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Old 06-26-2010, 11:49 AM   #1
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Beaver Patriot Thunder Wanders need solution

Hello: Just checking in to see if anyone else owns a Beaver Patriot Thunder. Mine is a 2001 40ft. Haven't used it yet but bringing it home my attention was trying to keep it on the road. It's in the shop trouble shooting hoping to find why it wanders??? Anyone have the same trouble and find a solution...Thanks...

I posted this on the beginners sight but thought I would go to this tread not knowing just how this works....I'm looking for suggestions. So far have done the leveling Gear box out new valve. It was too tight . Tire pressure 90psi in the Goodyear tires Illignment done to spects. It has stock shocks in it that look newish and it porpoises too much. Was thinking of putting in a different shock?? I should have more to report today... HELP!! Thanks..W.Eh?
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Old 06-27-2010, 09:40 AM   #2
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It sounds as though you are a newbie and I'm wondering if the problem is the driver rather than the coach (no offense intended!). New RV drivers tend to focus their attention too close to the front of the coach, trying to watch the white lines and stay in lane. You will wander erratically if you do that. Look well down the road and you will steer straight and true. Pick a spot on the dashboard that lines up with the center line on the road when you are properly within your lane. Stick a piece of tape on it if nothing else matches close enough. That way you can tell in a glance if you are lined up right.
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:39 PM   #3
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Well, this is a problem that seems to pop up often, and it doesn't seem to be isolated only to one brand of coach, or one brand of chassis.

I've complained of the same problem since the day we bought our coach. Since day one, I've had people tell me that I needed to get used to it. Get some experience.

Finally, without mentioning the problem, I had a truck driver friend drive my coach. He immediately told me that I had to do something with the steering, because it was 'hunting', didn't 'float straight line'. I had been calling it 'wandering'. I liked his description, because that is what it does, it won't float straight ahead, but wants to hunt to the right, then to the left, etc. etc.

I've had two qualified alignment shops work on mine. They both tell me that everything is in specs. I've made sure that ride heights are adjusted properly. I've replaced the shock absorbers. I've inspected and lubricated the king pins, made sure they are not binding. I know that binding king pins can cause 'wandering' symptoms.

With nothing resolved, we went on a 5000 Mile trip, and 'white knuckled' it every foot of the way. I finally realized that we fix this, or we have to get rid of this coach. I climbed under it myself.

On mine, the steering box has an adjustment screw with a lock nut to adjust the slack in the steering box. I backed the lock nut and tightened the screw. First only a little bit, more and more as I realized it was helping. I finally tightened the screw all the way.

It still wants to hunt, but I feel it now on the wheel and compensate immediately. So, in effect, it's quite easy to keep it running straight down the road.

Then I added a Steer Safe steering stabliizer. We just finished a 2000 mile trip, and it was OK. It's still not perfect, but it's OK.

Tightening the steering box and adding the steering stabilizer has helped so much that if the road is smooth and the wind is light with no gusts, sometimes I can steer with one hand while I hold my coffee cup in another.

I wondered if it's fixed, so I had another truck driver friend drive it, again with no mention of any issues. He did comment on the steering, said it didn't float the way he liked, said it wanted to search a bit left to right. But then he said that he'd seen a lot worse, it wasn't uncontrollable, just a bit tiring.

Mine is a Roadmaster chassis. No one seems to know of anything else I can do. I understand that with other brands of chassis there can be some add on items that can help immensely.
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Old 06-27-2010, 02:06 PM   #4
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FWIW Just because you have adjusted the Steering Box to the limit does not mean it is not the Steering Box. The Box could be so bad that the it is beyond the limits of the screw. I am sure there is a more accurate way to check the box other than "adjust and drive." Disconnecting the box and feeling the play in your hand would be one way, I Think? Make sure the box is held steady as you check for play. Iinput play above the box should be checked as well. There are several flex joints prior to the box on my unit, and one, or a little in each one could also cause a problem. Lubricate the flex joints while you are there. Simply lift the front wheels off the ground with your jacks and have someone hold the steering wheel as you try to move a wheel. Or, have someone move the steering wheel slightly, with jacks up, and see if the wheels do not follow tightly.
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Old 06-27-2010, 03:12 PM   #5
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I agree. When I finally tightened my adjustment screw, still about 1/2" of the available screw was protruding outside of the nut, so I assumed that there was lots of adjustment left. I haven't been inside the steering box to verify that.

