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Main Forum => Tips and Tricks => Topic started by: Ron Dittmer on August 25, 2020, 06:01:55 pm

Title: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on August 25, 2020, 06:01:55 pm
Before you start reading through all this, I need to state that this modification applies primarily to Phoenix Cruiser models 2100 and 2350 which have exceptionally light front ends.  Get your rig weighed empty and also during a trip to determine if this modification is right for you.

Our 2007 E350/PC-2350 with no slide out always sat a little front/high, tail/low, most noticeable when on trips but even when empty sitting at home.  Also, the ride up front has always been more harsh than I thought it should be.  I looked into the specs of our 2007 E350 to learn that it is built with the same front coil springs as an E450.  Given our load distribution and axle weight numbers both when loaded and empty, it seemed logical to replace the front coil springs with lower rated ones that are more appropriate for the weight they support.

Here is the weight distribution of our 2007 PC-2350 with no slide out.  It was quite interesting that our front axle weighs 3160 pounds when the rig is empty with nobody sitting in the front seats.  During our heaviest trip, the front axle weighed 3260 (only 100 pounds more) with the two of us sitting in the front seats.  The weight behind the rear axle is reducing the weight on the front axle, acting like a teeter-totter.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/48533409317_fa166e2f85_z.jpg)

Here are the springs I installed, made by Moog, sold by Rock Auto Parts.  I also bought the Moog insulators shown from a local auto parts store, assuming my original ones were needing replacement.  To my surprise, my original insulators are made of polymer, much more durable than the softer rubber Moog insulators, so I returned the new ones to the store.  I rotated my original insulators 180 degrees so there was a fresh surface for the new springs to rest on.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50268396088_74b07c0acd_z.jpg)

Here is an original and a new lower-rated spring side by side.  Note how the new springs have the coils closer together in the upper area.  Instructions that came with the new springs stated to place the closer-spaced coils "up".  I measured the material thickness of each, the new ones measure 0.02" less.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50269239872_b04d8dd228_z.jpg)

It took me about 1.25 hours to replace the first spring and a half hour to replace the second one because I then knew the tools and the tricks to speed up the process.

Once finished and cleaned up, I drove the rig to the auto parts store to return the rubber spring insulators.  I drove over a number of road imperfections, sewer covers, and even some train tracks.  It was a good test.  The best way to describe the change is like this.  Before, when going over imperfections, it was a bang/bang.  After the change in springs, it is a thump/bang.  I was very pleased with the results.  Admittedly there were some serious road imperfections (like the train tracks) when the bang/bang still happened.  But for the majority of road imperfections, the change is significant.

A few days after changing springs, we went on a weekend get-away where I was able to better evaluate the change.  I drove over 200 miles on interstate highways, state roads, farm roads, and city streets.  Our rig was loaded up with full fresh water, gear, food, etc and 3 adults.  I am even more pleased with the results than I was during the test drive.

I do need to get a front wheel alignment after the change in front springs, but 13 years and 38,000 miles later, it's time anyway.  I took pictures of the tires to compare their stance.

Before (You can see the right tire is slightly in toward the bottom, looking pigeon-toed.)
(https://live.staticflickr.com/2432/3743989153_b6411a139a_z.jpg)

After (As expected, that same tire is now slightly outward toward the bottom.  The same applies to the other front tire but you can't see it because it's in the shadows.)
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50268438798_fa22589a39_z.jpg)

Here are other "before and after" pictures for comparison.  The front of the rig now sits 1-1/4" lower which I am very pleased.

Before
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50269061226_c74a483e18_z.jpg)

After
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50269233002_0609f8c5aa_z.jpg)

Before
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50268395908_4236882937_z.jpg)

After
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50269060981_e4a740516f_z.jpg)

Before
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50269233682_a85b161f96_z.jpg)

After
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/50269060886_51a32dfb33_z.jpg)

ADDING THIS SUPPLIMENT THE FOLLOWING SPRING, MAY 2021
Finally, our first serious trip coming soon.  In preparation, I replaced our six 14 year old tires, upgraded 4 of the 6 wheels to Alcoa alloys, and got a front wheel alignment which didn't happen without it's own saga....but turned out fine in the end.

