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Old 11-22-2019, 08:38 PM   #1
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Air ride suspension

Hi all, I am planning and designing a bus conversion and I know a few features that I definitely want and the top of the list is air ride suspension. I don't care who makes the bus, (Thomas, Bluebird, Wayne) but what manufacturers and models have a 36 foot type D chassis with a midship or rear engine and air ride suspension? Can anyone help answer this?
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:55 PM   #2
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Many of the models had the option of air ride. Some busses with rear engines and air ride as options are Blue Bird CS and All American and Thomas MVP. I'm sure some of the Crowns, Gilligs and Amtram IC had air ripe as options. It will all come down to how the bus was ordered. An activity bus is more likely to have air ride but is also likely to be a full 40ft.

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Old 11-22-2019, 09:58 PM   #3
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Just curious, why do you want air suspension so much?

If you're considering a mid engine, Crown and Gillig made them in 35 foot lengths, and Crown also made longer middies. Nobody else made or now makes mid-engine school buses. Mid-engine buses handle superbly because they have their weight low and centered, but they're not easy to convert: there's little space for tanks etc except at the rear. For serious conversions a pusher bus is the easiest to work with.

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Old 11-23-2019, 04:55 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Treehouse View Post
Hi all, I am planning and designing a bus conversion and I know a few features that I definitely want and the top of the list is air ride suspension. I don't care who makes the bus, (Thomas, Bluebird, Wayne) but what manufacturers and models have a 36 foot type D chassis with a midship or rear engine and air ride suspension? Can anyone help answer this?
Thats a really GOOD approach to bus buying. Air ride is NICE.
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Many of the models had the option of air ride. Some busses with rear engines and air ride as options are Blue Bird CS and All American and Thomas MVP. I'm sure some of the Crowns, Gilligs and Amtram IC had air ripe as options. It will all come down to how the bus was ordered. An activity bus is more likely to have air ride but is also likely to be a full 40ft.

Ted
My Thomas and my last International, both shorties, came with air ride in the rear.
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Just curious, why do you want air suspension so much?

If you're considering a mid engine, Crown and Gillig made them in 35 foot lengths, and Crown also made longer middies. Nobody else made or now makes mid-engine school buses. Mid-engine buses handle superbly because they have their weight low and centered, but they're not easy to convert: there's little space for tanks etc except at the rear. For serious conversions a pusher bus is the easiest to work with.

John
99% of us will never even see a Crown. The rest of us "unwashed" have to settle for normal everyday school buses. Air ride REALLY improves the enjoyability of owning/driving a school bus for us common folk.
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:21 PM   #5
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you may want to consider how accessible the engine is, especially after you modify it. If it's not accessible, it will be hard to get it worked on when the time comes.
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:39 PM   #6
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My A3RE does not have air ride and has a decent ride. I would have preferred air ride but I'm fine with the spring suspension.

If you have a bus dealer near you I would suggest that you go test drive a few different buses. That will help you pin down what is a wish and what is a requirement.

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 11-23-2019, 05:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
Just curious, why do you want air suspension so much?

If you're considering a mid engine, Crown and Gillig made them in 35 foot lengths, and Crown also made longer middies. Nobody else made or now makes mid-engine school buses. Mid-engine buses handle superbly because they have their weight low and centered, but they're not easy to convert: there's little space for tanks etc except at the rear. For serious conversions a pusher bus is the easiest to work with.

John
What John said. REs are a better choice, much quieter so you can talk to whoever is riding with you and the front door and steps are going to be a little wider as well.
The IC buses have the best engine access you can climb in from the sides and if on the road side your not out in the rain fooling with it.
I put my tankless water heater in the engine bay as well as tools and AC to DC converter.
Also mine has air ride as well, rides way better than my last motor home ever dreamed of which was air bagged as well, but then again it was a GM LOL.
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Old 11-23-2019, 05:38 PM   #8
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My new BBAA (38ft RE) has air ride front and rear. It's fine. This is my third bus and the first with air ride. I wouldn't say it's an obvious improvement over the spring suspension in my TC2000.

What is an obvious improvement is the MD3060 transmission.
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Old 11-23-2019, 10:23 PM   #9
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My new BBAA (38ft RE) has air ride front and rear. It's fine. This is my third bus and the first with air ride. I wouldn't say it's an obvious improvement over the spring suspension in my TC2000.

