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I am the new owner of a 2004 Holiday Rambler Neptune 36' with 80,000 miles.  This uses the Monico 4-bag system.  I just completed installation of a TRW steering box and am ready to move on to another suspension issue.  The original shocks are clearly worn out and need to be replaced.  I am trying to decide whether to replace the airbags at the same time.  They seem to work ok but I believe are original to the motorhome.  What is a reasonable expectation for their life?  When they go will they complete fail, or just gradually lose air?  I know there are no certainties when dealing with old motorhomes, but would like to hear your experience and advice.

Edited by Frank McElroy
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This is a timely post as I'm thinking about changing the air bags on my 2002 Windsor, 8 of them. 

In 2021 when I was getting ready to travel I inspected all the airbags closely.  Sprayed them down with soapy water, used a good light, took pictures.  Couldn't find any leaks and/or problems so decided to keep using them.  I did buy a couple spares "just in case".

Now the airbags are ~23 years old and am contemplating changing.  

No idea how long the originals will last but the problem is when they fail far from home!!  It will be interesting to see what kind of responses you get.  I'll be following. 

 

 

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I still have 8 of the 10 original, now 24 years old bags, just over 200k miles later. May depend where the coach lives. The 2 that I replaced were within a year from each other, like maybe 2 years ago, were on the same front passenger corner and had pin holes with only slow leaks. One was caused by a wire, like from a wire brush, suspect the other had the same thrown at it by the wheel at some point. Still could easily drive on them but I now carry a spare with tools to replace. I dissected one of them and the inside was still pristine so I'm not in a hurry, unless we go far north to AK next year, might do it then, just in case.

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10 hours ago, Ivan K said:

Still could easily drive on them but I now carry a spare with tools to replace.

@Ivan K

So  what tools do you carry to do a change, this might be an option for me.  I'm planning a long trip this fall and carry tools, 

I know the air bags themselves are pretty robust, they are used in the mining industry on may vibrating feeders.   Working conditions are not ideal and they operate 24/7 in a lot of the applications.   The ones that fail is usually caused by spillage of the ore and holes getting punched in them. 

 

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Jim, in short, all the tools I needed to replace the bags at home. Including h-frame blocks, air jack and short air gun for the top bolts. New fittings, including schreader plugs and couplers to isolate a bad bag if needed. I can remove a wheel or tire too if necessary. A lot of small parts and tools I needed for past repairs or may need based on reported issues. I like to avoid repair shops and so far did not need any.

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I have a theory that exposure to UV (sunlight) can be factor in the degradation of the bags.  On my 8 bag Dynasty (97), the front bags can be partially exposed to sunlight when the rig is aired up. The "grass skirt" material doesn't provide 100% coverage.  My bags have started to develop small cracks on the bottom half where the rubber appears to be starting to rot. So far haven't lost any material though, and zero leakage.  On the rears, which are much more protected from sunlight, they appear to be just fine.  I'm not sure though if they are even original as they may have been swapped out be a previous owner.

When storing I make sure to air down the rig which lowers the sidewall over the bag more completely, blocking the light.

Current thinking is I'll replace the front bags and shocks when I do the drive tires, probably next year.

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I just finished 4 air bags front only 2005 knight the bags were tested in 5-gallon pails submerged in water for leaks but found none. However, the air bags felt more like containers then cushions. Not sure if the 19+years effect the bags so i did the steer tires first for safety concerns. These are the tools i used. New fasteners air and bolt hardware, made the new bag install easer then removel of bags. I did soak bolts for two days with Blaster.

bag replace tools.jpg

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When I replaced mine I could only get an air tool on one nut. I used a 3/4-in STUBBY box end wrench and a hammer on the other. Those are lock nuts and they come out hard the whole way. The one I could get the air wrench on I drove back on. The other one I put a regular nut and a lock washer on, much easier. I removed the wheel, gives a lot more room.  As I get older easier is better.

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i took the front wheel off to check other things and maintenance on front grease hubs. I also found Harbor Freight 22-ton jack stands a good height to work under no worries; and an old trucker showed me how to use a flat shovel and 2x4s to walk the tire on and off without ever lifting tire with my back. Things i learned on front bags will help me with the rear bags. End of this year or beginning of next year i hope to do the rears. I have a spare rear bag just in case of road hazard failure. I think those jack stands will be needed to drop out generator for future maintenance.

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16 hours ago, scottknight said:

i took the front wheel off to check other things and maintenance on front grease hubs. I also found Harbor Freight 22-ton jack stands a good height to work under no worries; and an old trucker showed me how to use a flat shovel and 2x4s to walk the tire on and off without ever lifting tire with my back. Things i learned on front bags will help me with the rear bags. End of this year or beginning of next year i hope to do the rears. I have a spare rear bag just in case of road hazard failure. I think those jack stands will be needed to drop out generator for future maintenance.

I would love to learn this little trick if you'd be willing to share a video or somehow demonstrate an example.....always willing to learn a 'work smart, not hard' way!  I will keep that right in my video toolbox.  ha!

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47 minutes ago, MIRIAM said:

I would love to learn this little trick if you'd be willing to share a video or somehow demonstrate an example.....always willing to learn a 'work smart, not hard' way!  I will keep that right in my video toolbox.  ha!

A crow bar will also work,

We sometimes had to change tire on large mining equipment out in the mine as a last resort.  Handling a 6-7' diameter tire weighing a ton.  Learned some tricks there. 

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Marsingbob:  You've asked a good question.  Let me give you a framework to consider.

My wife and I have a 2001 Monaco Signature with 84,000 miles.  Left to its own devices, our rig leans.  I had a local shop inspect it, & they said the bags were good.  When the shop's technician left, I took it to a shop in Las Vegas that handles high-end coaches.  They said the reason my coach leans is the bags on the driver's side have aged out & won't hold air.  Their solution is to replace all ten (10) bags, adjust the manifold that controls the air going to each of the bags, and install a new air pump and air tank.  Cost: $11,880.

The business' service manager told us the bags will last 15-20 years if properly maintained.  Thus, since your rig is a 2004, I think you might consider replacing them and checking the air pump that inflates them.  And, you, or your technician, should check the manifold that directs the air from the pump to the individual air bags.

That's my $.02.  Best wishes for safe travels whatever you decide.

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