add airbags or shed weight? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-09-2020, 09:25 AM   #1
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Name: K
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Iowa
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add airbags or shed weight?

I have a truck with the towing option. It has a FG top and cargobox, which weigh about 240lbs. In the truck bed I guess I have about 350 lbs of stuff, and about 50 lbs in the cargobox (all large light-weight things). This totals 240+350+50 = 640 lbs, which is enough to make the rear sag a little. When I hook up the rv, which I think is about 300 lbs hitch weight, it sags more. Last time I moved, I had to get a taller hitch to level the rv, but my headlights still shined up in the air. I'm not sure the best way to fix this. I got the Leer top because I figured it would give me a secure "garage" to store stuff outside the rv. I got the cargobox because some stuff, like original rv cushions, were enormous but light-weight. I have no idea how much weight I should I should have in the back of the truck when I'm towing. I'm guessing if the lights are in the trees, I have too much weight. Or maybe I just need to get "airbags" or something else to level my truck. I could replace the Leer and Yakima with a 80lb hard tonneau cover, and eliminate 160lbs, but I would have very little cargo space. My options seem to be: 1 - Eliminate belongings 2 - Eliminate cargobox and/or box 3 - Add airbags to truck
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Old 05-09-2020, 09:42 AM   #2
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It sounds like you have the gear you want to take with you. And it sounds like you haven't noticed any poor handling from the truck. So why not adjust the headlights? Easy. Set them to be right when traveling, and allow them to be a bit low when unloaded. That strategy works for me.

If you don't like the sagging, you'll have to either get a WDH or add airbags or overload springs to the rear of the truck. Air bags would be the simplest because you can simply adjust the pressure to level the truck, as long as it still handles well, and you didn't mention any handling problems.
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Old 05-09-2020, 04:59 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2004 13 ft Scamp Custom Deluxe
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I'm not a big fan at this level but how about a WDH?
They make a small one , I have a friend with a smallish Sticky and he uses a WDH on his Ridgeline with good success.
Your Nissan should be just as strong?
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Old 05-09-2020, 06:28 PM   #4
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Trailer: Casita 16 ft
Texas
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Air Bags

I used to have a Ford Ranger p/u towing an A-frame pop up. The air bag kit was cheaper than a WDH, so I installed the air bags. Did it in the driveway. Must be very careful on the bracket install, you only want to drill holes in the frame ONCE.

Improved the ride when not towing, and made it a good comfortable ride when towing. Used a $20 12 volt air compressor, just added or let out air to level out. Keep a yardstick handy.

When I bought the Casita, it came with a WDH, so I used both. Then 3 years ago bought a full size p/u, didn't need WDH or air bags. Got better gas mileage. Ride is as good. Now the Ranger costs about the same as a full size.
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Old 05-09-2020, 07:12 PM   #5
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Name: Steve
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Originally Posted by whoot View Post
I have a 2014 Nissan Frontier Crewcab with the towing option (6500 lb tow limit). It has a Leer top and Yakima cargobox, which weigh about 240lbs. In the truck bed I guess I have about 350 lbs of stuff, and about 50 lbs in the Yakima box (all large light-weight things). This totals 240+350+50 = 640 lbs, which is enough to make the rear sag a little. When I hook up the Casita, which I think is about 300 lbs hitch weight, it sags more. Last time I moved, I had to get a taller hitch to level the Casita, but my headlights still shined up in the air. I'm not sure the best way to fix this. I got the Leer top because I figured it would give me a secure "garage" to store stuff outside the Casita. I got the Yakima box because some stuff, like original Casita cushions, were enormous but light-weight. I have no idea how much weight I should I should have in the back of the truck when I'm towing. I'm guessing if the lights are in the trees, I have too much weight. Or maybe I just need to get "airbags" or something else to level my truck. I could replace the Leer and Yakima with a 80lb hard tonneau cover, and eliminate 160lbs, but I would have very little cargo space. My options seem to be: 1 - Eliminate belongings 2 - Eliminate leer top and/or Yakima box 3 - Add airbags to truck
We owned a Casita 17 SD for 6 years and one thing I can guarantee you is your tongue weight is nowhere near 300 lbs
The Casita factory listed dry tongue weight with no options is 365 lbs
The average listed tongue weight for a Casita 17 SD from “ Trailer Weights in the Real World “ is 430 lbs ( Several are well over 500 lbs)
Our 2013 Casita 17 SD had a tongue weight of 425 lbs

IMHO you have two options get a WDH or get a truck that’s suitable for your intended purpose
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Old 05-10-2020, 05:45 AM   #6
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Name: mike
Trailer: CASITA
New York
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you really need to look at axle weight of the truck. if you within range loaded than air bags will do the job. I have the air bags on my tacomma. airbags will solve the headlight problem but do not add any load capacity to truck. WDH will take some weight to the front axel But the hitch it self will add 100-125lbd more weight behind the axle. so you need to figure out if your over the cargo load of the truck


theirs also sumo springs you can search
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Old 05-10-2020, 10:25 AM   #7
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I have a 2017 Frontier Crew Cab which is basically the same truck.. According to the sticker found on the driver side door pillar (same sticker has tire pressures), the maximum cargo weight for my truck is 1268 lbs. Every truck is different because of different options but they will all be close. Add the weight of all occupants, all cargo, hitch weight, and accessories you've added. Total should not exceed that number.

