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Air Suspension Information

Old 04-19-2004, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Lance
I just picked up my xB today!! I checked out the rear suspension and saw that baggin it would be a pretty simple task (simple and air ride?? yea right) but I really need some pics Eric!! Just a little direction. I understand your orginal fron cyclinder set up with the plates on the bolt but how else would you do it? I am crazy excited to get this project underway. Thanks in advance.

Lance
hi lance. congrats on your scion purchase! yes, the back is pretty straightforward. the front can be done a few ways, and i've seen a few different setups. you can use a strut bag which is in the shape of a strut and bolts right in and has an airbag built in. you can also do what i did and take the stock strut top and bolt it to a plate that bolts on a cylinder. but then you need to make the bottom brackets that bolt on where the stock strut bolts. to do this, i used the nut from the bottom of the rod that came with the cylinder and welded 2 plates to it. then i drilled holes in it, threaded it onto the rod and mounted it.

hopefully someone will come out with an xB kit that all bolts in, because then anyone can install it. ok, not anyone, but it will be way easier. actually, this was my first air install. without the help of my friend nick, who has done over 100 air installs, i wouldn't have had a clue what to do. i learned a lot by doing it, although i dont feel that i'm good enough to do another car from scratch if i had to make all the brackets and stuff.

also, i wanted to let everyone know that i currently have 4x6 smc cylinders. that means they are about 4" in diameter and have a 6" stroke, which is a lot for our little cars. i love how high i can get, but it is my goal to get as low as possible, so i am going to have to sell these cylinders and get some 4x4s. if anyone is interested, i am selling both cylinders for $300 or best offer. so if you want them or know anyone who does, let me know. they have some small scratches on the outside, but work perfectly. they're fast and reliable. these are not like the cheap cylinders you get in those $999 air kits.
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Old 04-19-2004, 02:40 AM
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aiight I think when my cash flow starts up I am going to do this...but my only real worry is the air suspensions effect on my warranty. I mean I know that there is no way I could roll into a dealership with my box dunked and start compalining about blown shocks or torn up cv joints, but what if, say my engine fails internally at no fault of my own, are they going to be able to claim that my vehicle is altered and void of its warranty. Sorry but this is my first vehicle thats not a used car with a 3 month warranty you kno? Well If i went with a coilover system I would probally end up going with a turbo setup...man why does everything fun have consequences? Thanks in advance
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Old 04-19-2004, 09:18 AM
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i would like to see suspension pics
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Old 04-19-2004, 10:01 PM
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For those who are worried about losing their ride quality, I would suggest avoiding the cyliners and going w/ strut bags.

I have a 1998 s-10 on air, and I had cylinder in the back so I could do a 3 wheel, however the ride quality suffered, so went w/ a bag set up, now it rides like a cadillac.

As for the noise w/ the compressor, just mount it under the vehicle w/ the valves. From some of the pics I have seen, looks like it should fit.
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Old 04-20-2004, 01:48 AM
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cylinders are only used in the front of my car and the ride is good because they have built in accumulators. i haven't tried them in the rear, but the way i have it with cylinders in the front and bags in the back is a good ride. no one would complain about the ride knowing there is air on my car. even if you didn't know, you would just think i had lowering springs or something. it's not bad at all, suprisingly. it's hard to explain to people because no one believes me.
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:08 AM
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low n slow, cylinders ride bad in the back of a truck, becuase of the weight of the vehicle.
too light. the same holds true in the back of a car, the cylinders don't ride that well unles you add an accumulator, or buy the ones with interior bumpstops (or accumulators).
that said, Bags totally ride better then cylinders anyday.
however, IMO I hate strut bags, not enough lift, and they really don't ride that much better.
in a scion, I'd either cut out the strut towers and run bags all the way around, or cylinder the front, and leave bags in the back.


