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Old 08-17-2019, 08:37 AM   #1
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Would New/Better Shocks Help?

I am not very mechanical so please bear with me and if you answer put it into RV for Dummy terms. Our F53 has been pretty darn good since new. We don't object to most aspects of the ride. Haven't done the CHF or added stabilizer bars. Haven't changed springs. Have had it aligned and try to keep tire pressures correct. Our only objection is the bumps over this country's crappy roads. What can help that?


I hear about liquid springs. I hear about new and better shocks. Is there something out there that would help, at a reasonable cost, or is it just a matter of driving a basic truck that can't be made to ride like a nice car?
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Old 08-17-2019, 08:54 AM   #2
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Would New/Better Shocks Help?

Liquid Springs, from my research, seem like a great modification. Unfortunately, itís extremely expensive so I took it off my list. If you donít wander or have body roll then I think your best option would be either the Koni shocks or Sumo Springs.

Iím planning on taking my rig to Hendersonís Line Up in Grants Pass Oregon for their road assessment service. They road test it with you, do four corner weights and then provide a list of recommended suspension improvements. At a minimum, Iím expecting an alignment, adding a steering stabilizer and a rear stabilizer bar. Weíll see what they recommend regarding shocks or the sumo springs.

Rough estimate for the road assessment, four corner weights, alignment, Safe-T-Steer steering stabilizer and rear stabilizer bar is around $3,400.00. Itís estimated to take about 2.5 days and they will allow us to stay onsite with 30amp hook-ups.

Another member I spoke with about suspension mods he did recommended Redlands Truck and RV, which is probably closer to where youíre at. He spoke highly of their service and installed Koni shocks on his MH.
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:02 AM   #3
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The tires slam into bumps forcing it up, compressing the springs.

Shocks don't address that, they are actually designed to stop rebound. Rebound is the tire bouncing multiple times after the first bounce. Controlling rebound helps maintain traction. Since the shocks are between the axle and chassis, any added resistance of it collapsing, would be transfers to the chassis, just like the spring.

Add on springs or air bags add to the spring rate, increasing the resistance of the tire moving up. That only adds to the shock to the chassis.

If they built the springs to carry the exact load of the MH, the ride could be smoother but they don't know how heavy the finished product will weight.

That's where pure air ride suspension comes into play. The suspension bags are adjusted automaticly to the weight that's on them. Add weight and the chassis drops. Once the chassis drops, air valves add air to the bags to maintan a neutral setting and ride height.

If you know the front axle weight and can get springs built for that weight, you could smooth out the ride. But then you need to be carefully not to load the front too heavy so the springs don't bottom out.


Other will try to get you to add all sorts of suspension stuff.
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Old 08-17-2019, 09:08 AM   #4
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We were just at Henderson's two weeks ago and had the RPA done. Just background here on OP's 2 questions: To install liquid springs now will cost $15K at Henderson's. Factory install option, at Tiffin, is $13.5K. Realizing you have a Thor, Henderson's is best bet if you want to spend that much money. With our MH, we did the RPA, initially figure what we would need, and then after RPS results, cost us twice as much to have total recommendations done. Expensive,, for a 4 month on coach upgrade - yes, worth it - Heck Yes! We had the option of Sumo springs already on our MH. But, we went ahead and replaced front sway bay, added two forward facing rear sway bars, rear trac bar and Koni quad shoecks all around, and a Sad-T-Plus starring stabilizer. The difference was night and day. No more swaying, rolling, porpoising over undulating roads and just a pleasant drive. We just got back from a weeklong trip from central Oregon, to Grants Pass, Or, down Hwy 199 to Smith River. Ca, and up the coast to Newport, Or, over the Santiam Pass, back home. Very pleasant trip on roads a lot of people hate because of curves, sunken grades, etc. If you have not done anything to you MH - at least get corner weights and adjust tire pressure. Mine was dropped to 88 psi based on weight. Sumo springs help, but then you have to start considering what your issues are: rough ride (shocks) sway and roll (anti sway bars) tail wag (rear trac bar) sloppy steering (stabilizer). If you schedule work at Henerson's, plan on 2 days, minimum, based on what you are having done as road test takes about 1/2 day. They have 30 amp hookups outside the service bays that you can use overnight. We were there for 3 nights. People there are great, techs are super, and the owners are very nice people.
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Old 08-17-2019, 10:10 AM   #5
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To improve handling you stiffen your suspension, to improve the ride over bumps you soften your suspension. These to thing are at odds with each other and is the trade off all suspensions make.

