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Old 08-14-2007, 02:48 PM   #1
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With all the current interest in the Comfort Drive, I searched for a document I had been given some months ago....Here are some questions and answers provided me regarding the performance of the Comfort Drive...

The Comfort Drive is at product is,at it's heart,a computer controlled electric motor.
It's sole purpose is to reduce the work that the driver must exert to control his or her vehicle in all operating conditions.
Words that will be believed cannot describe the sensations felt by a driver so driving demonstrations will help discover what the Comfort Drive can truly do.

In this article I will discuss what action to take and what behavior I feel will be noticed.

Test: Sit down in the driver's seat...Be SURE to read,understand and follow ALL traffic laws,watch the surrounding traffic and maintain SAFE vehicle operation at all times...Don't do ANYTHING DUMB!!
With these thoughts out of the way,take the time to adjust the seat and mirrors to where you can reach and see everything. Adjust the steering wheel to a comfortable position. One version of the Comfort Drive has a lever release,where you push the lever down to tilt and pull the lever to telescope. Another version has a foot pedal release,where you step on the pedal to unlock the tilt and telescope at the same time,move the wheel,then release the pedal to lock the wheel. Yet another version has electric motors to allow a switch to control the position...Do whatever works.
Behavior to notice: The Comfort Drive has more available tilt range,depending on instrument panel location and steering wheel used. This increased range can allow the steering wheel to be moved much further than normal,allowing it to get out of the way for better entrance to the driving area, yet be put right in your lap for comfortable driving.

Test: Start the vehicle...With the parking brake set and your foot off the brakes,steer to a full left turn,then a full right turn,then let go of the wheel.
Behavior to notice: The first thing you will notice is that the effort to static steer is SERIOUSLY reduced. The second thing you will discover is that the steering wheel comes back almost to center by itself. Reversibility is so improved that it even does it standing still.
The third thing you will discover is that you are grinding flat spots in the asphalt, so STOP it.

Test In a big empty parking lot turn the wheel 20 to 30 degrees while standing still and pay attention to how hard you have to pull on the wheel.Now get up to 10 or 15 mph,move the wheel the same amount, and pay attention to how hard you have to pull the wheel.
Behavior to notice The efforts will be speed proportional,where they get heavier as the speed increases,up to 60mph.

Test At about 10mph turn the wheel to one end of travel, make a 90 degree corner,then let go of the wheel....This is NOT a recommended driving practice,but remember that you're in a parking lot.
Behavior to notice: You can make the turn by palming the wheel around or even with a finger in the spoke. The wheel will come all the way back to straight by itself,probably coming out of the turn too early. The next time, let the wheel slide through your hands, just like you drive your car...Turning has become this easy.

Test Once you are comfortable in the vehicle and have gotten accustomed to the feel of the steering, get out on a local road and drive around at 25-40mph...
Behavior to notice: The steering will get heavier going around a bend,but driving straight down a road it will feel light. This is because all the friction is being removed by the Comfort Drive...The first hour the steering will feel light, but by the end of a week it will start to feel too heavy. The center will be well defined and it will hold straight ahead until you move it. You will find you don't need a heavy, two-fisted grip to be able to move the wheel.

Test; When driving on a straight road at 55mph, move the steering wheel about 1/2 inch then release it.
Behavior to notice:The wheel will immediately return to center,just like your car. The position of the wheel and the effort you have to put into it to get it there will finally be related to each other. The constant pushing of the wheel first to the left and then to the right in a futile desire to find center is gone...

Test: Drive on a four lane highway with both bends and long straight sections...
Behavior to notice: The efforts will be even heavier, but still much less work than a standard steering system. Lane correction can be made by pulling on the wheel for a moment,just like you drive your car.

Test: Drive at 55mph. in the rightlane of a straight four lane road with a road crown with no wind blowing for about a mile,then switch to the left lane. Drive in that lane for about a mile then switch back to the right lane.
Behavior to notice: The efforts to drive in the right lane will be close to zero. When you switch to the left lane,the vehicle will pull down the crown to the left for a few seconds,then stop pulling the crown to drive normally. When you switch back to the right lane,it will pull down the crown again,this time to the right for a few seconds,then drive normally again. This is pull compensation in action on a small scale.

Test: Drive around on a day with significant wind.
Behavior to notice: When you or the wind change directions, the wind will make the vehicle pull downwind for as long as a few minutes,depending on the severity of the wind, then the Comfort Drive will compensate for that new direction and strength so that you don't have to hold the wheel against the the wind for a long period of time. You will still have to compensate for wind gusts, but with the friction gone, even that will be easier than with a standard system. This is pull compensation on a large scale.

Test: Drive for 8 continuous hours,with appropriate breaks.
Behavior to notice: Your shoulders,neck muscles,and back won't hurt because of the work they don't have to do. You will be more alert to surroundings and traffic, and you won't be grouchy because you won't be as exhausted and sore.

Test: Drive the Comfort Drive for two weeks, then get back into a similar vehicle without Comfort Drive.
Behavior to notice: It drives like the proverbial log wagon...It makes you want to get back to that Comfort Drive equipped coach...

