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Homebrew Air Ride? Anyone done it?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Harrison, Apr 19, 2009.

  1. boostcaddy
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 43

    boostcaddy
    Member

    I really didnt have to drain it often at all checked it every couple weeks.
     
  2. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    kustombuilder
    Member
    from Novi, MI


    every kit i sell comes with a petcock for the tank. it is recommended you drain it often. an inline filter comes with the higher end engine driven compressor kits but is always a good idea... if your valves get too wet for too long they will eventually corrode and fail.




    looks like you did a realy nice job. the before pictures look like pro work compared to some of the garbage i've had to fix over the years. some people can be realy stupid/lazy/cheap. i don't screw around when it comes to suspension safety... it's the stuff like your before pics that gives air ride a bad rap. if it is installed properly with quality components if can be very reliable and just as safe as the factory suspension.
     
  3. dnnflamess
    Joined: Dec 29, 2008
    Posts: 37

    dnnflamess
    Member
    from el paso tx

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to hide airbags on a car with no hood or fenders? I'm also going to run an I-beam front Axel. I'd like to do it correctly and for it to look at least nice. I really don't think that those big rubber balloons are very nice looking.
    I have put some thought in to this, but I have no experience with this stuff. If Fatman Fabrications makes an IFS conversion kit for solid axle cars( chop the axle in half an weld in a pivot point in the middle ). Why couldn't you modify the shock mounts on the axle closer to the middle then stuff the air bags or maybe air bag/shock combo's between the radiator and a grill.

    ( http://www.fatmanfab.com/catalogpage.php?page=2 )

    pic closer to the bottom of the page.
     
  4. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    kustombuilder
    Member
    from Novi, MI



    i have no opinion on ride quality of different bags. i use Airlift because i have a long standing relationship with the company. i've ridden in many vehicles with Firestone bags and a couple with other manufacturers. i've noticed little to no difference in ride quality due to the actual bag. in my opinion they are all going to ride quite similarly when your comparing the same style and size bag from one manufacturer to another.
    where you can get a better ride is in the installation and suspension design. you, obviously have more options in the rear of most cars. you can effect the ride by where you place the bag. in front, on top or behind the axle. there is no wrong location as long as the bag is allowed to cycle properly without making contact with anything what so ever.
    the style of bag you use will also effect your ride. a single convoluted bag, by design, will ride softer than a double convoluted or "bellows" style bag. you can't always fit a single convoluted bag though and they are not typically appropriate for front suspension use. largely due to clearance issues.

    the only real problems i've been made aware of on the bag over shock systems (Airlift does have their own line of these) is that you are more limited in your travel than most standard bags. this may or may not pose a problem in your particular installation but if you plan to have your vehicle lay frame but also need to get mega lift in order to have tire clearance for turning you might want to reconsider using bag over shocks.

    i know some it was kind of vague but you will run into different problems on different vehicle and compromises sometimes have to be made but as far as bag selection goes once you have decided on a style i would go with the more durable bag and this is where i need to plug Airlift's new DOMINATOR bags. i've seen the testing first hand and can honestly say that these are the most durable bags your likely to find. they are light years ahead of the old Airlift bags that had such a bad rap and equally better than any other bag on the market.

    below are the new AirLfit DOMINATOR 2500 bags and the Airlift Sleeve bags, aka "rolling lobes".
     

    Attached Files:

  5. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    kustombuilder
    Member
    from Novi, MI




    check this out:
    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=170203&highlight=air+ride

    never used it or ridden in a car that has but i like the design. i believe it is Cen-Pen that is also making a similar setup.
     
  6. boostcaddy
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 43

    boostcaddy
    Member

    Thanks and I agree with you 100%.
     
  7. kustomizingkid
    Joined: Sep 6, 2008
    Posts: 225

    kustomizingkid
    Member

    You want to do it CHEAP look to

    93-98 Lincoln Mark VIII's
    95-96 Lincoln Continentals

    They have 4 wheel air ride....
     
  8. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,931

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    I'm building a phantom 27T truck with the Cen Pen cross member and a tube axle. I'm a fair way from completion, but it looks like a good deal (sure hope so). I chose this design because the bags are small and unlike some of the split beam designs, I'll get no camber change when the front is raised or lowered.

    You can see my build by going to my photo albums or searching the main site for "27x" - or use this link

    http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=303648&highlight=project+27x


    Thanx guys for the water filter tips.... Keep them coming! Gary
     
  9. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,931

    gnichols
    Member
    from Tampa, FL

    Thanx... I was at Lowe's today and found a small, inexpensive Kobalt brand filter that was rated at 150 psi. The bowl capacity was not that great, but I think (could be wrong) it had some sort of semi-auto drain function. The drain plug was spring loaded. Under pressure, it would be pushed down and stay closed. Without pressure, it would rise and then let water / sediments drain out. There was even a place to attache a drain hose so you could run it out the body work / floor.

