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Old 02-19-2021, 08:47 PM   #1
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Alignment Frustration

Had a two axle alignment done on my W-22 yesterday by a shop that specializes in motorhomes and large trucks. I had e-mailed the shop and asked for a quote telling them that I wanted an alignment to set the caster to between 4 and 5 degrees, as has been recommended often by many people on this site. $250 for a front and rear axle alignment seemed reasonable to me, so I went for it.

When I checked in for my appointment I reminded the counter guy that I wanted to set the caster close to 5 degrees. He said no problem, "4.5 degrees is the industry standard" so they would normally do that anyway except for Freightliner chassis which he said was different.

Unfortunately, when it came time to pay I looked at the alignment sheet showing before and after results and they had set caster to just under 3 degrees! Turns out nobody told the guy actually doing the alignment what I wanted and he set it to factory specs. The alignment guy was apologetic, but also said that he would have to order new U-bolts in order to set it that high. Since it was almost closing time, he suggested I drive it and said he would redo the alignment for me if I still felt it was needed it.

In addition to the front alignment, they also adjusted the thrust (rear axle) angle which was 3/16" off.

The shop is about 85 miles from my storage yard, so a good hour and a half each way. It's an all day affair to take it back, and it turns out the moho does drive very well now. It WAS an unusually calm day for the southwest, so it's hard to say if I will feel the same way in a crosswind.

I'm annoyed that they didn't do what I asked and that the counter guy was full of bull about "industry standards", but it does drive well and will be a hassle to get it fixed, so I'm inclined to let it go.

Whaddya'll think?
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Old 02-20-2021, 07:57 AM   #2
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Morning Cam,

I really don't like dealing with shops where I don't know anyone. Your experience is truly exasperating and all too common. When going to a shop I always try to talk to the tech doing work. That way if there is a misunderstanding it is my failure to communicate!

You said, "the moho does drive very well now." Was the drive substantially improved on the ride home vs the ride to the shop?

My experience is that wander and tramlining is worse on calm days than windy days. When driving in wind the driver turns the steering wheel as required to follow the road. Most of the time this means turning into the wind and in the process takes the slack out of the steering causing the wander and tramlining to go away or be reduced.

However, if the intent is to get good steering and good steering was achieved maybe you got what you paid for.
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:20 AM   #3
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If you are happy with the way it drives after the alignment, leave the settings as is. Changing caster will not improve gusty or crosswind driving of your coach.
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Old 02-20-2021, 10:19 AM   #4
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I would tell the shop that you want to reserve your right to have them redo the alignment, but will wait until you have a longer trip to check how much improvement there is. Then, if you like the way it drives, you can leave it the way it is.
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Old 02-20-2021, 10:45 AM   #5
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I would tell the shop that you want to reserve your right to have them redo the alignment, but will wait until you have a longer trip to check how much improvement there is. Then, if you like the way it drives, you can leave it the way it is.
And I would get that in writing.
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Old 02-20-2021, 03:40 PM   #6
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Morning Cam,

I really don't like dealing with shops where I don't know anyone. Your experience is truly exasperating and all too common. When going to a shop I always try to talk to the tech doing work. That way if there is a misunderstanding it is my failure to communicate!

You said, "the moho does drive very well now." Was the drive substantially improved on the ride home vs the ride to the shop?

My experience is that wander and tramlining is worse on calm days than windy days. When driving in wind the driver turns the steering wheel as required to follow the road. Most of the time this means turning into the wind and in the process takes the slack out of the steering causing the wander and tramlining to go away or be reduced.

However, if the intent is to get good steering and good steering was achieved maybe you got what you paid for.
Well YD, from all the suspension goodies I'd added the coach actually drove pretty well even before the alignment, but you still had to make sure not to get a steer wheel off onto the shoulder, as the transition getting it back onto the roadway could be a bit unsettling. That's pretty much gone now. In fact, on the way home I did it on purpose a few times just to see. Whether that's due to the new steer tires or the alignment, I can't say, but minimal steering corrections are needed now, almost like driving a pickup. As I made suspension improvements previously I had noticed my average speed creeping up from 60-62 mph to closer to 70 mph, as it became more comfortable to do so. I don't want to go any faster than that (though our speed limit here is 75 mph) but it's sure nice to have that extra feeling of confidence.

Having the rear axle thrust off by nearly a 1/4" probably didn't help. I understand that that's a critical adjustment on long-wheelbase vehicles like motorhomes.

