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Old 06-14-2012, 05:59 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: saline Louisiana USA
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firestone air bag spring helpers on 1 ton Ford van

Hello folks! I have a 2005 Ford Econoline 15 passenger van with V10, its a E350
I tow a Sunnybrook 3310 travel trailer with it and a Hensley Arrow hitch. I have 1200 lb bars on the Hensley and it all tows great and has done for 8 years.
I have a bit of sag. My rear axle is rated for 6042lbs and I am running 5600lbs fully loaded. Trailer tongue is 1300lbs, I have motorcycle and some stuff in the van. The sag is not excessive so I have been thinking about putting some Firestone air bag spring helpers on the van. The 3,000lb ones. I will only need to run about 30lbs in them from what I have read over at Firestone site.
My curious questions that you can help me answer please are.
When I raise the back of the van this way will it not reduce the weight on the weight distribution bars and just move that weight to the rear axle of the van?
Even if it doesn't reduce the WD bar pressure, I am assuming it will increase the load on the rear axle because I am lifting the whole rig (rear of van and front of trailer) so I am concerned about running my back tires over their load limit. I don't want to spend the money and find out they just create an overload back there.
Any input is greatly appreciated

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Old 06-14-2012, 08:30 AM   #2
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We offer a similar kit 57138, which is a 5,000 kit for your application.

When it comes to air bags and WD hitches, there are various opinions I have seen. They most certainly have an effect on one another though. Many people will setup the WD hitch leaving it sag slightly and then bring it level with the bags. Others like to level the truck with the bags and then use the WD hitch one the trailer is loaded.

I would think your best route would be to hook up just as you normally would and then add air to the bags to bring it level. Many that level first with the air is because they have something heavy in the bed of their truck such as a 4 wheeler. It typically comes down to the owner just figuring out what rides the best for them during use. This is the easiest with a controller so that you can adjust on the fly but can be also done with just a portable compressor and pulling over occasionally.

I would also suggest you contact the manufacturer of the WD system and get their recommendations. I'm sure they have fielded many a similar question.

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Old 06-14-2012, 04:08 PM   #3
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Here are step-by-step equalizing hitch instructions. Do not use air bags to level the rig before adjusting the equalizing hitch! As to the hitch overloading the rear axle, when properly adjusted an equalizing hitch distributes the weight equally over all the axles under both tow vehicle and trailer. Those instructions explain in detail. When installed and used properly, air bags work very well; however they are not a cure-all one-item fix.
Your main concern with the extended 15 passenger van is roll-over, a known problem with this van due to the long overhang between rear axle and hitch. Some owners of this model van have added the dually conversion to stabilize it successfully. This has been discussed previously in this towing forum.
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Old 06-23-2012, 05:32 AM   #4
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Location: saline Louisiana USA
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Thanks for the input. I have driven and towed with ford vans for almost 1,000,000 miles. The only time they roll over is when they have 15 passengers in them and someone forgot to pump the rear tires up to 80 psi and the tire blows out at highway speeds and the driver overreacts. It is a real issue but it is with any big tall vehicle. The over hang at the rear doesn't cause this rollover, and the Hensley hitch compensates for this overhang by moving the tow point to the rear axle. I have taken all the seats accept one bench seat out of my van and it tows as good as any other truck I have towed with and I have spun a couple of them around on ice on the interstate at 70 mph, they did not roll over. I have had blow outs at 80 mph on the interstate and with careful reaction they showed no sign of rollover. But I have followed church and military vans going down the interstate with 40-50 psi in the rear tires, full of people and it is a very sad disaster in the making. This vehicle is like all vehicles, the driver is responsible to learn what this vehicle needs to be safe, especially when carrying people, lots of people. They are going to stop making the econoline this year and replace it with a puny british transit and that thing won't tow much at all. I have four Econolines that I intend to keep running as long as is possible, they have served me very well. AE.
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