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Author Topic: What is everyone using for leveling their coach????  (Read 3489 times)
scanzel
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« on: March 10, 2008, 11:52:52 AM »

It seems I never hear anyone talking about leveling systems or how anyone is leveling their coach out when on uneven ground. What are YOU doing to level your Coach?  Grin Grin Grin Huh
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Steve Canzellarini
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2008, 12:02:44 PM »

 It is extreamly easy to convert an MCI to an air leveling system, just ask how.
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2008, 12:50:16 PM »

We have an '83 MC9, how e-z & what is your method?  I'm all ears!   Grin  Cheesy

Best Regards, Phil
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2008, 12:57:47 PM »

Pete Papas has an air system that is proven..

BBS board name: RTS/Daytona

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« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2008, 12:59:50 PM »

I am doing nothing other than trying to park favorably.  So far its been working pretty well, but there are times when I just can't find a level spot.  Its pretty awkward to walk when the bus is listing one side or the other.  Front to back the wheel base is long enough its not usually an issue.

I'm very intrigued by Sean's linear motors.  On air bag systems there is a rod attached to the axle carraige and to the leveling valve on the frame. He replaced this rod with a linear motor so he can adjust the height control valves from his console. Or go back to normal riding height.  Raise them all up to go over bumps, let them down to park close to the ground.  Very cool installation.

The other way is Daytona Pete on this board sells a nice kit you can use to put additional valves between the levelihng valve and the bags to allow you to disengage the factory leveling valve and add or discharge air from the bag to get to your desired height.  His valves use 1/4" line, smaller than the normal stock Prevost air lines, so you'd need an adaptor to use it.  I also have the fast fill valves that are fast enough filling / discharging to make a differnce going around a corner and I'm not sure if that additional restriction will make a difference in filling speed.  Pete offers two types, one with gauges, one without.

Of all the discussions I've heard over the years, those are the only ones I've thought were worth doing.
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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2008, 01:03:46 PM »

You can also use the hydraulic system like HWH or Big Foot but with a big price tag
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TomC
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2008, 02:20:50 PM »

I set up my own leveling valves using the air bags of the coach.  If I'm going to sit for a few days then I'll level the bus with leveling blocks first.  But for over night, just use the manual switches with electric solenoids for leveling.  It takes about a minute to level-and your done!  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2008, 02:23:34 PM »

 A LEVEL??? >>>Dan
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« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2008, 02:42:51 PM »

I have the HW system.

HARD WOOD
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« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2008, 03:01:30 PM »

Dirt.

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« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2008, 04:36:23 PM »

The 4104's air bags.  A separate valve and gauge for each corner.
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2008, 05:21:23 PM »

Pete RTS/Daytona has 2 styles available

http://rides.webshots.com/album/515176915tTPqur

and

http://good-times.webshots.com/album/559324954HVWVXC

I should know - I'm Pete RTS/Daytona  386 672-0571 or  hawk_ii_mail at Yahoo.com
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« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2008, 05:23:17 PM »

We carry those little blocks you can get at walmart. I think they are called lynx levelers.
I use 2x8s for the first inch and a half, if I need more I use the levelers.
They are in increments of 1 inch.
The 2xs are pretty handy just back in close to where you'll be and use a level on the bus to determine about where you need to be.
I have been pretty much of a minimalist when it comes to modifying the oem parts of the bus, so that is why I do it "the hard way". Cheesy
Devin
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« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2008, 05:55:36 PM »

Level? What's that?

I usually get parked in holes anyway..

Here I use a pile of gravel and drive up on it until level.

I consider "level" as any place the shower will drain and the satellite dome will lock on.

Some day I will do it right, Just no budget to throw away just to be level...

Dave....
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« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2008, 06:07:27 PM »

Using the airbags for leveling is easy...as long as they are in good condition. 
I have the ability to isolate the drive axle airbags, and can dump air,  overinflate either side, or return control to the factory leveling valves.  Vintage MCIs use the drive axle airbags only for side-to-side leveling.
On most MCIs, the front airbags are T'eed together and don't level side-to-side.  They set the front ride height.  Like a tripod if you will.  I don't use a front leveling valve.  Just set a IR regulator at 60 lbs and that sets the correct ride height and maintains it while riding.   I cannot tell any difference in height between a full or empty fuel tank.   
The downside to air bag leveling is that the range of leveling from front to rear isn't all that great.  I don't completely dump the air from the front airbags.  Don't want the bus being twisted with the front on the stops. 
I use a really cheap system, ball valves to control the airbags.  I replaced the drive and steer airbags so they'll hold air now...for a while. 
Been planning on buying 3 of Pete's air control gizmos for several years now...I'll do it..soon.
Controlling the leveling from the drivers seat would be great.   I located the rear ball valves in the rear bay.  Front control is on the dash. 
You may find that you can use air leveling, even with a couple of leaks, if you install a small air compressor to maintain the air pressure.  The airbags would have to be isolated from the bus air system in any event. 
Keep in mind that the front-to-rear leveling is about 8"?  Side to side is good enough. 
As has been said, choosing a relatively flat campsite is a good beginning. 
Running up onto ramps works fine too...as long as the bus holds air, or leaks down equally at both ends.
All brand bus airbags can be used for leveling...may need four controls instead of 3? 
Cheers, JR

