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Old 07-10-2001, 09:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Silent Drive air suspensions?

Okay big truck guys, I need some info!
I am looking at a new air ride suspension for my F650.
I have been looking at this one; www.silentdrive.com/drive-axle-air-suspension.html#lad330
It is the model #ALD330.
Any one here ever had an air suspension system by this brand?
It's seems a good value for about $1800.00, as it will allow for rear axle alignment and the company has been around for over 50 years.
Thanks for any information.
Charles
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Old 07-11-2001, 06:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

Charles,

Previously you rated the Granning air ride from
Fontaine as a better unit.

You mentioned that you were installing a system
on a customers vehicle.

How do the systems compare on a cost / value ?

Thanks

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Old 07-11-2001, 07:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

The granning unit is available only for the F650 with 19.5 low profile suspensions, with hydralic brakes only, unfortunatley.
I am installing a kelderman unit on the F650 in my shop right now, as it is the least expensive unit, as per the customers requests.
I would give the kelderman system a satisfactory rating, but it lacks adjustability for alignments, and is an add on, it simply floats the rear of the factory leaf springs, not a true full air ride suspension.
I've had a kelderman on my F650 for 20,000 miles, and haven't had any problems with it.
Just since I can't seem to sell the 650,(at least not for what I want for it!) I am going to upgrade the rear suspension to the best I can afford. A true air ride I hope will be a little better riding, and hopefully a little easier on my Teton travel trailer. I plan an air hitch soon, but not for a couple of more months.
The Kelderman system does the job for the least $$, the Granning would be nice if available, but is out of my price range at the moment, anyway!
[img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
I hope the silent drive will system be a mid price good alternative....I will know in a few weeks!
Charles
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Old 07-12-2001, 04:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

Charles,

The following experiences relate to the F-550, but this information may be of value to you as you try to decide on a suspension system.

Fontaine Modification Company used Silent Drive Air suspensions on the initial production units of the F-550 Classic Traveler. Apparently, several quality issues surfaced, which motivated Fontaine to switch vendors to Reyco-Grannings parallelogram system. The issues with Silent Drive, as explained to me by Fontaine, related to fastener quality and reliability problems.

Out west here, on another front, two acquaintances of mine each purchased bare F-550's, and each ordered crate delivery of a Silent Drive suspension system, to replace the factory leaf springs. Their orders were placed a month apart, and within the space of that month, there were bag changes and other changes that made the same kit for the same truck ordered near the same time... ultimately different. And, they reported Silent Drive to be not the easiest to deal with when they had to ship some parts back for replacement/substitution.

Well, that was then (over a year ago), and this is now. Those were F-550s, and yours is obviously an F-650. Furthermore, I have no personal experience with Silent Drive, I am only relaying what was reported to me. Yet, what was reported made enough of an impact on me that I would seriously evaluate other full air suspensions before committing to Silent Drive.

I would give the strongest consideration to medium/heavy truck/bus air suspensions made by Hendrickson. They may cost more at the outset, but less in the long run. They also appear to me to have more funtional sophistication (with respect to maintaining pinion angles and correct axle location). Ford offers a Hendrickson made air suspension option for the F-650. That kind of existing product integration and Ford engineering approval might simplify installation on your frame/axle combo.

Just my humble, unqualified opinion.
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Old 07-12-2001, 08:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

Robyn
Thanks for the information.
I knew that Fontaine used silent drive for a while at the onset of the F450/550 conversions, but I didn't know why they quit using them!
I do have some infomation on a Hendrickson HAS-190 system, and like you said, it is a great system. The Supercrewzer uses it, also.
I might have to save a little more $$, but I think based on your helpful info, I'll wait about Silent Drive for now.
I did find a Reyco/Granning system for the 22.5 equipted F650. It is a R-series #RD1700F model.
I am awaiting an answer from them on further information and availability.
here's a link to it, what do you think? http://transport.tuthill.com/asp/cat...90&groupid=101
As it uses the existing front spring hangers, it may be a little more affordable.
Thanks again,
Charles
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Old 07-18-2001, 03:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

Hi CMD1,

I have the Silent Drive ALD-330 on my Bering MD-23. I chose SD for two reasons.
1) SD made suspensions for Nissan UD trucks (similar to mine) and most owners reported satisfaction with them.
2) SD was willing to make a suspension for the Bering where demand would be minimal.

I choose a truck mod center that was familiar with SD and had them provide SD the measurements for my truck. Silent drive apparently offered two specs, which the mod center took the heavier 23,000-lbs. suspension without consulting me. Well after it was installed the truck really rode rough, so I called Silent Drive and after some discussion it was determined the suspension was to heavy for my application. They created a new upper air bag mount and supplied lighter duty air bags (11,000-lbs.) to correct. Well this helped but it still rode rough. They then asked me to try it with out shocks; this really made a big difference. They indicated shock weren’t necessary for this suspension, but I insisted since they were on the original suspension. SD did sent different shocks with less dampening but the truck rode rough again. Final solution was to run without shocks.