We're getting ready to head out on a month long trip to the Pacific Northwet in April,
so I'm trying to get it as good as I can. Centramatic balancers (for the front) are on the way too, so that'll be my next addition.
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Old 02-20-2021, 09:41 PM   #7
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I personally wouldn't go back to them for other work in the future. You made it clear via email and in person that you wanted it a specific way. The counter man said sure no problem but couldn't be bothered to tell the guy doing the work means what the customer requests isn't important to them. I just put in 6 degree shims on the front of mine and the original u bolts where more than long enough. So him saying they would be too short is nonsense and if that was true he would have said something when you asked in person. Instead he said no problem. The ubolts being to short was an excuse to get you to go away. They should have said sorry we made a mistake and discounted the service or made it free if you have to go back. Your time and gas are worth something.
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:51 AM   #8
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I personally wouldn't go back to them for other work in the future. You made it clear via email and in person that you wanted it a specific way. The counter man said sure no problem but couldn't be bothered to tell the guy doing the work means what the customer requests isn't important to them. I just put in 6 degree shims on the front of mine and the original u bolts where more than long enough. So him saying they would be too short is nonsense and if that was true he would have said something when you asked in person. Instead he said no problem. The ubolts being to short was an excuse to get you to go away. They should have said sorry we made a mistake and discounted the service or made it free if you have to go back. Your time and gas are worth something.
CamJam has added a Roadmaster Reflex steering stabilizer. I think the stabilizer is bolted to the axle using the spring U-Bolts on one side. If so the U-Bolts may not be long enough to add a shim and still have sufficient bolt length to fully engage the nuts.

You are correct about the shop not being totally upfront about what happened.
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:17 AM   #9
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Welllll, sometimes the doctor actually does know a bit more than the patient. It sounds like a competent tech did a good job overall. I assume they did a road test before and after???

As suggested, just make notes of who you are talking to with dates and times. A reputable service place does not want to have an unhappy customer. I have been in the service business for 50 years. Managing the service end of the busiess, not just a tech. Owner that is.

Service is like licking honey off a cactus, you can go from high to low quickly. It sounds like the manager is totally willing to do it to your specs if you want but you sure may not like the settings you are suggesting.

My humble opinion. The service center has done hundreds if not thousands of these, you may be the only one that would like it different.
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:07 AM   #10
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CamJam has added a Roadmaster Reflex steering stabilizer. I think the stabilizer is bolted to the axle using the spring U-Bolts on one side. If so the U-Bolts may not be long enough to add a shim and still have sufficient bolt length to fully engage the nuts.

You are correct about the shop not being totally upfront about what happened.
That's correct. The steering stabilizer mounting plate is the reason the longer u-bolts are needed.
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:09 AM   #11
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Welllll, sometimes the doctor actually does know a bit more than the patient. It sounds like a competent tech did a good job overall. I assume they did a road test before and after???

As suggested, just make notes of who you are talking to with dates and times. A reputable service place does not want to have an unhappy customer. I have been in the service business for 50 years. Managing the service end of the busiess, not just a tech. Owner that is.

Service is like licking honey off a cactus, you can go from high to low quickly. It sounds like the manager is totally willing to do it to your specs if you want but you sure may not like the settings you are suggesting.

My humble opinion. The service center has done hundreds if not thousands of these, you may be the only one that would like it different.
No road test before or after, not that I really expected one.
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:09 PM   #12
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They didn't do what YOU wanted, they shouldn't have charged you a dime. THEY made a mistake, and they should have ate the mistake. I changed the shims on my 03 Dolphin myself in the drive way, made a huge difference, but I still didn't like the way it handled, so I sold it.
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:59 PM   #13
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They didn't do what YOU wanted, they shouldn't have charged you a dime. THEY made a mistake, and they should have ate the mistake. I changed the shims on my 03 Dolphin myself in the drive way, made a huge difference, but I still didn't like the way it handled, so I sold it.
I think maybe you had something else going on, Charlie. Mine is a 2004 6320, so same chassis as yours was, and it drives pretty well, though admittedly it took some aftermarket suspension goodies to get there. No doubt the W series feels like it has a higher center of gravity than my old P30, and the increased height and width make it a bit more of a challenge to drive.

Anyway, here's an interesting discussing about caster and "trail" from a couple years ago. I'd never heard of trail before and find it interesting that this fellow thinks too much caster can make mohos more sensitive to crosswinds.

https://www.irv2.com/forums/f23/what...nt-331059.html

Been windy here the last couple days, so maybe I should take my rig for a drive and see how it handles a stiff crosswind now.
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Old 02-21-2021, 02:05 PM   #14
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That's correct. The steering stabilizer mounting plate is the reason the longer u-bolts are needed.
I also have a roadmaster steering stabilizer as well as anti sway bar with track bar in front bolted on with the ubolts. You can sort of see them in my header video. I was still able to change to 6 degree shims with plenty of ubolt length left. Now it is possible his ubolts are different, but I suspect the real issue was they didn't tell the tech doing the job. If ubolt length was a concern they should have said let me check with the tech to make sure you have enough ubolt length before agreeing to do the job. Having done the shim swap $250 would be a bargain to have a alignment and shim swap.
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