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Old 03-02-2014, 11:14 AM   #1
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air bags or stable load

We have a new (2012) 3500 Ram to pull our 2009 Montana Big Sky. Do you all think adding air bags are necessary, or can we get away with the less expensive product--Stable Load?
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Old 03-02-2014, 11:29 AM   #2
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It depends what you are after and what you want. Most less expensive products will provide more stability and support as loads are in the heavier end of the weight scale (Stable Load, super springs, etc). Air bags provide much more flexibility especially if you purchase the controller and compressor (this is what I have).

You don't describe what truck you have, but there's even the argument that if one has a dually you might not even need anything since the extra tires provide the comfort and stability of products you mention. You might even have the luxury of towing a few times and discovering you might not need anything. In my case, with my SRW, I needed something and the flexibility too, since I tow more than just my fiver. I am very happy with my Air Bags. It's like night and day for me. For example, I use 55-60 when towing the Monty, 20-40 when towing other, lighter trailers, or several settings depending how much I'm carrying in the truck bed (furniture, appliances, camping gear, firewood, etc.) and/or towing different trailers at the same time.

With an inexpensive load spring one does not get the flexibility to change the aspect and comfort. One has only what it provides and sometimes it can be a little stiff. The real importance to load stabilizers is to prevent sag and but one might lose some suspension travel or keep the headlights aimed too high from the sag. With my air bags and measuring that the angle is the same even when not loaded, my headlights do not elevate into oncoming traffic at all.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:49 PM   #3
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As Art said, the flexibility is what counts. On our F350 I inflate vary from 10 to 25 lbs depending on how loaded our Monty is to level everything. If we're using the truck to carry our arts & crafts show stuff, I have about 10 lbs, otherwise I leave them empty. By the by, I take a bicycle pump with us to fill the bags if I need to when away from a compressor. One doesn't really need to have one on board.
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:27 PM   #4
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X2 what has been said. I went with Firestone bags with on-board compressor because I wanted the flexibility for changing pressure when pulling Montana, when empty, and when pulling a 24' enclosed car hauler trailer. If I was just wanting a beefed up suspension for pulling my Montana once and awhile and I didn't use my SRW for other purposes, I would have had another spring installed instead of the huge expense of the bags with compressor. I have not had a dually so I wouldn't have an opinion on that.
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:38 PM   #5
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We also went with airbags due to flexibility. I knew with the SOB that I didn't need them, but setup for the Monte and don't yet have the vehicle so not sure how much air will be needed. There may be additional stability with the airbags that a spring system doesn't provide, but I'm shooting from the hip on that one. We really like them; I can tell you that. We also have the air compressor and switch controller, and I've used the air compressor to fill the 5th airborne bag on my SOB before we sold it.
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Old 03-03-2014, 03:31 AM   #6
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We have the same set up you have I think. We have a 3500 2012 ram dually with a 2009 Big Sky. We did not add anything to our truck and it works perfect. We have a B&W hitch and did have to move it to the rear position. We did order the Timbren kit thinking it would be helpful and when put on caused the RV to buck so much that it broke glasses inside the RV. They also made the truck ride like a farm wagon when not Towing the RV. A lot of people love them we just did not. Took them off and it rides and tow well with no additions. We are very pleased with how level it sits and the ride.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:38 AM   #7
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I went with the air bags, I could have got away without them, but with headlight adjusted for TV unloaded, then throw 2000# in back and the lights can,t stay in adjustment. I liked being able to keep the truck level loaded or not.
That and having the Monty ride on air in nice extra benefit.
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Old 03-03-2014, 04:48 AM   #8
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With our Ford dually we found out that Ford beefs up the 350 SRW rear suspension with one stronger leaf spring, and it is not the same with the 350 DRW, in order to have same load capacity for both trucks, and as a result we had rear end drop with the DRW that changed the alignment of the two part drive shaft resulting in a slight shudder at start. Air bags became necessary, and stopped both the drop and shudder.
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Old 03-03-2014, 05:39 AM   #9
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We also have the air bags on our 3500 Dodge. Would not be without them if you carry heavy loads. I didn't get the compressor though as I carry a small compressor in the Montana.

