Full airbag conversion for 80 series - need info

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 08:04
ThreadID: 69902 Views:4783 Replies:5 FollowUps:7
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Been lookn into a full air bag replacement for a 80 series (no more coils).

Keen to hear from those who have done this or know alot about it. Pros, cons, previous posts, wheel travel, shocks to match, etc etc.

I understand the airbag man product, but I'm lookn for options especially to source the adaptor plates to suit the 80 rear. Not keen on the Boss bags (heard bad things) and rather stick to Firestone. I'm happy to import bit and pieces to drive costs down.

The front bags from Airbag man are modified Dunlop bags for the old Landie P38 and I'm not sure if many options exist for the front of a 80.

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Reply By: Ray - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 08:52

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 08:52
Have you tried trucksprings .com I found their technical people tobe very good
AnswerID: 370462

Follow Up By: slyder - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:23

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:23
Yeh spoken to truckspring and didn't get the best response to the question about sourcing adaption plates for the 80 - said they didn't have them and a standard conversion kit not available. Truckspring do have all the air bags and control gear at reasonable $$ and do price match.

I guess it would be specialist gear manufactured by custom conversion places.

Keen to hear of local success stories with the front and rear 80 conversions and pick up any learnings from those who done the work.

FollowupID: 637813

Reply By: viz - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:11

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:11
If the rear is the same as a 100 series the only real modification that is done are the bump stops - they have an extension that is slightly offset. If you are handy with a welder etc you could make them yourself. Other than that I don't remember from my own experience in anything in particular that needed modifying when installing the rear airbags. The hardest thing is to get the old coils out.

But why the front? Do you need to lower the front - tricky, 'cos the rear does not have much room to be lowered from the standard airbag ride height (about 2-3" clear of the bumpstop) and you would upset your steering and suspension travel.

I came to the conclusion that the front was more trouble that it was worth (the mods are a bit more extensive too) and I could get a good result from just using a standard 2" lift kit - in this case from Lovells, at close to a 10th of the price.

I use Tough Dog adjustables - so far reasonably happy with them, more so considering they are an American shock and I have never particularly liked the valvings from that place, preferring the Euros in particular Bilstein. But the TDs have so far held up - see how they go.

The kit is dear. Overly dear IMHO, and if you can source it from the US for less, go for it. The local market is protected and they charge what they like.

Is it worth installing airbags (in the rear at least)? Very much so. The ride dynamics are seriously improved over standard, regardless of the load being carried. Wheel travel - not fully tested, but much better than standard. Not sure of the equivalent 2" lift kit, possibly equal if not slightly worse. Not as good as a 4" lift kit, but you can also get that in the airbags too.

If you are in SY, PM me and come and have a look at my LC100 - that is the best way to make a decision.


AnswerID: 370489

Follow Up By: slyder - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:38

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 12:38
Thanks Viz.

Not sure how similar the 80 to 100 is. Was told that a new spring seat was part of the kit, but obviously they are not too keen to disclose all tchnical facts.

As for the front - I have a head height issue where I live and want to increase ride height - what do you do (short of moving house which is a $50k out of pocket experience)? The 80 has alot less diameter room in the front from what I have been told, thus why the dunlop bag is used. On top of that the cylinder in the dunlop bag is changed (spring rate???) What is changed I'm not sure of.

Was looking at the Tuff Dogs so good to hear the feedback.

Local kits are rudely expensive - so far I can save about $500 bringing in gear from the US for the rear conversion. The rear adapton kit sold here is costs over $400 so keen to see if I can get that down to reasonbale levels too.

Im in Brisvagas but thatnks to the invite to view your rig - do you have photos?Thanks
FollowupID: 637816

Follow Up By: viz - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 20:15

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 20:15
OK I think I see your problem, and it is the same one that I started out with when I was looking for options.

My garage door, opened is 194 high. The car at normal ride height is around 2 metres high at the rear and 190 at the front (approximate figures). NB - I am running 285/75 BFG AT tyres, which I think are 2" (5 cm) higher than standard.