A test you won't likely do... Everybody uses computers and everybody has them mess up, so you're probably wondering what would happen if the computer in the Comfort Drive messed up?
Behavior you'd notice if this happened...
The Comfort Drive computer actually spends most of it's time "checking itself" to maintain safe operation. In the unlikely event that a problem is found, it shuts itself off, returning the vehicle to the same standard power steering of every other large vehicle. It will remain safe to drive until you can get it fixed at a place you can trust. You need not worry about being stranded.
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:48 PM   #2
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With all the current interest in the Comfort Drive, I searched for a document I had been given some months ago....Here are some questions and answers provided me regarding the performance of the Comfort Drive...

The Comfort Drive is at product is,at it's heart,a computer controlled electric motor.
It's sole purpose is to reduce the work that the driver must exert to control his or her vehicle in all operating conditions.
Words that will be believed cannot describe the sensations felt by a driver so driving demonstrations will help discover what the Comfort Drive can truly do.

In this article I will discuss what action to take and what behavior I feel will be noticed.

Test: Sit down in the driver's seat...Be SURE to read,understand and follow ALL traffic laws,watch the surrounding traffic and maintain SAFE vehicle operation at all times...Don't do ANYTHING DUMB!!
With these thoughts out of the way,take the time to adjust the seat and mirrors to where you can reach and see everything. Adjust the steering wheel to a comfortable position. One version of the Comfort Drive has a lever release,where you push the lever down to tilt and pull the lever to telescope. Another version has a foot pedal release,where you step on the pedal to unlock the tilt and telescope at the same time,move the wheel,then release the pedal to lock the wheel. Yet another version has electric motors to allow a switch to control the position...Do whatever works.
Behavior to notice: The Comfort Drive has more available tilt range,depending on instrument panel location and steering wheel used. This increased range can allow the steering wheel to be moved much further than normal,allowing it to get out of the way for better entrance to the driving area, yet be put right in your lap for comfortable driving.

Test: Start the vehicle...With the parking brake set and your foot off the brakes,steer to a full left turn,then a full right turn,then let go of the wheel.
Behavior to notice: The first thing you will notice is that the effort to static steer is SERIOUSLY reduced. The second thing you will discover is that the steering wheel comes back almost to center by itself. Reversibility is so improved that it even does it standing still.
The third thing you will discover is that you are grinding flat spots in the asphalt, so STOP it.

Test In a big empty parking lot turn the wheel 20 to 30 degrees while standing still and pay attention to how hard you have to pull on the wheel.Now get up to 10 or 15 mph,move the wheel the same amount, and pay attention to how hard you have to pull the wheel.
Behavior to notice The efforts will be speed proportional,where they get heavier as the speed increases,up to 60mph.

Test At about 10mph turn the wheel to one end of travel, make a 90 degree corner,then let go of the wheel....This is NOT a recommended driving practice,but remember that you're in a parking lot.
Behavior to notice: You can make the turn by palming the wheel around or even with a finger in the spoke. The wheel will come all the way back to straight by itself,probably coming out of the turn too early. The next time, let the wheel slide through your hands, just like you drive your car...Turning has become this easy.

Test Once you are comfortable in the vehicle and have gotten accustomed to the feel of the steering, get out on a local road and drive around at 25-40mph...
Behavior to notice: The steering will get heavier going around a bend,but driving straight down a road it will feel light. This is because all the friction is being removed by the Comfort Drive...The first hour the steering will feel light, but by the end of a week it will start to feel too heavy. The center will be well defined and it will hold straight ahead until you move it. You will find you don't need a heavy, two-fisted grip to be able to move the wheel.

Test; When driving on a straight road at 55mph, move the steering wheel about 1/2 inch then release it.
Behavior to notice:The wheel will immediately return to center,just like your car. The position of the wheel and the effort you have to put into it to get it there will finally be related to each other. The constant pushing of the wheel first to the left and then to the right in a futile desire to find center is gone...

Test: Drive on a four lane highway with both bends and long straight sections...
Behavior to notice: The efforts will be even heavier, but still much less work than a standard steering system. Lane correction can be made by pulling on the wheel for a moment,just like you drive your car.

Test: Drive at 55mph. in the rightlane of a straight four lane road with a road crown with no wind blowing for about a mile,then switch to the left lane. Drive in that lane for about a mile then switch back to the right lane.
Behavior to notice: The efforts to drive in the right lane will be close to zero. When you switch to the left lane,the vehicle will pull down the crown to the left for a few seconds,then stop pulling the crown to drive normally. When you switch back to the right lane,it will pull down the crown again,this time to the right for a few seconds,then drive normally again. This is pull compensation in action on a small scale.

Test: Drive around on a day with significant wind.
Behavior to notice: When you or the wind change directions, the wind will make the vehicle pull downwind for as long as a few minutes,depending on the severity of the wind, then the Comfort Drive will compensate for that new direction and strength so that you don't have to hold the wheel against the the wind for a long period of time. You will still have to compensate for wind gusts, but with the friction gone, even that will be easier than with a standard system. This is pull compensation on a large scale.

