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Old 07-28-2013, 10:19 PM   #1
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Fleetwood Southwind Ford f53 shakes like crazy

Hi everyone, we recently bought a 1994 Fleetwood Southwind with the Ford F 53 chassis. We was very happy with the unit but, the last two times out with this thing has scared the u know what out of us. The first time we were on interstate 70 and went across a small bump at 65 mph and the whole rig started shaking like crazy, things were falling out of the cabinets, the front TV was coming out of its socket and it was everything I could do to hold onto the steering wheel!! It really was a close call, we had a 18 wheeler right behind us and he almost ran into us! Once I got it slowed down to about 20 mph the shaking stopped and hasn't done that since, until yesterday, it did the same thing again. Only this time we were on a highway and only running about 45 mph! I still almost got rear ended by the people behind us and it shook the entire rig like crazy!! Luckily we were only about a mile from the campground and we made it there without another incident. Now, the wife and I are scared to drive this thing home tomorrow morning!! Its about an hours drive for us. So, after doing some research on this forum it seems like the "Davis tru trac bar" is what we need to fix this major problem.
Do you professionals think this will fix our problem? We ordered one this morning and I also ordered a new steering dampner/ shock. The wife was ready to sell our rig last night she was so scared!! And to be honest with you, I could probably been talked into it too!!
I'm just hoping this trac bar will fix our problem because we both love everything about this RV , except the shaking/ scarring the crap out of us!!
Thanks for any advice/help, we love this site!! :-)
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Old 07-28-2013, 10:37 PM   #2
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Before adding parts, you need to identify what's wrong. Taking it to a good truck suspension service center or even a Ford dealer. Was the shake in the front or back? In the front, it could be worn suspension or steering components, out of balance, bad shocks, etc. In the back, it could be bad shocks, U joints, broken springs. The fact that it only seemed triggered by a bump doesn't sound like wheel balance, but I've seen unbalanced wheels bouncing down the road, especially with worn shocks. Do the tires show any unusual wear, or cupping? Going home, I'd keep the speed down, if possible.
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Old 07-28-2013, 11:50 PM   #3
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You have described 'death wobble'. A violent shaking precipitated by hitting a bump, the shaking continues until a substantial reduction in speed. It is very scary indeed. Something is worn or come loose in the front suspension components. Do not toss aftermarket parts at it - get what is wrong fixed.
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Old 07-29-2013, 03:18 AM   #4
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Before adding parts, you need to identify what's wrong. Taking it to a good truck suspension service center or even a Ford dealer. Was the shake in the front or back? In the front, it could be worn suspension or steering components, out of balance, bad shocks, etc. In the back, it could be bad shocks, U joints, broken springs. The fact that it only seemed triggered by a bump doesn't sound like wheel balance, but I've seen unbalanced wheels bouncing down the road, especially with worn shocks. Do the tires show any unusual wear, or cupping? Going home, I'd keep the speed down, if possible.
Some good advice here. Let us know how the return trip went and how your front suspension is.
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:10 AM   #5
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Hi everyone and thanks for the reply!!
The tires almost look new and the date code on them is 2010. The last time it did this I crawled under the front end to check things out because the shake is definitely coming from the front. I found that the sway bar links were completely shot so, I put 2 brand new links on , that didn't fix it! So, I took one bolt out of the steering dampner And I could pull it out and push it back in with 2 fingers, So I went to every parts store in town and nobody had one in stock so, I ordered one online and it should be here in a few days! Do you think that a bad steering dampner would cause the extreme shake?? Everything else under the rig looks ok, the shocks are not too old and have been replaced recently by the previous owner.
Thanks again for your time and help!!!
Doug and Elaine
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:30 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by cooldude
Hi everyone and thanks for the reply!!
The tires almost look new and the date code on them is 2010. The last time it did this I crawled under the front end to check things out because the shake is definitely coming from the front. I found that the sway bar links were completely shot so, I put 2 brand new links on , that didn't fix it! So, I took one bolt out of the steering dampner And I could pull it out and push it back in with 2 fingers, So I went to every parts store in town and nobody had one in stock so, I ordered one online and it should be here in a few days! Do you think that a bad steering dampner would cause the extreme shake?? Everything else under the rig looks ok, the shocks are not too old and have been replaced recently by the previous owner.
Thanks again for your time and help!!!
Doug and Elaine
I would get this into a good truck front end shop. Though rare, this could be a king pin issue. Tough to check the king pin with the chassis on the ground, you need to lift the wheel off the ground and then inspect for wear in the bushings. While up wheel bearings can also be checked. I would want to pull the shocks and see how they feel in compression and rebound. Visual inspection of shocks will only reveal oil leakage and not an internal shock failure.

