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Old 09-09-2012, 04:38 PM   #1
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Follow up on Alignment Issue

A couple weeks ago I asked for ideas or input on a steering problem I have experienced with my new (to me) 2006 Intrigue. Thank you for your suggestions on that. I also said, I would report back on that issue which is the purpose of this thread.
I mentioned the coach wandering from side to side, the tightness, the total concentration it takes to stay on track and how this is just not right. I had a laser light alignment done in Tucson a couple months ago, (shortly after buying it) and after driving to Portland I knew something was not right and I wanted a 2nd opinion. I made an appointment with CC in Junction City and had a very qualified Tech (Eric, who really seemed to know his stuff) test drive it. He agreed that it wandered and the gear box was to tight. He also looked at the recent print out sheet from Williams Detroit's alignment spec's and felt that he could tweak it a little to make improvements.

On the rack it went and he did loosen up the steering box 1/2 turn and that did make a difference in the response. Prior, if you moved the steering wheel 1/4", you could hear the directional valve open up as it instantly responded. That was to fast. He changed the toe in and camber by a fraction to suit his experience and opinion. We went on a 3 mile test ride on the county road up to about 45-50 mph. I was not impressed with the improvement. Some improvement? yes. But not what I had wanted or expected. He didn't know what else he could do better.

I drove 1500 miles back to Tucson and I was still moving that wheel back and forth constantly to much to keep it in line. I know there are folks who think it may be in my head or my lack of experience. But 35 years of driving semi trucks and 11' wide 150 ton cranes down the road, I know a little about keeping it straight and steady between 12' wide lanes and fast moving traffic on both sides of me.

The day after I got back from my trip, I was driving a 70-ton crane to Nogales and marveled at how easy it steered on I-19. I was even able to reach down and get food out of the lunch box while driving. Watch upcoming traffic in the mirror without myself running up on the rumble strip. I know what good steering is when I feel it.

The CC tires are near new. They have no wear. There is no shimy or vibration or bounce. They are trued and balanced. I have no slop in anything. The rears are tracking straight. Front to back it is tracking straight. I have had two reputable shops put forth their best work, yet this coach is not as easy to drive as was my 93 Am. Eagle that had a straight axle. This one with IFS is supposed to be the best??? I would not think the folks driving a Marathon, Prevost or Greyhound MCI are having this sort of steering issue.

My issue devise logic but if any of you who own an Intrigue, Magma, Affinity with IFS suspension have had issues that mirror mine, I would welcome your input. Or relate your experiences on your steering. Other coaches with Spartan, Freightliner, BlueBird, and even Monica all have different suspension designs and probably won't have the same corrections. Right now I am just running out of ideas what to try next.

I will write to CC and ask them for further ideas too. This problem could go back to construction for all I know. The original owner may have put up with it for 18K miles and then sold it for "health reasons". He claimed his wife was sick and they couldn't travel??? The truth is not always disclosed, especially through a broker. They just claim ignorance of anything beyond the color.

Whatever I find out, I will share. Thanks, Norbert
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Old 09-09-2012, 05:22 PM   #2
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Norbert, I am really sorry to hear of your steering issues. It does take some fun out of the experience. Years ago I bought a Itasca on a Chev p-30 chassis and proceeded to spend several thousand $$ to make it into a reasonable driving vehicle.

Of course none of this helps you but I was wondering if you have a steering stabilizer or have considered one. I have been reading about ones that have the electric trims to adjust for crosswinds and road crowns. I am thinking something along those lines could give you some help.

Joe
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:19 PM   #3
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Guessing p/s pump pressure or spool valve.... If alignment is within specs I'd check for high or low pressure first. If its ok, likely spool valve in steering gear. Basing this on car/pickup experience. I'd think the rigs work basically the same just on a larger scale...
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:48 PM   #4
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Guessing p/s pump pressure or spool valve.... If alignment is within specs I'd check for high or low pressure first. If its ok, likely spool valve in steering gear. Basing this on car/pickup experience. I'd think the rigs work basically the same just on a larger scale...
Thank you for that suggestion. I will follow up on that with my mechanic and cross check with others who might know what the pressures should be.

