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Old 08-04-2019, 09:27 PM   #1
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Why two GVWR for the E350?

Most E350 chassis have a gross weight of 11500# but some are rated for 12500#. Can someone explain the difference in the two chassis?
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:39 PM   #2
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Think one has a longer wheelbase and larger Gvwr
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Old 08-04-2019, 09:49 PM   #3
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The answer is a bit deeper than that.

Both the E350 DRW 158" and E350 DRW 176" wheel base versions are offered with two different load ratings for the front and rear axles. Ford installs higher-rated coil springs up front and stacks more rear leaf springs (or thicker ones) for the 12,500 pound rated versions.

So if your rig is under-rated or over-rated, you can install different springs that are closer to your actual load to either increase it's capability to eliminate a rear end sag, or even decrease capability for a smoother-ride under light-weight conditions.

Some time soon, I will be installing lower-rated front coil springs for our rig in an attempt to smooth our ride because our actual front load is so light compared to the rating. I hope the change will also lower the front end a bit to level out our rig better. I may consider one pair of additional rear leaf springs in back to raise the rear a bit to further level our loaded rig. Unlike our front axle, our actual rear load is right at the limit of the rear axle, sometimes even a tad bit over.

The tires handle much more so no worries with them. It's all suspension adjustments to match actual load conditions with consideration for a little extra margin. Not so much extra margin as is the condition up front.

Following thereafter will be new tires and a front wheel alignment.

DRW = Dual Rear Wheel
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Dittmer View Post
The answer is a bit deeper than that.

Both the E350 DRW 158" and E350 DRW 176" wheel base versions are offered with two different load ratings for the front and rear axles. Ford installs higher-rated coil springs up front and stacks more rear leaf springs (or thicker ones) for the 12,500 pound rated versions.

So if your rig is under-rated or over-rated, you can install different springs that are closer to your actual load to either increase it's capability to eliminate a rear end sag, or even decrease capability for a smoother-ride under light-weight conditions.

Some time soon, I will be installing lower-rated front coil springs for our rig in an attempt to smooth our ride because our actual front load is so light compared to the rating. I hope the change will also lower the front end a bit to level out our rig better. I may consider one pair of additional rear leaf springs in back to raise the rear a bit to further level our loaded rig. Unlike our front axle, our actual rear load is right at the limit of the rear axle, sometimes even a tad bit over.

The tires handle much more so no worries with them. It's all suspension adjustments to match actual load conditions with consideration for a little extra margin. Not so much extra margin as is the condition up front.

Following thereafter will be new tires and a front wheel alignment.

DRW = Dual Rear Wheel
Thanks for the reply. Could I put an adjustable air bag system to upgrade the rear rather than add leaf springs? I am close to or just over the 11500 with tongue wt. and would prefer not to go through the special order process to get the 450. I would appreciate any informed opinion on this, thanks.
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Old 08-05-2019, 02:58 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reply. Could I put an adjustable air bag system to upgrade the rear rather than add leaf springs? I am close to or just over the 11500 with tongue wt. and would prefer not to go through the special order process to get the 450. I would appreciate any informed opinion on this, thanks.
Unfortunately when buying a new or used motor home, you really don't know (nor can you anticipate) the load you will be placing on each axle until after you bought it, loaded it up with your typical collection of stuff and people, and be on your trip, stopping along the way at a truck stop equipped with a weigh station. It is only then when you have useful weight numbers to determine what you are dealing with. Preparing for a worst case scenario, special-ordering the E450 covers you well, but on your first trip, your dentures might be hard to keep in your mouth. If you go with the standard E350 and find the rear end sagging along with your front lifted in the air, then you have the opposing bad scenario. That is my situation though not dramatic. I just want to "Get It Right" hoping lower-rated front coil springs is going to tweak my rig perfect. New Moog-brand front coil springs sitting in the box at home cost me $96 with shipping included. I myself will swap them out.

For the past 3 years, the rear axle gear ratio has been the same for E350 and E450, so the E350 10% increase in fuel economy no longer applies. There are other things to gain with an E450 like a thicker frame material and most notable bigger brakes and hydraulic brake booster that today sways me to favor an E450, then play with the springs to tame it for a lighter load, which is affordable in having the right shop do for you.

Air bags are a cheap fix for an E350, helping to level the rig. But adding enough air to lift them make for a much rougher ride. The ultimate solution is taking your fully loaded rig with weight numbers to a truck suspension shop and have them adjust the rear leaf spring packs, and replace your front coil springs to reflect your actual load plus 500-600 pounds of extra margin.

