Fiat Ducato Alko TAG X250 Full Air Suspension - Motorhome Forums, Motorhome Discussion, Motorhome Chat

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 17:21 Thread Starter
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Fiat Ducato Alko TAG X250 Full Air Suspension

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After a search lasting 3 years, I have finally found a full air suspension solution for the Alko TAG axle X250 chassis on my 2008 Hobby D750 GELC plated 4500Kg.

VB Air Suspension

http://www.vbairsuspension.co.uk/en/

VB air suspension have recently launched a full air suspension conversion for the 6 wheel TAG chassis. Until now it has been possible to get full kits from other suppliers only for 4 wheel alko chassis.

It was fitted by Specialist Automotive Products (SAP) who are based just outside Doncaster at Adwick-le-Street. The owner is Mick Lightly. I have not posted about past purchase experiences before, as I have not been overwhelmed...but in this case, I wanted to highlight both the product and installation service.

I had contacted Oliver Drinkwater a long time ago asking if a product existed for the TAG variant. At that time, I was advised a prototype was being developed. I assumed that was the end of it!

A few months later and after a few emails, I had agreed to install the full conversion - i.e. full air suspension on all 6 wheels - not air assistance. And I think it was a great choice.

Fitting took a few days, in part becuase this must have been one of the first such installations in the UK, and also because there is a lot of work involved:

Of VB Airsuspension, I would comment;
- This is great quality equipment built to last
- Features are outstanding, and include;
*****park setting to lower suspension to the minimum height;
*****off-road setting to give extra ground clearance where access is difficult;
***** tilt to one side to make tank draining quicker and more complete;
*****front end down, rear end up - to make getting on and off ferries less likely to cause gropunding;
*****front up, rear down - not sure wheh I might use this yet!;
*****auto-levelling - this effectively allows you to press a button and the motorhome levles up automatically - no chocs, no effort - its brilliant! and takes seconds
*****drive mode - wich gives an optimum height for travel.
- Switching between settings is so easy, and takes seconds.
- The ride is wonderful compared to what I had before:
*****less road noise - although i hear more internal rattles as a result!!!
*****firmer ride, yer less fidgity, and less wallowing
*****greater stability when overtalking or being overtaken by HGVs which was always a little stressful
*****no grounding when I try and get the motorhome into the driveway - the stress associated with that horrid scraping noise has gone.
*****easier access when parked up, as we had the auto-levelling function that is to be used on site set at a low level which helps my wife as she is less agile than she once was.

Of Mick Lightly of SAP Specialist automotive products, I would say
- what a gem! Mick is one of those rare individuals who cares, yes he actually cares that you respect his work, and takes immense pride in a job. I could not recommend him more. In my years motorhoming, I would recommend Mick and SAP whereas I would be more reserved about most others.

The job took a while because this was an early implementation, but I was ready for that. Mick took great care to show me his workmanship, to demonstrate the product, and to make sure I knew what to do if anything were to go wrong.

I was extremely impressed with his attantion to detail, and his overall attitude of doing a good job. he was keen to feed back any teething troubles to VB so they could respond with improvements.


In summary, I am delighted. 10/10 for the VB Air Suspension product, and 11/10 for Mick for not only doing a great job, but going tht extra mile to give me confidence in his work, and satisfaction with what is after all a premium product.

If you are thinking about air suspension, you won't go far wrong with either of these two.

A rare offer I made both was to be happy to talk about my experiences with prospective customers - not for any kick-back ( there isn't one), simply because I love the kit and really really wish SAP great success.

It was quite a drive from where I live (south Lakeland) to SAP near doncaster, but this is an important investment, and i am glad I made the effort.

Contacts for VB http://www.vbairsuspension.co.uk/en/
Contacts for SAP (Mick) [email protected]
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 17:41
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How much does the system weigh? and how much does it cost?
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 10-05-2011, 18:04 Thread Starter
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Two good questions...i will need to get the weight - net - as you discard the two front springs which are very heavy. I am guessing it will add about 40 kg.

Depending on installer and how well you negotiate, expect to pay £6500 plus perhaps £200 if you want to extrend the warranty.
As with all things, I am sure there is negotiation there.

This is an investment only if you intend to keep your MH for a while.

