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Old 08-07-2010, 12:16 AM   #1
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Desperate for good alignment - Please help

When I bought my motorhome it drove like a dream. I had new tires put on and it drove horrible. They did a very poor job on the alignment. Unfortunately the work took alot longer than anticipated and I needed to leave on a trip the day I got it back. Halfway through the trip I was fighting the steering so bad I had the alignment adjusted at a repair shop on the road and it drove like a dream again but the shop is over a 1000 miles away.

I just had some of the steering components replaced (idler arms, tie rod ends and draglink) and they realigned it. It is now horrible again. It is a Winnebago Brave 29RQ. Can anyone tell me what I can tell them to help them give a good alignment? I can probably get them to adjust it for free but if I take it someplace else I will have to pay again.

Alternatively any good alignment shops that will know what to do anywhere in the Denver or Longmont CO metro areas?

As an aside the steering component replacement was done horribly and the steering which they diagnosed as worn out but didn't have alot of play in it now has a ton of play. <sigh> I'm being taken for a ride here....

Thanks in advance!
Michelle
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:02 AM   #2
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Not much help here but will tell you that when I had new tires put on mine also drove terrable.

A goodyear service center in Kansas City pulled the front tires, removed the equal and attempted to balance the tires. They found that one tire could not be balanced and had to be replaced. Which they did under warranty as we only had about 1000 miles from home.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:19 PM   #3
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Hi Michelle, couldn't tell from your post what part of the country you're from. If you're in the Pacific Northwest, Henderson's Line Up is the place to go in Grants Pass.
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Old 08-07-2010, 07:03 PM   #4
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Your P-30 has air bags on the front suspension. Have you checked the ride hight and pressure in the bags? This is very critical for ride and handling on the P-30 & P-32 chassis. We have had both in the the past and speak from experiance. My guess would be when the suspension components were replaced the ride hight was never checked. I would do this first before spending money on another alignment.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:13 PM   #5
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Michelle, gas Motorhomes have solid beam axles and leaf springs (your air bage are helpers)
Camber is fixed in the axle, cannot be changed.
Caster is changed by putting wedge shapped shims between the axle and the leaf springs. In the real world, nobody is doing this, not ever.

That leaves Toe. Toe is whether the front tires point straight ahead, toe in a little, or are pigeon toed, pointing out. There is a single tie rod running left to right, and toe is adjusted by turning this rod after loosening the clamps. screw it in, tires toe in, screw it out, tires toe out.

"Proper" alignment is a little bit of toe in. You can do this yourselves, it is not hard. All you need is a tape measure and a couple of wrenches. If you measure from tire to tire in front, and then at the rear of the tires, the difference is your toe.
you want the front measurement to be 1/16 - 1/8" less than the rear.

Go easy on the adjuster, 1/2 turn at a time. Drive the MH before measuring again, and always be traviling in the forward direction and then stop, then measure.

If the tires are toed out at all (pigeon toed) handling will be horrible. Toed in too far will still handle fine, but will wear the tires quicker.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:48 PM   #6
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Go to www.workhorse.com and you will find a free chassis download with invaluable information including alignment specs.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:49 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the advice

To answer some of the questions. We are in the Denver and/or Longmont Colorado area. Basically mid-way so could go to a shop in either direction.

Thanks for the detailed instructions on how to adjust the toe in. I think that is probably all we need (other than them fixing whatever they did to leave the steering so loose when they replaced the components).

I think they measured for and adjusted the air bags. After our first alignment when we talked to them about the disaster that it was they indicated they had changed them to about 50 psi. They are now 46 and 49 after the second alignment. I don't know if I should try to adjust them or not if that is what they were at when they did the alignment.

Thanks again for all the responses.

Michelle
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:13 PM   #8
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Even 50 psi sounds low. If I remember correctly the recomended minimum is 55 and you will find a sweet spot for your suspension loading somewhere between there and 100psi. Experiment with different pressures starting high and lowering in 5lb. incraments till you find that sweet spot and you will be surprised at how well it will handle. Keep the pressure equal in both sides.
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:24 PM   #9
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It sounded low to me too

It sounded low to me also. I saw a table in the chasis alignment pdf that gave ranges based on weight. However I couldn't tell if I was supposed to set it based on our actual front axle weight or on the rating for the front on the door. We had it at 70 psi when it went in as we had been experimenting with it. Currently were running the tires at about 68 psi but I think the recommended amount is 65 for our weight. Our RV weights 13000 lbs fully loaded. 4800 lbs of that is in the front.

Thanks again for your help.

Michelle
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:49 PM   #10
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RV suspension and tires are our specialty
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:55 PM   #11
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I was at a FMCA rally and went to a seminar hosted by the fellow that
owns Precision Frame and Alignment..Elk River Mn..There are several good frame shops across the country, but If I was up north that is where I would go..
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Old 08-15-2010, 09:47 PM   #12
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Follow-up

I thought I would post a follow up. We got the coach back Fri. after letting the shop look it over head to toe. I feel good that they did that since I didn't really trust the farmed out steering component install. I trust the mechanics at this shop but when they farm stuff out I have not had good luck.

Any how, my most known and most favorite mechanic at the shop acknowledged the handling problem during his test drives, looked things over from head to toe and said it was all healthy. He even mentioned how he could see where the camber had been set with the shims (probably the Montana shop but could have been someone else).

I brought it home fully expecting to take it to an expert but after finding out the prices decided to fiddle a little on my own. After a nice long test drive where the front end was diving into the turns I decided the airbags had to go up. Due to a faulty air compressor here at home I could only get them to 65 psi. But what a difference it made! My good handling coach was back. Once we get our air compressor functioning properly again I may try 70 psi as I believe that is what the Montana shop left it at.

Thanks to everyone for their help!

Michelle
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:26 PM   #13
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Micd: Good to hear it all worked out for you. If memory serves me I think 74psi was the magic number for our p32.
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Old 08-15-2010, 10:45 PM   #14
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Thanks for your help!

Az Bound,

You were spot on. It was the low air bag pressure.

The shop was convinced that my tire pressure was too low. One of the front office guys at the shop actually called up Hankook to argue with them that my tire pressure should be at 85 psi or the pressure printed on the sidewall. If I set it to 85 which is the proper pressure for something like an 22,000+ lb coach (with the same tires as us) we would have been bouncing around like a basketball. We are only 13,000 lbs fully loaded for a 10 day trip so not even that for most trips. When I pointed out that the Bridgestone and Michelin charts for the same size tire indicated we should be about where we were he countered with 'what do those guys know, they just know tires, they don't know anything about ride'. I was so frustrated! He then called up his buddy to kibitz with him about what it should be and twice during the test drive hopped out of the coach to look at the sidewall and recommend that we run the pressure at what was on the sidewall. In the mean time he continued to deny that there was anything wrong with the ride. When he test drove it he threw the wheel from side to side turning it 45 degrees each way, weaving back and forth in the road saying, see look it goes back and forth. I tried to explain that sure if you turn the wheel that much it turns but my problem was when I didn't turn the wheel and it started to go off track or I turned it in a particular direction it took along time to respond.

I insisted we have the mechanic look at it and when the competent mechanic test drove it he found the same handling problems I was seeing. He looked the whole thing over but couldn't find the problem. However I was happy to have everything checked out by someone I trusted before I started fiddling with things.

I'll work my way up on the front air bags from the 65 psi and see how it does to find the sweet spot.

Cheers!
Michelle
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