Most of the readers we talk to seem to agree with us: purchases for vehicles usually fall into one of two categories. The first category includes replacement and repair parts-those components that are needed to keep a rig running and safe. These parts are necessary, but not all that fun to pay for, and it's difficult to get excited about spending time installing them. Then, there are "fun" parts-those that you gladly shell out a few clams for-and you can't wait to get a wrench in your hand to get them installed and ready for use. Our VIAIR onboard air system definitely falls into that second category. We've been staring at it for a while now, aching to install it, but we had to first work out a few bugs that were plaguing "The Juice," our project Bronco.
We won't bore you with details, but after replacing a long list of parts (engine, radiator, starter, battery, water pump...the list goes on and on), we finally felt as if The Juice was ready for the VIAIR system.
We run the Bronco at varying tire pressures-lower when we play in the sand or around trail obstacles, and higher on hard-packed dirt or desert runs. There have been many, many times in which we wished the Bronco had an air source, and not just to fill the tires. Modern onboard air systems easily power air tools, and that opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.
We've been familiar with VIAIR for quite a while. They manufacture a full line of air compressors that can be found on everything from trail Jeeps to airbagged tow rigs. In fact, VIAIR offers no less than eight different levels of onboard air systems, from the Ultra-Light Duty kit (often used to engage air-actuated locking differentials) to the Ultra Duty system, which was the world's first 200 PSI onboard air source. When we got our hands on a 150 PSI X'treme Duty kit, we eagerly crawled under The Juice in anticipation, scoping out a good spot to install it.
When the Bronco was finally ready, we took it to T&J Performance Center in Orange, California. The crew at this full-service 4x4 shop builds everything from race trucks to custom crawlers, and they were quite familiar with the X'treme Duty system. Although the installation did take some time (about 5 hours), it was relatively simple, and the included instruction booklet provided us with all of the info we needed.
We had the Bronco out in the dirt that very weekend, and not only did we use the VIAIR kit for our own purposes several times, but we helped out a few others who were in desperate need of an air source. This is one mod that we're getting used to quickly, and as such it almost seems unimaginable to go without it now. That, and we no longer need to carry a stash of quarters to operate gas-station compressors.