    I'm thinking of getting two of them as they were only about 12 bucks. I'd install one before the tank and one before the solenoids (in addition to installing a drain petcock in the tank itself). Cheap insurance and especially neat if they will drain themselves! Still doing my research... Gary
     
  10. yup, used rubber bags sitting in a junkyard for who knows how long sounds like a great deal, and safe too !
     

  11. I have a 53 dodge pilot house truck, straight axle etc.
    a local shop said they could bag and leave the main leaf of the springs for axle locating, basically remove all from the pack but the main leaf.
    Your comments on this please and thanks for all your input, I for one appreciate your knowledge and experience and willing to help.
    Thanks again.
     
  12. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,555

    zman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Garner, NC

    Air over leaf. I've used it on the rear a couple times, I've even got a kit sitting in the shop right now. Never used it on the front though.
     
  13. yeah, I wasnt going to have them do it, I was just wondering, seems like it would work well enough to keep the axle where it belongs although probably limited to how much drop etc etc
     
  14. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    kustombuilder
    Member
    from Novi, MI


    i seriously do not recommend the bag over leaf systems. there are many safety concerns including axle wrap in the rear suspension. your leaf spring is designed to carry the weight of the car on ALL of it's leaves. if you remove all but one or two you are severely weakening that link between your axle and your frame. it is a worse case scenario but imagine what would happen if your main leaf broke going down the expressway. granted the bags are carrying much of the weight but you are now putting the leaf through more travel than it was meant to and putting it through that extreme travel alot more often.
    i had a car years ago with bag over leafs and the ride was HORRIBLE. when i bought the thing it even had air shocks instead of air bags to lift it up off the axle. it was a mess! ended up breaking a shock mount the very first time i had a back seat passenger. i slipped the bags in the rear and did not do a link because i was young and broke and short on time and needed it back up and running. i wished i had done a link system right up until the day i sold the car.

    i don't think you would have quite as much issue in the front but the same rules and concerns apply. perhaps if the main leaves were brand new i'd be less concerned about the leaves fatiguing and breaking. i worked in a spring shop for a few years and learned alot about leaf springs and metal fatigue.
    if it was me i think i'd have a spring shop make me a main leaf and a number 2 leaf with a wrap at each end. basicly the second leaf would be as long as the main leaf but with a hook at each end that would wrap around the spring eye. that way, even if the main leaf broke, the main leaf would be held together by the second leaf. it's quite common on big trucks... anyways. i'd have these leaves made from steel the same thickness or maybe just thinner. have them made with a realy low or even a slightly negative arch.
     
  15. BLAINE 816
    Joined: Jan 6, 2007
    Posts: 243

    BLAINE 816
    Member

    BRIGRAT; I think your grannys packard had torsion bars.
     
  16. brigrat
    Joined: Nov 9, 2007
    Posts: 5,360

    brigrat
    Member
    from Wa.St.

    I was very little than but I remember that when you filled the trunk up with weight you could hear an electric kinda sound and the rear would level out. Don't know if it was electric, hydraulic, air, or?
     
  17. JRODHOTROD
    Joined: Mar 23, 2006
    Posts: 440

    JRODHOTROD
    Member
    from Manor, TX

    Look in semi trucks at the bone yard. Many had stewart warner gauges.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. sergisbadass
    Joined: Jan 17, 2008
    Posts: 25

    sergisbadass
    Member
    from Dallas TX

    no offense taken i have gotten all my tabs and such ready for the shocks just got to pull my head out my ass and put the damn things on
     
  19. kirkabilly
    Joined: Aug 4, 2008
    Posts: 40

    kirkabilly
    Member
    from Escalon

    Shocks are good... Have spent a lot of time installing them on cars other shops said they couldnt be installed on.
     
  20. kirkabilly
    Joined: Aug 4, 2008
    Posts: 40

    kirkabilly
    Member
    from Escalon

    The Packard had toersion bars and I believe an electric load leveling setup.... I uninstalled it and bagged my 55....
     
  21. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    kustombuilder
    Member
    from Novi, MI

    electric load leveling torsion bars. i like it. i have to admit that is a new one on me.
     
