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Old 08-08-2012, 10:59 AM   #1
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Steering questions

Hi all,

One of the first things I did when we bought our 3230 (used) was to have the front end checked out (rig has about 34K miles, Ford E450 chassis). The steering felt really vague to me - lots of play / slop in my estimation. The truck alignment shop ended up installing new radius arm bushings, new ball joints (they weren't completely shot, but were on their way), tightening the steering box, and giving it an alignment. Subsequently, we noticed that the steering shock was leaking, so that was replaced as well. The steering is somewhat better now, but I am still wondering if it is "right". It does not pull unless the road is crowned.

I don't have much experience with C-type motorhomes, but have driven several different box trucks (van chassis) over the years, and this seems looser to me. Maybe I'm expecting too much. It feels like it takes quite a bit of wheel movement to get action, but also that action is a bit inconsistent therefore sometimes I feel like I get into a pattern of correction & overcorrection. The rig is also definitely impacted by road crown & air currents. (On the latter point, I will sometimes feel it when passenger cars (going my direction) pass me at highway speeds. I would expect to feel a semi, but a car?)

I have read that tire pressure can have a dramatic effect. I just got Dually Valves installed on my wheels, and now I can more easily play with pressures. I think they are currently at 65 front, 80 rear, which is on the doorjamb sticker. I know there are calculations one can use based on actual weight - I just haven't had time yet to go through that. I assume this would be a valuable exercise?

Also wondering about Steer Safe - would a product like that have any positive impact on the above issues?

Any and all thoughts welcome! Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:47 PM   #2
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In my opinion the steering you described is characteristic of the chassis. I had a motorhome based on the E series, drive an E series Van as my tow vehicle and over the years have driven various other E series including the 450 and they have all felt the same.

I have always said you don't drive a motorhome, you guide it and keep it out of trouble. It is best to hold the wheel about the 4 and 8 o'clock position and forget about the sway. People have a tendency to try to correct for it but remind yourself, if your holding the wheel and going straight, the vehicle is still going to go straight.

These chassis are old style and basic which means you need to go back to old basic rules in curves. Back off a little before you get in the curve and accelarate out to plant the front tires. If you try to brake in the curve you'll learn more about sway!

The best improvement I made on my motorhome was the addition of Firestone Ride-Rite supplemental air bags on the rear. They helped to greatly reduce sway, made the vehicle more stable when being passed and more stable in general.

The E-series chassis is rugged and dependable but in has some quirks that are unique and feel like no other vehicle I have ever driven.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:39 PM   #3
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Thanks Boss! That's just the sort of feedback I was hoping for. I may have driven one E-series in the past - certainly not much - so this is helpful. And yes, I agree about backing off before curves - driving too deep induces white knuckles. Interestingly, though, when pushed (accidentally) it does take a "set" and follow through - but you have to be decisive with the wheel.
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Old 08-09-2012, 06:37 AM   #4
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Some passenger cars will push on me when they pass depending on the wind direction and their shape. I know you said 65psi was on the door jam for the front, was this from the Jayco sticker or Ford Sticker? My front pressures on the 2012 greyhawk are 75 and rear is 80.

What tires are you running? I really like the Michelin LTX's they handle nicely.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:40 PM   #5
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Hi TX...

I am running Mastercraft Courser R/D tires - don't know anything about them; the seller put them on new when we bought it. Both the Jayco and Ford doorjamb stickers say 65 front, 80 rear. We have 16"x6" wheels... Maybe yours are different. Anyway, our rig is about 12 years older than yours so I wouldn't be surprised if things have changed.

I bet those Michelins are good. IIRC, my Honda Ridgeline (just sold, much missed) had the LTX's and I really liked them too.
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:35 AM   #6
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Michelins are good tires but they are prone to cracking more quickly than other brands. This makes them not such a wise choice for a motorhome unless perhaps you're close to fulltiming it.

When I bought my motorhome the previous owner had just put a set of Uniroyal Laredo HT, load range E tires on it. I kept them on longer than I should have and they were there when I sold it 10 years later and they had no cracking. Another thing I liked about them was that with plain old air, not nitrogen, they maintained pressure very well including during transitional seasonal temperature swings. When there was fluctulation all six of them were the same!

One odd thing on this motorhome were the fact that the Ford rims were stamped not to exceed 65 lbs psi. I kept it right there and had no problems.

My current tow vehicle a 99 E-350 calls for the pressures noted in the earlier posts 80 rear 55 or 65 front.

Due to the good performance of the Uniroyal Laredo HT on the motohome I put them on the van when I replaced the Michelins , which were cracked at 4 years from the date of manufacture.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:26 AM   #7
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A lot will also depend on who you load the coach. Too much weight behind the rear axle will make the front light and allow it to float more.
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Old 08-10-2012, 10:28 AM   #8
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I have never driven a class C, but I am finding the information interesting and storing it for the future. Thank you.
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2010 Jayco 17Z Ex-Port
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2010 Camping Stats
Nights Camping 132 - Nights Camping in My Z 102
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grumpy View Post
A lot will also depend on who you load the coach. Too much weight behind the rear axle will make the front light and allow it to float more.
Good to remember. I was always conscious of balance with our previous trailer but hadn't given it much thought with the MH - and since ours is 32', there's a LOOONG overhang behind the axle. At this point, I don't have much weight back there, but this is good advice nonetheless.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steverino View Post
Good to remember. I was always conscious of balance with our previous trailer but hadn't given it much thought with the MH - and since ours is 32', there's a LOOONG overhang behind the axle. At this point, I don't have much weight back there, but this is good advice nonetheless.
Had the 2001 32' and loved it, but then the "boss" saw the SENECA.
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