My MH is plated 4500Kg, and I am considering replating to 5000kg.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 20:10 Thread Starter
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Al-ko TAG VB airsuspension.......one month in - update

I posted a while ago on my experience having air suspension fitted to my Hobby x250 al-ko TAG motorhome.

I can honestly say this is the best investment I have made...its is a lot of money, but the comfort, safety, convenience and other benefits have really impressed.

Most noticeably:
- being overtaken by an HGV used to be stressful....hanging on to the steering wheel attempting to maintain a safe course. in wet windy dark conditions it was positively scary.....NO MORE! I barely notice HGVs passing as the motorhome is much much more stable.

- I rarely have to drive at 70mph, and when I did it was always just slightly tense.....not now. The motorhome is as stable as a car and very relaxing to drive.

- It is superbly quiet...almost saloon car quiet. A conversation with the passenger is easy at normal talk levels...road noise has almost gone, and those teeth rattling thumps as you hit holes or cats-eyes are simply smoothed out. you know you have hit something, but its just so much less jarring.

- The rattles I suffered from have almost gone - I guess this is because the ride is less jittery and taught. This adds to the comfort levels and makes long journeys less tiring.

- The auto-level is a dream. It takes just seconds to level front to back and side to side.......I have sold my ramps on eBay.

- The off-road function has proven itself already...just a couple of extra inches ground clearance has meant I could get into places I would not have relished for fear of grounding.


One unexpected benefit has arisen from the ability to adjust the front/rear levels. Some of you may have seen my postings on the new Easy-Lifter hydra Trail scooter carrier - particularly issues around the bottle jack not lifting the wheels clear of the ground for removal. Now i can make sure the tow bar is at the optimum height to give maximum lift from the bottle jack and there is now no issue with getting the wheels on and off.


I remain very very pleased with the installer who remains in contact ensuring any niggles are dealt with.

All in all it is fantastic.

Why have I written this? Simply because I let a potential customer take a drive and he was in his own words "bowled over" - he said he could not believe how good the ride was.

If/when I renew the motorhome, this will be on as soon as I can manage.

Happy to demonstrate/discuss...I have no commercial incentive at all.....just one of the rare times I have been genuinely impressed with something.

Paul
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 20:15
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We have an Alko tag van on standard suspension and do not even feel a HGV go past, so I find it strange that before you fitted the AS you had issues. Are you running on camping tyres or normal van tyres?
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 20:21 Thread Starter
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Hi - I am on Michelin CPs. Running at 55psi front, 50psi on the 4 rears. When I commented to the service agent he tried to explain the buffeting was due to the springs on each side fighting with the ones on the other side resulting in rocking. sounds plausible.

The chap I let drive my MH earlier in the week runs a Burstner - same problem as me when being overtaken.

maybe you have a different weight balance of different strength suspension at the rear?

Paul
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 20:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul10june
Hi - I am on Michelin CPs. Running at 55psi front, 50psi on the 4 rears. When I commented to the service agent he tried to explain the buffeting was due to the springs on each side fighting with the ones on the other side resulting in rocking. sounds plausible.

The chap I let drive my MH earlier in the week runs a Burstner - same problem as me when being overtaken.

maybe you have a different weight balance of different strength suspension at the rear?

Paul
I run on Michelin Camping tyres at 79psi and weigh in at 4500kg so that may make a difference in stability.

I do like the idea of self levelling but as my van handles so well normally its not worth me considering AS unless it was a lot less cost.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 20:40 Thread Starter
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...I used to run at about 79 psi but my van rattled and the ride was jittery. i went to a weighbridge and did a split axle - then contacted Michelin. they told me 55front, 50 rear....the van is plated 4500kg as yours, and I was at 4350kg fully laden.

I managed to get a softer ride with a lot less rattles.....

The airsuspension issue for me was mostly grounding trying to get into my drive...the other benefits have turned out to be bonuses I guess.

It is a lot of money for sure, but we intend to keep the MH for some time.

Not sure where you live but one day our paths may cross - be good to say hello

Paul
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 20:46
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I also don't feel HGVs passing me in this Hobby 750 tag. It's an old 2000 and from day one I was impressed with the ride and handling.

We used to have air ride on our Eagle RVs stateside and depending on the tyres we either felt 18 wheelers passing or not. The tyres made a big difference.

Ray.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-07-2011, 20:50
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Alko

I saw Air Suspension on an Alko 6 wheeler about 5 years ago.

Look Here!
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