Any Body Running Air Bag Suspension

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Old Fart
Mar 1, 2002
I've got some air bags from a Rover with a toasted suspension control unit. I'm thinking of doing a coil conversion on my 40 with the ability to swap the air bags for the coils. Any experience would be appreciated. ???
In the late 80s, among others, Al Unser Jr. used air bags and four link to achieve 17" of wheel travel on his Grand National Comanchee race truck. IIRC it was built by Bill Kaiser and Dick Landfield.
Alan Podvin is running air bags all the way around on his '96 80 series. IIRC he is considering doing this to customer vehicles. He's out of Durango Co. In the past He has done some pretty wild 3 link stuff on 80's as well.
There is a shop in MN (the name I'm gonna forget tho) that does airbag conversions for TJ suspensions....

IMO, the airbag provides the best of all suspensions...ride, height control, flexibility, etc. The only thing I don't like over others is the uncontrolled doesn't "pull" down on your frame until you hit the limit strap, one thing I DO like about a leaf-spring suspension and one of the reasons I'm doing 1/4 ellips for my rear.
The valve body and the air compressor are decent units out of the RRC. I have several of these as spares. But the air bags should be bought from Firestone for better material design, longer travel and built in bump stops. The company out of MN is I checked out their products in Moab two years ago and yes, they were fantastic. It seems they've improved their line by adding an ECU, height sensors in order to make the system very similar to a RR. Hopefully more reiliable the RR counterparts. Several company on the web manufacture air suspension products, specially for the low rider market.

I'd like to try this on my not yet purchaed FJ80.

Check out this site

W in his FJ55 runs air bags all around and he gets some insane flex with his rig. Give him a call and talk to him about it, his mechanic James as well runs air bags in the rear of his FJ40.

I've got a 94 RR with the air suspension. Take my word for it, and dump the ECU. The valve body and the airbags are ok. I run mine manually right now cause the ECU has a tendency to lock up and only the dealer can reset it. As for replacement bags, there is a place in florida that sells just the bladders for just under $100. They offer a lifetime warranty on 'em too. It beats buying the whole assembly from LandRover for over $200. I can tell you that you won't get the travel out of the Range Rover air springs that is shown on the overthehill4X4 website.
I agree, I would never use the LR ECU in a Toy (sacrilege!). But their valve bodies and air compressor are decent to reuse in another application. The valve bodies are very simple and easy to refurb.

Also, is anyone using a York or Sanden air compressor for on board air in a FZJ80? If so, please send me pics/info/etc.. I'd love to talk to a FZJ80 guy with air bags.

Running Air Bag Suspension on 80

There are several Aussie guys running airbags suspensions instead of coils on their 80's. Checkout 80scool_aus.

I am investigating running airbags on TOP of my existing coils on my 80. Want to get that extra 2-5" when needs be when offroading but don't want the permanent lift. Also don't want to be stranded or in trouble if a bladder goes pop (when I'm in the boonies).

Looking at fabricating something to hold bladded in place on top of coils and not upset existing setup. Will likely go get new bladders and try and scrounge aib-bag bits from a junkyard (there are several new models of cars + 4x4's that run airbags now).

Please keep in touch for anyone that does this.

96 FZJ80 in Longmont, CO
Hmm, that's interesting. It almost sounds like the newer air bag suspension where the air bag is part of the shock on top. Since the air bags have to have a min amount of air, I wonder how your vehicle will handle with the air bag/coil spring combo. I suspect it'd be squirly. As a side note, I used to use air bags inside of the rear coils on my RRC. They worked out very well indeed. When the rear was loaded down, 20 psi of air gave me about 1.75" of lift in the rear. Have you given this some thought? The bags didn't hinder my articulation at all from what I could tell. They were equalized with a line running between them so when one tire was getting stuffed, the air went to the other side, forcing the tire down further. I think the brand name of the bags was Air Lift by Firestone.

Thanks for the link.

