front end wear - 83 Chevy G30

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patsdad

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Mar 28, 2006
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25
Hope you don't mind - I didn't get any replies on the general board, so I thought someone might want to chime in on the 'technical' board . . .

My 83 Minnie 22' (100,000 mi ) has what feels to me like some excess play in the steering.  Since it's my first motorhome, and I haven't driven a low-mileage version of this chassis, I don't really have anything to compare it to, so I don't know what's "normal" .  We just returned from a 3000 mi trip to FL from upstate NY, and I didn't really have any problems, but it just seems to have some free play in the steering, and requires constant small corrections.  I fitted new Monroe Magna RV shocks before the trip, and inspection shows no obvious free play in the tie rods, and everything looks as if it's been greased recently. Previous owner was a mechanical type, and probably gave it appropriate maintenance and care.
Can anyone tell me what parts ( upper and/or lower ball joints ? inner and/or outer tie rod ends ? other ? ) tend to wear on these, and what parts tend to need replacement ?  I plan only local trips for the next year, and having returned from a successful long one, I don't want to just throw parts at it.  Front tires are new, so it's hard to really 'read' the wear, but it looks even to me.  It's not pulling to one side or the other, and passing trucks don't cause big problems; it has perhaps 2" free play in either direction at the steering wheel.
It does 'scrub' the tires when turning at the steering limit, even at creeping speed,  whether backing or forward - not sure if this is normal for these or not.
Suggestions ?
 

Bob Flight

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Apr 11, 2005
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Location
Rochester, NY
If you are not effected by trucks and it does not wander over bumps, the front end probably is fine.  Having the alignment checked would be a good double check.  There is no set type of part that wears out faster than the others. 

The 2" travel you speak of, it with the engine on or off?  If the engine is on, it is on the high side but normal.  With the engine off it should not more than approx. 1" of free play.  If it is more than that you should have the steering sector gearbox backlash adjusted.  It is fairly simple.  I have done it by feel, I don't agree with the book method.  The backlash increases with miles driven due to the pounding the road transfers back into it thru the steering linkage.  Another factor that can cause the wheel to feel loose is having a large percentage of your added weight behind the rear wheels.  This cantilevers the weight off the front making it feel light and unresponsive.  It usually increases the  side to side wandering too.  Try loading heavy thngs near the front axle and see how it changes the feel.

Robert Flight
Rochester, NY
 

Jeff

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Apr 8, 2005
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SD/AZ
patsdad:

The P30 chassis was known for wandering, especially with a long overhang on the rear axle that lightened the front axle load. We had a 34' 83 Pace Arrow and had three things done that seemed to help some. I would recommend doing them least expensive first.

1. Weigh and verify proper inflation of your tires. You won't believe how adding 10 pounds to underinflated tires helps! 

2. After weighing if the front axle is light move as much weight forward as possible.

3. After market products help some but are expensive. Davis Tru Trac bar and Henderson's Super Steer Bellcranks are some of the best out there.
 

John From Detroit

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Apr 12, 2005
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25,401
Location
Davison Michigan
Not really related but I was at my dealer today and ask them if Blue Ox had started making the Tru-Center stablizers again.. (Not that they know of) They had some news for me though.

After they said they could not get them, and I decided to look for them in QZ (Where I found out what the problem was, a 1-d-10-t error with the product it turns out, Users pushing and holding the one and only button till the solonoid burns out) .... They told my dealer they had suspended production and did not have any, and would not till it was re-designed... and then they shipped one.

So I get it put in at 9am tomorrow... And go to a concert 50 miles away at 10:45  and pick up the rig about 2pm
 

patsdad

Active member
Joined
Mar 28, 2006
Posts
25
thanks for the replies. One question re front/rear loading.  If I wanted to try to improve the front/rear weight distribution ( it does appear to ride just a little down in the back, even though it's only a 22' ) , about the only place to put stuff would be under the forward dinette bench, or else up in the sleeping compartment.  I was avoiding putting anything substantial up there to keep the center of gravity low.
I guess I could probably take some of the heavy tools from the tool compartment in the rear and put them under the dinette . . . not sure what else I carry that really has any weight to it . . . .canned goods, I guess . The water tank is amidships, forward of the rear axle  ( I have the rear bench, side bath layout ).
 

Karl

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Mar 3, 2005
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Elkhart Lake, WI for the summer. Work at Road Amer
Patsdad,

A couple of things you can try: place your knee and hands on top of one of the front wheels and give a hard push in. If it moves at all, that would indicate a pretty well worn ball joint. Do the same on the other side. Another indication of worn ball joints is a hard knocking sound when driving over a rough surface. You may be able to feel it too in the ride. Next, with the front raised slightly with a floor jack positioned in the center, (doesn't have to be off the ground, just remove some of the weight) grasp a tire at the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock position and try to move the wheel from side to side. More than a very slight movement in either direction would indicate worn tie rod ends or the need for a steering sector gearbox backlash adjustment as Robert said. If it only happens with the engine running, either the power steering line pressure is too high (could be a blocked bypass valve) or the shuttle valve (which directs the line pressure to assist steering in one direction or the other) may need adjustment. Best have the front end checked by a good alignment shop. Worn tie rod ends aren't all that dangerous, but can make a trip very tiresome, but worn ball joints are definitely something you want fixed soon.
 

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