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ragoodsp
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« on: July 16, 2014, 02:47:11 pm »

I read all of Skippers  past posts regarding driveline vibration and what he went thru to get to a good ending very interesting. It appears that I have the same vibration in my 2012 3100.  I had a vibration before the Michelin recall and thought perhaps one of the tires had thrown a weight or something.  New Michelins were put on in Feb. and I have now had them reballanced twice and the vibration is still with me!  Seems to be worse in that 62 MPH range.   I guess i will contact Ford and get ready for the dealer run around and finger pointing as to who's responsibility it will be to correct the problem.  Will keep you posted.
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skipper
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2014, 04:45:19 pm »

Before you take it into Ford, note the speed where you first feel it and accelerate until it goes away (if it ever stops).   Next, see if you get the vibration when the engine and driveline aren't under load, either coasting or going downhill.  Then downshift and make sure the vibration is not engine speed dependent. Next, while you tool down a straight smooth road, have someone walk through the cruiser and listen for the noise from the vibration.  These tests help determine if it's a transmission, engine, or driveline problem.  If the vibration is always present, you probably have a driveline problem.

I think PC outsources the extension work.  Whoever does it adds a 4' section of driveline (on the 2552) to the driveline.  This add on is what caused the problem in my PC.  However, the problem was not the new 4' tube, but the whole driveline.  As delivered, the Ford 2 piece driveline is probably just fine, but when you start messing with it by changing the angles and lengthening it, any out of balance situation can go from unnoticeable to terrible.  Ford is very likely not at fault and the outfit doing the extension really isn't at fault since they probably never drive the extended unit and their 4' section comes balanced, but when everything is combined along with several thousand pounds of payload, it doesn't work right.  At least not on my vehicle.

Unfortunately, if the original owner doesn't complain during the warranty period, you are out of luck.  The good news is once you have identified the problem, it's not too expensive to fix and the fix can be done in a couple of hours if you have the right equipment.

There are 2 fixes:  The best fix is to replace the 3 piece driveline with a 2 piece driveline.  This requires a larger diameter driveline shaft and rebalancing the entire driveline.  This is the most expensive fix because you have to buy a long, large diameter, piece of heavy duty driveline.  It is the best solution because you end up with a straighter shot from the transmission to the rear end, a stronger driveline (beefier part), less parts (one less u joint), and it will provide smoother power due to less flexing (a 4" driveline that long allows for a lot of 'jumping' due to twisting under acceleration).  My thought is PC doesn't do this as standard procedure because it adds cost to the unit and it generally isn't necessary.

The second fix is to pull your entire shaft and put the whole driveline on a balancer using the same angles as found under your PC.  My guy initially put shaft 1 and 2 on the balancer and balanced that part.  Then he put shaft 2 and 3 on and balanced that part.  He did this because he didn't have the spacers required to put the entire 3 part shaft on his balancer.  It's long and most shops don't deal with drivelines this long.  He put the driveline back on the vehicle and drove it and it was far worse than when he started!  He called the company that makes the balancer and they told him he would have to put the entire driveline on the balancer and balance all the shafts as one unit.  He ordered the required extension for his machine and called me when it was ready to go.  Once he got the entire shaft on his machine, he twirled it at the rpms where I like to drive which is 62 mph.   He was able to balance it in a jiffy.  He put the driveline back in my vehicle and we tweaked the vertical distance spacer between the 2nd and 3rd driveshaft and now it 99% better.

If you do have a driveline balancing problem and your Ford dealer is willing to help, they will likely send your driveline out to a specialty shop that just works on drivelines because they don't have a balancer on premises.  They don't see this often enough to justify it or keep personnel trained to use it.  Make sure this specialty shop can balance the entire driveline.  My Ford dealer was going to send it to Mobile.  I called the Mobile shop there and they told me they would balance shaft 1 and 2 and then 2 and 3.  This wouldn't have worked as noted above and would have been a waste of time and money.  Consider asking Ford for spacer plates.  My dealer gave me 4 when they attempted to fix it and we ended up using 3.

My previous post probably has the repair cost and I think it was less than $300???  Not too bad considering I was going to sell the RV if I couldn't get this fixed to my satisfaction.  It was really bothersome to me although the Ford tech who test drove it said he fixed it when he balanced the tires.  If you are planning a trip to the panhandle, I'll fix you up with the guy who did mine.  He was extremely helpful.

