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Old 04-04-2020, 11:49 AM   #1
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F53 handling problems,

I have a 2015 Bounder 35K motorhome which has a 22,000 pound chassis. It was an upgrade from a motorhome that had 18,000 pound chassis and I was hoping the heavier chassis would handle better but not really. I did add a safe-t-plus steering stabilizer and I did move the track bar in the front to do the cheap handling fix but not sure that made any difference. What would be the next best thing to fix the handling problem? Sumo Springs? A better track bar in the front or an additional track bar in the rear.? Thanks
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Old 04-04-2020, 12:39 PM   #2
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POPULAR MECHANICS MAY 1973:
START QUOTE:
If too little caster exists, the car will wander and weave,
thus necessitating constant corrections in steering.
END QUOTE:

Over inflated tires can reduce run time caster. FWIW
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Old 04-04-2020, 01:21 PM   #3
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Suggest you browse the Ford chassis section of the RV Forums tab. Lots of threads on the F53.
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Old 04-04-2020, 03:19 PM   #4
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This is a thread that will get beat to death, but let me be the first to offer up what can be done to improve handling:

4 corner weight to determine proper tire inflation per tire maker
Laser alignment all 4 wheels
Better shocks (most recommend Koni FSD)
Heavier front sway bar
Better, or added rear sway bar
Rear trac bar, if you have a lot of tail wag, or being pushed by passing vehicles
Sumo springs 0 some say this is a good first step

Best bet is to find a really reputable service center and have a discussion with them on what your concerns are and possibly do a road test for recommendations. You can approach problem solution a bit at a time, or bite the bullet and do a full blown upgrade, depending on how much you want to spend at once. FWIW, I went through this on my F53, 24K chassis last year.
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Old 04-04-2020, 03:54 PM   #5
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Thanks. Looking for what the consensus wound be the first step. I was thinking Sumo springs as a first step
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Old 04-04-2020, 04:11 PM   #6
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1) You're not going to get a consensus here, all you're going to get is ideas about what other people would do/have done first, and maybe why. From that you'll need to determine which thing(s) make the most sense to you.

2) You haven't really said which handling problem you're trying to fix. Without that bit of information anything said here is just a guess.

To ME, the first thing to do is weigh the rig and set the tire pressure accordingly. Over inflated tires, or rather tires inflated more than necessary to carry the load, can cause some the front to feel like it's wandering.
I put new tires on my rig two weeks ago, the guy at the tire shop asked me what to inflate them to, I said 95 lbs because that's what I'd been running before. Driving home it felt like the front wanted to wander. When I got home I checked the ticket from when I got my RV weighed and the weight tables for the new tires. The tables showed 85lbs was needed for my current weights, so I lowered the tires to 90lbs. That small change made a big difference in how the RV tracks, it's back to a comfortable one handed steer for me.
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Old 04-04-2020, 04:37 PM   #7
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I would like to be able to drive down the highway without constantly having to correct the steering. Tail wag? Not sure. Of course when the big rigs pass there is an issue. The steering stabilizer has helped but I would like to firm the ride up some more. That’s why I was thinking going with the Sumo’s first. From what I have read, they will seem to do that.
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Old 04-04-2020, 11:12 PM   #8
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BTW, the CHF mod is to tune the Sway Bar. This affects how the top of the RV leans in a corner. CHF is not related to the Trac bar (Front and Rear Trac Bars, which helps the truck passing wag issue).
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Old 04-05-2020, 12:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billrich View Post
I was hoping the heavier chassis would handle better but not really.
What would be the next best thing to fix the handling problem?
We have the same chassis you do. What exactly is your handling problem? Details please.
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Old 04-05-2020, 01:06 AM   #10
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From my experiences with F53
###

Tire pressure by weight.

Ensure all suspension and steering components are as they should be. To include Alignment.

Only then aftermarket items:

SafetyPlus steering stabilizer

CHF. Tightens sway bar action.

Rear Track bar. Via Blue Ox, Super Steer, others. Rear track bar positively affixes the rear axle laterally to the chassis. In the F53 there is not a rear track bar - allowing the rear of the coach to continually shift to either side. When the rear shifts to one side, the front must shift the other way. Then steering correction is needed. This goes on repeatedly...

Koni shocks - more for ride improvement.

Imho. Ymmv.
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:13 AM   #11
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I’m bored again this morning, so here it goes......

Here are the key specs for the OPs coach:
Length 36.25 ft. (435 in.)
Wheelbase 19 ft. (228 in.)

