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  #16  
Old 01-21-2013, 12:52 PM
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Email sent to you.

In the meantime, for the other poster who was concerned about the recall on the Fontaine Classic Traveler F-550 air suspension, I found some information tucked away in some my old files that may be of help.

First, not ALL Fontaine Classic Travelers have the ReycoGranning 345P Parallelogram Air Suspension. Most of them do, though. About 293 to be exact.

When the Classic Traveler was first introduced at SEMA many years ago, as the blue SuperCrewzerII (I've been in that truck), it was outfitted with the Silent Drive 320 series air suspension. The first year of Classic Travelers 1999.5-2000 had the Silent Drive.

Then Recyo Suspensions, which had combined with Granning Suspensions, and was subsumed by Tuthill and operated under the now defunct business unit called Tuthill Transportation Technologies, busted out with a parallelogram system (the 345P) which had a lot of interesting things going for it...

1. As a parallolgram, 5 link air suspension, the driveline pinion angle could be maintained at optimal operational angle regardless of load.

2. The 345P suspension system reinforced the F-550 frame with a pre-drilled, form fitted side plate carraige that tied the pivot anchors of the parallelogram arms with the bag anchor as a single unit.

3. The 5th link, the panhard arm, was attached to the axle without welding to the housing. This was really key, because the housing was treated high strength low alloy steel, and was relatively thin at 7mm to keep the unspring weight down. Welding to it would have changed the material properties and is considered a no-no, so Recyo created this cradle that wrapped over the pumpkin with an offset arch to broaden the radius of the locating rod movement.

4. The design intent (as expressed to me by the engineer who designed it) was 6 inches of travel, 3" up, 3" down. That was just about acheived, with 2 7/8" up, and 3" down.

5. Another design intent was production installation ease, with the compressor cradle incorporated in the driver's side frame brace, making for a unitized install.

It was a very cool package... a leap ahead for it's brief period of time. Several other companies had air suspensions for the 450/550 chassis, but all them were box beam trailing arm of dubious quality (AirAX comes to mine, they didn't last long). Fontaine had some problems with the Silent Drive Z beam suspension, but I never did learn what they were. The parallelogram system seemed like such a better idea. Remeber, back then, neither Link, nor Kelderman, had full air ride parallolgram air suspensions. The ReycoGranning 345P was it. It was the shiznit.

Ford liked it too. Keep in mind that Ford was working very closely with Fontaine back then, because Fontaine was building out the Ford SuperCrewzer F-650s. Ford had an F-450 pick up in mind many years before they finally introduced one in 2008. In fact, the F-450 pickup was previously planned to be introducted 6 years earlier, in 2002, with guess what? Air Suspension. Made by guess who? ReycoGranning. Based on what design? The 345P.

In fact, careful scrutiny of some of the earlier editions of the 2002 Ford Truck order guides will reveal a cryptic reference to "Air Suspension" for the F-450. Yet no F-450 of the day ever came with air suspension. That's because Ford canceled the program. Tuthill Transportation Technologies claims to have lost 6 million dollars on all the work they did integrating the electronics of height control valves etc with Ford's vehicle electronics. Many of the hard parts were redesigned to stampings and non adjustable pieces more suited to larger scale production, rather than the small conversion shop that Fontaine was operating.

But the suspension didn't fly. The scuttle I heard was that Ford found some undue stresses in some cross brace attachment points in their frame. ReycoGranning addressed those too, but while all this was going on, 911 happened, which severly contracted vehicle sales in it's wake. I don't know the entire story of why the F-450 pickup was cancelled back then, but do know that Ford at one time had far more agressive plans than what eventually evolved. And, Ford was probably right to not go forward with the Air suspension system. Warranty costs might have been high.

The ReycoGranning guys were bitter about having no big customer (Ford) for the 345P that ReycoGranning sunk so much money in to revise to suit Ford's production requirements. Adding to the pain, the only customer they had for the current 345P was Fontaine, which held an EXCLUSIVE contractual agreement to be the ONLY* aftermarket provisioner of the 345P system. Yet, Fontaine wasn't buying that many, because the 450/550 Classic Traveler conversions were not selling as well as initially hoped. And Fontaine had their own gripes about the system as delivered. The reliability of the air compressor was one issue I heard about. Another was the reliability of the height control valve, made by Hadley.

ReycoGranning announced their discontinuance of the parallogram 345P system on June 23, 2003.

Four years later, in 2007, NHTSA announced a recall affecting all 293 production instances of Fontaine Classic Travelers on F-450 and F-550 chassis models with the RecyoGranning 345P. The recall concerns that 5th link, the pan hard rod, aka transverse tracking rod... you know, the one that attaches to the axle without welding to it via the cool clever cradle bracket that I was talking about earlier. The recall has nothing to do with the axle bracket... it has to do with the bracket at the frame side (which surprised me!).

