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Old 01-02-2004, 08:00 PM
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Hydraulics vs. air ride

Hey guys,
I have a question about air ride and hydraulics. I've been reading up on different ways to get a car low, and I've found an air ride kit for my 64 fairlane that will lower it 3 inches at ride height, and 6 inches with the bags deflated. Now, this is great, and I'm probably going to go with the air ride kit, since almost everyone I've talked to says it's the way to go. But, I haven't been able to find out too much about hydraulics. So, before I call up air ride and order a kit, I have a few questions on this old school suspension.
First, how much travel can you get with a hydraulic kit? i've seen cylinders anywhere from 4 to 14 inches, but how does this work? Wouldn't changing the suspension 14 inches screw up the whole driveline? is 8-10 inches any more reasonable? Would extensive driveline modifications be needed at 8 inches? I've seen these lowriders go from laying frame to having the car look like it's got a lift kit on it, what do they do the driveline in these cars? On the my fairlane, I have about 10 inches of clearance between the rocker panels and the ground, and 2 inches ground clearance is a lot cooler than 4. 2" drop spindles would have the same lowering affect, but I wouldn't be able to raise it up high again (it would only raise to 5 inches ground clearance).
Second, are hydraulic kits universal, but you need to fab your own mounts? With the air ride kits, they give you plates to weld to the frame, but how do you connect the hydraulics to the car?
Also, would anyone recommend going with hydraulics over air bags? I know it's mostly an opinion question, but would I be able to get more travel out of a hydraulic system? I don't want the car to hop, just a simple up and down motion would make me happy. I know air ride offers more luxury and dependability, but this isn't going to be a daily driver, just a cruiser, and I'd gladly give up a soft ride for an extra couple inches of suspension travel on the weekends . Thanks in advance everyone, I hope this is clear enough.

~Frank~
http://www.sounddomain.com/id/flamedfordbronco

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Old 01-02-2004, 08:10 PM
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You should be able to get more than 3" of travel out of an air ride system. The front suspension is a lever with the air bag mounted in the center of the arm for every inch of travel at the bag you will see 1.5 at the spindle. For the rear I am not sure what type of suspension they use be it leafs or links but either way you don't have to worry about travel there either.
The air vs. hydraulics is a never ending subject and both have advantages and drawbacks it's mostly a personal preference. I prefer air myself but thats all I install.
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Old 01-02-2004, 08:44 PM
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Hey Altered Image,
I thought I should be able to get more than 3" out of an air ride setup too, but when I talked to the guy at air ride technologies he said ride height would be lowered 3 inches, and deflated height would be 6 inches. am I understanding him wrong and he means 6 inches MORE than the 3 inches at ride height? It wouldn't be the first time I had something totally wrong. Thanks for your help, hopefully hear from you soon.

~Frank~
http://www.sounddomain.com/id/flamedfordbronco
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Old 01-11-2004, 12:28 PM
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i get about 9" of travel on my car... it just depends on how much travel the air bag has and suspenion geometry and shock travel (im running lce drag shocks that have a nice 10" travel)... you can trick the bag into raising it more by placing it differently on the suspenion... but the weight the bag should handle needs to change for that too... about 10" is the biggest bag ive seen... i do suggest getting the bellow type bags than the sleeve ones... theyre much simplier in that you dont need stoppers to limit the travel... how fast do you want the car to raise up is also important... hydrolics go up real fast... while you can make bags do it it gets pretty silly with the port sizes and air pressures you need to do it.... if you go for bags i recomend 1/2" valves, a good fast compressor (two if youd like) and a 5gallon tank... i got the pretty much bottom compressor and a 3gallon tank... then added a junkyared linchon compressor but it still takes a good 5mins to pump the car up... and i have to fill the tank with 150psi to bring it up to ride height in one switch.... also bags leak.... in 8 hours my car will take a dip in one corner or another... so id give yourself some time to get going if you do have leak problems... hydrolics can have some nasty travel... but youre stuck with extra batteries, pumps, dumps and all that other stuff... hydrolics will probly cost you a little more... its pretty much take your pick... theyll be someone somewhere wholl be more than happy to sell you whatever.... also bags can make for a pretty crappy ride too... with as much pressure as i need in them to get my car to height it doesnt leave much travel
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Old 01-11-2004, 01:44 PM
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Corona Jon,
Thanks for the info! how'd you manage to get 9 inches of travel out of the bags? is that 9 inches between ride height and dropped height? or is it 9 inches from extended height to drop height? It takes you 5 minutes to pump your bags up to ride height? wow I thought bags were faster than that, on their website the cheapest 4 wheel sysetem they have says 10-12 seconds, do you have a real heavy car? Did you check all your fittings for leaks? I've heard of taking soapy water and putting it on the fittings where the hoses are, and you can see where the leak is, so you can fix it. I heard bags offer a much better ride than hydraulics, since fluids don't compress, is this just not true? How come you have to run your bags at such high pressure? What kind of car do you have? Thanks for giving me some advice on this issue, I'll let you know if I decide to get bags or juice.

