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Author Topic: Leveling on a GM (when parked)  (Read 1857 times)
Geom
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« on: July 01, 2013, 07:24:37 PM »

I looked through the archives and saw some interesting posts about different methods for leveling.

The last post entry was a few months old and kind of stopped mid-topic, so I wanted to see if any new information is available.

I've heard that one can use/modify the built-in air level system on a GM to act as campsite levelers.
Anyone have experience with that?
Is it practical?
Does it work well enough to be usable?
Cost consideration?
Does it introduce wear issues later down the line?
How much lift/drop can be expected from a system like that?

If not using air leveling what other methods do you find most useful?

Are hydraulic systems an option?
Any concern with farme or body integrity lifting the bus off the ground that way?
Where would they mount?

Blocks?
Is that the only other remaining option?
Are they usable in a vehicle that's this heavy?
Any issues to keep in mind with them?

Any other clever ideas for leveling your rig while stopped?
« Last Edit: July 01, 2013, 07:27:30 PM by Geom » Logged

1966 GM 4107
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siberyd
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 07:56:57 PM »

When I am parked for a long period, all air drains from air bags. If bus is level. Stays level.

I I am parked on a bit of slope, I block it so it stays level as the air drains from the bag. My bags empty after about 16 hours.

Siberyd
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1964 White/Carpenter 35' RE 3208 Husky Camp
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Dave5Cs
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 08:09:26 PM »

I separated air bags from braking system. Have push button controls Firestone ride rite. Each 1/4" line goes to each of the 4 corners 2 bags each on the air beams (which you wouldn't have in your GM). I can adjust each corner independantly and for level if driving.

Bags stay up as long as i want them too. Brakes fill faster also. air exhausts through the valves. each valve has a gauge on it. I generally have the fronts at 80 lbs and the rear at 90 Lbs.

You could get Hydrolic and they would be hooked up to the lifting points of the coach. Pretty pricey though.

Dave5Cs
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TomC
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 08:43:14 PM »

I made my own leveling system that ties in with the two rear and one front leveling valve. Normally it is in automatic mode. When I turn it from automatic to manual, an either or air solenoid switches the air path from the automatic leveling valves to the two manual add air or exhaust solenoids. So each position has two switches-one for on/off (automatic/manual) then an on-off-on for up or down. Works well for quick over night leveling. But for stays of several days, I too will level the bus with blocks then just lower it down with the leveling system and be done with it. Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2013, 05:18:04 AM »

My unit sounds like Dave5c unit     adjust it and it stays there until I change it . At the time 2005 it was $ 550.00  from h b industries                dave
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1990 mci 102c  6v92 ta ht740  kit,living room slide . home base huntsville ontario canada
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« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2013, 09:59:23 AM »

I have the same type but I have a older small 2 cyl compressor that I put inside an ice chest to keep it quiet and it maintains system at 120 psi and i have regulators on each corner sence my airbags are not leak tight.
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Barn Owl
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« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2013, 10:11:59 AM »

This is a DIY job. Not much to figure out. The PO of my bus did the simplest air system, but it has limits. The PO added a dump solenoid to every air bag and a solenoid to block the air leveling valves. A switch on the panel toggles between road and level with four "dump" switches to control the amount of air released from each bag. The problem with this system although a bit simpler, it lacks the ability to add air. Works well enough 90% of the time that I have not made changing it a priority. All I need to do is add another set of "fill" solenoids, switches, and some air line to complete it. Some get rid of their leveling valves and run off of pressure, another approach that also has pros/cons.
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« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2013, 12:03:19 PM »

We've gone two years using just wooden blocks for leveling, but eventually I want to rig a system so that we can manually override the ride-height leveling valves.

Hydraulic lifters are very expensive, and I've been told that they are extremely impractical to mount to the 4106's frame - making this a rare solution. Using the air suspension system to do the work is the way to go.

One other tip - rig things up as a tripod and not with four-corner control.  Adjusting via the corners has the potential to put a bunch of twist torque on the bus body.

Cheers,

  - Chris
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« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2013, 12:51:41 PM »

We use a variation of the Robert G method.   We replaced the linkage to the ride height control valves with a push/pull cable.  When parked we can adjust the bag inflation by moving the cable.  To travel,  we put the cable back in its correct ride height position.

The downside is that you to have to exit the coach to pull the cables.  It also should be noted that any system dependent on the air bags has pretty limited adjustment.  I'd say only about 6 inches or so from front to back wheels.  For our 35 footer, that amounts to about one degree of rotation.  It works well enough most of the time,  but sometimes blocks need to be used also.
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Geom
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 07:41:43 PM »

Thanks everyone for the good info.

It sounds like blocks will be necessary (or at least suggested) even with an air leveling system.

Dave5c, so is the Firestone system a completely different set of bags that would need to be installed, or will it act as more of a controller of the existing bags. I guess in your case they're new bags since MCIs (i think) don't have air originally?

For the folks that did a DIY type system, how involved was the install? Just simply install a couple of valve and switches or more involved? Since you'd bypass the builtin valves and such, do you have a different gauge to measure PSI or is the existing one still inline with this setup? I also assume it would involve some digging around under the bus?

Chris, thanks for the tip on setting it up as a tripod. That was one of my concerns, if it would cause uneven torque on the frame. I assume that means 2 corners on one valve, and two corners with a valve each? Does it matter if the tripod shared leg is front or back?

