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I tow a flatbed bumper pull trailer with circa 800 to 1000lbs of hitch weight, depending on how it is loaded. It will squat my suspension more than I want so I decided to install Air Bags. While it is not difficult or complicated, I did take some pictures of the process to share with the forum.

This is an install of Air Lift Model No. 57212 (LoadLifter 5000 lb Kit) for an 09 F250 SB 4x4 King Ranch with a 2-1/2" lift (which I suspect has a "softer" rear end for ride comfort). All pictures are from the passenger side of the vehicle.

First step was to inventory the kit. Note - I really like the heavy duty, welded upper "gussetted shelf" style brackets. Solid and robust.


The frame does not have the pre-requisite holes for the upper bracket and must be drilled. Air Lift supplies a template to only drill the "3/8" guide hole". To do so, cut out the large outline in the template, align it with the large hole in the frame, them punch and drill the pilot hole. You then use the bracket to determine the location of the two main 1/2" holes.


Here is the top bracket installed with just the guide hole and bolt in preparation for a "fit up". You use the rear hole in the bracket on each side of the vehicle for proper fore-aft placement.


The air bag and bottom bracket were then installed to check alignment and any issues. The top and bottom brackets are suppose to be parallel to each other and between 6-1/2" and 8" apart (with more being better).


The fit up worked, provided 7-1/2" of separation, allowed marking of the main bolt holes, BUT the lower bracket did not contact the springs due to the U-bolt length. See the gap in the right side of the photo. They inlcude spacers for this contingency, but I prefer direct contact to the springs.


To be continued in the next post....:)
 

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Discussion Starter #2
AirLift Air Bag Install (continued)

To get the lower bracket to contact and ride directly on the springs the U-bolts were cut down. The bolt thread is normal 16mm (not fine or coarse), and nuts are available from HD for $0.40 each which were used as cutting guides and thread protectors.


Here is the finished cut after using a Saws-All reciprocating saw. Note, lock washers were not used due to the additional space required, rather Loc-tite was used to secure the new nuts for long term protection.


I retested the lower bracket fit and it was great; good contact and proper clearance above the U-bolts.


Next step was to put 4 oz of methanol into each air bag (as an anti-freeze and moisture absorbant) to address the moisture in the compressed air (I used an old syringe from a turkey marinate kit to inject it). Finally, it was time to bolt it all up. I double nutted the U-bolts that hold the lower bracket to the springs before cutting them down, as they were about 3" too long. Note, you can see one of the extra-large 1/2" flat washers behind the air bag on the right side. The 1/2" bolt/nut connection is torqued to 95 ft-lbs and uses Nyloc nuts.


Here is the final installed product, minus the air lines.


Air Lift provided some jounce spacers, basically a small open box frame to adjust the contact point and avoid crushing the air bags on "bottom out". The existing contact points on my lifted truck, plus the 7-1/2" bracket spacing made these unnecessary.

On the 2009 F250, Ford conveniently placed two 5/16" holes behind the rear bumper, one on each side of the license plate that are between the bottom of the tailgate and above the bumper (sorry, no pictures of this). The Schrader air valves fit perfectly into these openings and secure nicely with the included hardware and are easily accessible when connecting a bumper pull trailer.

The box style frame allows for easy running and concealment of the black plastic air line up to the air bag locations. Note, on the passenger side you must keep good distance away from the exhaust (think "Regen cycle").

I aired the bags up to 50 psig for a quick leak test and all was fine. Next I dropped them back to 30 psig, each, as there is independent control over each side (not a common header). Finally a road test with the wife...to provide a double bum-dyno critique.

The ride was great. A little stiffer, yes, but the truck needed it as IMHO it was too soft before. We drove about 40 miles over varied terrain (all with 30 psig) and found it very confortable.

This weekend I will install Air Lift's WirelessAIR Kit (No. 72000) to provide complete and remote control of the air bags from the comfort of the cab.

I hope you enjoyed this and find it of some value if looking into air bags for your vehicle.:)
 

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Nice job, good write up and very clear pictures. I'm actually planning an install like this in the not to distant future so this will help greatly. :thumb:
 

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Awesome write-up man!!! If this was the Cummins Forum, I would give you a Thank You :thumb:
 

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i like it alot and need it bad but i dont think it will work with mw B&W turnover ball gooseneck hitch because of the way it mounts
 

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Discussion Starter #7
5th Wheel Hitch Impact

i like it alot and need it bad but i dont think it will work with mw B&W turnover ball gooseneck hitch because of the way it mounts
You are correct in that I have installed the air bag unit on the outside of the frame rails as I have a bumper pull hitch. Air Lift makes other models that include an "inside the frame rail" kit for those with 5th wheel hitches. Unfortunately I have never looked at those and can't offer any advice. Sorry.

