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Old 11-24-2017, 03:00 PM   #1
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Air Bags or Sumo Springs???

I would like to improve the ride of our 35' Adventurer on the Ford chassis.

I like the idea of air bags, but do they really need to be deflated when we use the jacks?

The Sumo Springs are simpler, but some say the ride is firmer. I don't want a harsher ride, if that's what it is.

What are your experiences?
Thanks, Richard
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Old 11-24-2017, 07:27 PM   #2
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I had airbags added to my motorhome. I chose airbags because I wanted the ability to inflate or deflate as desired. I do not deflate the airbags when I use the jacks.

Good luck with your choice.
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Old 11-24-2017, 10:39 PM   #3
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I don't believe that putting air bags on your conventionally spring Ford chassis will give you that pillowy DP-style ride. If they did we'd all have them installed.

The air bags on a F53 chassis are attached to the leaf springs just like Sumo Springs.

Then you fill them with air and they act act as helper springs. Just like Sumo Springs. If you make them stiff with air you'll make the ride harsh. Just like Sumo Springs. However, if you don't put enough air in them they don't do anything at all.

Sumo Spring push back against compression forces, and pull against expansion forces. You never have to add or remove air and they never leak. Air bags are good at pushing back against compression forces but don't pull against expansion forces. You have to maintain the proper amount of air in them - even as altitude changes and RV weight changes, too. Plus they can leak air.

I'd say with Sumos the ride is more controlled but not harsh. It's not soft either. Less jounce and less tippy feeling.

I wish we could replace our F53 leaf springs with air ride...and maybe independent front and rear axles, too. A F53 Ford chassis is what it is.
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Old 11-25-2017, 07:51 AM   #4
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John,
Do you recall any difference in the ride?
Richard
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Old 12-02-2017, 05:15 PM   #5
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A lot depends on how close your coach's actual fully loaded weight is to the rated GVWR of the chassis. Some models those weights are very close to where the chassis manufacturer has rated the maximum GVWR. On those models there can be some benefit from sumo springs or air bags.

Generally ride problems fall into two categories; a rather indecisive or uncontrolled ride, (overloaded chassis) or a ride that is overly harsh (shaking and rattling on bad road surfaces, potholes, bridge abutments, etc.). Overloaded chassis symptoms will receive some benefit from air bags and sumo springs. Ride harshness will receive much less benefit. The Ford F53 chassis comes with very high rate leaf springs (stiff, low travel) and when not loaded to near capacity they send all road imperfections into the coach and shake and rattle it to pieces. This is what is referred to as ride harshness. When air bags or sumo springs are added to already stiff springs, capacity is increased and the only real relief you will receive is from the amount of ride height the added components give you. Depending on coach design, additional ride height is not that desirable.

When we first acquired our 2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29r it had new tires, fresh alignment, poly sway bar links, and front track bar. We were impressed with the ride and handling, and then one day we hit a road in need of repair. It seemed like everything was going to shake apart. We just chalked it up to a bad road, but soon found out that we would find bad road sections on almost every trip. After many weeks of research we chose to invest into a Kelderman two stage air suspension system on both the front and rear axles.
On the front axle they removed the high rate two leaf heavy duty leaf springs and replaced them with lower rate multi leaf, leaf springs with about 60% of the value and added air bags to make up the difference. On the rear axle they removed the rear shackle on the leaf spring from the chassis frame and attached the rear of the spring to framework that is suspended with air bags.

The difference in ride harshness is amazing and equally so is the quiet ride. We no longer have to rescue the Garmin and it's sand bag setting on the dash and now run the sound system about 5 or 6 clicks lower than before.
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Old 12-03-2017, 12:10 PM   #6
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Wow, that Kelderman two stage air suspension system looks great. If it wasn't about $5000 installed front and rear that would have been my go to solution. I've spent about $1300 on my Sumo's (installed). Plus $700 for a Roadmaster Steering stabilizer. If I thought I'd hang on to my coach for longer than I usually do other RVs it might be worth it. I just wouldn't want to put that money in and decide to upgrade to a DP in the next 2 or 3 years.

But I didn't know this option even existed. Thanks for posting about it.
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyking View Post
John,
Do you recall any difference in the ride?
Richard
Sorry for the delay. Yes, there was a difference in the ride. The biggest difference I noticed was prior to the air bags, the motorhome would bottom out when hitting potholes on the freeway. It is not a pillow-cushion ride, but it is much better than it was.
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Old 12-16-2017, 08:19 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyking View Post
I would like to improve the ride of our 35' Adventurer on the Ford chassis.

I like the idea of air bags, but do they really need to be deflated when we use the jacks?

The Sumo Springs are simpler, but some say the ride is firmer. I don't want a harsher ride, if that's what it is.

What are your experiences?
Thanks, Richard
We installed sumo springs on all 4 corners after driving the tippy-fall over in a corner-rock and roller after driving only 1500 miles. WOW! it really improved all aspects of driving. Night and Day! I do not feel that the ride is any more harsh then before but even if it is the MH now feels safe and so much easier to drive in all driving conditions. I imagine every MH will react different to this upgrade depending on length and load but for us it was a well worth the money and these things are maintenance free! We now have 10000 miles on our MH and even though I am very satisfied with the suspension as it is, last week we installed Safe T Plus steering stabilizer and rear track bar as these changes seem to be highly recommended as well. We will see.
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Old 12-21-2017, 06:12 PM   #9
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SUMO versus Air Bags

Quote:
Originally Posted by skyking View Post
I would like to improve the ride of our 35' Adventurer on the Ford chassis.

I like the idea of air bags, but do they really need to be deflated when we use the jacks?

The Sumo Springs are simpler, but some say the ride is firmer. I don't want a harsher ride, if that's what it is.

What are your experiences?
Thanks, Richard
Each device has its advantages and disadvantages. I chose the SUMO's as I don't carry an air compressor. Also, I read that air bags are susceptible to leakage and tears. The SUMO's are poly coated (with some special coating) and the fronts are different than the rears. Good Luck with your decision!

David
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Old 02-21-2018, 01:12 PM   #10
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You may want to check this out also. A bit expensive.

https://www.autoflexsuspensions.com/cutaway-vans
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