Thoughts on Kelderman 4 link suspension for an offroad expedtion Camper

S2DM

Adventurer
Curious what the collected wisdom on this site is regarding capabilities, advantages and disadvantages of the kelderman system would be on a 14-15k, domestic cab chassis based rig.

Outside of its use in Earthroamers and GXV based builds, it seems to be an uncommon direction for an offroad rig, and reviews on the components used and build quality in non expo truck based sites seems to be mixed at best, with some loving and others hating, but most of the reviews based on pavement trucks and geared towards tow rigs.

That said, Earthroamer and GXV obviously spend an enormous amount of time and energy on R&D, and their inclusion of the suspension speaks volumes as to its potential.

We did a rather expensive coil spring conversion on the rear of our truck, and while it has some real potential, we've been plagued with problems, mostly manufacturing defects. But we are also struggling to find the right spring rate and shock combo. As I delve into this more, I'm starting to question whether higher degrees of articulation and travel are really all that great a benefit on a larger expo rig, atleast beyond 6-8" of travel.

So, we've been contemplating a switch to a kelderman setup and I'd love to hear peoples thoughts.
 

Darwin

Explorer
Only thing I can think of would be to ask Earthroamer owners, I believe that's what they use?
 

java

Expedition Leader
I believe Ward's Dodge Ram has it as well. He could give you some insight.

IMO I'm sure its nice, but leaf springs are pretty tried and true, especially on big trucks.
 

Healeyjet

Explorer
Java, you are right we do have the Kelderman setup. Scott, what did you decide? We really enjoy ours but have nothing to compare it to as we have only had this one.

Ward
 

S2DM

Adventurer
We decided to give it a go. Should be here in 2 weeks or so. I have a friend associated with them, so was able to get a pretty good look at the engineering before hand, and it looks fairly robust. Ultimately, we wanted something that performs excellent on road, and good off road, as we do a lot of Baja runs, which require 95% freeway, and 4% corrugated dirt roads, and 1% trickier off-road terrain. As much as I wanted to be an offroad beast earlier in our build, I've learned when you have that much time into something, there are limits to what I'll try to force our rig through.

I'll post a detailed write up when we get it on. I spent some time with our race engineer friend discussing it. Given the rate on the rear coils I'm running (they are snow plow springs) he thought that I might actually get more articulation out of this set up, just due to the relatively stiff rear springs.
 

java

Expedition Leader
I'm interested to see what you think of it! I'm in the same camp, 95% road, 4% dirt roads, 1% worse stuff. We do get a lot of pot holes on the dirt though. I think of mine as a "rough road" truck rather than a full on off road thing. Hence im still running dualies as well.
 

Petrolburner

Explorer
I'm interested to see what you think of it! I'm in the same camp, 95% road, 4% dirt roads, 1% worse stuff. We do get a lot of pot holes on the dirt though. I think of mine as a "rough road" truck rather than a full on off road thing. Hence im still running dualies as well.
I think that's a pretty accurate summation of what I've been doing with my van and what I plan to do with the box van. Lot's of highway to get to the good stuff, then dirt roads and maybe short trails to get to a campsite off the dirt road. Pothole absorption is the biggest concern in Baja in my experience. I would also like to be able to travel down the washboard at 30-60 mph.
 

java

Expedition Leader
I think that's a pretty accurate summation of what I've been doing with my van and what I plan to do with the box van. Lot's of highway to get to the good stuff, then dirt roads and maybe short trails to get to a campsite off the dirt road. Pothole absorption is the biggest concern in Baja in my experience. I would also like to be able to travel down the washboard at 30-60 mph.
I think 30-60 is going to be a stretch without dumping a ton of $ into suspension.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

ski_bike_camp

Ski_Bike_Camp
Curious what the collected wisdom on this site is regarding capabilities, advantages and disadvantages of the kelderman system would be on a 14-15k, domestic cab chassis based rig.

Outside of its use in Earthroamers and GXV based builds, it seems to be an uncommon direction for an offroad rig, and reviews on the components used and build quality in non expo truck based sites seems to be mixed at best, with some loving and others hating, but most of the reviews based on pavement trucks and geared towards tow rigs.

I'm starting to question whether higher degrees of articulation and travel are really all that great a benefit on a larger expo rig, atleast beyond 6-8" of travel.

So, we've been contemplating a switch to a kelderman setup and I'd love to hear peoples thoughts.
When I started, I was convinced that the Kelderman was the way forward based on Earthroamer etc. However after dialogs with those who have put serious miles abroad in non continental US places (like Europe, Mexico, Alaska & Australia), I changed my plan towards staying with a more traditional suspension. Mostly around being able to get parts if I need to repair something abroad to get home or keep going.

I went RAM 3500 4x4, with BDS 3" Leveling & Stock leaf springs. I ended up weighing approx #11,500 with water & fuel. Sounds like you are heavier. I did see you have moved forward with the Kelderman. I am sure it will be great. I am just sharing my thoughts for the group. I am interested to read how it worked once done.

