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Old 03-31-2009, 10:06 PM
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Air ride suspension?

I contemplating going with an air ride suspension on my 56 F100 truck. I'm still running the straight axle front (drop axle) and the stock rear end with leafs. Any suggestions on installing this air ride suspension? or recommending another way of having air bags? Anyone no of a reputable person in So Cal that does the install?

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Old 04-02-2009, 08:13 PM
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I'll probably catch some flack with this one because it is not mustang two, Jeggs or Fat Man's IFS/IRS. But there is an inexpensive alternative that would be to remove all of the springs on all for corners except for the main leaves. This will turn all four corners into a mono leaf style suspension. Mount your air bags to the frame and directly over the center of the axles and with good mounting brackets. Make sure that you limit the amount of axle down body up or better described as expanded travel so that you don't rip a bag into two pieces. You can do this with a good shock that has at least a 5/8" shaft located on the frame and axle to limit the travel. Or you could fabricate a limiting strap out of nylon strapping. Bolt it to the frame and loop it around the axle. Older European sports cars did this for years and so did the early corvette. Be sure that your shocks are not too long or they will bottom out when you drop it. Now to get it to go real low you may need to notch the frame over the axles. You may also need to relocate (move back) your shackle hangers so the springs don't bind when you drop it down. You may also need to remove the stops that are located on the frame directly over the top of the axles and you will probably need shorter U-bolts and you may also need spacers on top of the springs and under the U-bolt blocks. Make sure that the center/tie bolt of the main leaf is in the locating hole on the axle and the U-bolt block. You will probably need to fabricate this and you can do so with a shorter bolt and nut. You can make spacers to go under the U-bolt block out of the discarded spring leaves that you have removed. Simply cut them out of the center section on each side of the center/tie bolt hole with a band saw. Remember to torque the U-bolts with a torque wrench when you are finished! Example: a 5/8" x 18 thread grade 8 U-bolt requires 256 foot pounds of torque. Because of the springing action of the U-bolt most 1/2" impact guns will not get them tight enough. The u-bolts also form themselves to the shape of the U-bolt block and the axle as they are tightened therefore you need to use a torque wrench. With this type of suspension the mono leaves will carry very little of the vehicle load. All of the load will be on the air bags and it will give a good ride.

Wish you were here I'd do it all for you with you supplying the parts for about a grand to a grand and a half. Depending on if we notched the frame or not. The type of air bag set up that I am talking about would be similar to what is used under the back of a pick up truck when it is going to carry heavier loads. AKA. helper bags. Check around on the web for all of the air bag manufacturers. You should be able to get universal brackets from the same supplier. They are also referred to as air springs.

Good luck!
Chris

Last edited by Chris Kemp; 04-03-2009 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 04-07-2009, 11:59 AM
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Go and look around on streetsourcemag.com and get some ideas from the guys there. Some very good builders are on there. And there are quite a few really good options in SoCal, you have Twisted Minis in Ontario, IF Fabrications, Bio Kustoms just to name a few.
But you do not want to go with a monoleaf setup, once you put any power down, the leafs have a greater chance of snapping. It is better to wait and do it right instead of doing it cheap and getting injured.
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotto
Go and look around on streetsourcemag.com and get some ideas from the guys there. Some very good builders are on there. And there are quite a few really good options in SoCal, you have Twisted Minis in Ontario, IF Fabrications, Bio Kustoms just to name a few.
But you do not want to go with a monoleaf setup, once you put any power down, the leafs have a greater chance of snapping. It is better to wait and do it right instead of doing it cheap and getting injured.
I have worked on high dollar projects as well as low dollar. But to say that this is cheap and not done right is just plain wrong. I did however forget to mention that a torque rod will be needed on the rear axle to prevent wind up and subsequently braking or bending the rear springs and I am glade that you mentioned that. But to say that mono leaves are cheap and unsafe is just plain wrong. GM put them on the back of their novas for many years and the only time that they gave a problem was when you put a monster motor in the car but this gave problems in another areas also. I ran mono leaf rear suspensions in late model dirt cars for more than twenty years and never had a problem. But I did run a torque tube as such that consisted of a triangled ladder bar that bolted to the rear axle and pivoted off the frame at the area close to the tail shaft of the transmission to prevent wind up. Now instead of shooting these guys down and bursting their bubble by telling them they need to spend the big bucks why don't you help them. To many times people up here give the high buck answer. This site is about helping people not spending their money.

