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Old 09-03-2019, 11:55 PM   #1
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Adjustable Suspension?

My spouse has mobility and balance issues, right now she has a okay time getting in and out of our van but her condition will get worse over time. I bought a step stool which has made life considerably easier for both of us, especially for her.

Is there a way to keep my ground clearance when we travel but lower my van when we are stationary? Something like you see on transit buses when they lower the front end for those with mobility issues, would something like airbags work?

If it can take some of the harshness out of our ride that would be a bonus. We have a Quigley, 4 inch lift running 33 inch tires.

Thanks.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:33 AM   #2
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Ride height initially is dictated by your leaf pack set up ( or springs), air bags would allow you to raise it a little, but only higher that the vans current stance. You could change out your suspension to lower the whole Rig, and install a hydrolic kit ((like Low-Riders do), but I can't imagine the expense and ride quality.

You may look into those RV power steps, they offer all kinds of configurations and heights. You'll give up some clearance going this route though.
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Old 09-04-2019, 12:07 PM   #3
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Conceptually speaking, a big raise or lower of the suspension to aid getting in or out, lowering to the curb like an airport bus for instance, is certainly possible. You’d use the same concept as an air bagged hot rod, where giant air bags completely replace the springs.


I’ve seen everything from formerly leaf sprung pickup trucks to early ‘shoe box’ Ford sedans ‘bagged’ as the hot rod crowd calls it. I helped a friend do his mid-90’s Chevy Impala Wagon 20yrs ago, before there were kits, it was a lot of work. Today the kits have gotten very sophisticated, engineered to ride real nice and at a certain height with say 80psi in the bags, then let the air out and change ride height 10” for instance.



I drove a '63 Caddy that a friend's shop did, with the bags aired up to stock ride height, it rode like being on a magic carpet, without being sloppy. When parked, you could 'lay frame' slang for 'lower it to the point the frame contacts the parking lot. They did that one 'right'.



Where concept meets reality however, there are no shortage of challenges. The biggest problem with a 4x4 van that’s only been lifted 4” like mine, is there’s the axle and third member to consider. I could never return mine to stock height if I wanted to for instance, the third member runs into the engine supporting crossmember. I only have 4” of suspension uptravel total until the third member hits the crossmember (I have bumpstops that hit first, but you get the idea).


The problem is, it’s not just a ‘add air bags’ deal, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when asking a suspension to move a long distance, completely changing the suspension design, a LOT of re-engineering to do. I could imagine spending north of $20k to have someone do something like this to an Econoline, as there’s no ‘plug-n-play’ solution that I’m aware of.


These guys have an interesting kit for the rear of a F450 and F550 that may be adaptable to an Econoline. It replaces the leaf springs with industrial duty airbags, locates the rear end with control arms and links, instead of the factory leaf springs.



Link Air Ride Suspension Systems - Stengel Bros Inc.


If not directly adaptable, then the concept at least. There sales literature mentions ‘Kneeling Ability’, which sounds intriguing for your situation. There’s some detailed pictures in the installation guide PDF


Kelderman also offers some serious air lift full suspension kits, they show an Earthromer built from a F550 cab and chassis fitted with air suspension.
https://kelderman.com/shop/


Interesting topic
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Old 09-04-2019, 12:39 PM   #4
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There's a few vendors who have full and rear air-ride systems for the E-series.

But with a 4x4 system, you can really only use a rear system, especially on the quigley, since you already have minimal bump-travel.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:13 PM   #5
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Thanks for the information everyone, doesn't look this seems very viable. The step stool works for now. I will likely look into something like the amp research power steps down the road.
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:10 PM   #6
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Good Solid Steps

Doesn't offer a way to lower your vehicle but thought I'd let you know that I had concerns about entering/exiting my rig and finally settled on these running boards. They're wide and offer a really solid step, especially when exiting. Here's my thread:

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...tml#post197952

Hope this helps a bit.
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Old 09-04-2019, 07:42 PM   #7
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If it comes down to having to refit, build out or find another van, and if you weren’t aware, Agile’s 4X4 setup using a TTB (twin traction beam) has a great ride and can be had with only a minor lift, if any, over stock ride height once installed.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter View Post
Doesn't offer a way to lower your vehicle but thought I'd let you know that I had concerns about entering/exiting my rig and finally settled on these running boards. They're wide and offer a really solid step, especially when exiting. Here's my thread:

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...tml#post197952

Hope this helps a bit.
Thanks, I will look into changing the step down the road.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:40 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by REF View Post
If it comes down to having to refit, build out or find another van, and if you weren’t aware, Agile’s 4X4 setup using a TTB (twin traction beam) has a great ride and can be had with only a minor lift, if any, over stock ride height once installed.
Thanks for the info, we aren't there yet but maybe down the road. An extended body would be nice....
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Old 09-12-2019, 10:52 AM   #10
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You are looking at suspension when maybe the easier way is to use an electric retractable step. Amp Research offers a great product that operate when you open the door. When you close the door they retracted back up underneath the vehicle out of the way. One of the best features is they restore ground clearance when up. There is also a switch to disable the step in either position. I have these on my 2016 4x4 Sprinter and love them. Check them out online.
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