My old shop Champion Frame Align in Elgin, IL permanently closed so I went to the competition that put them out of business, Cassidy Tire in East Dundee, IL.  They primarily service trucks of all kinds with special attention towards tractor trailer trucks with tires and wheel alignments.  They also service motorhomes.  They have 4 full-length bays and one 1/2 bay located behind the office.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51225052944_fa86dc37a4_z.jpg)

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51224273466_a26cd7c797_z.jpg)
For the curious..........
They clamp on wireless alignment contraptions that self-level.  They clamp on similarly to a wheel weight in 4 places around the rim.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51224487703_ecbe28c163_z.jpg)
Using a special floor devise, they push the rig so that the front tires rest on the round disks that float for resistance-free steering wheel turning.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51224273366_68142804b5_z.jpg)

The first wheel alignment resulted in a strong pull to the left.  Read on why.  They sent me home and called me back after they had their equipment recalibrated which resulted in a pull half as bad, also to the left.  Read on why.  They sent me home again, this time advising me to have a mechanic look at the steering gear box or something else.

This compares the initial visit to the final results.  The upper chart with "red" is what I introduced when changing to softer front coil springs.  The final results are the lower section.  I watched the guy work and there is a lot of inherent slop.  He touches something to tighten it after a tweak and it drifts significantly off the mark.  So he has to "anticipate" where it will rest after tightening.  Also when making one setting better, it makes the other setting worse, so everything is a compromise between caster and camber.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51224327686_217abd9623_z.jpg)
What I learned watching, a wheel alignment cannot be accomplished when the motorhome is new because Ford installs centered bushings.  The last picture in this post is of my shop manual which mentions this at the bottom.  Being centered eliminates the ability to adjust caster and camber.

Offset bushings are a requirement to change settings.  Here is one of mine.  It is mounted on top of the steering knuckle, influencing the position of the upper ball joint.  If you replace an upper ball joint, make sure to mark the position of the bushing or you will surely need a wheel alignment.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51190744609_c489abe23a_z.jpg)

(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51191044045_17e8b3f218_z.jpg)

Back home, before running to a shop to investigate the "Pull To Left", I decided to place the front lower control arms on jack stands so I could freely turn the steering wheel left and right to investigate the cause for the "Pull To Left".  Watching the steering wheel go back to left of center on its own.....IT HIT ME.....the heavy duty Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer I had installed was causing the "Pull".  I then adjusted it so it would hold the steering wheel straight rather than to the left, and all is well.  I am Very happy!  I called the shop and told them the cause for the pull.  They "Got It".

Here are two pictures of my aftermarket heavy duty Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer.  The left end is attached with two "U" bolts to the steering linkage.  Loosen them, center your steering wheel, retighten, and it's done.  Being the fussy guy that I am, I test drove the rig and tweaked it twice for "PERFECTION On Center" when driving.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/3335/3507692971_25ec1602b9_z.jpg)

(https://live.staticflickr.com/3408/3508504254_fc2e56d36d_z.jpg)

With the change to softer front springs, alloy wheels, new Michelin Agilis CrossClimate tires, and the front wheel alignment, our Phoenix Cruiser 2350 is riding better than ever before.  I can't wait for our next trip.

For Reference......
Here is the page in my massive 2007 E-Series Ford Shop Manual.  In the upper-left corner is what Ford says the setting should be.  The computer alignment machine matched these "optimal" settings before the alignment officially began.  If the alignment shop were perfectionists, and I had exceptionally deep pockets, they would have changed bushings a couple of times to tighten-up the tolerances.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51224597243_49d7fff6c6_z.jpg)

This is probably way more about wheel alignments than most people care to know.

So in conclusion, here is the stance of our rig after everything was done from changing front coil springs, 6 new tires, new Alcoa wheels, and a front wheel alignment.  Also during the taking of this picture, my 35 gallon fresh water tank (located against the rear wall) is full, and all my heavy towing hardware is in the rear storage compartment to simulate "trip load" conditions.  The slight rear end sag is gone, the rig handles better, and the quality of the ride is improved for us sitting in the front seats.  Our PC appreciates the softer ride as well with reduced thrashing when being driven over road imperfections.
(https://live.staticflickr.com/65535/51191649697_af4ba81b6f_z.jpg)

ADDING SEPTEMBER 2021, Our First Serious Cross Country Evaluation
We headed out from the Chicago area to Glacier National Park Montana, hitting places along the way.  This was my first serious evaluation with consideration to our trip-load and tow vehicle.  I found myself once again adjusting the Safe-T-Plus for our PC to track dead straight.  Once made perfect, I noticed a slight increase in steering floating.  It's not much but is noticed.  It explains why for many years prior, there was a slight pull to the right, assumed to be an intentional setting many years ago by my old shop to address that sensation.

