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what upgrades has anyone done?... Are you running a sway bar in rear or air bags or just springs/shocks only?

anyone change out the front torsion bars for aftermarket?

i installed new leaf springs, new shocks, all new bushings in rear and tie rod ends, bushings, idler arm, stabilizer shock, ball joints in the front end.

the rig is much better but still has a dangerous amount of sway and roll if i ever had to get out of the way of a deer or trucker tire.

my next step was going to be to add Sway-a-Way torsion bars and Firestone air bags,,

any and all info is appreciated


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That's some serious suspension back there! Looks really nice.

I think airbags are the way to go. I couldn't find any to fit my 78 camper, but I just installed some on my 98 truck. Haven't hauled any loads yet but here's an idea of what they can do to an unloaded truck...

At just under 10psi


At 60psi


Max psi is 100. I'm sure it would level out a bit with a load, but I was pretty shocked at how much lift these things gave me. Easy install, on my truck anyway. Not cheap...but what really is with these things?

I do think you're going to have to just live with some amount of sway. It's a motorhome, and being 4x4 has a higher center of gravity. These things are always leaning toward the "deathtrap" side of things, in my opinion. Just the way they are.

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And a POR 15'd frame?

It wasn't easy to find a kit that was built for the 78, and even when I did find one, there was no space to install it, because of how Chinook built the RV on the frame. I think the routing of the exhaust was the biggest issue. I had a shop try to do it, since I didn't have the shop space or a floor jack that could actually safely lift the RV. A regular, unloaded pickup truck with as much space under it as a 4x4 was way easier to work on than that low, wide, really heavy Chinook.

But the guys at the shop said they tried it every way they could think of and just couldn't find a way to make it fit.

I don't know a huge amount about suspension, but I think beyond your sway bar and that crazy stack of leaf springs, the only thing that'll help a bit with roll is something more solid that limits lean from side to side. Something like air bags would do that, I would think. You'll need to do your own research since I don't know enough to tell you "yes, spend the $300". But I think you've done everything else.

I think you can probably find a better price than what I'm seeing on Summit. Unless you have a preference for them for whatever reason.

Just one I found: Bags

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But the guys at the shop said they tried it every way they could think of and just couldn't find a way to make it fit.

I'm a little lost. Exactly "what" wouldn't fit? I've got a 1978 Chinook and I had no trouble installing a rear stabilizer bar and air-bag suspension (Air Lift). I later took out the air-bags because they ride so hard. I added many leafs to each spring pack instead. NOT so easy to find leaf-stock to fit a Toyota since it uses a unusual spring width of 2 3/8" as I recall. Most mini-trucks are 2 1/2".

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I've been talking about nothing but air bags, right? That's "what". Now you're found.

Not having been there under the camper with them while they were trying to get them (air bags) to fit, I can't say exactly what they saw. I do know that a Newport version of the Chinook is not built the same as the traditional pop-top versions, so the best I can guess is that either

a. my mechanics are incompetent or

b. with the Newport/Omega models, there is something obstructing that space

I guess there could be a c) which combines some amount of the guys in the shop just not having a lot of experience with installing air bags and missing something obvious, and/or them not being home mechanics who are willing to do a little more modification/fabrication work.

Hard to say.

Either way, we're talking about an 86 here, and from the photos he posted, it looks like there's plenty of space for air bags.

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yes some sway and roll is expected..

what problems did you have with you 78 as far a fitment?

firestone seems to have it listed for the 86.


I've put air-bag suspension on a 1978 Toyota Chinook and a 1988 Toyota Minicruiser. No issues with either and both have Toyota rear stabilizer bars. But - what is that stabilizer bar I see on your's? Is it aftermarket? I ask because it looks it might interfere with a typical air-bag kit from Air-Lift. Also I'm talking about 2WDs with 6 lug full-floaters and factory stabilizers. I don't know what the stock 4WD stabilizer even looks like.





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thanks for the thoughts.. . from looking closer at a friends 78 chinook there should be no reason why air bags would fit.


yes my sway bar was rigged up by someone years ago and they got it absolutely wrong. i did not find a replacement that would fit the floater axle so i attempted to refresh the one in place as i was changing out the leaf pack and shocks anyway. what i realized off the bat was the sway bar mounts should not of been welded to the frame and the bar is not transferring and load to the other side as it bottoms out against the frame.

i am looking for the exact sway bar you have in the pics but i dont see it listed anywhere aftermarket. i have been searching junk yards but no luck thus far

what i decided is to remove the rear sway bar entirely, change out my front torsion bar to the increased diameter sway-away bars, upgrade the front sway bar and then installing air bags in rear.

finally, upgrading the spring pack shackles to a thicker gauge steel and adding in harder urethane bushings. all of these additions will def take out some of the sway but most importantly will stiffen the load transfer in a hard turn or when avoiding obstacles on the highway or mountain pass.

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Unless your friend's Chinook is the "full size" version like mine, it would not be the same set up, so you can't really compare the two.


If you look really close in the upper right hand corner, you can see how the exhaust was routed. It goes right across the opening between the upper and lower bump stops, which is where the airbags install. The fiberglass body of the Chinook stuck down where the exhaust would normally be routed, pushing the exhaust another couple inches out towards the outside edge of the camper, way too close to fit an airbag.


Someone doing this work at home could re-route the exhaust and maybe have it come out from under the camper in front of the rear tire, and that would take care of it. But the shop was working with what I presented them with.

Anyway, it's not important to the install of your airbags.

Good luck!

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