PS. how did the 3 wheel work out? there is a guy around here who can 3 wheel using bags on the back.
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Old 04-21-2004, 02:54 AM
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Default all about my setup, part 1.

you know, i never tried to do 3 wheel. i know i can't do it in the rear because of the single rear axle design, but i guess i could get another valve and have one front wheel suck up. i just never really wanted to do it. maybe one day.

ok, i've been getting a lot of emails requesting pictures and more info on air stuff. now i took some pics, but the quality is not that great, and you will see how ghetto some of my brackets are. but that's ok. this was done for me and the labor was free so it might not be as nice as something that cost $3500 to have installed. but everything is safe and the components are good quality from what i've researched.

so i will tell the story with pictures. this is going to be a long post...
all these pics will have the same wheels and tires for reference.

first we have my car sitting on goldline lowering springs. about a 2" drop from stock.




it's a decent height, but notice i used really low profile tires because i intended to get the car low and i needed small wheels and small tires to get the body as close to the ground as possible. having the gap between fender and tire is what most people see first, but i also wanted to get the car physically low, not just make it look lowered. when i had my 19" wheels and air suspension, the car was still like 5" above the ground. an xB with 2" drop springs and 19" wheels is around 8" from the ground, or more. the xBs with 20" wheels are even higher. that's not my thing. i like to roll low. i would have prefered 18 or 19" wheels, but i didn't want to go to the extremes that that green xB did with cutting the strut tower and c-notching the axles. but i think that's awesome they did that.

when i had my air stuff off, i took some pictures. i will post those now. here is an overview of all my stuff.



in the back is the 5 gallon tank, to the left are 2 small compressors, then you can see the 8 valve assemblies. the black box is an air pressure switch to put air in the tank when it needs it. it shuts on and off automatically. behind that are the 2 bags and to the right are the cylinders.

here is a closeup of the cups used for the bags. these acutally face up and sit in the spot where the springs sit. every time you lower the car from a lift or something, you have to "set" the bags in the little bump, and they stay in there unless you jack up the car again. not that big of a deal, really. it was the easiest way to do it.



please excuse the surface rust. it's just mild steel for the cups.

the cups were made by TIG welding a piece of steel tubing inside a larger piece of steel tubing, which was welded to a plate that has a hole in the middle. then that gets bolted to the bag and you're done. then on the bottom on the car you just cut out the little bump for the spring and weld in a piece of metal with holes in it, and the bag mounts to that. you put a fitting in the bottom and you're done with the bags.


to be continued...
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:09 AM
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Default all about my setup, part 2.

ok, the next custom thing is the cylinder bracket. i'm sure there are 1000 ways to do this, but not a lot of people actually know how to do air on a macpherson setup. but more and more are learning all the time. it's actually not that hard. here is what we did:



the cylinder is a 4" diameter with a 6" stroke, made by SMC. it's made in japan and all the threading is metric, which is fine by me, but it's hard to get metric bolts sometimes. fortunately, these cylinders come with a big nut screwed onto the rod. so we used that to make the bracket, which looks like the stock strut. 2 plates were fabricated and welded to a piece of tubing which was around the same size as the nut. then that was welded to the nut and it all gets screwed on to the cylinder and tightened. this was designed to sit up as high as possible, and holes were drilled in so they bolt on just like stock. the clearance between the metal and the cylinder when it's all the way down is minimal, but it does not rub. these plates might look ghetto, but they actually worked out quite well. they also allow a small bit of play to make minor alignment changes, and overall i'm satisfied with how they turned out.

here is a picture of the bottom of the cylinder and the bracket in the car right now:



now the top is really simple but unfortunately i don't have pictures of the bracket i made. i will explain it though. basically, the cylinder has 4 holes on top. we took a 4" by 4" piece of metal, drilled 4 holes in it, and bolted it on to the cylinder. then we got a bolt and welded it to the middle of the plate. then, the stock strut top was removed from the strut assembly and mounted on the nut, just like it's mounted on the stock shock shaft. a washer and lock nut is placed on the bolt and the whole strut top is able to spin even when the nut is tight because there is a bearing in there. there is also a rubber cushion which not only makes the ride better, but takes a lot of stress off the cylinders, especially when turning, and allows the car to handle a little better.