I observed something surprising with the Safe-T-Plus.  When laying on the ground watching the steering linkage move, while Irene turned the wheel gently left/right, I noticed a gentle pivoting motion of it's long mounting bracket.  The leverage of the Safe-T-Plus bracket slightly bends the E350 frame which I believe is the source of that floating feel.  This leaves me to think the thicker E450 frame will flex less and therefore float less.

I weighed the rig on this trip and found it's weight and weight distribution very similar to previous trips.  Referencing the Michelin chart for our new tires, our front tires required 40 PSI and rears 60 PSI, but I put 50 psi up front and 60 psi in the rear.  I added 10 extra up front only because 40 sounded too little.  The reduction in tire pressure improved driving/riding comfort.  Next trip I will try 45 PSI up front and see if it helps address that slight floating action in the steering.

I have a ScanGauge-II mounted which indicated average fuel economy fairly consistent just over 10 mpg cruising at 60 mph on the open road.  We lowered our cruising speed from 67/68 to 60 on our return trip to avoid loud engine noise from down-shifting on every incline.  I also noticed a reduction in steering floating, additional incentive to slow down.  At 60, everyone passed us which was fine, and I was more relaxed and drove for much longer periods.  I could burn through nearly a half tank of fuel between stops.

It was interesting to see the same rigs pass us by many times, indicating they were stopping much more frequently than I was leaving me to wonder who was truly making better time.  When any Mercedes chassis motorhome passed us, I could hear it's turbo singing quite loudly, a sign of being pushed hard.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: JJCruiser on August 28, 2020, 12:56:33 pm
Ron,  Thanks for sharing your latest project for optimizing the drivability of your PC2350.  You might recall that years ago I followed your lead in doing the other suspension modifications you made to your rig (trac bar, front/rear sway bar, safe-t-plus), they made a significant improvement.  If I still had my 2007 2350, I would be doing this enhancement as well.  I will be interested in what you find out when you get the alignment complete.

JJ
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on August 29, 2020, 09:53:27 pm
Hi JJ,

I will post after the wheel alignment (and new tires) is complete, but it could be next year.

I imagine model 2100 (slide-out or not) would benefit the most from such a change in front springs.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Volkemon on September 19, 2020, 08:19:58 am
I had missed this Ron!  Excellent writeup.

Hopefully the drop is slight enough that the camber correction bushing does not need to be returned to stock to get the camber into spec. (Camber = the tire tilt you demonstrate in your picture) 

Mine required the bushings to be replaced, the ones that came with the camper are a special offset. These 'special offset' bushings were required because the front end was so high from the factory. 
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 20, 2020, 01:55:18 am
I had missed this Ron!  Excellent writeup.

Hopefully the drop is slight enough that the camber correction bushing does not need to be returned to stock to get the camber into spec. (Camber = the tire tilt you demonstrate in your picture) 

Mine required the bushings to be replaced, the ones that came with the camper are a special offset. These 'special offset' bushings were required because the front end was so high from the factory.
Our 2007 E350 PC-2350 originally came with the OEM centered "Ford" bushings.  It was after our initial wheel alignment that the offset bushings were introduced later that first year.  As you can see in the "Before" picture taken a few years later, the tires after the alignment never looked quite right because of the angle inward.  I wondered if only so much could be done given the super duty front coil springs with so little weight on them.

Today, the front tires are roughly at the same angle, but in the opposing direction.  I am hoping reintroducing centered bushings (with my now softer front springs) will get the tires straight-up vertical when loaded up during trips.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Volkemon on September 28, 2020, 08:37:40 am
I had missed this Ron!  Excellent writeup.

Hopefully the drop is slight enough that the camber correction bushing does not need to be returned to stock to get the camber into spec. (Camber = the tire tilt you demonstrate in your picture) 

Mine required the bushings to be replaced, the ones that came with the camper are a special offset. These 'special offset' bushings were required because the front end was so high from the factory.
Our 2007 E350 PC-2350 originally came with the OEM centered "Ford" bushings.  It was after our initial wheel alignment that the offset bushings were introduced later that first year.  As you can see in the "Before" picture taken a few years later, the tires after the alignment never looked quite right because of the angle inward.  I wondered if only so much could be done given the super duty front coil springs with so little weight on them.

