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The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

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Old 02-15-2011, 02:00 PM   #1
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The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I would like to bring light to a commom mis-conception in the minitruckin' world that people seem to think it is okay to run a vehicle without shocks after installing air bags.


This is a very beneficial article to read if you care about the safety of yourself, your passengers, and the people driving next to you. The whole point of customizing your ride is to make improvements, right? We spend THOUSANDS of dollars replacing the entire suspension in a truck, while some think it is okay to leave out the shocks when it comes to the installation it just boggles my mind.



I will quote an article by Max Fish of Bio Kustomz that was published in Minitruckin' January 2010.

"Every modification in the custom car industry goes through a maturing process.

The technology is refined, heavily critiqued, and maybe if the modification is lucky, the public will approve and it gets mass produced (the really lucky ones get outsourced to China where it is cut and trimmed until it can be sold at the low-low discount price of $19.95 on late-night TV). In one way or another, this holds true for just about anything you can do to a vehicle. From a chop top, to a custom intake, to Lamborghini doors, there is a natural progression of things. You might even go so far as to call it survival of the fittest. If an intake manifold is produced that doesn't provide any performance gains, but it looks really nice, there is a good possibility that someone will keep tweaking with the design until it does produce horsepower. Certain modifications have been proven to work for so long that they become scripture. Take replacing your stock exhaust manifold(s) with headers for instance, that is a staple engine modification, no one would argue with you if you did it.

Air springs are not immune to that same cycle of things. I'm not exactly sure how far air springs go back, but I know that GM used them in the late '50s on passenger cars, but only for a short time and I can only guess at their reasons for not continuing the use of them. In the early '80s Randy Davidson manufactured one of the first air spring "kits" for the front of the Chevrolet 1/2-ton fullsize pickup. It was an easy truck to kit because the shock was already located on the outside of the A-arm, so it was a true bolt-in kit and NO it didn't lay frame. In 1992 Brian Jendro used airbags on a Toyota pickup for Jason Pang instead of using the then popular air shock, thus setting the stage for an industry revolution (in my opinion, it has developed into THE defining modification of the minitruck).


So for over 17 years minitruckers have been installing airbags in order to slam their vehicles lower than any other custom automotive clique. In fact, it has become such a mainstream modification that numerous companies have spawned out of the need for better quality or easier-to-install air suspension parts. Yet through all these years, it seems that there are some people who escaped the grip of evolutionary progression. How, after all these years of custom suspension advancement, can anyone still believe that you don't need to run a shock with airbags? And to make things worse, these same people (you know who you are) will tell others that their truck rides great without shocks. What I believe started this phenomenon of ignorance is that many people had their trucks static-dropped way too low without a notch or proper installation, making them nearly intolerable to drive. Then, once they installed 'bags and notched their frame, the truck rode wonderful in comparison. Many will say that using a Slam Specialties airbag and 'bags with stiffer spring rates work great in the front without shocks. But that's just it, a truck without shocks will ride great compared to a truck that is constantly banging the rearend against the frame and viewed in the same light, a broken finger feels great compared to a gunshot to the abdomen. So if you insist, you can continue to tell everyone how great your broken finger feels, but in the meantime let's ask the experts what they think about not running shocks.
After spending only ten minutes on the phone with the guys over at Slam Specialties it was obvious that they agreed wholeheartedly about this. Here's what they had to say:


Slam Specialties says that
Shock absorbers are an integral part of any suspension system. No matter what type of system you have, when you break down your suspension into its various parts it's easy to see the direct function of each component.

Springs: Whether leaf, coil, torsion bar, or air spring, their sole function is to lift or support the weight of the vehicle. Spring rates come into play in various guises but, ultimately and in its simplest form, the spring pushes the vehicle up to the desired height. Springs are not designed to absorb shock or provide damping in any way; which is why you'll see older vehicles, even with steel springs, "float" down the road.