However, Air Lift has a customer service number for technical questions (800-248-0892) if you want to speak with them.:)
 

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I will also be installing airbags in the future, thanks for the write up:thumb:
 

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Call me crazy, but is anyone worried about double nutting and cutting off the excess thread on the u bolts?
 

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To the mods,

Why arent threads like this made a sticky or put in some type of tech section, but yet threads that are chewing the boards a$$ out are made a sticky immediatly:dunno: Here you have a good write up for new people and older members and in a month it will be buried 20 pages back in all the other B.S. Just seems like i have seen alot of good threads like this go to waste.
 

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To the mods,

Why arent threads like this made a sticky or put in some type of tech section, but yet threads that a chewing the boards a$$ out are made a sticky immediatly:dunno: Here you have a good write up for new people and older members and in a month it will be buried 20 pages back in all the other B.S. Just seems like i have seen alot of good threads like this go to waste.
:agree: :thumb:
 

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Going to be doing this soon but I might get the other kit just incase I decide to do a fifth wheel hitch.
 

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To the mods,

Why arent threads like this made a sticky or put in some type of tech section, but yet threads that are chewing the boards a$$ out are made a sticky immediatly:dunno: Here you have a good write up for new people and older members and in a month it will be buried 20 pages back in all the other B.S. Just seems like i have seen alot of good threads like this go to waste.
I guess you may have missed our Tech sections for the 7.3, 6.0, and 6.4?? Just asking. Hers a link to the 6.4 tech section for mods. Its where I moved this thread.

http://www.powerstroke.org/forum/6-4-mod-help/
 

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Discussion Starter #15
AirLift Air Bag Install (follow-up)

On the 2009 F250, Ford conveniently placed two 5/16" holes behind the rear bumper, one on each side of the license plate that are between the bottom of the tailgate and above the bumper (sorry, no pictures of this). The Schrader air valves fit perfectly into these openings and secure nicely with the included hardware and are easily accessible when connecting a bumper pull trailer.
As noted in the prior post (above) Ford already provided two holes for mounting schrader air valves in the trim panel below the tailgate (on my 2009 F-250), such as needed for filling air bags.

I grabbed a couple of pictures to add to this thread to show the location directly above the license plate, highlighted with red circles in the photo below:


The schrader valves are held in place with flat washers, lock washers, and thin nuts on both sides that sandwich the metal trim in-between. The valves are not impacted by the tailgate when it is down and there is enough room to slip your hand over and behind the license plate to remove the protective valve caps for filling. Just be sure to leave enough stem sticking out that the "deep" air chucks at some gas stations will not bottom out before injecting air (something I have experienced before).


I have about 30 psig in my air bags and will leave this amount as the ride (to me) seems to be better, more secure, slightly stiffer and how I like my truck to ride.

While adding air via the schrader valves is easy, and it is not a problem to check them with a guage , it's not very convenient especially if you are "on the go" a lot with and without a trailer. Because of this, my original plan was to provide some sort of "on-board" air for on-the-fly adjustments. Now that I have had the air bags for a few days, and have played with the air pressure, it re-confirms how nice an on-board system will be. I will post the details of this in a future post.

Happy towing!:)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Shortening the U-Bolts

Call me crazy, but is anyone worried about double nutting and cutting off the excess thread on the u bolts?
Good question. Basically it was not a concern in my case, but let me explain. My truck has a 2-1/2" lift and when this was installed they used long U-bolts that had plenty of excess thread. I merely reduced the amount of excess thread to accomodate the addition of the lower air bag bracket and left about 1" above the load-bearing nuts.

If I ever need to use the U-bolts to recompress an open set of leaf springs, such as if I replace or service them, I will just use a temporary "C" clamp or longer U-bolt, as needed.

I also went ahead and left the second set of nuts in place as long term protectors to keep the threads clean and protected. They are in no way needed for load-bearing or security issues and could have just as effectively been omitted. However, as you indicated, this should be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Thanks for the question.:)
 

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I went the 5th wheel Air Lift ,takes about 3 hours.I plan on putting the wireless compressor on for convenience.
 
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