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Old 08-12-2019, 12:09 PM   #1
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F53 18000lb track bar install disappointment

We roll in a 2019 Itasca 31BE on the 2018lb F53 chassis. 3300 miles on the chassis so no wear on any parts. like new condition.

love the coach and power train.
I am used to the F53 hard ride as we have owned a 20,500 lb unit for 15 years. This newer model is actually much better riding.

The 32' length of this one with an 8' rear overhang creates a wandering front end for sure.

I added a SS400 track bar last week with the hope of making a big improvement in the wander. No such luck. I would say 30% improvement. Still feels like the overhang creates tread squirm or radial tire flex side to side on the steer axle on the freeway. Correction is always required.

My overhang to chassis ratio is 54 which is acceptable but far from excellent on the math side.

I am waiting a few weeks for an alignment with the SUMO spring install (saving money).

I don't think toe or castor angels are a problem on this coach. In a former career I was an alignment tech. I have done a couple thousand alignments, I have a good feel for that type of thing. of course it may help, but think the contribution will be very minor at best. I will post before and after numbers to confirm.

My question is:
Anyone have experience on the wander improvement provided by the Safe-t-plus steering stabilizer on these modern short wheelbase coaches?
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Old 08-12-2019, 02:58 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickd View Post
We roll in a 2019 Itasca 31BE on the 2018lb F53 chassis. 3300 miles on the chassis so no wear on any parts. like new condition.

love the coach and power train.
I am used to the F53 hard ride as we have owned a 20,500 lb unit for 15 years. This newer model is actually much better riding.

The 32' length of this one with an 8' rear overhang creates a wandering front end for sure.

I added a SS400 track bar last week with the hope of making a big improvement in the wander. No such luck. I would say 30% improvement. Still feels like the overhang creates tread squirm or radial tire flex side to side on the steer axle on the freeway. Correction is always required.

My overhang to chassis ratio is 54 which is acceptable but far from excellent on the math side.

I am waiting a few weeks for an alignment with the SUMO spring install (saving money).

I don't think toe or castor angels are a problem on this coach. In a former career I was an alignment tech. I have done a couple thousand alignments, I have a good feel for that type of thing. of course it may help, but think the contribution will be very minor at best. I will post before and after numbers to confirm.

My question is:
Anyone have experience on the wander improvement provided by the Safe-t-plus steering stabilizer on these modern short wheelbase coaches?

We drive a 2006 F53 chassis on a 32 foot Fleetwood Terra LX. It is a 20500 lb chassis.

We put on a rear Ultra track, Koni shocks and a Safe T Plus. Along with doing the CHF both front and rear with new sway bar bushings. I can tell you that all being done made a HUGE difference in driving. We had done the CHF last Fall. It helped cornering and a bit with being steered by the rear end (maybe 20% help). But the rest made driving nice and easy. I no longer feel like I am over steering as I was before the track bar and the Safe T Plus added was installed. The Koni Shocks help also, but more so on the ride comfort than the steering. I can now let go of the wheel while driving on a straight section of the road and the rig steers straight. It did NOT do this before the track bar and Safe T Plus were installed.

Honestly, I have no idea how these manufactures get away with not adding these to the F53 chassis BEFORE they sell them.
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Old 08-12-2019, 03:29 PM   #3
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Rear track is typically a large improvement.

The safetyplus steering stabilizer is very well reviewed. I had one one on a previous F53 and current Freightliner XC.

The CHF is priced tight and impactful.

Koni shocks offer primarily a ride improvement.

Of course, all the usual stuff must be right. Tire pressure, alignment, etc.
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Old 08-12-2019, 03:50 PM   #4
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I have a 31BE, I did a trackbar first, CHF second, tow adjustment third, and finally a Safe-T-Plus. They all improved the ride incrementally and I would say equally. It still wanders and "flexes" compared to a car but nothing like when I first got it.

CHF and toe adjustment are a must and perhaps caster. Ford toe specs actually allow slightly toed out and mine was from the factory, I max toed in and would probably go a little further to 1/8" toe in if I did it again.

The trackbar seemed to help more with my Jeep in tow than without but still a good upgrade.

Safe-T-Plus really tightens the feel of the wheel and is real nice so long as your not in a constant side wind, then your fighting the wind and the safe-t-plus some holding the wheel off to one side. Over all it was a good upgrade, but took a few tries to get centered.

Not a fan of Sumo's, sway-bars are my preferred solution, but they will reduce sway by adding spring rate.

I need to get my axles weighed I keep thinking the 31BE might be light in the front and some ballast weight could help, maybe some steel on the front bumper.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:52 PM   #5
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Thanks all for the feedback,
Jharell, I'm thinking the Safe-T-Plus and alignment will be the next upgrade and I will ask for at least 1/8" positive toe from the tech.

I also share your concern for increasing spring rate as the bread truck ride is not loved by anyone. The sway reduction is a plus with the SUMO's and better bottoming response on the bigger hits should also be a benefit. Still on the fence on value versus improvement of the SUMO's. Dealer swears by them, but he is biased by profit.

One of my thoughts on the SUMO's is that they add a bit of ride height. Return to "mid-laden" suspension position should help handling and road manners. Most vehicle suspensions are designed (and optimally aligned) to ride in the mid-laden position. As the 31BE is pretty much maxed out when on the road loaded with people, food, water etc. I'm thinking poor suspension angles from load, short chassis and the light front end are big hurdles.

