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 > Let's talk air bags...

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zzyzxpat

California

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Posted: 01/17/22 05:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2020 F350 SRW 2020 AF865 4200/11,200# mildly loaded. I installed bags when I first got the truck, ran them at about 60# to keep the truck level, ok but not great. Then I installed 2" bumper blocks to get the overload spring to engage earlier, they would not engage in stock form with the camper on even with zero pressure in the bags. Now with the blocks, with 20# of air, the overloads are engaged, and the bags are helping to keep the truck level, rides great with OE shocks, which I will change out someday.

Avid Fox

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Posted: 01/22/22 01:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had airbags on my old 2005 F250 4x4 and Lance 845 combo. This was the suggestion of the dealer I bought the camper from.

I found them to work fine for leveling up, however it was also like riding on top of a squirrelly beach ball, and adding a huge rear sway bar and rancho adj shocks didn't help. It simply unloaded all the metal springs and carried the weight on the airbags. Great for a trailer tow but horrible for a camper.

No more airbags for me.

JimK-NY

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Posted: 01/22/22 06:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Avid Fox wrote:

I had airbags on my old 2005 F250 4x4 and Lance 845 combo. This was the suggestion of the dealer I bought the camper from.

I found them to work fine for leveling up, however it was also like riding on top of a squirrelly beach ball, and adding a huge rear sway bar and rancho adj shocks didn't help. It simply unloaded all the metal springs and carried the weight on the airbags. Great for a trailer tow but horrible for a camper.

No more airbags for me.


Yup, "riding on top of a squirrelly beach ball." That matches my experience with airbags.

Grit dog

Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 01/22/22 07:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There’s a balance between too much and not enough air.
If you were riding a beach ball, you didn’t figure that out or you had way too much camper for the truck.


2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
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adamis

Northern California

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Posted: 01/23/22 10:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have to agree with Grit Dog, never experienced that effect, in fact, quite the opposite. If I am on a twisty mountain road I will inflate the airbags higher then usual to help eliminate body roll in the curves. Does wonders in that situation.

I am wondering if you just over inflated the air bags such that they unload the rear leaf springs entirely. That would have the effect you are describing I think.

Airbags are designed to assist the suspension, not replace it.


1999 F350 Dually with 7.3 Diesel
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JimK-NY

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Posted: 01/23/22 01:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have no idea why we see such different results with airbags. The dealer put mine in the 50# range. They did a great job of leveling the suspension but the sway was horrible. I tried different pressure and found that low pressures in the 15# range helped somewhat with level. The ride was better but still bad. I had to bump up the Rancho shocks to the highest settings and then had a very harsh ride. Tar strips on the roads hit hard. I drove for a couple of years and then got Supersprings and dumped the bags. The ride was greatly improved with little sway and I was able to lower the shock settings to a medium level.

I had a 4000# camper on the back of a 2500 Ram so about 7500# on the rear axle. Now I have a 3500 Ram. I added Timbrens to help level the suspension. The ride is a bit soft but I don't see the need for Supersprings.

Supercharged111

Colorado Springs, CO

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Posted: 01/23/22 02:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JimK-NY wrote:

Avid Fox wrote:

I had airbags on my old 2005 F250 4x4 and Lance 845 combo. This was the suggestion of the dealer I bought the camper from.

I found them to work fine for leveling up, however it was also like riding on top of a squirrelly beach ball, and adding a huge rear sway bar and rancho adj shocks didn't help. It simply unloaded all the metal springs and carried the weight on the airbags. Great for a trailer tow but horrible for a camper.

No more airbags for me.


Yup, "riding on top of a squirrelly beach ball." That matches my experience with airbags.


Did you inflate both bags independently or together? When I add air, my truck gets stiffer.

* This post was edited 01/23/22 03:13pm by Supercharged111 *


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HMS Beagle

Napa, California

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Posted: 01/23/22 05:18pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

There are two common ways airbag helper springs are installed: on top of the leaf springs connecting to brackets hanging out from the frame, or on top of the axle directly underneath the frame rail. The former will maintain the roll resistance (and even increase it if the effective spring rate goes up), while the latter will reduce the roll resistance to the extent they are carrying any weight. That could partially explain why people's experience differs.


Bigfoot 10.4E, 2015 F350 6.7L DRW 2WD, Autoflex Ultra Air Ride rear suspension, Hellwig Bigwig sway bars front and rear

JimK-NY

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Posted: 01/23/22 09:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had simple Firestone airbags that were not connected. The bags sat on the top of the axle and were compressed from above by the frame.

The RV dealer did the initial install and set them to about 50#. I had to drop the pressure way down to suppress some of the sway. Later I stopped at the Northstar RV factory and the owner took a look at them. He set the left side to about 45# and the right side to about 50# claiming that a little slant was best for highway driving due to the crown of the highway. A drive across the parking lot was clear enough and I again dropped the pressure to about 10-15#. I cannot say the ride got stiffer at high pressures. Instead it was more like driving a vehicle with no shocks even though my Ranchos were max'd out.

Anyway, the issues were resolved. My old truck did well with the Supersprings and my new truck does well with the Timbrens.

adamis

Northern California

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Posted: 01/24/22 08:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One thing I have taken for granted is having on onboard air system so I can change the air pressure of the bags from inside the cab with the flip of a switch. I think it is a must for any airbag installation to be practical. Being able to change on the fly due to changing road conditions is what makes airbags useful.

Perhaps the different experiences with airbags is due to why they were installed in the first place. Some here might be in the camp that they have way more camper then their truck can comfortably handle and require the airbags to "level" out the truck and assist the suspension.

Others (and I think I am in this boat) have just enough or more then enough truck for the camper and don't require the airbags to level the ride height (I have fairly minimal sag with camper) and just use the airbags to improve the ride in varying conditions (higher pressures for winding roads, lower pressures for bumpy roads).

Perhaps that is why there have been such different experiences?

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