Not long after purchasing my coach, I discovered the bus was leaning and down some 2″ on the drivers side. The coach was taken to Jefferson Truck Repair in Oklahoma City twice for adjustment on what was basically a worn out and shot system (in fact, no adjustment was possible) and I was charged 11 hours labor at $70+ per hour to adjust something that was in essence worn out. Not only was I charged this amount, but I later found paperwork that testified that Jefferson “adjusted” the same suspension the year before to the tune of over $1200.00 with the same results by the previous owner.
Later on in the year after meeting Sonnie Gray at a bus meet I decided to take his advice and air bag it. I then drove our coach to Pottsboro Texas to Sonnie Gray’s shop and had him fabricate an air bag system for the drivers side of the bus. The suspension system was worn completely out, and they are not replaceable (except with used units) so I opted to air bag the one side, the right side has no play and plenty of adjustment left in it. Sonnie did all the work, which was done in his shop over a period of several weeks. First thing was fabrication of the bracket on top of the old suspension which will eventually house the new air bag.
All the fabrication and assembly were done in Sonnie’s shop, just outside of Sherman, Texas.
Paul Lawry wrote an interesting write up about all this in BCM Magazine under the title of “Fixing An Eagle With A Broken Wing.”
The new air bag frame is then attached to the bus. This is welded to the frame in this area and placed on top of the old suspension. On this side it is rather straight forward, on the other side it gets more complicated, the majority of the air tanks are on the other side, and they have to be relocated in order to do this. As the need occurs, I replace old Eagle parts with truck components any time I have the opportunity, they are more readily available and a lot easier to locate or replace if the need should arise.
The new frame for the air bag just above the old suspension system.
Sitting on top of the axle and in place on the suspension system. It has an air operated leveling valve which increases or decreases the amount of air into the bag as required, this is to the immediate left of the bag itself, the control arm and device can be seen in this photo.
I have since retrofitting the bus, driven it about 12,000 miles with no problems. It holds up to the rigors of the road and there is (in my opinion) no notable change in the ride. It continues to do what it is supposed to do and that is … Stand up straight and look good.
If you have this problem, or something similar to this, give Sonnie a call: 903-815-2141 he can fix you right up.
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