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Author Topic: Suspension and handling  (Read 2907 times)
jdw
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« on: March 24, 2011, 02:51:47 pm »


We're in our 2350 right now.  The wind's up today and my wife (no I'm not driving and typing Smile ) is getting blown all over the road.

Based on the earlier feedback about leveling and stabilizing, I think for the time being doing some changes to the suspension would be a better overall use of money than leveling jacks. 

I've read quite a bit on here about what people have done (Hi Ron!) and if I understand right there are several things to look at:

1) Shocks.
2) Stabilizer Bars (Front & Rear)
3) Steering Stabilizer
4) Rear trac bar

The problem I'm findng is none of these are available for the 2011 chassis.  (Checked Roadmaster, Hellwig, Bilstein, etc.)  Most of them seem to be available only for models up until 2008 to 2010 depending on the part.

Does anybody know where these types of parts might be available for a 2011 chassis?

Also, is a "sway bar" the same as one of the above?  I'm a little out of my depth here.

Thanks!
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 04:42:59 pm »

Hi jdw,

A sway bar and stabilizer bar are one and the same.

BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING, first get a front wheel alignment, compliments of Ford.  Call Ford customer service for instruction.  When you go there, have a full tank of fresh water & fuel, all your gear, etc.  Try to simulate the weight as if leaving on a trip.  If you want to go the extra mile, add weight to simulate driver and passenger.  I threw in some weights from exercise equipment, set on the floor behind the two front seats.

About your 2011 chassis not having availability, I suspect the on-line information has not yet been updated to accomodate 2011 model years.  I advise to call Helwig and Roadmaster direct.  They may say to simply order 2010 parts.

I also advise to have both the rear sway bar and rear trac bar installed at the same time.  This because the installer will need to adjust the position of the sway bar to accomodate the trac bar.  You would not want anyone to mess with sway bar mounting hardware twice.

If your budget is very limited, start first with rear sway & trac bars.  That will address the worst of your handling troubles.  Immediately following would be a front sway bar.  If you still have issues, then do the shocks and steering stabilizer.

As you know we had everything done all at once which made a "MEGA" improvement in handling.  Our rig is a real joy to drive and ride in.  No more "Drunken Sailer".
« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 04:51:37 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

Ron Dittmer (wife Irene) 2007 Model 2350 Without A Slideout
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« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2011, 04:50:08 pm »

http://www.brazelsrv.com/

These are great people to deal with. Just purchased a Rear Trac-Bar and very pleased. Told them my rig was a 2011 and he check, recommended the trac-bar, I put it on and works great.


1) Shocks.
Shock absorbers are just that, as you your rig moves up and down the shocks help it from being a yoyo. Absorbs the bounce

2) Stabilizer Bars (Front & Rear)
Both front and rear are too small. After market is much larger (in diameter) helping keep your rig from side to side motion.

3) Steering Stabilizer
On the front, big & costly shock. Helps when hitting ruts, off the shoulder, quick movements of the rig. Not being a smart ass, but its a steering stabilizer. Usually mounts on a solid part of the frame and then to the front steering suspension.


4) Rear trac bar
Also the trac-bar mounts to the rear housing and then to the frame. When a big truck passes you, you do not have that rear side-to-side movement. It does not affect the up and down movement.

I hope this helps, I know Ive probably forgot something. billy
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 04:58:49 pm »

Great run-down there Billy.

Just to add, the stock Ford chassis comes from Ford with everything except for a rear trac bar.  As you mentioned, it has (of coarse) shocks..... and front & rear sway bars.  But the chassis also has a steering stabilizer.  The problem is that none are enough for such a heavily loaded chassis, a house on wheels.

The front steering stabilizer and sway bar is the same installed on an E150 van.  The 4 shocks are the same used in an E250 van.  All very inadequate for a motor home application.
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jdw
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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 05:04:51 pm »

I don't mind calling Bilstein and Hellwig.  Due to the towing nightmare (still not resolved), Roadmaster is on my (censored) list.  

I would like to do as much of it as possible at once as I can, and the more it also helps with "coach wobble" when moving around the inside while camping, the happier I am to spend money on it. :-)

(Even with the HWH leveling jacks I think my biggest objection turned out not to be the cost, but the gigantic control box they propose to leave flopping around the inside of the unit.)

On the Bilstein shocks, does anyone have any feedback on their "heavy duty" shock versus their "comfort" shock?

I do wish there was a local expert on these sorts of things that I could trust to just order and install everything.  But, there's not.  So I muddle through.  Being in Central Florida, getting weighty metal* stuff from Washington state has already proved to be a big hassle, (thanks again, Roadmaster) so that probably rules out Billy's suggestion.

On the alignment, that sounds like a good idea.  When you say "Call Ford customer service" do you mean the local Ford dealer service department?

Thanks!

*I originally wrote "heavy metal" but I figured it would confuse people into wondering how the Seattle music scene fits into my problems.
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bobander
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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 05:09:17 pm »

jdw,

My experience is with our 2010 2551 which is on the E450 chassis instead of the E350 on your 2350 model.

An alignment and lower front tire pressure (70 vs 75) significantly helped the steering to feel more positive.

I installed Roadmaster sway bars front and rear and just returned from a 2500 mile trip.  Huge improvement in handling in wind and passing trucks.  Also no more pitching side to side going into driveways and more stable in camp.

