Front Airbags - Just found them - Now What

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Shadowman

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May 11, 2005
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Riverton (SLC) Ut
I have a 95 Coachmen Catalina Class A. It's just a little guy 27', but it suits us fine for our weekend trips etc... During the past month I was installing a banks system to the coach and noticed under the hood, 2 valve stems sticking out of a plate of metal. I followed them down and found out that I have air bags under the front end. Hooda guessed?? I had air bags on my dodge when I had my fifth wheel, but they were on the back for added capacity and to avoid the rear end sag and sway. So do they do the same thing on the front?

What is the purpose for the airbags on the front? Is it suppose to help with the sway and wondering? I do have a lot of wondering with this coach, but I thought it was because it was a smaller coach with full basement, therefore was more top heavy and the wind effected it more? At any rate, can someone tell me the purpose of the bags, and what is the recommended pressure on them. On my truck I could run them between 5 - 65, but camping world couldn't tell me, and I haven't had much luck with any local dealers. So before I called the factory, I thought I would ask around.

Any assistance you can offer would be fantastic.

Thanks in advance, and thanks for this site, it has helped more than once.

Dennis
 

jerryarlyne

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Mar 7, 2005
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Palmdale, CA.
It sounds like you have a Chevy P-30 chassis. It came with standard air bags inside the front coil springs. If this is the setup you have then on a 27' coach I would start with about 50 PSI in each and see how it handles. You can always adjust them up or down as needed. Make sure you do not run them empty, You need to keep at least 10 psi in them at all times. I had a 92 34' and ran mine at 85 psi and it handled just fine.

Jerry
 

Shayne

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Jan 22, 2006
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When we had a 93 Coachman MB-34, we also carried 85# PSI in all 4 air bags.  Worked out great that way cause we also carried 85# PSI in all our tires    Wasn't too had on the old brain to remember that way.
 

Shadowman

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Joined
May 11, 2005
Posts
63
Location
Riverton (SLC) Ut
Hey guys, thanks for the advise. They originally had 15 PSI when I found them, thank goddness they had some in and I had increased that to 25.  But thanks to your advise, sounds like I was still under pressured.  I boosted them up to 50 PSI last night. I will check them again tonight to make sure their holding air, but I'll try it out on 50 PSI to start. I'll play with it till I get the right fit.

Just out of curiosity, can you tell me what effect this will have so that I know what to look for in driving?  Is this primarily to help with weight, or will it help to alleviate some of the front sway? 

Oh by the way, Jerry, you were right on the money, it is a P30 Chassis.

Thanks again for the info, I'll let you know what happens when I get back from our 4th of July trip.
 

jerryarlyne

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Palmdale, CA.
Shadowman said:
Just out of curiosity, can you tell me what effect this will have so that I know what to look for in driving?  Is this primarily to help with weight, or will it help to alleviate some of the front sway?

Increasing the air pressure will usually give you a more stable ride. It helps the shocks control front end movement and bouncing. It will not help if you have worn bell cranks or bad alignment. If you are having a problem with cent6ering or wandering, first get the alignment and suspension checked, then if it is still a problem I would look into a steering stabilizerand/or new shocks (Bilsteins).  Also a good idea is to get the coach weighed to insure you are not overloaded front to rear or side to side. That could also effect the handling.

Jerry
 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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Titusville, FL
Dennis,

I had a Bounder with a P30 chassis and air bags. The bags helped level the front end and provide a smoother ride. I also had a lot of wandering. It turned out the steering box was out of adjustment. Once that was corrected I could remove my hands from the wheel and it tracked straight down the highway. I'd have someone knowledgeable look at it. With mine the steering wheel could move quite a bit before the steering box would actually move.
 

Steve CDN

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Jan 31, 2005
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Canada/U.S.A
Once that was corrected I could remove my hands from the wheel and it tracked straight down the highway

Hey Jim,

Every motorhome should be like that, so when you need to go to the bathroom, you can just let go of the wheel, and come back later without having to waste time stopping. ;)
 

Shayne

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Jan 22, 2006
Posts
4,324
One guy did  that and after the wreck  he sued the company and won ther case.  It was on the  News about 3 years ago  I think it was Flleetwood, but not certain.
 

Ned

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Feb 1, 2005
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USA
Another urban legend, check it out at Snopes.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
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Feb 2, 2005
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73,434
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
The air bags on a P3x chassis help the coil springs support the weight and therefore contribute a lot to leveling, sway control and ride quality. If severely underinflated the front suspension will be way out of spec and steering will also suffer badly.

The correct pressure depends on the weight rating of the front axle and to some extent your personal preference for ride and handling. Generally you  start around 50-55 psi and adjust up or down, stayoing in the range of 10-90 psi. Since yours is a 27 footer, I am guessing you have one of the lighter rated axles, maybe 4500 lbs or so and can probably go down to the vicinity of 45 psi.  Experiment a bit and see what gives a decent combination of handling and ride quality.

Chances are you also need a rfeplacement bell crank - this chassis is notorious for having poor quality steering components. Most P3x onwers find that a Henderson Supersteer bell crank makes a world of difference. Supersteer
 

Jim Dick

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Feb 11, 2005
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7,651
Location
Titusville, FL
Steve said:
Hey Jim,

Every motorhome should be like that, so when you need to go to the bathroom, you can just let go of the wheel, and come back later without having to waste time stopping. ;)

One could also make a sandwich on the way back. :)
 
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