Have a look at the pictures and articulations I was able to achieve.
IMG_5574.jpgIMG_5575.jpgIMG_4883.JPG
 

java

Expedition Leader
When I started, I was convinced that the Kelderman was the way forward based on Earthroamer etc. However after dialogs with those who have put serious miles abroad in non continental US places (like Europe, Mexico, Alaska & Australia), I changed my plan towards staying with a more traditional suspension. Mostly around being able to get parts if I need to repair something abroad to get home or keep going.

I went RAM 3500 4x4, with BDS 3" Leveling & Stock leaf springs. I ended up weighing approx #11,500 with water & fuel. Sounds like you are heavier. I did see you have moved forward with the Kelderman. I am sure it will be great. I am just sharing my thoughts for the group. I am interested to read how it worked once done.

Have a look at the pictures and articulations I was able to achieve.
View attachment 412499View attachment 412500View attachment 412501
Thanks for the input! Looks like your rear end is a little lower (needs bag/more spring) is that the case?
 

S2DM

Adventurer
When I started, I was convinced that the Kelderman was the way forward based on Earthroamer etc. However after dialogs with those who have put serious miles abroad in non continental US places (like Europe, Mexico, Alaska & Australia), I changed my plan towards staying with a more traditional suspension. Mostly around being able to get parts if I need to repair something abroad to get home or keep going.

I went RAM 3500 4x4, with BDS 3" Leveling & Stock leaf springs. I ended up weighing approx #11,500 with water & fuel. Sounds like you are heavier. I did see you have moved forward with the Kelderman. I am sure it will be great. I am just sharing my thoughts for the group. I am interested to read how it worked once done.

Have a look at the pictures and articulations I was able to achieve.
View attachment 412499View attachment 412500View attachment 412501
Looks like a nice amount of articulation there.

I'd agree the kelderman adds complexity, going in thats been my main concern. 11,500 with water and fuel is definitely really light for a camper of your size, which I think opens up a bunch of options (kudos on keeping your weights so low, btw, Ive been watching your build. I was a total novice fiberglass guy when I started ours. Lots of mistakes along the way, I think I could easily shed 1k if I were to do it over, but I don't think I could get to 11,500!). The 3500 also has a much better ride than a 550 to begin with.

Before we switched to the coil rear end, we drove the truck with a leaf suspension for a while. It did alright, but was pretty miserable on the freeway, and didn't have much articulation, even with a few leafs removed. This is definitely an experiment on our end, and I'm still anxious about how it will turn out.

I havent gotten install instruction nor received the kit yet, so I don't know to what extent any of this is already provisioned, but my plan was to carry a few extra bags, and set the kit up such that it could be run in full manual. Basically, insert selectable tees and schrader valves into each final supply assembly, so if needed, I could disconnect the computer control and hadley compressor and fill the bags manually (I'm going to bring a little portable accessory arb compressor). A friend owns the company that makes sumo springs, and we've been playing with ideas for a final stage bump stop that would have a bit of articulation if everything else failed, such that you could limp out to help and not be riding on a rigid bump stop the whole way.
 

World Tour II

World Tour II
I just got back (June 2017) from a 2 + year trip in South America with my 18,000 pound Ford 550 GXV. The trip was wonderful despite the Kelderman / Accuair suspension system. I was baffled that Earthroamer and GXV would use a critical suspension system with..... how many critical failure points ?? (computer, sensor arms, compressor, fittings, solenoids, air lines, wiring, air bags.....) ALL of which failed (multiple times) except for the compressor and airlines. I think the answer is two fold... the designers, living in the US with instant access to parts and competent service, can't get their heads around the concept that you are completely alone with no possibility of getting parts without flying back to a 1st world country, purchasing the parts and then fly back. Second, I don't think there is really a good alternative to air suspension when you get up to the loads of large overlander vehicles. In addition, I don't think many of these rigs are actually driven in the 3rd world for extended trips. I base this on a tour of the Earthroamer factory (June 2017) ..... was told that out of all the Earthroamers built, not one vehicle was known to be traveling in South America.

My solution... I am having the suspension completely rebuilt with Kelderman airbags but with no electronics, no feedback level control loop for automatic leveling, no computer... no crap that looks flashy in the show room but breaks in the middle of some sketchy road in Brazil. The airlines go to directly to pressure gages mounted in the dash with a manual switch to put air into and out of each bag. I have one integrated unit which houses the solenoids, air compressor and tank. I will carry a spare and rebuild kits. If anyone is interested I can explain the unit more with pictures when I get it back from the shop in a couple of weeks.
 