It handles well enough now that my wife is very comfortable driving it.  However, being burdened with analism, I still feel some "tail wagging the dog" when towing the Jeep and have purchased a Blue Ox rear track bar.  I will install it soon and see how it does on a trip in May.

Based on the way it handles now, I don't plan to upgrade shocks or steering stabilizer.

Good luck, Bob

Bob
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2011, 05:35:21 pm »

On the Bilstein shocks, does anyone have any feedback on their "heavy duty" shock versus their "comfort" shock?
When you say "Call Ford customer service" do you mean the local Ford dealer service department?
As everyone on RV.net says, get the "Heavy Duty", not the "Comfort".  Even considering the weight of a lighter E350 as compared to a heavier E450, the heavy duty versions are still the best for your application.  I have Koni-RV adjustable shocks, and they are set to the stiffest setting.  They do their job well without making the ride any rougher than my wimpy original Ford shocks.

About contacting Ford, if you cannot find the number in your owner's manual, then contact your local Ford service department and they will get you the number to call.
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jdw
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« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2011, 05:47:44 pm »

About contacting Ford, if you cannot find the number in your owner's manual, then contact your local Ford service department and they will get you the number to call.

When I get them, what do I tell/ask them? I guess I don't understand why I'd call customer service at the home office rather than somebody local who can actually do the alignment.  Is there a "free alignment recall" or something?

I can tell I'm being dense here.  Probably missing the obvious.  Sorry.
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« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2011, 06:41:54 pm »

I don't know why anyone would want to put sway bars on a PC, they sway far to much already. I would suggest you put anti-sway bars on.  LOL
I had my 2350 built on the E450 to get the heavier suspension and still needed to upgrade the shocks to Bilstein HD shocks. I ordered them on eshocks.com, best price I could find. I have ordered the roadmaster rear anti-sway bar and will have it installed on April 1st. I prefer to do one thing at a time and see what effect it has on the handling and ride. This way I can stop when I feel everything is to my liken. The Blue Ox site has a nice writeup about handling.
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billy
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« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2011, 08:29:06 pm »

I had a Road master? I think on the Hurricane we traded. I removed it and still have it. IT'S A BIG ONE! Needed my wife and two small children to lift it  rolling on the floor  I'm trying to install it on the Cruiser. Bob, we got every thing loaded and aired up the tires and the front is a little "loose" think I'll lower the front tires and call about that FREE align.
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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2011, 09:47:32 am »

I have the same "light" front end  feeling on my 2010 E-450 2551 that everyone is speaking about.  I just took it in for and alignment at a heavy duty truck center and it was off some but not as much as I would have expected.  The improvement is very small if any.  I went (called) to 6 different Ford dealership in my area (50 mile radius) 3 of which were certified Ford heavy duty truck dealers and none of them would do a front end alignment on the coach.   I did lodge a complaint with Ford as to the difficulty I was having before I took the coach to the non-Ford truck shop and paid the $125 out of my pocket.  Subsequent calls to Ford headquarters proved very interesting.  Front end alignments are NOT done free or under warranty period.   The cut away chassis's come out of the factory in Ohio and go direclty to the coach builders.  Because the factory does 
not know  what kind of coach will be placed on the chassis and what the weight distribution will be it would be impossible for them to alighn the front ends properly.   It is the responsibility of the coach builder to have the chassis alighned after all fabrication work has be done and before the coach is delivered to the customer. I do not know if PC does this or not but I can guess?   Out of Ford's "customer good will" budget my $125 bill is being covered becasue of the problems I had dealing with the multiple dealers, not because the front end was out  This explanation came from the Ford Motor Home Customer Service manager.
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2011, 11:16:07 am »

Very interesting.  I was told Ford covers that initial alignment, which is contradictory to your experience.

Four years ao I piad $170 for my front wheel alignment, this done before I heard Ford "supposedly" covers it.  Mine was more costly than most because of the extra labor and parts involved to replace center-set bushings with off-set bushings to adjust for an extreme camber condition.  I would assume that condition is because the front is much lighter than normal.  I do have my fresh water tank in the very back of my 2350.  That 400 pounds alone, would lighten up the front by that amount.  Then adding 55 gallons of fuel and all the rest behind the rear axle, and there goes my front camber to the extreme.
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2011, 11:40:29 am »

Ron and others.....Only one of the 6 Ford dealers said they would even attempt to put the front end work thru on warranty and they "thought" we "might" have a chance because the steerring wheel was not straignt across when the front wheels were straight.  Not sure how this warranty work all works but it might be how the work gets coded as to how they get paid (or not paid) for the work!  Again, atleast on the day I called Ford the manager was very firm that they did not cover any front end work on motor homes that was the manfacturers responsibility.  I am sure the manfacturers have another opinion!
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billy
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2011, 12:27:23 pm »

The steering wheel being straight has nothing to do with the alignment. When we aligned cars or trucks we centered the wheel as a courtesy.  That was easily done when setting the toe. Also a dealer can ALWAYS find something wrong with ANY car/truck to warranty the work. We did all kinds of work free. Alignments were easy, I would write on the work order, test-drive and found car/truck pulled to the right, necessary to align.
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2011, 01:26:08 pm »

Billy:

I think you have put the pieces together; the wheel issue was stated with a "wink of the eye", as they are my local dealer and always treat me very well. You are right, the wheel has nothing to do with the alighment...but
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