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Old 05-12-2015, 08:20 AM   #1
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1985 32.5' Airstream 325
South Berwick , Maine
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Front air bags- safety concern?

I have a 50 mile trip planned this weekend for my son's birthday, and am looking for opinions on whether my '85 325 is safe to drive with deflated front airbags. It's all flat highway driving.
When I took it out of storage this year, the left front bag had a leak, and I don't have time to get it replaced before the weekend.

Does anyone know of a parts supplier that would stock an OEM air bag, or have a good part number for this application? The P30 chassis manual lists two numbers, one for the 16,500lb chassis, and one for the smaller ones, and I'm not sure which this is. I'd rather not pay the shop $80/hour to research and buy the part.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:23 AM   #2
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Firestone 4100 Coil-Rite Air Bags - Chevy P30 Motorhome Class A ...
http://www.sdtrucksprings.com/firest...t-chevy-p30-19...
Order Firestone 4100 Coil-Rite air springs for Chevy Class A Motorhome online or ... Class A - Firestone "Coil-Rite" Air Bag Helper Springs (NO-DRILL) [FRONT] ...
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Old 05-12-2015, 09:24 AM   #3
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Airlift is another brand, multiple suppliers. Google p30 front air bags.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:50 AM   #4
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1982 28' Airstream 280
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I replaced mine with Air Lift 1000. I got them at SD Truck Springs.

1963-1999 Chevrolet P-30, P-32 Motorhome - Air Lift 1000 Air Helper Springs [FRONT] [81560] | $82.46 | SD Truck Springs | Leaf Springs, Helper Springs and Suspension Parts

I got them for $81.52 about five/six years ago. I see they have gone up to $82.46

When I originally picked up the motorhome from my dad's house in Eugene OR and drove it down Hwy 5 to Redding CA, one of the airbags wouldn't hold any air at all. I kept my speed at 55.

Before I replaced the bags, I had to drive a few round trips into town and back, about 100 miles round trip. I made it ok but drove cautiously. Once I replaced the bags, I could immediately tell the difference in handling.

Its better to replace, but I have had experience driving without them.
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:04 PM   #5
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No front air bags will cause the springs to crash into the rubber bump stops rather violently when you hit any pavement issues.

Ordinarily I would not worry about it too much for a short trip, however, the P30 chassis and front suspension is not too sturdy on those units. When I had my '83 310 I had repeated alignment issues. The excellent truck alignment shop I took it to said that my front end was slowly bending and that they had about reached the limit of the shimming they could do to compensate. They said the only real repair would be a new (something) which was the major metal parts that held the front end up. It was (and 10 years ago) some what unclear to me, but the shop has a sterling reputation and I don't doubt for a moment what they were saying.

Bottom line, don't push your suspension too hard, it is not bulletproof on the P30 chassis of that era.
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Old 05-12-2015, 12:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alechemist View Post
When I took it out of storage this year, the left front bag had a leak, and I don't have time to get it replaced before the weekend.

driving gently with both bags equally empty, and you'll be bouncy but OK. however, you'll also be stressing what's left of your coil springs, which, if original, are probably shot, too.

if that is so, you're way better off abandoning the air bags, and replacing the coils with ones that are correctly sized to the actual weight of your coach. look up Supersteer Products | Henderson's Line-Up Brake & RV Inc..

it's way more money than the bags, but much better spent. we speak from firsthand experience on this, and have an unused, uninstalled set of Airlift 1000 bags on the shelf....
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Old 05-12-2015, 01:01 PM   #7
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I think the bottom line is that driving the rig without the air bags is not going to make you crash. It may however cause damage to other components on the front end. So its a personal decision. For me, having done a great deal of work on the front end of my 310 and still have more to do, i wouldnt put it on the road without the bags in place and inflated. Unless I was faced with a situation on the road where I had a failure and needed to get it to a shop. But thats just me. Ive read many instances of people driving many miles without the bags in place or even knowing that they HAD air bag assist suspension.

Mike
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:02 PM   #8
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For what it's worth, they are quick and easy to install. I did mine in about an hour including pulling out the old deteriorated ones. Essentially you deflate them and twist them up into the spring through the hole in the bottom, then connect air lines. You don't have to remove anything but the old airbags...


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Old 05-12-2015, 10:19 PM   #9
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1985 32.5' Airstream 325
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Thanks. I went ahead and ordered the Airlift 1000 set. I'll install them tomorrow.
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:23 PM   #10
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1985 32.5' Airstream 325
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$90 on Amazon, next day shipping. I was going to put it off until I found out how quick they are to install.
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:53 AM   #11
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Here is where I state my controversial opinion again. I have driven thousands (overall approximately 22,000) of miles in two AS 34' motorhomes over the last 7 years without air bags in the front suspension. I have never had the suspension crash into bump stops, or any other sign of bottoming out.
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