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Author Topic: Report on alignment and handling of our 2552  (Read 1422 times)
Bruce and Sharon
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« on: September 23, 2013, 02:09:18 am »

After traveling in our 2014 Model 2552 for several weeks, we want to report how happy we are with our decision to buy it.  Living in it is a pleasure and driving it is fairly easy.  The ride is comfortable enough and not at all the “truck-like” feeling that we anticipated.

We did experience some “wandering” of the coach while driving on the freeway that was bothersome in keeping the vehicle going in a straight line due to the many minor steering wheel adjustments required.  This was something we could live with, but hoped could be improved.

We wanted an expert opinion on the handling and wheel alignment to see if even minor improvements could be made.  So, we had Henderson’s Line-up in Grants Pass, Oregon do their Road Performance Assessment with us.  They describe this as “a systematic, diagnostic 15-mile road test that reveals steering and suspension problems over a variety of road surfaces.”

The report we received (both verbal and written) was very encouraging.  They feel that no improvement was needed in suspension, braking, or weight distribution.  They did suggest that we install a Safe-T-Plus unit and check the alignment of all wheels.

The reason for the Safe-T-Plus is to improve the tracking under normal circumstances and to provide safety in situations such as a blowout, a sudden gust of wind from a passing truck, or a pothole in the road.  It is a steering control device that will automatically stabilize the vehicle.

We followed both of the recommendations.  Only minor adjustments were needed in the front wheel alignment and none for the rear wheels.  The Safe-T-Plus definitely eliminated most of the wandering and gives us more confidence while driving.

The peace of mind we enjoy now justifies the cost involved. We highly recommend the personnel at Henderson’s who were all extremely knowledgeable, helpful and accommodating.  They even allowed us to plug in and stay overnight at their facility.

Bruce and Sharon
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2013, 08:08:49 am »

We also added the safe-t-plus (i put it on, really easy), changed to bilsteins and had it alligned, and found out it was a totally different vehicle to drive. My bride who said she would never drive it, now does so with relish. I think she really enjoys driving it. We also added the Henderson bar to the rear. I really cant't determine if i needed all of this but it is an easy ride now, and i do no fear the really bad lane changed actions that can occur with a flow out.

Congratulations on your new PC,

Greg and Kathy Matthews
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2013, 08:46:56 am »

After our 900 mile return trip from the factory, I added the "Steer Safe" to our RV and stopped all  the wandering except that my driving caused.  Grin The guy that did our alignment installed the system while it was still on the rack and no later adjustment was needed.

I am thinking about changing our shocks to Bilsteins to improve the ride, but hate to replace the Ford shocks so soon. Anyone know what manufacturer makes them for Ford?
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Sparky
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2013, 09:15:42 am »

good post,, how much do these systems cost if installed and if you DIY?     I like that had minor adjustment in alignment,,,, I also wonder if the problem with road wandering is a little more prevalent in the larger units due to larger wheelbase and a little more weight,,,,  our unit (2350)had suspension enhancements installed already prior to purchase and of course handles like a dream, so would assume it had a problem,,, maybe some other 2350 owners will chime in (Ron haha) 
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Bruce and Sharon
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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2013, 12:38:10 pm »

Sparky,
I don't think that the actual length of a coach makes a great difference in the tendency to road wander.  But the ratio of wheel base to coach length could make a difference.  For example, if a coach with a certain wheel base were to be made longer without changing the wheel base (making the ratio of wheel base to length smaller), the extra length and weight would extend behind the rear axle.  This would likely cause the "tail to wag the dog" and make steering more difficult.  Just a thought.
Bruce
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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2013, 03:28:05 pm »

I replaced the shocks with the newer silver Bilstein shocks and the ride improved a lot, but the wandering was still there. So I replaced the steering dampener with the Bilstein steering dampener. That was a hugh improvement in handling. It was explained to me that the Bilstein steering dampener helps hold the steering in a straight line where as the safe-t-plus is to prevent the wheel from jerking during a blow out or running off the road. I guess they both do a little of the others job as well.
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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 12:41:23 pm »

If the handling issue is the feeling of being blown aside by a passing truck causing driver to over correct the steering then can't say enough for the improvement due to the Blue Ox Tiger Trak.  Had installed on a new 31' Workhorse for a little more than $500, well worth it and think it or similar product should be standard equipment.
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Bruce and Sharon
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« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2013, 03:08:49 pm »

It's good to hear that options are available to help all RVers have a safe and pleasant time driving their rigs.  I'm sharing our experience with hope that someone might benefit from it.

The minor handling issue that we had with our 2552 was not so much the feeling of being blown aside by a passing truck, but most often just the feeling of the coach drifting to one side or the other while traveling on the highway requiring more steering adjustments than I would normally expect in another vehicle.  I could live with those adjustments, but wanted to minimize them if we could and also enhance safety while driving a large vehicle.

I could see that the Safe-T-Plus definitely helps to keep the coach moving forward on a straight line as well as providing protection from the wheels being pulled off of the road due to a blow-out, etc.  Our Henderson installer took along some tools on a test drive with us after the Safe-T-Plus was put on, and we could see that the coach had a tendency to move too much to the right on its own as we traveled down a road with only a small amount of center crown.  We stopped in a turn-out along the road while the installer crawled under the coach to make a minor adjustment which resulted in the coach now moving almost perfectly straight.  He didn't want to make any further adjustment as that might give the coach a tendency to move left (which could cause a problem at some point).

