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Old 10-23-2021, 07:56 AM   #1
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May need new king pins

Just got back from 5k mile trip to Yellowstone and noticed some light cupping and outside edge wear on drivers side front tire. No pulling or vibration. Just its usual tendency to very, very slowly drift right. Until this trip, no visual wear on 3 year old Toyos. I run 85psi all around. 228" wheelbase, 19.5" wheels, 20,500# chassis. 65k miles. Shocks replaced at 35k miles. Greased by me twice a year following recommended procedure. We did travel on some very rough highways on this trip, but I doubt that caused this.

Truck shop jacked up front end and using a pry bar to lift each wheel, showed me at least 1/8" drivers side vertical play and 3/16" vertical play from the worn kingpins. Tie rod and drag links are tight. They say the thrust bearings at bottom of kingpins are shot and are quoting $1800-2,000 to rebuild the kingpin assemblies. They refused to try to align, saying it would not hold.

My initial research pretty much confirms what they are telling me and price closely matches other quotes I got. So, any advice or comments on best way to deal with this? I'm kind of in shock it needs the work because other than the tire wear, it drives and tracks very well. Thanks for the help!
Steve & Cheryl Walsh
2006 National Sea Breeze 1350
Orange Park, FL
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Old 10-23-2021, 08:33 AM   #2
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Ford Super Duty Owner
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Location: Mcdonough, Ga.
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I was a service manager for 15 years at a large dealership. I never saw a properly serviced chassis fail at this low miles. My advice to a customer would be to replace the front shock absorbers, add centrematic
wheel balancers to the front wheels. Finally, move the two front wheels to the back. Make sure you keep the wheels turning in the same direction.
This would be a lot cheaper and I bet it would fix your problem.
1998 Pace Arrow 35 ft. F53 Ford V10 2014 Honda CRV toad
32 years mechanic at Delta Air Lines 15 year motorhome service manager. 3 popups....2 travel trailers....5 motorhomes....loved them all.
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Old 10-23-2021, 09:04 AM   #3
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Good ideas, but will those changes help overcome the excess vertical play that should be .040" (Ford spec I found) or less? Maybe the shop is exaggerating how important that excess play is. If I understood the shop correctly, the excess vertical play is caused by worn or ruined thrust bearings. There is no play when rocking tire top to bottom or side to side, only when lifting with pry bar. I have no idea if the PO greased them properly. He was meticulous, but has passed away. Thanks for giving me some hope this repair may not be necessary.
Steve & Cheryl Walsh
2006 National Sea Breeze 1350
Orange Park, FL
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Old 10-23-2021, 09:17 AM   #4
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I had the cupping and rivering problem on a new Freightliner chassis from the start. It had 3/8" toe in. And Good Year G670 tires.
Fixed the toe in myself. Replaced Sachs shocks that had no compression dampening. Added a Roadmaster steering assist. And bought after market tires.
All problems gone. Drives great now.
Rears at 40k starting to do the same. Crappy GY tires.
Full Timers.
2015 Fleetwood Discovery 40E on a Freightliner XCS chassis with a Cummins ISL9 pulling 1 and/or 2 motorcycles, '07 Honda Accord OR a 17' Runabout Boat.
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Old 10-23-2021, 09:34 AM   #5
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The thrust bearings are supporting the weight of the RV.
Like any bearing thats failing, they crumble away making the issue worse.

Doing an alignment with failing bearing won't hold position.

To many people lift the weight off the tires to grease the lower kingpin fittings. That let's the grease flow out below the thrust bearing, instead of having the weight close that gap and forcing the grease up thru it.

If the bearings fail completely, every turn of the steering will wear the bottom of the axle and top of the lower bushing with metal on metal contact. To much wear and your shopping for rebuil axle and spindle..
Your not there but keep an eye on it.
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Old 10-24-2021, 09:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ga traveler View Post
I was a service manager for 15 years at a large dealership. I never saw a properly serviced chassis fail at this low miles. .

I had bad kingpins on a relatively new chassis with front tire cupping. New kingpins solved the problem.
Shell Bleiweiss
2014 1/2 Thor Challenger 37KT
Sedona, AZ
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Old 10-24-2021, 11:36 AM   #7
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Update from OP: after reading through the replies and a lot of research, I decided to repeat the kingpin pry bar test myself. Just can't get it out of my mind that I'm being played a little by the repair shop.

Lifted the front tires about 2" off the ground using the leveling jacks. Grabbed each front tire at 12 & 6 o'clock, then 3 & 9 o'clock and using a rocking motion, tried hard to get any movement. None at all. Then using a pry bar under center of tire (from the side) I tried like hell to get any vertical movement, copying how the shop did it. No detectable movement at all. Additionally, I cleaned off all the external grease at the king pin/axle joints and using feeler gauges and a digital caliper, I could find no change in the gaps between the axle and spindle, loaded or jacked up.

I was working by myself, so no way to watch the kingpin joints when prying vertically, but could not feel or see any vertical movement. I greased the kingpins loaded and unloaded again after my tests..
Now I'm wondering what I really saw at shop when they "showed me" the kingpin problem and the 1/8" & 3/16 (their numbers) vertical kingpin play.

I really believe I should be able to get some movement if there really is a kingpin problem. It's looking more like a balance and shock problem and maybe toe in, but based on my measurements and how well it drives, the alignment isn't off by much, if at all. Any more ideas? Thanks!
Steve & Cheryl Walsh
2006 National Sea Breeze 1350
Orange Park, FL
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Old 10-24-2021, 11:59 AM   #8
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I was told I needed kingpins at about 30,000 miles. Got an opinion from a second shop. He said kingpins were fine but front end needed alignment. I put 55,000 more miles on those tires. Put new tires on at 85,000. The new tires have about 20,000 miles and are wearing perfectly even.

The first shop did the same thing to me. The took me out and showed me the play in the front end. I have no idea how they managed to get the play but I saw it. The second shop could not get any movement with a bar. I always wondered if the first shop disconnect something and the put it back after I walked inside.
Dave and Cindy
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