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Old 07-10-2015, 02:36 PM   #1
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Differences between Freightliner and Spartan chassis

Calling all DP chassis experts...

Starting research for a possible new coach purchase sometime in 2016. Right now the Newmar London Aire is at the top of the list and I've gotten ahold of the 2016 standards and options list along with some spec sheets. The Freightliner chassis is standard and they've made a lot of positive changes of late. The Spartan is an almost $8k upcharge (listed as a version of the K3) and I'm trying to understand why. In reviewing what I have available the positive differences I've been able to glean is one, the Spartan has a 55 degree steering wheel cut vs 52 degrees for the Freightliner. Two, the Freightliner warranty on the bare rails & cross members is 5 years, Spartan is lifetime. Lastly, the radiator on the Spartan has roughly 10% greater area to it. There are slightly different "rail heights" listed, but frankly I have no idea what that means. The Freightliner uses a ZF front axle, the Spartan a Reyco Granning. Freightliner lists a "RC-25-160 25,000 lb R-SRS (with "V" drive) drive axle" and a "Ultra steer B-series FF" tag (both come with passive steer tags, 12 degree cut). Spartan uses a "Dana S23-190, 23,000 lb" drive axle. I can't find a model number on the Spartan tag. Both use disc brakes on all axles, Spartan uses steel wheels on the inside duals, Freighliner uses all aluminum wheels.

I'm not looking for experiences on service quality or availability, just justification for the higher cost of the Spartan over the Freightliner based on design, durability, livability, and maintenance access - if there is any.
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:43 PM   #2
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It might help to ask Newmar directly. Are they phasing out the Spartan chassis? If not, why the choice? What do they recommend and why?
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Old 07-10-2015, 04:02 PM   #3
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The main difference is the independant front suspension on the Spartan compared to a solid beam on the Freightliner, and that is confort on the road !
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Old 07-10-2015, 04:05 PM   #4
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The Freightliner is an IFS in that model, just like the Spartan.
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Old 07-10-2015, 04:36 PM   #5
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Not trying to knock Spartan, we have a Spartan chassis on our current MH. IF I was choosing between the Spartan and Freightliner, I would take Freightliner everyday of the week and twice on Sundays.

We broke down in Phoenix, could not find anyone who would touch our rig because it was Spartan. We limped it to Las Vegas, same story. Limped it again to Reno, same deal. Finally ended up just fixing the problem myself at RV park in Reno. We pulled into several Freightliner shops looking for help, they could not help us, but we learned a valuable lesson.

Spartan has their main shop wherever their main office is located. All the rest of their supposed shops are just affiliate shops who kind of sorta work on Spartan stuff, but its not their main bread and butter. Every Freightliner shop is owned by Freightliner, and Freightliner is their main business.

Will take this a step further, our Surge Tank broke. I walked up and down the rows of parts sitting on the shelf in both Phoenix & Las Vegas Freightliner dealers, and looked at what they had in stock for MH's to see if I could make any of them work. None would, but was nice to see they had lots of them on the shelf for various rigs. Not one single Spartan place we called carried any parts, all had to order the parts directly from Spartan. Nothing hurts your butt more than paying $325 for next day air on a part.

Freightliner has a shop in pretty much every city in US. Freightliner makes a lot of big trucks, they have developed a great network to support these trucks. This is just not the case for Spartan. IF you only plan to keep your rig a couple years, probably does not matter. IF you are planning to keep it more than a couple years, access to competent service & parts department should be a big consideration.

On the plus side, our Spartan sure rides nice and smooth. Have had to call tech support several times, they have always been helpful and easy to deal with.

Good Luck!
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Old 07-10-2015, 05:08 PM   #6
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Thanks for your input, and your comments on the availability of service DegoRed are valuable. I'm still looking for what it is that makes Newmar think someone might pay thousands more for the Spartan sticker on the back of the coach. Is there some physical design, performance or durability difference (outside the lifetime vs 5 year rail/cross member warranty)?

From what little I know on the subject, it does seem as if Freightliner has made a lot of improvements in the motorhome chassis design since Daimler became the parent - so maybe the "difference" is purely psychological and based on past generations of both chassis?

