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Old 11-07-2010, 08:03 AM   #1
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Air Ride Axles

Hopefully I won't need axles for a decade or more, but I was wondering what ya'll think about this. I didn't find any discussion about air ride in the forum search. Did I miss anything?

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Old 11-07-2010, 08:40 AM   #2
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I like the idea of a suspension I can let the air out of. Won't need stabilizer jacks or a fold down step.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:24 AM   #3
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Interesting concept. I like the idea of being able to raise the trailer for more ground clearance when off road.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:42 AM   #4
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Hopefully I won't need axles for a decade or more, but I was wondering what ya'll think about this. I didn't find any discussion about air ride in the forum search. Did I miss anything?

STI Suspension Technology - Air Suspensions | Trailers | Retrofit Axles
I would think, that adjusting the ride heighth without adjusting the ball heighth, could lead to some interesting problems.

How would this affect the weight transfer of the load equalizing hitch?

What would this do to the back end of the tow vehicle? Would it raise it so that the rear drive axle lost traction?

Andy
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:07 AM   #5
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I think that air ride would be great for a trailer. We have been using it for years in the street rod hobby.

I would think that one would want to choose a height at which thy want to tow, and then adnust5 the hitch for that height. Once that is done, no matter the load, the trailer could be put at that height for towing, and then when parked, lowered to what ever height one desires.

When installed on street rods, we always use an on board 12v compressor, usually supplied with the suspension kit, so that you wouldn't need a source for compressed air, or have to be connected to your TV.

Sounds really good to me. That's if you want to be able to adjust the height of the trailer for some reason. Otherwise, a good torsion axle seems to work just fine.
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:49 AM   #6
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There's a thread somewhere with a triple axle spartan manor that utilized air ride axles, IIRC it was an extreme project and would even balance itself without a jack on the tongue.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:05 AM   #7
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I have been running air ride on my 1960 tradewind for 3 years now. I know what air pressure gives me the correct ride height. The biggest advantage is the soft ride of the trailer. When i look in the rear view mirror it looks like the trailer is floating not bouncing. With air ride you must run a sway bar and shock absorbers. I have been installing air ride suspensions on hot rods for years and the trailer was a very easy installation. As a bonus i added air ride to the tow vehicle. Now i do not need leveling bars to get the correct weight balance and ride height.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:25 AM   #8
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I would think, that adjusting the ride heighth without adjusting the ball heighth, could lead to some interesting problems.

How would this affect the weight transfer of the load equalizing hitch?

What would this do to the back end of the tow vehicle? Would it raise it so that the rear drive axle lost traction?

Andy
I would suggest that your travel, on road, high speed trim height should be as spec'ed by AS. And your hitch be adjusted for weight transfer (per scales) as it would for Torsion or leafs. I do not believe this is a substitute for proper loading and TT or TV height adjustments. I see this as a ride quality bonus.

That being said, it would be nice for some adjustability to get into thos hard spots, off road, at LOW speeds.....however, as Andy says, by not changing ball height you could overload one or the other axle and/or it's components (tires).

As for the above comment about air on TT and TV and leveling it out that way.....you are doing nothing to distribute weight. This could be a VERY false sense of security that you're set up right because it "looks" right. I hope you're using the scales effectively??????
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Old 11-07-2010, 01:21 PM   #9
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The big advantage of air ride suspensions is that you can end up with a lower effective spring rate; this reduces road shock a lot so long as the bumps don't exceed the travel of the suspension. Also, the air bags can be replaced w/o changing out the entire axle. Perhaps Airstream should consider using such a suspension system now that their previous axle supplier is out of that business....

I've thought about adding air lifts on our F250 to pick up the rear a bit when we tow the Airstream; this would be more effective that a weight distributing hitch because the long wheelbase of our truck (4x4 crewcab) makes those pretty ineffective... and this would have the added benefit of reducing road shocks, since the leaf springs would be less compressed and in a more supple part of their travel.

