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Author Topic: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER  (Read 94270 times)

Harvard

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E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« on: February 15, 2011, 12:12:53 AM »
Our 2004 E450 28 Foot handled terrible until we added additional + Caster to the front wheels.

The Ford Spec for front end CASTER is:

LH +1.3 to +6.8 Degrees
RH +1.8 to +7.3 Degrees

Our unit was:
LH +3.3 Degrees
RH +3.5 Degrees

We added + 2.0 degrees, so we are now at:
LH +5.3 Degrees
RH +5.5 Degrees.

Alignment problems on the E series follow the 80/20 rule in the sense that TOE and CAMBER is 20% of the story while CASTER is 80% of the story. TOO LITTLE CASTER will amplify any external force many fold to the detriment of stability.

If your unit feels like the steering box needs to be tightened up it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If cross winds and wind gusts cause havoc it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If you think the tail is wagging the dog it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.
If you are needing to drive it all day and never relax it is because of TOO LITTLE + CASTER.

If your unit drives GREAT, like an SUV, it is because you have a proper amout of + CASTER which I am guestimating to be about +5.0 degrees or more.  (Note: The RH caster is always more then LH (CROSS CASTER = LH - RH))



« Last Edit: February 15, 2011, 12:17:54 AM by Harvard »

cruzn57

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2011, 11:48:09 PM »
I have an 89 E350 its pretty good on the highway, but does wander slightly.
I added 1/8" toe in and it is alot better, my question is, how is caster set?
I believe mine is called twin I beam suspension,  does it require heating and bending?
I agree more caster will be beneficial,  but will increase the steering pressure required,
its worth it either way,
thanks

somewhere in time, still plays with cars.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 09:18:09 AM »
I have an 89 E350 its pretty good on the highway, but does wander slightly.
I added 1/8" toe in and it is alot better, my question is, how is caster set?
I believe mine is called twin I beam suspension,  does it require heating and bending?
I agree more caster will be beneficial,  but will increase the steering pressure required,
its worth it either way,
thanks

Yes, I also have the same suspension, and so does every E350/E450. The top mount of your upper ball joints are shipped from the factory with fixed non adjustable sleeves that need to be replaced.

In my opinion, your best choice in adjustable sleeves are from Ingalls Engineering. They are clearly marked as INGALLS 594. They consist of two concentric sleeves that have 360/24 = 15 degrees indices labeled A through X. In order to set them you need a "cheat" sheet which is on the web as "59400.pdf". These sleeves will allow adjustment of both CAMBER and CASTER up to +/- 2.0 degrees each, in any combination of CASTER or CAMBER. All you need to do is, using the cheat sheet, is take the max adjustable + CASTER change which is +2.0 any you will see a black and white improvement.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2011, 09:43:01 AM »
By the way, there are no special tools or technique required to change out the CAMBER/CASTER sleeves. What I mean is there is no heavy duty ball joint work, you just jack up the wheel, remove the wheel, loosen the "horse collar" and the sleeves just pry up as per the instructions in 59400.pdf. Then you just slip in the Ingall 594s. Can't say for sure how corroded the sleeves might be in an older unit, use lots of liquid wrench etc....

cruzn57

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2011, 11:06:17 PM »
Thanks

I have a few cold ones sitting here , for your consumption.
since its so simple!   LOL

really- thanks for the tip, I'll get some ordered,
I have a caster/camber gauge I use on the race cars,  I can check it with that.

somewhere in time, still plays with cars.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2011, 09:05:47 AM »
Moose Drool dark ale from Montana is my choice, but then I will drink anything that is greater then 32F (+5.0/-0.0) if you get my drift.

cruzn57

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2011, 07:50:40 PM »
I like your thinking!  LOL

I ordered the off set bushings (ingall 59400) from "Amazon"
went out and looked at the front susp. I see what your talking about.
guess I should spray it with WD40.
need to wait for better weather, I'll camp in this weather, but I'm a fair weather
mechanic!
 been raining for last few days, snow is at 4000ft level,  were 3300'.
 warm coffee, and insulated window,  now thats where I'm at!!
somewhere in time, still plays with cars.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2011, 09:58:28 PM »
Sorry, I should not have been so cryptic about my temperature tolerance for a good brew. I really meant to imply CASTER is a one way street having a POSITIVE tolerance BUT do not even think, in this day and age, of ever going for a more negative CASTER.

