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Author Topic: MCI Airbag replacement.....  (Read 4050 times)
NCbob
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« on: November 01, 2007, 05:27:17 PM »

I'm about to take on the job of replacing both my L Rear airbags in my MC5A this coming winter in FL and am like a dog $hitting peach pits over it.  Any advice would be more than welcome.

It strikes me that if I were to put some solid hardwood blocks between the air beam and the lower support that I'd be way ahead of the game for starters. I won't be doing this on a concrete slab so there's room for some help.

Before I open my mouth and convince you that I have no idea about what I'm about to embark on..I'll tell you up front...I know nothing!  But your advice would be more than welcome. I know that determination alone won't cut it.

Bob
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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2007, 05:42:23 PM »

first don-t panic about doing it.  second- air the coach up like you were going to ride and while it is up in the air, block up the coach SOLID because when you dont have the air bags up they will come down and it will hurt   EmbarrassedEmbarrassed I always put good cribs and build them and and secure the coach solid and then slightly jack the axle and remove the tires. it will be much more accesable to get to the bolts and remove them and slid the bag out{ no not the wife] and clean the area and re=install the new ones.  watch for rusty areas that might not let the new bag seat.  I think that ought to do er
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« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2007, 06:02:38 PM »

Hey Gomer, Didja lern all that at Cooter's Garage?
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gomer
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2007, 06:29:40 PM »

 Smiley no Iearned that by me one self haha
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2007, 06:57:46 PM »

Well gauhleee, Sing us a song  Grin
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JackConrad
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2007, 07:00:48 PM »

I found the hardest part was getting the old bolts out.  Rusted and no head  (have a head kinda like a carriage bolt).  I used a 4 1/2" cut-off wheel and torch to remove the bolts.  Jack
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2007, 07:19:48 PM »

Relax Bob its not that bad a job, for a thirty year old.  When you order the bellows, also order new rings and bolts. Now that you have ordered the bellows rings and bolts, you would think they would send you the nuts and lock washers also, right? Wrong, unless you want to make a trip to the store also order the nuts and lockwashers.
 Many people have reused the old rings, for the few bucks they cost I would not want to redo the job.
 A 4 1/2 inch angle grinder works very well for getting the old bolts off. Do not bother trying to save the old bolts it is not worth the effort.
                        HTH Jim
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2007, 05:29:28 AM »

Bob,
   Ya'll are welcome to bring your bus to my shop to do this job.  I will be glad to give you a hand if you need it.  Jack
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2007, 06:05:47 AM »

Flames and sparks under a bus can create a very dangerous situation. Air bag bolts are easy to remove if you spray them first with one of the penetrating sprays and then running a die nut down on the exposed threads. Any tool house will have 5/16"x24 die nuts. Note that this is not a threading die which is too large. A die nut is the same size as the regular nut (1/2") and is used to clean up threads.

The little dimples on the bolt head that lock the bolt into the ring and keep it from turning for the first couple of turns. After that the nut can be removed with your fingers or very little torque with a wrench while holding the head in place. Do not allow the head to rotate and destroy the retainers. If necessary put a pair of needle nose Vise Grips on to hold the bolt head tight in the ring.

If not working on concrete, make sure that you have adequate support under the axle before removing the wheels. A hardwood block between the airbeam and lower bag frame is a good safety measure but you may want to raise the body higher than normal to get the new bags in with less swearing. The new rubber is a lot stiffer than than the ones you take out.

I have seen comments on other threads that some new bags require longer bolts so it may be wise to just order the complete assembly. MCI used to sell individual components or there was a part number for the complete assembly that had everything in a plastic bag.
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captain ron
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2007, 07:10:27 AM »

Flames and sparks under a bus can create a very dangerous situation.

Breathing the air is dangerous but we've been doing it for years same as grinding and torching under a bus. I believe in safety but don't try to scare people away from doing what's necessary and making a job simpler and is of no more of a threat than farting in the same room with a wood burner. Use common sense when using any tool and there all safe.
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jjrbus
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2007, 07:56:51 AM »

 Those are 35 year old nuts and bolts, the guy going after them is double that. Its a few minutes with an angle grinder or 2 hours with a wrench and then may or may not get them all off. Damn the sparks full speed ahead!!!
 Bob are your beams plated? maybe its time for rolling lobes?
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2007, 11:19:44 AM »

Be prepared to pull the tires off the rear.
Some handy things are: Die grinder, Air chisel, Cutting torch or plasma cutter
and plenty of band-aids.

You should get the new bolts, washers, nuts and rings to go with the new bags.

Don't even imagine that you can reuse the old ones. Way too much aggravation.
Just make sure the new bolts are long enough "before" you start taking the old ones off. This will save you a few headaches....

While you are under there you may want to check and replace the leveling valves so that you won't have to go back later to do that...

Sorry, I know the MC5 is different than the MC9 but the essentials are the same.

Dave....
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2007, 11:20:39 AM »

Bob,

Make sure to order the block off plates when your order the bags,bolts, nuts, lock washers, and rings, assuming your bus has the air beams blocked off. I did not order plates and ended up doing the job twice.  Angry Angry No fun!

If your air beams are OK then you can ignore this advice until later.

TOM
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NCbob
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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2007, 12:13:55 PM »

Well guys, I feel more comfortable about it now. If I knew where I could find the ambition to chew this one off I'd go for a double order.  I have the grinder will need to stock up on some cutting wheels.  I'll round up some 12" timbers from one of the timber frame outfits before I leave here to block the weight off the rears.

Jack, old friend, I'd guess you're in the mix but not until after Arcadia. Thanks you for the offer...we'll work out the details.

I've asked Fred to order the bags for me and will correct my request to include the seals (rings) and bolts and nuts...lockwashers I've got.