S2DM

Adventurer
I just got back (June 2017) from a 2 + year trip in South America with my 18,000 pound Ford 550 GXV. The trip was wonderful despite the Kelderman / Accuair suspension system. I was baffled that Earthroamer and GXV would use a critical suspension system with..... how many critical failure points ?? (computer, sensor arms, compressor, fittings, solenoids, air lines, wiring, air bags.....) ALL of which failed (multiple times) except for the compressor and airlines. I think the answer is two fold... the designers, living in the US with instant access to parts and competent service, can't get their heads around the concept that you are completely alone with no possibility of getting parts without flying back to a 1st world country, purchasing the parts and then fly back. Second, I don't think there is really a good alternative to air suspension when you get up to the loads of large overlander vehicles. In addition, I don't think many of these rigs are actually driven in the 3rd world for extended trips. I base this on a tour of the Earthroamer factory (June 2017) ..... was told that out of all the Earthroamers built, not one vehicle was known to be traveling in South America.

My solution... I am having the suspension completely rebuilt with Kelderman airbags but with no electronics, no feedback level control loop for automatic leveling, no computer... no crap that looks flashy in the show room but breaks in the middle of some sketchy road in Brazil. The airlines go to directly to pressure gages mounted in the dash with a manual switch to put air into and out of each bag. I have one integrated unit which houses the solenoids, air compressor and tank. I will carry a spare and rebuild kits. If anyone is interested I can explain the unit more with pictures when I get it back from the shop in a couple of weeks.
Your story is what I've been worried about. Thank you for sharing.

FWIW, I've been told multiple people had multiple problems with the accuair control system, basically all of the parts you mentioned. Kelderman no longer supplies it and uses the dual compressor Hadley control unit now. The reports I've received on the new Hadley system thus far make it sound much more robust. With that said, I'm carrying extra bags and still planning on setting it up such that I can do a manual over ride. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

S2DM

Adventurer
I just got back (June 2017) from a 2 + year trip in South America with my 18,000 pound Ford 550 GXV. The trip was wonderful despite the Kelderman / Accuair suspension system. I was baffled that Earthroamer and GXV would use a critical suspension system with..... how many critical failure points ?? (computer, sensor arms, compressor, fittings, solenoids, air lines, wiring, air bags.....) ALL of which failed (multiple times) except for the compressor and airlines. I think the answer is two fold... the designers, living in the US with instant access to parts and competent service, can't get their heads around the concept that you are completely alone with no possibility of getting parts without flying back to a 1st world country, purchasing the parts and then fly back. Second, I don't think there is really a good alternative to air suspension when you get up to the loads of large overlander vehicles. In addition, I don't think many of these rigs are actually driven in the 3rd world for extended trips. I base this on a tour of the Earthroamer factory (June 2017) ..... was told that out of all the Earthroamers built, not one vehicle was known to be traveling in South America.

My solution... I am having the suspension completely rebuilt with Kelderman airbags but with no electronics, no feedback level control loop for automatic leveling, no computer... no crap that looks flashy in the show room but breaks in the middle of some sketchy road in Brazil. The airlines go to directly to pressure gages mounted in the dash with a manual switch to put air into and out of each bag. I have one integrated unit which houses the solenoids, air compressor and tank. I will carry a spare and rebuild kits. If anyone is interested I can explain the unit more with pictures when I get it back from the shop in a couple of weeks.
PS - would you mind sharing more about what failed and how? Airbags? Leaks?


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java

Expedition Leader
I just got back (June 2017) from a 2 + year trip in South America with my 18,000 pound Ford 550 GXV. The trip was wonderful despite the Kelderman / Accuair suspension system. I was baffled that Earthroamer and GXV would use a critical suspension system with..... how many critical failure points ?? (computer, sensor arms, compressor, fittings, solenoids, air lines, wiring, air bags.....) ALL of which failed (multiple times) except for the compressor and airlines. I think the answer is two fold... the designers, living in the US with instant access to parts and competent service, can't get their heads around the concept that you are completely alone with no possibility of getting parts without flying back to a 1st world country, purchasing the parts and then fly back. Second, I don't think there is really a good alternative to air suspension when you get up to the loads of large overlander vehicles. In addition, I don't think many of these rigs are actually driven in the 3rd world for extended trips. I base this on a tour of the Earthroamer factory (June 2017) ..... was told that out of all the Earthroamers built, not one vehicle was known to be traveling in South America.

My solution... I am having the suspension completely rebuilt with Kelderman airbags but with no electronics, no feedback level control loop for automatic leveling, no computer... no crap that looks flashy in the show room but breaks in the middle of some sketchy road in Brazil. The airlines go to directly to pressure gages mounted in the dash with a manual switch to put air into and out of each bag. I have one integrated unit which houses the solenoids, air compressor and tank. I will carry a spare and rebuild kits. If anyone is interested I can explain the unit more with pictures when I get it back from the shop in a couple of weeks.
Thanks for sharing!! A little OT, but can you share the wheel and tires your running as well? I too would like to hear more about the failures.

And a pic of your truck FWIW
 
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