~Frank~
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Old 01-12-2004, 12:15 PM
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takes 5minutes between to get enough air pressure in the tank to lift the car... the car hardly takes a second to lift... finding the leak and stopping the leak are two different things... espeally with the plastic line fittings they give you... and often theyre so slow theyre just not worth it... i get 9" from dropped to extended... but i need it all the way extended so i can turn... fenders need cut a little more... the car only weighs 2400lbs so its realy wuick up but a little slower down... bags can give a real nice ride but like i said youve got to have it right to ride there.. around 60-75lbs of pressure rides the best... but like i said ive got to have almost 100lbs to keep my front wheels from scrapping... but my body does lay on the ground... not that big of an issue for someone who isnt going that low
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:28 PM
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This is right up my alley hehe
I had hydraulics on my cutlass, and let me tell you they are horrible, I had a 2 pump 4 dump setup, the ride quality isn't good at all, to bouncy, I would have to lift the front end and drop the back just to drive, and I still hit my head on the roof. Hydraulic equipped cars need alot of reinforcing, I had to renforce the rear end, the trailer arms, the back frame had to be reinforced, alot of work, its hard on the ball joints. Thats not even getting to the maintenance, the cylinders leaked, hoses blew, creating a mess with the fluid everywhere, not counting all the battery's in the trunk that needed charged all the time. just alot of up keep, I since then moved to the air ride suspension, no maintenance but draining the tank, hardly any upkeep, ride quality is better, not as fast as hydros, but hey its still slammed.
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Old 01-22-2004, 07:52 PM
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Hey Shaved Accord,
thanks for your reply! It's good to hear from someone who's had both, and I'd heard all that bad stuff about hydros that you said. And hey, I'm not looking for a hopper, so juice isn't for me. I just ordered a full system from Air ride: front and back kits, 4 wheel compressor and two 2 gallon tanks. I can't wait for it to be shipped so I can get to putting it in. Thanks everyone for your replies and helping me choose air ride over juice. I'll keep you updated on the install, and I'll probably end up with a bunch of problems to ask you guys to solve . Thanks again!

~Frank~
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Old 01-23-2004, 06:46 AM
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Frank....... if you have any questions about your system you got from us just let me know.......
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Old 01-23-2004, 07:29 AM
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Tony,
If I have any problems I'll definitely come to all of you guys and ask, and I'll pm you. I'm pretty sure I'll have a few questions, I've never installed an air ride system and I don't want to screw my first one up! It should be getting delivered next monday, I can't wait! So, I'll probably be installing by next weekend, I'll talk to you guys then!

~Frank~

Tony,
I actually did just remember a question that I had, sorry I didn't post it in my last reply! I talked to Brian from air ride, and I was asking him about travel distances and everything. I have a 1964 ford fairlane, so I ordered your 60-64 galaxy and full size front and rear kit. I know I have to take a few leafs out of the rear to lower it for ride height, but how much should I expect the entire car to be lowered? He told me 3 inches at ride height, and another 3 inches lower than that when you deflate it. I thought air ride systems could get a little more than 3 inches travel, does it go up any more, like into an extended position? (Just in case you have to go up a steep driveway or something) But like I said, I'm new to air ride, so I could just be misunderstanding everything he said to me. Thanks a lot in advance for your help, talk to you later!

~Frank~

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Old 01-23-2004, 09:46 AM
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Yes it will go above the ride hight it will probably be close to stock hight with it locked out. Ride height is usually in the center of the bags travel or there abouts. If you have any Q's about the install give me a call or stop by.
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Old 01-23-2004, 03:24 PM
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Hey Josh,
Thanks for clearing that up, I was pretty sure that they would extend higher than ride height, but like I said, I'm new to air ride so I just wanted to make sure. If I have any questions when I get to the install I'll definitely give you a call or stop by the shop. I still need to see your projects too . Thanks again for your help, see you later on.

~Frank~
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Old 01-24-2004, 05:53 AM
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when you were told that it would lower the car 3 inches to ride height and then another 3 inches when you let all the air out, he was really saying that you'd have a totoal of 6 inches of travel

When fully inflated the bag will be aproximatley 6 1/2 inches high. When fully deflated it will be approximatley 1/2 inch heigh. so therefore you have 6 inches of travel. Your ride height should be set at about half way through the bags travel, so about 3 inches.
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Old 01-24-2004, 08:27 AM
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Hey Slant Six,
Thanks for the info! It's nice to have some numbers to work with, I think I'm going to head out to my car and start measuring stuff! . Corona Jon said he got 9 inches out of his bag, but he has all kinds of ride problems because he has to pump so much air to get it up to ride height... does he just have it mounted so extended position is actually ride height? I'm not going to try to do this for my car, I was just wondering what was going on in his set up. Thanks again for the numbers slant six, I'll keep you guys updated.

~Frank~
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Old 01-24-2004, 03:31 PM
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Different airbags have different amounts of lift. Are you using firestone bags?? If you are you can go onto the air ride technologies website, (i'm sure other sites have the info as well) and get the exact measurements for your bag.

A popular way to get more lift is to run a cantilever style 4 link in the rear of the car. You use long arms and mount the bags on the lower arm. So basically if you put the bag half way along the arm you would doube the lift you can get.

Same principal applies in the front, the longer the front lower controll arms and the further along you mount the bag, the more lift you will get.
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