Oh by the way, why don't you check this link for some REAR MONO LEAF SPRINGS 53-54 F-100. If you are worried about his fabrication skills he could use the 4" drop and put some bags on top of them.

Chris
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Old 04-07-2009, 01:21 PM
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I'm telling him that an air ride setup using monoleafs is a lot different than a monoleaf static drop. And its not a huge kill on the wallet, I did my full frame for maybe $300 worth of steel and another $300 for my airbags. Thats getting about 15" or rear lift when the shocks are off, and 10" when I have the shocks bolted in. There really is no cheap way of doing an air setup and people need to realize that one as well.
As far as the front, another option is doing a front clip swap from a newer truck, I don't know the size of the old F100, but something along the line of a late 80's Toyota had a good setup as far as travel and camber change. And you would keep the Ford 5x4.5 bolt pattern if thats what the f100 had.
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Old 04-12-2009, 03:42 PM
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The old F100s are 5.5" I think, or whatever the older Jeeps are.

I really don't think a monoleaf setup is the best route.

I would go with an IFS kit up front, and a 4-link out back.

It won't be cheap to do it all at once.

I am actually located in Northern CA, not Ontario as stated above. But I have had people travel from as far as San Diego and Las Vegas to get work done.
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:21 PM
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You can go to Speedway Motors for the exact kit that was mentioned earlier that removes a couple of leaves from the pack and only uses the main leaf to locate the axle, while the air bags provide the ride height and quality.

For 2 1/2" leaf springs...
http://www.speedwaymotors.com/ProductSummary.aspx?free_text|4/12/2009%208:11:51%20PM=910-2004&deptId=0


For 2" leaf springs...
http://www.speedwaymotors.com/ProductSummary.aspx?free_text|4/12/2009%208:12:52%20PM=910-2005&deptId=0

With this type of setup, axle wrap will be an issue if you ever "wromp" on the loud pedal. But design the suspension to conform to the intended use of the vehicle -- a rear suspension like this will not work well for a drag car -- a link type suspension would be far better suited. But for a low slung cruiser, I don't see how removing leaves from a leaf spring pack and adding air bags is a poor choice for the builder on a budget who has no need for a high-dollar suspension.

Options I can see to control the inevitable axle wrap --

1. No fix at all. Just don't "wromp" on the skinny pedal. (Not likely with this guy).

2. Ladder or traction bar -- a good solution, but one that involves a good deal of fabrication and definitely some welding.

3. Super stock style springs -- From what I can see, the best compromise for a low air bagged cruiser that will only occasionally see the high side of 3000 RPM.
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hinklejd
You can go to Speedway Motors for the exact kit that was mentioned earlier that removes a couple of leaves from the pack and only uses the main leaf to locate the axle, while the air bags provide the ride height and quality.
Like minds think alike and I couldn't agree with you more.

So many people think that the only way to do something like this is to buy a high dollar IFS kit. kleen56 originally started this thread and when he asked for an analternative I took it as he was looking for an inexpensive but safe alternative. So many times when a person tries to go the high dollar route something happens. Marriage or a baby comes along and the vehicle winds up setting on blocks till some vulture comes along and picks it up for pennies and then brags about it here. Mean while the poor fellow that originally had the dream now has nothing. When ever I can I like to help people who are on a budget to achieve their dreams. Mono leaf springs are safe and I don't see any problem with doing it that way. What a lot of people don't understand about leaf springs is that the main leaf is the only one that keeps the axles aligned and under the truck and the rest of the leaves are just there for the load. So if you remove all but the main leaf and replace the rest of the stack with an air bag you basically have the same set up. The advantage of this set up over a stock set of springs is now you can adjust the ride hight and you have done it at a fraction of the cost of an IFS/IRS suspension.
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Old 04-12-2009, 11:11 PM
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All good points, Chris.

This is my plan with my '48 Chevy, since this is not only a budget build (as much as a frame-off is a budget build), but I'm looking to build a cruiser not a race car, and third -- the early Chevys used a 'top hat' style frame that was designed to flex with the road. The frame was tack welded and riveted together, so why would I go and weld bracing to the frame that would keep it from flexing? All that's going to accomplish is cracking the frame due to a localized strengthened area.

