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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Air Bags versus OK117DBL (bags lost)

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brain

Cedar Rapids, IA

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Joined: 10/25/2003

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Posted: 07/19/07 07:18pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First, some facts:

2006 F350 DRW PSD Crew Cab, Received in October 2006
2007 OK117DBL, OCtober 2006 pickup.
Professionally installed air bags.
Maiden trip, all Interstate travel
TC loaded with Winter gear

Also:

I know others have air bags installed with dual slide campers, and all is fine. I can only report on my specific situation, take with appropriate amounts of NaCl.

Background:

During maiden voyage, I decided to check the air bag pressure in NM. At that time, I noticed one lower bolt in each upper bracket was missing. Local NM dealer replaced, but noted that brackets were hitting.

After returning home, I asked Ketelsen RV to replace all bolts and check out brackets (they did not do original install, but they are local) They called back in a few days, concerned about the brackets and misalignment. They had a local frame/axle shop provide a second opinion and offer some suggestions. Frame/axle shop confirmed the brackets were slightly misaligned, but that the misalignment would not explain the issue entirely.

The shop suggested Timbrens, but I initially resisted, owing to comments on this site about side to side leveling and bags being preferred for larger TCs. However, we decided current brackets were useless and would need to be replaced with something. And now, the pics:

(Larger pics are linked to photos)

Passenger side. Notice slight misalignment and rusty area where brackets have struck each other. Also, notice that back u-bolt is broken off where it has struck top bracket.
[image]

Passenger side: Notice bolt is gone from rear of top bracket. Better shot of spot where top bracket has contacted bottom bracket and misalignment. Good shot of sheared u-bolt.
[image]

Driver's side: 117DBL is driver-side heavy. Notice brackets and bolts. It's tough to tell if bag is misaligned at this point.
[image]

Driver's side: Notice replaced bolt and brackets, as well as right side of top bracket, where it has contacted lower bracket and sheared off u-bolt.
[image]
Pasenger side, with bags delfated to show where contact is made.
[image]

After we decided brackets were un-salvageable, shop removed and I took pictures:

Driver's side unit:
[image]
Back of driver's side unit:
[image]
Passenger's side unit:
[image]
Back of pasenger side unit:
[image]

Shop also informed me that the driver's side bag was puntured, another reason to replace.

We discussed the options at that point:

We could install another set of bags, aligning them better and removing the spacers above the elaf springs to give additional travel. However, we decided the main problem was the weight. By inserting 60-80psi in the bags, they were taking a lot of the TC weight, and the TC is ~5K pounds, which is the limit for these bags. This explains the mangled brackets. However, putting less air in the bags would cause the bags to sit lower and possibly hit the brackets, so neither option seemed very optimal. The shop was not aware of a heavier duty air bag solution, but knew that Timbren made an "Extreme Service" set of units for heavy duty applications.

With no guarantee that new bags would address the issue, and the weight issues (I knew we were heavy due to Winter packing, but you can only make a 117DBL so light), I took the shop recommendation to try out the Timbrens.

Given the weight, the shop was able to position the Timbrens so they are far away from the axle when unloaded, so no jarring bumps when using the truck as a daily driver. That addressed one issue. The other, side-to-side alignment, was determined to be 5/8" off when fully loaded, which he said was common for ambulances and other utility applications. It's not noticeable unless you are looking for the tilt. Front to back is 1" over 8ft, but he offered to add 1-2" spacers above axle to bring that up. We decided to forego the spacers until I determined I wanted to stay with Timbrens.

The Timbren's do ride ever-so-slightly more rough, but the sway is greatly reduced (even over the bump stop upgrade), so it's a fair trade.

My thoughts are that, for light campers, Timbrens are best. Then, once the TC weight goes up, bags gain an edge. But, beyond 4K or so, Timbrens start to gain their advantage back.

In the end, we're happy with the Timbrens, and they are much less work to maintain.

Jim

Mooney

Santa Barbara, Ca

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Posted: 07/19/07 07:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You need to copy this link to Air Lift, they need to see these photos.


'08 Ford F550, Lariat, Link Air Suspension, Roll-A-Long Conversion, Twin Turbo 6.4, TorkLifts, SuperHitch, "Monster Duty Truckasaurus"
'09 Host Everest, Dual Pane, AM Solar, Link 1000,Prosine2.0,Tank Htrs,Honda EV4010,HD Motosat,Wave 6.


jimh425

Western MT

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Posted: 07/19/07 09:03pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A poor install doesn't count. BTW, my local dealer put mine on wrong too. I had to point it out. There may be some offset if the installer isn't paying attention. I think any time the bag isn't exactly perpendicular to the bracket is a bad thing.