Shocks: Shock absorbers are what actually control the movement of the vehicle's suspension under driving conditions. Properly set-up shocks allow for precise and predictable control over your vehicle; whether cruising, accelerating, braking, or cornering. In air suspension systems, shocks are also important for other reasons. Because air is compressible, and airsprings are essentially flexible pressure vessels, the spring rates vary. This variance is dependent on the height of the spring and the pressure inside. In most cases, this variability, along with the inability of the airspring to damp shock, causes the vehicle to bounce continuously after hitting an irregularity in the road. Bouncing can unload the tires and make handling difficult, if not dangerous. Shocks damp potential bouncing and allow the suspension to normalize very quickly keeping the contact patch of the tire pressed firmly against the road. This, in and of itself, allows the driver to remain in control.

Now, I know what you might be thinking-"I run stiffer 'bags and don't need shocks." While a 'bag with a stiffer spring rate inherently helps to damp shock to the suspension and reduces that bounce effect, they are no replacement for a good set of shock absorbers. Utilizing a properly set-up airspring and shock combination not only will give the safest ride but, in most cases, will also give the most comfortable and longest lasting. In any case, when setting up your suspension, always remember to work within the parameters of the components that you are using. Airsprings and shocks have the ability to work in a variety of situations. The keys to success when working with them are simple. Select the size and capacity of the components to fit the vehicle, make sure the angular travel of the airsprings are within manufacturer limitations, ensure that the air springs and shocks have adequate clearance throughout their range of movement and don't over-extend or bottom out either the 'bag or the shock.

Bottom Line: Shocks and air springs should ALWAYS be used together.

I've also been working with Steve Duck over at RCD for over two years about this same issue and they have developed a custom Bilstein shock that is designed specifically for air spring applications. I called upon Steve's input and here's what he had to say.


Bilstein Shocks
After spending the better part of 17 years in the aftermarket, hot rod and muscle car shock absorber industry, I was surprised to find out that a lot of vehicles were not running front shocks. At a show I came upon a beautiful '60s Chevy truck, 'bagged and sitting on the ground. After admiring it from a distance I took a closer look to see what kind of shocks it was running, but to my surprise, there weren't any shocks at all. How could this be, is there something inside these bags that damp the motion of the bag? I asked the owner how the truck rode, "great on a smooth road" was the answer. Well, in a perfect world, with only smooth roads, that would be ok I guess, but this is not a perfect world. How many of you have been driving down the road watching a wheel bounce off the pavement or felt the chatter of the car going around a corner as the suspension is upset from hitting a bump in the road? Bottom line is whether you have a vehicle with air, coil, or leaf springs a shock is necessary to control it.

Now, I have never been someone that tries to baffle people with engineering and numbers crap, so let's just start with the basics. A shock absorber's job is simple, it controls how fast the spring (or air spring in this case) compresses and rebounds. When hitting a bump in the road you want the suspension to compress absorbing the bump, the shock slows this compression motion down so that the tire can return to the ground quickly and get back to its job of holding the vehicle off the ground. How fast the shock slows the wheel can determine what you feel in the vehicle. If the shock has too much compression rate slowing the movement down too rapidly, it will translate into a harsh or jarring ride. On the other hand if it is has too little the vehicle will dip/dive and have less control when cornering. The opposite motion is rebound; this controls how fast the spring expands. Not enough rebound rate, feels as if you are getting pitched out of the seat and there will be a lot of upward body motion. Too much rebound rate and the vehicle will feel like the rear end is kicking when going over bumps. Often this is hard to differentiate between too much compression and rebound in the rear.

To get the best ride quality at RCD we set up our Bilstein shocks with valving that slows the compression movement, keeping the tire planted on the pavement. But the rebound rate can be 2-3 times more aggressive to control the expansion of the bag, this helps to settle the car quickly after hitting the bump. That said, just because you have a shock on the vehicle doesn't mean it is the correct shock, but having the wrong shock is in most cases better than no shocks at all.