I also found the information how to time my steering box so that it was in the dead center position with the wheels in the straight forward position. It was slightly out of time, and there was quite a bit of clearance before I adjusted it. I originally lightly tightened the screw, then backed it off about 1/8 turn and drove it a few hundred miles. Much improved. Then I lightly tightened the screw without backing it off at all, and it was really much more improved! That's where I left it for the remainder of the trip.

I checked the joints between the steering wheel and the box - tight. I checked the steering wheel movement to wheels - tight. No play. I checked the steering box for movement where it bolts to the frame - tight.

Everything now is tight, no free play at the wheel, yet turns free. A huge improvement. OK. But not yet what I'd call great.

It still feels that the wheels themselves are not maintaining center line running, still searching side to side. That's on smooth highway. In truck ruts, it wants to walk the ruts. Then I try to switch lanes.

It's just that now that the steering assembly has no play, I can control it much easier at the steering wheel. And I am pleased that now it is not affected by wind very much, and is pretty good to handle when dealing with passing trucks.
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Old 06-27-2010, 03:38 PM   #6
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Hey RW,
I own a 2000 Beaver Patriot with a Magnum Chassis, 8 airbags and six shocks and Howard Power Steering Assist. We purchased ours after it had sat for 3 years unused with 22,500 miles on it in 2007. Our first road trip was a white knuckle affair, a gust of wind or passing truck, truck ruts caused us to feel way out of control. We got back from our two week trip and immediately had some Koni's installed. Their effect was immediately noticeable. The stock Bilsteins had dried seals from sitting for so long. Messed with weights and tire pressures but still felt unsure on the road feeling it was just me and my inexperience. We came from a 5th wheel that felt very planted on the road. Attended the Monaco Rally in Tucson in 2009. Drove a new Monaco Diplomat and it almost drove itself. It handled like a MH should, cruising at 65-70 with no issues at all. I had to ask why ours did not. Ended up over at Redlands,, who did another alignment, it was way out and had not been done properly in ALB. We had some airbag motion control valves put in and had it weighed. I now have a new like MH that handles like a pro. It costs some bucks but it made all the difference in our world. Used to be I had the Howard Power on all the time and have not touched it since Redlands finished with it.
Here is another resource for you Beaver:
Good luck with yours and be safe.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:35 PM   #7
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I wish it was the driver. It wouldn't cost as much. I've driven before and never found that to be the problem. I had the steering box removed and it was over hauled with new valve put in. It seemed tight also.. The notch at the center of travel in the steering is now gone and correcting the wander and wind push is easier . It still likes to hunt which is still unacceptable. I'm going to try Koni shocks next. . The leveler also has to be reprogram and the rams serviced as they locked down and had to bleed them to push them up. On a suggestion I set up a date for Beaver coach sale and service in Oregon to hopefully fix this problem and more.Thanks keep the suggestions coming, one of them will work I'm sure.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:52 PM   #8
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My ol' Bounder had the same prob. New tires (which were needed) helped a lot. The tire mechanic there told me his experience..toeing-in the front tires a bit would help a lot. And help it did !! So now I have a unit that tracks quite straight,but is surely out of factory spec. And I don't give a hoot about that.
If you do not reach your goal by adjusting to factory specs, then you got to play it by ear. It's possible that the chassis is screwed up a bit , maybe even by the factory.
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:21 PM   #9
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nbounder-- Yes we had the same problems on a 98 discovery and on our new damon 4051. Alignment shop said everything was tight and within spec.I had them toe both units in beyond spec and you wouldn't believe the difference. 6000 miles later on both units there was no tire wear showing when using a professional thread depth gauge. I'm convinced this will help in a lot of cases- probably not all though.
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:31 PM   #10
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Keep in mind that we drive a house that sets on a truck chassis. Truck chassis parts are big, and built to standards that may not match the tolerances we get in mas market autos. Its not unreasonable to expect some particular coaches will drive better w/the alignment specs altered from what a factory said they should be. That should be the starting point, but if it doesn't drive well something else can still be adjusted to fine tune the recipe.
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:35 PM   #11
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Had the same problem with my brand spankin' new Itasca Ellipse 40FD until I took advice on this forum and got it to Henderson's Line Up in Grants Pass Oregon. They did a Road Performance Assessment... their tech drove it with me in the co-pilot's seat. I explained what I experienced and he would comment on what he felt. When we got back to the shop he explained improvement options, priorities, and costs.

I ended up having them check alignment, get 4 corner weight, install a Safe-T-Steer, and Motion Control Units. It made all the difference in the world in my coach. The Safe-T-Steer now is available with a trim kit so it can be adjusted from the cockpit and it's on my wish list.

Good luck.
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