Today, the front tires are roughly at the same angle, but in the opposing direction.  I am hoping reintroducing centered bushings (with my now softer front springs) will get the tires straight-up vertical when loaded up during trips.

Just so people are clear... 'angle inward' in this case  is referring to positive camber'

(https://procarmechanics.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Positive-Negative-Camber.jpg)

In my experience, excess positive camber leads to poor directional control (steering feels 'loose', vehicle sways down the road)  and very unpredictable handling when pushed to limits. Negative gives the opposite.


OK...  so you had the original 'noncorrecting' bushings in the rig. 

During a previous alignment, you got the replacement bushings that were the correcting type.  This is also how my camper came when I got it - with the correcting bushings in. I was giving credit to PC for installing them during the post construction alignment.  Now knowing that you replaced yours, I am thinking this may not be a thing now, as 'The truck comes aligned from the factory' is most likely the case. I bet a PO had mine done also.

I have been saying, and agree with your statement here- you will most likely need the 'centered' bushings to get the alignment spot on, now that you are closer to 'normal' (center of suspension travel)  ride height.  Or a shop that figures 'close enough for a camper' and sets it as close as they can will save you the cost of installing.  :-[

I would get an 'alignment settings print out' to assure you are set correctly.   

Again, a BIG  tymote THANK YOU  tymote   for even bringing up this whole idea. I could not be happier with my handling now, even with  Autozone front shocks, stock steering stabilizer, no rear axle sway/track bars. If the opportunity comes along. i would fit a rear bar on mine. But I dont feel a pressing need anymore.  :-D    I hope you get even greater results with all the other suspension mods you have done.

Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 29, 2020, 12:38:36 pm
I am getting an alignment some time next year, waiting until just after I have new tires mounted which will be just prior to our next big trip.  I don't want new tires just getting old for no reason.  I also don't know how long COVID19 will influence travel plans.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: donc13 on September 29, 2020, 02:09:55 pm
I am getting an alignment some time next year, waiting until just after I have new tires mounted which will be just prior to our next big trip.  I don't want new tires just getting old for no reason.  I also don't know how long COVID19 will influence travel plans.

Ron,

Off topic, but we're on the road now.  Even a small slice of Illinois near Quincy.   Right now, up in Duluth, came north from Quincy via Missouri, Iowa, a bit of Minnesota near Red Wing then up thru Western Wisconsin and then back into Minnesota at Duluth.

My point being, only Covid restrictions we have come across is wearing masks inside stores.   Fast food in Wisconsin is take out only, not sure about restaurants.  Here in Duluth, the restaurants appear to be open for dine in, but masks until your food arrives.

All in all, no real restrictions that have affected us.

We're headed into Michigan next, and when we were there in late May, no real problems, restaurants were open with limited capacity.

Don
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 29, 2020, 03:43:01 pm
The COVID19 issues that we would face are all related to USA national parks, monuments, and related.  Though such places are officially open, many trails and sections of the parks remain closed due to lack of personnel required for full park coverage.  The parks cannot house enough employees and volunteers like they normally would to accommodate for COVID19 isolation safe distancing.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: RV Quest on November 11, 2020, 09:32:36 pm
Ron, I have a 2005 model 2100. The front seat ride is harsh. I am so happy that you have come up with the great solution of using softer front springs. I have also added the heavy duty front and rear torsion bars along with the steering stableizer to improve handling, but the front end suspension is still harsh. I am strongly thinking of following your lead to install the Moog springs that you chose. I would appreciate it if you would share your tips for installing the springs. Thankyou, Damon
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on November 12, 2020, 12:00:30 am
Hi Damon,

Changing the front springs is much easier than I expected.  There may be a youtube video out there to help.  Here is the step-by-step process as best as I can recall.