Like I said...take a look at what you've got and what you're wanting to do with it. Weigh your options and see what the best solution for your particular problem will be. Not everybody needs leaf springs, just like not every project is suitable for a 4-link.
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:24 AM
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The mono spring idea is crap... He is saying he's going to add a torque rod to control axle wrap... all this will do is reduce travel and increase bind... The mono leaf is a good cheap idea if he doesn't give the thing any gas... but come on there are ways to do this just as check with out any major fab work...

Run a two link with watts link for a cheap easy set-up and get the full travel from a set of 2600# bags... hell even a 2 link with pan hard bar is better then mono leafs.

YES, if he goes and buys a mono leaf setup would work, but with the cheapness he's talking about, he's going to just break apart his stock spring pack. Causing the leaf to support weight it's not made for, it'll run de-arched creating bows in the spring or additional wear on the shackle. After market mono's are shorter in length to reduce this and have higher weight and wrap residence.

It's fine to be low buck, if your going to put in the time to overcome the lack of cash... but any solution that is fast and cheap, is going to break that a lead Chinese toy.
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Old 04-17-2009, 11:35 AM
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The reason for the bracing is that you are going to be putting the weight of your truck on to an area that is not made for hold that weight...

leaf spring weight at ( and ) as leaf supports axle

-------------------
(____O____)


Air ride weight at ( and ) as axle and frame are the mounts

-------------------
(___(O)___)


While the truck was made to flex, your now going to see different area having increased pressure in a small area... while you might not want to box or frame completely you will need to do at least 6" on each side of the bag mounts.




Quote:
Originally Posted by hinklejd
All good points, Chris.

This is my plan with my '48 Chevy, since this is not only a budget build (as much as a frame-off is a budget build), but I'm looking to build a cruiser not a race car, and third -- the early Chevys used a 'top hat' style frame that was designed to flex with the road. The frame was tack welded and riveted together, so why would I go and weld bracing to the frame that would keep it from flexing? All that's going to accomplish is cracking the frame due to a localized strengthened area.

Like I said...take a look at what you've got and what you're wanting to do with it. Weigh your options and see what the best solution for your particular problem will be. Not everybody needs leaf springs, just like not every project is suitable for a 4-link.
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Old 04-18-2009, 02:36 PM
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The frame on my '48 Fleetline is already boxed from the factory as a torque box style frame. The frame is designed to flex, so welding any additional bracing for a watts link, panhard bar, three link, or other style link syspension is not an option, as any welding will create a stress riser that will result in breaking of the frame after time.

I agree that breaking apart a leaf spring pack and running air bags alone is not enough...there has to be some type of mechanism employed to prevent or limit axle wrap to some degree. On a contemporary style frame, I'd look at a link style...probably a three link to allow the axle to compress and extend as well as articulate freely.

In my situation, where welding is not an option, I'm looking at what I stated earlier -- stock leaf springs with the main leaf only for axle location, air bags for ride height and quality, and superstock style leaves to help control axle wrap. With a 283 and 700R4 in a prewar style bomber, I don't expect that axle wrap will be an issue. But each suspension design will have to be analyzed for intended use as your mileage may vary.
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:01 PM
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Read on! nothing wrong with mono leaf!

As long as proper bolts, brackets and bolt torque is adhered to the suspension that hinklejd is building will work just fine. The Chevy Novas, Apollos and Pontiac Ventura's all had mono leaf rear suspension. One of these would be a good spring to use. There is a lot of simple physics and geometry with leaf springs that people don't seem to be able to grasp. The main leaf is the spring that keeps the axle located under the vehicle. The additional leaves that are on top of the main leaf help to carry the load. If they are removed and the load is carried by an air bag then there is no change to geometry and no need for a watts linkage or pan hard bar.

I ran a Mono Leaf rear suspension with a fifth coil mounted to a torque arm on a late model sportsman dirt car for twenty years and never had a failure. I ran mono leaves on the rear with stagger mounted coil over shocks and the torque arm was located just to one side of the drive-shaft with a fifth coil over mounted to the chassis and the front of the torque arm. This type of suspension was referred to as a "Mono-leaf Fifth Coil", because it had mono leaves on the rear and coil overs on all four corners and a fifth coil over mounted to the torque arm. This is a simple suspension with a lot of adjustment but not as much as a four link. For a cruiser that will be used on the street it would even be alright to run mono leaves with a good pair of heavy duty air shocks with beefed up mounting brackets (I have seen air shocks with ratings as high as 3500 lbs). But for the rear I would strongly recommend the use of a torque or radius rod to reduce wheel hop. Not so much for acceleration but for hard braking.

