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Old 08-14-2016, 02:58 PM   #1
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Highway Control and Safety!!

We are starting our search for a new "small" Class A Diesel Pusher. I ordered the RV Consumer Group ratings guide because I really can't find very much objective rating material. One of his key rating criteria is highway controls and he uses wheelbase length against the full length. Using this criteria, basically ANY RV under 37 feet is poorly rated because the ratio is way under 60%. Is this a critical rating in your (collective) opinion? The other area he stresses is the ability of the "cage" to protect the inhabitants in case of accident and especially rollover. I cannot find much information on that score, either. In fact, there does not seem to be much regulation or information on safety requirements and how different makes and models "survive" accidents. There is obviously lots of data for cars, but where is it for motorhomes? If there isn't great data easily available, how did you all assess the safety and control components of your motorhomes?

Thanks!
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Old 08-14-2016, 03:18 PM   #2
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I don't suspect you will find much information on motorhome crash data. In reality is does not happen all that often, but when it does it gets reported in the news. Auto manufacturers are basically required to perform crash tests, and there are several "independent" services that either buy the cars or are given the cars to test. These are mass market vehicles, and subject to strict scrutiny by both the public and politicians. Not so much for recreational vehicles. Beside, no one but no one is going to purposely destroy a half million dollar motorhome just to see what happens.

IMO the safest motorhomes in order are class B, class C, and lastly class A diesel, then class A gas. The cabs of the first two have to pass the fed safety standards for the van/truck they are built on. The others not so much, but there are regs they must go by.

I feel totally safe in my 30 ft class A, and have felt safe in all of the ones I've owned. I don't feel real safe going around around narrow mountain roads, but if I go over the edge, I'm toast in any vehicle.
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Old 08-14-2016, 03:39 PM   #3
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One of the reasons we chose the 2002 Monaco Windsor was that it had the Roadmaster chassis with welded steel cage! Makes me feel better anyway!
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ianschneider View Post
We are starting our search for a new "small" Class A Diesel Pusher. I ordered the RV Consumer Group ratings guide because I really can't find very much objective rating material. One of his key rating criteria is highway controls and he uses wheelbase length against the full length. Using this criteria, basically ANY RV under 37 feet is poorly rated because the ratio is way under 60%. Is this a critical rating in your (collective) opinion? The other area he stresses is the ability of the "cage" to protect the inhabitants in case of accident and especially rollover. I cannot find much information on that score, either. In fact, there does not seem to be much regulation or information on safety requirements and how different makes and models "survive" accidents. There is obviously lots of data for cars, but where is it for motorhomes? If there isn't great data easily available, how did you all assess the safety and control components of your motorhomes?

Thanks!
As a rule of thumb, the longer the rear of the motorhome hangs past the rear axle, the more likely a cross wind (or passing trucks) will negatively effect the coach handling compared to a coach with a shorter overhang. Now there are exceptions. That is what the 60% rule is they are talking about. There are all sorts of after market products that help with stabilizing the chassis and some are pretty good, but can get expensive.

Next time you see a high end motorhome, notice how far back their rear wheels are, compared to how long the coach is. Cross winds have little effect on them when driving. Their weight also does play into the stability as well.

If and when you start test driving any, if possible, drive the highway with trucks and make an effort to drive when it is windy. It can be quite noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable. And then there are coaches that are very stable.

Good luck
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MSHappyCampers View Post
One of the reasons we chose the 2002 Monaco Windsor was that it had the Roadmaster chassis with welded steel cage! Makes me feel better anyway!
Same with our CC, all welded steel, hope we never have to find out.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:32 PM   #6
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We chose a 40' rather than a 38' exactly for the wheelbase issue. We drove both extensively before deciding and the 40' was definitely a lot more comfortable on interstates and in small town turning tests. We figured what's two more feet?
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Old 08-15-2016, 07:21 PM   #7
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Highway Control and Safety!!

The more coach overhang there is behind the rear axle, the less stable it will be. Almost all 36 and 38 foot coaches have a problem here.

At 40', a longer wheelbase chassis is used, which makes the stability issue much better.
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Old 08-15-2016, 08:00 PM   #8
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Highway Control and Safety!!

ianschneider.......... You're right-- damn near every coach is under 60% W/L ratio, but anything near 60% will give you a very stable ride. I haven't been checking RVCG for a couple of years, but they always used 53% W/L as the threshhold point for handling evaluation. A point or so in this ratio makes a really big difference. My 40 ft DS is at 57% and rides stable as a rock. A 38 ft coach on a 255 inch wheelbase would have the same 57% ratio.


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Old 08-15-2016, 10:17 PM   #9
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Keep in mind, RV Consumers Group just crunches numbers, they don't actually drive the units.

Fred
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Old 08-15-2016, 11:08 PM   #10
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Keep in mind, RV Consumers Group just crunches numbers, they don't actually drive the units.
Fred

When I was coach shopping RVCG's analysis was extremely valuable, and their evaluations accurate. Engineering is numbers, not muscle skills.


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Old 08-15-2016, 11:27 PM   #11
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Hello,
Don't know if you're a Winnebago/Itasca fan or not, but for the benefit of information to study, perhaps check them out. They have a test track facility complete with over 12% grades and foot deep pot holes and more. They do pretty rough testing on their coaches. The up front area is a welded steel cage like others mentioned.
They even (somehow) turned a coach upside down, raised it up with a large crane, and dropped it. In the video, believe it or not, the windows didn't even blow out. Anyway, it's interesting and something for your consideration. Best of luck to you!

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Old 08-15-2016, 11:34 PM   #12
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When I subscribed to the RV Consumer Group material, they also included a document on towing. Have you read that yet? Lots of discussion on wheel base ratios there too.
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