Max:
I feel much better now after consulting the experts, knowing that it's not just me and that I'm not going crazy! Hopefully after reading this you can see how shocks not only offer a better ride in almost every case but can make the vehicle safer as well. If you're still not convinced, try shooting yourself in the stomach and see how that feels. For more information, contact the companies listed in the source box.""

http://www.minitruckinweb.com/tech/s...ngs/index.html
Old 02-15-2011, 02:12 PM   #2
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Agreed. Got a fullsize myself and there is no shocks on it at all right now. Can't even stand to drive it down the street.
Old 02-15-2011, 05:02 PM   #3
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Superb post..thank you.

But we all know some will still say "my truck rides great w/out shocks".
Old 02-15-2011, 05:20 PM   #4
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

We preached this at air ride for years LOL forget about the thousands of hours we had in testing performance, and ride quality etc with air suspension... hopefully since some one in the mini truck world has said it people will start listening
Old 02-15-2011, 05:22 PM   #5
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Old 02-15-2011, 06:01 PM   #6
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

good post. now everyone searches for front shock how-to's and bolt on shock mounts at the cheapest price. lol
Old 02-15-2011, 06:35 PM   #7
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

nice work! not having shocks is terrible, been there, never again
Old 02-15-2011, 07:35 PM   #8
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Great post! I've been telling my brother to run shocks on his for a while now.
Old 02-15-2011, 08:21 PM   #9
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

my truck rides great w/o shocks....



















lol
Old 02-15-2011, 08:54 PM   #10
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

SuspensionSource..im interested in 4new shocks! gotta 1990gmc s15 extcab thats patiently waiting for my air management and dom 2500bags. The rear will be triangular 4link bag on bar,rear shocks placement will be behind under axle.
Old 02-15-2011, 09:26 PM   #11
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Awesome post. I just bagged my Blazer X and went nuts when I had to drive it about 4 miles to another shop with no shocks. I thought I'd be sea-sick.
Old 02-15-2011, 09:43 PM   #12
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I think its just as important to choose the right shock. Mine has non in the front simply because I wanted to drive the damn thing last summer. But its sucks. Depending on your ride pressure I think its important to choose something that fits that. For instance my front is around 35 psi which causes it to be soft so for me I will be buying a stiffer shock. Or something adjustable. Correct me if I'm wrong. But I have road in trucks with no shocks and could not tell the difference.
Old 02-15-2011, 10:11 PM   #13
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

That was an awesome posting you've made there. I don't have shocks on the front just cause I can't afford a good relocator kit for it. But now more than ever it's top of the priority list
Old 02-15-2011, 10:13 PM   #14
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Quote: Originally Posted by ridinlow99
good post. now everyone searches for front shock how-to's and bolt on shock mounts at the cheapest price. lol
That's the only reason I don't have mine yet. There's no inexspensive bolt on kit
Old 02-15-2011, 11:03 PM   #15
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

the first truck I bagged didnt have shocks and the front tires would actually leave the ground it bounced so much over simple bumps in the highway. When I picked it up after having shocks installed I would still wince at every pothole but the truck just ignored every bump

. Here she is, circa 1996, every bagged truck or car has had shocks since.




dont forget what it does to tires, constantly stretching the belts causes failure and at the very least weird wear patterns.
Old 02-16-2011, 12:45 AM   #16
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

i dont post here much, but i do alot of reading n research (mostly here cuz there's great info in this forum). but to the point, this is a great informative post for the ignorant builders that think its fine cuz it rides fine or they can deal w/ the frame slammin the axle. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT IS SAFE.

