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Old 08-04-2014, 02:01 PM   #1
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Did I get Lucky?

I have a question...

I've read MANY of the F-53 chassis handling threads and have to wonder.. Did I get lucky... or have the problems been fixed?

I have a 2012 Itasca Sunstar 35F with the 26,000 lb chassis, a 228" wheel base and the 22.5" tires...

I just got back from a 2000 mile trip and I cannot say enough about how well my rig drives down the road.. Both the GF and I drive it and neither of us experienced any of the issues I have read about on this forum, with respect to handling...
  • Are my expectations lower than most.. I mean, when you break it down, we are technically driving trucks.. not cars with superior handling ?
  • Did I get a chassis that was assembled on Tuesday or Wednesday, not a Monday or Friday ?
What makes the difference in driving experiences from one RV to another.. we are all driving on the same chassis... I cannot believe Winnebago/Itasca has done anything much different from other manufacturers when assembling my RV..

So.. why is there such a disparity between driving experiences?
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Old 08-04-2014, 02:54 PM   #2
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Mine must have been assembled on that Tuesday or Wednesday also. The only thing I've done was get it weighed and correct tire pressure. I've been following the CHF posts and have to admitt I am tempted.
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Old 08-04-2014, 03:19 PM   #3
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Mine must have been assembled on that Tuesday or Wednesday also. The only thing I've done was get it weighed and correct tire pressure. I've been following the CHF posts and have to admitt I am tempted.
We have a similar combination (Adventurer 32H and 2004 Jeep Wrangler Sport). We haven't had any handling problems, and haven't done any modifications or "enhancements". Previously we had a 2001 Adventurer 32V and pulled the same toad. The only thing we did to that one was add a heavier rear sway bar. Had we realized the original Ford shocks were worn out at 20,000 miles we probably would have just replaced them and not added the sway bar.

As I mentioned in a similar thread I believe the handling problems are more due to the size and balance of the house installed on the chassis than the chassis itself. Most people who seem to have handling problems have longer coaches built on shorter wheelbase chassis.

I drove a friends older 37' Adventurer earlier this summer, and it was a whole different animal. It wallowed around corners, leaned at every turn in the road, and didn't like the wind at all.
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Old 08-04-2014, 04:34 PM   #4
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My coach is on a 99 chassis and it is 35'+ in length. Very rarely do I get moved around by semis passing me. It drives as I would expect a but RV like would drive. The front end is a little stiff but im hoping the 6 new Michelin tires I installed will help with that slightly. I may change the shocks as they are original. But the engine noise is rather acceptable and easily have conversations and listen to the radio and it doesn't corner like some of my sports cars I have had does but its not bad as long as you drive it as an RV.
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Old 08-04-2014, 05:05 PM   #5
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The apparent variations in coach handling do exist. I spoke to a guy in AL last year and was telling him about the CHF and he said his coach was just fine.

This is my take on it. Over the years there have been a lot of changes in the Ford specifically designed motor home chassis. Lets go back to the beginning. I don't know the exact dates nor the exact changes but this much I do know. When the F-53 chassis was first used as a MH platform it was built as a truck chassis. Probably some things were changed so it could be used in the the MH industry. That was sometime in the mid 90's. Exactly when is not really that important unless you are thinking of buying an older coach.

For many, many years Dodge (360 & 440 engines) was the main gas MH chassis but they dropped out of the MH market I think in the mid 80's and that opened it up to others. Over the ensuing years Ford realized the market and began changing things to make it a real MH chassis. Eventually it became an real honest to goodness MH chassis. For what ever the reason(s) Ford began making specific changes to make it a better MH chassis. The biggest changes came with the better transmission and 3 valve engine in the mid 2,000. Today they come stock with the big 3-valve engine, front track rods, front and rear sway bars with poly bushings and who knows what else has changed. The exact changes are not important but do recognize that they are not all the same beasts.

That's the first variable to a stock chassis. One can assume that two chassis built in 2004(or any year) for an 18,000 lb unit are the same but that's still no guarantee. There are model changes done to vehicles throughout the year. Suppliers come and go all year long so things will change.