Good luck getting it fixed.  Mark


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ragoodsp
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2014, 10:30:26 am »

Skipper.....thank you very much for outlining my options and approaches.  I will do exactly what you have outlined prior to going to Ford.  I hope the same equipment that your were able to untilize is available here!    ths.
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ragoodsp
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2014, 09:25:49 am »

Update....Ford road force balanced all six (6) tires yesterday (to the tune of $300!!!) and said it was all set with one being way out of balance.     Picked unit up and the vibration was the same as before!   Back today to begin to look at the driveline, I supplied them with all of the info that Shipper outlined.   We will see what they find today, to say the least,  the $300 charge will be discussed.  Why is nothing easy?   Ths.
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ragoodsp
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« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2014, 09:49:41 pm »

Update....Ford service dept. took the rig out on the highway and found the vehicle does in fact have a serious vibration.  On the lift they observed the off center driveline  and the sharp angle of the final shaft into the differential.  I have forwarded all of Skipper's research and exp. and Kermit's excellent input.  They have kept the vehicle to do some research themselves to see what their approach might be?  Nothing has been said as to who's responsibility the fix will be....will keep you posted.  Vehicle has 7000 miles on it.  Vibration does appear to be getting worse.  thanks
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2014, 07:46:22 pm »

Update....Got vehicle back from Ford dealer on Friday.  They moved some tires around on the back thinking they might be able to reduce vibration.  I really appreciated their efforts and they did not charge me for their efforts(I am still getting over what they charged me for the road force balancing!).
No real significant change I do not think they want to get into balancing the shafts but guess that is the route we must take.  Ths.
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2014, 05:16:21 pm »

Is the "drive shaft balance" problem seen  only on Ford frames that have been modified longer and shorter?  Or is the problem also seen on the stock 158" and 176" wheel base chassis.  If it's only noticed on stretched frames, then I would assume something goes wrong during that process.  I think the drive shafts are changed out, so it could be bad drive shafts.  I wonder if Ford supplies them, or maybe supplied by another company who does not have the same quality control as Ford.

For reference, here are the spec's (last revised Oct. 2003) on modifying the E350/E450 wheel base.  https://www.fleet.ford.com/truckbbas/non-html/Q18.pdf

ADDING:
On page 16, it states as follows which indicates the drive shaft is modified, not replaced.  Whoever is doing that isn't always getting it right.  I wonder what is stated under Bulletin Q-40.  I wonder if you could take the driveshaft in to a specialty shop and have it made right, or replaced with a "right" one.  I understand that drive shafts come off easy.  Tow truck drivers do it right in the middle of the street when they have to.

Driveline System Reassembly
DRIVESHAFT REQUIREMENTS
--- Proper driveshaft modification is necessary to maintain vehicle safety, reliability, and customer
satisfaction.
--- Driveshaft usage is determined based on the vehicles maximum speed, driveshaft length,
driveshaft diameter, and axle ratio.
--- For driveshaft modification, refer to Bulletin Q-14, Guidelines for Modifying Light Truck Drivelines
and Q-40, Econoline Driveline Angles.
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2014, 11:32:26 am »

The guy that balanced my driveline was not complimentary of the design citing 3 pieces when it should be 2 and the crazy offset and up/down angles.  I found numerous complaints in several RV forums about driveline vibration issues but the percentage of units with problems is small enough that manufacturers aren't taking notice.  Ford recognizes the problem and has issued a bulletin about maintaining certain angles in the extension process. 

This past weekend, we did a lot of driving off the interstate at slower speeds and I started to notice the vibration again.  It's much, much better than before the re-balancing, but some of it is still there.  If I was going to do it again, I'd pull the 2nd and 3rd shafts and go with a beefier 2 shaft (balanced) driveline assuming the price wasn't outrageous. 

My Ford dealer balanced my tires for free in their first attempt to fix my problem.  This was after I paid a tire store to balance them ($15/tire). $300 seems high.  Ford did a much better job than the tire store.  Once re-balanced, they declared the problem solved!  Not.  The tire store told me that balancing tires on a dual wheel axle requires balancing all 4 tires and then sometimes rotating the outer wheel to smooth out vibration and out of round issues.  I don't know if that is true.

