Earthroamer: new tire/wheel/suspension

Alloy

Well-known member
This has been an interesting thread to read through. Can anybody comment on the long term reliability of a Kelderman air ride suspension system? What would a service schedule look like post installation?
Try searching the forum for Kelderman.
 

Redline

Likes to Drive and Ride
Also curious
Longevity and reliability are interesting questions... I am not a huge fan or hater of air suspension, however in general air leaks seem to be occasionally problematic (at least with the traditional add-on/auxiliary springs for HD pickups).

Air springs certainly have their positives, and while researching heavy-duty rear spring options for one of my 2500 trucks, I found Kelderman's replacement kit for the factory rear coils. Although likely a different application, what I did not care for is the lack of any redundancy, replacing the factory metal coils with a heavy-duty air spring is slightly concerning. Plus, their replacement kit for 2014-up Ram 2500s is a so-called reverse lowering kit, which makes the rear end sit lower, which I do not need or want.

Presumably Kelderman air suspension is good for heavy-duty overland outfits, although these days they seem chiefly interested in the ridiculously-lifted, bling bling SEMA SHOW type trucks.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Longevity and reliability are interesting questions... I am not a huge fan or hater of air suspension, however in general air leaks seem to be occasionally problematic (at least with the traditional add-on/auxiliary springs for HD pickups).

Air springs certainly have their positives, and while researching heavy-duty rear spring options for one of my 2500 trucks, I found Kelderman's replacement kit for the factory rear coils. Although likely a different application, what I did not care for is the lack of any redundancy, replacing the factory metal coils with a heavy-duty air spring is slightly concerning. Plus, their replacement kit for 2014-up Ram 2500s is a so-called reverse lowering kit, which makes the rear end sit lower, which I do not need or want.

Presumably Kelderman air suspension is good for heavy-duty overland outfits, although these days they seem chiefly interested in the ridiculously-lifted, bling bling SEMA SHOW type trucks.
That’s good insight! Thank you sir
 

lucilius

Member
Kelderman gets solid reviews on performance from folks I know who have it. Full kelderman is expensive and adds to maintenance: compressor(s), leveling unit, 6 airbags and all the hoses, connections/fittings all need to be maintained. I've spent time in two kelderman rigs, they are great when they're working hard on rough dirt roads, super smooth, and, like anything, not such a big deal to maintain and/or fix in the field if you are prepared with the right equipment/tools and know-how. Automatic leveling on the move and in the campsite is a treat...but your compressor needs to work perfectly or you are no longer able to move. For all the additional maintenance, they do add some flexibility vs a conventional spring/coil suspension. I also think a conventional spring/coil setup can work great and benefits from needing near zero maintenance and is less expensive. The key thing with any (especially a heavy) rig is getting all the components put together as a system by someone/a team who knows what they're doing and what sort of driving you will be doing. Earthroamer has been doing kelderman systems for a long time and appears to have worked out most of the kinks and I would think any issues you hear about (beyond the cost) are going to be due to inadequate or improper maintenance. The mantra, like so many things on vehicles, is "know and maintain your equipment".
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Kelderman gets solid reviews on performance from folks I know who have it. Full kelderman is expensive and adds to maintenance: compressor(s), leveling unit, 6 airbags and all the hoses, connections/fittings all need to be maintained. I've spent time in two kelderman rigs, they are great when they're working hard on rough dirt roads, super smooth, and, like anything, not such a big deal to maintain and/or fix in the field if you are prepared with the right equipment/tools and know-how. Automatic leveling on the move and in the campsite is a treat...but your compressor needs to work perfectly or you are no longer able to move. For all the additional maintenance, they do add some flexibility vs a conventional spring/coil suspension. I also think a conventional spring/coil setup can work great and benefits from needing near zero maintenance and is less expensive. The key thing with any (especially a heavy) rig is getting all the components put together as a system by someone/a team who knows what they're doing and what sort of driving you will be doing. Earthroamer has been doing kelderman systems for a long time and appears to have worked out most of the kinks and I would think any issues you hear about (beyond the cost) are going to be due to inadequate or improper maintenance. The mantra, like so many things on vehicles, is "know and maintain your equipment".
Thanks for your feedback! I would be looking into adding the rear only, and the 2 Stage kit, not the 4 link. Simplicity
 