Can't add length to the chassis.
Figuring workarounds on the other two.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:57 PM   #6
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There is 3 1/2" of travel to beginning of stock bump stop which is 3" thick. I am not sure I have ever bottomed out to bump stop. Sumos will be stiffer the whole way rather than a larger hit on bump stop, so if your regularly bottoming out yes the Sumos will help, but like I said pretty sure I never have bottomed out, if I have its must be pretty rare.

There is also 3 1/2" down travel until tires lift off ground with jacks. So the front suspension is riding right in the middle of 7" of total travel stock.

Sumos will help sway, but sway bars are designed for it, they only add spring rate on articulation not all the time like a helper spring. So I say do the CHF first, its huge and free, if you still need more sway control, thicker sway bars or Sumos or air bags.

Oh I keep my tire pressure at 90 psi instead of 82 on sticker or the 110 it had from dealer, pretty sure a lot of flex is side wall flex and higher pressure reduces it but the you get harsher ride so its trade off, like most suspension mods.

The 31BE is actually better than most with a 208" wheelbase vs 190" on most equivalents. Pretty happy with mine after all the mods, just got back from 5000 mile out west trip towing Jeep through the mountains and was very happy much improved over nearly same trip 3 years ago before most of the mods.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:29 AM   #7
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I did the CHF and track bar together, big improvement. Added 2* positive caster, huge improvement. The Ford hotline said no problem and the truck shop that did it agreed. That was over 25k miles ago and no problems since.

Then added Safety Steer and both DW and I did not like the pushback we felt from it. May well have been a conflict with the added caster I can’t say, not blaming Safety Steer, they were most accommodating but I took it off and we are both happy now and the tail wag and wander are gone. We have the 26000 chassis.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:59 AM   #8
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I have a 2018 32YE so a very similar platform. The Safe-T-Plus made a big difference in how the steering felt on my unit. Prior to the Safe-T-Plus, steering changes felt like suggestions rather than commands. By the time a change in the steering wheel was reflected in the direction of the RV, I was already trying to add correction. This resulted in oversteering. With the Safe-T-Plus, the steering felt more responsive however the front end of the RV still felt like it was "floating" at highway speeds. I then had a front end alignment which increased caster and the RV now tracks straight down the road and wants to naturally return to that track after going around a curve.

I also prefer sway bar improvements to address sway over the Sumo Springs. I have a secondary roadmaster sway bar on the rear and the CHF using Tejay's plates set to CHF+1 on the front. My RV drives pretty well now with just a hint of tail wag under certain conditions. For reference, my rv's body to chassis ratio is 53.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:36 PM   #9
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"I don't think toe or castor angels are a problem on this coach."

Get out your tape measure and a couple straight pins and check that toe in.
Setting the toe in to maximum positive is the best thing you can do for handling on an "I" beam. And it's free.
All that's been done to my 33' Bounder is premium tires, added a front panhard bar and set the toe in. I run with 13' of rear overhang with no problem. Your 8' should present no handling issues.
I still work part time in the front end business, doing custom work and alignments.
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Old 08-14-2019, 08:39 AM   #10
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2018 Hurricane, 18k chassis, 190" WB. Started with alignment and steer stabilizer, air at 95#. Then added track bar. Finally at 7K miles, simultaneously did Sumos all around, replaced junk OEM shocks with Bilstein "RV" shocks, replaced steel wheels with alloys, and installed Centramatics balancers (had to remove valve extenders) Coach handles great. A lot of $ but cheaper than buying a DP. You should consider doing the shocks with the Sumos. I think you will be pleased with the change.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:23 AM   #11
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30% improvement IS a huge improvement.
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Old 08-16-2019, 05:04 PM   #12
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2018 Hurricane, 18k chassis, 190" WB. replaced junk OEM shocks with Bilstein "RV" shocks, replaced steel wheels with alloys, You should consider doing the shocks with the Sumos.
Thanks for the info.

The Bilstein's are on my to do list, just down a couple of items. I still need to research the part numbers. They have made a couple different models. In some models the valving is a bit stiff. I think 4600 Heavy Duty (B6) is the right model for a plush ride, but not too sure. The jury seems mixed on the Koni's ride quality and they are twice as much money.

I would love to know where you bought 6.75 x 19.5 x 10 bolt alloy wheels? I want to reduce the un-sprung weight and the stock steel 19.5" Ford wheels are famous for run-out and being heavy. I would think Alloy wheels are making a contribution to your comfortable ride.
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Old 08-17-2019, 05:25 AM   #13
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Only place I found is buytruckwheels. Cost 1800 last year. The rims are imported if that matters. They are also not clear coated, which requires occasional polishing. If you want to use the center caps on the rear wheels you will also need to remove the valve extenders and buy a Borg dually long stem valve kit, about 150. Tire shop charges will vary. The wheels weigh half that of the steel and are straight and true. Not a cheap conversion but worth it in my case.
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Old 08-21-2019, 12:08 PM   #14
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Have you weighed your MH? Rigs with short WB and long overhangs are very sensitive to how they are loaded. It's possible that there is too much weight in the overhang area that actually acts as a cantilever on your front axle. Perhaps just moving heavier items foreword could help alleviate your problem. These suspensions work best when loaded to mid-point loading on the leaf springs. In other words it's possible you could be too light and would benefit from having full fuel,freshwater and propane tanks. All of this can be determined with an $11.00US scale weight from your local truck stop. A four corner weighing available at RV rallies is the preferred method but not always convenient.
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