cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Will Air bags make a big difference?

GaryS1953
Explorer
Explorer
So we've had a 21'5th wheel for 16 years, and love it, but it's getting long in the tooth, and it's a little small, so we bought a 2012 Shasta Revere BH, 27', 31' with the hitch. We took it on our first trip this past week and had a real problem with the truck bucking up and down and also swaying. It's 5777 dry weight, and our Chevy is a half-ton, rated up to 9400 lbs. Anyway, we made it to our destination, but I felt so uncomfortable driving it do the swaying and shaking. The camper came with an old equalizing hitch, but not sway bars, the owner said he had never felt he needed them. I called a local hitch place and had them install a Curt hitch with integrated sway control, and thought we were all set. It DID help a little with the sway but didn't seem to help much with the bucking. Any little bump we went over the truck bucked up and down and, and the steering wheel felt like the truck was over loaded. I called the hitch dealer back and he said I probably need to have airbags or something else done to strengthen the suspension. My question, would that make a huge difference? My wife says she can't ride in this truck if we can't solve this problem as the bucking and vibration makes her sick. Mind you, we've been across country several times with the 5th wheel. We had occasional bucking with that, but only when we went over severe bumps like a bad bridge transit for example. I've got $700 invested in the hitch, with little to show for it, and the airbag would cost about $1000. Well worth it, if it works, but not if it only makes a little difference. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!
Gary in Michigan
2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 Double Cab 5.3 Liter V8
1996 Coachmen Catalina RB210 21' Fifth Wheel
495 Watts Solar, 40 AMP Renogy Tracer MPPT Controller,2 GC2 6V Batts.
75 REPLIES 75

GaryS1953
Explorer
Explorer
opnspaces wrote:
Only other suggestion is to only run at 44psi when towing. For around town daily commuting drop the pressure back to what is on the label on the drivers door jamb.
I had noted earlier that I was mistaken, and the MAX PSI is stated on the tires as 44 PSI, not 35. Not sure where I got that. Thanks!
Gary in Michigan
2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 Double Cab 5.3 Liter V8
1996 Coachmen Catalina RB210 21' Fifth Wheel
495 Watts Solar, 40 AMP Renogy Tracer MPPT Controller,2 GC2 6V Batts.

opnspaces
Traveler II
Traveler II
Only other suggestion is to only run at 44psi when towing. For around town daily commuting drop the pressure back to what is on the label on the drivers door jamb.
.
2001 Suburban 4x4. 6.0L, 4.10 3/4 ton **** 2005 Jayco Jay Flight 27BH **** 1986 Coleman Columbia Popup

GaryS1953
Explorer
Explorer
Grit dog wrote:
Gary
Just for the record the higher tire pressures is just a test.
For suspension the most economical springs look like maybe the Hellwig 1500 springs.
Back to your original post yes airbags will also do the same thing and be easily adjustable where the helper spring will just make it feel more like the 3/4 ton you drove, all the time.

I wouldn’t expect it to be 100% as nice/effortless as an actual 3/4 ton if you add springs and tires but I’d expect a good improvement.
It’s always hard to explain this as how one “feels” about ride and handling is, expectedly, subjective. And my perception of comfortable may be different than yours.
But your numbers look good.
What you’re feeling is using a 1/2 ton to the upper end of its real world capabilities vs a bigger truck that would be at a lesser % of capacity.
Good luck, hope this helps you.


You've been SO helpful. I think we'll start with the Airlift Air bags. I think they ware well within my capabilities, and not terribly expensive. The tires are new within the last 6 months, so I'll keep them inflated to the max, 44 psi, and perhaps up to 50 or so if you think that is wise. Any other last suggestions appreciated before I order the air bags.
Gary in Michigan
2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 Double Cab 5.3 Liter V8
1996 Coachmen Catalina RB210 21' Fifth Wheel
495 Watts Solar, 40 AMP Renogy Tracer MPPT Controller,2 GC2 6V Batts.

GaryS1953
Explorer
Explorer
wnjj wrote:
GaryS1953 wrote:
Ok for those still following this thread and offering advice - I went back to the Cat scale, hope I've got this right.

1st ticket -Steer Axle only 5,780 The truck on only one pad.

