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Old 08-19-2017, 09:22 AM   #1
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Question school bus, air bags, adjustable, suspension

Hey Folks. I am considering the purchase of a 66 passenger bus to use for travel and some mild, off road trekking. I was hoping to use adjustable air bags to gain ground clearance when going through gullies and such terrain that would cause the front or rear ends to hit the ground. My questions are; What would it take to install a properly rated airbag system? And what would it cost? (I am a welder/fabricator/machinist)
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:09 AM   #2
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Large truck airbag systems work just like car systems only bigger, firestone makes a good bag so does Bridgestone, haldex and bendix as well as other truck part manufacturers but they are pricey, if you dont have air or bags on the bus already you need tanks(2 min), a good compressor (motor driven), gages, load leveling adjuster valves, a switch to dump air brass fittings and lots of air line. in order to make it raise and lower any other way you have to bypass the leveling valve by using two solenoids per bag(one for manual adj., one for auto lvl.) then wire in the switch to raise and lower the suspension, you can use either an electronic switch or air controlled but make sure your solenoids match. You can set it up as a stand alone bag system like you would a custom pickup, but i would suggest building it like a semi truck for safety and insurance purposes. do a lot of research on semi truck airbag systems as they are night and day difference to a car/pickup systems. there is a lot to learn about with air ride and its difficult for one to put it all on a post, but im sure with the knowledgable people on here you'll be dragging bumper and hitting trails in no time.. lol
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:12 AM   #3
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as far as cost goes, it just depends on the rig, do you have bags already on it or is it a full conversion from spring to air, a conversion will cost you $$$$$$$ in suspension and frame modifications alone. $5-10k, another $2500-5k for bags and parts, then about 90hrs. of fab work.
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:19 AM   #4
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also, if you have air bakes but not bags, study this and install your bags so as not to interfere with your air system you have or you will lose brakes hahaha
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Old 08-19-2017, 01:27 PM   #5
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I am assuming you don't have a bus yet. The easiest and simplest and cheapest solution is to simply buy an air-brake, air-ride equipped bus. From there, it is relatively easy to set up the air suspension to rise/lower on demand (there are factory engineered systems designed specifically for this).

Air-ride rear suspensions are somewhat common. Air ride front axles less so, but they do exist.

Also, some insurance companies will ask if your suspension is modified; if so they may deny you insurance. Having a factory air-ride suspension will save you from this headache.
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Old 08-19-2017, 02:16 PM   #6
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also make sure yopu buy a bus that has 11R22.5 rims / tires already on it.. this gives you decent ground clearance already..

I always wonder though the idea of bagging to gain ground clearance as your rear punkin is always going to be a source of issue.. obviously raising the body with bags helps to keep you from High-centering.. but it just seems with such a long wheel base on a 66 passenger bus that you can high center on almost any off road obstacle.. even with the few inches bags can gain you...

as mentioned rear bags are easy to come by.. and really easy for you to change the lift.. as they are usually mechanical to keep the bus level.. but could easily be electronic with a switch to add / delete air at will.

I remember the difference in going from a 2 door wrangler to a 4 door and how much easier it was to high center even on mild stuff.. I wouldnt want to think of the bus wheel base on anything less than a standard gravel road..
-Christopher
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
also make sure yopu buy a bus that has 11R22.5 rims / tires already on it.. this gives you decent ground clearance already..

I always wonder though the idea of bagging to gain ground clearance as your rear punkin is always going to be a source of issue.. obviously raising the body with bags helps to keep you from High-centering.. but it just seems with such a long wheel base on a 66 passenger bus that you can high center on almost any off road obstacle.. even with the few inches bags can gain you...

as mentioned rear bags are easy to come by.. and really easy for you to change the lift.. as they are usually mechanical to keep the bus level.. but could easily be electronic with a switch to add / delete air at will.

I remember the difference in going from a 2 door wrangler to a 4 door and how much easier it was to high center even on mild stuff.. I wouldnt want to think of the bus wheel base on anything less than a standard gravel road..
-Christopher
Wow! so many great responses. I wonder it would be cheaper to go with larger diameter tires instead of airbags.
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