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Topic: The ride! Oh, no! The ride!

Posted By: mavapa on 10/13/10 07:04pm

We just completed a 3000-mile trip in our 24-ft Class C on a Ford E-450 chassis, and the roads in this country are so bad (a topic for another thread) that we are going to the dentist to get all our fillings replaced. We are now thinking seriously about a used Class A for more room, and are wondering about the ride. The chassis on our Class C is not known for its plush ride, and we want to make sure our next MH has a better one. Here's the issue - I know a diesel pusher with air suspension gives the best ride (we had an older one), but we don't want to spend too much. I think most agree that a gas A with its metal springs does not give as good a ride. Does anyone have any experience in improving a gas A ride? I mean seriously improving. Kelderman? Something else?

There would be a point of diminishing returns, where the cost of a gas A plus suspension improvements approaches the cost of a DP. But in addition to the usually higher purchase price of a DP, I think the long-term maintenance cost is higher than a gas motorhome, based on our previous experience. I would love a DP, but I can't really justify the additional cost, especially since we would not put tens of thousands of miles a year on it. So we're looking for the best compromise of purchase price, long-term maintenance cost, and ride comfort, even if we have to pay additional for a suspension mod.

I hope someone with some actual experience can give us some information.


Posted By: rvten on 10/13/10 07:24pm

What are you looking for. A Caddy ride from a truck?
I find the ride in our E450 very comfortable. Better than some of our past A's we have had.


Tom & Bonnie
Crossville, TN.
Aspect 29H 2008 Type C
Ford Flex SEL 2010
There is NO B+



Posted By: mavapa on 10/13/10 07:45pm

What are we looking for? As I said, we are looking for information about making a gasoline Class A ride comfortably.


Posted By: MrWizard on 10/13/10 07:48pm

MorRyde , Ride rite , airlift all make airbag lifts to fit various chassis including yourE350


Options, always have options, and the journey goes much smoother
....

Connected thru Verizon with HotSpot WiFi using a Samsung Galaxy Nexus



Posted By: knparker on 10/13/10 07:58pm

Perhaps a Super C with a Link Manufacturing suspension upgrade as a compromise. Still not an inexpensive proposition but less than a DP with air ride. I am not familiar Kelderman air suspension upgrade kits but have heard very positive reviews of the Link system

I think they also make a kit for an E-450 which could be an option if you chose to keep the current C you are driving. When I checked the cost was around 6 or 7K plus labor I think, kit #8M000045.


'05 Bigfoot 30MH24DB
'07 Subaru Forester toad


Posted By: John&Joey on 10/13/10 07:53pm

Nice truck/5'ver


Posted By: D.E.Bishop on 10/13/10 08:52pm

rvten wrote:

What are you looking for. A Caddy ride from a truck?
I find the ride in our E450 very comfortable. Better than some of our past A's we have had.


X2, we rented a 31' Class C in AK this year and found it to ride very nice, beats the ride of our Class A and we dove part of the Dalton in the "C".


"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to go". R. L. Stevenson

David Bishop
1990 Bounder 27D
06 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4X4
Stowmaster 5000
Blue Ox Apollo Brake Sys.(missing after break in, shopping for new one)



Posted By: hohenwald48 on 10/13/10 10:38pm

I have found the best way to improve the ride on all my RV's (3-Cs, 1-gas A and 1-DP) has been to avoid any highway with an "EYE" before the number.


2008 Fleetwood Jamboree 25G
1999 Jeep Wrangler
100% Solar Powered Home
When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.


Posted By: mavapa on 10/13/10 09:12pm

I don't mean to dis anyone else's E-450 Class C. I'm just telling about our experience and how we felt about it. Our motorhome might ride worse than someone else's. I certainly hope we don't get a Class A that rides worse.

targaboat, we drove from Albuquerque to Memphis. Of course some parts were good, but there were long stretches of very rough pavement. In some cases it seemed like asphalt had been put over concrete that was not in good shape, because there were miles and miles of evenly-spaced tar ridges.


Posted By: mavapa on 10/13/10 08:13pm

We are going to sell/trade our current E-450-based MH to get one with more room, so we don't need to upgrade its suspension.

I know very well that steel-spring suspensions are not going to ride like a good air suspension. I have looked at some websites for air suspension mods, but of course the manufacturers are going to say they provide a good ride. I would like first-hand user experience if anyone can provide it.