- Park your rig on a hard flat surface, safe for tackling such a project.
- First take suspension measurements like I did in my pictures so you know the "Before".
- Do one spring at a time, jacking up one corner at a time (I used a conventional rolling floor jack).
- Remove the tire.
- Support the frame with a jack stand so the suspension hangs freely.
    (I found a good place rear of the front suspension.)
- Place jack under suspension (I lifted under the disk brake) and adjust the height to minimize pressure on the stabilizer bar.
    (I have a Roadmaster stabilizer bar with end links.)
- Disconnect the end of the stabilizer bar from the suspension.
    (Your stock bar will have to be completely removed if you have a 2007 or older chassis with the end-of-bar in a rubber donut.)
- Remove the lower nut for the shock absorber.
- Adjust the jack again so the shock absorber can slide off the lower mounting stem with ease.
- Adjust the jack yet again, this time so the spring just starts to compress.
- Remove the top clip that fastens the top of the spring.
- Lower the jack completely to drop the suspension, then easily remove the spring.
- Turn the lower round polymer base 180 degrees so the new spring rests on a fresh surface.
- Install and assemble in reverse order.
- Once done, tools put away, and all cleaned up, take the rig out for a test drive.
- Back home, park in the same place and take your measurements again for the "After".
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: RV Quest on November 20, 2020, 09:59:13 am
Hi Ron,

Thank you for providing the simple to follow steps for changing the front springs. The cold weather is upon us, so I have put the 2100 to bed for the winter. I'll order the springs so when the warmer weather arrives, I'll be ready to install the softer springs. I'm looking forward to the improved ride that the softer springs will provide. Thank you for doing all the research, calculations and testing to give me confidence in this solution.

Damon
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on November 20, 2020, 11:12:58 am
You are very welcome Damon.

I imagine the change in front springs will be just as beneficial for you with a 2100 (slide-out or not) as it has been for us with our 2350 (without a slide-out).

A worst case scenario would be to revert back to your original springs.  But I would be very surprised if you felt the need to do so.  If anything, you might say it's not yet soft enough and want an even softer spring.

Take "height" measurements as I did, both before and after the change in your front springs.  Be sure to drive the rig a little prior to that second measurement, to let the springs "seat" properly.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on May 31, 2021, 04:24:28 pm
I finally got new tires, Alcoa wheels, and a wheel alignment.  The details are added at the end of the opening post.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: CalCruiser on May 31, 2021, 08:05:27 pm
Sweet!
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Volkemon on June 01, 2021, 07:22:14 am
Quote
My old shop Champion Frame Align in Elgin, IL permanently closed so I went to the competition that put them out of business, Cassidy Tire in East Dundee, IL.  They primarily service trucks of all kinds with special attention towards tractor trailer trucks.  The first wheel alignment resulted in a strong pull to the left.  They sent me home and called me back after they had their equipment recalibrated which resulted in a pull half as bad, also to the left.  They sent me home again, this time saying to have a mechanic look at the steering gear box or something else.

Back home I decided to place the front lower control arms on jack stands so I could freely turn the steering wheel left and right to see what was going on.  THEN IT HIT ME.....the heavy duty Safe-T-Plus steering stabilizer.  Sure enough, it was causing the pull to the left.  I adjusted it properly to the new toe-in settings (a simple process) and all is well.  I am happy!


WOW. A good lesson on why one addresses the root cause of a problem (spring rates too stiff/sprung height too high) of a problem instead of throwing a bunch of aftermarket parts at it. Turns out the 'cure' was part of the problem.   

Sorry to hear you have only a poorly trained shop to work with now. Recalibrated their machine?!? The phrase is older than I am - ""A bad workman always blames his tools""  (nod)

 As a (retired) 'Pro' it is distressing to hear about people getting substandard service. As part of toe-in adjustment, that stabilizer bracket on the rod should have been fully loosened, or better yet removed. Toe set, then re-installed. Evidently this shop did not do that. And then adjusting <something else?> to get you half the pull to the left... scary.   Glad you had the facilities and mechanical knowledge to fix it yourself!

Couple questions...

Quote
Since 2007 with the original springs for the past 38,000 miles, the rig always had a very slight pull to the left.  There was no change in that gentile pull after changing the front springs to the softer ones.

So did you install the steering stabilizer in the very beginning, and this was the cause of the slight pull to the left it has always had?

Quote
...but I suspect in the end, my rig will require a different alignment bushing on the right front to properly correct the condition.
Did you end up replacing both the camber bushings, neither, or just one?

Now get out there and enjoy the stares of envy from other motor home drivers as those flashy wheels reflect the suns rays.  (cheer) (cheer)
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on June 04, 2021, 07:52:16 am
I finally got new tires, Alcoa wheels, and a wheel alignment.  The details are added at the end of the opening post.
Today I added a lot more detail with pictures regarding the alignment into the opening post.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Taildragger on June 21, 2021, 07:28:47 pm
Everything I read, from other sources, has me inclined to believe a change to softer suspension will offer more mechanical grip.  Narratives explain the change will do a better job of keeping the tires on the ground when it comes to depressions, bumps, and surface irregularities in the road.   Along with the observations made by those on this forum who have made the change and then reporting a more pleasant ride, the combination of also having more control has me convinced to make the conversion. 