The units as delivered from Ford work fine, but when you add that 3rd shaft any off balance situation that wouldn't be noticed in a non-extended van becomes magnified to the point of being an annoyance not to mention that the vibration is not at all good for the rear transmission and axle bearings and the u joints. 

If you go back to the Ford dealer, see if the service manager will take a ride with you and see if you can get him personally involved.  Meanwhile, I'd call a shop that specializes in driveshafts and ask what they will charge you to replace the 2nd/3rd shaft with a single 5" shaft and balance both pieces together.  I never got a price, but now wish I had. Mark
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2014, 11:56:22 am »

What models of Cruisers have the 3rd shaft. Is this just a problem of the 2900 and 3100 series or does it also effect the shorter units?
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2014, 12:39:01 pm »

What models of Cruisers have the 3rd shaft. Is this just a problem of the 2900 and 3100 series or does it also effect the shorter units?
All Ford E350/E450 Phoenix Cruisers with a 138", 158", or 176" wheel base would get an unmodified Ford chassis.  I recall the 2400 model starts with a 176" stock Ford wheel base and actually gets shortened.

I quickly gathered what data I had on-hand, unknown to me which ones get a 3rd drive shaft.  It seems the 29** models would have three for the distance from the trans to the rear differential is getting way out there.  I wonder how the chassis industry handles other large trucks, school buses and all.

Model - Wheel Base
2100 - 138"   (unmodified)
2350 - 158"   (unmodified)
2400 - 164"
2551 - 194"
2552 - 194"
2700 - 192"
2900 - 208"
2910 - 218"
2950 - 208"
3100 - 218"

Back in 2007 when selecting a 2350, I learned that meant getting an unmodified chassis of which I felt good about.  But honestly it would not have been a deal breaker one bit if our choicel required a wheel base adjustment.
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ragoodsp
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2014, 04:30:51 pm »

Update...Ford dealer would like to pull the shafts and send them to a truck dealership that has a shaft balancer.  The only issue is they do not have the capability to do all three together, that bothers me.  I have left a message for Kermit to get his input if doing them separately will solve the problem....I was quoted $450 for the balancing (on top of the road force at $300 and the first balance job at $60) the dollars are adding up with no garrantee! I would hate to throw the towel in and say "I can live with it".  Not sure why the end user (coach owners) should be picking the tab up here? NHWander....please know that any coach over 30 feet is going to have the extended driveline/frame extension.  The stock Ford wheel  bases would not have such extensions.  Thanks
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2014, 11:08:33 am »

Balancing them separately was a disaster for my 2552.  It was much worse using that method, almost undrivable. 

I would call around and see if you can find someone who can a) balance the entire driveline and b) do it cheaper.  I paid about 1/2 the amount quoted you.

I would call around and get pricing on replacing shaft 2 and 3 with a single shaft.

I would call William at Panhandle Driveline (850-983-6150) and get his 2 cents.  He's the guy that worked on my unit.  Holly and John on the forum here (2 Frazzled) took their vibration issue to him and he determined they didn't have a driveline vibration, rather a noise issue.

You are on the hook because once the warranty expires or the unit is sold, whichever comes first, any repairs are the responsibility of the owner.  The Ford warranty transfers, but this really isn't a Ford defect.  I did a lot of research and didn't find many people complaining about this so only a few rv's are coming off the line with a problem big enough to warrant a fix.  Here is an interesting article on the subject:  http://www.machineservice.com/technical-101/vibrational-issues/

Good luck and keep us updated.  Mark



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« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2014, 09:49:57 am »

Mark.....my unit is still under Ford 3/36 warranty but I know I will have a fight to get them to cover.  Still awaiting to get Kermit's input.  Your point is well taken in that there is no way the three shafts not balanced together could ever work.   will keep you posted.
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ragoodsp
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« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2014, 08:39:55 pm »

Kermit returned my call today and we had an informative conversation regarding the vibration.  His rule is if you can feel it in your butt it is driveline, in the wheel it is tire related.  His advise was that not balancing all of the shafts together would most likely be a waste.   A truck garage that specializes in suspension, driveline issues in Portland, Maine can balance all three together.  I think I will take the rig up there and leave it since they claim to have a super guy who just specializes with such issues.   Will keep you all poster.   thanks
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skipper
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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2014, 03:04:00 pm »

Sounds like a good plan.  You might want to nail down the cost before you go.
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