Seems like only yesterday that all you needed to manage an airbag system was a set of toggle switches, some 3/8-inch line, and a basic tank/compressor setup. Well, that was quite some time ago, as air management systems have come a long way since then.
Today, short of having their own personal valet, modern ride height (air management) controls can be programmed to do pretty much everything. For some people, myself included, that can be fairly daunting, as the more something can do, the more potential it has for something to go wrong! Well, not always—take, for example, AccuAir’s latest: the exo e-level package. While it may look overwhelming to those of you who, like me, don’t like anything with the word “computer” attached to it, looks are deceiving. For all intents and purposes, the exo system is by far the most user-friendly system you’re going find on the market—and it works, just like it’s supposed to.
Above and beyond the functionality of the exo e-Level system, it’s also about as easy to install as some of the more basic kits, especially considering that AccuAir designed this complete system to be assembled “on” the air tank; resulting in a tidy package that goes together like a puzzle. The compressors can be mounted in a variety of configurations according to your vehicle’s particular requirements, which really helps if your quarters are tight. About the only part that can be considered difficult by any means is the mounting of the ride height sensors, as they’re one of the most crucial components in the kit, and if they’re not set up correctly, your system won’t perform properly.
Along with the AccuAir system, for the actual parts to be controlled, I elected to use VariShock QuickSet 2 ShockWaves from Chris Alston for the front suspension; the rear will use Alston’s adjustable VariShocks along with a set of dual-convoluted Firestone airsprings. Why VariShock? Well, simply put, an airspring suspension is dependent on the very two things that make up its name to begin with: the “air” that flows through it (which we’ve already established management for) and the “springs” that support it. But there’s also one more equally crucial component; shocks. While the air just needs to be controlled and contained properly, the shocks and the springs are a bit more important, and should be given serious consideration, as they are what determines the quality of your vehicle’s ride—or lack thereof, depending on what you choose to go with. Cheap shocks are just that, “cheap.” You get what you pay for, and in this case, the less you pay, the less you get. I realize times are tough, and we’re all doing what we can to save wherever and whenever possible. But when it comes to certain parts, it doesn’t pay to cut corners, literally, and these are parts you want to invest in, as they can make the difference between a high-quality ride and a crappy ride. Which do you ultimately want?
The shock absorbers beneath your car, regardless if it’s a ’32 roadster or a ’47 Fleetline, should be considered one of the most important components—right up there next to your brakes and steering. While the safety factor isn’t nearly as vital as that of the other two, the performance aspect is, and if you’ve ever done a comparison between auto parts store shelf brand versus a higher end shock such as Alston’s VariShocks, then you know what I’m talking about. If not, take my word for it—they’re worth the extra dough, especially if you like to drive your car…a lot.
Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get on with the story, shall we?.
1. AccuAir’s new exo e-Level air management system is a complete, all-in-one package that will handle your car’s air suspension like no other. It comes complete with everything you see here .
2, 3. The e-Level system will be controlling a pair of Chris Alston’s VariShock QuickSet 2 ShockWaves that have been installed in a Heidts coil-over IFS.
4. The rear has been outfitted with non-airspring VariShocks, as we’ve already installed a set of Firestone dual-convoluted ‘bags. The same dual-adjust feature is included in the shocks.
5, 6. The exo system has been designed by AccuAir so it pretty much assembles like a puzzle—with multiple variation options, that is, affording the end user the flexibility to mount the system in a number of different areas.
7. Keep in mind, the more components you install onto the tank to begin with, the more weight you’ll have to deal with moving afterwards.
8. We stopped after installing the VU4 valve control unit, electing to complete the assembly with it secured to the rear crossmember of the Fleetline. (This location is only temporary—it will be relocated in the trunk below the package tray of the ’47 once the body has been reunited with the chassis.)
9, 10. Next in line are the Viair compressors. Pay particularly close attention to the directions for the exo mount bracket system. While you have placement options, there’s a certain way the compressors need to be installed regardless, and the last thing you want to deal once you’ve completed your puzzle is having to take it all back apart because your compressors are vibrating against your tank!
11. The main power supply is equipped with a 70-amp maxi-fuse and enough 6AWG cable to run from the trunk to the engine compartment if needed.
12. Don’t be a scared when you get to the wiring stage—the e-Level system is as close to a plug-and-play as you can get! Along with pre-installed Weatherpac connectors, the kit has completely illustrated instructions for the wiring.
13. For power, we went with XS Power’s S925 12V AGM Power Cell—a compact battery with enough juice (2,000 amps) to run everything the Fleetline will have, and more.
14. Okay, now onto the air supply. Just like the importance of making proper crimps, cutting your air lines in the appropriate manner—with a dedicated tubing cutter, as shown—is vital, especially when it comes to ensuring there are no leaks in your system (one of the biggest causes of air leaks is improperly cut lines, not the fittings
15. And just like the air lines being fed by the compressor in your garage, the AccuAir system is equipped with an inline filter to help collect moisture, something that can and will lead towards a potential system failure if not otherwise equipped with.
16. When routing air lines, always ensure that there’s absolutely NO interference with anything, sharp or dull. Whenever there’s contact with body or frame, use rubber grommets or insulators or fasten line with the proper clamps.
17. The ride height sensors turned out to be probably the most difficult aspect of the entire process, as the rear two-link afforded very little in the way of mounting options. Ultimately, we ended up fabricating new arms (with two bends) that allowed us to utilize the trailing arms after all.
18. Same went for the front—except in addition to making new arms, we also made a bracket that mounts the sensor unit at an angle rather than flush with the framerail. A mounting tab was TIG-welded onto the stainless lower control arm.
19. However you end up mounting your ride height sensors, here’s what you need to accomplish with the end results: Sufficient—and unobstructed—travel that relates from the suspension to the sensors. This is crucial to the operation of the e-Level system.
20. Despite its temporary location, all plumbed and wired, the exo e-Level system still looks nice and tidy—and is fully functional thanks to an ignition switch we integrated into a bracket that also mounts the exo’s touch pad controller.
21. Despite its temporary location, all plumbed and wired, the exo e-Level system still looks nice and tidy—and is fully functional thanks to an ignition switch we integrated into a bracket that also mounts the exo’s touch pad controller.
22. Speaking of which, the iPod-shaped touch pad controller is not only user friendly, it does a lot of the work for you when it comes to initial setup, which takes just a few seconds once you’ve got everything wired, plumbed, and ready to go.
23. And ready to go is exactly what the Fleetline’s chassis is—now we just need to get body in shape and back on the frame.