Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Baby - Getting Control

Baby had a problem. When she traveled down the road she had a tendency to rock side to side and sway in the wind. That was OK if we drove slow, the wind was not too strong and we did not have far to go. Four or five hours of driving was about all I could handle. On one windy trip on I55 south of St. Louis we were being passed by every type of RV on the market. I was expecting the wicked witch from Oz to pedal past us. Baby had a problem. We had to do some thing to settle her down a bit.

I already had her ride height checked in the spring and had it rechecked during the summer. I took Baby to get weighed and adjusted some weight to accommodate her and adjusted her tire pressure accordingly. But she still was not right.

I began looking in all the RV magazines we had laying around for the ads about suspensions and that lead me to the manufacturer's web sites where I read about the products and what they were suppose to do. Armed with enough info to begin asking the right questions I searched There are some very smart and experienced people on that particular RV forum site who are willing to volunteer time responding to rookie questions from people like me. On I found an ongoing discussion about Baby's exact problem.

The motion control unit and shocks ready for installation

After gleaning as much info from that site, I called the Supersteer tech line. They listened to our problems, took our vin number and told me we were not alone. They recommended Koni FSD shocks with Supersteer Motion Control Units and to top it of with Safe-T-Plus Steering Control Unit. Oh, and by the way, in the near future we should probably need a new bell crank too as the one Freightliner uses tends to wear out fast. Wow that that was a lot of good information but also a lot of money adding up fast.

So back to the web sites I go. I read this and that, checked here and there and kept coming back to what the tech had told me at Supersteer. I bought the Motion Control Units and the Koni shocks hoping for the best from those two key components, leaving the rest until we needed it.

Off to Rick's Transit we went. Rick's son, Nick played select and high school soccer with our son, Kyle. Rick's Transit is a big truck repair shop with numerous bays and several mechanics.

'Baby' at the 'big truck' shop

It only took Leon two hours to install the equipment and to do some other routine maintenance checks. The old shocks, although only 6 months old, were so bad that I could easily move them in and out by hand. All four were equally weak. The new ones were considerably stiffer both in and out. Also they were amazed at the air suspension system. The way the air tanks and air bags are configured allowed the air to flow too easily from bag to tank and vice versa. The motion control units are designed to fix that problem.

I left Rick's driving a loop around the outside of town on a series of different kinds of roads. Wow, Baby was calm, cool and collected! There was stiff wind blowing and I could feel it but it was no longer a detriment to driving. Before I knew it I was speeding!
Update from Desoto State Park Alabama: Baby handled well on the trip here. We were able to cruise at 60 mpg which is fast enough to stay out of the way but slow enough to get gas milage. These adjustment have worked well but I can see the need to add the centering device to add to driving comfort.


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