Airbag Suspension

Submitted: Sunday, May 28, 2006 at 09:35
ThreadID: 122698 Views:5229 Replies:5 FollowUps:2
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I would be interested to hear of anyone's experience with the Airbag Suspension for Bushtracker supplied by Vehicle Components.
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Reply By: Itldoo - Monday, May 29, 2006 at 05:32

Monday, May 29, 2006 at 05:32
Travelled with a new Bushtracker to the Cape a few months ago fitted with air bags. If you plan on doing anything rough do not touch. Stick to the springs. Shocks thru the floor,welds breaking,bags failing etc. You will be waiting for ages to get fixed. Bushtracker replaced air bags at great expence to themselves. I am sure they would advise you not to touch them as other manufacturers such as Kedron have nothing but trouble with them. If you require advice from the owner of the Bushtracker give me your phone number and I will communicate with you. Stick to the Simplicity suspension as it is proven beyond doubt.
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Reply By: Bushtracker - Monday, May 29, 2006 at 20:19

Monday, May 29, 2006 at 20:19
For anyone else that is considering the Air Bag suspension.... We have our reservations pending some on going R & D from the Manufacturer. The problem is that it has proven to be a little more maintenance intensive than anyone anticipated, when traveling on the rougher tracks at high speed...

The truth is, that it requires more mechanical understanding and attention than many Drivers actually want to give it. One person pumped the suspension up too much, and on the bounces the rebound overcame the shocks and ripped the retaining cables off and then pulled the shocks apart as it rebounded going slightly airborne over ruts in the road.

There is the problem of maintaining the correct air pressure in the air bags so it does not bottom out and put excessive force on the hinging points, or rebound with excessive force on the retention cables. There is this problem with varying loads on the air suspension, but there is also a problem with the shocks. If you travel too hard and too fast, the shocks heat up and the oil foams, and the shock goes worthless to allow the suspension severe rebounding that can destroy cables, shocks, and shock mounts...

In Summary, while the air suspension travels really nice, and has a nice ride, we have decided it is too complex for the average towing situation off road. Unless it is demanded, we are not recommending it for the average traveling person in the Outback; with exception the very large format in Tri-Axle Load Sharing on vans over 24'.
On smaller vans we would suggest it wait, pending further development of a small gas shock or other technological improvements.... While an exceptionally nice suspension, we are unsure of it in hard going off-road conditions. We wish them well in their on going R&D with this, but we wait with reservations pending their Engineering Development with it.

Best Regards to all, including the Manufacturer, from the Lone Ranger...

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Reply By: Deleted User - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 00:13

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 00:13
{ The problem is that it has proven to be a little more maintenance intensive than anyone anticipated, when traveling on the rougher tracks at high speed...}

Could i make a point that the problem is possibly the "high speed" and not the suspension
AnswerID: 568599

Reply By: Noosa Fox - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 08:59

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 08:59
We are in ther middle of a 7 months trip with Conrad and Niza who have the largest Bushtracker (27') ever built and by far the heaviest.

My observations of his van is that it does ride smoother than our simplicity suspension on our 21' van. They have a self levelling system which makes levelling on uneven ground a breeze, with just the flick of a switch. They did have a problem with an air leak in one of the valves for a while but when that was sorted out no further problems.

His BIG problem has been with the shock absorbers. The rubber bushes in the shockers is far too soft and they all chopped out, and 1 shocky has given up and was replaced with a Conie. When Conrad rang the manufacturer and complained about the quality of the Shock Absorbers he was more or less told that the type they fitted was done so due to cost, and people wouldn't want to pay the extra to get good ones like the Conie.

As for the earlier comment about the shock absorber coming through the floor, I have been told that the particular van in question was driving very fast for the conditions, and that was the main cause.

During the last 3 months we have been travelling at slower speeds over about 10,000 km of off bitumen travel, some roads being very rough, and apart from what appears to have been lower quality shock absorbers fitted by the manufacturer, I am very impressed with the performance of the air bags.
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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 17:46

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 17:46
In a larger van over 24', if one wants and Independent and Load Sharing Suspension, there are no other choices that work as well. The version of the Simplicity, ordered by us, oversized bearings and axle stubs, and larger brakes, and mounted on a frame to cradle the chassis and spread the load, continues to be my number one choice. But once you get over about 24' you need tri-axle to minimize the overhangs off road.

As it turns out, on the heat generated by the corrugation, this proves to be the major problem. As yet I have not seen a proper gas shock short enough to work with that suspension, so all other shocks are going to be a compromise as well. I would love to see ARB Nitrochargers on there for instance.

Cost? I am not sure that is really a factor, at least to Bushtracker. I believe no other shock has been put to the test or is available so far. ALL oil shocks come to grief on the corrugation at speed as the oil continues to heat up. If better was available, we would get it on...

We await further R&D from the Manufacturer, as we would really like to see the shock/rebound not have to be so dependent on Driver Attention, demanding continous monitoring..... So far all we have heard is a rumour of a shock available in Europe, but no results reported.

I like the idea of the Air Suspension, but it is more suseptible to damage unless given diligent care and monitoring. My own van continues to have our beefed up version of the Simplicity..

Best Regards to all from the Ranger, always looking for a better way...

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Reply By: Wadefarers - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 22:31

Tuesday, May 30, 2006 at 22:31

While you mentioned the ARB Nitrochargers, what about the ARB LTR's (Long Travel Remotes). Having that extra canister of oil does tend to cool the shockers a bit more. Have had them on the Cruiser for a long time and found them extremely good, especially on corrugations. A bit expensive but you gets what you pays for. You would probably have to shield them as well and I guess the other canister could be a problem as to fitting them.

Just a thought

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Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 17:59

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 17:59
Hello Jeff, thank you for that idea..
I have looked at the LTRs since they first came out years ago. First of all there is a problem with the size, as it would take a very short version of it that to my knowledge is not made. If it existed, it could be a possibility, but introduces another problem with braided flexible lines and cannisters mounting in Outback travel, at about $1000 worth in the extreme gravel abuse under the van already a shotgun shower from the tow vehicle.. Ha!

There is no doubt they are a fantastic Shock. I will however add, that in my opinion the LTR is more for Rally Car driving. In our low speed towing, it is waaaaay Overkill... The shock problem for the average tow vehicle is plenty accommodated by the standard ARB Nitrocharger, and I would never recommend the LTR from memory at three times the price. It is really more for high speed travel like a Cruiser trying to set records in a Rally.

To be fair, congratulations on you owning the very best out there in shocks, but it is not necessary for the average tow vehicle, that in fact we want to slow down not run so hot they need external gas cannisters for cooling... Ha! But you have the very best, enjoy!

Best Regards, from the Ranger
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