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Old 08-18-2003, 06:47 PM   #1
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
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Airbags on my tow vehicle?

I was discussing with Uwe how our E150 passenger van has such a harsh ride that no one wants to ride in the back seat, and I fear it's being harsh on our Caravel as well. He suggested I unhook the shocks for a short test drive to see if they were too stiff and causing the problem.

So I went out and crawled under the van, and I think I found my problem. It looks like the rear axel is bottomed out against the frame. There is an airbag on each side, behind the shock (says Air Lift 5810 on it), and they appear to be completely deflated. I think this is probably the cause of the harsh ride. It looks to me like these were add-ons, maybe replaced the original equipment (springs, I would guess). Can anyone educate me about these things, and what I should do next? I've included a picture.

PS: on further exploration I've found tubes coming out of the top of each airbag which go back to the frame near the trailer hitch, and end in a air valve, just like on a tire valve stem. I assume that's where the air goes in, now how do I figure out how much to put in it?
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Old 08-18-2003, 07:11 PM   #2
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1978 28' Argosy 28
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Before you replace them I would start by trying to put some air in them. They may be fine (he says with his fingers crossed, but it is hard to type that way ).

There should be a short air line that has an end like a valve stem on it. If the hold air, Great!, if not a whole new kit from Camping world with brackets and instructions is $179.00 Here is a link .

You may find hoses that terminate at the rear bumper for filling too. I wonder if air ride was a factory option?
Brett G
WBCCI #5501 AIR # 49
1978 Argosy 28 foot Motorhome

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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Old 08-18-2003, 09:52 PM   #3
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
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Well, I took a bicycle pump out there and carefully pumped them up. The back end of the van lifted right up. At 30lbs the back end was higher than the front. I ended up with it at 15 lbs. From what I could find online it looks like it should always have at least 10lbs in them. I'm interested to see if they hold air over the next few days. I'm afraid now that they have lifted the rear of the van a little and the hitch may need to be adjusted to get it back to it's 19 inch ball height.

It seemed to improve the ride a little, eliminated some of the jolting over bumps, but I think the shocks may still be too stiff. Maybe some adjustable shocks are called for, so we could get it just right between driving around unloaded most of the time, and occasionally pulling the trailer.

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Old 08-19-2003, 05:00 AM   #4
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Ann Arbor
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I've been exploring the same problem of harsh ride in my F-350 and the recommendation I've most frequently received is replacement shocks, either Bilsteins or Edelbrock IAS. Both cost around $250 (Internet prices) for a complete set, which is a lot compared to, say, Monroes, but cheap considering the potential damage to our Airstreams.
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