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Old 04-04-2013, 02:48 PM   #11
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

I've also used the in-cab controls to get unstuck. I was on a trail in Moab and drove right off a large boulder and parked the right side of van on that boulder. By airing up the right airbag all the way, I was able to get enough traction, and remove enough weight from the right side, to just back up and over that boulder.
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Old 04-04-2013, 03:17 PM   #12
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Let's talk air bags...

X2 on a WD hitch to deal with a saggy rear end when towing

Carringb:

You mentioned a Hellwig sway bar. Is that on the rear? Does it firm up the rear when towing?
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Old 04-04-2013, 03:35 PM   #13
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

We had air bags on our '91 Chevy K2500 long bed. Used them originally for add'l support for a heavy Lance slide-in; they also helped for hauling rocks or anything else heavy. Loved how the leveled the truck and improved its handling. We filled them w/a cheap Sears compressor, checked them occasionally on long trips. Deflated them in-between by eye. They got no special care but did their job.
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:36 PM   #14
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford_6L_E350
I could do side to side or front/rear leveling with the air bags. Made leveling in some remote campsites much easier.
That's a cool idea... hadn't thought of that! Being able to level at a campsite without blocks and stuff is a definite plus.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:03 PM   #15
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

I have the Firestones on the rear. After the Deaver springs, I lost a bit of cornering so I put them back on. Made a big difference in cornering and didn't add any noticeable stiffness going over bumps. I usually keep the bags at low pressure for rough trails and if I do get hung up on a rock, the bags will lift it another 3 or so inches. My extreme air powers them and the controls and gauge is over the drivers head. I didn't put them on the front because I have a SMB conversion.
Deaver's didn't think I needed them...they were wrong, the bags work great.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:37 PM   #16
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

I had an extra leaf added and beefed up the shackles in the back on my E250, and I still noticed a bit of lift in the front when I towed my race trailer (which was pretty light) or hauled a dirtbike on the back. But I have an extended bed, and that's just a lot of leverage.

And I already have much more weight in back; it's split about 3600/5000.

A friend suggested a weight distributing hitch instead. I don't know your trailer, but if you've just got a 500lb or less tongue weight you're essentially adding the capacity to carry more tongue weight. I'd think the bags would be more useful if you were adding a LOT of weight back there (tongue type weight, not pulling weight). The distribution system is designed to move weight to the front, not necessarily add lots of capacity to the back. But then again lots of SMBs ARE maxed on weight, so YMMV.

I stopped towing, but I'm still curious about the solution.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:19 PM   #17
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

I have the airbags in the rear and they work great when I have my dirtbike rack and dirtbike on the back. If you are loading the rear of the van on the inside or on the hitch the airbags work well. If you are talking only towing I would do the weight distribution hitch first. That spreads the load back to the vehicles front tires, increasing safety over an unloaded front end. Of course airbags in addition might add additional stability as well.
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Old 04-04-2013, 11:32 PM   #18
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver350

You mentioned a Hellwig sway bar. Is that on the rear? Does it firm up the rear when towing?
A sway bar (actually more of an anti-sway bar) is basically a torsion bar that connects both sides of the suspension to the chassis, in order to increase roll-stiffness without affecting ride since spring rates don't change. The vans come with front sway-bar standard, but no rear bar. When these vans put on the pounds, most of that weight ends up on the rear axle, so roll-stiffness should be increased proportionally to maintain balanced steering, and also reduce body-roll in the curves. It also makes the van drive much better, because the IFS setup has some inherent bump-steer, so body roll can negatively affect steering. I actually installed a 1.5" rear bar intended for motorhomes since my rear axle weight can top 10,000 pounds. There is a risk that excess rear roll-stiffness can create a tendency to over-steer (stock, the vans understeer big-time) but since I have 2x the tread on the ground, I don't have that problem even empty.



Increasing roll stiffness is undesirable off-road however, because it reduces axle articulation, which means the tires become unevenly loaded and you lose traction easier. This is why SMB and QuadVan offer sway-bar disconnects. Those disconnects are manual though. The Ram PowerWagon has a really sweet electronic unlocking sway bar.
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:31 AM   #19
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Re: Let's talk air bags...

Quadvan just finished my van with rear airbags. They were able to squeeze the compressor in the engine compartment on the driver's side wheel well. One less item under the van in the elements in Wisconsin road salt. I have the dual gauge with separate side control. I'll actually have quite a bit more weight on the drivers side of my van after the SMB build out so I'll probably be always running with more pressure on that side.

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Old 04-05-2013, 11:43 AM   #20
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Let's talk air bags...

So does the sway or anti sway bar improve handling when towing? Seems to me like it would minimize input from the trailer when braking going into corners.

Edit: or would air bags have a similar effect?
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