There are some generic guidelines in determining an E350 or E450. If the rig has a 158" wheel base and the over-all length of the motor home exceeds 24-25 feet, than consider an E450. If the rig has a 176" wheel base or greater, then you can go to 26-27 feet before considering an E450. The reason being that the extra weight from the longer length is placed on the otherwise light front axle.

At least that is my own thoughts on this subject matter. I hope others reply with their own. I am surely no expert on this.
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Old 08-12-2019, 11:07 AM   #6
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Wink Been there done that...

Gentlemen, permit me to share my recent experience. Our 2012 {2011 chassis} Nexus Phantom 23 P {24.5'} has the 11,500 GVWR {I think Ford bumped the E-350 GVWR with the 2012 or 2013 model to 12,500# but changed virtually nothing... marketing?} E-350 chassis on the 158" wheelbase. I typically run near or at that max GVWR.

When I went to a 10' single axle cargo trailer to haul my Indian and now my RZR I added about 250# of additional tongue weight. The trailer tongue needs to be 16" off of the ground to be perfectly level. When I hooked up the trailer the rear end of our coach sagged 1.5" {below 16"}.

The solution was easy and not all that expensive, I added a set of Air Lift 5K# air bags{around $400 for the bags and another $150 for the install}. By adding just 50 psi to the system {that is rated for 100 psi max} the rear end comes back up to dead level and it tows like a dream.

I hired my local mechanic to install the air bags {my bad knee eliminates crawling under the rig} and he routed both air lines through a "Y" to single schrader valve that he located adjacent the house batteries on the street side. My Harbor Freight compressor/charger tops them up in seconds.

The ride and handling of my coach was always outstanding even running near/at GVWR and until I added the Cargo trailer I never even considered air bags. Did not think the handling could get any better but I was wrong. By running just 25 psi when running light {not towing}, the handling actually got measurably better.

As noted before, at 33,000 miles I replaced the original shocks with heavy duty Bilstein's and continue to be amazed at what fantasric shocks they are for this coach. Big rigs and windy days are simply not an issue whether I am towing or not. I now have 56,000+ miles over the last 6+ years and could not be more pleased.

Best of all I paid it off a couple of weeks ago by accelerating the loan with frequent principle reductions. The 15 year 4.99 % loan went away at 6 years saving me almost $9,000 in interest that I did not pay.

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Old 08-12-2019, 10:10 PM   #7
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I like the idea of the airbag route, simply because it gives you tunability like Capt. Steve mentioned. If you have multiple travel modes, it seems like it would be great. As in, for me, it would be motorhome only, motorhome with motorcycle carrier, and motorhome with trailer. I could have the rig effectively sprung for the light load case, and adjust spring rate for the heavier cases by simply adding air.

I have a 450, so I'm at the point Ron is talking about--I have more spring than I really need. I can't help but wonder if it would be better to have less spring, plus the adjustable air part.

I had this setup on a past pickup--half ton springs that were set up for comfort, but with a substantial payload rating on the pickup. I added air springs, and could tune as necessary for the occasional heavy loads. It worked well.

If you go this route, I would VERY MUCH suggest separate plumbing for each side. Otherwise, air can move between the two bags, which is of zero help in a turn. If you have the two bags plumbed separately, then the additional spring rate you add on each side with air stays on that one side--everything should stay more predictable.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Steve View Post
Our 2012 {2011 chassis} Nexus Phantom 23 P {24.5'} has the 11,500 GVWR {I think Ford bumped the E-350 GVWR with the 2012 or 2013 model to 12,500# but changed virtually nothing... marketing?}
Model year 2007 and older, the E350 was limited to a GVWR of 11,500. Since 2008, the E350 chassis has been available with a GVWR of 11,500 and also 12,500. The RV outfitter chooses the one that best suits his particular models. CLICK HERE to get to Ford's 2019 E-Series website, then click on the E350 and then the specs below. You will see all the various flavors available, including the two E450 flavors. I assume the difference between the 11,500 and 12,500 are the rear leaf springs alone, because the front springs are the same.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:22 PM   #9
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Here is my 2007 E350 with an 11,500 GVWR, 158" wheel base and an over-all length of 23'-8". Considering load distribution, I think the teeter-totter effect is typical in the shorter lengths, especially in the B+ types. It is easy to see why the front axle is under-loaded and lifted while the rear axle is at it's limit.

I will soon experiment replacing my E350 front coil springs with lower-rated ones to lower the front a bit to level the rig, along with providing a softer ride up front. Many people don't realize that the E450 and E350 have the same front coil springs. All of the difference in load is related to the rear leaf springs.
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