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Old 11-07-2010, 04:25 PM   #10
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I would suggest that your travel, on road, high speed trim height should be as spec'ed by AS. And your hitch be adjusted for weight transfer (per scales) as it would for Torsion or leafs. I do not believe this is a substitute for proper loading and TT or TV height adjustments. I see this as a ride quality bonus.

That being said, it would be nice for some adjustability to get into thos hard spots, off road, at LOW speeds.....however, as Andy says, by not changing ball height you could overload one or the other axle and/or it's components (tires).

As for the above comment about air on TT and TV and leveling it out that way.....you are doing nothing to distribute weight. This could be a VERY false sense of security that you're set up right because it "looks" right. I hope you're using the scales effectively??????
Never, never, ever, use the ball height dimension that the factory states.

That dimension, is fresh off the assembly line, with zero pay load.

It does not make "ANY" consideration, nor can it, of how much you may load the trailer.

It also cannot, in any way, determine the aging process of the torsion axles.

The "ONLY" dimension you can use, is the one that you measure for your rig.

Any other rig will not very likely, match what you may have.

Bottom line is measure your "ball height" with your trailer typically loaded for travel.

You may find it surprising to find that your ball height is 2 to 3 inches, "BELOW" the original specs, and even worse than that, if the rubber rods in the torsion axles have exhausted their life.

Measure, and more measure, yours and yours alone.

Andy
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Old 11-07-2010, 05:16 PM   #11
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Never, never, ever, use the ball height dimension that the factory states.

That dimension, is fresh off the assembly line, with zero pay load.

It does not make "ANY" consideration, nor can it, of how much you may load the trailer.

It also cannot, in any way, determine the aging process of the torsion axles.

The "ONLY" dimension you can use, is the one that you measure for your rig.

Any other rig will not very likely, match what you may have.

Bottom line is measure your "ball height" with your trailer typically loaded for travel.

You may find it surprising to find that your ball height is 2 to 3 inches, "BELOW" the original specs, and even worse than that, if the rubber rods in the torsion axles have exhausted their life.

Measure, and more measure, yours and yours alone.

Andy
Andy,

You missed my point, or I didn't state clearly. My point is, don't start with a "low rider" ride height, nor a "High rider" with an eye for off road clearance and take it on the highway. Or, put another way, don't change vertical CG from original design. If 1000 pounds of cargo lowers the trailer 1", with the unit level (hitch height now 1" lower than unladen) with springs or torsion axles...that's where you should be with air. OK, within reason....let's not split hairs.

If I had collapsed torsion axles, I would remove EVERYTHING not original to the trailer, get the original ride height specs, install the air ride axles, note the pressure it takes to achieve OE unladen height.

This would be the baseline. Now, because compression rates probably are not equal between air, torsion and spring axles, there's going to be some SWAGing here, but load everything back in and see where ya are. May need to get some weights and measurements from comparable units to know where laden heights should be. I think we all kinda know where on the tires is the height for healthy torsion axles.

I'm not sure we need to be more particular than that.
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:40 PM   #12
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The more important part of adjustment here is to get the trailer level... whether or not the trailer rides slightly higher or lower doesn't matter. You want the trailer level to get the loads balanced between front and rear axles, although air springs and their reduced spring rate somewhat mitigates the effect of trailer attitude changes.

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Old 11-07-2010, 06:52 PM   #13
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Bart,

You're right. Slightly higher or lower is not that big a deal. I just want to, hopefully, avoid giving the idea to someone that they can correct a variety of sins, or create an "off road, super swamper" and then take it on the highway. I have seen some horrible hack jobs on SOBs and 5th wheels to "level out" ride heights to mate to an inappropriate tow vehicle (usually lifted). IMO makes an incredibly unstable rig.
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:08 PM   #14
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Looks like a really good idea, however because of the tanks being lower than the belly pan on most of the newer Airstreams, I seriously doubt if they would fit.
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