We also plan to look at a Super C. It might be a good compromise as knparker suggested. (on edit: knparker, did you edit your post? That price is high enough that we would have to think seriously about whether it made sense to do that or to just go ahead and bite the bullet on a DP. A nearby dealer has several Super Cs, so I think we'll take a look and a ride in one of them.

The bottom line is that the terrible condition of the highways we drove (I-70 and I-40, not to mention many miles of 2-lanes) made a lot of our trip miserable. I don't expect a magic-carpet ride, but we really want something that won't beat us to death.


Posted By: targaboat on 10/13/10 09:08pm

We also recently did a 3000 mi trip in an E450 based class C. Much of it on I40 and thought the roads were pretty good. I also find the E450 rides better than some As.


Fly Boy


Posted By: knparker on 10/13/10 08:50pm

To the best of my recollection that price is accurate but my recollection sometimes isn't so good . I would recommend contacting Link or one of their dealers directly to be sure. It is by no means inexpensive as their system replaces the entire rear suspension and is not merely an air bag add on. I spoke with a couple of gentleman last year who had this done to their Bigfoot 32 and 35ST Super C's on the Kodiak chassis and was told it made a night and day difference in ride. Personal first hand experience I have none, sorry.

I was considering the mod to our C but was swayed by the cost and so chose to modify my driving habits, staying out of the right lane and choosing different routes (secondary highways) whenever possible.


Posted By: emzee on 10/13/10 10:29pm

You can get some really good deals on older diesel pushers these days. We had a gasser and between the heat from the doghouse and the smell of gas, we were reluctant to try another gas. Our DP is comfortable and quiet, and it wasn't a fortune. We hit some mountains on our first trip and the brakes did their job flawlessly. Have you looked at older DP? You might be surprised at what you can buy. In any case all the best to you, a rough ride can ruin the trip....btdt!!


Posted By: Weathertodd221 on 10/13/10 08:49pm

not sure why you are so objective to spring suspension. You can add air bags and the best quality Koni shocks for less than $1000 to just about any class A gasser.


Posted By: bsinmich on 10/14/10 05:25am

I would start by weighing you 4 corners and checking tire pressures for those weights. I have also heard that changing shocks can make a big difference. When most people are happy with their E450 there has to be some difference in yours to make it so bad. Check out these.


2003 Newmar Mountain Aire, Workhorse W22, 2008 Saturn Vue, Falcon 5250, & US Gear Unified Tow Brake


Posted By: Cloud Dancer on 10/14/10 06:34am

I have actual experience in the field of chassis dynamics (vehicle suspension).
IMO what you are looking for does NOT exist (within your budget).
The mass-produced Class A motohomes that you describe were NOT designed with emphasis on "soft rides". They were all a compromise. They utilized "truck chassis(s)" ,.....we all know that. And, most of us went through the same experience. After owning five gasoline Class A motorhomes, and trying some modifications, I confirmed what I already knew. I finally face the facts, and bought something with a more suitable 'purpose designed' chassis and suspension.
YES, you can design a steel-spring chassis which will produce a soft ride. Heck, I could take any Class A motorhome and modify it, and be very happy with the quality of "the ride". If you have enough shop area, equipment, manpower and money,.....you can do it. I'm NOT talking "add-on" accessory suspension modifications. I'm talking taking "the box" off, and redesigning the total front and rear suspension.
Also, keep in mind that just because you have airbags does NOT mean that it's guaranteed to have a soft ride. There's a lot to it.


Willie & Betty Sue
Miko & Sparky
2003 41 ft Dutch Star Diesel Pusher/Spartan
Floorplan 4010
Blazer toad & Ranger bassboat


Posted By: deandec on 10/14/10 09:56am

We just did 4,000 miles to Wisconsin and back with our Gillig Bus chassis. Old, but very comfortable.

If we could travel with less than max air (115 lbs) pressure in our front tires, the trip comfort would be super perfect. Unfortunately, the load demands full air pressure on this rig.

Desiring a plush ride, in a Class A, with a small budget seems to be quite a challenge.

But perhaps older, high end, non-slide rig will meet your goals.


