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Riviera Air Suspension Project


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I started this project at the same time I installed new bushings in the rear of the car. I removed the coil springs & related hardware at that time & stored them for possible future use. My intention is to be able to re-install all of the stock components. BTW, I would not be attempting this or many other projects if it weren't for my lift. I'm way past the days of crawling around under a car that's up on jackstands.

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A friend had made the 'cups' that mount the rear air springs. I measured & photographed them for future reference. This is for the top of the 'bag' & installs in the same place & uses the same hole as the stock spring hardware.

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The rear air springs are what are called '2600' type. I bought 4 to use at all 4 corners. The nut with the little handle on it was also derived by my friend as an easier way to install it. Instead of turning the nut with a wrench in small quarters, you spin the bag & cup to tighten.

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The bottom mounting plate is the same diameter as the top & simply bolts to the control arm. The large opening in the top plate/cup is for the airline to attach to the brass fitting installed on the top of the bag. I purposely tightened the cup in this position to place the airline where it will not contact any other objects.

More to follow:

Steve

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Edited by slosteve
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Holy smokes...I wanna be just like u when I grow up, U have a lift in your garage?!?! Someday, I'll have one too lol

Now I hope your friend doesn't mind that u shared his secret ninja install tips lol...shhh I won't say anything. Those cups came out nice, the install looks good...did I mention I like your hoist?

keep it up, nicely done, thx for sharing

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Eagerly watching for updates.:)

Now you know where 'slosteve' came from. :rolleyes:

So the rear is relatively pain free as far as installation of the bags; I ran 3/8" plastic DOT approved air lines from the bag fittings up into the trunk - in the area right below the package tray. I used schraeder valves on those ends to put air to the air springs temporarily and took it for a test drive. I wanted to see how she rode with the new control arm & track bar bushings as well as the Sensatrac shocks. I was pleased even though I found the shocks a little stiff. I was used to the original, wore out ones.

So I moved on to the front;

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After getting good & dirty taking it all apart a friend asked why I didn't have it steam-cleaned or at least blasted it at the quarter(not) car wash. DUH! Never thought of that. So I tried the 2600 bags into the front spring pockets to see how much I would need to trim; this I was not looking forward to as it's pretty much irreversible. You need good clearance around it so no rubbing occurs.

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For some reason that evades me right now, I placed a call to the company that I buy my air parts from and had an informative conversation with one of the guys there that has done many of these installations. He told me about a bag that he would recommend over what I was trying to use that wouldn't require much, if any trimming of those pockets. So I had him sent me a pair. They are much smaller and have only a single 'bellow'. I was seriously doubtful after receiving them and comparing them to the ones I had for this rather heavy car. He assured me that he's used them in all of his 'big GM' installations and they work great. Here they are in the same place;

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He also put together and sent me a pair of 'cups' to go with them. I failed to photograph them but they are small enough (diameter) that the bags will 'roll over' the edges when they are deflated - about the same diameter as the plate that's bolted to the bottom in the above photos. Next came the lower bag mounts to the control arms. I had decided to use a somewhat flat plate that would bolt to the arms; my new contact/adviser suggested that may cause problems as the bag, when deflated, would lay on the metal.post-92559-143142688681_thumb.jpg

So I moved to plan B. Mounting the round plates mentioned above to the control arms. I also wanted to mount them on a plane that would not distort the airbag to avoid any possibility of rubbing. Here's what I did;

post-92559-143142688723_thumb.jpgAlthough it is a rather permanent modification the coil spring will still slip over the hole if the plate is removed and that is tack welded in 3 or 4 places.

This is what it looked like as I was putting the left side together;

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That's all for now;

Steve

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I am interested as to where the shock will be relocated. I used Air -Ride Shockwaves and i would like to have another option. thanks for a great how to .

Cheers, Scott

i was wondering the same thing i would like to go with the bags instead of the shockwaves they cost way to much...

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I am interested as to where the shock will be relocated. I used Air -Ride Shockwaves and i would like to have another option.