Which means he coach has a 52.4% wheelbase to length ratio, and also means it’s got a long rear overhang (really long considering it’s a 36’ coach). While 52.4% isn’t terrible, it’s far from good.

And, you’ve got a 36’ RV (somehow) on a 22/26k chassis, which has a 8k front axle, and a 15k rear axle.

Just for a comparison, the similar Tiffin 36LA key specs are:
Length 37.5 ft. (450 in.)
Wheelbase 21 ft. (252 in.)
56% WB/OL
And standard on the 24k/30k chassis and I believe you can (or at some time you could) order it on the 26k/30k (an “off the menu” upgrade)
The reason I point this out, is that just because a coach is on an F53 chassis does not mean it’s “the same”, and that what one might find an issue or of concern on one coach is not necessarily the same on another...

The first thing the OP needs to do is get it weighed, even a CAT scale is going to provide very valuable F/R axle weights. A light front end is going to give you very squirrelly handling, so you need to get as close to 8k on the front as you can.

Then with that long rear overhang, even if the rear axle weight is ok, you need to get the heavy stuff out of the very rear. If you have a lot of weight way behind the rear axle, it’s going to create a pendulum effect, exaggerating any push pull, and with that huge rear “sail area”, he’s subject to a lot of push pull from passing big rigs. Heavy stuff needs to be between the axles if possible, and in the case of rear loads at least move any heavy stuff as close to the rear axle as it can be.

BTW, if you are heavy on the front axle (which for this coach isn’t out of the question) putting a bunch of heavy stuff way to the back to take weight off the front isn’t going to fix much of anything handling wise, it’s just moving the problems from one end to the other.

The OP is also confusing track bar with sway bars. His coach has a front track bar, which is pretty much set as it is. It does not have a rear track bar. In this case, with the long rear overhang a rear track bar may be beneficial, but I’d make sure the weight distribution is understood / adjusted appropriately before spending that money.

It has the stock sway bars, which are 38.1mm F and 35.7mm R, it should be noted that the 24/30k and 26k/30k chassis has the same front bar but a larger 38.1mm rear bar. In this case, given the size house that’s been put on a 22/26k chassis, the stiffness of the stock rear bar is certainly questionable.

Sumos basically are to reduce side to side wobble, ie, coming out of gas stations or what is known as the Wall Mart Wobble. Tiffin has offered sumos as a factory option for some time now, and I have them. I’ve never driven our coach without them, so I can’t say they “fixed” anything, but at the same time I don’t seem to have any handling issues either, at leave given my driving style / expectations.

After 5000 miles I did put on a Safe T Steer, as I thought primarily it would help my wife with see sawing on the steering wheel, and there is also the theory that it will help with control if you have a tire problem. I can’t say that is was some huge transformation in steering control.

I also added the aftermarket Bilsteins at 24,000 miles (I now have 42,000 miles); they are significantly different than the Ford Specd (yellow) Bilsteins that were OEM for a while. I figured the factory shocks were at thier 1/2 way point mileage wise, and it was a marginal improvement.

As a final note, my 31SA has a 57% WB/OL ratio and is on the optional 24k chassis. My weights are ~8.5k F on the 9k axle and 14.2k rear on the 15.5k rear spring rating (the axle itself is actually 17.5k).

My 4 corner weights were almost dead even on the front and a little heavy RR with full water that is on the right side just in front of the rear axle; given the spring / axle rating, even that weight discrepancy is well within a reasonable level and my rear tire pressures are based on that heavy RR, even though I don’t travel with full fresh water very often.

We’ve never experienced any sort of significant push / pull, nor many of the other “issues” folks seem to perceive as “handling” issues in our coach, other than the harsh impact from bridge expansion joints or similar road imperfections; it also has to do with personal driving experiences and expectations, and how you go about driving a 10 ton+ “truck” with a high center of gravity. Oh, and my wife drives about 25% of the time.....

Some food for thought.......
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:50 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Betr2Trvl View Post
I’m bored again this morning, so here it goes......

Here are the key specs for the OPs coach:
Length 36.25 ft. (435 in.)
Wheelbase 19 ft. (228 in.)

Which means he coach has a 52.4% wheelbase to length ratio, and also means it’s got a long rear overhang (really long considering it’s a 36’ coach). While 52.4% isn’t terrible, it’s far from good.

And, you’ve got a 36’ RV (somehow) on a 22/26k chassis, which has a 8k front axle, and a 15k rear axle.