It also sounds like I'd be looking at ~6" of articulation total? Is that enough to make it worth it and practical? (I guess that'll obviously depend on where you camp, but overall...)
I assume that's a pretty hard set limit since the bags themselves won't inflate taller than that?
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 08:15:29 PM »

PO put a set of 4 values and gauges on the dash to enable adjustment of each corner separately on mine.  The factory leveling system doesn't function anymore, and I wish it did.  I've seen this setup before on other buses, and it is effective for leveling any official campsite I've been in.  If you go with this type of system, just try and figure out how to retain the factory leveling functionality...
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Scott
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TomC
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 08:55:18 PM »

I'm curious if any that have converted their 3 valve automatic leveling to 4 valve manual have had any structual problems. There is a real good reason the OEM's only put one leveling valve in the front-to keep from having too much stress on the front corners from over inflated bags. Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
technomadia
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2013, 09:09:38 PM »

Chris, thanks for the tip on setting it up as a tripod. That was one of my concerns, if it would cause uneven torque on the frame. I assume that means 2 corners on one valve, and two corners with a valve each? Does it matter if the tripod shared leg is front or back?

GM's air suspension is set up with the front airbags joined together, and the rears working independently - making a tripod.

I think I've seen other buses (Neoplan?) where this is the reverse.

Regardless - keeping the tripod trait is a good idea.

   - Chris
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2013, 09:28:14 PM »

So, any suggestions on how to get the springs on my bus to help level?  Tongue Hehe

(Get it, no air ride! I'm sorry I have a dry sense of humor, and I had too. Now back to your regular programing.)
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Mike
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Geom
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2013, 10:08:27 PM »

GM's air suspension is set up with the front airbags joined together, and the rears working independently - making a tripod.
...

Ahh, good to know, thanks.
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Geom
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2013, 10:15:10 PM »

So, any suggestions on how to get the springs on my bus to help level?  Tongue Hehe


Ha! I'm sure we can!  Grin

We just have to put some thought into it. I'm sure we can come up with something. Although afterwards, I can't promise they'll do anything they were originally designed to do before.   Tongue

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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2013, 10:27:41 PM »

Geom, MCI's are the same as Gm's they have always had air bags and the tripod also. I left my leveling valves in but plugged the air lines to them. Disconnected the air line to the air Beams. Gms IIRC don't have air beams. I then connected air lines to each side air beams and ran those up to the front for air fill lines..

I hooked the fronts up independantly also and then ran all 4 lines to the gauges and air buttons on the Ride Rites. 1 line to each of 4 gauges. each also has an exhaust line within the down button. You also have to run 1 line from the accessory tank up to the gauges and it just splits off to each gauge for filling the bags.

If you need air in any corner that has 2 bags each you just push the button for up or down if you need less. It take about 10 minutes to fill all if it is air down but just a few minutes if you are only adjusting. When driving I keep 80 in the front and 90 in the rear. Its is nice and smooth as if you are floating on air. Oh wait you are, LOL

You could also use 1/4" ball valves and good small air gauge and keep the tripod with 3 units instead of 4.

Tom , nope no tweaking. A little at a time. I guess if you had a 1 inch airline and a big compressor it would fill very fast and could be a problem then, but not with 1/4" lines and 1/8 " valve lines on the back of the gauges.

Dave5Cs
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Geom
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« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2013, 11:09:48 PM »

Excellent, thanks Dave!
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« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2013, 05:28:07 AM »

Just got back from camping at the lake this weekend . I had to lower the front right bag down to 10 lbs and front left to 60 lbs , rear right to 30 lbs the rear left up to 90 lbs . all to make level . After start up back to drive level front 90 lbs rear 50 lbs  now that is the height of the bus before the change . In 6 years no problems with stress on the body . It sounds like Davec and I have the same set up                    dave   
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« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2013, 05:52:24 AM »

I'm starting to get a headache Roll Eyes.

I retained factory system when driving - then individual 'push-pull' valves when parked 'like camping' on unlevel ground.

rears are normally tied together, but separated when parked.

fronts are normally separate when driving or camped.

bottom line:  Level it with manual valves when parked.    When ready to drive away - just flip a switch and it levels using factory leveling valves. Wa La

5) 'bubble-free' solenoids used.

 Stays level about a week when parked - then we need to air it up again.

 We could block it - that might be better for longer stays.
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« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2013, 06:11:23 AM »

After disconnecting leveling valves I don t lose air anymore. Yes I have to adjust back to level but that is no big. If a spot is really steep  anybody will have to  use a few blocks but that is a given.

Dave5Cs from Galaxy S III
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chessie4905
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« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2013, 06:38:44 AM »

Our 4104 had the aux leveling system on it for years and never had any issues with body twist, even on some extremely slopey ground. 4 corner adjustment, while still could switch back to automatic leveling system. System uses a auto-manual switch, 4 air pressure gages and 4 push-pull valves to control each corner. Went back to three leveling valve auto control on automatic position. Was sold by an FMCA member years ago. Called Level-it. HB industries sells/sold a similar system. I have gathered up the individual components for the same setup for my 4905.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2013, 03:57:14 AM by chessie4905 » Logged

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« Reply #22 on: July 03, 2013, 07:21:26 AM »



Huggy has a four corner leveling system that works when parked and goes back to the original when on the road.
a "level it" by Red Rideout. haven't heard from him in years.

Also as a four corner hyd. system that I use if the place is to unlevel to get level with the air only.
also use it to just make the coach steady when parked.

I have also removed the back door and replaced it with a window so I can get air through the bed room at night.

It also has a big 6v92 and 730 hung off the back.

Has been that way for years and has not broken into yet.

uncle ned
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« Reply #23 on: July 03, 2013, 08:06:59 AM »

We also have the Level-it system of 4 gauges and 4 push/pull valves. Self leveling was taken out. Been fulltiming since Jan. 04 with no problems, if needed will also use a run up ramp, but try to find sites that are close to level. Don't know how long ago the PO put the system in.
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1968 MCI 5A with 8V71 and Allison MT644 transmission.  Western USA
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