Air Bags Suck!!!

May 02, 2017
By: Randall Chapman

I am currently on vacation for 5 weeks (unpaid) as I need to be back in CO for a series of events starting with a race that I have done for the past four years called the CB3P and ending with a weekend of paddling with Team River Runner at an event that I’m organizing for over 50 vets and their families. I have a good friend that lives in Vegas so getting a late start on Friday I drove to his place and stayed the night. In the morning I realized my truck was leaning hard to the driver side and upon inspection I saw the airbag on that side had folded over and bent the bracket.

Suspension on modern trucks is a little soft. They do this to make a smoother ride when you don’t have anything in the back of the truck but it means when you do have weight in the back your truck sags. And when you’re a little over loaded it can cause damage to your truck, especially if you bottom out hitting a pothole or other road hazards. The camper and trailer make my truck a little over weight so to bring the truck back up to level I put in airbags and they seemed to be working great as I drove around town for several months before this trip but the 263 miles to Vegas was just too much I guess. With the bag blown out I could have deflated the other side and continued my drive but I didn’t want to risk it so I’ve been in Vegas since and it is now Tuesday so I missed my race on Sunday.

I’m really bummed about missing the race, I was the first person ever to sign up for the first race and this is the first time I’ve missed it in 5 years. I’m not very competitive and this is the only race I do, and I don’t do very well, I do it because it is hard. It’s a triathlon but with different events that are all things I enjoy doing (well the road biking is just ok, I’d prefer mountain biking). It’s not just hard because of the physical challenge but also because of weather (some years). During the kayak leg two years ago it was hailing so hard I had an inch of hail built up on my spray skirt. The first year I did the race I placed 2nd in my category but the next year I placed 4th. The third year I was working for Halliburton and worked 100+ hours a week so I almost got pulled off the course for going too slow, I missed the cut off by 4 min and they let me continue. Last year was a little better but this year I was in better shape again. I don’t know if I would have gotten back on the podium but I think I could have gotten in the top 5 in my category. It is what it is, the event organizers were kind enough to apply my entry fee to next year so I’m already signed up. Next year I will be back on the podium.

Anyways, to fix the issue my buddy and I spent almost a full day moving the camper from the back of the truck to my trailer so I could continue on my trip to deal with the issue when I got back to So Cal. This was a bit of an adventure because the trailer was over a foot taller than the jack stands could lift and the wheels on the trailer were wider than the stands. This took some creativity to over come.

In the parking lot for the library and police station in Henderson NV we used a stack of 2X6s and 2X4s to get the camper up high enough. We put jacks under the frame of the truck to keep the suspension from compressing then stacked up as many 2X6s as we could under the camper’s jack stands. Then jacked the camper up as high as we could and placed 2X4s under the camper in the bend and set the camper on them. Then raised the stands and put more 2X6s under them. We continued this process till we had it high enough to drive the trailer under the camper up to where the tires would hit the stands.

From here we set the back of the camper on 2X6s that spanned the two boxes in the trailer and removed the rear jack stands. We then placed 2X4s at an angle up into the transition to the cab over and I drove forward dragging the trailer under the camper. It was a process of moving the trailer up 12″, jacking the camper up to slid the 2X6s forward, moving the trailer forward, sliding the 2X6s, so much fun.

Unfortunately this only fixed part of the issue. The center of gravity on the camper was in front of the wheels on the trailer causing the truck to still sag. Not wanting to drive another 2,000+ miles over the next 5 weeks like this I decided to get add a leafs that should permanently fix the issue but I had to order them at O’Riley’s and they just came in today. I’ll get to installing them as soon as it cools off a little bit and then be heading out tomorrow morning. When I get to Grand Junction CO I’m going to stop by my old work and see if they’ll let me use the forklift to take the camper off the trailer and put it back on the truck.

While I’m bummed about missing my race it did have a couple of benefits. My buddy moved to Vegas a few months ago for work and left his wife back in CO while she finishes the semester at school. I was just going to blow through and only spend a little time here with him but with this happening I got to spend even more time with a good friend. The other benefit is now that I don’t have a time crunch to get to CO I can wonder across Utah and check out some of the really cool stuff I always drove past on my way to visit family and never stopped to see. I plan to take the next 2-5 days making my way to GJ. I don’t want to spend too much time though, I have friends waiting to get on the river with me and I need some river time. I have a brand new kayak I bought back in Oct that still hasn’t been on the water.


So I’ve been hanging out in Vegas for two days waiting on my part to come in and it turns out they ordered the wrong part. This is partly my fault, I researched it online through their website and it called for one of two parts to fit my truck. I took it to mean one was the heavy duty and the other light duty. 5 min more research lead me to the right one. Best part, they had the right one in stock, it was cheaper, and it looks a lot easier to install.

Right one:

Wrong one:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This