I would love to tell you the full story BUT to compress dealing with a "truck alignment shop" + 5 months and 1800 terrifying miles without any "light at the end of the tunnel" in 5-10 lines is not possible.

So as a recap,:
In a Wellton AZ campground, on 16th Nov last, (at 250 Foot ASL at about 75 Deg weather)  I pulled my front wheels one at a time and made the big adjustment of adding +2.0 degrees caster to each wheel. On that day, after making the adjustments,  I took the RV for a 10 mile return trip just to make sure the front wheels would not fall off as a result of my playing with something that I knew "little" about.

Our 2004 E450 then sat in the campground bone yard (we stay in a park model) until the 11th Feb when we headed out on a 220 mile trip to Laughlin, NV with a toad. This was to be my first real road test on the adjusted CASTER. By chance it turned out to be a fairly windy day. Well, the difference was a black and white improvement in handling.

We have since made the return trip from Laughlin and I had lots of time to think of just  how I could put this experience into words.

The chosen words are:

"When you drive an RV WITH TOO LITTLE CASTER on a windy day, you are going to be fighting the wind and fighting the RV, combined. When you drive the same RV in the same wind WITH ENOUGH CASTER, the RV is going to fight the wind and all you need to do is manage the situation."

I will look forward to your choice of words when winter has passed and you have had a chance to add creditability or debunk my theories about caster.

By the way, I am very interested in knowing about DIY front end alignment measuring equipment. I can do the TOE and CAMBER but I do not yet have a technique established for measuring the CASTER.

donn

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2011, 07:32:01 AM »
For years Ford E series vehicles have been known as wanderers.  Get it to a good alignment shop, and the problem will go away.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2011, 08:23:33 AM »
For years Ford E series vehicles have been known as wanderers.  Get it to a good alignment shop, and the problem will go away.

Yes, but the challenge is to identify a "good alignment shop". That is the hard part! IMHO

I can tell you of one chain outfit in Canada, specifically the "truck alignment bay" in Calgary, AB that does not qualify as a "good alignment shop".

I am going to speculate that the bad alignment shops can run through 6-8 alignments a day on one rack. On the other hand, a "good alignment shop" is going to have a much lesser through put per day.

Which operation is going to look better at head office?

JMO that cost me CDN $167.95, Invoice# 623620743 o dated /10/15/10.


cruzn57

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2011, 07:49:58 PM »
this is what we use to set  alignment on race cars,
it takes a little time to get used to it,
http://www.racingplus.com/alignment-tools/longacre/magnetic-c-c-gauge-w-case/1362p10523

for toe settings we use a plate  on outside ea wheel, and measure front and rear.
http://www.racingplus.com/alignment-tools/longacre/toe-plates-set-includes-2-tapes/1362p10556

hope thats some help.
somewhere in time, still plays with cars.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2011, 08:47:23 PM »
Hey cruzn57, did you ever get around to adding more +caster to the front end of your MH.

We now have an independent confirmation out of Phoenix, see his post 08/06/11 http://www.rv.net/forums/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/24815915/page/4.cfm

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2011, 10:54:19 AM »
OP here... since installing the extra +2.0 degrees of caster I have driven this E450 about 4500 miles, it definitely handles like an SUV. I cannot say enough about the difference in handling.