'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 Dbl Slide, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Air Bags, Hankook DH-01 225/19.5 Fs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.


Myasis Dragon

Ottawa, Ohio

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Joined: 05/29/2006

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Posted: 07/19/07 09:28pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I remove my Timbrens in "the off season" and I've noticed that if I'm not careful when reinstalling, the alignment can be off a little due to the bolt holes being a wee bit larger than the bolts themselves. Holding the Timbren exactly where I want it while tightening down the bolts proves a worthy effort when it comes to alignment on my particular vehicle.


Jon & Anita Loman
2006 Chevy Silverado 2500HD
Ext. cab, 8 ft. bed, 6.0 liter, 4sp auto
Timbrens, Torklift tie-downs w/Fast Guns
1991 Fleetwood Caribou
2-2002 Sea Doo GTX RFI's


BradW

Mayor of Flat Rock

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Posted: 07/19/07 08:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice write-up.

Airlift Contact Link

Added to the TCU Thread.

Brad


Wake Up America
1996 Lance 500 and 2006 F-350 PSD 4X4 DRW
Our Truck Camper Photos


brain

Cedar Rapids, IA

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Posted: 07/19/07 08:53pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well, what would I tell Air Lift if I contacted them? We decided part of this issue was the weight, and part was the installation. I'm not sure either is Air Lift's fault.

Jim

Raften

Northern Calfornia

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Joined: 01/27/2003

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Posted: 07/19/07 09:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Whoever installed the bags really didn't do it right, however it was not the install it is the weight. They should not have left the ends of the U bolt that long, they should have been cut off.

I recently broke off the entire ear of the upper mount, right at the bend that makes the ear to be bolted to the frame. I carry a lot of weight also. I looked into super springs but am going to stay with the bags with the addition of two or three secondary springs on each side.

One thing I learned from your excellent pics is to weld in some triangles to give that ninety degree bend some extra resistance to bending.

As far as the bags being plumb to the mounts, not so sure about that. For sure it looks better but mine have been off plumb for 65,000 and I don't see any damage to them.


'01 Dodge 3500 CTD, Lance 1121, Air Bags, Rancho 9000, All Wheels Under Power When Needed, A Few Engine Mods For Increased HP

Burning Grease, 800 ft/lbs. of torque from something you throw away.


BradW

Mayor of Flat Rock

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Posted: 07/19/07 10:06pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

[image]
If the upper and lower brackets are installed correctly with the upper and lower brackets parallel and the top and bottom of the airbag centered, they will look something like this when deflated and bottomed out.

One thing I did when I installed both sets of air springs was once I determined the correct distance between the brackets, I cut a piece of 3” sch 40 pvc to that length. I cut it with a large tubing cutter so the two ends would be exactly parallel. I put that piece of pvc between the bracket were the air bag will go and ran a piece of threaded rod down through the middle of the pvc. Once tighten up, this will keep the brackets the proper distance apart and it will keep the two brackets properly aligned during the insatllation. Using the same piece of pvc on each side insures that the brackets on both sides will be installed similarly.

Brad

F350OilBurner

Central MA

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Posted: 07/20/07 06:59am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First of all that installation is horrible. Whoever did it is definitely not a "professional". The air bag brackets look like they are not parallel to each other. There should also be no need to use those spacers on the spring perches to raise the lower brackets. Raising them up like that over compresses the bags and forces them to bottom out on bumps. That's why the u bolts snapped and the brackets bent. They were also supposed to trim off the extra threads on the u bolts holding the lower bracket. I think you should call Airlift and let them know that an incompetent claiming to be a pro installed your bags. Seriously, anyone who can read instructions would know how to do this install.

What part number is that Airlift Kit? The correct kit for your truck is SuperDuty part # 57212. I know because I have them on the same truck. The upper brackets are massive. They are at least twice as thick as the upper brackets you have and they are shaped entirely different. They are basically a huge "L" bracket with triangulated braces on the outer edges. I'd be really surprised if they were to bend even with my 6000lb. camper. (They also have #57291 if you have a B&W turnover ball hitch in the bed. I know nothing about that kit. Is that what you have? If so it's not nearly as heavy as the #57212.)

If I get a chance, I'll take a couple of pics this weekend and post them.

* This post was edited 07/20/07 07:09am by F350OilBurner *


2006 Ford F350 Lariat CC LB DRW
6.0 PSD w/TorqShift 4x4 4.10LSD
Airlift Airbags/SureSet Controller - Timbrens

2007 Lance 1181 - All the Options
Torklift Superhitch/Tiedowns/Fastguns


FF1063

NY

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Posted: 07/20/07 07:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

*

* This post was edited 10/09/07 12:58pm by FF1063 *

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