This article covers the installation of the Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 Ultimate Springs Kit and the installation of the Air Lift 72000 Wireless Air Leveling Compressor.

First things first, what does a Air Springs Kit does? It provides additional support (or stiffness) to the existing suspension system as payload increase/decrease. This support (or stiffness) can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing pressure in the Air Springs by using a garage compressor, a bicycle pump, or by installing an on-board compressor in the van.

What does the Air Spring kit do NOT? It does NOT increase the payload capacity of the vehicle. It does NOT increase the ground clearance with the rear wheel axle (an aftermarket lift kit such as the Van Compass Lift Kit will not either, larger diameter tires will).

 

As we moved forward into the van conversion, we observed that the back of our Transit got closer and closer to the ground (squat). That’s a normal behavior: the more weight you put on a spring (a.k.a suspension), the more the said spring compress. Hey, it’s not a problem as long as we’re within the allowed payload range of 3510 lbs (that’s specific to the Extended-Length, High-Roof, 3.7L, 4.10 Transit. Check your payload according to your model here).

 

 

If squatting “is not a problem”, then why did we installed the Air Lift kit? Mainly for these reasons:

1- OFF-ROAD: The extended-length Transit as a loooong overhang behind the rear wheel and likes to kiss the ground; it did not take too long before we bent the bracket that holds the trailer wiring in the back.

Trailer-Wiring-Bracket-Bent

 

With the Air Lift kit, we can increase the overhang ground clearance by approximately 3 inches when going off-road, then lower it back down on paved road. And with the Wireless On-Board Compressor kit, we can do it on the fly without even stopping the van! Neat!

The Air Lift also drastically reduce the rolling. Before we cranked the pressure up to 60 PSI (see “On Second Thoughts” below this page), things wanted to fly off the cupboards when the van started rolling! Now, the van feels much stiffer (in a good way) and when rolling happens its more subtle and stabilize much faster. Yes!

 

2- ON-ROAD: The Air Lift Suspension kit will ensure a proper weight distribution on four tires and improve safety and comfort of the ride. The increased stiffness also helps when taking curves so the van don’t sag on the exterior side of the curve.

 

3- OVERNIGHT: We can use the Air Lift kit to level the van (to some extent) when we park for the night. Hang on, we’re not done: the Air Lift 72000 Wireless Compressor include a manifold that allows to adjust the air pressure independently in each air bag (left / right), so we can “roll” the van! (this is more as fine-tuning though; we still carry leveling blocks http://amzn.to/2ubR01d)

 

What’s the difference between the “normal” lift kit VS the Ultimate lift kit? To install the air springs, the Transit’s factory jounce bumpers need to be removed; the Ultimate kit include internal bumpers to replace the removed ones. If the air bag fails and is run without pressure, the internal jounce bumper will protect the van from bottoming out over a big bump.

Ford-Transit-Factory-Jounce-Bumper

Ford Transit Factory Jounce Bumper

 

Load Lifter 5000 Ultimate Cutaway

 

Why not go with the 2.5″ Van Compass lift kit instead of the air springs? 1- Money and not-so-easy-to-install. 2- The Van Compass lift kit is “permanent” and will modify the MPG and behavior of the van (we like the fact that we can bring the suspension back to “normal” when we want to).

 

At last, in “Part B” of this installation you will notice that we chose to power the Air Lift Compressor from the van’s battery through the Upfitter Auxiliary Switch; these switches are only powered when the ignition is at “ON”. Why not powered the compressor from the house battery at all time? Because, as soon as pressure changes in the air springs (for example, from a change in temperature) the system will add/remove pressure to keep it at the selected pressure. This means that the compressor could start in the middle of the night, or anytime when the van is parked resulting in useless battery drain / noise. Voilà pourquoi!

 

 

Enough blabla, let’s get to work!

 

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 10 hours (it’s the kind of job you could do in half the time if you would do it again…)

 

TOTAL COST : 850$ USD

 

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MATERIAL:

 

TOOLS:

 

RESOURCES:

 

PRE-REQUISITE:

  • Buy a Transit!

 

 

HERE IS HOW IT GOES!

Part A: Installing the Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 Ultimate Air Spring Kit

This is the part where the air springs are installed. You can choose to only perform “Part A”, if so you will need a external compressor or a bike pump to add pressure.

Disclosure: The installation manual included (link here) with the Air Lift kit is very well done, fully illustrated specifically for the Ford Transit! Use it to perform the job properly! The following pictures are just a complement/an overview …

Air Lift 88213 Parts

 

1- To perform the installation of the air springs, the body of the van needs to be raised.

We used the emergency jack for that task. The jack is located under the passenger seat and the tools are located under a compartment on the passenger side:

Ford Transit Emergency Kit

Tool’s Compartment on Passenger Side

 

The jack was installed against the hitch (which is attached on the van’s frames). No need to lift the tires off the ground:

 

We activated the handbrake and put some rocks under the tires. Safety first!