The outline of the change procedures presented in this topic is a first class summary of the required steps.  Valuable information and thoroughly presented.  Encouraging to know the exchange can be done without the specialized tools or torch and duck heroics associated with the older GM products I am familiar with.  Jack the frame up and pull the retainer clip off the top of the spring.

Including information on the replacement parts - with examples of those used really narrows the options down. 
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on June 22, 2021, 12:26:33 am
Hi Taildragger,

If considering this modification, you really need to know what your front axle (front suspension) weighs during a trip with you and your partner sitting in the front seats.  That will determine if you should reduce to the next lower-rated spring, or possibly even 2 steps lower.

Like you say, changing front coil springs is not a hard project for anyone with minimal mechanical skills and basic tools.  I would love to read how it goes for you and what you learn.  As always, I am a just a post or an email away to answer any questions.

And I agree with you also that the end result should yield improved control of the motorhome, most especially on imperfect road surfaces.  This also assumes you have good shocks and a heavy duty front stabilizer bar to better keep both front tires firmly planted on the road.  There's a lot of dynamics going on of which can be managed and tamed for improved comfort, control, and reduced driver fatigue.

Driver fatigue is something very important to me because we always drive westward from the Chicago area, so that first and last 1000 miles is always a hard grind that I'd do better without extra grinding.

Ron Dittmer
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Taildragger on June 22, 2021, 08:54:02 pm
I acknowledge the importance of considering actual weight before deciding on which replacement springs to order.  However, I am also conscious of the concept of mechanical advantage and imagine the weight on the front axle varies widely.  All depending on loads in the various tanks.  The ballast weight range from empty to full could vary by several hundred pounds.  And, on a comparatively short forward arm such as the 2100 offers, the long cantilever force of the rear ballast position would be exaggerated.  Especially, when the arc is further propelled by the momentum of highway speeds. 

I could weigh the rig empty.  I could then weigh the rig full.  That would, I presume, reveal the front becomes lighter.  But, what about the pervasive dynamics of highway speeds? 

I wonder if aftermarket spring suppliers specializing in the RV market provide that information. 



Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on June 23, 2021, 08:09:36 am
I suggest to weigh your rig like you are starting out for the day with your waste tanks empty and your fresh water tank filled.  Also filled up with gas and everyone sitting in their most common position.

During my tank washing/bleaching, I once filled all 3 tanks at the same time, fresh and waste water together with 93 gallons of water in my 2007 2350.  The rear sagged down to a concerning level.  I would never drive the rig weighed that heavy in back.

From that one observation, I since treat my waste tanks separately from my fresh water tank.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Volkemon on June 24, 2021, 07:14:24 pm
  But, what about the pervasive dynamics of highway speeds? 

I wonder if aftermarket spring suppliers specializing in the RV market provide that information.

Believe it or not, alignment specs and spring rates are designed to be effective and correct with the vehicle in motion, doing what it is designed to do.  (exactly)  The toe in at rest is designed to accommodate the compression of bushings, and result in a near parallel condition underway. Setting your toe to '0' at rest results in a toe out when underway, and very 'twitchy' steering. On a track, with custom made chassis,etc, the toe is is often set after multiple runs, tire engineer inspections, and driver feedback.

Likewise with spring rates - they are designed to be in a suitable range when the vehicle is underway and loaded within specs, not empty and in a parking lot. Even such things as the resonant frequency of the suspension pieces around it are taken into account! I have been blessed to be able to be with MUCH more educated automotive professionals and ask many questions. Stupid ones sometimes.  (nod) But thats how one learns.

When I had my springs made, the company first needed to have the part number of the spring I had. In this way they could modify the height off the known values of that spring. Likewise the ride - the spring rate that was in there is a known quantity, allowing them to tailor a new spring rate that is desired.

Like buying suits off a rack. Good enough for most, fit a few well, but when you experience a tailored suit... its hard to forget what 'right' feels like.  :)(:
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Taildragger on June 24, 2021, 08:41:39 pm
According to the guys who sells springs, coil springs should be replaced "when they show signs of deterioration". What does that mean?  As they lose the ability to bounce back?  As they age?  Because they are rusty and don't meet aesthetic desires?