  22. HRK-hotrods
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 922

    HRK-hotrods
    Member

    I've never bought a kit. I shopped around, found the best price I could on the bags(I used Firestone #2600's @$65 ea), bought the valves on Ebay(8- 1/2" port valves for $225), I had a York 210R compressor laying around (free) and a friend works for a truck junkyard, he got me 2 used 7 gallon aluminum airtanks off a Mack with 6 - 1/2" ports each and a serpentine belt clutch/coil for my York for $50. For airline, I used 5/8" stainless steel tubing with stainless steel swaged fittings(buddy of mine works for Sunoco, freebie fittings). I ran 1/2"ID hydraulic hose inside the framrails and a 300 PSI aircompressor guage inside. I wired up power window switches from the junkyard for my switches. I built my own 4 link (triangulated and cantilevered) and my bag cups for the front.

    Never once did I have a failure with my system nor did it leak air. All said and done, I had less than $800 into my system, and it was fast and reliable and performed flawlessly. I operated my system at around 180-200 psi(heavy truck) and if I was "playing", sometimes I would take it to 300psi.

    On a side note, if you are going to run stainless tubing and an engine driven compressor, make sure to get a braided stainless steel high temp/pressure leader hose to come off your compressor. If you don't, you will stress the tubing and it will crack. Spend the $25 and get a hose made.
     
  23. displacedokie
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 82

    displacedokie
    Member
    from oklahoma

    hey do you have a place called perfection trucks there they sale the bags for cheap me and a buddy of mine used them when we put together air ride for cars had air on my 94 ext cab chevy and on my 95 caprice classic very easy to do just dont buy the cylinder style bags go for the double baloon bags the mini style for whats on big rigs
     
  24. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    kustombuilder
    Member
    from Novi, MI


    careful running those pressures in the Firestones. they are only rated for 100psi. i realy don't know what the typical bursting pressure is though. i would just try to keep it under 150psi personally. remember, as you hit bumps and the bag compresses your air pressure spikes. a big enough pothole could put you over the edge. just something to keep in mind. there are bags rated for extreme high pressures if that is what you desire.
    $65 for bags is the going rate most anywhere. i can do a tad better but the mark up is minimal on bags (usualy). your valves are a little cheaper than new but not much. all in all you did'nt do too bad. you did pretty damn good getting an engine driven comp for nothin. real good score.
    for a few more total dollars i could have gotten you a complete kit with a warranty. no engine driven comp though. thats a bunch more money. those are over $700 alone last i looked. you can get them cheaper in combination with the complete kit as an upgrade.
    sounds like you "cobbled" together a nicer kit than most i've seen. At least your not using galvanized pipe and ball valves! :eek: LOL ;)

    VERY good advice on the braided stainless leader hose. i take it you learned that one the hard way?? :D most people don't give that one much thought so you would'nt be the first by a long shot.
     
  25. displacedokie
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 82

    displacedokie
    Member
    from oklahoma

    they usually blow at about 300 psi or thats how much i could get in them running 1/2 inch hydro hose but everything kustom said is very true and the braided line is the way to go and always carry an extra bag with you or a block of wood
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  26. Rodicus
    Joined: Jun 13, 2006
    Posts: 26

    Rodicus
    Member

    As someone who is designing an airbag setup right now, this thread has given me lots of great info. One thing I have been trying to find is air spring height vs. load at a range of pressures for the more common bags. I know ContiTech publishes this info (example: http://www.contiairbag.com/2Ply2500.pdf). I also really like the fact that they publish spring rate and natural frequency at various pressures.

    Does anyone know where to find similar info for other manufacturers such as Firestone, Airlift, etc?

    With this information plus sprung front weight estimate, you can design the system to the exact ride height wanted, no guesswork involved. Also a lower natural frequency =~ "better" ride, whereas a higher frequency will get you a stiffer (more sporting) suspension at the cost of ride quality. Mine will end up on the stiffer side.

    For those interested, I bought a crossmember setup from hammerndollie and I am designing the front end around it. Project is a '32 pickup, with a '32 axle dropped 4". I can say that this is a very nice product...great quality workmanship for the price.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  27. aldixie
    Joined: May 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,642

    aldixie
    Member

    I have a spare tank and four valves if anyone needs them.
     
  28. kustombuilder
    Joined: Sep 18, 2002
    Posts: 7,754

    kustombuilder
    Member
    from Novi, MI


    i wish i knew. that would be very helpful information indeed.
     
  29. Airlift sent me this upon request.
    Although it's interesting information, I've learned from here that you really want the bag as short as possible wothout bottoming out. I just havent fully tested this out just yet ;)
     

    Attached Files:

  30. kirkabilly
    Joined: Aug 4, 2008
    Posts: 40

    kirkabilly
    Member
    from Escalon

    Ok... so the packard had torsions all the way around, and an electric motor attached to some sort of something that leveled the car... what was it??? ​
     

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