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JR Lynch , Charlotte, NC
87 MC9, 6V92TA DDEC, HT748R ATEC

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« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2008, 07:38:17 PM »

On my Prevost I use the factory "Level Low". It lets you manually adjust the amount of air in the left rear, right rear, and front. You adjust side to side first and then adjust the front. I use it if I'm just stopping for the night at Wal-Mart or if I'm stopped for a week. It works great. I also have a BigFoot system. Over the years I have not been very happy with it. The biggest problem was that the front cylinders they installed were too long and they would bottom out going down the road. I recently contacted the factory to see if they had shorter cylinders. They let me trade my original cylinders in toward the new shorter ones. Just completed a round trip from Michigan to Key West. It was great not bottoming out. Anyway, The BigFoot system is a good way to go and the people from BigFoot are very helpful. I just wish they had installed the shorter cylinders 6 years ago. I think the most important thing is to have them installed by someone who has experience with bus conversions. This was their first installation. If I had to choose one or the other I would go with the "Low Level".

John
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RTS/Daytona
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« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2008, 07:57:13 AM »

Hi

I sell 3 or 4 point leveling systems - I recommend the 3 POINT system - (left rear / right rear / fronts)

The 4 point system. in my opinion can put too much stain on the chassis if used improperly. You can get my systems in 4 point if you wish - if makes me more money but doesn't function any better than my 3 point system - 4 points does not significantly increase   the amount that you can raise or lower a corner of the bus - sounds strange but it's true - trust me

My leveling technique is to first set the front door height that is confortable for me to get in and out of the bus with the front leveling switch (if your bus does not have the 2 front airbag tied together - than I have a small electric solenoid valve that will tie them together only during camp site leveling operation) - I allways try to keep some air in the front bags and not bring it down on it's stops - cause I want some give in the bags when I level from side to side with the rear air bags.

Then using a simple omni directional bubble level (about $2 at your rv store) on the a flat surface I raise or lower the left and right rear air bags to obtain level - If I can't level then I'll go back and tweak the front

With my 35' RTS (non tag axle) - I can get EACH corner of the bus to deflect up to about a maximum 12" (that's max deflection of any one corner at a time - I did this as a test of my system) - yes I know that the air bags don't move 12" - but remember the pivot point is the wheels and with the overhang in front and back of the bus the movement is AMPLIFIED

The main difference between my 2 systems is

G4- are all electrical - (the Travel solenoids at each control point are energize to connect the OEM height control valves during TRAVEL MODE ONLY - there is a FILL and DUMP solenoid for each control point. - I supply The drivers switch panel / the solenoids / and the 4 conductor wire needed to go to EACH of the control points

G5A- Hybrid system - only 2 wires go to each control point TRAVEL Solenoid (functions the same way as the G4) - all solenoids are connect to the same 2 wire circuit to energize the ALL the solenoids to connect the OEM height control valve to the air bags - but the FILL / DUMP are a simple flexible dot approved (provided) nylon 1/4 tube that connects to each control point - A "State of the art" pneumatic FILL/DUMP valve is used to raise and lower - and because that 1/4" line is connected to the air bag - I provide a pneumatic gauge to CONSTANTLY (travel or campsite mode) monitor the air pressure at each control point. I supply the nylon dot tubing / the driver control panel / wire / the solenoids.

G5B - If you wish - you can do away with your OEM height control valves and just use the pneumatic FILL/DUMP/MONITOR function of the G5A (no electrical solenoids required) - NO MORE AUTO LEVEL WHEN GOING DOWN THE ROAD EITHER - but you can set the air bags to ANYTHING you want and see the pressures at the drivers station. - same parts supplied as the G5A - but not solenoids or wire required

Another side benefit - Many coaches leak down because the HEIGHT CONTROL valves leak - when G4 or G5A TRAVEL solenoid is installed between the height control valve and the air bag this stops any leaks height control valve leaks when in CAMPSITE mode

Hope this helps

Pete RTS/Daytona
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« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2008, 12:44:54 PM »

I was going to jump in here with a description of my system, but Jim beat me to the punch.  Instead, I'll post a photo:



(Larger versions available here:
http://odyssey.smugmug.com/gallery/131040_g58Tf#264678481)

And Pete's right, three points are better than four.  My bus once settled down on the stops on some unlevel ground, and the resulting chassis twist broke the windshield.  There's a reason why factory ride-height systems are three-point.

