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Old 05-03-2013, 11:12 AM   #15
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I've been doing a lot of reading on this stuff, as our rig's steering leaves something to be desired. In addition to alignment, tire air pressure, and possible worn bushings / components, another factor is weight balance.

Our 32 footer is not heavily loaded, and I carry no water, yet our rear axle weight is right at the GAWR. Front has a few hundred pounds of GAWR margin (I'm at work, so don't have figs here). I spoke to the service dept. at a large local Ford dealer. He said (and I've read elsewhere) that too much weight in the rear is a common problem with these rigs and makes the steering vague. I read that Ford recommends a minimum of 32% weight on the front axle. I think ours is somewhere around 30% IRRC, and there's really not that much I can move forward. Fill up the water tank or throw a bike rack on the hitch and you're even further off.

I've done the alignment (caster is a bit over 4), replaced ball joints & tightened the steering box. The steering is still too vague, almost bordering on unsafe, IMHO. I have to move the wheel too far to get a proportionate response. It's like there's a large dead zone - which of course then can lead to overcorrection. But it makes it difficult to place the rig on the road with precision, which is a problem when you're driving something that's large.

Really frustrating. I'm sure larger bars / polyurethane bushings will help with handling, but I am doubtful they'll address much in terms of the issue I described. The only thing I can think of to do is to go back to the alignment shop & ask them if they can dial in any more caster...

Sigh.
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:40 AM   #16
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My water tank is actually closer to the front and may help with getting more weight on the front axle.
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Old 05-03-2013, 12:09 PM   #17
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You're lucky. Mine is immediately behind the rear axle. The spare tire also hangs off the rear underside. Wish I could cram it into one of the front basements but they're too small.

I just made another appointment with the truck alignment shop - he's going to see if he can dial in any more caster, as well as double check the steering gearbox (though I doubt it's bad). If all that fails, guess I'll spring for a SteerSafe. They have a 30 day MBG, so the risk is low.
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Old 05-03-2013, 02:40 PM   #18
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You're lucky. Mine is immediately behind the rear axle. The spare tire also hangs off the rear underside. Wish I could cram it into one of the front basements but they're too small.

I just made another appointment with the truck alignment shop - he's going to see if he can dial in any more caster, as well as double check the steering gearbox (though I doubt it's bad). If all that fails, guess I'll spring for a SteerSafe. They have a 30 day MBG, so the risk is low.
Make sure you let us know how this works out for you because the "loose steering" was my most notable symptom. But I was at about 3.3 Degrees and went up to about 5.3 degrees, and that was a night and day difference.
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Old 05-03-2013, 02:56 PM   #19
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If you guys have the desire to post a picture of the top of your upper ball joint I can tell if you already have adjustable eccentrical sleeves or not. So far I have not heard of a stock Ford E350/E450 having adjustable eccentrics from the factory.

Here is a link to the eccentrics that are on my 2004 E450.

59400 - Fully Adjustable Camber/Caster Bushing, Ford Pinch Bolt Axles - Ingalls Engineering Co., Inc.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:43 PM   #20
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Mine didn't have them. The shop installed some during my alignment last year...
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Old 05-04-2013, 10:13 AM   #21
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Mine didn't have them. The shop installed some during my alignment last year...
Another detail about these sleeves. You are required to take from Peter to pay for Paul. I chose to put all I had (+2.0) into CASTER and let the CAMBER fall where it may. It worked out fine in the end but I admit I was not sure about this decision at the time.
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Old 05-10-2013, 04:43 PM   #22
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A Picture Says 1,000 Words

Take a look at the stock vs. aftermarket (Hellwig) rear sway bars!
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:31 PM   #23
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You should do the front also, easier than the rear except for the longest bolt. No problem for an air tool, but by hand it is a long bunch of pulls.
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Old 05-10-2013, 05:48 PM   #24
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Front sway bar comparison.
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Old 05-11-2013, 08:13 AM   #25
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There is no doubt an elephant in the room. My blindness has limited me to 3 observations.

1. My rear air bags were installed BEFORE OWNERSHIP (the air bags, I believe, cause my chassis to very rigidly go where ever the rear axel goes JUST LIKE I had more rigid anti sway bars).

and

2. Getting more +caster on the front end after driving it for 4000 miles.

and

3.The experience of 1 and 2 above in that order.

If I had experience without 1 and 2 above AND then do both 1 and 2 I am sure I would be less blind. JMO
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Old 05-11-2013, 12:35 PM   #26
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I know. It's a huge difference!! Yep. I just ordered the front one too now knowing what a difference there is between stock and aftermarket.
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:04 PM   #27
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Well I installed the front sway bar this evening after work. Wow!! Can you say LOCTITE!!!! It took me 30 minutes to get off the larger 18mm bolt on each side. If you aren't prepared for an upper body workout and don't have a pipe extension for your breaker bar then you aren't ready to do this one yourself. Let the shop do it for $90. There is no way, I repeat, no way, you will get these two bolts off with an air wrench. It takes an 18" breaker bar with a 24" pipe on it to turn these babies!!

I am a bit worried that the sway bar is stronger/substantial now than the cast pieces that it is connected to at each end. Any thoughts or opinions on that? Will the extra resistance eventually brake the cast pieces?

Oh, by the way, I ordered both the rear and the front from Amazon. They had the best price on both. I ordered the front one Saturday and it was on my front porch when I got home this evening. Impressive!
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:26 PM   #28
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Really Great information on this topic. It sounds like I am one of the lucky ones. I am now hitting the 70,000 mile mark and she still runs straight and rides solid.
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