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Old 12-06-2011, 02:40 PM   #1
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SmartWheel Basics

I'm looking at two different 2001, 40' coaches from a distance so I can't touch and feel. Hoping I can hear from those with experience.

One has a SmartWheel, one does not. I have managed to search the forum and figure out what is on a SmartWheel. I'm looking to confirm if my conclusions from this information are valid:

1. I assume that all of the functionality that is on the SmartWheel is in the coach without it (cruise, high idle, etc). Yes? In other words, is the SmartWheel just an ergonomics benefit? Or, does it provide functionality that isn't there without it?

2. Seems like some have had issues with their SmartWheel. Strikes me that it might be a benefit to keep things simple and easy to fix in a 10 year-old coach. Thoughts?

Thanks!
Family Man
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:27 PM   #2
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Smart Wheel is probably better than the prior design in that obsolescence (I believe) has set in on the earlier design (parts availability). SW division is still in biz and (I believe) parts are available.
Don't think the earlier CC setup allowed for high idle.
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Old 12-06-2011, 03:45 PM   #3
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The advantages of the Smart Wheel are indeed mostly "Egronomic" however this can also be a safety factor.. Several functions are on the wheel. Cruise, being the biggie, but they can also put other functions there, I've seen radio controls on smart wheels in cars. Basically any button or switch you may need to push or toggle OFTEN, can be put on the wheel or the wheel arms so you need not remove a hand from the wheel to adjust.

That said.. It is also a whole lot more that can go wrong.
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:05 PM   #4
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I have had 3 coach's with the SW. Never had a problem and I like it. All of mine were on American Coach's and cruise control is on left and wipers were on right. Also a headlight flasher(thanks) and a clearance light flasher(thanks), these are for signaling the big trucks. Altogether 10 buttons + horn. Helps to keep the dash a little uncluttered. The buttons are also backlit.
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:16 PM   #5
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Is upgrading to a SmartWheel a player? Or, too complicated/too expensive/not compatable?
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Old 12-07-2011, 09:33 AM   #6
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I have fast idle on my cruise control (not Smart Wheel) so that shouldn't influence you.
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:06 PM   #7
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FM- I'm guessing there would be programming required that would be somewhat prohibitive, i.e. changing out the other controls to adapt in the SW would not be a pure drop-in solution. If you have all the functionality needed, sticking w/the OEM stuff is pretty straight forward.

It may, using momentary NC switches (and maybe coupla relays), be fairly simple to route headlight & marker lamp switches to a suitable location on the dash for informational signaling to trucks.
Algoma- do you have that feature now? Anybody w/a 2001 rig w/out SW?
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:11 PM   #8
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I asked Mike Cody at a Camp Freightliner session about upgrading to a Smart Wheel on my RV and he said it would take about $3000. I don't have any idea of how much for parts vs labor. I felt it out of my price range.
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:23 PM   #9
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Mike, I just have the usual high beam flash on my indicator stalk.
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Old 12-07-2011, 08:22 PM   #10
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Thanks for the replies. About what I expected.

I already have to deal with a non-ergonomic layout on a daily basis. Muscle memory is my friend.

While it would be nice, doesn't sound like a deal-breaker for me.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:58 PM   #11
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Love my Smart Wheel, nary a problem....
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Old 12-10-2011, 04:30 AM   #12
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I wouldn't deem it a deal breaker either...BUT some Alpine controls on some 2001's are on the left armrest? ...and a terrible location/angle. They are down and behind your left elbo...fast idle for insrtance, and miror controls..which is especially aggravating. You have to take yourt eyes off the road and look around and down to see them. Sucks really. It takes a while to learn operate the switches by braile....especially while driving on a rough road or bad weather day.

I love my coach...wouldn't trade it off for any other on the market, but a Smart Wheel would sure make the coach easier to manage. I have seriously considered alternate options for making the control panel more accessible.

2001 was the transition year for the smart wheel and the electric step cover...some had them..some didn't.
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:28 AM   #13
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I've got the "smartwheel" on my 01 and the only issue is that the buttons do not light up, so at night its tough to tell which one is which ! I think the later versions of the wheel got lighted buttons. All in all, I really like having the buttons on the wheel and its very convenient.

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Old 12-14-2011, 10:27 PM   #14
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The Smart Wheel and the brain may still be available on the 2003 (pre-Vansco) Alpine being parted-out in Kentucky. Give them a call.

http://en.visonerv.com/cgi-bin/md/M11428/s6.pl

Love mine!
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