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Old 02-13-2012, 01:33 PM   #1
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Roadmaster Active Suspension

I spent a little time this morning at NW Quadvan talkin to John about suspension mods. We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of different modifications to help control the lean I'm experiencing in corners.

First let me throw a big thanks out to John for taking the time to basically take me to school and teach me a few things about suspension. Every time I go down there I learn something. It's great!

I've decided to give the Roadmaster Active Suspension a try instead of installing sway bars.
http://www.activesuspension.com/

Check out the website for videos of how the thing works. If you believe the marketing Blaa Blaa Blaa it sounds like a great system. They install easy and in the giant scheme of things they aren't that expensive. Somewhere around $400.

I'll still probably do some kind of leaf spring work in the front where I have a couple different issues. I want to install the Roadmasters before I do any other work so I get a good comparison of any improvement.

In my previous Deaver Vs Benz Spring post I've come to the conclusion that the Deavers are just to high priced for what you get. There are at least 2 good spring shops in Portland that will be able to custom make a spring pack for me.
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Gnarvan 1992 E350 Clubwagon
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Old 02-14-2012, 08:56 AM   #2
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Re: Roadmaster Active Suspension

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnarvan
I've decided to give the Roadmaster Active Suspension a try instead of installing sway bars.
Roadmaster is not a replacement for a sway bar, it's not an either / or situation, they do very different things.
Roadmaster is simply another option for a helper spring / airbag / stronger springs. A sway bar does something very different.

Swarbar is designed to stop body roll in corners, helper springs are designed to stop body squat.
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Old 02-14-2012, 09:08 AM   #3
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Re: Roadmaster Active Suspension

From their website, make your own assessment whether it's marketing hype or not. Disclaimer, I had these on my SMB and I believe they helped in handling and in controlling roll.

"...The patented design eliminates bottoming out, axle wrap and wheel hop, greatly improves road handling by reducing sway and dangerous body roll on cornering, and strengthens the rear leaf springs for towing or hauling maximum loads with maximum safety..."

The passenger van video on the page below is interesting.
http://www.activesuspension.com/videos.html


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Old 02-14-2012, 09:40 AM   #4
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Re: Roadmaster Active Suspension

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Originally Posted by SheepShagger
Roadmaster is simply another option for a helper spring / airbag / stronger springs. A sway bar does something very different.

Swarbar is designed to stop body roll in corners, helper springs are designed to stop body squat.
The way John at NW Quadvan explained it to me, and he has installed over 100 of these on vans, they do not perform the same function as a helper spring. They do not increase the payload capacity of your vehicle. They do not provide any extra support for the weight of the load. All the manufacturing literature on this system is very clear about it not increasing load capacity.

The plus side to sway bars is the vehicle does corner flatter. The sway bar does not apply down force on inside tire. It reduces the amount of body travel (lean or atriculation) available in the suspension system. Sway bars will pull the inside tire up and you end up with an unweighted tire and reduced traction. The same unweighting situation occurs with or without a sway bar. Of course you need to factor in the outward momentum of a leaning body into the sway bar, no sway bar traction equation.

Another negative to sway bars is the loss of suspension articulation for off road situations. You can install a quick disconnect system but that's a bit of a hassle.

Finding sway bars for my 20 year old non stock front suspension van would be a bit of a challenge. I'm going to give the Roadmasters a chance and if I'm still not happy I'll look into sway bars.

Right now my van has an incredibly soft ride for a one ton van. If possible I would like to keep the ride and reduce the lean. These things seem worth a try.
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:56 AM   #5
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Re: Roadmaster Active Suspension

For what it is worth, I had Quadvan install these when they did my conversion. It is hard for me to comment on the difference with and without them since I only had the van for a month before the conversion and it was 2WD then. There did seem to be a reduction on body roll afterwards. After a little more than a year with them installed, I started to notice more sagging in the rear and much more bouncing over small bumps. Since replacing the stock leaf springs and Roadmasters with Deaver springs, the sag and excessive bounce is gone and none of the sway has returned. I drive on a twisty canyon road in the van about once a week, so I am pretty sure I would have noticed a change in body roll. I know they are expensive, but the stronger leaf springs feel more like a solution to the problem where the Roadmasters were just a band-aid. I'm not saying that they didn't perform as intended, but for my taste, the performance was lacking.