Joe, I have not tried a steering stabilizer, yet, but I agree that it can help in many situations. My feeling is that this coach should steer good on it's own system without adding an aftermarket product. I feel like the manufacturer turned out a product that needed no improvements, otherwise it would already be part of the system. But thank you for contributing your experience with steering stabilizers.
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Old 09-13-2012, 07:35 AM   #5
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I will send an email to a guy in Northwest Country Coachers. He had a very weird problem with his steering and someone in Washington (state) finally figured it out for him. I don't know if it is the same issue, but I'll find out exactly what it was and let you know. That is so frustrating. We have a new to us 2006 Intrigue, and the steering is pretty easy for DH.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:23 PM   #6
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I received a private e-mail from a mechanic who has experienced the same issues on Roadmaster Chassis. He had been underneath his numerous times and could not find anything loose. He ended up putting a 6' bar into the receiver hitch and had a friend push and pull sideways on the coach as he observed the all of the suspension and found the front and rear panhard/stabilizers bar bushings loose which created a lot of movement between the axles and the body. Just looking at these same bushings from underneath by pushing and pulling, they seemed good and tight. It was only after simulating the road travel that the wear and movement became obvious.

That was very creative on his part and I thank you for that good suggestion. Next week I will look into the hydraulic pressure suggestion and stabilizer bar bushings. I will report back what I find. Cheers.
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:24 PM   #7
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Hookum, here's the friend of ours with the weird alignment issues. It does sound something like yours. These are his words:

It took 9 months to get my 2007 Intrigue 530 fixed including several trips to the dealer, two trips to Freightliner and three months in CC Service in Junction City and they never were able to repair it. CC set up several laser targets with the help of their local alignment experts but couldn’t identify a problem on the rack. The problem showed up immediately when they drove it. They threw parts at it replacing almost every part in the front end to no avail.

The coach would pull in the direction of the last full left or right rotation of the steering wheel unless you jerked the wheel a bit in the opposite direction. Traveling down the road the coach, for no apparent reason, would suddenly pull severely right or left. You could never take your eyes off the road for a second. If you held the steering wheel as still as possible the coach would wander all over the place. The coach refused to track straight down the road. It wasn’t as noticeable below about 30 or 35 MPH but at highway speeds it was quite dangerous. Nothing they did helped.

I tried every Yahoo forum I could find, I talked to several RV dealer Service Departments and anyone else I could think of who might have an idea. Finally I was referred to Dynamic Diesel in Snohomish, WA, by a trucker I met at a truck stop in Oregon. I got my dealer to authorize them for an inspection and repair.

Here is the contact info for Dynamic Diesel:

Dynamic Diesel and Bear Alignment
9911 Airport Way
Snohomish, WA 98296

(360) 862-9009

This particular company is out in the country off of Highway 9 about 4 miles east of I-5. It sits across from and behind a private aviation airfield and looks a little like Sanford’s place on Sanford and Son! It took a leap of faith to leave the coach with them but I have since relied on them for alignments and oil changes.

I’m not sure that Dynamic Diesel is especially gifted in diagnosing this problem or if the real secret is getting the coach on a truck Bear Alignment rack with a good technician. They found the problem quickly but it took several weeks to get the replacement part manufactured. Apparently this part is seldom replaced, in fact it doesn’t even have a CC part number. The part had to first be cast and then machined.

Tell your friend that the problem on my coach would not show up with the coach on the alignment rack with the wheels on the frictionless turntables. The problem only showed up when the wheels were restricted from turning left or right. With the coach stopped on pavement with the engine running if you turned the wheels hard left then hard right you would hear the suspension “snap” and feel the coach jerk a little. Same thing would happen turning the other way. Not a good practice, I know, but it was telling for the Bear Alignment folks.

I don’t recall the name of the part that was defective but as I recall it was a short cast piece that connected to the frame of the coach and to the top of the steering assembly on the driver’s side. Between a full right and a full left turn of the wheels it only moves about a centimeter. If I recall correctly, it is the input to the steering system that offsets the turning radii of the front wheels to compensate for the different radius center of each wheel in a turn. My memory of looking at the piece is fading (as are many of my memories) but as I recall one end looked like a tie rod end, the other end a socket that fits over a ball of some sort. I don’t recall if the part was broken or was a factory defect but CC covered it under warranty.