What is an obvious improvement is the MD3060 transmission.
The difference in Thomas air ride vs spring is VERY obvious.
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Old 11-24-2019, 12:13 AM   #10
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Also new shocks can make a huge difference if you think your bus is riding too rough.
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Old 11-24-2019, 06:49 AM   #11
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The difference in Thomas air ride vs spring is VERY obvious.
In my experience the big difference is between type D buses and dog nose buses. Granted I have a limited sample size but my TC rides smoother than any conventional bus I have been in.
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Old 11-24-2019, 06:55 AM   #12
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In my experience the big difference is between type D buses and dog nose buses. Granted I have a limited sample size but my TC rides smoother than any conventional bus I have been in.
The worst riding I've been in was a 35 foot vista with springs.
The best was my air ride Ward Senator type D.

My shorties with air ride have been comfy enough. The IC 6 window was springs and rode real nice but I still like the air ride better.

My 40 foot Thomas CE on springs rode almost as horribly as that 35 foot Vista.
The vista would launch anything not tied down when it hit even minor bumps in the road. It actually had BOUNCE in the rear it was so jarring.
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Old 11-26-2019, 12:11 AM   #13
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The difference in Thomas air ride vs spring is VERY obvious.
I recently had the dubious honor of driving a friend's 1980-something Thomas pusher (with a reasonably capable Cat 3208 that could get it to an easy 70 MPH), and it was the second worst riding school bus I've ever been in! The worst was a Amtran Genesis that both shook and deafened you, but this Thomas just shook all your fillings out. Being a pusher it wasn't noisy, unless you count the myriad of squeaks and rattles everywhere, but OMG the ride! Every crack in the road was amplified, different road surfaces resonated inside, and after an hour of it my head was hurting. My friend later told me that it had very limited travel suspension - bollocks, more like zero travel? Any air suspension would have been better.

On the other hand, some leaf-spring buses ride superbly well, smooth, quiet, composed, comfortable enough to drive all day long without fatigue. So, leaf springs are not automatically bad, any more than air bags are automatically better. Some airbag system are no better than some spring systems, while others are night-and-day different. Try to test-drive whatever you want to buy, and you may be surprised at how good or how bad different suspensions can be.

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Old 11-26-2019, 05:50 AM   #14
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Thomas air ride is real decent. Its made by Hendrickson. https://www.hendrickson-intl.com/Tru...RV-Medium-Duty

Odd that you say the Genesis was so bad. They're regarded as one of the best by drivers.
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Old 12-04-2019, 07:35 PM   #15
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After driving 18-wheelers for 27 years... I would say that air ride is the only way to go.

Now... so far as I know, all "full size" frames are standardized at 34 inches wide. So, what I dream of... is buying a complete rear axle with air ride suspension -- and locking diff while I'm at it -- for Millicent.

So far as I know (again ) ... swapping out the entire suspension-&-axle assembly should be a straight forward nuts and bolts job -- plus drilling the new holes in the frame, of course.


Edit to add:
Now I see that Hendrickson offers air suspensions that bolt to a leaf spring axle. (On most 18-wheelers, the suspension brackets are welded to the axle housing from the factory.)
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Old 12-04-2019, 08:47 PM   #16
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I have heard god things about air assist. I am considering this for phase 2 of my bus. Phase 2 will come after a few long summer trips. I recently had my bus leveled and shocks replaced. The suspension shop would not touch air ride or air assist. I suppose they didn’t want to be responsible.3E4B52E0-D014-4F90-8031-D6D2D00DC9DD.jpeg

28ECDC48-A47F-41CC-8ED1-23DD14F360C4.jpeg
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Old 12-05-2019, 08:09 AM   #17
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If a good ride is a concern you need to think tag axle. Air does improve ride but not by a lot on fully loaded bus. If you want smooth on the highway a coach with a tag axle is the way to go.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:06 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Thomas air ride is real decent. Its made by Hendrickson. https://www.hendrickson-intl.com/Tru...RV-Medium-Duty

Odd that you say the Genesis was so bad. They're regarded as one of the best by drivers.
I found that odd also. Of the 5 buses I have owned, none ride like the Genesis. I'm sure the air ride seat helps. Dang, have I really been through 5 buses.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:38 PM   #19
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Its easy to do. Especially if you don't fall in love- I keep trading up for nicer buses. Maybe one day I'll be rolling in the Crowns and Gilligs.
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Old 12-05-2019, 03:59 PM   #20
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If a good ride is a concern you need to think tag axle. Air does improve ride but not by a lot on fully loaded bus. If you want smooth on the highway a coach with a tag axle is the way to go.
A tag axle certainly would go a long way to improve ride comfort. I sometimes ponder how difficult (relatively) it would be to add a floating tag axle to any front engine skoolie.
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