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Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride

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Volkemon

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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #15 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)
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Ron Dittmer

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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #16 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.
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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #17 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. 

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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #18 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
« Last Edit: June 22, 2021, 09:04:22 am by Ron Dittmer »
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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #19 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. 




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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #20 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.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2021, 07:22:14 am by Ron Dittmer »
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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #21 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.  :)(:
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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #22 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.

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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #23 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.
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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #24 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.




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Ron Dittmer

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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #25 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.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2021, 07:30:49 am by Ron Dittmer »
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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #26 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.

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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #27 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

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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #28 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.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2021, 06:49:59 pm by Ron Dittmer »
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Re: Installed Softer Front Springs For A More Comfortable Ride
« Reply #29 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.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2021, 09:08:39 pm by Taildragger »