Sway bars are the best non active way of improving handling while minimizing the effect over bumps. This is why all modern vehicles use them as opposed to quad shocks or helper springs. Sway bars still increase stiffness and and increase harshness over uneven bumps (while doing nothing on even bumps, that's their advantage). Some offroad vehicles like my Jeep actually have a front sway bar disconnect that allows a much more compliant front suspension for traction and comfort offroad, but it is dangerous to drive at high speed on road due to extreme front end body roll when maneuvering.

Liquid spring seems to be an active (computer controlled) shock/spring combination that dynamically adjusts spring rate and dampening based on sensed conditions. The physics is sound and as expected is quite expensive.

Here is a comparison of Liquid Springs vs stock vs quad shocks and heavy sway bars and sumos, you can see as expected Liquid springs come out on top, but quad shocks and sumos are worse for shock and vibration. This is because increasing dampening and spring rate reduces suspension travel under the same forces, increase shock transfer to frame, this also reduces body roll improving handling, again a trade off:

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Here is the 3 part article where this information came from: https://openroadscapes.com/blog/2017...hy-and-why-not

If your problem is truly just rough ride over bumps and not body roll or wandering there is no easy solution. You must lower spring rate and/or shock dampening but this will increase body roll among other things.

Lowering tire pressure is an easy thing to do here, tires are your vehicles second suspension and its a primitive air ride, lower the pressure it becomes softer. The downside is now the side walls flex more and you get more movement leading to wander and body roll. See a pattern ?

Kelderman air or Liquid springs are both technically sound approaches that maximize suspension travel over bumps while keeping it to a minimum when the body leans. DIY approach would be replacing leaf springs with lower spring rate versions and adding air bags to make up for lost spring rate and tuning air bags and shocks to the lowest rate/dampening that still provides comfortable handling and prevents bottoming while also increasing sway bar spring rate as much as comfortable to reduce body roll.

Note about Koni's, they are marketed as Frequency Selective Dampening, such that under low frequency movement they have more dampening and under high frequency movement they have less through some sort of mechanical valving that adjusts based on that. This is in some ways what Liquid springs are doing but without a computer. The physics is sound, you want more dampening with body roll which is a slow movement and less dampening when hitting a bump which is fast movement. Review seem mixed for Koni's and it is unclear whether other shocks like say Bilstiens also do this but simply don't advertise it as heavily.

To recap reducing body roll and wandering is relatively easy and that doesn't sound like your problem. Reducing harshness over bumps is more difficult and doing that without introducing more body roll even more so. Diesel pushers solve this with air bags instead of leafs, but they also use ride height valves and ping tanks all working together to give each corner the exact spring rate it needs for the weight on that corner and no more. Some even use computer controlled air valving and IFS giving even better rides.
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Old 08-17-2019, 10:37 AM   #6
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We have a similar chassis and set up as yours. (37' Winnebago on a 24,000lb F53 chassis).

We added a Roadmaster Steering Stabilizer. That helped wander.

Then we put Sumo Springs all around. That helped swaying but firmed up the ride

Then we put an additional Roadmaster Anti-Roll Bar on the rear and that helped with cornering and side to side motions.

Next week we're installing Koni FSD Shocks all around. We've got 22,000 miles on our OEM Bilstiens and have heard rave reviews on them, but who knows.

All in all we've spent $3,300 or so for parts and installation including the estimate for the Koni shocks.

The RV handles much better - we hope the Koni's improve the ride as folks around the interwebs say.

On option not mentioned here is Kelderman's modifications. He puts airbags on the rear links of the RV's leaf springs. Folks say it is the answer to all ills. Costs about $5,500 to do it front and rear.

https://kelderman.com/shop/ford-f-53...air-suspension
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Old 08-17-2019, 12:04 PM   #7
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On option not mentioned here is Kelderman's modifications. He puts airbags on the rear links of the RV's leaf springs. Folks say it is the answer to all ills. Costs about $5,500 to do it front and rear.

https://kelderman.com/shop/ford-f-53...air-suspension
I mentioned it. They have different approaches to front and rear, it is the closest to a diesel air ride you will get without getting really custom and expensive.

In the rear they detach one of the leaf shackles from the frame and attach it to an airbag supported pivot instead. This is a true two-stage spring system with the airbag in series rather parallel with the leaf. The air bag is now a tender spring rather than helper spring.

In the front they replace the stock leaf with a progressive one having about half the spring rate then put a airbag in parallel with the much softer leaf to make up for lost spring rate.

They do ride height valves on all air bags so their psi is is the lowest possible to give proper ride height.