2nd ticket Steer Axle 3,260
Drive Axle 3,460
Trailer Axle 5,940
Combination 12,660

So I added the two truck axle weights, then subtracted the truck weight, and I get a difference of 940, divide by the truck actual weight of 5780, and I get 16.26% Am I doing that right?

If you are trying to calculate the percentage of tongue weight, you should divide by the trailer's total weight. So 940/(12660-5780) is about 13.7%. Still good though.


That helps, thanks very much!
Gary in Michigan
2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 Double Cab 5.3 Liter V8
1996 Coachmen Catalina RB210 21' Fifth Wheel
495 Watts Solar, 40 AMP Renogy Tracer MPPT Controller,2 GC2 6V Batts.

JRscooby
Explorer
Explorer
GaryS1953 wrote:
Ok for those still following this thread and offering advice - I went back to the Cat scale, hope I've got this right.

1st ticket -Steer Axle only 5,780 The truck on only one pad.

2nd ticket Steer Axle 3,260
Drive Axle 3,460
Trailer Axle 5,940
Combination 12,660



Well still can't tell how much lighter the front end is with trailer than without.
And when you where airing tires did you up the pressure in front tires too? Less weight means less traction. More air means less traction plus harsher ride. That harshness could make front end feel, or even act, lighter.

Grit_dog
Explorer III
Explorer III
Gary
Just for the record the higher tire pressures is just a test.
For suspension the most economical springs look like maybe the Hellwig 1500 springs.
Back to your original post yes airbags will also do the same thing and be easily adjustable where the helper spring will just make it feel more like the 3/4 ton you drove, all the time.

I wouldn’t expect it to be 100% as nice/effortless as an actual 3/4 ton if you add springs and tires but I’d expect a good improvement.
It’s always hard to explain this as how one “feels” about ride and handling is, expectedly, subjective. And my perception of comfortable may be different than yours.
But your numbers look good.
What you’re feeling is using a 1/2 ton to the upper end of its real world capabilities vs a bigger truck that would be at a lesser % of capacity.
Good luck, hope this helps you.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

wnjj
Explorer II
Explorer II
GaryS1953 wrote:
Ok for those still following this thread and offering advice - I went back to the Cat scale, hope I've got this right.

1st ticket -Steer Axle only 5,780 The truck on only one pad.

2nd ticket Steer Axle 3,260
Drive Axle 3,460
Trailer Axle 5,940
Combination 12,660

So I added the two truck axle weights, then subtracted the truck weight, and I get a difference of 940, divide by the truck actual weight of 5780, and I get 16.26% Am I doing that right?

If you are trying to calculate the percentage of tongue weight, you should divide by the trailer's total weight. So 940/(12660-5780) is about 13.7%. Still good though.

valhalla360
Explorer III
Explorer III
GaryS1953 wrote:
Ok for those still following this thread and offering advice - I went back to the Cat scale, hope I've got this right.

1st ticket -Steer Axle only 5,780 The truck on only one pad.

2nd ticket Steer Axle 3,260
Drive Axle 3,460
Trailer Axle 5,940
Combination 12,660

So I added the two truck axle weights, then subtracted the truck weight, and I get a difference of 940, divide by the truck actual weight of 5780, and I get 16.26% Am I doing that right?

Also, I overinflated the truck tires to 55 psi, and it seemed to help with small bumps, but large bumps still cause what I call bucking, where the front and back of the truck jump up and down, and I still feel like the truck is too light in front and it seems difficult to keep the truck going straight down the road. Next thing I guess I'll probably try is adding leaf spring helpers as Grit dog suggested. Any particular type recommended? Not exactly sure what I'm looking for.

Finally I borrowed a 3/4 ton Chevy Duramax and towed the camper with that. Still, some very minor bucking, but it was like night and day, and, perhaps even more importantly, I could steer with one hand, it was that stable in the front.


Technically wrong but decipherable. 1st Ticket should have had the truck axles on separate pads but close enough we can figure things out:
- Truck goes from 5,780 to 6,720 (3260+3460), so the hitch weight is 940lb as you calculated.
- Trailer weight is 5,940 + 940 = 7,880lb. (within the trailers 9,462GVWR)
- Hitch percentage is 940lb/7,880lb = 12% (OK range)

I'm betting the 35psi is causing a lot of the issue. What was the weight rating off the side of the truck tires? At 45psi, it might be OK.
Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

GaryS1953
Explorer
Explorer
Ok for those still following this thread and offering advice - I went back to the Cat scale, hope I've got this right.

