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Old 05-02-2019, 12:30 PM   #1
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1974 Argosy 26
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Airbag assist and shocks for '79 Buick Estate Wagon

Setting up the '79 Buick Estate wagon for towing our '74 26 ft Argosy. Have towed the Argosy with our 1500HD previously. There's a lot to consider re towing with the Wagon and am working on all that also so just want to limit this conversation to the suspension details. The wagon has the full tow package offered that year. It has coil springs and currently has the factory load leveler air shocks which are adjusted by a small compressor. I plan to do away with that as I do not feel those shocks are adequate plus do not wish for the compressor to go out on the road.

So I am currently looking at Airlift 1000 airbags for the coils but am seeing a LOT of options for shocks as can be seen here is this Rock Auto link

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/...+absorber,7556


Am considering the Bilstein B6 or maybe something like the Gabriel or Monroe HD Spring Assists.


Thoughts appreciated!!
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:32 PM   #2
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Really nice looking in that picture. Two classic vehicles in a row!
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:45 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by rmkrum View Post
Really nice looking in that picture. Two classic vehicles in a row!

Thanks Rich, tha's what they use to tow the 60's-70's Airstreams with eh?



Some additional info, I will be using the Blue Ox 750 Weight Distribution and can't really set it up until I have the rear springs and shocks set up right. Also, I'll be addressing the front shocks also.
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Old 05-02-2019, 01:45 PM   #4
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I have nothing to contribute on the suspension - just wanted to say that is a sweet rig!
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Old 05-02-2019, 04:02 PM   #5
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Sweet duo!
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Old 05-02-2019, 04:43 PM   #6
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On that list is a set of spring assist ACDELCO under the heavy duty section. The handling section has Bilstene shocks. Those would be the ones that I would consider and investigate. Would not use air bags. Replace the coils with better sized springs if you need to stiffen the handling.

Leveling - accomplish with weight distribution hitch.

Nice looking rig. Get it together and chase those smiles. Pat
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Old 05-03-2019, 02:13 PM   #7
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You didn't mention if it has an anti sway bar in the rear?
I had a mid 80's park ave 4dr sed that was really mushy handling on the hi way. Went to my local salvage yard and found some old police cars that were chevy caprices, same chassis as the buick. The police vehicles have h.d. sway bars on them and will fit the buick front and rear. I changed them out, put on wider wheels & tires, and it made a world of difference in the handling of that car.
Mike.
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Old 05-03-2019, 03:51 PM   #8
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Excellent suggestion. Solid bushings would not be a terrible idea, either. Pat
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Old 05-03-2019, 11:33 PM   #9
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I would second the motion to install anti-sway bars, and urge you to enlist the advice of a very experienced suspension professional. Coil springs are inherently wobbly, as opposed to leaf springs whose motion is vertical.

Many years ago, with three daughters aboard, I was pulling an SOB with a Mercury Marquis station wagon with coil springs. Going downhill we began fishtailing. It only stopped when we violently slapped against the only guardrail in sight and avoided going off the road. I firmly believe that we lived in order to pass along the lessons learned.

There were lots of factors which lead up to that potential disaster - inexperience, no anti-sway, poor weight distribution, lack of knowledge about the use of trailer brakes and gentle acceleration to "stretch it out." A big-rig driver stopped and offered assistance. He took a look under the wagon, shook his head, and noted, "Yup, coil springs."

You clearly have your heart set on this TV; you must mitigate the inherent danger by installing sway bars, and a Hensley or another high-quality anti-sway WD hitch.

Old Airstreams were light-weight and meant to be pulled by the family car, but there were lots of wrecked vehicles and injuries. Please benefit from my almost-fatal experience. jsutro
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Old 05-04-2019, 11:08 PM   #10
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Thumbs up Towing with 1970s and 1980s GM "Level Ride" Rear Suspension

Greetings Buickman!

I wouldn't necessarily rush to discard the level-ride system installed on your Buick. It can happily function on your vehicle when towing if a few simple guidelines are followed when setting up your hitch. I have towed with this system on a 1975 Cadillac and a 1985 Oldsmobile and it really produces very few problems and the pump is quite long-lived and is still readily available. The critical issue to keep in mind is that all hitching operations must be undertaken with the ignition switch in the off position so the that automatic level function does not try to operate until the trailer is fully hitched with weight distribution bars doing their jobs.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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Old 05-05-2019, 07:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greybeard41 View Post
You didn't mention if it has an anti sway bar in the rear?
I had a mid 80's park ave 4dr sed that was really mushy handling on the hi way. Went to my local salvage yard and found some old police cars that were chevy caprices, same chassis as the buick. The police vehicles have h.d. sway bars on them and will fit the buick front and rear. I changed them out, put on wider wheels & tires, and it made a world of difference in the handling of that car.
Mike.

I will look into that, thanks!!
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKI View Post
On that list is a set of spring assist ACDELCO under the heavy duty section. The handling section has Bilstene shocks. Those would be the ones that I would consider and investigate. Would not use air bags. Replace the coils with better sized springs if you need to stiffen the handling.

Leveling - accomplish with weight distribution hitch.

Nice looking rig. Get it together and chase those smiles. Pat

Thanks Pat. I am talking with EatonDetroit Spring https://www.eatondetroitspring.com/

and will likely be ordering their OEM designed spring in HD with a 1" height increase. I have also asked their opinions on a shock for this application. Thanks for your input.
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Old 05-05-2019, 08:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Greetings Buickman!

I wouldn't necessarily rush to discard the level-ride system installed on your Buick. It can happily function on your vehicle when towing if a few simple guidelines are followed when setting up your hitch. I have towed with this system on a 1975 Cadillac and a 1985 Oldsmobile and it really produces very few problems and the pump is quite long-lived and is still readily available. The critical issue to keep in mind is that all hitching operations must be undertaken with the ignition switch in the off position so the that automatic level function does not try to operate until the trailer is fully hitched with weight distribution bars doing their jobs.

Good luck with your project!

Kevin



Hi Kevin, I was hoping you would weigh in as I recall you speaking once before of your experience with the load leveling system. I will reconsider retaining them however have had problems off and on with the system since I have had the car. The pump runs fine and pumps up but bleeds down in a few hours. I have ran new lines once but the problem returned in time. I have the Buick Trailer -Towing Guide (my avatar in fact) and the procedure you pointed out is described in it. I will be using the Blue Ox 750 lb WD hitch, same one as I use on the 1500HD and their are mixed recommendations from the BO company about using their WD with load leveling systems with the majority suggesting not to do so. That is another reason I have been considering going with a fixed shock. Again thanks for your comments, I always look forward to hearing from you.
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:16 PM   #14
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Thumbs up Towing Vintage Argosy with Buick Estate Wagon

Greetings Buickman!

I have always used Reese Strait-Line equipment so can't comment on Blue Ox, but with Reese, the usual recommendation with a large luxury sedan/wagon was to utilize 1,000 pound bars to help compensate for the softer rear springs typically included even when the trailer towing package was ordered. I know with my Oldsmobile, the trailer towing package that I ordered (1985) included a rear sway bar, "heavy duty" coil springs, 3.73 posi-traction rear differential as well as several other features -- with the 1,000 pound bars, it is possible to more precisely adjust the hitch. A long-time Airstream shop helped me set up my hitch for towing with a car as it is somewhat different from the setup for towing with a truck as far as sizing the weight distribution bars.

Good luck with your setup!

Kevin
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