Following this forum, I am focused on the coil spring topic.   Contributors who have already explored the alternatives are generating some interesting replies.  And, their thought process reveals there is a solution available from a list of alternatives. 

Based on the rig I have, I have decided to replace the front springs with the lightest available.  The plan includes changing out the front anti-sway bar with the heavier version and including shock absorbers rated for highest stability.  The steering stabilizer will remain unchanged.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on June 24, 2021, 08:54:26 pm
Couple questions...

Quote
Since 2007 with the original springs for the past 38,000 miles, the rig always had a very slight pull to the left.  There was no change in that gentile pull after changing the front springs to the softer ones.

So did you install the steering stabilizer in the very beginning, and this was the cause of the slight pull to the left it has always had?

Quote
...but I suspect in the end, my rig will require a different alignment bushing on the right front to properly correct the condition.
Did you end up replacing both the camber bushings, neither, or just one?
#1 - Yes and Yes
#2 - We did not change the offset bushings.  They simply adjusted the ones previously installed by Champion Frame Align 14 years earlier.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Volkemon on June 25, 2021, 08:48:45 am
According to the guys who sells springs, coil springs should be replaced "when they show signs of deterioration". What does that mean?  As they lose the ability to bounce back?  As they age?  Because they are rusty and don't meet aesthetic desires?


He is correct. Coil springs can sag, and even snap when paired with poor/broken shocks and subjected to multiple stresses - potholes, washboard roads, curbs...  :beg  In these cases they SHOULD be replaced. I agree.

However they CAN be replaced while still serviceable for other causes - one wishes a softer ride, lower ride height or to raise the ride height. For example, 2013-2017 F150 (pickup) springs are available to lower 2" or 3",  or to raise it 2-6 inches!

In my case, I wanted a softer ride, and a lower ride height. I found a capable spring shop that could, after getting the info off my springs, make new springs to my wishes.  Ron had similar results by using a product made for another setup, 'Off The Shelf'.  And it worked!  Neither one of us NEEDED to replace the springs, but desired to.  I was willing to pay for the 'peace of mind' KNOWING the springs were made for my exact condition.

Similar results, different routes.  2o2


I could have gotten away with not replacing the bushings, and leaving the raised/adjustable bushings that were in there from its first alignment. At their lowest, they were still just within spec. But should the front end be heavily loaded, like when i add 80# of water to my potable water rack, and have both 65QT RTIC coolers behind the passenger seat (250#+) , and add my batteries (150-200#) under the floor under these coolers... they would not have adjustment range left when going in for a future alignment. That was part of the conversation that I had with the alignment tech (Nate, buddy of mine) when he was showing me why I had to spend another $300+ on top of my new spring install. He and I agree - cry once. Once again, paying for peace of mind.  No one knows everything. Many times having someone like Nate, who has seen MANY trucks and Rv's go through custom changes, can help me see problems that could arise from my actions that i otherwise would never consider.




Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on July 12, 2021, 07:20:14 am
In the article, Just now I added a picture at the end of it showing the rig being level after all the work was 100% complete including 6 new tires, new Alcoa alloy wheels, a wheel alignment, the fresh water tank (located against the rear wall) is full,  and all my heavy towing stuff is placed in the rear storage compartment.  I added the 35 gallons of fresh water and heavy towing stuff to simulate "trip load" conditions, so I anticipate during trips all loaded up, we'll have a better ride and won't have a slight rear sag any longer.  Our big road trip out west planned later this year will be the real test.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Taildragger on August 03, 2021, 10:49:26 pm
Anti - Sway Bars!   The topic is an old issue that remains controversial and seemingly unresolved in the court of public opinion.  An internet search reveals the issue generated much discussion a decade ago.  The topic appears less frequently on the RV Forums, now.  Perhaps, because those claiming benefit better articulate their case with anecdotal examples based on personal experience telling improvements to factory installed front suspension components greatly improve handling issues in a variety of ways.   Those easily outweigh and outnumber the occasional antagonist who characterizes anyone willing to believe they help as a prime candidate for the purchase of a bridge.
For me, the path to upgrades is usually guided by my wallet.  And, upgrading a FORD 2007 chassis to include a rear anti sway bar, where there was none, proved upgrades can be beneficial.  I characterize the benefits of that installation as making a change that was noticeable from both the driver and passenger’s perspective.    Best described as dampening a sense of top heaviness, the vehicle’s inclination towards excessive lean on banked corners at highway speeds and moderate crosswind conditions, control is noticeably improved.
Making that one upgrade, I am confident the improvements claimed for replacement of OEM front suspension parts will also benefit handling issues, and worth the expense.  Replacing the front anti-sway bar with a heavier after - market option is purported as being the solution to the sensation of being “pushed” when overtaken by large vehicles at highway speeds.  Softer front springs promise front tires will remain more firmly affixed to the road surface for more positive steering.
From reading reports from others who undertake DIY replacements of the front suspension, I get the impression that on the 2007 FORD E350, shocks, anti-sway bars, and coil springs are inter related to the degree everything gets disconnected.  Replacing any one requires the others be detached.
I intend to do the project in early September.  Any thoughts and input would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Taildragger on September 21, 2021, 03:03:02 pm
I went through the parts replacement procedure.  And, I have driven the vehicle with the "new" front suspension to verify the benefits are as claimed.