I work with air bags a lot on over the road trucks, trailers and buses. Ten to fifteen years ago everything was leaf springs. At that time the U-bolts on Mack Camel Back suspensions required 2400 foot pounds of torque and this had to be done with a torque wrench.

completehavoc I know nothing about you but I can tell by the misunderstanding that you have toward leaf springs that you have no where near the experience that I have in this area. For if you did you would not be saying some of the things that you have said. To say that my post about mono leaves was crap is just plane disrespectful and was totally out of line. But I don't hold grudges so I took the time to hand draw a picture just for you showing a mono leaf with a radius rod. Note in the picture that the rod and the mono leaf are parallel, also note that they pivot on the same center line. I omitted some of the things such as shackles and frame but if you study it you will grasp the concept. Using a set up like this would limit the amount of wind up and it would not bind the spring. Once the bag was attached to the top of the axle and to a bracket on the inside of the frame rail it would work great and be a safe inexpensive alternative to the high dollar IFS, IRS with bags. Come on dude I know you got it in you to understand this leaf spring thing. Work with me here! Think outside the box! LOL! You don't have to buy it if you can build it yourself and there is nothing wrong with building it if it is safe.

Quick Recap: Even if the set of springs has a dozen or more springs in it, it is still the main leaf that attaches the axle to the frame! It is still the main leaf that keeps the axle centered or tracking under the vehicle. If you eliminate all of the other leaves and shift the weight load to an air bag, nothing has changed!

One more tid bit of information for completehavoc: If the thought of a single leaf spring holding your axle underneath your car or truck scares you then the next time you're at the local pull-a-part, look at what's underneath the back of a Chevy Astro van, and they're made out of fiber glass!
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Last edited by Chris Kemp; 04-18-2009 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:12 PM
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For some reason I always sound like an *** on these things... It wasn't your post, it's mono leaf springs I have an issue with... it has less to do with tracking then it has to do with when he lets the air out of the bags the axle will be moved backwards as the shackle will be the item with the most give.

Your radius rod or upper fourlink bar will cure a number of issues I had with the stability and wrap of the mono leaf as it will hold the axle on axis if the air is out and he hits a bump while hitting the brakes... see this causes reverse axle wrap as the car goes forward and the axle wants to stay behind then the bump causes additional compression if there is room to do so... Creating a situation where the drive shaft is released... I have seen this with s-10 dragging on highways - though this guy sounds beyond such childish acts.

Also a 4-link wouldn't need any welding on his frame, He could have suicidedoors.com build a bolt on for him that would work very well.

I realize people want to do things on the cheap, but no frame off is a cheap project... I'll send pics of the frame off s-10 build I am doing for a customer and share the 4 link we built to put under it. this set-up is being done with step notch for less then $2000 with all the air ride and plumbing. Air ride alone with tanks, compressors, lines and fitting will run $1000 minimum.
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by completehavoc

Also a 4-link wouldn't need any welding on his frame, He could have suicidedoors.com build a bolt on for him that would work very well.

A four bar is what suicidedoors.com sells....a 4 link is a different setup.

A parallel 4 bar has equal length rods, with an adjustment at one or both ends. The pivot points are predetermined, fixed and have only one point that they can be mounted in. A picture of a 4 bar, from Art Morrison's website


Note the one mounting hole per rod end...


A 4 link has several mounting points for each rod end, and may have unequal length rods. You can move the rod mounting point to various holes to set you antisquat, depending on track conditions, center of gravity of the vehicle, and traction required.

picture of a real 4 link found on art morrison website.:


Note the abundance of mounting points for the rod ends. Moving the rods around lets you move your rear end suspension's instant center, and tailoring the antisquat characteristics of your car on launch to suit your needs...



I wished those guys at suicide doors would learn what they are called, IMO, they lose credibility when they can't accurately describe the products they sell. I'm sure that they are not the only ones calling a 4 bar a 4 link, 4 link is such a catchy phrase that I'm sure everyone wants to own one....



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