Running Air Bag Suspension on 80

[quote author=thelal link=board=12;threadid=4669;start=msg45627#msg45627 date=1064769189]I am investigating running airbags on TOP of my existing coils on my 80. Want to get that extra 2-5" when needs be when offroading but don't want the permanent lift. Also don't want to be stranded or in trouble if a bladder goes pop (when I'm in the boonies).[/quote]

A neat only concern would be you'd effectively have a un-attached coil connection at the topside when the air bag was deflated. Would have to include a coil retainer for when the bags weren't being use...

but I like it...hhhmmm
When the bags aren't inflated, aren't they going to get smashed or cut by the spring plates on top of the springs? Air bags need a min amount of air for normal operation to keep from folding in on itself. When he wants extra travel, he'd simply add more air to raise the vehicle. However, having the two different springs may lead to incompatible spring rates for hwy use.

ir Bag Suspension on top of coils

My thoughts are:

Will likely need a custom fabrication on top of the spring tower.
This is needed to lock in the protection for the airbag (as it will get trashed if it was left loose just on top of the coil). It will also need to attach to the top of the coil and the coil tower (or brace) so as either cannot be loose and just keep banging against each other.

The protective cover would be 'locked' in place while on-road (and airbag system cannot be used). It will enclose the air bladder. On most air bladders (depending on size, make etc.) u need some pressure in the bladder to keep it at a min. safety level. However for somewho who doesn't want an more increase in height (when onroad) the min. height needed for this appears to be 3"+.
If would be unlocked (manually?) when read for off-roading and airbags inflated to whatever height (or situation e.g. camber to L).
However I believe if my enclosure is fully protective of the bladder then this can go down to zero. Hence the min. height I need is however small I can make this contraction (and hence not raise my onroad height too much).

However as u can see this is quite a different story than either having bags (as extra support) in the coils or replacing the coils with airbags (as some Aussie's and Alan have done). These 'simpler' soultions have a lot going for them (lots cheaper).

The bag in the coil trick might be an easier option if I can find a bag that has the max. height that would give me 3-4" extra (above the len of the coil) when offroad. However I'm not sure that the load-bearing helper bags (that u current get for rear-end sag when load carrying) are sufficent.

I'm thinkin enclosed box for bag, with a bottom plate that acts as upper spring mount, slip-jointed to box, so when bags are inflated, they simply press the top spring mount down and remain enclosed in box, really just expanding it. When you let the air out, they are fully enclosed, and springs are resting on the bottom of solidly welded box. Seems like this would work, and no manual get out of truck and do something is needed. Box could have lock to hold bottom plate up when doing a highway drive etc..
Who is this Alan dude who has air bags? Got any info on him? I've been scouring the Aussie sights but really haven't come across anyone with air bags yet....
Following reply from Aussie 80scool list

G'day Guys,

Brendan, I have the Firestone Airbag system installed on my truck, checkout it shows the airbag system, plus there is links to the US
Firestone site.

This setup replaces the springs so the coils have to go, if you want to keep
the springs you would have to go a setup where the air bags are installed next
to the coils on custom mounts.

Offroad I pump the bags up for extra clearance, and in some situations I can
lower or raise one side, front or back (individually adjustable in each
corner) Geoffrey knows of a situation @ Wheelbarrow Ridge. Adjusting for off-
camber is possible but I haven't bothered to do so yet.
Onroad I let the bags back down for less wallow at highway/road speeds and to
get under the 4X4 unfriendly carparks.

Let me know if you want to know more, I'm happy to go into it further.

sliquete@ i h u

Alan Podvin is down in south Colorado and heavily modifiys rigs and trys out new "things". He also sells some of his mods. I believe he currently is running an airbag suspension system on his rig (80) which has 17" wheels (saw it at Moab)
I'll try and email him and see what his doing.

Now we're getting somewhere. Thanks Salvador. I'll check out the link you posted. I'll email for specifics later.

I meant ...thanks Lal. :doh:
What do the FJ100 or LX450 have in this arena? I thought they have some sort of an adjustable suspension or something? BTW, I emailed Alan before but didn't get any reply. I'd be curious to see what he has to sell.


I've seen articles and info on adjustable airbag suspension for the higher-end Landcruisers for overseas (akak non USA).
I believe only on the VX models and only as an option.

they may have come in the late 80 models but not sure - certainly on the 100 models.

Hard to find info on them on the web but I've seen a parts list and schematics in my Aussie (Max Ellerys) manual.
If interested checkout some of the Aussie/Africa/EU 4x4 mags for TLC reviews and I'm sure u'll see some mention. It was called Active Height Control System.

Similiar to Range Rovers with press a button for off-road max height. I believe it would also lower for highway driving.

Check with Bill Miranda on 80scool as he should be a good contact on options available for overseas models.


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