i wanted my car lower the first time we did the air, and so we rigged up a bracket which got my car about 1" lower. it looked awesome, but my car creaked a lot and my strut tower kept breaking and i had to reweld it like 50 times, and now my engine bay looks like crap. especially since my car is white. so i would not recommend doing cylinders in the front unless you have a darn good plan on how to allow the cylinder to rotate freely. it's all about safety for me, although i wish i had it as low as before. that is why i'm planning on going to a 4x4 cylinder. if you are running 17" or larger tires, this won't matter because you won't be able to get this low without rubbing anyway, but for me, i need a smaller cylinder to reach my car's full lowering potential.

next up, part 3: assembling valves and installing the other parts...
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:32 AM
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Default my air setup: part 3.

ok, i'm back with part 3. valves, compressors, tank, etc.

but first an intermission...now i didn't mention this before but i should let some of the new guys here know that i didn't know one thing about air until i started on this project with a friend. we planned it out in advance, got all the parts, then did the install in his garage in a weekend. all the brackets were made from scratch and we had no one to copy since this was july 2003, and most people had no idea what a scion even was. and i am not 100% sure, but i like to think i had the first xB on air. not that it matters. but i just wanted to say that i don't think i'm all that or anything. there are 5000 way cooler scions than mine. my goal was to get low. and i did it. so i'm happy. my last car was a subaru wrx and the goal was to go fast. it was pretty fast, but the problem with performance is there is always someone faster than you. and i didn't have the money to keep up. at the same time, i was getting speeding tickets and there were too many close calls. i always liked low rider trucks and i loved the bB since i first saw it, so a trade in was inevitable when the scion was released june 6th, 2003.

ok, back to part 3. the valves. when assembled, they look like this:



i used SMC industrial quality valves. i have a degree in the automation/robotics field and i used to work for an automation company and we only used SMC valves, fittings, and other parts. it lasts a long time in an industrial setting and so i figured it would be great for my car as well. the valves can actually work with air or oil, so that kind of shows how tough they are. each side of the car has 2 valves. the air goes in, and one valve controls the air going from the tank to the cylinder or bag. the other valve is used to release the air. if you open both valves at once, the air will just flow out and you will waste air. i feel this is the best way to set it up, although you can use 2 valves for 2 sides, which is not as reliable and will result in poor handling. the black wire of each valve grounds to the body and the red wires go to the swtiches. the other side of the switches go to 12v, and that is what clicks the valves on and off. pretty simple, actually. basic automation. the valve assemblies were mounted with self tapping screws to the bottom of my car, up above the lowest point on the car, and have never come close to hitting anything. i've never had valves come loose or anything. once you screw them in, you're done.

i mounted my 5 gallon tank to the bottom of my car in the very rear. on the scion, there is a nice space for it. the only problem is that when the car is all the way down, there is almost no clearance between the tank and the ground and it can spark at night. that looks cool until it wears a hole in the tank and your car permanently drops down while driving. hasn't happened to me yet, but it's a concern. of course, you could cut a hole in the rear and mount the tank higher, but i have a speaker box back there and i kept my spare tire so i had to put it where it is. there are longer, skinnier tanks available, and i'm sure those would fit as well, but i haven't tried.

my compressors are small, but work well. they have braided lines coming from them and of course hook directly to the tank, so they need to be close to the tank. again, i don't have a picture of these installed, but i will try to take some later. basically, they mount way back, even behind the tank, and sit right up against the rear bumper and underspoiler piece. the pressure switch is set to turn on if the pressure goes below 150psi, and also screws into the tank on the opposite side as the compressors, facing the front of the car. it hooks up to the red wire on the compressors. also out of the pressure switch is a big power wire which is fused and goes right to the battery. this gives power for the compressors. so compressor power and valve power are from 2 seperate sources.

