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Old 09-23-2017, 07:42 AM   #2409
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Wandering, sway bars, alignment, ride height, oh my!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanwill View Post
As you might have realized by now, I am not a great fan of spending $300+ on alignments that usually do nothing but correct toe-in, WITH ONE EXCEPTION. If you had insufficient toe-in, or worse yet toe-OUT, correcting that will help your wandering SOMEWHAT. It will not help it as much as correcting the REAL problem, which is the wobbling sub-assembly (H-frame) to which both your front and rear axles are attached.



Similarly, if your caster is insufficient, it will contribute to an "instability" in your steering. Without SOME amount of positive caster, your steering wheel has no tendency to come back to center after you have made a turn. Similarly, insufficient caster will cause less of a tendency to "stay centered" while driving down a smooth, straight highway.



I have no scientific evidence to support this OPINION, but I suspect that increasing your caster from 3.5* to 6.0* will have little beneficial effect. Increasing positive caster increases the "centering" effect, but going overboard in that direction introduces a "mushiness" and unresponsive feel to your steering.



Yes, there are wedges that can be inserted to increase caster. But I am sure you would find that stabilizing your front and rear H-frames would have FAR greater effect.



The more coaches I "cure" the more I am convinced that the two greatest "sacred cows" in the Monaco world are "alignment" and "shocks". Alignment has a 5% chance of improving the tracking stability. Replacing shocks, no matter the brand or the cost, has ZERO chance of improving tracking stability.



To have a coach that can be steered with two fingers even in vicious, gusting crosswinds, and when being passed by tractor-trailers requires (95 times out of 100) only two things--1) Tight steering components (to include adjusting your TRW or replacing your Sheppard) and 2) Stabilizing your H-frames.


Agree with what your saying Van for sure. The basic mechanics of the chassis need to be addressed.
As I learned from the two service techs at Kaiser who use to do the alignments for Monaco and now Marathon. Toe really is important: getting this right, will reduce friction on front wheels and rear if the rear is not correctly aligned.
My coach was toe in to much.
My tires would go in pressure over 18-20lbs. That’s one aspect. Now correctly aligned. The return trip home. They grew only 10-15 pounds, and much better pressure.
One of the other checks they performed: check the adjustment of TRW box. Ours was very close, inspected every component to chassis, bushings etc. They liked the watts link.
They did test drive my coach before hand, forgot to mention that. It was on a new section of highway, then a crowned roadway, then a left banked and right banked roadway.
They explained “lead in castor” , I understand this from race car days.
They perform this on most buses too.
My castor was straight up I think around +2.5, I would need to pull my tech sheet. They ended up splitting it: left 4.5 and right 6.25.
Then we test drive again: what a difference. A true 1 finger effort, it really helped with road crown issues. Coach didn’t want to track to right.
My two cents.
I think we should know were your coach is at first. Coaches are not the same coming off the line.
Van I’ll pm you my alignment sheet when find it.
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Old 09-23-2017, 08:04 AM   #2410
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanwill View Post
As you might have realized by now, I am not a great fan of spending $300+ on alignments that usually do nothing but correct toe-in, WITH ONE EXCEPTION. If you had insufficient toe-in, or worse yet toe-OUT, correcting that will help your wandering SOMEWHAT. It will not help it as much as correcting the REAL problem, which is the wobbling sub-assembly (H-frame) to which both your front and rear axles are attached.



Similarly, if your caster is insufficient, it will contribute to an "instability" in your steering. Without SOME amount of positive caster, your steering wheel has no tendency to come back to center after you have made a turn. Similarly, insufficient caster will cause less of a tendency to "stay centered" while driving down a smooth, straight highway.



I have no scientific evidence to support this OPINION, but I suspect that increasing your caster from 3.5* to 6.0* will have little beneficial effect. Increasing positive caster increases the "centering" effect, but going overboard in that direction introduces a "mushiness" and unresponsive feel to your steering.



Yes, there are wedges that can be inserted to increase caster. But I am sure you would find that stabilizing your front and rear H-frames would have FAR greater effect.



The more coaches I "cure" the more I am convinced that the two greatest "sacred cows" in the Monaco world are "alignment" and "shocks". Alignment has a 5% chance of improving the tracking stability. Replacing shocks, no matter the brand or the cost, has ZERO chance of improving tracking stability.



To have a coach that can be steered with two fingers even in vicious, gusting crosswinds, and when being passed by tractor-trailers requires (95 times out of 100) only two things--1) Tight steering components (to include adjusting your TRW or replacing your Sheppard) and 2) Stabilizing your H-frames.


Listen to Van. I've learned and understood more about the construction & geometry of these Monaco 8 & 10 airbag coaches by reading this thread than all other, mostly misinformation, that came before. The really positive thing about these H frame suspensions is how rugged the design is and why chasing an alignment solution is totally unnecessary. As Van has said many times, toe is the only real adjustment with this solid axle suspension. In the 11 years I have owned my coach, I have only had one alignment. When I replaced my steer tires 2 years after I bought the coach, I had the TCI Michelin dealer do a chassis alignment. This was prior to the FMCA or MI pricing programs. I had developed a relationship with the manager of that TCI location & he gave me good pricing & advise when the alignment was done. I turned out that my toe was a good bit out of spec. The tech explained about the axle wedge system that is used to change the caster of these solid axles. I suspect that the shop that did yours just didn't have the correct size to get your caster within spec as that is really the only practical way to change the caster angle. My guy didn't either but offered to get them for me if I wanted. Mine was just under the range of the spec. I decided to drive it first & just getting to toe into spec was all I needed. I would like to go to Josam at some point to get my coach on their shaker table.

