This weekend I have done a number of suspension upgrades on our '05 National RV Sea Breeze and they are GREAT!
So far this weekend, I have completed:
- rear poly Swaybar bushings
- rear CHF
- new Konis front and rear
I was hoping to change the front Swaybar Bushings to the polys I purchased, but one of the 4 front SB bolts is a bit rounded, so I am ordering 4 new bolts and nuts for the front before I tackle that project.
I also had hoped to apply the CHF to the front, but in looking at the front links on our RV, the CHF will bring the swaybar really close to the leaf springs, so I am going to order new front SB links and have them modified at a local shop to extend them 14" center to center - and then try the front CHF.
So after all the suspension work, how does the RV handle?
Pretty darn well I think! I took her out for a few runs and I can certainly feel the improvement in the chassis:
- there is much less body roll/rocking while taking corners
- while a bump in the road is still a bump, I feel that the Koni's absorb them much better. I can still feel the road bumps, but to me - it seems that they are absorbed at/below the floor level and have much less impact on the upper part of the "house"
- Corners and exit ramps are soooo much easier to take - again house/body roll is significantly reduced. I know that I was able to take the exits that I have taken for 6 years, at a better pace than before, with much better control.
- The overall ride is noticeably improved.
I don't think that I can point to one item that has improved the handling - since I did 3 suspension changes at once (shocks, bushings, CHF), but I will say that the time and money spent on these suspension improvements were well worth it --- although the real review on these changes will come when the DW gets in the RV for a ride
While the SB bushings on the rear and the CHF were relatively easy changes, the shocks were anything but. I had bilsteins all around and I assume these were the original shocks on the RV. The bolts were *really* difficult to get off - especially the lower rear bolts that had 12 years worth of road debris hitting the threads. I did complete the change of all 4 shocks in one day, but for me it was about 7-8 hours. I expect that it would have likely cost me at least 6 hours of labor at our local shop - at a cost of $125/hour. So I definitely saved myself some money - even after spending about $250 on new tools/stuff to complete the job.
I'm glad that I prepped with WD-40 a day prior, but even still, getting the bolts loose took some *SERIOUS* muscle. I had to put my entire body into getting the bolts off, knees/legs up against the tires to give me the most leverage. After the bolt removal, installation and tightening - I was really sore. Nothing a few advil and an adult beverage(s) at the end of the day didn't fix.
Installation of the shocks was relatively easy. Given that these are not gas shocks (like the bilsteins), I was able to just extend the shock to the length I needed to install it.
Getting the rear torqued to the correct specs was difficult due to the limited access I could get with the torque wrench - but I got it done -- 1 ratchet click at a time.
So this weekend, my wallet is a LOT lighter, my muscles got a workout, I'm a little sore - but the BEAST handles so much better, got a bath and the zep treatment. In my book, a win all around.