In our case, side-to-side is done in the front, and all four bags in the rear are on a common supply.  MCI and, I believe, Prevost are the other way around.  In any case, all I did was replace the fixed-length (well, OK, they had a couple inches of manual adjustment in them) connecting rods for the ride-height valves with these linear actuators.  The resting length of the actuator was a couple inches longer than the rods, so we modified the lever-arm on the valve to compensate.

This system has worked flawlessly for four years, and I would do it the same way again.  Other than replacing the rods, there are no modifications to the factory air height system, and so I still have that unmatched Neoplan ride.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2008, 01:12:02 PM »

Sorry Sean, I apologize for stealing your thunder -  and such great thunder it is!  Conceptually it really appeals to me as just a simple modification and control of the stock leveling system.

I have casually looked and not found linear actuators that could work for me.  I think you may have posted specs before.  I supsect that they don't need to generate much force in either direction as its just moving a lever on a valve.  Its more about total shaft movement, physical mounting and control of the linear motor.  With some easy way of re-setting back to stock ride height.

Yes, Prevost has the front bags joined on one valve, and the rears determine side to side tilt.
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Jim Stewart
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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2008, 04:15:11 PM »

I have casually looked and not found linear actuators that could work for me.  I think you may have posted specs before.  I supsect that they don't need to generate much force in either direction as its just moving a lever on a valve.  Its more about total shaft movement, physical mounting and control of the linear motor.  With some easy way of re-setting back to stock ride height.


To be honest, I had a good idea of what I was looking for, and I just made a saved query on eBay and waited until what I needed popped up.  I ended up with Electrak-1 models with positioning pots in them.

You are right, the forces are a complete non-issue.  You can operate the actuator arm of your ride-height valves with your little finger -- the pressures involved are in ounces (or fractions thereof), not pounds.

Since our suspension adjustment is about 6" up and down, and the geometry of where the ride-height actuators are supports that amount of travel, we looked for actuators with a 6" stroke, but we also wanted them to be extremely compact.

The biggest issue is the ability to re-set to stock height.  I can think of half a dozen ways to do this, but what we settled on was to get models with potentiometers built-in, and use the resistance value to determine where to stop the travel for stock ride height.

One word of caution:  if you find nice take-outs on eBay, buy extras for spares.  If you do have a failure (we broke a wire on one), finding an exact replacement could otherwise be costly.  The Electraks we bought had been special order for some project, and having Danaher build just one exact replacement could have been expensive:  I ended up buying two more units from the original seller as spares.

BTW, one source for small, light-duty actuators would be shops that repair in-motion or self-positioning satellite dishes.  Lots and lots of products today have linear actuators in them -- you might just have to hunt around or scan eBay until you find what you need.  Many people don't know the right term "linear actuator," so search on the keyword "positioner" as well.

HTH.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2008, 05:21:03 PM »

I found this company a while back when building one of my street rods.  Good company.  The usual disclaimers....... http://www.firgelliauto.com/   They have all types and styles of linear actuators.
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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2008, 07:05:16 PM »

I found this company a while back when building one of my street rods.  Good company.  The usual disclaimers....... http://http://www.firgelliauto.com/   They have all types and styles of linear actuators.


That's a great source.

This product:
http://www.firgelliauto.com/product_info.php?cPath=109&products_id=120
is almost identical to the Electrak units that I used.  That would probably be a drop-in replacement for me.

I also liked this one:
http://www.firgelliauto.com/product_info.php?cPath=110&products_id=128
which would be much easier to fit in most ride-height valve applications, but, lacking feedback, would require some other method for determining proper road height.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2008, 04:29:15 PM »

After a couple of years of using the leveling blocks I found out that the only important thing for the refrigerator is that the bus be level fore and aft (side to side for the frig). This is because of the zig-zag design of the ammonia drain back. If you take a look at the back of the frig you can see the logic of it.

So, side to side for the bus is not a big deal.
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« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2008, 10:06:43 PM »

uness  you have an electric refrierator with "normal" compressors, then being level doesn't matter unless you're trying to keep your eggs from rolling out, or keep from rolling out of bed.
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Jim Stewart
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« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2008, 06:45:07 AM »


uness  you have an electric refrigerator with "normal" compressors, then being level doesn't matter unless you're trying to keep your eggs from rolling out, or keep from rolling out of bed.

I agree.  That is what I read on leveling LP refrigerators.  Newer LP fridges will work well anywhere that's level enough to sleep in.   Way back LP fridges were more critical to level, but new ones are not so much.   
JR


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JR Lynch , Charlotte, NC
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« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2008, 06:58:17 AM »

   We have used the Firgelli Auto linear actuators on our bus to raise the bed for acess to storage underneath and to moce the co-pilot foot rest.  We are very happy with their product.  Jack
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