Both the Nissan Frontier and the Toyota Tacoma are popular tow vehicles for the Casita 17. I wonder how many worked the numbers?

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Old 05-10-2020, 11:19 AM   #8
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Name: JD
Trailer: Scamp 16 Modified (BIGLY)
Florida
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Air bags will level, but not shift weight from the rear to the front axle. Each has it's uses.
Air bags will take care of getting the headlamps pointed in the right direction at least.
I used them when I towed with my VW TDI Sportwagens for that purpose as no WDH was available for that car.
When VW recalled the TDIs I bought a T&C and a Reese Mini 350 WDH. The T&C had self leveling rear shocks so the difference was not so dramatic, but the WDH did help a lot with the the bobbing and comfort.
While not really necessary for heavy Scamp 16' it does help with traction in a FWD van, especially on gravel and wet asphalt.
Currently we use our new (to us) 2012 Touareg rated for 7700 lbs with the WDH as well. Still helps with ride comfort, but less as the Touareg is a very comfortable ride anyway and the percentage of the tow rating to towed weight is less.
When I used the air bags I had a 12 volt compressor that was behind the side panel of the trunk and controlled by a small switch on it's control panel with a gauge to set pressure as required.
The airbag manufacturers suggest keeping a low pressure all the time to help prevent pinching the bag. I still have the compressor and small control panel if someone is looking for one. I suppose it could also be plumbed to a hose to inflate tires as well if desired.
In the case in point I believe that a combination of airbags and WDH would be a good choice as to start with the truck has more weight in the bed than might be desired and while adding airbags would level the truck I believe that some of the weight should be shifted to the front axle in this case.
I would use the airbags to take about 1/2 of the sag out and then adjust the WDH for the rest. This is the recommendation of the studies in the 1970's on towing dynamics.
All of this is to ignore the obvious answer - a 3/4 ton dually
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Old 05-10-2020, 11:47 AM   #9
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Name: Wayne & Barbara
Trailer: Parkliner
Iowa
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Booster Shocks?

Try Booster Shocks, if they would fit. Some are adjustable,
Also add air to your rear tires to carry the extra load.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:39 AM   #10
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I went with airbags on my Tacoma. If they build Nissan anything like Tacoma, the springs are soft, because the primary use (other than groceries) is offroad, so the leaf springs are soft to provide more articulation and a smoother ride offroad. They weren't built to tow.

It doesn't take much to bottom out the springs on my Tacoma, so I went with airbags. I also eventually replaced the worn out leaf springs (my truck is a 98) with new, heavy duty springs.

The airbags will take care of the sag.

But like other people have already brought up, priority #1 is to make sure you aren't way over your payload limit. I haven't actually weighed everything I carry, but I guessed on weights, trying to be pretty liberal about what things weigh, and I came to somewhere around 100lbs over my payload limit when I'm fully loaded. I'm hoping that since my numbers were so liberal, I'm actually right at or just under.

Anyway, best to first know what your truck is meant to handle, and not ask too much of it. If you're within your truck's limits, things like helper springs, airbags and all that are great options.
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Old 05-16-2020, 01:32 PM   #11
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Name: Steve
Trailer: 17 Bigfoot CB
British Columbia
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Airbags 👍

