- Install Air Bags Truck Suspension
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- Ford F 150: How To Install Airbag Suspension
Install Air Bags Truck Suspension – This article covers the installation of the Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 Ultimate Springs Kit and the installation of the Air Lift 72000 Wireless Air Leveling Compressor.
First, what does an air springs kit do? This provides additional support (or stiffness) to the existing suspension system as the payload increases/decreases. This support (or stiffness) can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the pressure on the air springs by installing a garage compressor, bicycle pump or an on-board compressor in the van.
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What does an air spring kit not do? It does not increase the payload capacity of the vehicle. It does not increase the ground clearance with the rear wheel axle
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(Even aftermarket lift kits like the Van Compass lift kit will not accommodate larger diameter tires).
As we progressed into the van conversion, we noticed that the rear of our Transit got closer and closer to the ground (squat). This is a normal behavior: the more weight you put on the spring (aka suspension), the more the spring will compress. Hey, it’s not a problem as long as we’re within the allowed payload range of 3510 lbs
If squatting is “not a problem”, why did we install an air lift kit? Mainly for these reasons:
1- Off-road: the extended-length transit has a luoong overhang behind the rear wheel and likes to kiss the ground; It didn’t take long for us to bend the bracket holding the trailer wire in the back.
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With the air lift kit, we can increase the overhang ground clearance by about 3 inches when going off-road and then lower it down on paved roads. And with a wireless on-board compressor kit, we can do it on the fly without stopping the van! Clean! Quick video demo: https://youtu.be/nmxYuf59q-c
Air lift also greatly reduces rolling. Before we cranked the pressure up to 60 PSI (see “On Second Thoughts” at the bottom of this page), things wanted to fly off the shelves when the van started rolling! Now, the van feels very stiff (in a good way), and when rolling, it’s very subtle and stabilizes very quickly. Yes!
2- On-road: Air lift suspension kit will ensure proper weight distribution on the four tires and improve the safety and comfort of the ride. The increased stiffness also helps when taking curves so the van doesn’t sag on the outside of the curve.
3- Overnight: We can use the air lift kit to level the van (somewhat) when parked for the night. Wait, we’re not done yet: the Air Lift 72000 wireless compressor includes a manifold that allows the air pressure in each air bag (left / right) to be adjusted independently, so we can “roll” the van! (Though this is fine-tuning; we still carry leveling blocks. Buy on Amazon)
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What is the difference between a “Normal” Lift Kit VS Ultimate Lift Kit? To install the air springs, the Transit’s factory jounce bumpers need to be removed; The Ultimate Kit includes internal bumpers to replace those that were removed. If the air bag fails and is deployed without pressure, the internal Jones bumper will prevent the van from rolling out in a major collision.
Why not go with a 2.0″ van compass lift kit instead of air springs? 1- Money and installation is not easy. 2- The van compass lift kit is “permanent” and will modify the MPG and behavior of the van (we like the fact that we can return the suspension to “normal”).
Finally, in “Part B” of this installation you’ll notice that we chose to power the air lift compressor from the van’s battery via the upfitter auxiliary switch; These switches are powered only when the ignition is in the “ON” position. Why not always power the compressor from a home battery? As the pressure in the air springs changes (for example, from a change in temperature) the system will add/remove pressure to maintain the selected pressure. This means that the compressor can start up in the middle of the night, or anytime the van is parked, resulting in unnecessary battery drain/noise. Voilà pourquoi!
Time spent on the job: 10 hours (If you do it again it’s a job that can be done in half the time…)
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Here’s how it goes! Part A: Installing the Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 Ultimate Air Spring Kit
This is the part where the air springs are installed. You can choose to display “Part A” only. If so, you may need an external compressor or bike pump to add pressure.
Disclosure: The installation manual included with the air lift kit (link here) is very well done, fully illustrated specifically for the Ford Transit! Use it to work properly! The following pictures are just a supplement/overview…
Air Suspension 101
1- To install the air springs, it is necessary to raise the body of the van.
We used an emergency jack for that job. The jack is located under the passenger seat and the device is located under a compartment on the passenger side:
The jack was installed against the hitch (which is attached to the frame of the van). Tires do not need to be lifted off the ground:
This photo was completely stolen from the installation manual; We told you the manual is great!
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Then turn the assembly upside down and install the lower roll plate, lower bracket and carriage bolts:
Tip: The air spring won’t fit at first, it’s too tall. Install the bottom bracket on the axle and then compress the air spring to make it fit! It’s really easy!
6- Please refer to the installation manual for the following steps (torqueing of bolts, etc.); It’s a step-by-step process, and it’s easy to follow. Here are some supplements:
The ABS line on the driver’s side can rub against the bottom bracket. To protect it, we added a self-adhesive neoprene seal (buy on Amazon) left over from propane locker construction:
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Oh, one last thing! A heat shield should be installed on the passenger side. It’s pretty straightforward:
If you are not performing “Part B” (without installing the onboard compressor), you can now install the air lines and valves. You’re done!
We chose to install a valve under each rear wheel via plastic trim (with an onboard compressor, valves are still required in case of compressor failure):
This is the part where the compressor and manifold are installed. By performing “Part B”, you can adjust the pressure on the air springs on the fly with the wireless remote! Sweet!
Sk Installation Kit
You need to decide where to install the compressor and manifold. These components are water resistant but not waterproof! If vanes are installed outdoors, they must be installed protected from direct splash. To help you make your decision, use these two resources:
It’s easy to do, but hard to put into words or pictures; So, here is the schematic from the manual:
Note: We installed the compressor air filter intake inside the van as suggested in the installation manual so it won’t collect dust. We used the same route as our composting toilet drain. We forgot to take a picture of the installed air filter, but you should get the idea:
We drilled a hole to route the composting toilet exhaust, air list compressor intake filter and air lift electrical wires.
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It is not possible to capture this with a real picture of our installation, it looks like spaghetti, so please refer to the manual!
1- To ground the relay and compressor, we routed the electrical wire to the recommended ground point as per BEMM (page 128). We used the ground point between the driver and passenger seat (point 25):
Ground point 25, between driver and passenger seat. A giant copper terminal ring for our 100oW inverter.
2- We used a single ground point for the power harness (refer to the schematic above, “On Battery Ground”).
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3- The positive upfitter of the electrical harness is connected to auxiliary switch #1, so the system only operates when the ignition is set to “ON”. Read the introduction to this article for justification. To learn how to access the upfitter auxiliary switch output, read our article:
Display the “Installation Checklist” from the manual. This includes checking clearances, checking for air leaks using soapy water, etc.
The wireless remote works instantly, no need to program it or anything. Well, you can program some presets but we’re not there yet. This T.V. Much easier than using a remote!
We just performed the installation (as of July 20, 2017), so we need more time for detailed testing! We’ll report back in a bit!
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We think we finally found the sweet spot for our weight gain! We increased the pressure up to 60 PSI (left and right) and the van feels much better. We would recommend
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