once all that is installed, it's time to connect the tubing. my tubing is 1/2" OD and is plenty big enough for my car. too big, i think. i need to add something to slow down the valves because it's hard to make fine adjustments. the car jumps up and down almost as fast as hydraulics. mainly because the car is so light, i think. anyway, make sure all tubing on left and right is the same length and connect it from the tank to the valves, and from valves to the cylinders/bags. make sure the tubing will not scrape on the ground, kink, get too close the exhaust pipe, or rub on the tire or anything that will cause it to wear down over time. it's common sense, but still something to think about when positioning the wires. you can use plastic brackets or cable ties to secure the tubing if you need to.

i'm sure i missed something but those are the basics. last, you can wire up the switch box to the valves. i have a custom box with only 3-3 position switches. but they control everything i need. i used a series of diodes to prevent backflow of power, which is the secret to using only 6 switches for F-B-S-S instead of 10 or so. i guess you can do it without the diodes, but i wouldn't risk it.

part 4 will be pictures of my car, lowered, raised, and in between so you can see the results of all that work.
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Old 04-21-2004, 03:42 AM
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Default all about my setup, part 4.

ok, here is how the car looks with my current setup. i just took these pics. the lighting was poor but you get the point. i had to screw with the contrast too, because my wheels are so dark and i wanted them to be visible in the pics.

here is my car fully raised:




here is my car somewhere in the middle position, maybe a little higher than i would have for driving.


and here it is all the way down. it's sitting in a wierd driveway that slopes down in front and back, so it looks a little higher than it is. usually it's pretty darn close to the ground in the front and rear. the frame is actually sitting on the ground in the middle of the car. i tried to get under the car to take a pic, but it didn't turn out.




so yeah, i wish the front was lower, but overall it still looks pretty cool i think. the back is really low, which is cool. just about rubbing on the fuel filler hose. if my wheels or tires were any bigger, it would totally rub on the fuel hose, so i'm pretty fortunate, i just missed it.

now all i need is a red genie body kit and it will look really low!! i at least need to get a front lip because it looks a little high in my opinion.

any questions or comments about anything i said are welcome. i just wanted to have this post for people to learn about this subject that is interesting and often talked about, but rarely discussed in depth. i'm gladf phatfront is here because he knows a lot more than me and can answer the hard questions. i can answer most of the scion specific questions though since i've put air on my scion twice now.
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:26 AM
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rear lower bracket?? We need a pic of the rear lower bracket please!! I am having a little dilema right now and its between My warranty and my need for my first air ride equipped vehicle. MAN!!!! I wanna rock air ride but I think I am gonna hold off till about 40-50K miles I think but I am gonna start getting all my airride stuff together get real quality stuff and be all ready when I decide its go time. Aiight man I really appriciate the pics. Oh yea what kindo maintenace do you do regularly to keep your suspension in top running condition? Thanks you've been a great help.
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Old 04-21-2004, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Lance
rear lower bracket?? We need a pic of the rear lower bracket please!! I am having a little dilema right now and its between My warranty and my need for my first air ride equipped vehicle. MAN!!!! I wanna rock air ride but I think I am gonna hold off till about 40-50K miles I think but I am gonna start getting all my airride stuff together get real quality stuff and be all ready when I decide its go time. Aiight man I really appriciate the pics. Oh yea what kindo maintenace do you do regularly to keep your suspension in top running condition? Thanks you've been a great help.
ok listen up, if you are worried about your warranty: FORGET ABOUT AIR. now, keep in mind that they can't void an engine or tranny failure because you have air, but other things may be effected. not that anything is going to break on our cars, they're really solid.

maintenance: i just try to inspect all the tubing and make sure nothing is rubbing and that both compressors are still running and that everything is still tight. those are the main things. also, make sure the cylinders are in good shape. so far everything has been cool. i took my car on several trips to santa barbara and back without any issues before.

by the way, my car has over 30,000 miles on it and not a single warranty issue. i change the oil and that's about it. what a great car.