Dean
95 CC Magna, Jeep GC



Posted By: Musicman on 10/14/10 07:32am

I bought our rig used, for what I felt was a fair price, knowing that there were ride and handling issues with the P-30 chassis. I also was aware that modifications could be made to improve the rig. I'm sure that this is also true of the newer chassis as well. But as stated, they are still trucks.

Wheel base is an important factor in the ride and handling of the rig, as well. I was just lucky. My 34' rig has a 128 inch wheelbase. Longer than a lot of rigs in this size range. Longer is better, but it is the ratio of wheel base to overall length which is important. There have been many posts about this issue.

I up-graded the torsion bars, both front and rear, upgraded the shocks, replaced the front springs/airbags with heavier springs, suited to the weight, and added Ride-rite air to the rear axle.

The ride and handling are now well with in the "acceptable" range, and we got there for considerably less than the cost of a DP. It can be done.

Proper tire inflation can be a major factor in the ride quality. Over inflation will definitely give a rough ride. PSI needs to be set according to the weight being carried by each axle, not the "maximum" stated on the tire.

Another issue which is often mentioned, is the engine noise. I added an additional layer of insulation to the doghouse. That cut the noise by about 50% and reduced the heat as well.

I happen to like challenges, so this process was fun for me. Not everyone is so inclined. Good luck in your search.


Musicman
FMCA #F333309
'97 Winnebago Vectra
'01 Blazer LT



Posted By: mavapa on 10/14/10 08:21am

Thanks, Musicman. That's the kind of input I have been wanting. Although I would love a DP, I have reservations about the economics of it in the long term, so a gasser seems to make more sense in that respect, especially given how it will be used. It's encouraging to know that improvements can be made. I have read that sound is very important in how a person perceives the harshness of a vehicle's ride. If you reduce the noise, the ride seems better.

I also know that tire inflation matters. Once after getting new tires on a truck I noticed the ride seemed much better. When I checked, I found that the tire shop had underinflated the tires. Nice ride, but not enough air. And it works the other way, too.


Posted By: mavapa on 10/14/10 06:47am

Cloud Dancer, I suspect that you are right, at least as far as making a typical truck-based Class A ride as well as a DP with a purpose-built, air-suspension chassis. And a DP might be the way we have to go. But the real issue is whether some aftermarket modification can make a gas Class A ride well enough. Unfortunately (and obviously, based on the responses so far), that's a matter of opinion. Some people might think our current MH is OK. We don't. And also unfortunately, it seems that no one (so far) has the first-hand experience I was looking for.


Posted By: mavapa on 10/14/10 06:31am

Our experience might be unusual, but we are planning to get a bigger motorhome anyway, so we don't need to solve our current MH's problems, but we want to avoid a rough ride. I agree, a test ride on a rough road is mandatory before buying.


Posted By: B Bob on 10/13/10 10:45pm

The best riding class A that I have ever driven was my old GMC 26'. It rode like a big 1975 Caddy. Coil springs in front and air ride in back. Absolutely plush. Our current coach has as comfortable a ride as any DP I have ever been in. My point is that if engineers are told to give a coach a good ride they can. Steel springs could give a great ride in a motor home if that was the way it was designed. Lexus, M Benz, Caddy, Jag, Lincoln all have steel springs.

Almost all smaller motor homes are on some kind of truck chassis. They give a UPS truck ride because that is what they are. If you like to fix up old motor homes consider a GMC. I loved mine, but got tired of fixing it. The most practical thing is to get an air ride DP. Heavier ones tend to ride better.

It is possible that some of the add on air suspensions might improve the ride of the truck based coaches.


Posted By: brobox on 10/14/10 07:03am

The best way we found to improve the ride was to get off the Interstates and started traveling the scenic highways and secondary road. Smoother pavement and no trucks tearing up the roads. Better fuel prices too.


Chuck
02 Travel Supreme, 2 street side slides
09 Toyota Tacoma 2WD



Posted By: Travelon on 10/14/10 08:26am

Musicman wrote:

I bought our rig used, for what I felt was a fair price, knowing that there were ride and handling issues with the P-30 chassis. I also was aware that modifications could be made to improve the rig. I'm sure that this is also true of the newer chassis as well. But as stated, they are still trucks.

Wheel base is an important factor in the ride and handling of the rig, as well. I was just lucky. My 34' rig has a 128 inch wheelbase. Longer than a lot of rigs in this size range. Longer is better, but it is the ratio of wheel base to overall length which is important. There have been many posts about this issue.