Not sure if they do ping tanks, but would be desirable to increase working volume.
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Old 08-17-2019, 03:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbleiweiss View Post
I am not very mechanical so please bear with me and if you answer put it into RV for Dummy terms. Our F53 has been pretty darn good since new. We don't object to most aspects of the ride. Haven't done the CHF or added stabilizer bars. Haven't changed springs. Have had it aligned and try to keep tire pressures correct. Our only objection is the bumps over this country's crappy roads. What can help that?


I hear about liquid springs. I hear about new and better shocks. Is there something out there that would help, at a reasonable cost, or is it just a matter of driving a basic truck that can't be made to ride like a nice car?

I had a lot of stuff added to make driving easier (staying straight down the road). We added a Ultra Track bar, Safe T Plus and I did the CHF both front and back and replaced all the bushings in the sway bar system.



But, we also had a rough and somewhat loud ride. Not bouncy, just rough and loud noise crossing potholes and bridge expansion joints. Koni FSD shocks solved this issue. WOW they are NICE! They do work with making the ride smoother and quiet.


We are riding on a 20500 lb chassis with a 32 ft class A.
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Old 08-19-2019, 09:24 AM   #9
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I have a 1999 Adventure 35'. Had original shocks on it when we bought it 2.5 years ago. I replaced them with KYB Gas Adjust shocks last years. Little difference from the originals. I installed the Koni shocks on the front first and after a short road test ordered the rears.
Just drove it from Az. to Michigan and it was a huge difference from last years trip with the KYBs. There were still some severely torn up roads that were no fun to drive on but normal roads were fine.
The cost for the 4 Koni shocks was about $650 and I installed them myself. If you want a shop to install them probably add another $250.
I think this is the most bang for the buck in ride improvement.
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:54 AM   #10
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OP here. Many have suggested Koni shocks. For those of you that have added these, did they give you a softer/smoother ride? Generally people say new shocks give a stiffer ride. Are Koni's different? We are mainly after a smoother ride over this country's potholes, bumps and bridge edges. Thanks.
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Old 08-25-2019, 08:21 AM   #11
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The majority of replacement shocks made now have a gas charge in them which causes them to be stiffer than a non gas charged. I feel that most of these gas charged shocks are too stiff. The KYBs I put on my coach a couple of years ago have so much gas pressure I can not move them at all by hand. When I installed them I had to use a jack to align them with the mounting brackets. They would not respond to the tiny bumps in the road. Could even tell when there was gravel on the road. It took a good size bump to make them respond.
The Koni shocks I installed after the KYBs are not gas charged but have a larger diameter tube. The shock even responds to the tiny bumps in the road and dampening them before they reach the body of the coach. They respond very well to all the bumps and holes but with the condition of many of the road some are still felt.
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Old 08-25-2019, 11:13 AM   #12
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The majority of replacement shocks made now have a gas charge in them which causes them to be stiffer than a non gas charged.
This is a myth, the gas charge is there to prevent foam of the oil a side effect is that the shock will extend on its own like a spring, but the final stiffness is based on valving.

A gas shock can be made softer than non-gas shock and vice versa. Many report Koni's (non gas) to be stiffer than Bilsteins (gas) for the F53 which is good for body roll and bad for bumps.
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Old 08-25-2019, 11:29 AM   #13
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I'm taking my RV in to have Koni FSDs installed this Thursday. I'll report back on the experience before and after when I get home.

By the way, ShockWarehouse.com had them cheapest. But they also had "worldwide backorder" listed on them and there are lots of forum posts about long delivery times. UltraRVProducts.com had them in stock for a little bit more money. They shipped them right away and they arrived about 4 days after I ordered them.
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Old 08-26-2019, 05:47 AM   #14
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This is a myth, the gas charge is there to prevent foam of the oil a side effect is that the shock will extend on its own like a spring, but the final stiffness is based on valving.

A gas shock can be made softer than non-gas shock and vice versa. Many report Koni's (non gas) to be stiffer than Bilsteins (gas) for the F53 which is good for body roll and bad for bumps.
The original intent was to prevent foaming, but the manufacturers have decided to go to smaller tube sizes and increase the amount of gas pressure in the shock to try to handle the load.
The KYBs I took off my coach could not be compressed at all with my 190 pounds pushing down on it on the ground.
My experience with shocks is from 17 years of supervising fleet maintenance of 1500 vehicles and fielding the complaints from drivers on the stiff ride and every little stone or crack in the road being felt in the steering wheels, plus my own 4 vehicles.
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