Lowered, right onto the bump stops, the car is now 186 cm at the back and 187 in the front. This is with the 2" extra coils on the front.

Does this help? If you can get away with a similar system to what I have, you will save heaps and I think get a superior result.

(BTW - the front airbag used in this kit was sold ad Graeme Cooper's (Range Rover) in Sydney for about $180 each (again from memory)... Not sure what price now, but seriously cheaper than what is in the kit.)

I think that the 80/100/200 series might be very similar in the installation of the airsprings in the back. Yes there is a disk that goes on top of the airbags, with a couple of holes drilled in, one for the airhose and one to install a large screw into the alloy top of the airspring. Then I think the rest is bolted onto the chassis - my memory is being tested here! :( It ain't hard to do.

Not sure if photos would help, if so that would have to be done in the weekend, let me know (too tired and too old to crawl under the car at 8:00PM at night ;) )

FollowupID: 637883

Reply By: Member - Lance S (VIC) - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 15:17

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 15:17
Can't help you with your 80 series, but i just fitted firestone ride-rite air bags to my navara, the truck ones with 5000kg max, they fitted in nicely and makes the ride alot more comfortable even without a load.


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AnswerID: 370516

Follow Up By: slyder - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 15:54

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 15:54
I've had the Polyair bellows in my hilux as a helper system and that was relatively easy to install and worked very well.

The full replacements are a little rarer and are a bit harder to track done qulity info on.
FollowupID: 637836

Reply By: Outbacktourer - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 16:18

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 16:18
Try www.probag.com.au I've had good service from them on a rear set for a patrol with 2" lift. Had them in for about 2 years incl Cape York. had some issues fo my own making and they were very helpful after sale. When I did it the consensus was the front was not worth it and created instability in the handling dept. As I recall full kit incl Compressor, tank, valves, bags, mounts etc was about $1,500

AnswerID: 370520

Follow Up By: slyder - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 16:35

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 16:35
Thanx. Will look into probag.

Why did you think you would get instability in the front? Was this explained?

FollowupID: 637839

Follow Up By: Outbacktourer - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 16:45

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 16:45
Forgot to mention that I just used my Koni Shocks at existing setting (about 1 1/2 turns) and it was fine. Opinion was coils give some lateral reistance that you lose with the bags. I read a mag article on a truck that went full bags and went back to springs on the front because of this. Also the probag set up is designed to maintain a static height (or lower), not raise like the rolling whatever it is type.

FollowupID: 637840

Follow Up By: slyder - Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 17:59

Wednesday, Jun 17, 2009 at 17:59
A rolling sleeve has a cylinder that pushes up into the air bag whereas the convoluted bag compresses between two relatively flat plates - this might also explain a difference in the lateral resistance between the two bag types???
FollowupID: 637850

Reply By: Nic I - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 14:09

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 14:09
Whilst mine is a Patrol and therefore the mounting arrangements differ, I can comment on the performance of the Firestone air springs I have on both front and rear. The mounting kits are from AirbagMan.

The main reasons for fitting these were to be able to adjust ride height to terrain, and for ease of loading and unloading my traytop camper. They do these jobs very well.

Ride height: Even though I have about 4.5" to play with I only vary the ride height by about 3". That still gives a range from 1" below standard, (good for smooth tar, lowers drag and fuel consumption) to 2" above standard (hood enough for most tracks, and I can take it higher if necessary, for short distances). Restricting the range keeps alignment and steering straight and true.

Loading: Brilliant. To load the camper I just drop the rear to the bumpstops (about 3" below standard), back the ute under, and pump the springs up until it reaches the desired height. To unload, the procedure is reversed. This saves quite some time, as the conventional procedure is a slow winding of the jacklegs.

I have Edelbrock shocks tuned to match the air suspension, and the big surprise for me has been the very smooth ride, even over fairly uneven terrain, even corrugations (up to a point, then nuttin' helps !).

The next step is a nifty wireless remote control system which, with a small onboard compressor, allows height setting from outside the vehicle. As yet they're only available to control two bags, but a 4-bag unit is in the works.

AnswerID: 370682

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