My coach is a 2007 Intrigue 530 on a 2006 Dynamax Chassis with a 2006 Cat C-13 engine. The outside paint pattern is 2008 as is most of the interior trim (tile, carpet, faucets, etc). I was told by the factory that the front end on my coach is from the previous year Magna (not sure if that means from 2006 or 2005). Your friend may have to look at the 2006 Intrigue Dynamax chassis for most things but may find that the front end is detailed on the 2005 or 2006 Magna Dynamax chassis (the Intrigue and Magna chassis are almost the same). The difference is pretty easy to figure out because the older Intrigue chassis had a lower front axle GAWR (according to what they told me at the factory). My coach front axle GAWR is16,600 lbs.

Hope this helps!

Cathy Lamb
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:13 PM   #8
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John & Cathy Lamb,
Wow, a lot of interesting information. Thank you for following up on that and getting your friend to write such a detailed description. I appreciate everyone's interest and input.

My problem is definitely not as severe as what he described since mine is more of a gentle back and forth but it requires constant attention and correction at highway speeds. With all the information that I have gotten over the past week, I can share them with technicians and try to eliminate some of the potential areas. It is a process that takes time, others have worked on steering or ride issues on their coaches over months or years.

Sounds like yours is riding smooth and true. The way they should. I still find it hard to fathom that I am having this problem when the coach has such low miles. . It will take me a week or two to get the time to experiment with different tests. Hopefully I will find some improvements.
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Old 09-15-2012, 02:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Hookum View Post
A couple weeks ago I asked for ideas or input on a steering problem I have experienced with my new (to me) 2006 Intrigue. Thank you for your suggestions on that. I also said, I would report back on that issue which is the purpose of this thread.
I mentioned the coach wandering from side to side, the tightness, the total concentration it takes to stay on track and how this is just not right. I had a laser light alignment done in Tucson a couple months ago, (shortly after buying it) and after driving to Portland I knew something was not right and I wanted a 2nd opinion. I made an appointment with CC in Junction City and had a very qualified Tech (Eric, who really seemed to know his stuff) test drive it. He agreed that it wandered and the gear box was to tight. He also looked at the recent print out sheet from Williams Detroit's alignment spec's and felt that he could tweak it a little to make improvements.

On the rack it went and he did loosen up the steering box 1/2 turn and that did make a difference in the response. Prior, if you moved the steering wheel 1/4", you could hear the directional valve open up as it instantly responded. That was to fast. He changed the toe in and camber by a fraction to suit his experience and opinion. We went on a 3 mile test ride on the county road up to about 45-50 mph. I was not impressed with the improvement. Some improvement? yes. But not what I had wanted or expected. He didn't know what else he could do better.

I drove 1500 miles back to Tucson and I was still moving that wheel back and forth constantly to much to keep it in line. I know there are folks who think it may be in my head or my lack of experience. But 35 years of driving semi trucks and 11' wide 150 ton cranes down the road, I know a little about keeping it straight and steady between 12' wide lanes and fast moving traffic on both sides of me.

The day after I got back from my trip, I was driving a 70-ton crane to Nogales and marveled at how easy it steered on I-19. I was even able to reach down and get food out of the lunch box while driving. Watch upcoming traffic in the mirror without myself running up on the rumble strip. I know what good steering is when I feel it.

The CC tires are near new. They have no wear. There is no shimy or vibration or bounce. They are trued and balanced. I have no slop in anything. The rears are tracking straight. Front to back it is tracking straight. I have had two reputable shops put forth their best work, yet this coach is not as easy to drive as was my 93 Am. Eagle that had a straight axle. This one with IFS is supposed to be the best??? I would not think the folks driving a Marathon, Prevost or Greyhound MCI are having this sort of steering issue.

My issue devise logic but if any of you who own an Intrigue, Magma, Affinity with IFS suspension have had issues that mirror mine, I would welcome your input. Or relate your experiences on your steering. Other coaches with Spartan, Freightliner, BlueBird, and even Monica all have different suspension designs and probably won't have the same corrections. Right now I am just running out of ideas what to try next.

I will write to CC and ask them for further ideas too. This problem could go back to construction for all I know. The original owner may have put up with it for 18K miles and then sold it for "health reasons". He claimed his wife was sick and they couldn't travel??? The truth is not always disclosed, especially through a broker. They just claim ignorance of anything beyond the color.