I up-graded the torsion bars, both front and rear, upgraded the shocks, replaced the front springs/airbags with heavier springs, suited to the weight, and added Ride-rite air to the rear axle.

The ride and handling are now well with in the "acceptable" range, and we got there for considerably less than the cost of a DP. It can be done.

Proper tire inflation can be a major factor in the ride quality. Over inflation will definitely give a rough ride. PSI needs to be set according to the weight being carried by each axle, not the "maximum" stated on the tire.

Another issue which is often mentioned, is the engine noise. I added an additional layer of insulation to the doghouse. That cut the noise by about 50% and reduced the heat as well.

I happen to like challenges, so this process was fun for me. Not everyone is so inclined. Good luck in your search.


This is the information the OP has been asking for, good job Musicman.

Travelon

PS. Musicman is your wheelbase number a typo..maybe 218 or 228?


2004 Silverado 2500HD D/A CC LB 4x4, Timbrens, Fold-a-Cover,
Line-X, DeeZee Running Boards, Prodigy, Husky 16K UBS,
2004 Titanium 32E37DS, Two Honda EU2000i


Posted By: Lobstah on 10/14/10 08:16am

I think the OP said they were thinking of upgrading to a Class A for more room.

bsinmich wrote:

I would start by weighing you 4 corners and checking tire pressures for those weights. I have also heard that changing shocks can make a big difference. When most people are happy with their E450 there has to be some difference in yours to make it so bad. Check out these.



2005 Pace Arrow 36D
Very Understanding Wife
2 Boxers
4 Cats


Posted By: Lobstah on 10/14/10 05:12am

Shorter wheelbases tend to have a rougher ride, BUT, less weight can mean a smoother suspension, so all things are not equal.
I think you should take a look at a few coaches that are within your price range and have a floor plan you're interested in, and take them for a ride.
There's no answer on a forum that's going to solve this for you, there are just too many variables.

Jim


Posted By: 4gone on 10/14/10 10:04am

The ride on our 2007 with F-53 20,500lb chassis was harsh to say the least. It came with Goodyear tires. The first step was to get the air pressure right. In our case 80psi. That made a difference, but still quite harsh. The next step was Firestone air bags on all four corners. I run the fronts at 30psi and the ears at 90psi. That made a big difference in ride and handling, less jarring. It still had that hard pounding on abutments, cracks, etc. I changed the Goodyear tires for Hankook AH 11's. That made a big difference. Took away the harsh pounding. The abutments turned from rattling the silverware to a soft thump in most cases. All in all I find the ride pretty good now. Not DP good but not exhausting. Spent about 2K for the airbags(installed myself) and tires. I found the ride on my 2006 Jayco Granite Ridge C class with the F450 chassis to be better than the Class A off the lot. I would say that now I have the Damon better than the Jayco.


2007 Damon Daybreak 3276
2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara
Even Brake
Firestone air bags
Blue Ox Alladin tow bar
Hankook Tires



Posted By: John&Joey on 10/14/10 08:43am

IMHO,

There are two types of RV'ers. First type love to fiddle with them and make a hobby out of it. The second loves to use them and find fiddling just more work. You need to first decide which one you really are, or want to be.

Based on your major issue of ride comfort. If you're the first type, then go for it. Keep posting on RV.Net asking for help and options for your chassis.

If the second then either pony up big bucks for a DP with a custom made frame, or switch out of the Class A/C logic and give a test drive of trucks/5'vers. Been in a few very nice/plush riding trucks that others use for RV'ing across the country.

Reread Cloud Dancers reply. He pretty much hit it on the head for what you are attempting to do.


Posted By: CurtisG on 10/14/10 11:12am

Musicman wrote:

I bought our rig used, for what I felt was a fair price, knowing that there were ride and handling issues with the P-30 chassis. I also was aware that modifications could be made to improve the rig. I'm sure that this is also true of the newer chassis as well. But as stated, they are still trucks.

Wheel base is an important factor in the ride and handling of the rig, as well. I was just lucky. My 34' rig has a 128 inch wheelbase. Longer than a lot of rigs in this size range. Longer is better, but it is the ratio of wheel base to overall length which is important. There have been many posts about this issue.