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Old 02-15-2012, 03:56 AM   #6
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Re: Roadmaster Active Suspension

FWIW I'm driving an '00 E250 raised roof (12") cargo/work van as a daily driver, 7800# typical gross weight on Michelin LTX LT245/R75-16's @ 70psi and Bilstein shocks, Hellwig sway bars front & rear. urethane bushings everywhere.

The rear sway bar was installed very soon after buying this van and its difference was huge. In fact the first freeway excursion after installation some cell-phone talking texting azzhat swerved in front me requiring a huge evasive to the left lane change on totally dry roads. Already familiar with the whip effect this might create I was "up on the wheel" trying to sense and anticipate the van's movements in order to avoid some catastrophe. Since I simply had to move over one lane albeit rapidly the rear sway bar "caught" the noticeable body roll, counteracting it immediately (to its limits) allowing almost no rear end swerving or fishtailing. Steering wheel input after the lane change was minimal----a huge breath of relief was the only sound I heard. Had this situation required an additional move to the right immediately after the left move I can't be sure what would have happened however the sure-footedness I felt in my seat suggests it would have been manageable, without much more than a massive pucker factor being induced.

Having driven similar empty standard E250's I was pleasantly shocked at how well the rear sway bar preformed. Without that rear bar this maneuver might have been a lot more frightful. At the time the stock front bar, no-name shocks and springs in general were quite worn (eventually replaced) so to my mind this was the perfect situation to assess a rear sway bar.

I looked into the Roadmaster products, talked with a few in the company and finally concluded they wouldn't be a huge improvement over my current set-up. They did offer I could discard my Hellwig rear bar however we never discussed running both items simultaneously. I was enticed to give Roadmaster a trial since they have a great unconditional satisfaction guarantee----the work entailed in switching them out maybe twice didn't appeal to me however. I stayed with the Hellwig, front and rear.

Long story short if your current vehicle has no rear anti-roll bars at all and/or your front bar is old or undersized due conversions that add significant weight to a standard chassis improving these aspects greatly enhances load control. Of course that's assuming your suspension including coil or leaf springs are in good order and sufficient to carry your daily driven weight. RAS is one way to go for the rear but for me the Hellwig products are best. Its also important to have a "system" of sway or load control, integrating your components to work together. Obviously anything done to the front or rear alone can significantly affect the other end which is vital to keep in mind.

Hope this wasn't too off topic or boring----just that I've been there, done that and this is my reflection on it all so far.
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Old 02-15-2012, 06:30 AM   #7
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Re: Roadmaster Active Suspension

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWA
FWIW I'm driving an '00 E250 raised roof (12") cargo/work van as a daily driver, 7800# typical gross weight on Michelin LTX LT245/R75-16's @ 70psi and Bilstein shocks, Hellwig sway bars front & rear. urethane bushings everywhere.

Hope this wasn't too off topic or boring----just that I've been there, done that and this is my reflection on it all so far.
Your post is most welcome.

One of my concerns is the loss of articulation I would get with sway bars. I agree the best solution for a "stick to the road no lean van" would be new springs and sway bars all around. I'm afraid if I do that I will end up loosing the soft ride and the articulation for off road adventures. While I don't plan on any push the limits and damage the equipment wheelin I don't want to limit myself more than I already am with the EB rear bumper ready and willing to drag arse behind me.

Since my van is a lifted EB 4 X 4 with a very tall topper with a custom bed built high in the back I realize I have a top heavy vehicle to start with. Given those limits I'm trying to find the right compromise to the lean problem.

I know the front leafpacks in my van are a weak spot and need to be replaced. The drivers side is sagging about 3/4" below the right side. The leafpack is loose and the middle leaf is popping back and forth when I crank the wheel in parking lots.

I added a leaf in the rear to level the van more that improve load capacity and feel good about the condition of the rear leaf packs. Both front and rear leaf packs are 20 years old and have to be getting tired.

Right now my plan of attack is try the Roadmasters and replace the front leafpacks. I may even look into installing a Roadmaster in the front. I ran that by both John at Quadvan and Nolan (I think) at Roadmaster. Both of them were a little hesitant about the idea but were intrigued with the possibilities.
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Old 08-24-2017, 11:03 PM   #8
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gnarvan, still out there? I'd like to see how things worked out with your suspension issues. This post pretty well summed up my thoughts, my van is at quad van as we speak (I'm in alaska), john is a wealth of info but its easier in person.
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