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Old 07-29-2013, 09:41 AM   #7
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Old 07-29-2013, 11:53 AM   #8
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Hey guys, thank you very much for the advice!! I am going to try and make an appointment with the truck shop down the road from us and see what they can find !
Also, we just pulled up to the house safe and sound !! :-) We made it going 40 and 45 mph all the way home and it didn't go into the "death wobble" at all !! My hands and arms are pretty sore from hanging on to that steering wheel so tight!!
Thanks again everyone!!!
Doug and Elaine
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Old 07-29-2013, 12:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by cooldude View Post
Hi everyone and thanks for the reply!!
The tires almost look new and the date code on them is 2010. The last time it did this I crawled under the front end to check things out because the shake is definitely coming from the front. I found that the sway bar links were completely shot so, I put 2 brand new links on , that didn't fix it! So, I took one bolt out of the steering dampner And I could pull it out and push it back in with 2 fingers, So I went to every parts store in town and nobody had one in stock so, I ordered one online and it should be here in a few days! Do you think that a bad steering dampner would cause the extreme shake?? Everything else under the rig looks ok, the shocks are not too old and have been replaced recently by the previous owner.
Thanks again for your time and help!!!
Doug and Elaine
The steering damptner may well be worn out and replacing it may help or apoear to alleviate the problem, but the problem still exists. You should not have death wobble even with the dampter removed. This is a serious problem that needs to be fixed properly.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:23 PM   #10
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You have described 'death wobble'. A violent shaking precipitated by hitting a bump, the shaking continues until a substantial reduction in speed. It is very scary indeed. Something is worn or come loose in the front suspension components. Do not toss aftermarket parts at it - get what is wrong fixed.
Yep, it's Death Wobble and you need to get it fixed. The Track bar is a good idea but it's not your problem. Something in the front steering and/or suspension is loose.
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:26 PM   #11
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I had an old 86 Gulfstream on a John Deere chassis and it did exactly the same thing. Took it to several shops and no body could find anything loose, broken or worn out. According to one of the shop mechanics, some chassis do it and others don't. I know it would scare the crap out of me when it did it. Just sold it to a guy to use as a hunting cabin and told him about it, he said it would just be sitting and not driven.
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:44 PM   #12
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Be sure to have the shop look at the tie rod ends, wheel bearings, and drag link. The wobble could be a combination of things, but the most likely culprit is the tie rod. Over time the spherical joints at each end wear. When they wear there's room bteween the seat and the ball. Under certain conditions (like hitting a bump) you can set up a vibration that will only go away by slowing the vehicle.

The second most likely culprit is loose or worn wheel bearings. Have the shop raise the front end off the ground and check for wheel bearing play. The best way to check for play is to grab the tire at 12:00 and 6:00 then push with one hand and pull with the other at the same time. If you can feel the wheel move the bearings are loose. They need to be removed and repacked at best, They should be inspected for wear or discoloration. If you find either they should be replaced along with new seals
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:51 PM   #13
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What Hikerdogs said!
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Old 07-29-2013, 09:54 PM   #14
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You Guy's are AWESOME!!!
I do have another question for you though, I have a big truck "Semi" tire and alignment shop down the road from me and Tom Raper Rv's is about 5 minutes from the house.
Would it be better to take the rig to a RV dealer or the big truck Guy's?? I know the dealer will charge somewhere between $500 and 60 million just to look at the thing!! :-) and I have no idea what the big truck guys would charge but, is a dealer the better of the 2?? Just not sure on this one, although I am kinda leaning more towards the big truck Guy's.
Thanks again Everyone!!!
Doug
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