If you are not a DIY owner I would suggest you purchase a set of INGALLS 594 Camber/Caster sleeves then make an appointment with an alignment shop. Be very specific in your instructions asking them to install these sleeves SET TO 0.0 Degrees CAMBER and +2.0 Degrees CASTER then align the TOE IN to be within TOE spec while accepting the resulting CAMBER and CASTER AS IS!  Trust me, it will be well worth the effort IF you own a wandering E350/E450.

Molaker

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2011, 12:40:08 PM »
Glad it works for you.  My '99 E450 (31.5') doesn't have the same problem, however.  It handles well with Ford spec'd caster.  It might be interesting to know what the weight ratio is between your front and rear axles.  If the rear is loaded heavily, especially behind the axle, it might tend to make the front end a bit road crazy.
Tom & Joyce and Ditto the "don't tell her she's a dog" Westie
U.S. Navy (Ret)
2014 Winnebago ERA 70X 24' class B Sprinter chassis

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2011, 08:35:13 PM »
Glad it works for you.  My '99 E450 (31.5') doesn't have the same problem, however.  It handles well with Ford spec'd caster.  It might be interesting to know what the weight ratio is between your front and rear axles.  If the rear is loaded heavily, especially behind the axle, it might tend to make the front end a bit road crazy.

Ford spec for CASTER is about +1.3 to +7.3 degrees and I am at about +5.3 degrees (thats neutral which is about +3.3 degrees + 2.0 degrees from the sleeves = +5.3 degrees) so I am well inside the Ford spec.

My theory is they probably handle badly below about +4.0 degrees which is still inside spec. Lets say there is a grey area between +3.5 to +5.0 where load distribution would add to the confusion. Below +3.5 is no mans land no matter what the weight distribution. IMHO.

Do you know what your caster is set at?

At any rate, I no longer have the handling problem since the caster adjustment and my load distribution habits have not changed from before or after the caster adjustment. For example my front weight on one trip weighed in at 4270# (max 4600#) and the rear 7860# (max 9450#).

Thanks for the input, I hope you had a look at:
http://www.rv.net/forums/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/24815915/gotomsg/25300144.cfm#25300144
 

Molaker

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2011, 12:04:43 AM »
I don't know what caster mine is set to, frankly.  I did take it to a truck shop specializing in frame work and alignment (bought new tires and wanted to make sure alignment was good), but I haven't a clue what they set it to.  However, it was not bad even before the alignment.  Right now I'm in a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mode as far as handling is concerned.
Tom & Joyce and Ditto the "don't tell her she's a dog" Westie
U.S. Navy (Ret)
2014 Winnebago ERA 70X 24' class B Sprinter chassis

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2011, 09:40:54 AM »
I don't know what caster mine is set to, frankly.  I did take it to a truck shop specializing in frame work and alignment (bought new tires and wanted to make sure alignment was good), but I haven't a clue what they set it to.  However, it was not bad even before the alignment.  Right now I'm in a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mode as far as handling is concerned.

I agree with your mode of operation, believe me I did not go looking for this problem, it came to me with a used 2004 28' E450 that I bought last fall and it was a terror to drive at highway speeds. And yes, I did take it out for a test drive but it was not something a novice would pick up on first trip.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2011, 11:01:02 AM »
Here is a link to a good description of CASTER vs CAMBER (and toe).

http://www.whiteline.com.au/Plus/terminology.php

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2011, 09:57:22 AM »
As it turns out, it is real easy to estimate the CASTER of any front wheel. To get the CASTER you need to make 2 CAMBER measurements per wheel plus a formula.  I bought a 10 inch Stanley bubble type torpedo level c/w rotateable degree index.  To measure the CAMBER I just place the level vertical on the front circumference of the rim where the ends of the level sit on the rim.

