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Old 04-18-2010, 08:05 PM   #1
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Firestone "Ride Rite" airbags?

The '88 Winnie 27 ft Super Chief we bought has airbags all around - the rears look to be OEM Firestone Ride Rite's, and operate at a PSI in the 70-90 PSI range. One of them will leak out all the air in about 3 weeks - and about 50% in 3 days.

I've carefully checked the fill valve and connections, as well as the tubing as close to the actual air bag as I can get, with no evidence of leaks. Remaining option seems to be removal of the air bag assembly, and testing it in a container of water to see if there are any leaks in the bag itself, or the fitting at the top of the bag - removal of the air bag seem the only way to do this?

My question, for any who have actually worked on one of these, is what is the best/easiest way to remove the air bag - I have the full OEM assembly instruction sheet, and the original install was to pretty much assemble all the hardware, and install the whole works as a single unit - which is pretty difficult with all the other items in the immediate area, and requires the the frame be raised as high as possible for adequate clearance for all the airbag bracketry hardware.

Is there an easier way?

It looks to me as though the bolts that hold the air bag bellows themselves in their brackets could be removed, and the bags/bellows simply slid out, leaving all the brackets in place - anyone done this??????
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Old 04-19-2010, 09:25 AM   #2
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gary im trying to remember i removed mine left the mounts there. seems like 4 bolts on top om\ne of mine leaked as yours is it was impossible to find the leak as i tryied as you are going to because you cane get enough air i did the same removed couldnt find a leak since i had it off i figured why not redo the brass fitting in top they use teflon tape i redid with permatex it helped a lot but still has a small leak on one side. yes rais the frame as much as possible
dave
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Old 04-19-2010, 06:27 PM   #3
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Air bags, like tires, do rot after a while. Depending on the size of the air bag, there's either 2 bolts on top and one on the bottom, 2 on top and 2 on the bottom, or possibly more, depending on the size.

Do these bags work in conjunction with leaf springs, or are they the sole suspension component?

I have something similar that I added to my truck, but used the brand Air Lift vs Ride Rite.
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Old 04-19-2010, 08:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedneckExpress View Post
Air bags, like tires, do rot after a while. Depending on the size of the air bag, there's either 2 bolts on top and one on the bottom, 2 on top and 2 on the bottom, or possibly more, depending on the size.

Do these bags work in conjunction with leaf springs, or are they the sole suspension component?

I have something similar that I added to my truck, but used the brand Air Lift vs Ride Rite.
Yes - a GM P-30 chassis, with the leaf spring/airbag setup = the airbags look to be a Winnebago OEM installation - in fact, as hard as they are to remove, I think THEY were the first item GM/ Winnebago started with, then the REST of the chassis and body went on all around them!

There's absolutely NO WAY the entire bracketry/airbags could now be removed as a unit - there are brake lines and other hardware items running across the tops and sides of the major bracket mounting bolts, leaving NO access for any type wrench - and then the exhaust pipe, rear hot water lines, and other stuff making work on the airbags themselves a nightmare!

There are 4 bolts holding each airbag to their mounting brackets - 2 on top, 2 on the bottom - the bottom ones are merely extremely difficult - the top ones are far more shielded by interfering items, and range somewhere between "impossible" and "quite unlikely" to get to - and I have LOTS of mechanics tools - and know how to use them!

With lots of stubbornness and imagination - and no small amount of time, I finally got all 4 of the airbag bolts out, collapsed the airbag, and have it removed. I now need to locate or fabricate a framework restraint so I can pressurize it in a tub of water, and see where the leak(s) are.

I'll thoroughly tap all holes and run thread dies on the bolts, with appropriate lube, and hope I can manually thread the mess mostly back together with finger tips, instead of 1000 small 1/16 of a turn at a time on each bolt/nut with a 9/16 end wrench in the 2 inches of space I have to work in...
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Old 04-19-2010, 08:58 PM   #5
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I had an 89 Itasca Sunflyer on the GM chassis which had the OEM Ride Rite airbags on the rear springs. One side was great, but the other went dead flat in about 2 weeks. I have a compressor at home and it was part of my pre trip routine to reinflate the leaky airbag before each trip. I carried a 12 volt compessor and also a high pressure bicycle pump so I could inflate the bag if needed during a longer than a weekend trip. I put up with this for 20 years on the Sunflyer, no real problem, just became a routine thing. Now my newer Triple E Commander on a Ford chasis has a similar setup and also has one side with a slow leak. The manual says to screw the fitting in one turn further. I haven't tried that yet but I will next time I am underneath. If that does not do the trick I may just get the 4 airbag monitor inflator kit, then I will be able to monitor the pressure from the driver's seat and make instant adjustments.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary - K7GLD View Post
Yes - a GM P-30 chassis, with the leaf spring/airbag setup = the airbags look to be a Winnebago OEM installation - in fact, as hard as they are to remove, I think THEY were the first item GM/ Winnebago started with, then the REST of the chassis and body went on all around them!