My F150 has the Heavy Duty Payload option and the Max Towing option.
With a bed full of gear, my ATV on the deck cover, and the Bigfoot 17 in tow, I had rear end sag.
I use a Weight Distribution Hitch , but I really didnt want to be adjusting the hitch height depending on the bed load. so I added Airbags, with manual fill valves on the rear bumper on either side of the license plate. I use a hand held 12v air pump to adjust height...you can get fancy and add an onboard compressor, but its extra expense, and another failure point, so i saved my money....easiest solution, better ride, and improved control.
But dont forget to reduce the air pressure after you unload. After a few tries, you will get a sense of how much air pressure to run empty, and with a load.
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Old 05-16-2020, 02:09 PM   #12
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Name: David
Trailer: Casita
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In the past, I went with air shocks. For some reason, air shocks are not available for our 2009 Chevy Trailblazer TV, so I went with coil over shocks and air bags.
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Old 05-16-2020, 02:31 PM   #13
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There are many reasons to own and travel with a 12v air compressor. But you can also pump air bags with a manual bike pump. I use a little "mini" bike pump. Always rides in the cab of the truck with me. And pumps bike tires when needed.
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Old 05-16-2020, 04:55 PM   #14
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Name: Kevin
Trailer: Vintage Cruiser 19ERD
Michigan
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I started with an Airlift kit on a Chevy 1ton (for a 3000 lb.+ truck camper) back in '93 and have never gone back. With that rig, I had to adjust each rear wheel's air pressure independently, which was a bit of a pain, but the difference in my confidence and comfort going down the road was worth it. For my next heavy rig, I towed a 27' Shasta (700+ lb tongue) for nearly 16 years with a Chevy 1/2 ton with an Airlift kit that has air adjust in the cab, a dedicated pump mounted underneath. The difference in how the rig handles is astounding, well worth the money and few hours it took to install. I still have the truck (a 2004) with the original Airlift system I installed when the truck was new. My new trailer weighs a ton+ less than the old Shasta, but I still use the air assist and a weight-distributing, anti-sway hitch, and under most conditions the rig's handling is worry free. The added bonus is, for my 16 year old pickup with the Leer capper (since new), my truck springs have no sag. The old girl still rides like new, loaded or not.
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Old 05-16-2020, 08:54 PM   #15
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I vote lose weight, all the airbags in the world won't increase the towing capacity/payload limits of the truck.
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Old 05-16-2020, 10:55 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by NEWYORKHILLBILLY View Post
WDH will take some weight to the front axel But the hitch it self will add 100-125lbd more weight behind the axle. so you need to figure out if your over the cargo load of the truck


theirs also sumo springs you can search
We use an Anderson and it it is no where near 100 pounds,
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Old 05-17-2020, 08:07 AM   #17
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I agree that people should stay within their towing and payload limit, but rear end sag doesn't always equal being over capacity. With my Toyota's stock suspension, it took nothing at all to bottom out the back end. In fact that's been a common problem with 80s and early 90s Toyota pickups. Most of them had a permanent rear end sag after some number of years, even unloaded. It was especially bad with 4Runners, which sagged under their own weight. Leveling out sag when towing makes sense. This assumes you know your tow and payload limit and aren't over. I'm not against shedding weight, also.

Kevin, I had to do the same thing for a while (inflate each side differently), and while it's a pain, it can also be a blessing. I had an airbag blow out and didn't realize it, so for a couple days I was driving with my old, worn out leaf springs and no air bag helping out on one side. It made my truck crooked in the back, since it made the springs and shock on that side even worse. Until I could save the money and motivation to replace my leaf springs, I leveled my truck side to side with the airbags. It wasn't ideal, but it sure was convenient.
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Old 05-21-2020, 02:38 PM   #18
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I had an air bag go too, on the 2004 Chevy. What alerted me was the air pump; it continued to cycle, trying to maintain pressure.
As a little tale of nearly woe: In 1995 my wife and I took the then nearly new truck camper on the 1993 Chevy out west from Michigan. In the Humpty-dump hills of the Iowa interstate (at 3am) I suddenly became aware of an odd sound, reminding me of a passing semi with an unbalanced tire...but then followed by an immediate loud BOOM and loss of power; no apparent change in handling. I remember thinking at the time, while pulling the truck to the roadside, that the engine had blown, only to realize once stopped that the engine was idling merrily (and no dash light warnings). A quick walk-around revealed that I had blown the right rear tire (80 lbs psi!), a fist-sized hole in the sidewall, in fact. What fascinated me then, and still does now, was that I noticed no change in the handling of the truck other than the loss of power, and no sag at that rr corner, despite a completely blown tire! No, the truck was not a dualie... I have always credited the air assist, but gladly submit for counter argument.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:37 AM   #19
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Name: CHET
Trailer: 2019 ParkLiner
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I tow using a Ram 1500, which has plenty of towing/hauling capacity but like you I tow while hauling a fair amount of weight in the bed. I installed a set of "Air Lift" bags in the springs (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1) and could not be happier.

About 12 lbs of pressure is all it takes to eliminate sag when loaded and pulling the trailer. In fact, I keep the bags at about 7 lbs when I'm not towing to help the truck ride better with the tool load in the bed.

I have used weight distribution hitches in the past but personally cannot justify the need on a truck with a 10,000 lb towing capacity pulling a 3,000 lb trailer.
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Old 05-26-2020, 02:05 AM   #20
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Name: John
Trailer: Oliver Legacy Elite II
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The above is all good ideas. But it reminds me of parts changers. It is not logical to propose solutions when the problem is not clearly known. May I respectfully suggest that:

1. Document your critical weights. Take your rig to some scales and get them all. Build yourself a spread sheet showing all your trailer and tow vehicle allowable weights and your actual weights.

2. I own an Oliver. The Elite I is a lot heavier than a Scamp. If the Oliver is not loaded properly, the tongue weight can get enormous. So see item 1 above.

3. Once you have the weights and capacities, then we can give you some intelligent suggestions.

I look forward to looking at your numbers.
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