Here is the formula:

K = ( 180 / pi ) * ( ( C1 - C2 ) / ( T1 - T2 ) )

Where:
K is the estimated CASTER
C1 is the +CAMBER when the DS wheel is FULL LEFT or the PS wheel is FULL RIGHT.
C2 is the -CAMBER when the DS wheel is FULL RIGHT or the PS wheel is FULL LEFT.
T1 is the +TURN ANGLE when DS wheel is FULL LEFT or the PS wheel is FULL RIGHT.
T2 is the -TURN ANGLE when DS wheel is FULL RIGHT or the PS wheel is FULL LEFT.
DS is the Drivers Side Wheel
PS is the Passengers Side Wheel

To make things simple, the E350/E450 has a TURN ANGLE of about 25 Degrees at FULL LH or FULL RH. Also, the more level the terrain the better.

For example, This is my E450 sitting on a 1/2 degree side to side slope:
DS FULL LEFT +CAMBER = +4
DS FULL RIGHT -CAMBER = -1
PS FULL RIGHT +CAMBER = +3
PS FULL LEFT -CAMBER = -2

DS K = ( 180 / 3.14 ) * ( ( 4 - (-1) ) / ( 25 - (-25) ) = +5.7 Degrees
PS K = ( 180 / 3.14 ) * ( ( 3 - (-2) ) / ( 25 - (-25) ) = +5.7 Degrees

All we are trying to do here is determine if our CASTER less then 4 degrees or is it greater then 5 degrees to know if we have a vehicle with post factory alignment sleeves or not, the so called "truck alignment".


KY-Rver

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2011, 06:37:14 PM »
Help.
I have read about the caster settings and now here is my problem.  My E450 2006 model had slightly less than 1 degree of positive caster.  I have installed a 3-1/2 degree bushing which gives me slightly under 4-1/2 degree positive caster. Handling has much improved, however, still some road wandering. Does anyone know of any bushing that will give me more caster? I would like to get to at least 5-1/2 degrees. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #20 on: October 02, 2011, 02:38:59 PM »
Help.
I have read about the caster settings and now here is my problem.  My E450 2006 model had slightly less than 1 degree of positive caster.  I have installed a 3-1/2 degree bushing which gives me slightly under 4-1/2 degree positive caster. Handling has much improved, however, still some road wandering. Does anyone know of any bushing that will give me more caster? I would like to get to at least 5-1/2 degrees. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ingalls 594 sleeves will allow you to get up to +5.3 to +5.5 Degrees CASTER by adding +2.0 degrees to the neutral +3.3 to +3.5 degrees. By neutral I am meaning the CASTER is at center of the range which is about +3.3 to +3.5 if you get my drift.

jetmechs

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2012, 08:33:20 PM »
Hello All,

We just completed a round trip coast to coast trip in a 2009 E450 Winnebago Chalet. It was 6500 miles of really loose steering that reminded me of my first vehicle, a 1967 F100 pickup with worn out king pins that I learned on, and later a 1999 Expedition that I bought new I asked for help from Ford engineering with typical response, "they all do that", and both drove like Model A's. I am a helicopter pilot, so I know how to steer an unstable craft, but it is very taxing to drive a motor vehicle minute by minute for days on end with this kind of precision. I got used to driving the E450 as time went by, but I am ashamed of Ford and Winnebago for giving me all of my bad experiences. I am a stock holder in Ford by the way. If +5 caster is the solution, I will try it on the Expedition too, 12 years too late. It is way too late for the F100 sadly, but I think it gave me the ability to not over control my craft.

In addition, I think that my Class C could have used some rear air springs to help with ride control, it is very rigid and crisp, like a sports car that weighs 12,000 lbs. They are on order now. With a normal load of water and fuel, the rear is a little low too, the low beams are like brights. I hope this helps.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2012, 09:08:50 PM by jetmechs »

Oldedit

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2012, 08:59:15 AM »
Good info on the E450 C. Thanks.
2014 Newmar Ventana 4037 12.17-
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dave61

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2012, 10:39:45 AM »
Harvard good info thanks for sharing. I have a 27' on an E450 that i bought about 6 months ago and i think it drives ok but one thing I noticed early on is the wheel seems slow to return to center. In and of itself that does not matter to me at all, it was just an observation. Then on our last trip we had a 25 to 30 mph headwind with a right to left force about 90% of the time, those occasional (10%) left to rights, were tricky. Every Rv I saw that day was having to pay attention.