Having read how easy the process is, I want to add that, for me, the installation process encountered an unexpected obstacle that required considerable effort and the acquisition of an additional tool.   I found, that in the case of my vehicle, there is an unmentioned step during the removal of the existing coil spring that requires brute force being applied in an articulated direction.  (Random hammering doesn't help) The existing spring doesn't simply lift out after removing the top clip and opening the suspension arms to full deployment.  On my vehicle, the bottom coil is entrapped by a mating flange that is circular and imposes a lock on the bottom coil circumference from the inside  . 

The loosened spring simply will not budge from the mounting retainer.  In order to keep it from flopping around and slipping from my prying force, I summoned help from a friend.  And, his assistance being combined with the necessary leverage of a newly acquired six foot long, heavy steel prybar the seemingly impossible was forced to transpire,  The brute force process required spinning the spring to a sweet spot and then aggressively applying persistent and substantial leverage.  Under the  continued effort - eventually it pops loose.

Since replacing the front suspension, it seems prudent to have the front end realigned.  That in spite of having driven the new installation to note the absence of lane wondering or other steering difficulties.  Having tried tire shops, truck repair centers, and specialty alignment shops within a hundred mile radius, I am learning how difficult finding a shop willing to accept an RV is.  Impossible, at this point
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 24, 2021, 06:46:45 pm
Hi Taildragger,

I am very surprised to read that you had such trouble with interchanging front springs.  We have the same model year chassis and my front springs came out with minimal effort.  I wonder why you struggled so much with that.

I do recall focusing on lowering my lower control arm.  Did you detach your front stabilizer bar?  Maybe your front bar is different than my Roadmaster and was preventing the lower assembly from dropping far enough for a simple removal without the need for a huge pry bar.

Regarding a front wheel alignment, I advise to Google search for "tractor trailer alignment shop" .....not for automobile alignment shops.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Taildragger on September 24, 2021, 08:56:40 pm
The front coil spring was loose once I dropped the suspension arm and removed the top clip.  As you described the procedure, with the frame supported by a jack stand  and the lower suspension arm completely relaxed, the spring is completely free at the top. Plenty of room to move the top around.

Trouble was, the coil spring simply wouldn't lift off the bottom bracket.  The bottom bracket receptacle includes a retaining ring that fits inside the spring's bottom coil.    Because of the ring, the spring wouldn't tip out.   Nor, would it allow being lifted free.  I had to use considerable force in order to pry the bottom coil up and over the ring's collar.   

Not an easy job.  Until I recruited help, the spring flopped around with the effort.  I needed the end of the bottom coil to be at the fulcrum of my pry bar.
Title: Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
Post by: Ron Dittmer on September 24, 2021, 10:53:57 pm
Ah, I now better understand your challenge.

My springs just slipped off those domed steel bottoms with the milky-colored polymer collars around the bases.  I wonder why there is such a difference between yours and mine.

I am glad you managed to get it done.  Now off to find a truck tire & alignment shop.  Cassidy Tire in my area services 18 wheelers.  They were able to take good care of our PC alignment.

If you have an aftermarket steering stabilizer like our Safe-T-Plus, make sure to tell the alignment technician that he must loosen it from the steering linkage, then retighten after the alignment is complete.  My alignment guy could not get the steering wheel to point straight in a relaxed state until after we figured out that the Safe-T-Plus was the culprit.

BTW: I added my trip report evaluation to my initial post here.