Cheers, Scott

Shocks!?! Don't need no stinkin' shocks! :eek: Here's the deal. The aforementioned 'tech/advisor' told me that with these bags I won't need any. How could that be, I wondered. This is my experience so far; The front bags require around 140 to 150 pounds to get the 'ol Buick up to ride height - in my limited experience that's a lot of pressure. But I took her for a ride on our main road through town and headed for the place that I know is a double kinda dip on a bridge thingy and hit it at about 65 mph. One rebound on each divet. Just like a normal car! It rides very smooth - much like it did with the old coils and wore out original shocks. I'm not entirely convinced on this as I haven't taken on the big road - I-40 which is about 20 miles north of me and has a 75 mph speed limit. I'll let you know when I do. The only place that I can see to install shocks is on the 'brake reaction rod' to the frame; not my idea but I've seen it done and seems to work OK.

On the matter of air-management controls, here is what I finally decided to use; Accuair E-level. The main reason is that they offer (the less expensive) option of a simple rocker type switch that does everything I need. No gauges, no multiple switch's. I've mounted it where the ash-tray/cigar lighter goes without modifying any of the original panel.

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The fabbed sheet metal panel had to be pulled to the rear slightly for the door to miss it and I've since installed 2 small round rocker switches on either side of the main one. It's held on from the rear and can be removed easily. I've since painted it satin black to blend with the stock stuff but have no photos right now. :(

Steve

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I am interested as to where the shock will be relocated. I used Air -Ride Shockwaves and i would like to have another option. thanks for a great how to .

Cheers, Scott

You don't need to put shocks up front , so no need to relocate the shocks. If you put "big" bags up front. I talked a lot with a buddy of mine who has bagged a lot of different cars and trucks. He said the same thing with big bags up front you can roll without shocks up front.

Edited by Dialtone (see edit history)
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i was wondering the same thing i would like to go with the bags instead of the shockwaves they cost way to much...

I agree. I wanted to do what slosteve was doing in the front with 2600lb bags up front. The exact same way he was attempting to do it. But unfortunately for me by the time I came across the idea of running 2600lb bags up front. I had already bought ride tech shockwaves for the front. =/ In a few years when it's time to replace em. I will put bags up front rather than buying a new set of shockwaves. Cause yes the shockwaves are pricey.

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I've mounted it where the ash-tray/cigar lighter goes without modifying any of the original panel.

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The fabbed sheet metal panel had to be pulled to the rear slightly for the door to miss it and I've since installed 2 small round rocker switches on either side of the main one. It's held on from the rear and can be removed easily. I've since painted it satin black to blend with the stock stuff but have no photos right now. :(

Steve

Hey that's the same place I mounted my controls for my air ride system. With the dash door down. Everything looks stock. You wouldn't even know the controls were there unless you lifted up the door on the dash/ panel

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The fabbed sheet metal panel had to be pulled to the rear slightly for the door to miss it and I've since installed 2 small round rocker switches on either side of the main one. It's held on from the rear and can be removed easily. I've since painted it satin black to blend with the stock stuff but have no photos right now. :(

Steve

So I took some; I also tried some Burlwood Vinyl that I found online. Am I being foolish? My past experience has been that the vinyl will shrink, but then I thought that maybe they've improved it some over the years.

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Steve

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Foolish? About what? I think it looks good. If it does shrink in the years to come…then rip it off & do it again lol. It'll still be cheaper than a wood kit. Just my .02

A member here, seafoam65 (for lack of a name), recently suggested making DIY wood kits from Home Depot wood stock.

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Steve, where did you install the air tank at on your Riviera ? How many gallons is the tank you have?

I used a 5 gallon tank and installed it in the trunk center just outside the area under the package tray(?!) I will post a few photos of that phase when I re-install everything, as I removed the valves, compressors and tank to get the rear window rust problem repaired. Those go right under the package tray and didn't want them exposed to all the stuff that is part of bodywork. BTW, I am using 2 Viair 480 compressors.

Steelman Steve, your install looks good & thanx for the heads-up on the mufflers.

Steve

Edited by slosteve
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Steve and Steve, Steelman, I have that same key chain as you do. 2 of them came with my air ride parts. I'm guessing your tank is 5 gallon tank. A buddy of mine who has bagged a lot of cars / trucks. Advised me to run 2 compressors.