So I was thinking about the slow to return to center thing after reading your post. Am I correct that increasing castor would help with this? Maybe it would help with windy days too. With the cost of the new bushings being so low it seems a good thing to do in any case.

P.S. I have no suspension mods and have a longish wheelbase 196" for the length.
2004 B Touring Cruiser 27
Ford E450 V-10
Tampa Bay FL

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2012, 12:35:01 PM »
Harvard good info thanks for sharing. I have a 27' on an E450 that i bought about 6 months ago and i think it drives ok but one thing I noticed early on is the wheel seems slow to return to center. In and of itself that does not matter to me at all, it was just an observation. Then on our last trip we had a 25 to 30 mph headwind with a right to left force about 90% of the time, those occasional (10%) left to rights, were tricky. Every Rv I saw that day was having to pay attention.

So I was thinking about the slow to return to center thing after reading your post. Am I correct that increasing castor would help with this? Maybe it would help with windy days too. With the cost of the new bushings being so low it seems a good thing to do in any case.

P.S. I have no suspension mods and have a longish wheelbase 196" for the length.

Yes, more + CASTER will effect/improve "return to center" as well as the "straight ahead " stability at highway speeds.

skyking1

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2012, 02:14:20 PM »
Great post! This problem affects many other rigs. My truck is a miserable drive on the highway, due to factory specs that just don't get it right.
The good vs average alignment shop: The average shop sees a number in that factory range and they are done. " It's within specifications" they will say, and charge you and out the door.  A good shop will drive and see what is going on.
Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

Harvard

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2012, 03:55:34 PM »
Great post! This problem affects many other rigs. My truck is a miserable drive on the highway, due to factory specs that just don't get it right.
The good vs average alignment shop: The average shop sees a number in that factory range and they are done. " It's within specifications" they will say, and charge you and out the door.  A good shop will drive and see what is going on.

You are soooo right....the "average" shop will tweak the toe and make sure the camber and caster look good on paper by fudging the print out. After all is said and done, an "average" tech doing 8 alignments a day looks good from the head office point of view.

skyking1

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #27 on: May 24, 2012, 03:41:22 PM »
Just got back from having the truck aligned with this post in mind.
It started out at 2.9 and 3.1
He tweaked it to 3.4 and 3.7
Could not do any more or the camber would be out of spec. It did help some.
I will be towing this weekend with it and will report back.
 I have a kit on order to replace the steering shaft bushing with an improved system.
http://www.rocksolidramtrucksteering.com/
That is the last thing I can do.
Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

skyking1

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Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2012, 01:49:35 PM »
Follow up to this topic:
I did not need the bushing shown above. I took the truck to Kimball's Alignment in Tacoma, as recommended by my tire shop. They send all the problem alignments there to be done by a real pro in the business.
He discovered a slightly loose pitman arm joint, and quoted me a price to do that and add as much caster as possible. I had more time than money and did the pitman arm myself. I noticed a change as I drove it to the shop, it was a little tighter. The new part also moved my wheel from aligned to about 11:30 when driving straight.
He corrected that, took the caster out to 4.5 on both sides before he ran out of adjustment. I drove it 500 miles yesterday and it is very much better! More caster does indeed help.
Kelly and Mary

1996 Dodge CTD 2500 "Woody"
1991 Avion 29.5 ST
Washington State

http://boondockerswelcome.com/users/skyking

MinneFromMinne

  • Posts: 1
Re: E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER
« Reply #29 on: August 21, 2012, 04:45:41 PM »
Hello.. Great Info Harvard,   Just want to Confirm that You used #59400 on an E450..  Ingall does not list this as a Valid part for an E450, only up to the E350..    thx!...jp