i'll try to take some pictures of the rear bracket tomorrow. it's really basic. you just cut out the bottom and weld on that plate. if you want to go back to stock, you just weld the stock hump piece back over the plate. simple.
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Old 04-23-2004, 03:12 AM
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i was just wondering if anyone would like to post links to companys that might have air suspension products that would give people different options for air suspension...

www.aimindustries.com

www.showtimehydraulics.com

www.deviouscustoms.com

www.teampneumatic.com
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Old 04-23-2004, 03:16 AM
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sorry all the links didnt work............ ....but you can type them in and they should work
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Old 04-23-2004, 08:01 AM
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i fixed the links for you.

i got all my stuff from a place called pacific air technology in mission viejo. actually, they bought a company called MIC and have a nice storefront and can get pretty much anything you need. they sell quality stuff and can also give advice. the website is www.masterimagecustoms.com.

also, i don't recommend going to AIM for parts because they sell crappy stuff in my opinion. i'm sorry if anyone is friends with people who work there are anything, but everyone i've talked to who bought parts from AIM has had problems with things breaking, leaking, and not working right. that's no good when you're dealing with your suspension. it needs to be as solid as possible.
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Old 04-23-2004, 09:09 AM
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thanks for fixing those links eric, here are some more places to get some air suspension parts online.......

www.diaxiscustoms.com

www.suicidedoors.com

www.airgasmkustomz.com

www.silverstarcustoms.com

www.airride.com

www.prohopperhydraulics.com



and as far as installation for air ive heard that www.ifcustom.com and www.deviouscutoms.com are reputable places to go...

and as far as aim, their stuff is kinda cheesy but if you want to go the cheap way they will get you there.
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Old 04-23-2004, 06:35 PM
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Eric,
the ride looks sick.
GReat job.


Also, I agree AIM sux.. (pretty much a know fact).

Also one of those links Ifcustoms... I F is a great company, since most of you guys are in Cali, I'd suggest cruising by there and talking to DAvid. He's one of the nicest guys around and is willing to share is knowledge of air. (although it might cost you a beer or 2).
Can't wait to see more scions on air..

Eric? Where are you getting your new cylinders? Also this may have been just a bad batch, but most of the SMC valves (10mm & 15mm) had a hard time passing water and would stick. a water seperator between the comps and tank usually fixed the problem. Have you experinced the same thing?

Big Props!
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Old 04-24-2004, 01:47 AM
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actually, i've never had a problem with my cylinders sticking at all. they work perfectly every time, cold, hot, if i don't use them for a while, whatever. i'm very happy with the SMC stuff and i'm sorry if you got a bad batch before but i would recommend them to anyone based on my experience with them.

i'm going to make some adjustments to my air setup this weekend and i'll try to take more pics of the stuff installed in the car, as well as the top and bottom mounts for the cylinders and the bottom mount for the bags for those who are interested.

thanks for the compliments.

eric.
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Old 04-24-2004, 02:26 AM
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yeah i just wanna be as low as possible also, before i got into my scion i had a chevy silverado that was bagged but had stock rims and i was happy with it. i have always liked the low life be fore that i had a 1968 impala with hydros but got tired of the maitenence bagged is the only way to go. i would love to see some more pics of different options for the front suspension. thanks for all the info eric and everybody that put in their own 2 cents...
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Old 04-24-2004, 10:10 AM
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ok, it's 2am and i just got home. i managed to get my car a little bit lower. i parked it in the grass in front of my parents house where i did the work for some quick pictures. sorry they didn't turn out too well.





what a difference compared to this picture from the day i got my car, 6.6.03.



i like how low my car looks, but i would definitely recommend using 6" cylinders instead of 4". my car goes up 4" less than it used to, and it's barely 2" lower. so it's not really worth losing all that travel to get it a little lower. but it was what i wanted to do. it was fun cruising around with the front really high and the back slammed, and now i can't do that anymore. oh well. ok, time for bed.
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