i bought my truck bagged already, i knew going in that i had more work in store (i more or less saved the truck, but i'll save that for a build thread if i do one). but after i test drove it n hit the 1st bump, it hasnt moved since n i thought wut kind of idiot would drive daily w/o shocks...
Old 02-16-2011, 06:35 PM   #17
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

whould the stock shocks work on the rear in my 93 daily dragger? and still be able to lay frame? i have a 5 in static drop right now but will be doing bags next weekend and what other parts from the drop would be usable for the bags?
Old 02-17-2011, 10:15 AM   #18
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Quote: Originally Posted by 93bageds10
whould the stock shocks work on the rear in my 93 daily dragger? and still be able to lay frame? i have a 5 in static drop right now but will be doing bags next weekend and what other parts from the drop would be usable for the bags?
There is a search function on this forum
Old 02-17-2011, 07:41 PM   #19
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Definatly a good read. Shocks are very important. Here's a link I've used in the past for sourcing the right length shock as well as mounting style. I believe AVTekk posted this years ago.

http://www.monroe.com/catalog/docume...engthSheet.pdf

If you don't like Monroe's you can still cross reference part numbers to come up with what vehicles they fit, and find another brand.
Old 02-17-2011, 08:53 PM   #20
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

ya'lls crazy, my truck rode better locked out without shocks than it ever did with shocks. lol, gotta love static on bumps. after wreckin gmy baby, i wont run another one without shocks. had i ad shocks, i might have been able to bring 'er back around, instead of the bags freakin out.
Old 02-17-2011, 10:59 PM   #21
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I got my s10 bagged already, poor setup on the back all together between the mono leaf and no shocks. Been able to get a ride to work with my supervisor but when I can't the 45~ mile drive on a mono leaf with no shocks in the front or back is absolutely unbearable. I love the truck and I look at it as a rescue job, just saving the poor thing from being junked because it rode like shit.
4 link, shocks, and fuel cell are in near future if it goes as planned.
Old 02-18-2011, 10:23 AM   #22
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I also want to point out that a mono-tube shock can be mounted upside down while a standard twin-tube shock cannot. The twin-tube shock will act in reverve when run upside down causing the gas/oil charge inside the shock to foam.


RCD teamed up with Bilstein to offer the best riding shocks when used in an air ride install. The mono-tube construction coupled with progressive valving allows for a quick/smooth rebound when hitting dips, bumps, or potholes in the road while providing a smooth "caddy like" ride.


On my 96 S10 I am running the RCD Bilstein # RCD55-R081 in the front along with a KYB GR2 in the rear (soon to upgrade to the RCD Bilstein in the rear)
Old 02-18-2011, 05:24 PM   #23
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

The KYB GR2s are the ones you send with that 4/6 link right?
Old 03-01-2011, 12:28 PM   #24
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I have a 96 s10 fully bagged great fab work but i also agree that you must run shockes with bags. my rear end is shocked but my front end is not obviously they have been removed to install the bags douse anyone have any info as to how to fab, relocate the front shocks
Old 03-01-2011, 04:51 PM   #25
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Ya kybs come with lrd kit,, i went and bought matching kyb hardbody shocks for the front, mid aswell keep them the same in all the corners
Old 07-26-2011, 09:51 AM   #26
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I just want to update this thread with the part number for the rear Bilstein shocks by RCD for a bagged S10

RCD55-R145
Old 07-26-2011, 04:49 PM   #27
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Great topic.I remember mini trucking doing a write up about this year or so ago.
Old 07-26-2011, 05:00 PM   #28
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Quote: Originally Posted by 98LowS10
I just want to update this thread with the part number for the rear Bilstein shocks by RCD for a bagged S10

RCD55-R145
We also have the Belltech shocks that will work as well.
Old 07-28-2011, 10:35 PM   #29
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

fyi

if anyone is out there that wants a really short shock for what ever reason. i have found on my 67 chevy that the front shocks are heavy duty and compress to 9 inches eyelet to eyelet. i looked for weeks to find a short shock for my yukon and couldnt believe the answer was in my driveway
Old 07-28-2011, 10:36 PM   #30
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

and also another 9 inch compressed shock that comes in the air shock form.....99 vw bug
Old 07-30-2011, 12:52 PM   #31
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

My truck rides great without shocks and Ive actually never had shocks with airbags. I have the brackets, just need shocks and to weld them in. I guess it will ride that much better after?
Old 07-30-2011, 04:29 PM   #32
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Quote: Originally Posted by Forklift
My truck rides great without shocks and Ive actually never had shocks with airbags. I have the brackets, just need shocks and to weld them in. I guess it will ride that much better after?