I think you meant 228" wheelbase, not 128"

Curt


CurtisG
2003 34' Allegro Bay
WH(W22)/GM8.1/Allison


Posted By: Weathertodd221 on 10/14/10 08:26am

Musicman wrote:

I bought our rig used, for what I felt was a fair price, knowing that there were ride and handling issues with the P-30 chassis. I also was aware that modifications could be made to improve the rig. I'm sure that this is also true of the newer chassis as well. But as stated, they are still trucks.

Wheel base is an important factor in the ride and handling of the rig, as well. I was just lucky. My 34' rig has a 128 inch wheelbase. Longer than a lot of rigs in this size range. Longer is better, but it is the ratio of wheel base to overall length which is important. There have been many posts about this issue.

I up-graded the torsion bars, both front and rear, upgraded the shocks, replaced the front springs/airbags with heavier springs, suited to the weight, and added Ride-rite air to the rear axle.

The ride and handling are now well with in the "acceptable" range, and we got there for considerably less than the cost of a DP. It can be done.

Proper tire inflation can be a major factor in the ride quality. Over inflation will definitely give a rough ride. PSI needs to be set according to the weight being carried by each axle, not the "maximum" stated on the tire.

Another issue which is often mentioned, is the engine noise. I added an additional layer of insulation to the doghouse. That cut the noise by about 50% and reduced the heat as well.

I happen to like challenges, so this process was fun for me. Not everyone is so inclined. Good luck in your search.


great post. I did the same as well with my rig. I took time to educate myself and understand the problems and how to fix them.
Even the guys that did the alignment on my coach remarked how mine was the best gasser they've driven.
I have about $4300 and counting... in suspension, interior, and performance enhancements. Still have a short list to complete but the $$ I have spent wouldnt even get me 1/5 of a "decent" diesel. (which has a host of its own problems)

Reminds me of my neighbor that bragged about spending $8k on his new circular driveway. I demo'd, paver bricked, and fenced the same square footage at my house for less than 1/2 that. Mine looks 1000 times better.


Posted By: Musicman on 10/15/10 07:48pm

I'm glad someone is awake. Thanks for catching my error. Yes, the wheel base is 228. I need all the help I can get.


Posted By: Craig P. on 10/14/10 06:38pm

I think you will be disappointed in the ride of most class A gas motorhomes. Our old MH was a Winnie Adventurer class A with the Ford F53 chassis. The ride was horrible, and one of the main reasons we upgraded to a DP. Have you looked at any larger class C's?

Craig


My wife does all the driving - I just hold the steering wheel...

2005 Providence 39J
2007 Tacoma PreRunner Double Cab Dingy
Thousand Trails & Coast to Coast Members



Posted By: cybrfalcon on 10/14/10 09:15pm

I added air springs to my F53 chassis and they helped smooth out some of the harshness of the ride. Still didn't ride like a caddy but the bone jarring crashes were gone for the most part.


Posted By: J-Rooster on 10/14/10 10:56pm

You have to keep in mind that you have a cabin mounted on a truck chassis! I'm shocked about the number of posters that expect a motorhome to drive like a car! I would suggest buying a older luxury DP with a air ride suspension! That is the best ride that your going to get, when driving an RV! This post is not meant to be harsh and Good Luck to you! John


Posted By: CharlesOK on 10/16/10 03:24am

Off all the class "A" rigs I have owned, 9 and counting, the absolute best ride was on a 91 Chevy P-32 32 footer with coil spring airbags in the front and a "Jet-Air" rear suspension. If your on a budget, and who isn't now, take a look back in the 90's vintage no slide units. Winnebago built quite a few on this chassis and also Airstream classics, maybe a few Southwinds and Pace arrows. These older, smaller units rode very nicely as I recall. You might need to install a Banks exhaust if the prev. owner did not. There were transmission troubles like the one I had when the 4-speed trannys first came out. Mine road like a big Luxury car, to bad it wouldn't keep going because of tranny probs.


Posted By: Weathertodd221 on 10/15/10 07:54pm

Craig P. wrote:

I think you will be disappointed in the ride of most class A gas motorhomes. Our old MH was a Winnie Adventurer class A with the Ford F53 chassis. The ride was horrible, and one of the main reasons we upgraded to a DP. Have you looked at any larger class C's?

Craig


The reason why is 99% of them come with standard truck suspension to keep the cost down.
A bus chassis coach is far more sophisticated. But with that comes alot of GVW.


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