Jim, you sound soo experienced...you might wish to drive up and lend a hand. Wink

Thanks to all who offered their advice...when the time comes we'll keep you posted on progress.

Bob
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2007, 02:00:02 PM »

Now Bob,

You know that I will ALWAYS give you a hand,
thats what neighbors are for.

I would much rather do it on the concrete floor in front of my shop though.

But, I bet you will get much quicker service from Jack(semi retired) than Me (still working).  Tongue

Cliff

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« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2007, 06:54:01 PM »

Bob,
I changed the rear right rear air bag on my -5 this fall. Including jacking, blocking and wheel removal/replacement it took about five hours. Its scary but easy.

I aired up the system, then jacked up the body and blocked it. Then I jacked up the axle and removed the wheels; then blocked the axle. Then I unhooked the leveling valve arm where it attaches to the axle and moved the arm so it released the air from the air bags. My bus is not very rusty so some of the bolts came off with the air wrench. I used the torch for the others being careful not to ignite the grease on the leakey rear axle. Kept a fire extinquisher handy. The bolts have recessed heads so they will spin real easy; have the needle nose vice grip handy. You'll find it a little challenging getting around behind the air bag to reach the bolts back by the differential, but its not too bad it your're jacked up high enough to get under the axle. You almost have to get in there with the differential to reach those bolts. So be sure you're jacked and blocked high enough to comfortably and safely get underneath.

After all that, removing the air bag is easy. Then inspect the mating surfaces where the new air bag will contact the steel. Mine looked like they had been painted with shiny black paint so I just roughed them up and hit them with a coat of rust oleum which I left to dry for 24 hours (thanks gumpy). The thing that really makes the instllation easy is having two long bolts because the standard bolts are not long enough to make that initial contact. The guys at C&J bus here in town gave me two bolts in addition to the standard bolts. You only need two and they are probably 2" long instead of 1-1/2" but that makes a huge difference. Definitely get the bag, the rings (two) and all the bolts plus two slightly longer ones to get it all started.

The farmers in my neighborhood came over while I was working on it and they were pretty impressed with how solidly everything is built and how big the running gear is. They said I get the neighborhood prize for September. (Then one of them replaced the transmission in his combine so I lost my standing)

Call me if you want 612-801-4826
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« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2007, 07:53:36 PM »

hey cliff why dont you take a vacation and do it and then you will have something to do on your time off hahaha  However if you need help I will be here in Ocala just up the road from you
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TRUST IN GOD ALWAYS. riverjordanmusic@aim.com
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NCbob
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« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2007, 08:15:32 PM »

Well Fred, you just can't win 'em all. But thanks for the advice...I'll heed it well. I didn't plan on crawling under the bus, even with proper blocking, after all Jack Conrad is thinner that I am for starters! Cheesy

I believe I'll wait until after Arcadia and put my life and future in the hands of the best man I can think of, Jack, after all...at my age it sure doesn't hurt to have a seasoned Paramedic around for those rough spots! ;

Bob
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« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2007, 08:24:47 PM »

Go for it Bob - I hired a shop in town to change all my airbags last week.  Dallas told me to just go ahead and do it myself but I was afraid to tackle it.  In hindsight I should have done it myself.  I ended up changing two of the airbags and two shocks myself because the shop I hired didn't want to take on those two shocks.  So, if I could do the 2 that they didn't want to do, I guess I could have done the other 8 as well.  One thing I'd want that I don't have if I was going to do all the airbags is an air operated hydraulic jack.  Its a lot of pumping on the jack handle with a manual jack.  I don't know about your MCI but on mine once the wheels were off the bags were pretty well out in the open.  Getting the shocks out was a lot bigger challenge than the airbags.

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« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2007, 05:21:44 AM »

Fred: You bring up a good point about not much room to work on the inside and the risk  of fire with a torch. Now that you have done the easy one, have a go at the driver's side. There is a lot less room and that leaky drop box is only inches away from the air bags.

I was never lucky enough to work on a MC-5 that didn't have a leaky drop box or a leaky DD. Apparently some people have pristine coaches and don't have to worry about an oil fire under the wooden floor (but they do save time). I will never apologize for telling people to work safely.
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« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2007, 05:56:57 AM »

Well Fred, you just can't win 'em all. But thanks for the advice...I'll heed it well. I didn't plan on crawling under the bus, even with proper blocking, after all Jack Conrad is thinner that I am for starters! Cheesy

Bob

We know that you were planning walking under there;) Cheesy

anyway,  you can run your bus up on blocks first, then block the body.  Will give yourself a little more room.
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« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2007, 07:02:41 AM »

Harbor Freight was running a sale on air/hydraulic jacks 12t & 20t about a month ago.

They are well worth the money even if you only get a couple of years of abuse out of them. The only repetative injury that you get from air/hydraulics is the reaching for the wallet.. The heck with that manual handle nonsense....

Dave....
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« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2007, 07:15:12 AM »

Amen to that Dave!!! I've lent mine to two people and they both said that was going to be thier next purchase. After looking around I bought the 12 ton, I will only be picking up one corner of the bus at a time, all of which wieght under 24,000 pounds. The 12 ton is shorter and wieghts less, so is much eaiser to handle under bus.
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« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2007, 07:43:51 PM »

Cliff,

Where are you?


Bill
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« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2007, 10:02:43 PM »

I have a 67   5A and I replaced my bags and installed block off plates while I was at it because the front already had block off plates installed....It is a dirty job but not hard at all.....The only thing I would say is GET NEW BOLTS.....cut off the old and replace with new.........4" thin wheel cut off FLY's through the old bolts...
Don't slip and hit the air bags.....Good luck and most of all  BE SAFE......... Grin Grin Grin
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