How many people do you need to tell you it will ride better X100...
Old 07-30-2011, 07:30 PM   #33
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I guess at least a few more
Old 07-30-2011, 08:24 PM   #34
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

Quote: Originally Posted by Forklift
I guess at least a few more

LOL... If you think your truck rides good just bagged ,run shocks and put on your hair net...
Old 07-30-2011, 10:18 PM   #35
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

but I dont have any hair
Old 08-01-2011, 10:06 PM   #36
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

...
Old 08-01-2011, 10:06 PM   #37
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

shocks are huge, i wouldn't drive a bagged truck with out them, i drove home from dangerzone behind a friend of mine that doesn't run shocks on a bded ranger and from my view at highway speed i think he had a death wish, that thing was all over the place and on big dips it would raise up, top out, then come down and smack the ground super hard. its shit like that that make mini truckers look like a bunch of stupid teens with no common sense. and that sucks. i do however love the fact that air suspension is starting to lose the bad rap and becoming more acceptable in the automotive circles. i really cant wait till old people stop calling my truck a lowrider.
Old 08-01-2011, 10:11 PM   #38
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

shocks are huge, i wouldn't drive a bagged truck with out them, i drove home from dangerzone behind a friend of mine that doesn't run shocks on a bded ranger and from my view at highway speed i think he had a death wish, that thing was all over the place and on big dips it would raise up, top out, then come down and smack the ground super hard. its shit like that that make mini truckers look like a bunch of stupid teens with no common sense. and that sucks. i do however love the fact that air suspension is starting to lose the bad rap and becoming more acceptable in the automotive circles. i really cant wait till old people stop calling my truck a lowrider
Old 08-01-2011, 10:12 PM   #39
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

shocks are huge, i wouldn't drive a bagged truck with out them, i drove home from dangerzone behind a friend of mine that doesn't run shocks on a bded ranger and from my view at highway speed i think he had a death wish, that thing was all over the place and on big dips it would raise up, top out, then come down and smack the ground super hard. its shit like that that make mini truckers look like a bunch of stupid teens with no common sense. and that sucks. i do however love the fact that air suspension is starting to lose the bad rap and becoming more acceptable in the automotive circles. i really cant wait till old people stop calling my truck a lowrider
Old 08-01-2011, 10:15 PM   #40
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

wow i dont know what happend there maybe an admin can remove 2 of those sorry
Old 08-01-2011, 10:15 PM   #41
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

wow i dont know what happend there maybe an admin can remove 2 of those sorry
Old 08-01-2011, 11:01 PM   #42
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

I,would love to have tubular lower control arms. I, have the shock brackets + shocks for the front from gauge-magazine sitting upstairs brand new with everything still in the box. If anyone was willing to trade back to stock lower control arms let me know. They haven't been dehumped, just took the bump stops off. I,work at advance auto parts so im more than willing to trade them with brand new moog ball joints ready to go anytime! would even paint the arms if ya wanted.
Old 10-12-2011, 04:30 PM   #43
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

can anyone post some of their shock mounted setups up front. stock control arms with bags/shocks even better (want to see ideas for mine)
Old 10-12-2011, 04:37 PM   #44
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Re: The Importance of Installing Shocks with Air Bags

i am running blf control arms without shock mounts or front shocks. should i weld a tab on there somehow and run front shocks? i dont really care how my truck rides as long as its not dangerous. i had a 74 datsun slammed to the floor with 4x4 shocks so i know all about bouncy rides
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