1st ticket -Steer Axle only 5,780 The truck on only one pad.

2nd ticket Steer Axle 3,260
Drive Axle 3,460
Trailer Axle 5,940
Combination 12,660

So I added the two truck axle weights, then subtracted the truck weight, and I get a difference of 940, divide by the truck actual weight of 5780, and I get 16.26% Am I doing that right?

Also, I overinflated the truck tires to 55 psi, and it seemed to help with small bumps, but large bumps still cause what I call bucking, where the front and back of the truck jump up and down, and I still feel like the truck is too light in front and it seems difficult to keep the truck going straight down the road. Next thing I guess I'll probably try is adding leaf spring helpers as Grit dog suggested. Any particular type recommended? Not exactly sure what I'm looking for.

Finally I borrowed a 3/4 ton Chevy Duramax and towed the camper with that. Still, some very minor bucking, but it was like night and day, and, perhaps even more importantly, I could steer with one hand, it was that stable in the front.
Gary in Michigan
2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 Double Cab 5.3 Liter V8
1996 Coachmen Catalina RB210 21' Fifth Wheel
495 Watts Solar, 40 AMP Renogy Tracer MPPT Controller,2 GC2 6V Batts.

Grit_dog
Explorer III
Explorer III
44 will help. Try 55 to see how stout tires feel. You still have marginal at best tires.
Flipped axles shouldn’t matter at all except a little higher center of gravity. Won’t make it buck more.
2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

GaryS1953
Explorer
Explorer
opnspaces wrote:
Hi Gary, when you say your tires have a max load of 35 PSI where are you getting that number? Is that on the sticker on the drivers door jamb or on the tire itself? The tires should have a max pressure of 45PSI cold embossed directly on the sidewall of the tire.

I would at least put the rear truck tires at max cold (max cold is first thing in the morning before you drive more than a few blocks) But as Grit says if the 45 is still not right you can try 65 PSI and drive it for a few miles for a test.
Oh boy, now I'm feeling REALLY stupid. I could swear I saw it on the tire, 35 max PSI, but you are right, it says 44 PSI. I will be airing them up shortly.
Gary in Michigan
2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 Double Cab 5.3 Liter V8
1996 Coachmen Catalina RB210 21' Fifth Wheel
495 Watts Solar, 40 AMP Renogy Tracer MPPT Controller,2 GC2 6V Batts.

wnjj
Explorer II
Explorer II
GaryS1953 wrote:
To Grit dog, By the way, forgot to mention that the previous owner had flipped the axle on this trailer. Not sure why. Seems to me with adjustable hitches it really only makes sense to do it on 5th wheels, not TTs. In any case, could that be contributing to our issues?

Flipping TT axles helps with ground clearance. The previous owner may have had a parking space with a steep angled driveway to back into.

valhalla360
Explorer III
Explorer III
What is the weight rating on the side of the tire? If 35psi is the max pressure, the tires may have a lower rating than the rear axle. Soft squishy car tires may be fine running around empty but overload them and the ride can get squirrely and you risk a blowout.
Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

opnspaces
Traveler II
Traveler II
Hi Gary, when you say your tires have a max load of 35 PSI where are you getting that number? Is that on the sticker on the drivers door jamb or on the tire itself? The tires should have a max pressure of 45PSI cold embossed directly on the sidewall of the tire.

I would at least put the rear truck tires at max cold (max cold is first thing in the morning before you drive more than a few blocks) But as Grit says if the 45 is still not right you can try 65 PSI and drive it for a few miles for a test.
.
2001 Suburban 4x4. 6.0L, 4.10 3/4 ton **** 2005 Jayco Jay Flight 27BH **** 1986 Coleman Columbia Popup

JRscooby
Explorer
Explorer
GaryS1953 wrote:
To Grit dog, By the way, forgot to mention that the previous owner had flipped the axle on this trailer. Not sure why. Seems to me with adjustable hitches it really only makes sense to do it on 5th wheels, not TTs. In any case, could that be contributing to our issues?


That can really make a difference in the way a trailer handles. If done right, raising COG is never a good thing. Add the fact it would be hard to be sure it was done right.