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 > 30 or 32 foot diesel pusher handling

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tryonjohn

tryon nc 28782

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Posted: 01/03/07 07:21am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Does anyone have any opinions about the handling characteristics of 30 or 32 foot diesel pushers. I find there are not many available under 34 feet and am wondering why. I thought I read somewhere that they do not handle as well as the longer than 34 feet models do. Any information would be appreciated.

Ivylog

Blairsville, GA and WPB, FL.

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Posted: 01/03/07 08:53am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Many were very light on the front axle [especially those with a gen in the rear] which resulted in a harsh ride.

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This post is my opinion (free advice). It is not intended to influence anyone's judgment nor do I advocate anyone do what I propose.

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Electronpusher

Southern Oregon

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Posted: 01/03/07 09:01am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I think you will find as many opinions as responses--
Some feel they are too light in the front to handle well--

My 1996 Safari Sahara 30' (actually about 32') on their Magnum chassis has a basic leaf spring suspension. I have never had any real complaints about the handling and it is even better with the new Koni shocks I have on it.

Then again, I never had much to compare it to.

I bought the short coach so I could maneuver into the smaller Forest Service type camps and I would probably do it again.

ReM


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hwm1939

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Posted: 01/03/07 10:20am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The handling on our Beaver is fine. One comment tho, it does not like side winds. Passing trucks, no problem. I found that if I used their recommendations for air pressure in the tires it handled better.
I too have had no experience with other coaches and chose the shorter one for better access to gov't campgrounds.


1998 Beaver Monterey 30', 300 Cat, Allison six speed. 2001 Ford Ranger Toad

sdianel

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Posted: 01/03/07 10:19pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have a 33' 2004 Country Coach and it handles great. We did have to have it aligned properly (tow-in)and the tire air pressure must be correct otherwise it wandered. I'm the passenger so this is not tech speak! We tow a 2003 Ford Focus 5 speed. Love it too. Not sure if CC still makes a 33'.


Lonny & Diane
2004 Country Coach Allure 33' "Big Blue"
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jabberwocky

Vancouver BC

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Posted: 01/03/07 10:50pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Our '97 Beaver Monterey 30' handles very nicely. I did put on Koni shocks and a Safe-T-Steer damper. The Konis really helped with roads that would encourage any sort of porpoising. The Safe-T-Steer is for my peace of mind in case of a front blowout.

Have been travelling snowy mountain roads in BC in the last while and am very pleased with the handling on snow and ice too.

as197

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Posted: 01/03/07 10:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The ride and handling of our 32 foot Allegro bus is great. The diesel genset is in the nose and most tanks are mounted between the axles. This coach has full air ride, air brakes, etc. It is a Freightliner XC chassis.

SteveRankin

Sequim, WA

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Posted: 01/03/07 11:42pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Look at it this way. The more weight on an axle, the more that end of the vehicle is resistant to a change of direction. Examples:

Front-wheel drive car: {eg. Toyota Camry) Approximately 66% of the weight of the car is on the front axle, power to the front wheels. The result:
  • Excellent table under most conditions
  • Very resistant to side winds. Side winds move the rear of the car easier than the front so when a gust hits the wind actually rotates the car slightly into the wind which naturally makes the car go basically straight
  • Understeers in turns. The front tires lose traction first, the front end 'plows' straight ahead, speed scrubs off. Nothing happens that gets the average driver in trouble.

Front engine/Rear-wheel drive car (eg. traditional domestic, BMW, MBZ): Approximately 55% of weight of the car is on the front axle, power to the rear wheels. The result:
  • Variable stable depending on conditions; good stability in when traction is good, but probably poor stability in slippery conditions.
  • Moderately resistant to side winds. More variability on wheel base, engine weight & aerodynamics than FWD for stability.
  • Generally understeers in turns, but excessive power causes oversteer (rear end spinning out), especially in slippery conditions.

Rear-engine, rear-wheel drive: (eg. VW Type I, Renault Dauphine, VW Bus): Approximately 60% of weight is on the rear wheels. The result:
  • Easily unstable depending on conditions; good stability in when traction is good, but probably poor stability in slippery conditions.
  • Poor resistance to side winds. very dependent on on wheel base, engine weight & aerodynamics for stability.
  • Generally oversteer (rear end spinning out), especially in slippery conditions.

So let's compare a DP to an old VW bus. A 1978 VW bus camper with driver weighed 3500#; 1640# in front & 1860# in back for a 47%/53% weight distribution. When a gust of wind hits the VW bus, the front end is lighter so it moves more than the rear. The effect is for the vehicle to rotate around the rear axle and turn away from the wind, accentuatling the effect of the wind gust. Spooky.

A typical DP wieghs about 10K# front + 20K# rear = 30K#, so the weigh distribution is 33%/87% front/rear. Far worse than the VW bus. Two things keep our DP's from blowing around as badly as the old VW's:
    Weight
  • Wheelbase

The larger & heavier a vehicle is, the more stable it is. The 10,000# sitting on the front axle of the DP simply doesn't blow around as easily as the 1600# VW. Even though the DP is larger, the sail area/pound is lower so the DP doesn't blow around as much.

The longer the wheelbase (WB), the more stable a vehicle is. Think of it this way. If the wind blows the front end sideways 6" the angle the vehicle actually rotated is less if the vehicle is longer. Take a ruler and a yardstick. Move one end of each 6" sideways and see the difference?

The bottom line is that a DP is very much like a VW bus. The single most telling statistic to predict DP stability is the WB/length ratio. The longer the WB the more stable the DP. Some 'experts' refer to 54% as the threshold between a stable DP and an unstable DP. There are 2 things that the MH manufacturer can do to make a DP handle better than its ratio would suggest:
  • Side radiator
  • Tag Axle

A side radiator has 2 benefits. First, it moves hundreds of pounds of equipment forward to help balance the coach. Second, since the radiator is not behind the engine, the manufacturer fit a longer wheelbase inside the same length DP. For example, our 37'1" long Beaver has the same 54% WB/length ratio as some 39'DP's.

The tag axle simply does not want to turn so it resists any change in direction making tag axle coaches much more stable, even 38-footers.

Finally, some manufacturers simply put more effort into engineering details than others. For example, our 1995 Beaver Patriot has a Spartan chassis with a 240" WB. The 1996 Patriot was built on a Safari/Magnum chassis with a 237" WB. That 3" may not sound like much but every little bit helps or hinders, especially when you're on that 54% boundary.


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Deen

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Posted: 01/04/07 12:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

SteveRankin wrote:



Rear-engine, rear-wheel drive: (eg. VW Type I, Renault Dauphine, VW Bus): Approximately 60% of weight is on the rear wheels. The result:
  • Easily unstable depending on conditions; good stability in when traction is good, but probably poor stability in slippery conditions.
  • Poor resistance to side winds. very dependent on on wheel base, engine weight & aerodynamics for stability.
  • Generally oversteer (rear end spinning out), especially in slippery conditions.
Wonder if all those snowplow drivers that got to work with the old bug without chains realized they were supposed to get stuck!

tryonjohn

tryon nc 28782

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Posted: 01/05/07 05:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks to all who responded. I think I got some good information here. I now have to decide on whether to buy a 32 foot diesel pusher about 3 years old or to wait and see if some manufacturer comes out with a FRED in the 30 to 32 foot range. Oh, that might be another good topic.

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