Whatever I find out, I will share. Thanks, Norbert

You didn't mention tire pressure(s)? I know, I know, I know ... weigh the coach then set the pressures according to the charts ................. etc. But, I have found that all five of our coaches have reacted to tire pressure, some more than others. My current coach and the one before it both had Spartan tag chassis(s). My Tiffin had 275's all around and the current has 295's at the back and 305' on the front. I have read the literature regarding recommended pressures both in the manual and on the stickers affixed to my Coach ... I get it. However, I have found that, barring a mechanical defect or developing hardware problem (have you checked for all those?), and after having a four wheel alignment done ( I always do ), tire pressures come in third for most effect on driveability. I would not be the least bit afraid to try different pressures changed in 5 lb. increments to both front and rear. I would also recommend that swapping your left front tire to your right front corner and vice versa is a pretty simple way to check your alignment and rule out tire problems. You can do the same with the rears if you wish. I know I will get (violent?) protests over this and I do understand the safety factor, the same one I'm sure a huge crane operator / driver does too? But, again, you want to be able to enjoy driving the darn thing and I can tell you from experience that tire pressure made a considerable difference to the stability and, therefore, the safety of my Coach(s). Just an observation.
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:53 PM   #10
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Hookum - We have an affinity with IFS. If the wind is relatively calm the steering for our motor home is basically the same as in our Saturn Tow car. Meaning you do have to steer some to keep it between the lines, but pretty much the same as the car. When the wind kicks up the bus is harder to steer. Normally I zone out a bit when driving the Affinity. It goes very easily down the road. Initially when we got this motor home it was a lot bigger than the last one we had. So it took a while to get used to how big it was on the road.
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Old 09-15-2012, 10:32 PM   #11
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I would not be the least bit afraid to try different pressures changed in 5 lb. increments to both front and rear. I would also recommend that swapping your left front tire to your right front corner and vice versa is a pretty simple way to check your alignment and rule out tire problems. You can do the same with the rears if you wish. I know I will get (violent?) protests over this and I do understand the safety factor, the same one I'm sure a huge crane operator / driver does too? But, again, you want to be able to enjoy driving the darn thing and I can tell you from experience that tire pressure made a considerable difference to the stability and, therefore, the safety of my Coach(s). Just an observation.
But never go below the minimum pressure required for your weight. The tire companies got to great pains to give you correct loading info, but there are always those that seem to think they know better than those that design and test the tires.
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Old 09-16-2012, 10:17 PM   #12
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Hookum - We have an affinity with IFS. If the wind is relatively calm the steering for our motor home is basically the same as in our Saturn Tow car. Meaning you do have to steer some to keep it between the lines, but pretty much the same as the car. When the wind kicks up the bus is harder to steer. Normally I zone out a bit when driving the Affinity. It goes very easily down the road. Initially when we got this motor home it was a lot bigger than the last one we had. So it took a while to get used to how big it was on the road.

Yes, that is what I am talking about. "Zoning out"! I like to have that day dreaming on wide open stretches of road.. On a good day I used to be able to get up, run to the back, get that sandwich out of the fridge and be back in the seat before it drifted out of the lane. Of course that was only when the wife was driving!! Then I was back to coaching her.
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Old 09-16-2012, 11:44 PM   #13
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But never go below the minimum pressure required for your weight. The tire companies got to great pains to give you correct loading info, but there are always those that seem to think they know better than those that design and test the tires.
I am assuming that the OP knows enough, based on his personal experience and common sense, to not go below recommended pressures? After that pressure adjustments do make a difference and no one will dissuade me from that awareness. I don't "know better" than the folks who design the tires but, come to think of it, they only recommend the "safe" pressure ; there is no plaque anywhere in / on my Coach dealing with driveability? My whole post was intended to deal with an approach to altering the driveability of the vehicle, not the ability of the tires to support the load, that's just a given for me that you wouldn't go below the safe pressure.
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Old 09-17-2012, 03:06 PM   #14
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Hi highsticker here i had the same deal i coudnt stand driveing my coach i have a 40ft alpine 05 diesel pusher i bought best shocks you can buy ihave been driveing trk for45 yrs. And they are they clear mccoy they are are Road king shocks this will work
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