There's absolutely NO WAY the entire bracketry/airbags could now be removed as a unit - there are brake lines and other hardware items running across the tops and sides of the major bracket mounting bolts, leaving NO access for any type wrench - and then the exhaust pipe, rear hot water lines, and other stuff making work on the airbags themselves a nightmare!

There are 4 bolts holding each airbag to their mounting brackets - 2 on top, 2 on the bottom - the bottom ones are merely extremely difficult - the top ones are far more shielded by interfering items, and range somewhere between "impossible" and "quite unlikely" to get to - and I have LOTS of mechanics tools - and know how to use them!

With lots of stubbornness and imagination - and no small amount of time, I finally got all 4 of the airbag bolts out, collapsed the airbag, and have it removed. I now need to locate or fabricate a framework restraint so I can pressurize it in a tub of water, and see where the leak(s) are.

I'll thoroughly tap all holes and run thread dies on the bolts, with appropriate lube, and hope I can manually thread the mess mostly back together with finger tips, instead of 1000 small 1/16 of a turn at a time on each bolt/nut with a 9/16 end wrench in the 2 inches of space I have to work in...
Be willing to wager that your leak is either at the seams at the top where the bolt heads are attached to the bags, or at the air fitting itself, providing the rubber hasn't simply dry rotted.
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Old 04-20-2010, 08:48 PM   #7
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WELL, got the airbag properly restrained so I could air it up for testing - unfortunately, I had to remove the air line fitting that attaches to the fitting at top of the airbag, and completely cut off the end that is on the outside of the MH for adding air - so no way to totally check them for leakage prior to removal - the fitting at the airbag seemed a bit looser than I would have tightened it. but no way to check it properly while still attached to the MH.

Got the whole setup restrained and aired up to 80 PSI - and NO visible leaks as can be seen with it all sitting in a large bucket of water - so am leaving it to sit overnight, and will check PSI tomorrow, in case microscopic leakage not easily seen is causing the air loss.

Meanwhile, I located an online outfit who sells just the airbags alone for a bit over $100 each - so I at least have a decent option - just wonder if I should order 2, since the other, good side might not be far behind?
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Old 04-20-2010, 09:40 PM   #8
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Like tires, best to replace the set evenly.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:10 PM   #9
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Just wondering.. does anyone know if spraying Armorall on airbags prolongs life? Was looking at the ones on my DP and they look good, but sure would hate to change them out. Seems like this would help.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:30 AM   #10
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Like tires, best to replace the set evenly.
YUP - I tend to agree, and would absolutely if this was to be a long term, high mileage MH...

BUT, as an older unit, with rather limited usage planned, not sure the $$$ and effort are justified at this point - it's just that the replacement airbags ARE available NOW for this 22 year old unit, and might NOT be in another year or 2.

The bag now under test didn't leak a bit overnight - but I'm afraid that if it's reinstalled, the changing compression/extension of the bag will again open up whatever leak is present, and I'll have to start all over again - and then too, it might just be that the air fitting at the top of the airbag WAS a bit too loose - and after removing the bag and reinstalling the fitting and line for pressure testing, I got it tighter - and no more leak!

I'll go ahead and temporarily reinstall this old bag, order a new replacement, and while I'm waiting for the arrival of the new one, see if the old one still leaks when reinstalled and in an operating condition...
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:53 AM   #11
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gary i feel you got it now my bags were aftermarket most of the leak was on the fitting in the top im not a great fan of teflon tape i used permatex and it was better good luck
dave
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Old 04-21-2010, 01:48 PM   #12
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gary i feel you got it now my bags were aftermarket most of the leak was on the fitting in the top im not a great fan of teflon tape i used permatex and it was better good luck
dave
Well, the elbow fitting that screws into the top of the airbag wasn't showing any signs of leakage, and since there was no way to test the air line connection/fitting attached to it prior to removing the airbag, I can't be sure as to whether there might have been a leak there or not - all I *do* know, is that in the strapped-down position with 80 PSI I was testing it all in after removal from the MH, and everything submerged in a bucket of water, there was no evident leakage overnight - and prior to all this, and on the MH, I would have seen about a 10 PSI drop.

The old airbag is now reinstalled, in position but not bolted in, Pressure is 90 PSI - so we will see what happens over the next few days as I wait for the new replacement to arrive - not sure what to do if the leak has stopped - probably just go ahead and install the new one, and keep the old one as spare backup for the other side...
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Old 04-21-2010, 05:17 PM   #13
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Use soapy water in a squirt bottle to find leaks. Works great for low preasure leaks as well as high. Also use on your propane lines and fittings.
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:58 PM   #14
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Use soapy water in a squirt bottle to find leaks. Works great for low preasure leaks as well as high. Also use on your propane lines and fittings.
Yeah, sure - that's "leaks 101" - and great WHEN you can actually GET to - and SEE, where that "soapy water" is being applied!
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