Now we get into the build variables like the floor plans, locations of the heavy appliances, the amount of overhang etc, etc. There are to many variations to list. How many of these variables effect the handling is anybodies guess.

These are some of the reasons why one coach is a 10 (handling) and others are not.

If you are the happy owner of a really good driving/riding coach that's great. If your coach does not meet your expectations or in some cases (for what ever the reason(s)) is a complete white knuckle experience and you are afraid to drive it unless it's in a parking lot because the wind/trucks blow you all over the place then do make some improvements.

This I will tell you is a fact not an opinion. If you the new owner don't like the swaying and change to bigger sway bars (lots of $$$$) it will reduce the sway. Based on the laws of physics bigger diameter sway bars WILL reduce the sway. If your perform the CHF the laws of physics still prevail. Making a lever shorter requires more force to move a load the same distance. You will end up with the exact same results as changing to larger sway bars but for zero bucks.

Will your coach respond differently to the CHF fix???? We've already answered that question above. It really depends on the variables. If you do the CHF and don't think it's any better what did you lose except a little time?? Even if you feel little improvement the laws of physics still prevail and it will still reduce the sway.

Our coach is 30' 11" and it responded well to the CHF.

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Old 08-05-2014, 05:43 AM   #6
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I'm on my second F-53. I had a 2011 22K and now a 2014 24K. Never felt the need to do anything about the handling on either one. One handed driving down the road is never an issue.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:58 AM   #7
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Chassis is the only thing our new rig has that we are satisfied with. The myriad of little irritations like : failed slides, failed leveling jacks, failed (x2) HDMI Matrix, leak in shower, MCD windshield shade fell off....it goes on. Disappointed in Winnebago but....enjoying the F53 as is.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:46 AM   #8
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Oakcreekeric,

I don't think your expectations are to low. My 2008 had some slight issues when I got the unit new. A little TLC and common sense have my unit so I can drive one handed with little or no wanndering.

After reading and analyzing a lot of threads concerning handling issues. Here’s my opinion as to the process prior to undertaking the CHF, if you think it is needed. After making any adjustment set, drive the coach at least 20 miles to evaluate the effect. The changes effect should be judged against the coach’s baseline travel configuration (i.e., full fuel, full propane, fresh water, empty black and grey tanks, e.g.).

(1) Repair what is obviously broken, (2) conduct front end routine maintenance, (3) conduct a “four corner” weighing of the coach, (4) adjust the tire pressures according to manufacturer’s pressure vs load chart, (5) maintain the design gross axle weight ratio by redistributing “loose loads” where possible, (6) conduct a front end alignment, and (7) then implement the remainder of the CHF, as needed. Remember, what works for one coach may not work for another coach. JM2...
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:42 AM   #9
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There used to be a "rule of thumb" that said: "In order for a coach to handle properly in wind and weather the wheelbase must be at least 52% of the overall length of the coach".

I don't know if that rule still applies, but in our case the wheel base on the old coach was 52.6% of the overall length, and on the new one it's 57.1% of the overall length. In both cases we haven't had handling problems.

After reading teddyu's post I wonder how many with handling problems have had the coach weighed and aligned with all the items, including fuel water and propane in place just the same as when they travel?

In our case the weight of the personal items, gas, water and propane added a little over 2,000 lbs. to the overall weight.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
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In our case the weight of the personal items, gas, water and propane added a little over 2,000 lbs. to the overall weight.
Placement of that 2000lbs could be critical if the rear axle is loaded near capacity. The weighing results determine proper placement. It only makes sense to make adjustments to a set baseline. A 1/4 full fuel tank on my unit is 112 lbs; a full fuel tank is 450lb. This is behind the rear axle. I can carry 65 gal (541lb) and 94 gals in the grey and black tanks. This is over the rear axle. These weights are significant for my unit. Every bit of this weight is at or behind the rear axle affects the load exerted on the front end. CHF typically affects the steering/handling of the unit. It makes sense to baseline the unit so a valid assessmemt can be made for any changes. Otherwise you could be literally chasing your tail. JM2...
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