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Old 11-07-2016, 07:26 AM   #1
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Taming the Roadmaster RR8R Chassis

This is a long post but I wanted to explain everything so people could understand the history behind our coach.

I am currently parked in Gatlinburg getting ready to train some RV Techs on slide assembly repair and troubleshooting. I just left Van Williams place where together with Craig French they performed a miracle on my 05 HR Ambassador RR8R chassis.

Some history first. We bought our coach new in 05 and it handled very well. Over time and with more miles driven, it steadily got worse. 2 years ago it became a hand full so I had a Steer Safe system installed. This helped a little but then a year later the handling got much worse. It was so bad that I dreaded every trip. I used to drive 350 – 400 miles a day and had to cut back to 250 MPD because I was wore out physically and mentally from fighting the coach. It turned into a big wallowing pig. Wind’s, semis passing me, crowned roads and curves had this coach all over the road. I had to drop my speed to 58 mph on expressways in order to feel safe and always had two hands on the wheel while driving.

Craig and Van were doing a lot of steering gear change outs plus Van ( an amazing machinist ) was building watts link and rear cross bars for peoples coaches. They were getting ready to retire from installing these units but felt they could not end their work till they had done my coach. So I drove up to Van’s, Craig flew his plane up there and the two of them thrashed away on my coach for two solid days working till 10 PM. They gave it the full treatment and much to my surprise did the rear cross bar unit. I had a front jack where the welds broke loose and they tore that out and rebuilt the entire mounting assembly. Like everything these guys do ( they are perfectionists ) , this jack mount will never break loose again.

I left and started my drive on I-40 towards Gatlinburg. Wow. Now I see why they say this retrofit for the RR8R is a miracle modification. This coach has not handled this good ever. Not even when it was new. The big test was running the gauntlet on I-40 through Maggie Valley. The coach tracked through the turns with no leaning, no steering wash out and I had no pucker moments. I went through the turns with one hand on the wheel and more importantly I was stress free through the entire trip. When I was alone on the freeway I also ran it purposely through some tests - onto the shoulder where it came right back with no jerking, performing evasive maneuvers, etc.. I even let go of the steering wheel and it tracked true for almost 2/10ths of a mile.

In conclusion I want to give my personal thoughts. First and foremost, The RR8R has some design flaws and they cannot be fixed with shocks, a steering system or other bolt on accessories. The shepherd steering gear box should have never been used on these coaches. If you knew the history on how Monaco adapted the Shepherd to the RR8R you would understand. The more miles you clock on your coach, the worse the handling will become ( we have 67,000 miles on ours ). I am a firm believer that in order to get the full benefit of these chassis modifications that one should not only swap their steering gear box out for a TRW but also install the front watts link AND rear cross bars. It does no good to address the front end and still have the tail wagging the dog. These modifications when done together stabilizes the entire chassis and ties it all in to provide you with a coach that handles like a dream. In a nutshell it ends the battle between the front end and back end fighting over who the boss is.

I cannot thank Van and Craig enough for all their hard work and applying their expertise to my coach. I am honored to have them as dear friends of mine and could never thank them enough for making my coach safe and fun to drive again. These two guys have worked their tails off for Monaco and HR members doing these modifications and almost every bit of their labor they provided for members has been for free. Their dedication speaks volumes on what kind of individuals they are. We are extremely lucky to have them in our RV community. I do not blame them for stepping back and not doing installs anymore. It is hard on the body, time consuming and doing multiple coaches will take a toll on you.

Thanks guys for being so awesome. You have surely paid it forward. See you at the Monaco Lazy Days gathering in 2017.

For anyone needing more info on these modifications, please feel free to contact me by e-mail. I am on the road so it may take me a couple days to get back to you. Also Van & Craig will be at the Lazy Day Gathering in 2017 inspecting steering gears and making adjustments for people and hopefully they will be attending the 2017 MS in Goshen. I am begging them to attend and present their seminar there. If you own an RR8R or RR10R chassis, this is a seminar you do not want to miss.

Safe Travels,
Chris T
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Old 11-07-2016, 09:30 AM   #2
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Thanks for posting Chris T, I too need to thank Van for the work done and design. That said I want to thank Mike Hughes for making the kits available for many coaches and off the 'shelf'.

My HR Endeavor was a bear to drive until I fabricated a set of Van's X-braces and bought the front watts link kit from Mike. It is a joy to drive now, love it.
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Old 11-07-2016, 11:54 AM   #3
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QUOTE********I am a firm believer that in order to get the full benefit of these chassis modifications that one should not only swap their steering gear box out for a TRW but also install the front watts link AND rear cross bars.**********


So where can I order front watts link and the rear crossbar kit? thx
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Old 11-07-2016, 01:11 PM   #4
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Anyone have a link on the cross bars, photos...trying to put my head around it.
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Old 11-07-2016, 02:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grthigpen View Post
QUOTE********I am a firm believer that in order to get the full benefit of these chassis modifications that one should not only swap their steering gear box out for a TRW but also install the front watts link AND rear cross bars.**********


So where can I order front watts link and the rear crossbar kit? thx
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Old 11-07-2016, 02:31 PM   #6
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Anyone have a link on the cross bars, photos...trying to put my head around it.
Here is a link to my photos on the cross braces that Van built more me.

http://www.irv2.com/photopost/showgallery.php?cat=1524

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Old 11-07-2016, 08:00 PM   #7
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for a 2004 Monaco dep txs
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Old 11-08-2016, 01:27 AM   #8
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I totally agree the watts and x braces make the H frame firm and solid with the main frame and still let it move as it was intended too. The quality of their kits is top notch and will out last the rest of the coach. The fit is very precise and should be greatly appreciated as their is not much clearance to work in.. Instructions are easy to follow and understand. My hat is off to these guys for not only finding a solution but their willingness to build and sell them to the rest of us.. Thanks to the unsung hero's....
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Old 11-08-2016, 06:56 AM   #9
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Can't wait Mike, looking forward to install your kits at QZ!


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Old 11-08-2016, 07:28 AM   #10
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what does the kit cost for front and rear???
I am not sure. Van Williams no longer has them and Mike Hughes is now having them made elsewhere and selling them.

I have heard different prices for Mike's and since I am not sure what he charges then I am not going to quote a price. That wouldn't be fair to Mike.

The TRW steering gear is sold through Weller truck parts. You purchase the steering gear and pitman arm and nut through them. I would not even consider any work being done unless it included the TRW / Shepherd steering gear change out. There are a lot of problems with the Shepherd gear box and it also is not adjustable.

You can contact Weller to get a price from them.

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Old 11-08-2016, 12:55 PM   #11
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I have a 2012 Monaco Knight with the same chassis, does the same problems still exist for this year of rig.I have less than 30000 miles.
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:49 AM   #12
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I have a 2012 Monaco Knight with the same chassis, does the same problems still exist for this year of rig.I have less than 30000 miles.
YES, see my post in the other thread. http://www.irv2.com/forums/f115/stee...ml#post2222622
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Old 11-09-2016, 12:13 PM   #13
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Interesting documents. What I find puzzling is the years it covers. As posted on the documents "2000-and up, but I have an 8 bag chassis that is not RR8S or RR8R, and I could be wrong but I thought the RR series didn't come along until 2002. I have the RM8H from under they carry a strong resemblance. My coach was built 7/2001
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:08 AM   #14
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according to my research...


Endeavor and Diplomat


2001 RR8C
2002 RR8H
2003-2010 RR8R


2000 indicates a roadmaster chassis but not its designation.. and some are Freightliner
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