Busy building, electrical and water services contractors expect a lot from their vehicles’ suspension, because they have to carry so much equipment to do different construction, site development, reticulation and plumbing work.
Frequently they are piled high with cement, steel, tanks, welding gear, cabling and tools and that’s just the tray. Often there’s also a trailer tagging along behind, weighing on the springs and affecting the vehicles stability and safety.
The oddly shaped, uneven and widely varying loads on different trips can ultimately wear down the springs and lead to excessive body roll, sagging and reliability issues that no busy tradesman can afford.
According to Northmead Civil, one relies on vehicle day in, day out, so one needs to ensure it’s reliable and safe. On a busy site, the last thing one wants to be worrying about is whether the vehicles going to get through the job.
Mark operates a 2000 2.7 litre Toyota Hilux ute, which is constantly called upon to carry the full paraphernalia of the business he and his father Lyall operate throughout busy Sydney worksites, often also towing a box trailer containing a pressure washer.
They certainly had issues with body roll and sag. They also wanted to optimise load capacity and safety, and make sure the tail did not drag when carrying a full load or towing as they valued thier reputation for reliability and safety. They contacted All Air Suspensions, which distributes Ride-Rite technology throughout NSW in conjunction with the national Airbag Man organisation.
Ian Murphy’s own 2004 BA Falcon AWD RTV flatbed ute is equipped with a Firestone Ride-Rite kit, so he practices what he preaches.
Not only does the Ride-Rite air helper suspension system give better ride and handling, these are the same springs often fitted to luxury 4wds and as original equipment to leading heavy truck brands, but also the air springs can be inflated to different pressures to cope with uneven loads and varying weight distribution.
Instead of beating the life out of suspensions not designed for the battering dished out by NSW roads, these air springs protect the existing springs and chassis of the vehicle as well as the driver. By simply adding or removing air they can maintain the same vehicle height under different load conditions. This gives ideal performance and safety from empty to full. Fitted between the chassis and leaf springs, they absorb the increasing weight of loads that cause vehicles to sag or lean, resulting in hazardous driving conditions and wear and tear on the vehicle's tyres, suspension and frame.
Ride-Rite air helper springs work with the existing suspension to re-level loaded vehicles to their ideal configuration, which is with frame and body parallel to the ground, as in an unloaded vehicle. Ride-Rite kits also have benefits when the vehicle is empty, because the air pressure takes the strain off existing leaf springs, preventing sagging and helping them to last longer.
Mark Telfer says the improvement with the Ride-Rite installation has been outstanding as it’s removed the body roll and the vehicle does not drag its backside when it’s towing. Even though the truck has 77,000km on it now, it rides flat and true.
This vehicle was in good condition when they brought it from a careful country user and they wanted to keep it that way. Now they can pump 40-45psi into the airbags to support heavy loads and take the weight of the leaf springs. The vehicle is riding at the right height, braking well and steering well. Once they we changed the braking load adjuster to accommodate the helper springs, they were ideal.
Firestone Rite-Rite suspension systems from All Air Suspension and Airbag Man are designed for light trucks, utes, vans and 4wd work vehicles fitted with conventional leaf-spring suspensions. (Full air conversions are also available for a number of more popular coil-sprung vehicles)
Ride Rite springs (inflated by standard workshop compressors or optional onboard compressor systems) can handle 0-7 bar (0-100 psi) and up to 1100kg each (subject to chassis gross vehicle weight limits).
Ride-Rite products and accessories include:
Basic Ride-Rite kits for different types of vehicles, including two air helper springs, air lines with separate tyre-type inflation valves, hardware for proper installation
Ride-Rite Air Compressor Accessory kit, containing a 12-volt air compressor, half gallon (2.25 litre) tank, pressure switch and tubing to inflate not only the air helper springs, but also tyres.
Ride-Rite Dual Cab Control Kit, Single Cab Control Kit, Automatic Control Kit and Level Command Kits. These can provide in-cab adjustment for unbalanced loads, including back-to-front and side-to-side loading problems.