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Old 07-10-2015, 05:15 PM   #7
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freightliner inner rear duals are steel
as are 90% of everyone else.
only class 8 trucks get all alum at each wheel, and even that is an option on some

f/l is a plus for us, we own one
their after hours support is fantastic.
i am sure spartan has a similar setup.
but i can call f/l and ask a question and get results and help real fast. even emails prints and all kinds of good reading.
with the competition as it is...either one is most likely going to be good
i use a spartan wholesaler for engine parts and tranny stuff at better prices than f/l
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Old 07-10-2015, 05:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerboatr View Post
freightliner inner rear duals are steel
as are 90% of everyone else.
only class 8 trucks get all alum at each wheel, and even that is an option on some...
I've got the Newmar spec sheets for the 2016 Freightliner chassis and it says 8 aluminum wheels . Our current coach, on a Spartan, does have steel inside dual wheels on it and the Spartan sheet for the 2016 Newmar coaches specs steel for the inner duals. Perhaps they, Freightliner, are trying to further distinguish themselves from their main competitor??
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Old 07-10-2015, 07:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMonroe View Post
I've got the Newmar spec sheets for the 2016 Freightliner chassis and it says 8 aluminum wheels . Our current coach, on a Spartan, does have steel inside dual wheels on it and the Spartan sheet for the 2016 Newmar coaches specs steel for the inner duals. Perhaps they, Freightliner, are trying to further distinguish themselves from their main competitor??

I had the opportunity to inspect a Freightliner chassis that was for an American Coach back in May. I noticed that all 8 wheels were aluminum. It was also their steerable tag unit with the big ISX15. Pretty impressive chassis.


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Old 07-10-2015, 08:55 PM   #10
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Spartan has a side-radiator, don't know about the new FL chassis. That makes owner maintenance much easier, and the cooling system "sandwich" stays much cleaner than a rear mount. As to Spartan service centers, all Cummins Coach Care facilities are, to the best of my information.
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Old 07-10-2015, 09:38 PM   #11
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Spartan chasis is servived by Cummins all over the US.

Spartans main sales base is to the military, as in two thirds of our MRAPS, and all that are made by (IH), International.

For the most part, higher coast is due to the bracing system Spartan uses in their chassis.

In practice the design is a little stronger than the FL. However, that is of little consequence to our motor home applications. It is beneficial to truck and MRAP applications where longevity would be taxed in heavy use.

As far as all aluminum wheels, thats a personal preference. Most don't go a full allum setup due to the lack of maintenance the inner wheel is afforded. A steel wheel needs no polishing to keep it serviceable.

The plus side is the reduction of weight using all aluminum wheels. It's not that much of a difference and in my opinion not worth the expense on our (MH) where every little bit helps to a trucker.

Happy Trails
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Old 07-11-2015, 06:37 AM   #12
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Ray, that model Freightliner is a side radiator as well.
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Old 07-11-2015, 05:43 PM   #13
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Ray, that model Freightliner is a side radiator as well.
That's a good thing. It makes owner maintenance much easier, and less expensive. I really like my Spartan chassis, but the mfgr. of the chassis will not deter me from buying what DW and I want, just as long as it's a side radiator.

To DTWallace; Spartan is a very strong frame, and plays to the emergency vehicle market mainly. Winnebago however, only buys the front assembly and engine transmission portion. The center section is designed and fabricated by Winnebago Industries, which leaves Spartan design frame integrity out of the picture. Their RV frames are a small part of their market. I've read that Spartan was considering withdrawing from the RV market until the recent upturn in the RV industry.
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Old 07-11-2015, 11:23 PM   #14
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That's a good thing. It makes owner maintenance much easier, and less expensive. I really like my Spartan chassis, but the mfgr. of the chassis will not deter me from buying what DW and I want, just as long as it's a side radiator.

To DTWallace; Spartan is a very strong frame, and plays to the emergency vehicle market mainly. Winnebago however, only buys the front assembly and engine transmission portion. The center section is designed and fabricated by Winnebago Industries, which leaves Spartan design frame integrity out of the picture. Their RV frames are a small part of their market. I've read that Spartan was considering withdrawing from the RV market until the recent upturn in the RV industry.


I have been very pleased with our's also. We are lucky in that this being our first DP, first MH, we really had no idea how much of a difference the side mounted radiator made as far as maintenance ease and reliability.

The strength of the chassis is far beyond most of the others as I find, as I read about issues others are facing on this forum.
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