Slosteve, I'm running same kind of compressors as you. 2 Viair 480 compressors

The 2 compressors and the valves are under the package tray. My air tank is mounted underneath the car

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This is not my Rivi, but this is where I got the idea from for mounting it under the car. Behind the rearend and in front of the gas tank. I don't have any pics of mine. Next time I'm under my Rivi I'll try to take some pics.

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That's the 2 compressors, the valves and the computer/brain for the air ride system. My 2 friends who installed everything kinda opps. Everything works fine, but they didn't realize that I had the carpet kit for the trunk. So when they discovered that the carpet kit for the trunk was there with the stuff they had, they had already wired and plumbed and mounted the compressors and valves. And didn't want to yank everything out at that point. Which I don't blame them. So whenever I go all out and do a David aka RockinRiviDad job on my Riviera, frame off and all. Then I'll put the trunk carpet kit in.

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This is my controller/display for my air ride system.

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That's the 2 compressors, the valves and the computer/brain for the air ride system.

This is my controller/display for my air ride system.

Thanks for the images, D. Your friends did a clean install; I like the way your controller fit - very sanitary.

Steve

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Steve, yes they did a lot of work for me. I wish I currently had pics of under my Riviera so you could see the air tank. But as I said it's behind the rear end and in front of the gas tank. There is no clearance issues of it hitting the road, or driveways,speed bumps,etc.... My friend tho re-routed my exhaust tho. My exhaust pipes dump out at the front of the rear tires

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Steve, yes they did a lot of work for me. I wish I currently had pics of under my Riviera so you could see the air tank. But as I said it's behind the rear end and in front of the gas tank. There is no clearance issues of it hitting the road, or driveways,speed bumps,etc.... My friend tho re-routed my exhaust tho. My exhaust pipes dump out at the front of the rear tires

That is the choice. I chose to put the crossflow muffler in the stock location and run the exhaust out the back. If you put the air tank where the stock muffler goes, you have to turn the exhaust out before the rear tire. That also keeps the mufflers under the floor pan. One choice leads to another. May work well for Dialtone, and I hope it does, but I was not fond of it when I did my car that way.

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Steve, yes they did a lot of work for me. I wish I currently had pics of under my Riviera so you could see the air tank. But as I said it's behind the rear end and in front of the gas tank. There is no clearance issues of it hitting the road, or driveways,speed bumps,etc.... My friend tho re-routed my exhaust tho. My exhaust pipes dump out at the front of the rear tires

D, do you have any problems with exhaust fumes entering the car with pipes dumping there?

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D, do you have any problems with exhaust fumes entering the car with pipes dumping there?

Cool57 , I haven't noticed any issue with exhaust fumes entering the car, with where my pipes are located now. When I am driving my Rivi the windows are always down, that's sunny Southern California for you. One of the first things I noticed the first time I drove my Rivi after the air ride system was installed. Was that my Rivi sounds louder, thus because of where my pipes are located now(they are closer to my ears now) I hear them more now. Than before when the pipes where located all the way at the rear bumper. It's not overpowering tho.It's just one of those things where you know your car and you know how it sounds when you drive it. So when something changes especially sounding, you will notice it.

Edited by Dialtone (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

I've got some more photos to share on this project; these are the sensors for the e-level controller mounted on the front frame and connected to the upper A-armpost-92559-143142820601_thumb.jpg

mounted on the rear frame rail and connected to the rear control arm.

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Here is a shot of my air valves mounted on a board along with the e-level computer, oversized relay and the wiring, with the 2nd photo showing it in place under the package tray. I used Velcro strips to hold them in place so no holes had to be drilled.

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This, of course, is the air tank. The legs on the bottom were made to support it without any attachment bolts and the curved top bracket under the air press. gauge attaches to the metal under the package tray with another special bracket so no holes were drilled.

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After chasing a couple air leaks I finally finished the system and everything is working A-Okay. :cool:

Steve

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So whenever I go all out and do a David aka RockinRiviDad job on my Riviera, frame off and all.

Your setup does look sweet…

Stick to what u are doing, enjoy your ride. I would bet that you are probably having more fun driving your Riv than I am with my "frame-off"…just saying

David

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