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Old 01-08-2008, 06:45 AM   #1
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For those owning the Howard Precision Steering Sytem this may be of interest.

On December 21, during a short trip to DW for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party, my Howard Precision Steering System broke. After parking at the Fort Wilderness CG there was a big puddle of hydraulic fluid under the unit.

On December 26 I called the 800 number for service and left a message. Sam returned my call. Based on the information available, he diagnosed the problem as a blown bladder. The bladder is the reservoir that holds the hydraulic fluid. He mentioned the company is out of business, everything has been sold. He is the only employee. His job is to make a best effort attempt to handle warranty customers. Most parts are already out of stock.

I called on January 7 to determine the status of finding the part my unit needs. Sam returned my call and mentioned he had found the part and would ship it to me in a few days.

Driving the coach back from DW was an adventure. I will now get to drive the coach to Tampa (by way of Ft. Myers) and that should also keep me busy. The hunting dog has returned.

I will post here again after I receive the part and install it.
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Old 01-08-2008, 06:45 AM   #2
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For those owning the Howard Precision Steering Sytem this may be of interest.

On December 21, during a short trip to DW for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party, my Howard Precision Steering System broke. After parking at the Fort Wilderness CG there was a big puddle of hydraulic fluid under the unit.

On December 26 I called the 800 number for service and left a message. Sam returned my call. Based on the information available, he diagnosed the problem as a blown bladder. The bladder is the reservoir that holds the hydraulic fluid. He mentioned the company is out of business, everything has been sold. He is the only employee. His job is to make a best effort attempt to handle warranty customers. Most parts are already out of stock.

I called on January 7 to determine the status of finding the part my unit needs. Sam returned my call and mentioned he had found the part and would ship it to me in a few days.

Driving the coach back from DW was an adventure. I will now get to drive the coach to Tampa (by way of Ft. Myers) and that should also keep me busy. The hunting dog has returned.

I will post here again after I receive the part and install it.
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Old 01-10-2008, 02:26 AM   #3
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gary, we also have howard steering on our beaver, sorry to hear obout them going out, rally do like their system. but at least we now have an alternative with blue ox's system. they finally made them ajustable like ours. lot less parts to go bad and 1/3 the price as the howard system!
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Old 01-10-2008, 04:18 AM   #4
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Hi beaverjim,
I wish you were correct for my coach. Unfortunately, Blue Ox does not make their product for an 05 Spartan with a Granning 1260 front end. I called them and asked. If the HPSS can not be repaired, the only choice I have, at this time, is the product from SuperSteer. They have a product that will fit my coach. That is the good news. The bad news is their experience with a Spartan having my front end means I must travel to Oregon to have it installed! They will not release the kit to dealerships.

This may challenge my motto of "Any Excuse For A Trip".
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Old 01-25-2008, 11:31 AM   #5
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The Howard Precision Steering System (HPSS) is fixed. I don't mean neutered. I installed the spare parts today. The install was straight forward and everything went as planned.

All the post install items to check were found to be okay. The system came up to driving pressure and there were no leaks.

With the HPSS working combined with the SuperSteer Motion Control Units, this coach is going to be a pleasure to drive.
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Old 01-25-2008, 02:13 PM   #6
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Gary,

I am happy things worked out well for you-- and sad for the Howard company.

The founder, Dee Howard, made his aircraft modification kits primarily for the older Lear Jets-- a new, much improved, wing configuration. His second major contribution was the "hush kits" for larger commercial jets so that the aircraft industry could continue to operate into noise sensitive airports in the US. He was a teriffic engineer. Some years later the company was sold and they made this "Howard steering" equipment. I drove, and fixed, a system installed in a 45' Prevost Marathon coach about 5 years ago. The coach had been to Marathon in Oregon and Prevost in Quebec for repairs-- the repairs only lasted for about 200 miles each time. Both companies had changed out the pump and wiring. Neither company had ever called Howard for help. I ended up near Boston at a camp ground picking up my boss and his wife. I flew the corporate King Air. When I got back to North Carolina I called San Antonio, Howard steering, and they told me that they had problems with a small valve in the cockpit that regulates the air pressure in the system --this controls the amount of force put on the Pitman arm to compensate for winds, road crowns, and to steer straight in case of a blow out-- it is the adjusting valve for individual driver comfort. They sent the part overnight, for free. I installed it on the return trip to Boston and it fixed the problem. I think it was Sam that I worked with also. I'm sad over this information.

Just a little bit of personal "history". Again, I'm happy your situtation worked for the best,

Good luck,
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Old 01-27-2008, 03:48 AM   #7
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Oh my gosh - the other shoe finally dropped

GaryKD - thanks for letting me know about this thread since I usually don't check this forum.

We had our Precision Steer installed at Iron Horse RV In San Antonio a couple of years ago. When Terry of Howard came out to the coach to survey the job, he said no way would they do another install on another IFS coach.

Fortunately (well.. maybe not fortunately), Dee overruled him and said to do (facilitate) the job. Since there isn't the long steering rod (like on a straight axle FE) to clamp the ram to, a special pivoting bracket had to be made which the ram pulled/pushed, and there was a link from the bracket to the steering tie rod.

Then due to the unusual linkage, we needed a much larger ram and pump - our pump tops out at 250 psi.

It turned out to be a complicated installation and even thought Terry mocked up the one-off parts with foam board and taped them in position before they were fabricated, he still got the geometry slightly wrong. Terry returned later that day with tweaked parts and it fit well enough to continue the installation.

After the job was complete, the owner of Iron Horse said they would need to charge much more money for the next IFS install due to the time involved.

It is really sad nobody picked up the business, or at least rights to the PCS. I emailed my friend at Winnebago over a year ago and suggested they might be interested in this, but apparently not. I thought this would be a good competitive strategy since Newmar has the Comfort Steering product.

Hopefully I won't need to yank out the system due to a failure and no parts available.
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Old 01-27-2008, 04:51 PM   #8
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Hi John,
I was at Iron Horse about a month after you. Sam, the guy at HPSS, mentioned if the HPSS is run above 140 lbs of pressure there is a good chance of premature baldder failure. I was running my unit at 180 lbs of pressure. I do not know if this caused the bladder failure. With the SuperSteer motion control units installed I am confident I can run the system at 100 to 120 lbs of pressure, on a regular basis. Sam mentioned for once and a while really windy conditions running above 140 lbs of pressure was okay, just don't do it on a regular basis.
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