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The Foundation for Superior Emergency Response

Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2022 by Mark Molitor in Product Insight
Tagged with Air Link Redline

Firefighters are some of the most important members of our communities. These brave men and women commit their time and lives to saving lives and livelihoods. With a job as important as theirs, it’s equally as important to keep their equipment maintained and give them the ability to get to fires quickly and efficiently, with as little equipment damage as possible. With this in mind, Link set to work to give the fire community a suspension that would not only meet the needs of firefighters, but also exceed their expectations, providing them best in class ride quality and safety. These goals resulted in the Air Link Redline Performance Series Suspension.

Advantages of Air Link Redline

When developing the Air Link Redline Suspension, Link determined that the most important roles of a suspension are to provide positive control of the axle’s position and movement as well as providing the necessary roll stability. Another item we took into consideration is the importance of supporting the vertical load and isolating the occupants and equipment from road inputs. The Air Link does a great job performing all these roles because it was designed to be used both on- and 100% off-highway. Due to the unique nature of its design, it can handle the abuse that may happen while being driven aggressively so firefighters can get to the scene of the emergency as quick as possible.

Tower Fire Truck 2022

With its unique design, Air Link Redline is engineered to outperform other suspensions in its class. Most spring and rubber ride suspensions have an indirect correlation between roll stability and ride quality. While these suspensions offer more roll stability, when in tandem they offer worse ride comfort and reduced equipment protection. Meanwhile, typical air suspensions can decouple the link between roll stability and ride quality, giving the suspension the ability to provide ample roll stability and great ride quality. However, when translated to tandem drive suspensions, there can be another indirect correlation between roll stability and traction.

Most air suspensions will have poor traction when they provide the necessary roll-stability for higher center of gravity, aka tall, fire trucks. For example, when driving in an off-road situation, if the tires of a truck on one side are climbing a mound, the mechanism providing roll stability will cause the other side to rise, causing the truck to lose traction. Essentially, the suspension does not know the difference between a vehicle leaning due to cornering and the axle leaning due to climbing over an obstacle in its path. To fix this indirect correlation, engineers developed the “walking beam” suspension.

Built For Firefighters

Air Link 2022 V1

Walking beam suspensions are a type of tandem drive suspension that link the front and rear drive axles with a “walking beam” that pivots in the middle. Air Link Redline is an air-over-walking-beam suspension. The innovative design allows our engineers to establish the best compromise of ride quality, roll-stability, and traction. The ride control and quality all allow the driver to have better control and get to the scene sooner with no struggle in handling. The Air Link does a great job of isolating the equipment that will be needed on-scene from harsh road inputs encountered on the way to the emergency.

Another unique advantage of the Air Link over the other typical air suspensions is that it will only drop 2” if the airlines become compromised, and still allows the axles and tires to travel over bumps. Once the tandem drops the 2”, it essentially becomes a rubber ride, meaning the ride quality will be harsher, but the firefighters will still be able to complete their mission and make it back to the station for repairs. On top of that advantage, Air Link comes standard with dual height control valves, so the suspension will always keep the vehicle level. This is especially helpful if the truck’s weight distribution from equipment cannot balance from side to side. A balanced load helps prevent equipment damage and maximize traction in all conditions.

Real World Experience

Susp11

We’ve heard back from several customers on their experience with Air Link Redline, many of whom have driven with other suspensions before Air Link. The drivers all comment that it offers a great ride, great roll stability and great off-road traction. I had a recent discussion with a station that retrofitted their 2-year-old aerial with an Air Link. They decided to switch suspensions because their previous rubber tandem drive suspension had a harsh ride. The ride was so rough that the back end of the aerial was bouncing and causing the vehicle to porpoise, making it incredibly difficult to handle. Because the suspension could not properly isolate the road inputs, the vehicle would jar the driver and cause him to inadvertently hit the gas petal, further aggravating the situation. After installing Air Link Redline, the driver reported a night and day difference, and that they were overwhelmingly happy with the ride quality and stability of the suspension.

After all is said and done, please don’t just take my word for Air Link Redline’s ride quality and handling improvements. I would recommend that any station that is in the process of developing their specification for a new fire truck that includes a tandem drive axle find a station near them that has Air Link and go along for a ride so they can experience the difference for themselves. Once you go to Air Link, you won’t want to go back.

Air Link Redline was designed to maximize ride quality, roll stability, traction and reduce equipment damage. Contact us today to learn more on how Air Link Redline is helping municipalities across North America or hear what the fire industry has to say about how the tandem suspension has improved their aerial’s performance.

Blog Author

Mark Molitor

Senior Product Manager - Chassis Suspensions

Mark Molitor - Senior Product Manager - Chassis Suspensions