Safety First

 

2- The factory jounce bumper can now be removed

Here they are:

Ford-Transit-Factory-Jounce-Bumper

 

Just pull down and it will pop off:

Ford Transit Jounce Bumper Removal

 

Then unscrew the bolt:

Ford Transit Jounce Bumper Removal 2

 

Voilà!

Ford Transit Jounce Bumper Removed

 

3- Install the upper frame bracket onto the frame

First install the two carriage bolts and the button head screw in the bracket:

Air Lift 5000 Ultimate Kit Installation (1)

 

Then install the bracket onto the frame, with the flange towards the center of the van:

Upper Bracket onto frame

This photo was totally stolen from the installation manual; we told you the manual is very well done!

 

4- Pre-assemble the air springs

This:

Air-Lift-5000-Ultimate-Kit-Installation-(2)

 

And this:

Air Lift 5000 Ultimate Kit Installation (3)

 

Then, turn the assembly upside-down and install the lower roll plate, the lower bracket and the carriage bolts:

Air-Lift-5000-Ultimate-Kit-Installation-(5)

Reminder: use the installation manual, there is more info!

 

5- Install the air springs onto the van

Tip: The air spring won’t fit at first, it’s too tall. Install the lower bracket on the axle then compress the air spring to make it fit! It’s really easy!

Air Lift 5000 Ultimate Kit Installation (6)

It fits!

 

6- Please refer to the installation manual for the following steps (torquing of the bolts, etc); it’s a step-by-step procedure and it’s easy to follow. Here are a few complements:

The ABS line on the driver side might rub against the lower bracket, to protect it we added a self-adhesive neoprene seal (http://amzn.to/2ug8RUJ) that we had left over from the propane locker build:

Air Lift 5000 Ultimate Kit Installation (11)

Self-Adhesive Neoprene Seal

 

On the passenger side, we added some 3M anti-erosion tape to protect against rubbing:

Air-Lift-5000-Ultimate-Kit-Installation-(13)

3M Anti-Erosion Tape

 

If, like us, you followed the installation manual, you should have something like this:
Air Lift 5000 Ultimate Kit Installation (9)

Final Result

 

Oh, one last thing! A heat shield has to be installed on the passenger side. It’s pretty straightforward:

Air Lift 5000 Ultimate Kit Installation (14)

Heat Shield to protect the air spring from the muffler

 

If you’re not performing “Part B” (not installing an onboard compressor), you can now install the air lines and the valves. You’re done!

We chose to install the valve below each rear wheel through the plastic trim (with the onboard compressor, the valve are still required in case of compressor failure) :

Air Lift 5000 Ultimate Kit Installation (16)

Air Valve

 

 

Part B: Installing the Air Lift 72000 Wireless Air Leveling Compressor

This is the part where the compressor & manifold are installed. By performing “Part B”, you can adjust the pressure in the air springs on the fly, with the wireless remote! Sweeeet!

Once again, follow the installation manual! Use the following pictures just as a complement…

Air Lift 72000 Parts

 

From the manual:

Air-Lift-72000-Schematic

Check out the manual for the full diagram

1- Decision time!

You need to decide where to install the compressor & manifold. These components are water resistant but not waterproof! If installed outside the van, they should be installed protected from direct splash. To help you with your decision, use these two resources:

  1. Mounting Air Compressors (Air Lift Website)
  2. Recommended compressor locations by car make/model

 

2- We chose to mount the compressor & manifold outside, on the driver side:

Van-Side

 

Air-Lift-Compressor-and-Manifold-Ford-Transit

Air-Lift-Compressor-and-Manifold-Ford-Transit-Location

 

3- Pneumatic Installation

It’s easy to do, yet difficult to put in words or pictures; so, here’s the schematic from the manual:

Air Lift 72000 Pneumatic Schematic

click to enlarge

 

 

Note: We installed the compressor air filer intake inside the van as suggested in the installation manual, so it would not ingest dust. We used the same route as our Composting Toilet exhaust. We forgot to take a picture of the installed air filter, but you should get the idea:

Van-Side

here

 

 

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (51)

This is the composting toilet exhaust under the van

 

Composting-Toilet-Installation-Camper-Van-Conversion-(39)

here

 

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (40)

knock knock

 

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (44)

We drilled a hole to route the composting toilet exhaust, the Air List Compressor Intake Filter and the Air Lift Electrical Wires.

 

Check out our Composting Toilet article (faroutride.com/composting-toilet-installation/) for more info on the above routing through the floor.

 

4- Electrical Installation

Again, the installation manual is very explicit about the electrical installation:

Air-Lift-72000-Electrical

Click to enlarge

 

It’s just not possible to capture this with an actual picture of our installation, it looks just like a spaghetti, so please refer to the manual!