Initially SD indicated they would take the air bags back, but later said they couldn't reuse the bags and Firestone would only give them $50 each on an exchange/return, so guess who has the air bags? The mod center wasn't willing to assist saying they spent more hours installing the suspension then they billed me. SD claims the mod center chose the wrong spec and while willing to correct, they weren't responsible for the error even though each knew the intended use of the truck. All said and done the $3200 air suspension cost $4000.

Have not had any problems with it, just more costly then was anticipated.
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Old 07-18-2001, 08:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

RJ Robb,
Thanks for the input!
I have really been chasing my tail trying to deciede what air ride to buy. I might should have just left the Kelderman system on the F650! It did work!
I have a lot of information in front of me to consider.
I have talked twice with Silent drive, and they say 4-6 weeks for a suspension......that is an indication to me the ALD330 isn't selling well, as they would have to build one they say. I was hopefull that they would be a little better than you found them to be in the "service after the sale". But at least they didn't not help at all.
I feel also that the ALD330 is too heavy for my application, which will never see more than 12,000 pounds on the rear axle. I discussed the ride concern with them, and was assured it would be great! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] The price is good @ $1775.00, in their favor.
Then, there is Reyco/Granning and Hendrickson, who don't seem to want to return my calls I've made all week. [img]images/icons/mad.gif[/img]
But I guess when your the biggest, you don't need to sell one lousy suspension! [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img]
Finally there is Fleetco, with a system I have installed on customers trucks with satisfactory results, but is at the very high end on price. At about $3800 with frieght, it is expensive. But, the customer service is good, and very accessible. I have had one truck that had a vibration at 45 mph with this system, but it was on a F550, and it was replaced at fletco's cost, under warrenty.
I may go the Fleetco route, I just haven't qiute decieded.If your not familar with Fleetco, here is a link; www.fleetcoproducts.com
Money is a factor, unforunatley!
Thanks again for the input on Silent Drive, I appreciate your time..
Charles
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Old 07-20-2001, 04:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

Silent Drive claims their suspensions are custom built for each make and model. But four to six weeks tells me they don't have one spec'd yet! Mine was the first they manufactured for a Bering and it took six weeks.

Yes, I agree the ALD-330 is probably to heavy for your intended use. Look for a suspension in the 9,000-11,000 lbs. range (ALD-320 or ALD-330L). Even with 9000 lbs., I hear some folks are still putting on ping tanks. Reese Count<sp> is the person I talked with to get the suspension corrected. Believe he is in sales.

For the price you're quoted is it a complete system (control valves, torsion bar, etc.)? I know the installation time (and cost) was considerable.

From what I've seen of the Silent Drive, Reyco/Granning, and Hendrickson suspension, all appear to be similar.
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Old 07-20-2001, 08:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

I talked with Reese Kelch today at Silent Drive. He is the sales manager there. After we talked about what I was looking for, he suggested the ALD330L, which is rated at 11k maximun, with lighter & fewer tapered leaf springs (2 compared to 3) compared to the regular ALD330 which is rated at 26K.
It will be $1675.00 + frieght, complete and ready to install. It includes all lines, fittings, a single air control valve. I imagine it will be at least an 8 hour install, as the frame will require drilling for most mounting situations. I think the main thing that is "built to fit" is the axle mounting plates, as they needed to know which axle I had. (Meritor RS-17-144)
Their design enginneer is going to call me monday, and we will talk a little moe about what I am looking for.
It sounds encouraging, so I guess it will be Silent drive after all.
I finally got the $ on the Reyco R-series today, it is $4200.00
Great or not, that is outta my ball park!
Thanks to all of you for the input!!!
I'll be waiting I guess for my air suspension to arrive in about 6 weeks. [img]images/icons/crazy.gif[/img]
It looks the same as the hendrickson and reyco units, I think it will fit both my needs and expectations. Even if nothing else, it fits my budget! [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
My truck isn't a very demanding application, as a Rv hauler anyway. I'll never be near max GVW with it.
Charles
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Old 07-23-2001, 08:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

I talked with Silent Drive's design enginneer today. All looks good on the model ALD330L, built to a max load of 11,000 pounds on the 650.
It would be too light a suspension for a dump truck, but it should be just what I need for a RV hauler set up.
It is supposed to be built and shipped in 2 weeks. That is better than I was initially told, that is good.
Thanks to all who replied to this post, I'll add my 2 cents worth about the system when I get it installed in a few weeks.
Thanks again for all the help. As always, this forum never lets me down.
Charles
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Old 08-22-2001, 12:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

CMD1,
Did you receive the Silent Drive Suspension and did you get it installed. Interested in hearing your feedback.
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Old 08-24-2001, 09:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Silent Drive air suspensions?

It was shipped today from Silent Drive, I hope to have it in my shop early next week. I'll keep you posted! I am heading to Utah for 10 days on Sept 1st, for a vacation.(25th anniversary!) I'll probably not get it installed until after that. I'm taking the Goldwing on this trip.....no truck!
Charles
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