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Old 11-20-2011, 07:32 AM   #1
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Help: We a thinking about upgrading to a Class A camper. Being thrifty, we are looking at some good used coaches to start with. Some we are looking at have a tag axle, i.e. national dolphin, etc. What advantages or disadvantages does the tag axle provide? Thanks

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Old 11-20-2011, 07:56 AM   #2
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My opinion: Disadvantage - More tires/wheels/axles to maintain, purchase. Advantage: Can handle more weight. Many mh's are close to being overweight so the extra tires help.

Tom Wilds
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:02 AM   #3
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For starters you have 8 tires/wheels to maintain/replace instead of 6. Usually wheels on a tag axle are 19.9 in compared to 22.5 inches on a non-tag same length. The wheelbase is usually shorter therefore the need for the extra set of wheels in the back to support the load and length in the rear. Rook
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:17 AM   #4
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Certain tag axles are not necessarily a good thing.
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:26 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Tha_Rooster View Post
Certain tag axles are not necessarily a good thing.
We have a tag axle coach - the things I've read are that the coach will track better without the need of an add-on device to the axle, and that the bearings in them can be a problem. We haven't experienced problems yet and the coach does seem to track okay. I wanted a coach with 8 wheels because I simply think they look 'cool' so we got one and a TPMS to monitor all those tires...we did have new tires put on to assure all 8 were good and that isn't cheap.

Instead of folks writing general comments, can any offer specific pros or cons? That would be interesting to me. The weight distribution as mentioned is one other pro I believe. Stability, etc.

I saw a coach yesterday that had two 4" or 5" castors hanging on the back of the underside of the coach...interesting - asked about them and forgot what they were called but they were there to help the coach not 'bottom out' on terrain - it was a 37' with a tag axle - interesting to me...I have a spare tire back there...LOL
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:40 AM   #6
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In defense of tags, which our gas coach has, The Positives: 1. They increase the coach GVWR; 2. Enhance directional stability (handling); 3. Provide additional braking.

The negatives: 1. Two additional tires to be replaced; 2. Axle maintenance as mentioned i.e., replacement of brake shoes and bearing lubrication.

Our coach with 74k miles tag brakes & bearings still good, replaced tires twice.

If the coach you're considering without tags has an adequate wheelbase in proportion to the length of the coach you're OK, however if it's say a 37' coach with a 228" WB and there's excess weight behind the drive wheels you could experience a handling problem (tail wagging the dog).

If the WB is 242" or longer on a 37' coach it should handle OK. Our coach has a 228" WB with tags increasing it to 242" so it handles very well. Our chassis is rated at 20,500 GVWR and with the tags it's rated at 22,000 GVWR.

Good luck with your search and safe travels
Jim & SherrySeward

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Old 11-20-2011, 03:38 PM   #7
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The tag axle is there because it is necessary, not because it has advantages. It i s used when the rear axle cannot support enough weight to carry the coach body and your gear. The Dolphin you are looking at probably has a relatively weak chassis with a gvwr of maybe 17,000 lbs without the tag, so the tag brings it up to 20k or maybe even 22k. If you bought a somewhat newer coach with a more robust chassis, you would get the same or greater weight carry capacity without the tag. Both Ford and Workhorse increased the GVWR of their motorhome chassis around 2001 and the tag axle was pretty much discarded for gas chassis coaches after that. Larger diesel pushers still use them when their weight exceeds the 20,000 lb legal max for a single axle.

So, if you need a tag to carry the weight, you get the drawbacks that have already been mentioned - more tires to buy & maintain, the tires scrub in turns, etc. The tag axle also consumes space under the coach that could have been used for more storage if it were not necessary. In partial compensation you get some small benefits is ride and handling, but nothing really major in my opinion.
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Old 11-20-2011, 03:51 PM   #8
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Totally agree with LVJ58's summary. I love the way my coach cruise's down the highway. Completely stock and have no need to add any of the F53 handling improvements I read about here and other forums. I too have put new 16" tires all around and replaced shocks with the Monroe gas magnums, zero complaints, she glides down the hiways and byways with grace. Many RV'ers make having a tag axle sound as if having they are a negative. My experience is the opposite.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:32 PM   #9
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What seems to be the most important to me is 1) floor plan 2) mechanics -engine brand,size,etc and 3) last but not least-previous owner(s) maintenance records. If no records, I would be very leary and would probably walk. You are buying the previous owner just as much as you are the coach. I personally would look at a older "high end" coach like Foretravel, Country Coach, HR, Monaco, Safari,etc and be sure to buy a new enough model to get the 6 speed Allison World Wide Transmission (the older coaches only had 4 speed). Good luck and enjoy the journey!
Jon and co-pilot Heidi
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:49 PM   #10
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One of my good RV friends has a Dolphin with a tag axle. It has been a great coach for him. He has taken it to Alaska twice.

We have a tag on our motor home. When I was test driving a bunch of class A's two years ago the ones with the tag axles seemed to have a steadier ride. I drove our coach and was so impressed with the way it seemed so solid on the road we bought it. The only non tag coach I drove that compared with our Country Coach tag was the Alpine 40'.

We have quite a few National coaches in our RV club. I get very good feedback on them. We have several Dolphins of different years. A couple of our members also belong to the Dolphin club.
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Old 11-21-2011, 07:06 AM   #11
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You specifically asked about tag axles, and you have gotten some good replies.

However, you also mentioned you were looking at a Dolphin. You didn't ask about the manufacturer (National), but since you seem to be a newbie, I wanted to make sure you aware National is no longer in business. Most chassis and drive train parts will be available from the chassis manufacturer, and you will likely be able to get parts for appliances inside the rig from the appliance manufacturers. However, you may be out of luck for any special parts made exclusively by National. If you're willing to live with that, you can probably get a good price on a National motorhome.
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Old 11-21-2011, 12:33 PM   #12
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Older gassers had tags because they could not support the weight of the coach with one axle. Today's rigs are much stronger, my 41' DP has a GVWR of 34,600, with a single rear axle...and, with a 15k tow rating, a GCWR of 59,600. We wanted as much MH as we could get without a tag. Nothing against tags, just did not want the extra maint, length, expense, etc of a tag, and did not need the extra cargo capacity it offers.
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Old 11-21-2011, 06:42 PM   #13
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Lets not forget one more axle to pay toll on!

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