Just for a comparison, the similar Tiffin 36LA key specs are:
Length 37.5 ft. (450 in.)
Wheelbase 21 ft. (252 in.)
56% WB/OL
And standard on the 24k/30k chassis and I believe you can (or at some time you could) order it on the 26k/30k (an “off the menu” upgrade)
The reason I point this out, is that just because a coach is on an F53 chassis does not mean it’s “the same”, and that what one might find an issue or of concern on one coach is not necessarily the same on another...

The first thing the OP needs to do is get it weighed, even a CAT scale is going to provide very valuable F/R axle weights. A light front end is going to give you very squirrelly handling, so you need to get as close to 8k on the front as you can.

Then with that long rear overhang, even if the rear axle weight is ok, you need to get the heavy stuff out of the very rear. If you have a lot of weight way behind the rear axle, it’s going to create a pendulum effect, exaggerating any push pull, and with that huge rear “sail area”, he’s subject to a lot of push pull from passing big rigs. Heavy stuff needs to be between the axles if possible, and in the case of rear loads at least move any heavy stuff as close to the rear axle as it can be.

BTW, if you are heavy on the front axle (which for this coach isn’t out of the question) putting a bunch of heavy stuff way to the back to take weight off the front isn’t going to fix much of anything handling wise, it’s just moving the problems from one end to the other.

The OP is also confusing track bar with sway bars. His coach has a front track bar, which is pretty much set as it is. It does not have a rear track bar. In this case, with the long rear overhang a rear track bar may be beneficial, but I’d make sure the weight distribution is understood / adjusted appropriately before spending that money.

It has the stock sway bars, which are 38.1mm F and 35.7mm R, it should be noted that the 24/30k and 26k/30k chassis has the same front bar but a larger 38.1mm rear bar. In this case, given the size house that’s been put on a 22/26k chassis, the stiffness of the stock rear bar is certainly questionable.

Sumos basically are to reduce side to side wobble, ie, coming out of gas stations or what is known as the Wall Mart Wobble. Tiffin has offered sumos as a factory option for some time now, and I have them. I’ve never driven our coach without them, so I can’t say they “fixed” anything, but at the same time I don’t seem to have any handling issues either, at leave given my driving style / expectations.

After 5000 miles I did put on a Safe T Steer, as I thought primarily it would help my wife with see sawing on the steering wheel, and there is also the theory that it will help with control if you have a tire problem. I can’t say that is was some huge transformation in steering control.

I also added the aftermarket Bilsteins at 24,000 miles (I now have 42,000 miles); they are significantly different than the Ford Specd (yellow) Bilsteins that were OEM for a while. I figured the factory shocks were at thier 1/2 way point mileage wise, and it was a marginal improvement.

As a final note, my 31SA has a 57% WB/OL ratio and is on the optional 24k chassis. My weights are ~8.5k F on the 9k axle and 14.2k rear on the 15.5k rear spring rating (the axle itself is actually 17.5k).

My 4 corner weights were almost dead even on the front and a little heavy RR with full water that is on the right side just in front of the rear axle; given the spring / axle rating, even that weight discrepancy is well within a reasonable level and my rear tire pressures are based on that heavy RR, even though I don’t travel with full fresh water very often.

We’ve never experienced any sort of significant push / pull, nor many of the other “issues” folks seem to perceive as “handling” issues in our coach, other than the harsh impact from bridge expansion joints or similar road imperfections; it also has to do with personal driving experiences and expectations, and how you go about driving a 10 ton+ “truck” with a high center of gravity. Oh, and my wife drives about 25% of the time.....

Some food for thought.......
Wow. That’s a lot of informative info. Thanks very much. I did mis speak in my original post, I meant sway bar not track bar
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:52 AM   #13
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BTW, the CHF mod is to tune the Sway Bar. This affects how the top of the RV leans in a corner. CHF is not related to the Trac bar (Front and Rear Trac Bars, which helps the truck passing wag issue).
It was the sway bar I moved
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:53 AM   #14
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A rear track bar will help tail wag and it is a Do It Yourself project, We are building a rear trac bar for our 2001 Winney 35u we just purchased, did on former MHs and it helped, lttle hard at 75 to crawl under her but 5-6 hundred bucks is alot of gas & camping-I hook to u-bolts on rear end which in my opinion is the strongest - so far 6 ft 1 1/2 sq tubing and 18 in. of 3/8 x 6 x24in.--8 3/4 fine thread nuts-maybe 40 bucks so far, when i finish fitting it & welding it ,then powder coat-been working on i for couple weeks but can't go anywhere so good cheap project-thks RICH
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