I made the mistake on previous truck of having the air lines tied together to each air bag. I thought this would make it easier when adding air to the bags having only one connection and then the bags would be filled evenly. BAD IDEA! The air flows from one bag to the other when going around curves and the truck leans even more under load. Keep the lines separate!!!
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Old 03-03-2014, 06:10 AM   #10
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If your truck is stock I doubt you will want to add anything. Dodges are factory raked to where the rear is a couple inches higher then your front. Made that way so when you do put a load on it now levels the truck. That is why they make a leveling kit for guys who want their truck to look level empty. Buuuut when you do that and throw a load on now you are squatting a little bit. My truck is leveled and I am probably gonna get air bags just so my head lights stay where they should. It squats a little bit but nothing I would worry about other then the lights.
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:06 AM   #11
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I added Firestones to the 06 3500 SRW to bring the ride height back to normal when hauling the trailer. I'm not sure if I'll need to add them to the new truck or not.
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:16 AM   #12
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quote:Originally posted by dtgundy

We have a new (2012) 3500 Ram to pull our 2009 Montana Big Sky. Do you all think adding air bags are necessary, or can we get away with the less expensive product--Stable Load?
Is your 3500 a SRW or DRW? Does it have the leaf overload spring on top of the normal spring pack? What is the GAWR of the rear axle?

Do you know the loaded pin weight of your trailer?

Need to know all the above. What works on my truck may not work on yours.


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Old 03-03-2014, 02:14 PM   #13
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I don't have Timbrens but some brand of overload helpers (sorry don't remember the brand, they cause the overloads to engage quicker) and firestone bags since we also have a heavy truck camper I wanted backup if my bags failed. When we first bought the Monty I didn't "need" to use the bags but once fully loaded for fulltime I've had to start using them. No way I'd be without them now.
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Old 03-03-2014, 02:29 PM   #14
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Hmmmm, gotta think about that. Several months after having the air bags installed one of the inflators went bad and I couldn't inflate or deflate one side bags and it was stuck at about 15 lbs (way too low to prevent sag but at least not below the 7 lb limit). But I reduced the air on the other side so it was even proceeded on my way home and Firestone overnighted two new controls free of charge. While the control stopped working prior to departing from the campground, on the way home the ride home was like it was prior to buying the bags (low and saggy and with shudder) and the package with the two controllers were at home when I arrived. After parking the rig in my driveway and unhitching and putting things away, I went underneath and replaced just the one failing one and I carry the other as a spare. So yes, the air bags do fail, but it's only been once for me. I don't have plans to install any type springhelper as a backup, though but it is an interesting thought.

Note: This happened because I kept the air lines separate. The part that went bad was the inflator for the left side. The left side went kaput but the other side was fine but I had to deflate it to keep it even with the defective side. It is best to inflate each side separately. Plus then there's also the chance there's more weight on one side than the other and you might need to inflate each side differently. I measure the distance to the top of the tires to the fender before and after inflation and periodically during each trip to ensure the aspect of the TV.
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Old 03-03-2014, 02:41 PM   #15
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We added airbags to our Dually for the purpose of keeping the truck and Montana level. We only have to keep 20 lbs of air in them when the Montana is attached to bring everything to level. The truck rides very rough without the Montana attached if I keep the bags inflated. We keep maybe 5lbs in them when solo.
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Old 03-04-2014, 11:17 AM   #16
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08 F250 SRW. Without airbags the rear sagged (photo in signature is pre-airbags) and when we towed our 14.5K lb Monty down the highway, we would get an up/down wave effect after dips in the road. Added airbags, now, with 65lbs in the bags, the truck is level and rides like a dream, no more wave effect. I sometimes forget the Monty is behind us. I added the airbags only, no compressor due to cost. I did however extend the airbag fill port up along the inside of the bed to sidewall at the left rear corner. Then I just use a portable compressor to fill the bags.
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Old 03-04-2014, 01:03 PM   #17
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Wow I hear about sagging with people that have 3500 duallies ,my old 1999 SRW F350 needed them and I loved them but my 2003 Chev 3500 dually rides Perfectly level without airbags it rides like a dream even with my heavier 3402rl, airbags or Timbrens would be a waste of money for me anyway
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Old 03-04-2014, 01:06 PM   #18
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I have Firestone airbags but don't believe I need them with my current rig. They will, however, come in handy if I ever get a heavier Monty.
I suggest you try it without the air bags 1st and see how you like the ride. You may just save some money. The Dodge trucks do come stock with some rake (as mentioned previously). Mine did.
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Old 03-04-2014, 01:47 PM   #19
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I have pacbrake air bags and I absolutely love them. I didn't need them until I started hauling heavier than the Monty, but I still put about 40-50psi in them when carrying the Monty. They really take out the bounce at highway speeds. I installed a Tee so that both bags are connected by the same air source, and put the fill valve in the rear bumper just above the trailer 7plug. Easy to access and fill both bags equally. Would definitely do them again.
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Old 03-08-2014, 01:12 PM   #20
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How does the rig sit NOW. You may not need them or anythingelse. Personally I wouldn't install anything untill you have determined how the rig sits or you may simply waste money for a feature that will gather dust.

If you need them, get them. Find out first.
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