After many more miles of highway driving, I feel that the remaining required steering adjustments are the normal type that are needed in any vehicle on the road.


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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2013, 03:27:30 pm »

This is a great discussion.

There are different brands of similar products that adddress the same things.

There are the variety of PCs from 21 to 31 feet in length with a variety of wheel bases.  It isn't hard for me to conclude that "By Inherrent Design", every 2100, 2350, and possibly the 2400 will experience more handling issues than a 2551 and longer.  This for two reasons, the same as many of you mentioned.
1) the ratio between wheel base and rear over-hang is worse on the shortest PC models
2) the E350 & Sprinter chassis are less capable than the E450 and are therefore more sensitive to weight distribution

On point #2, I feel this way because the E350 and Sprinter frames are of a thinner gauge steel and therefore could be flexing and/or twisting more than an E450 frame.  Anytime there is such flexing or twisting, it can affect handling.  Mind you that such flexing/twisting is not to be of concern as long as the weight limitations are respected.

If you pay close attention to commercials of redesigned vehicle model years, they often point out "improved body rigidity for better handling".  That is where I come up with that.

less flexing = less handling variation
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 03:32:43 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

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Bruce and Sharon
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« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2013, 03:39:09 pm »

Ron,
I agree with your summary on the handling issue.  Thanks for another of your excellent posts!
Bruce
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« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2013, 08:37:52 pm »

Yes, agree with my southern neighbor.  My next 2350 will probably be on a f450 chassis.
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« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2013, 11:33:25 am »

Yes, agree with my southern neighbor.  My next 2350 will probably be on a f450 chassis.
I assume you meant E450.  Regardless, keep in-mind that a 2100, 2350, and the 2400 built on an E450 will have an extremely rough ride because the chassis is over-kill for the application.  Some people on this forum talk about their 2551 on E450 having a very rough ride.  Ten-ish years ago the 2551 was built on the E350 but PC-USA switched to the E450 somewhere along the way, I assume because it was too close to or exceeding the max load limit.  But now that the later E350 handles 1000 pounds more weight, I wonder if the 2551 could once again be offered on the E350 chassis to get a softer ride.  Especially if it lacks a slide-out.

It is a debatable trade-off, a softer ride versus load capability.  The E450 does offer more cabable brakes so there are other benefits to the E450.  You can never have too much braking power when towing.
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« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2013, 11:52:10 am »

My 2350 was built on the E450 instead of the E350 per my request. I did not fined the ride to be rough. I did upgrade the shocks to Bilsteins to reduce the rock and roll. I foolishly upgraded the rear sway bar, which made very little improvment.
My 2552 also got the new Bilstein shocks along with the bilstein steering dampner. I like the way it handles and rides with these changes and don't plan on anymore susoension changes.
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Tom Hanlon
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« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2014, 11:13:37 am »

Resurrecting some older posts in order to get in some of our experiences now that we've had our rig a while.

Our experience with handling was almost identical to Bruce and Sharon, in our 2552.  It wandered a bit and required a lot of minor steering adjustments while driving.  Could live with it.

First, I had an alignment done.  One very minor adjustment was needed.  So minor, they didn't even charge me.

Then I brought it our local RV guy who attended the Henderson class for mechanics.  He gave our rig the Road Performance Assessment and we decided to go with the recommended Safe-T-Plus and also the rear Henderson bar (as Greg and Kathy did, and as Ron recommended ages ago). Quite a noticeable improvement.  After a long drive I'm much less fatigued.  Other similar products from other companies would probably work just as well.  He also said our tires felt a bit overinflated so he weighed all four corners and recommended 70lbs front and 75lbs rear, according to the Michelin chart for RV's. 

In case anyone is interested, our rig was pretty balanced side to side.  It was pretty much loaded up for a trip and our tanks were: water-1/3 full, grey-1/2 full, black-empty, propane-full.  No passengers.  Here's the wheel position weights:
Front right: 2200 lbs
Front left: 2330 lbs
Rear right: 4390 lbs
Rear left: 4320 lbs

One sort of interesting note.  During the Road Performance Assessment, our guy said he wanted to test how the rig handled if you had to swerve into the next lane or wide shoulder when you didn't have room to stop quickly in an emergency.  I reluctantly said, "um, uh....ok"  He checked for traffic anywhere near us and when it was clear for a great distance he cut the wheel into the next lane (I think we were going about 40mph). It was a bit scary, but the PC handled amazingly well and straightened out quickly in the next lane without any swerve or fishtail or even much of a lean.  He did this one more time into the other lane again and it handled just as well.  He was impressed, and I wiped the sweat off my brow.  I am the epitome of a defensive driver and don't ever anticipate needing to make this maneuver (gee, should I hit the guy in front of me or the guy in the next lane?), but now that it's been accomplished at least I know that it can be done. 

  - Mike
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« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2014, 09:37:51 am »

My 2552 handled fairly well out the door but knew improvements could be made. Living in Ohio, I went to a Henderson trained shop near Cleveland and they did the road test as well. I had them install Roadmaster anti sway bars. I also had them put on Koni shocks, sumo springs and a Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer. They weighed each corner and it was similar to weights others have posted. These are with holding tanks empty:
LF-2160, RF-2100
LR-3820, RR-3780

They recommended 65-70psi in each tire.

After these additions the ride and handling was much improved. They even mounted a camera under the carriage and recorded before and after images. The factory sway bars looked like wet noodles at times. I'm definitely happy I went through the process.

Jim
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