Converting TS rear coils to air bags for level towing - Club Touareg Forums
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post #1 of 32 Old 05-06-2019 Thread Starter
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Converting TS rear coils to air bags for level towing

Im in the process of converting my T3 rear coil suspension to Cayenne air springs. My goal is to keep the rear level when towing our trailer, and avoiding the weight distribution hitch conundrum. I just got it powered up today and excited to share what I have working so far.

I'm using:
- 2 height sensors from a Land Rover Discovery 2 to measure ride height in the rear L&R. These sensors output analog 0-5v, and are under $20/each.

- VW Touareg solenoid bank $100

- Siemens Logo PLC

Currently testing with a compressed air tank and only the drivers side air spring, still waiting for more parts to arrive (3 weeks). I also have a constant current power supply setup to adjust the shock dampening.

I have an automatic mode working which sets a minimum pressure in each air spring, and inflates/deflates to keep the height within a +/- 0.5" window when the load changes. I can make the tolerance tighter, but then it pumps / vents each time I enter/exit the car. Automatic mode is indicated by "white" LCD illumination.

I also have a manual mode where I can jog each bag (or the pair) up/down. All the set points, calibration constants, and alarm limits can be changed on the PLC using the built in keypad and LCD (no laptop laptop required). I was able to install everything without removing any interior panels. Manual mode is indicated by "Orange" LCD illumination.

If a fault occurs, LCD illumination is Red. All manual functions continue to work if a fault is detected. Automatic mode switches off when a fault occurs. Toggling Auto mode Off-On will clear the fault and resume Auto mode. A remote touchscreen can be connected via ethernet. There is also a webpage server I have not yet tried out for a smartphone interface. My goal is to forget the PLC is there and have it just work.






Gauging if there is any interest out there if I made this into a DIY kit.
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post #2 of 32 Old 05-06-2019
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When I saw the title of the thread I thought "Oh dear, someone else asking for the impossible?"

And then I read it!

Bloody hell, if this all works in practice without impacting upon the drivability of the car when it's not towing then it's mightily impressive!!

Any idea of likely cost and time to install?

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post #3 of 32 Old 05-06-2019 Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noobytoogy View Post
When I saw the title of the thread I thought "Oh dear, someone else asking for the impossible?"

And then I read it!

Bloody hell, if this all works in practice without impacting upon the drivability of the car when it's not towing then it's mightily impressive!!

Any idea of likely cost and time to install?
I'd estimate 8 hours to install assuming brackets and harnesses were prefabricated.
2 hours to remove coil springs and install air springs
1 hour to install level sensors onto subframe.
2 hours to install compressor & wire up power
2 hours to route wiring & hoses
1 hour calibration / debug

I think the whole install can be done without removing any interior panels, and without drilling or cutting any part of the car.

My parts total so far is ~$1600. Big ticket items were:
(2) used rear air springs & pigtails $550
Compressor with bracket & pigtails $255
Solenoid bank & pigtail $120
PLC $140

If I sell a kit, it would probably just be the height sensors & brackets, cable harness, power supplies, fusing and PLC. Or maybe just the pre-programmed PLC, BOM, drawings and schematics.

Most people say the air suspension rides nicer than coils. The rear shock dampening will be fully adjustable too, Im planning on going full firm when towing!

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post #4 of 32 Old 05-07-2019
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I will be following this closely as I'm very interested in what the results will be.
Personally, I wanted to go down this path, but after closer consideration, I've decided not to do so.....
I look forward to seeing your system completed and operational.
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post #5 of 32 Old 05-07-2019
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Seems way overkill for what youre doing but FRICKEN AWESOME none the less. If all youre doing is controlling air flow through a flow control i would think it could be controlled via something less complicated than a PLC.

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post #6 of 32 Old 05-07-2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etischer View Post
My parts total so far is ~$1600.
For close to $1600 you could have converted to the complete OEM air suspension setup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by etischer View Post
Im planning on going full firm when towing!
You will probably not want that, it is INCREDIBLY firm and jarring when at full firm (no current).

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post #7 of 32 Old 05-08-2019 Thread Starter
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I'm quite jealous of your setup, maybe in the future. For now, I didn't want to tear the interior apart, modify the factory harnesses, and modify the cars software; it seemed a bit risky to me to take on since I'm not familiar with the software tools (ODIS, elsawin, etka..) and how the system is designed. Most of what I bought could be used for the full system you have, I was under the impression you spent ~3k.

I don't plan to go wheeling in the Touareg, so changing height (on all 4 wheels) isn't something I need, I just want it to tow without squatting, and WD hitch seemed to be a no-go.

I can obviously dial in any firmness, but I'm mostly interested in how full firm feels with 600lbs of tongue weight and a trailer in tow. I was considering full firm the 50mA setting, doesn't sound like it's designed to operate at 0 current.

If I ever have a problem, I have full access to the PLC code, and can always switch to manual mode if needed. For me this is a simpler, less invasive solution. Kudos to you for getting the factory system to work, it's an amazing accomplishment and something to be proud of.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chewblekka View Post
For close to $1600 you could have converted to the complete OEM air suspension setup.



You will probably not want that, it is INCREDIBLY firm and jarring when at full firm (no current).

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post #8 of 32 Old 05-08-2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etischer View Post
I was under the impression you spent ~3k.
3k of our currency is like $20 of yours.......
But even if it was apples to apples, you're only doing 1/2 what he did....... I'd bail now and go full retro like him since you will have much more features, reliability, etc. The OEM system is sealed and has many other benefits due to all that integration.....

But you may already be in too deep at this point....
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post #9 of 32 Old 05-08-2019 Thread Starter
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Yes, I'm doing half, for half the cost, and achieving 100% functionality for what I'm trying to accomplish.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TurboABA View Post
3k of our currency is like $20 of yours.......
But even if it was apples to apples, you're only doing 1/2 what he did....... I'd bail now and go full retro like him since you will have much more features, reliability, etc. The OEM system is sealed and has many other benefits due to all that integration.....

But you may already be in too deep at this point....

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post #10 of 32 Old 05-09-2019
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I wasn't knocking your project friend.... you're still doing a lot more than what I'm doing.... so far, I'm only "talking" about doing anything at all.
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