The solutions contained in this thread is the only effective way to cure the one weakness of this suspension design.
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Old 09-23-2017, 03:31 PM   #2411
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If I look in my scrap metal pile I can send you some wedges. I removed mine last year as well as the Safe-T-Plus.

Mine still tries to S turn a bit but I have not bit the bullet on the rear Watts yet. Mine has always pulled to the right too.

Hurricane cleanup has put me behind in time and projects. Man that thing did some incredible things. Who would think 6x6 pilings could be pulled out of the ground and tossed like tooth picks.
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Old 09-24-2017, 03:39 AM   #2412
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Wow, there is an incredible amount of information in this thread and I appreciate all of the input.
I am thinking I want to get the caster into spec first so I know I have done everything I can as a stock suspension and then pursue the modifications. Does anyone have a source for the wedges? The shop was willing to add them but as stated above, I suspect they did not have ones for this suspension.
The tech thought he would like to have 2.5 degree wedges if they are available. I am wondering if I should pursue different sizes so they can adjust for road crown.
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Old 09-24-2017, 11:55 AM   #2413
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wondering why you removed your safe t plus? I installed front and rear watts and thought about the steering stabilizer.
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Old 09-25-2017, 06:20 PM   #2414
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Quote:
Originally Posted by islandboy54 View Post
The tech thought he would like to have 2.5 degree wedges if they are available. I am wondering if I should pursue different sizes so they can adjust for road crown.
Caster provides directional stability by moving the front axle centerline. Its not really gonna help with crown much. Toe-in can give a little help for drift from crown.
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Old 10-06-2017, 03:12 PM   #2415
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Rear Watts

Did my first rear watts on a jack leveling Diplomat Tag today.

He already had the front watts and was pretty happy with the improvement so he wanted the rear as well.

We'll have to wait for feedback to see if he notices any reduced wandering.

Funny, I had always been under the impression that tag coaches didn't have wandering issues.

Attached is a picture of the coach and installation.
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Old 10-06-2017, 07:02 PM   #2416
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Should be as solid as the Union Pacific coming down the tracks.
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Old 10-07-2017, 06:26 AM   #2417
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That should tighten up Ole Slinky Dog. I just decided to use that term to describe how these things go down the road without the mods.
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Old 10-07-2017, 11:07 AM   #2418
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what would help with crosswinds? the f&r watts helped greatly! but crosswinds are a bear coming across west texas, nm and Arizona.
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:48 PM   #2419
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Not any better in Ohio and Indiana on I70 in heavy crosswinds. Was fantastic yesterday

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Old 10-08-2017, 06:26 AM   #2420
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what would help with crosswinds? the f&r watts helped greatly! but crosswinds are a bear coming across west texas, nm and Arizona.
Some things are just physics and there is nothing that will completely eliminate the effect. Because the cross sectional area of a motorhome is so large a strong crosswind is going to push you no matter what mods you have. Heavy vehicles seem to fair better but when the wind is extremely strong you will even see 18 wheelers pull off for a break.

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Old 10-08-2017, 10:55 PM   #2421
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Ya can't overcome physics...

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Some things are just physics and there is nothing that will completely eliminate the effect. Because the cross sectional area of a motorhome is so large a strong crosswind is going to push you no matter what mods you have. Heavy vehicles seem to fair better but when the wind is extremely strong you will even see 18 wheelers pull off for a break.

Bob
Bob nailed it. The F&R Watts links will stop the wind from STEERING your vehicle, but NOTHING can stop you from feeling the sideways push. Those coaches without Watts links, have to make significant steering corrections (and RE-corrections), to stay in their lane. WITH a Watts link, you make no correction or a very small one, but NOTHING can prevent you from FEELING the wind push. Our group traveling to AK experienced 45 MPH GUSTS, according to the NWS (National Weather Service). There were white caps on the "frog ponds" along the highway. But none of us was ever "white-knuckled" or weary from making constant corrections.

As Bob noted, even tractor-trailers sometimes pull over when they are tired from fighting the gusting winds.
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Old 10-09-2017, 08:12 AM   #2422
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Quote:
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Bob nailed it. The F&R Watts links will stop the wind from STEERING your vehicle, but NOTHING can stop you from feeling the sideways push. Those coaches without Watts links, have to make significant steering corrections (and RE-corrections), to stay in their lane. WITH a Watts link, you make no correction or a very small one, but NOTHING can prevent you from FEELING the wind push. Our group traveling to AK experienced 45 MPH GUSTS, according to the NWS (National Weather Service). There were white caps on the "frog ponds" along the highway. But none of us was ever "white-knuckled" or weary from making constant corrections.



As Bob noted, even tractor-trailers sometimes pull over when they are tired from fighting the gusting winds.


Bob & Van are exactly right. The first drive I took after my front Watts was installed was very revealing. I drove the Pigeon River Gorge on I40 at the TN/NC state line on a day when a weather front was passing through. Strong wind gusts.

The challenging road course showed the strength of the Watts link. The strong, gusty wind conditions showed me something that I didn’t expect. I could feel the wind strongly impact the side of the coach and due to years of driving this coach, my instinct was to anticipate and correct. I had to actively fight the urge to correct for the wind push because there was no steering component to the wind impact. By the time I got home, I had learned to relax & not attempt these unnecessary steering corrections.

With Van’s help, I just installed a pair of cross bars in the rear. My first drive with be right back out the Pigeon River Gorge. It will be a revealing drive. The conventional wisdom has been that the bracing effect of the tag axle makes these mods unnecessary. Van has come to believe that the “squirming” of the H frame/axle assembly around the single bracing point provided by the Panhard rod is really much smaller than he first believed. I think he is absolutely correct & these small excursions can’t be controlled by the effect of the tag Axle. I think the elimination of these small H frame movements completely correct the design flaw in these suspensions and turns these coaches into some of the best handling in the industry.
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