Test: Drive for 8 continuous hours,with appropriate breaks.
Behavior to notice: Your shoulders,neck muscles,and back won't hurt because of the work they don't have to do. You will be more alert to surroundings and traffic, and you won't be grouchy because you won't be as exhausted and sore.

Test: Drive the Comfort Drive for two weeks, then get back into a similar vehicle without Comfort Drive.
Behavior to notice: It drives like the proverbial log wagon...It makes you want to get back to that Comfort Drive equipped coach...

A test you won't likely do... Everybody uses computers and everybody has them mess up, so you're probably wondering what would happen if the computer in the Comfort Drive messed up?
Behavior you'd notice if this happened...
The Comfort Drive computer actually spends most of it's time "checking itself" to maintain safe operation. In the unlikely event that a problem is found, it shuts itself off, returning the vehicle to the same standard power steering of every other large vehicle. It will remain safe to drive until you can get it fixed at a place you can trust. You need not worry about being stranded.
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Old 08-14-2007, 04:20 PM   #3
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rebels....
Ditto, ditto, ditto...
Newmar brands it Comfort Drive, TRW brands it Column Drive and by either name it IS better than any description. Finally, 8 hour drives with 50mph Kansas cross winds are positively effortless.
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Old 08-14-2007, 04:23 PM   #4
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Bob,
Well done.
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:00 PM   #5
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Thanks, Bob. I posted a link on the other forum for others who want to find it. Lee
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Old 08-16-2007, 06:12 PM   #6
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Thought this would be to keep around a day or two with all the renewed Newmar interest lately...

It was about to roll off bottom of page...
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Old 08-17-2007, 05:11 AM   #7
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Thought maybe we could get some feedback from some of our CD owning folks regarding their experiences with the tests mentioned in the original post?

Maybe even someone that's done a test drive?

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Old 09-04-2007, 01:13 AM   #8
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I road tested a unit and all I can say is wow. I just loved it. I have a Journey now and was thinking of upgrading to a Vectra but after driving this for 15 miles or so. I just might be a Newmar Dutch Star owner. We are planning a Alaska tour next year and was thinking it might be better to wait for a new coach but after driving this one. I might be driving a new coach to Alaska.
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Old 09-04-2007, 01:36 AM   #9
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Old 09-04-2007, 05:09 AM   #10
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by rebelsbeach:

Maybe even someone that's done a test drive? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I road tested a 43' Dutchstar and initially had very mixed feelings while pulling out of the dealers lot. The steering felt very light almost "floating" and I began to think that I was not going to like the system. After a few minutes we entered a two lane divided highway and after reaching a speed of 50-55 mph the steering "tightened" and the coach felt almost glued to the road. I really began to appreciate the system as it began to adjust to the crown in the road and seemed to take into consideration a good cross-wind blowing around 25mph. I began to feel my hands relaxing on the steering wheel and I felt comfortable with only a slight grip from one hand on the steering wheel. I can imagine that this will be awesome on long drives and will certainly relieve a lot of body stress while underway.
Parking was another great experience and backing up while letting go of the wheel was a breeze! Coming from a great driving Essex on a K2, I was very impressed with how the coach handled and am convinced that my next coach must have this system.
For completing the test drive, Newmar sent a $1000 gift certificate (to be redeemed on a new coach)and a nice gift of a tire gauge, mini flashlight and pen.
Get to your dealer and test drive one. I bet you will be very impressed as well.


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Old 09-04-2007, 07:34 AM   #11
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This being my first, I have nothing to compare it to. All I can say, is that it amazes me how effortless it steers. Today I happened to stop in a parking area with the wheels almost fully turned. When I put it in "N" and applied the parking break, I released the wheel. It immediately, but slowly, returned to center itself. WOW!

Very happy with my decision.
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:08 AM   #12
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Notcied all the write ups on Comfort Drive have been based on straight line highway driving. Just wondering what experiences have been on winding/hilly(off Expressway) roads-as that is where we spend 70% of our driving time.
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:44 AM   #13
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Well, I've put 20,000 miles on mine and have been through some all day windy, hilly, narrow mountainous roads. It not only works great but it reduces the input energy to near nil, resulting in the ability to do it for 12/14 hours non stop. Without it you would feel the long day.

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Old 09-04-2007, 09:55 AM   #14
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I do not have Comfort Drive on my rig, but have driven the Dutch Star at Newmar on a test drive, and I don't see any drawbacks to Comfort Drive.

Steering effort was reduced on straight roads, curves at speed, slow speed turns and parking, and I did not encounter a situation where I did not like comfort drive.

I felt it was much easier to control the vehicle under all conditions, with much less stress as a relaxed grip is all that's needed.

Today, I had lunch with Ken Sherwin, who invented Column Drive for TRW (Newmar calls it Comfort Drive), and he said he has not received any negative feedback on CD.

Ken let me drive his latest test vehicle after lunch, and it was equipped with Column Drive. Newmar has exclusive rights for motorhomes, but some busses are equipped with Column Drive.

Driving this short wheelbase bus was a hoot, and the Column Drive made driving a piece of cake.

Don't you just love R&D vehicles?
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