"The bracket supporting the horizontal track rod at the frame attachement can become loose and eventually crack and break. This condition could cause the track rod to be ineffective in maintaining lateral control between the axle and frame, resulting in vehicle handling problems, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will inspect the bracket and nut/bolt hardware. If the bolts are loose or the bracket has cracked, the bolts, nuts, and bracket will be replaced. If the bolts are installed correctly and are tight, and the bracket is not cracked, then the bolts will be removed and replaced with new bolts with locktite."

While Fontaine ceased production of the Classic Traveler in 2005/6, and Tuthill Transportation Technologies is no more, both Fontaine and ReycoGranning are still in business and live on. Fontaine makes semi trailers and semi trailer hitches. ReycoGranning reorganized as a new company in the beginning of 2011, and still offers their trailing arm rear bag air suspension (1350AF) that uses rub blocks instead of a track rod that apparantly failed them in the 345P. I've noticed their 1350AF has gone through several design iterations over the years also.

After ReycoGranning discontinued their parallogram suspension, Fontaine turned to Link Manufacturing, who by then had developed their own "copycat" parallogram suspension for the 450/550 chassis. The earlier versions of Link's system did not use frame cradling side plates, but I've noticed more recent versions do. There are no recalls on the Link system that I'm aware of.

For the archives... if you have a Fontaine Classic Traveler, you may have either a Silent Drive air suspension, a ReycoGranning air suspension, or a Link Air suspension. Re-reading this post will give you an idea about which system you have based on what year your truck was built.

Speed, I sent you an email for those PDFs. Despite all the info I do have about Classic Traveler, I don't have a copy of the installation instructions!
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  #17  
Old 01-22-2013, 12:56 AM
speed speed is offline
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WOW great info. If theres a book going to be written about these trucks, I'm sure you'll write it!
Here a picture of my wife's Fontaine, getting ready to do the one thing it does well!
Click the image to open in full size.
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  #18  
Old 07-06-2013, 04:27 PM
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Hello

Hello to all on this site. I just signed up today and have learned a lot already. I bought a 99 F550 with the Fontaine conversion yesterday. I love the truck so far, but I have a lot to learn about it. I ran out of diesel twice on a 400 mile trip because I didn't know how to use the Fuel transfer system. It didn't come with a manual and the dealer had no idea how to use it. My daily driver is a 2011 F250 6.7 4x4 Crew Cab, which is the best truck I've ever owned.
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  #19  
Old 07-06-2013, 04:33 PM
trooper29 trooper29 is offline
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I forgot to ask the most important question. Does anyone know where to get a new set of tail lights for the Fontaine bed. One of mine has a large crack in it. Thanks
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  #20  
Old 07-07-2013, 02:27 AM
speed speed is offline
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The tail lights are from a 1998 to 2004 f150.
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We are Ford Truck People! 2000 F-550 Fontaine, 2000 F-350 Lariat LE, 2000 Excursion, PSD, 1997 F-250HD (gas),2004 Lightning,1994 Lightning
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  #21  
Old 08-16-2013, 11:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trooper29 View Post
I ran out of diesel twice on a 400 mile trip because I didn't know how to use the Fuel transfer system. It didn't come with a manual and the dealer had no idea how to use it.
Contact Transfer Flow, Inc. in Chico, California.

The Fontaine of your year (1999) uses a special control module unique to Fontaine & Ford, in that it mounts in the dash, as opposed to in a separate box. The Trax UFS system you have is system 1. Nowadays, there is Trax UFS II, which is an updated version, so you may or may not find the original Trax UFS manual on their website.

Therefore, it might be best to call.

Also, some Fontaine models had the 34 gallon Transfer Flow midship tank, and some had a 30 gallon TF midship tank. I'm starting to forget the details now, as it has been well over a decade since being inside the now closed plant where the Classic Traveler was made, but the difference in tank size may have had to do with changes in air suspension vendors.

Some of the early 99's had Silent Drive air suspension. Then around 2000, the Reyco Granning parallelogram suspension took the place of the Silent Drive. Then around 2003, the Link Air Ride took the final place before production ceased on that vehicle.

Naturally, these different air ride suspensions, along with their accompanying air tanks and compressors, were implemented differently from each other, which effected under chassis space for other things, like the midship fuel tank.

But there was never a vendor change for the fuel tank or the transfer pump and controller. So call Transfer Flow in Chico to get a manual, and more importantly, to get a walk through over the phone on how to use it.
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Old 08-16-2013, 11:53 PM
 
 
 
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