 

Notes:

1- To ground the relay and the compressor, we routed an electrical wire to a recommended ground point as per BEMM (page 128). We used the ground point located in between the driver and passenger seat (point 25):

Ford Transit Ground Points

Ground Point 25 was used

 

Ground Point 25, between driver & passenger seat. The huge copper terminal ring is for our 100oW inverter.

 

2- We used the same ground point for the electrical harness (refer to schematic above, “To battery ground”).

3- The positive of the electrical harness is connected to the Upfitter Auxiliary Switch #1, so the system is powered only when the ignition is set to “ON”. Read the introduction of this article for the justification. To learn how to access the Upfitter Auxiliary Switches output, read our article:

Ford Transit Upfitter Auxiliary Switches

 

Here is how it looks under the van:

Looking toward the back of the van

 

Looking toward the front of the van

 

 

Final Check

Perform the “Installation Checklist” from the manual. That includes checking for clearances, checking for air leaks using soapy water, etc.

 

Settings

From the manual:

  • Minimum Recommended Pressure: 5 PSI
  • Maximum Recommended Pressure: 100 PSI

 

Tuning the Air Pressure:

  • There is no specific procedure to follow… you can visually level the vehicle, then fine-tune the pressure according to the ride comfort and stability. There is some trial-and-error involved!

 

 

Wireless Controller

The wireless remote works straight away, no need to program it or anything. Well, you can program some presets but we’re not there yet. It’s much easier than use a T.V. remote!

 

 

That’s it! Now go for a ride! A smoooooth ride!

 

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT

We just performed the installation (as of july 20th 2017), so we need more time for extensive testing! We’ll report back a bit later!

 

November 2017 Update:

We think we finally find the sweet spot for OUR weight loading! We raised the pressure up to 60 PSI (left & right) and the van feel MUCH BETTER. We used to recommend the Air Lift Kit mostly for the overhang “issue”, but now we HIGHLY recommend them for handling too! Since we increased the pressure, the van pretty much stopped rolling (left/right/left/right/left/right rolling…) when hitting bumps AND the van feels much better when taking sharp curves (it won’t sag on the exterior side of the curve). We would totally install the Air Lift again if we had to start over!

 

 

 

WANT MORE?

Check out our Build Journal, learn everything about The Van, join us for The Ride, or if you’re new to this start by reading The Prologue.

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, converted it to a campervan, sold our house and hit the road full-time to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

7 comments

  1. Comment by Richmond

    Richmond Reply July 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    So awesome guys! So many ideas floating around. We’re not going to be doing any major offroading for a bit, but it’s great to know this exists!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply July 28, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      It also helps to redistribute weight to 4 wheels for better handling, since left/right air pressure is independent. For example, if you have a water tank on one side…

      cheers!

  2. Comment by Paul

    Paul Reply July 28, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    You forgot to mention a system critical necessity for operating your airlifts:
    Lowrider by War
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xTGrfs5TXM
    This must be activated in conjunction with air lift system or your Transit’s soul will surely perish.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply July 28, 2017 at 7:12 pm

      Paul,
      you’re trying to teach me how to live, but you clearly failed because you omitted this essential accessory: http://amzn.to/2uGXjdn

      🙂

  3. Pingback: The Planning Details – VantasticTrax

  4. Comment by Dave

    Dave Reply October 24, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Read this when your first posted it. Reading it again now as I plan to do the same install. Question for you, when you have a moment: What are your longer term impressions of the Airlift:

    – Working fine?
    – Do you use it much?
    – Does it help leveling the bed for sleep (back to front and side-to-side) as you mention
    – Have you landed on a PSI standard for highway vs backroad?

    Much thanks A&I

    Dave (Squamish)

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply October 24, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Hey!

      – Working fine?
      YES! No issues!
      – Do you use it much?
      YES! Since we have the extended-transit, it prevents the back of the van from hitting the ground. And we use it even often now that we tapped a tire-inflator into it!! http://faroutride.com/tire-inflator
      – Does it help leveling the bed for sleep (back to front and side-to-side) as you mention
      It does, but for fine-tuning only (the leveling blocks do most of the job: http://amzn.to/2zAVuhN) AND it’s stealth (urban camping) compared to the orange leveling blocks!
      – Have you landed on a PSI standard for highway vs backroad?
      We leave them to 40/40 PSI all the time, but i’m not saying this is the perfect setting. We just set it so the van looks level and not squatting.
      We recently increased the pressure from 40 to 60psi (left & right) and the van handle MUCH better! The van pretty much stopped “rolling” on the backroads and when taking a sharp turn.

      Bottom word:
      I’m not sure if it improves the handling of the van (the van still swings from left-to-right when departing a sidewalk diagonally) It DOES improve the van handling, and it improve the departure angle (back of the van). We would still install them if we had to start over! We highly recommend them!

      Good day!

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