Rear Suspension

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by Daisy2, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. Daisy2

    Daisy2 Read Only Funster

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    Do I get in trouble for asking too many questions?! :RollEyes:

    From my other post (re tyres) it seems I need to do something about rear suspension on the motorhome. Now am completely ignorant about the various things I've heard about....air suspension, springs, spring adjusters? What is this all about? What is best and how do they work and roughly what price am I going to be looking at (installed)? Courtesy of a well known search site :Wink: I seem to have discovered that air suspension involves some sort of inflation system and you adjust the level of inflation in different circumstances? How does that all work? What is the difference with springs?

    Sorry, whole new world to me and want to sound like I know something about it when I talk to the dealership I bought from....even if I don't! :Doh: As always, very grateful for any hints, tips and advice :Smile:

    Daisy2
     
  2. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Hi Daisy, no you dont get into trouble :Laughing:

    normal road springs 'weaken' with age and sustained heavy loads and cant support the weight they were designed for.

    spring assisters are a special spacer which fits in the coil spring to hold the coils apart giving the remaining coils more tension.
    in the case of leaf springs they are an additional leaf which does the same job.

    air suspension, or more properly, air assistance is a set of rubber bellows which fit inside the coil spring or between the axle tube and chassis if fitted with leaf springs.
    they are inflated as you would your tyres to a pre-determined pressure which then act as a second set of springs.
    more expensive ones are inflated by an onboard compressor.

    you can get leaf springs 're-tempered' to bring them back to the original shape and tension....usually cheaper than buying new springs.

    if you look under the rear end you will see either long springs (leaf springs) attached front and rear or coiled springs (as the name says) directly above the axle.

    cost varies depending on whats fitted but air is usually the expensive option, but by far the best.

    they can take a terrific amount of weight for very little extra weigh to carry.

    my bus has air assist on the rear and weighs 7 1/2 tons....you can see the rear end raise as i inflate them to 65psi.
     
  3. PenelopePitstop

    PenelopePitstop Funster Life Member

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    If you go for Air Suspension you can't go wrong with AS Air Suspension - excellent service and very friendly - haven't looked back since we had ours fitted by them!
     
  4. CHRI$

    CHRI$ Funster

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    your ace might be fitted with an al-ko rear end(i think it is) so would be torsion bar and shocker,so air rides would be needed,to rid a saggy rear end:thumb:
     
  5. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Mmmm forgot about torsion bar suspension :Doh:...no choice but air assist for them unless you buy a new axle at around £2000 fitted.

    Daisy, if you cant see any springs it has torsion bars in the axle tube.
     
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  6. CHRI$

    CHRI$ Funster

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    john what you recon al-ko ??
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  7. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    not sure Chris, the bottom of the hab door looks a little high for an alko...more like a spring setup.

    could of course be no internal step...straight off the external step onto the floor.

    alko axle slots through the chassis, coil/leaf axle sit under of the chassis so the floor height is a bit higher.
     
  8. Daisy2

    Daisy2 Read Only Funster

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    Oh my goodness....life was so easy in my old campervan! I really appreciate all your help. Will take a look under the van in daylight and see if I can work out what it has currently. Then will call dealership to discuss. They are a reputable dealer and van has 3 months warranty, so I'm sure something will get sorted....just much easier if you go armed with a little knowledge :Wink: You are all great :BigGrin:

    Daisy2
     
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  9. Daisy2

    Daisy2 Read Only Funster

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    Just thought I'd post quick update as went to talk to dealership today.

    After lots of research I've concluded the tyres (Nankangs) are not ideal for the van, but probably not exactly the wrong tyres so guess I can't expect them to be changed. However I don't feel comfortable leaving them on so looking to change to Michelin Agilis Camping tyre (these are ok?) with steel valves (£120+vat fitted). Unexpected large outlay but have little person on board and want to be as safe as possible.

    Re the rear suspension. I'm taking the van in next week for them to take a look. Something about stops under the rear bumper and that if it is sitting below them it means the suspension is sagging? Although I guess changing tyres might help as well? Currently 60psi front & 65psi rear (tyre max = 65) but Michelin paperwork says theirs should be 80psi rear (whatever the load) and ideally 68psi front (would that be right when plate on van says 72.5psi fully loaded?) so I guess that would lift it a bit? Also mentioned possible gearbox noise so that should get looked at too.

    So many thanks to you all for your advice,info and support. Really appreciate it.

    Daisy2
     
  10. Daisy2

    Daisy2 Read Only Funster

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    Just thought I'd post an update and thanks again for all of your advice.