lucilius

Member
Thanks for your feedback! I would be looking into adding the rear only, and the 2 Stage kit, not the 4 link. Simplicity
FWIW: For a rear only system, depending on how much you want to spend, your vehicle type and weight on the rear axle, I would consider either (a) just having a custom leaf spring designed for your vehicle or (b) looking into a Firestone Ride-rite or equivalent. [Or doing both.] A well-designed custom leaf (and/or coil) will be inexpensive, zero maintenance and super reliable. I have to say that the more time I spend traveling, the more I prioritize eliminating possible points of failure and reducing the amount of extra maintenance items overall e.g. I wouldn't mind having a less powerful/more reliable diesel, manual roll-up windows and a manual 4x4 shift lever on the floor, etc. versus all the power and technology-powered convenience. This applies to everything for me: engine, suspension, camper+truck systems, etc. [As an aside, I would never fault someone for rolling in a wickedly cool and luxurious new $500k-1m+ Earthroamer or GXV, but I cringe when I think about keeping all those systems operational...though maybe my problem is that I am a DIY-er, something tied to the reality where one can't find a hired team of mechanics and sources of supply near at hand when wandering the hinterland and the last thing needed is something essential breaking down.] The full Kelderman suspension can overcome many folks' aversion to complexity by adding (along with the expense and maintenance) valid capabilities like vehicle height adjustment, self-leveling and a plush ride. The 2-Stage system seems to be designed mainly to compensate for an inadequate or worn out rear leaf spring and improve ride quality. A new custom leaf (and/or coil) spring will be more reliable, far easier to maintain and come close in on+offroad ride quality (all other things being equal, shocks, wheel/tire, etc.) at a fraction of the cost...but of course it won't self-level and you will need to work a bit to get level at the campsite. For simplistic load support, minimal expense and maintenance, the FIrestone ride rite might give you what you need and also add flexibility if your rig is not a dedicated camper and you want to use it for other things (e.g. if you have a truck camper). If you do go with the 2-Stage, I would take a detailed look into what happens in the event of an airbag or other system failure: does the leaf still function or do you have to stop and swap the airbag? What extra equipment do you need to carry to do a repair/replace?, how much room will that take up, etc. I'll reiterate that I think the Kelderman is a proven system but I would examine the desired capability versus the higher cost and extra maintenance. I would also weigh your loaded front and rear axle loads and compare those amounts to what your vehicle was originally designed for, consider your load distribution and also whether the front suspension is adequate and how it will interact with the Kelderman 2-stage as well as your wheel, tire and shocks choice.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
FWIW: For a rear only system, depending on how much you want to spend, your vehicle type and weight on the rear axle, I would consider either (a) just having a custom leaf spring designed for your vehicle or (b) looking into a Firestone Ride-rite or equivalent. [Or doing both.] A well-designed custom leaf (and/or coil) will be inexpensive, zero maintenance and super reliable. I have to say that the more time I spend traveling, the more I prioritize eliminating possible points of failure and reducing the amount of extra maintenance items overall e.g. I wouldn't mind having a less powerful/more reliable diesel, manual roll-up windows and a manual 4x4 shift lever on the floor, etc. versus all the power and technology-powered convenience. This applies to everything for me: engine, suspension, camper+truck systems, etc. [As an aside, I would never fault someone for rolling in a wickedly cool and luxurious new $500k-1m+ Earthroamer or GXV, but I cringe when I think about keeping all those systems operational...though maybe my problem is that I am a DIY-er, something tied to the reality where one can't find a hired team of mechanics and sources of supply near at hand when wandering the hinterland and the last thing needed is something essential breaking down.] The full Kelderman suspension can overcome many folks' aversion to complexity by adding (along with the expense and maintenance) valid capabilities like vehicle height adjustment, self-leveling and a plush ride. The 2-Stage system seems to be designed mainly to compensate for an inadequate or worn out rear leaf spring and improve ride quality. A new custom leaf (and/or coil) spring will be more reliable, far easier to maintain and come close in on+offroad ride quality (all other things being equal, shocks, wheel/tire, etc.) at a fraction of the cost...but of course it won't self-level and you will need to work a bit to get level at the campsite. For simplistic load support, minimal expense and maintenance, the FIrestone ride rite might give you what you need and also add flexibility if your rig is not a dedicated camper and you want to use it for other things (e.g. if you have a truck camper). If you do go with the 2-Stage, I would take a detailed look into what happens in the event of an airbag or other system failure: does the leaf still function or do you have to stop and swap the airbag? What extra equipment do you need to carry to do a repair/replace?, how much room will that take up, etc. I'll reiterate that I think the Kelderman is a proven system but I would examine the desired capability versus the higher cost and extra maintenance. I would also weigh your loaded front and rear axle loads and compare those amounts to what your vehicle was originally designed for, consider your load distribution and also whether the front suspension is adequate and how it will interact with the Kelderman 2-stage as well as your wheel, tire and shocks choice.
All good points.

My truck will have the camper permanently installed and ill ballpark estimate the weight at around 8-9k. I know, the 5500 is overkill, but i'd rather have bigger and safer, than borderline limits.

From everything i've read, the 5500 ride like farm equipment, and the 2 stage is designed to soften it.

I've had some very horrible experiences with "Custom Leafs" on my last build, from 2 very well know companies that create quite a nightmare and a ton of downtime.
 
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