ABBOTSFORD, B.C. – It’s been a little more than 10 years since Randall Fletcher first committed to air suspension on his truck’s rear axles, and it’s been a smooth ride ever since.
On a sunny afternoon, Fletcher parked his yellow 1997 Western Star 4964 Heritage on the side of a dirt road, next to his home in the midst of a scenic land reserve in Abbotsford, B.C. He was on his way across the border to Washington to deliver a piece of construction equipment. He was anxious to get moving so he would be home in time to head to Truxpo before the day’s end.
“I’ve missed the show for a few years being on the road, but I’m glad I’m here this year,” he explained. “That’s where I heard about the suspension and that’s where I find a lot of stuff.”
Fletcher has been driving for a living since 1985, but it wasn’t until about 10 years ago when the owner of Transtar Holdings Transportation made the air suspension discovery at Truxpo. At the time he was doing lots of heavy driving, hauling heavy equipment from mine site to mine site in the surrounding area.
Fletcher happened upon the Air Link suspension from Raydan Manufacturing at Truxpo in the mid-’90s. The driver was impressed with the product and purchased just the third Air Link suspension to come off Western Star’s assembly line.
“I heard about it at Truxpo in about ’95 or ’96 when they were just getting started,” said Fletcher. “The guys that see it say it’s a funny suspension. But those bags are at least 10 years old and you can see there’s only a little weather wear.”
Since the initial purchase a decade ago, Fletcher has since moved out of mine site hauling and onto the highway, as it’s easier on his truck. It may be one of the reasons his odometer now reads 1,794,790 km on his Western Star, and the 52,000-lb Air Link suspension has been along for the whole ride.
“The best thing about the suspension has been the durability,” Fletcher explained. “That’s a long time to only have to rebush and I only did that two years ago.”
Since Raydan placed its third factory installed Air Link suspension on Fletcher’s Western Star, the company has had a fairly smooth ride of its own. The suspension manufacturer made a name for itself in vocational and service trucks, while working with on-highway OEMs to bring the Air Link suspension to a broader trucking market.
In early September, Raydan was granted the exclusive distribution rights for the Link Manufacturing UltraRide chassis suspension product line, which is geared towards single-axle Class 4 to 6 trucks. Coupling the Link UltraRide with Air Link suspension will allow Raydan to offer a full line of air suspension products.