    Dealership today said no obvious signs of suspension sagging, but agreed towbar sits low. They offered to remove the towbar and rear corner steadies to resolve the problem but I've opted to go for fitting air suspension (at my cost) instead (Drive-Rite Air Suspension I think). They pointed me in the direction of Essanjay in Poole who have been really helpful. Given that they are a Fiat authorised m/h servicing centre I managed to finally find out what the tyre guidance in the back of the Fiat handbook means (and as a result I'm having new tyres fitted next week by an incredibly helpful mobile fitter I contacted last week) :BigGrin: We were due to go away next month but hadn't booked anything....so now our trip is going to start in Poole :Wink:

    Now have new concern though as I questioned about whether the cambelt had been changed when I bought the van, but was told it only needed doing every 10yrs so due in March. However the list price section on the Essanjay website against cambelt fitting says that the Ducato 2.0JTD needs doing every 5. So have emailed them for clarification.

    So all in all, its going to be an expensive few weeks on top of the expense of buying the van in the first place! Part of me wishes I'd just spent the extra to buy one a bit newer but I guess no guarantees that would have been problem free, and I love the layout etc, so once this is all sorted we can get on with enjoying it :BigGrin: Oh, and I've reset the satnav to suggest we are 10ft longer than we really are, as well as about 1 1/2 foot taller/wider, in the hopes that we avoid being sent on any more dubious routes....at least until I'm more familiar with driving it and sure we aren't going to get grounded on any slopes, dips etc :Doh:

    Daisy2
     
  11. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    Hi Daisy don't take offense at this but you seem to have fallen into the trap of wanting rather than needing :BigGrin:Why not run your van a few times to see what you need rather than think you need :Wink: So far you have come up with tyres -OK for other owner, suspension again ok dealer says no sagging.The only thing that needs doing is the cam-belt -After 5 yrs so this needs doing now :thumb:Even if this is for your own piece of mind :thumb:That is the first thing,then you know it has defiantly been done :thumb:Somebody is going to get a nice van with a lot of desirable extras when you sell it :BigGrin:
    terry
     
  12. motorhomer

    motorhomer Read Only Funster

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    I am pretty sure that the Ace vans were slightly upmarket swift sundance based.

    These did not have alco chassis, but had the standard Fiat chassis.

    The swift kontiki had alco, not sure that there ever was an Ace equivalent but the Milano certainly was not a kontiki equivalent.

    So I would be pretty sure this is the standard Fiat with leaf springs. But its easy to see to make sure.
     
  13. Daisy2

    Daisy2 Read Only Funster

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    Thanks, yes this is just standard springs, not an Al-ko chassis.

    Thanks Terry, but unfortunately the suspension issue is essential rather than a nice-to-have....that or remove the towbar and rear corner steadies (not something I've had fitted) as we are grounding just trying to get in and out of petrol stations - and I'm not talking about those on the side of a mountain or anything :Wink: Dealer agrees the towbar is sitting very low and if we are grounding in petrol stations we are likely to have problems. They offered to remove the towbar/steadies or suggested that I look at fitting the air suspension. As I've also had some problems with handling on the motorway, and don't really want to remove the towbar etc, I've decided to go with the air suspension. Thanks for the advice about the cambelt though....will get that done asap.

    Daisy2
     
  14. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    No problem Daisy it sounds like you have already tried it :thumb:The air will give you extra ins you need and a lot better ride :thumb: If it does not give the required height you will need to get a extra leaf put into the springs :thumb:I did that on a van and it made about 4 ins to the height at the rear
    terry
     
  15. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    remove the towbar and steadies to give some clearance !!!!!:RollEyes:

    a bit like removing the exhaust 'cos its too quiet :Doh:it'll solve the problem but not an ideal solution.

    i still say if it grounds so easily there is definately something seriously amiss with the rear suspension. :Eeek:

    are you sure you definitely aren't overloaded on the rear ?
     
  16. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    stops in the rear bumper !

    they are called bump stops and are fitted on the chassis.

    these are two rubber 'cones', one each side, which sit directly above the rear axle/spring clamps.
    these prevent the axle from hitting the chassis, absorbing the impact.

    there should be some clearance between the stops and axle...maybe an inch or two minimum....sagging/weak springs will allow the axle to be in constant contact with the stops giving quite a hard ride.
     
  17. Daisy2

    Daisy2 Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Pappajohn. Was kind of my thought too....hence I declined the offer to remove it. Means I'm landed with an unexpected expense but I clearly wasn't going to get any further with the dealership :Sad: Am hoping this place in Poole are going to be able to give me a better assessment of the situation! Will see if I can find these bump stops and take a look myself. Definitely not overloaded at the rear...hardly anything in the van and although the weighbridge can't give accurate individual axel weights, it was correct to within about 120kg, and even adding that in total to the rear axel reading we were well within range. It used to be so easy just getting in my little old campervan and setting off! :RollEyes:

    Really appreciate everyone's help on this :BigGrin:

    Daisy2
     
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