to some experts, some of these had it, some didn't.  So, all things are possible.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2016, 03:31:40 pm by Michelle Dungan »

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David Rotelle

Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2016, 10:43:03 am »
Although we have enjoyed the way our Ford E350 and E450's have handled and driven over the years I have always struggled with what I would call a rough ride particularly in the rear of the Coach.
I would describe it as a sharp jolt over highway seems etc. We first noticed this on our 2005 Born Free 24rb. The Born Free had factory shocks and Firestone Air Bags installed when the Coach was built by Born Free. I replaced the rear shocks with Bilstein comfort shocks which I felt provided minor improvement.

The second Born Free we owned was a 2007 27rb model also built on the E450.  This Coach road rougher by far than our previous Born Free 24rb. We tired several things to improve the ride. The first was to take it to a commercial suspension shop to have the leaf springs re-arched, this made little or no improvement. Born Free began installing Super Spring helper springs on all of their new coaches to replace their air bags. The Super Springs were getting better reviews than the Air Bags so we decided to give them a try. I felt the Super Springs helped the ride some but I felt there was minimal improvement. One thing that I really liked about the Super Springs was the extra two inches of clearance we received in the rear of the Coach.

We installed the Super Springs as well as Bilstein Comfort shocks front and rear on our first Phoenix Cruiser 2351. The ride in the Phoenix Cruiser was noticeably better than our previous Born Frees and because our 2351 was built on the E350 I was really glad for the extra clearance the Super Springs provided.

On our current Phoenix Cruiser 2910 I installed four Koni FSD shocks and Air Bags. Although the air bags require fine tuning I like the fact that you can adjust the coach's suspension from side to side.

I realize how a coach is perceived to handle and ride can be a matter of opinion. However I do (think?) that our 2910 with the current set up rides considerably better than our previous coaches.

Again, this is just one persons opinion based on our experiences. Although I would love to take all the jarring out of the ride, I can safely say I am not cringing as much when I see a large highway seem looming in the distance.....

Dave
 
« Last Edit: December 02, 2016, 01:35:57 pm by David Rotelle »

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PawPaw

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2016, 08:48:49 pm »
what kind of air bags did u add to your 2910?

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SweetWaterSurprise

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2016, 10:28:36 pm »
I have the full Kelderman airbag setup for the rear of my PC.  It does help with the ride massively, but also allows me to level the RV and lower/raise it for towing.  I also have bags in my front springs.  I do a lot of beach driving and they helped with the bounce that comes from driving in choppy sand.  My rig is 4X4 so I also have all new Bilstein shocks all around. 
« Last Edit: December 02, 2016, 10:33:20 pm by SweetWaterSurprise »

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SweetWaterSurprise

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2016, 10:31:14 pm »
Hi randallandchris,


"Replacing" the rear leaf spring suspension with a full air ride suspension is designed to improve the quality of the ride, making it more comfortable.  The problem with these types of suspensions is that if there is a failure with an air leak of any kind, the vehicle is incapacitated.



Although I agree having a leak in my rear bags was terrible, my RV was not incapacitated.  It rode very low in the rear but I was able to get home over an hours drive from the beach.  I had an air line burst and cause full pressure loss.  The RV kinda looked like an old school Gasser, riding high upfront because of my 4X4 set up.  New lines the next day and I was back in business.

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David Rotelle

Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2016, 11:05:28 pm »
PawPaw,

I installed Firestone Air Bags on our 2910.

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randallandchris

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2016, 09:32:00 am »
I have the full Kelderman airbag setup for the rear of my PC.  It does help with the ride massively, but also allows me to level the RV and lower/raise it for towing.  I also have bags in my front springs.

Were the rear leaf springs removed or is it the 2-stage setup connecting their rear shackles to the air bag mechanism as shown in the pic in the Kelderman link?  Thanks.

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Ron Dittmer

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Re: Better ride adding air bags
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2016, 03:10:53 pm »
Has anyone here ever performed this experiment?  With your spouse driving your PC on a smooth interstate highway, lay on your back on the floor with your head resting right over the rear axle.

I did that to get a better feel for road vibration being transferred to the motor home through the rear suspension.  Of coarse the results can vary depending on how much air (or extra air) you put into your rear tires.  In our case, I feel "tires-on-road" with the back of my head on the vinyl floor.  I wonder if the Sulastic Shackles I previously mentioned would remove most of it.  If that vibration could be stifled, maybe our house & contents would enjoy the ride much better.
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