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Old 10-06-2015, 07:46 PM   #1
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E-350/E-450 versus F-53

Aside from the obvious weight ratings being different, what are opinions comparing the van-based E-Series to the truck-based F-53 chassis as the foundation for a motorhome?

I recall reading a few forum members mention that they upgraded from Class Cs to As, and a few that downsized from As to Class Cs or Axis/Vegas (compact As built on E-Series).

So what do you guys think about differences? Ride, handling, ease and costs of repairs, tire availability, ease of entry, etc. Any pros and cons comparing them?
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Old 10-06-2015, 08:33 PM   #2
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We went from an A to a C and don't regret it. You mentioned several things that prompted us to go to a C. I personally feel that the C rides and handles better. The other item that we really like you also mentioned and that is the ease of entry. Our C is closer to the ground and has fewer steps then our A had. Also, we like the "normal" doors on the cab. For example, when we pull into our storage lot we have to exit the coach to key in the entry code. Much easier now then having to walk back to the coach door, walk around the coach, key in the number and walk back. Small points but just some of the things we like. We do miss the additional seating that we had when we swiveled the driver and passenger seats around to face the living area. But we don't often have that many people in the coach.
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Old 10-06-2015, 09:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pstandiford
we like the "normal" doors on the cab.
I know a few people that like the C for that very reason: multiple entry routes.
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Old 10-06-2015, 11:08 PM   #4
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I suppose Class As can have front doors added to coach design. I haven't noticed too many units with driver's door lately but it was a very popular option at one time. That's more of a C versus A preference. I'm also not sure why driver's doors don't seem as popular.


Regarding chassis payload capacity, I was surprised to see there is less than 100 pounds between an E-450 stripped chassis with 14,500 pound GVWR and an entry F-53 at 16,000 pounds. As one can expect, the F53 weighs a lot more than an E-Series stripped chassis. Hence net payload almost the same.


In a recently-posted video on this forum, Thor sales mentions the Axis/Vegas as having independent front suspension -- and noting that as superior. I'm wondering if the IFS results in a better-driving motorhome, or if the difference is minor. Straight front axles with leaf springs does seem antiquated even when compared to Ford Twin-I-Beam.
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Old 10-07-2015, 12:02 AM   #5
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We had a previous class A with driver door and the step to get in via the driver door was unmanageable for me. The other thing we like on the C that goes along with the doors is the roll down windows.
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Old 10-07-2015, 12:18 AM   #6
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Your question is posted in a forum for Class A, B, C rigs. So, you are going to get answers that lean towards the positives of the E350 E450 chassis.


If you posted this same question on a Class A forum, you would get positives all about the F53.


Ignoring the available storage and living space differences, and just focusing on handling characteristics......


I have owned both. Yes, Class A, B, and Cs handle more like the van chassis they are made from. Their smaller size and lower center of gravity means less roll and pitch as you amble down the road.


However, a nicely appointed modern Class A with "all the fixins" such as a rear track bar, sway bars, nice shocks, and a centering stabilizer system will feel very nice and comfortable during long trips also, (and you have MUCH more of everything).
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:33 AM   #7
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To be honest I believe my Class A handles much better than my Class C handled. I have no where near the handling issues resulting from trucks or wind.

As a note, I did not upgrade because of the chassis. I upgraded because of the features, additional; comfort and options. Next year I plan to winter in the south or southwest and I would not want to do that in a class C; adequately optioned Super C maybe but not a C.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:51 AM   #8
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Guess that's why there are so many different RVs being made. Different strokes for different folks. No right or wrong - everyone has to look at the options and form their own opinion.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:54 AM   #9
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Great comments so far. Remember the different strokes, etc thing. and that our needs and wants evolve over time. Some of our friends traded coaches in the first year for something bigger or smaller. It's a real bonus to get it right the first time.

Hard to compare the ride of our previous, 7 year old F-53 to a new E350 coach. To my memory, our new Vegas has much better handling then our last Class A had when new. Especially after I had this one aligned.

Just got back from a few days at the beach, and there was a lot less surface to wash. A nice side benefit. I like not having the mechanical steps, and just one (lighter) slide out. When it is time to replace the tires, I'll be happy that the Vegas tires are smaller and cheaper!

Vegas is a good choice and a good value for us. We didn't test drive a new Class A, since they weren't a fit for us. I'd suggest someone making the comparison test drive both, and report back to the forum!
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Old 10-07-2015, 01:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Beacher View Post
Your question is posted in a forum for Class A, B, C rigs. So, you are going to get answers that lean towards the positives of the E350 E450 chassis.


If you posted this same question on a Class A forum, you would get positives all about the F53.


Ignoring the available storage and living space differences, and just focusing on handling characteristics......


I have owned both. Yes, Class A, B, and Cs handle more like the van chassis they are made from. Their smaller size and lower center of gravity means less roll and pitch as you amble down the road.


However, a nicely appointed modern Class A with "all the fixins" such as a rear track bar, sway bars, nice shocks, and a centering stabilizer system will feel very nice and comfortable during long trips also, (and you have MUCH more of everything).

Great point -- that it's difficult to ignore the Class A versus Class C difference, so let me try to ask differently.


In checking specs within Thor lines, I noticed there is significant overlap in sizes between Cs built on E-450 and As built on F-53. Some Class Cs are as long as 32 feet overall, whereas smaller As like the Ace models start well below 30-feet in length.

"Assuming" that building the cab/cockpit area as a Class A rather than using the Ford cab of a "C" doesn't add significant weight, is there any reason why Class As can't be built like the Axis/Vegas up to 30 to 32 feet in length? And also wider like most Class Cs?

Would such a motorhome be better or worse than if built on F-53? I can imagine pros like lower to ground, independent front suspension, lower unsprung weight, slightly better fuel economy, cheaper tires, etc. On the other hand the F-53 frame is stiffer, stronger, wouldn't need to be stretched, driver sits higher, etc.

Basically I'm wondering if a +/- 30-ft Class A on E-450 would be as good as if on F-53.



I realize it's hard to answer on basis of "if everything else is equal" when there is no specific motorhome to compare. At least from Thor as far as I know.
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Old 10-08-2015, 02:10 PM   #11
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I hate to ask on a Thor forum, but on a related question, what do you guys know about Gulfstream motorhomes?

While doing research on smaller Class As like Axis/Vegas but with large pass-through rear compartments large enough for bikes and other toys (Euro inspired design), I recalled and found the Gulfstream Montaj; built on E-450 and no longer in production. In some ways I like the design better than an Axis, but the front is kind of ugly (I can learn to ignore that), it has two slides (I prefer none), and is bigger/longer than I like.

It appears there were not many manufactured before Gulfstream stopped production, and being an orphan may make ownership challeging. I'm not particularly interested in buying used, but will try to find one to look at if Gulfstream quality was adequate.
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Old 10-08-2015, 03:01 PM   #12
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Interesting: It has the 5.4L in it instead of the 6.8L:
Gulf Stream Montaj class A motorhome review - Roaming Times

Also has the shower in the bedroom with bath separate--that is/was a non-starter for us.

Another review:
http://www.motorhome.com/rv-reviews/...am-montaj-29a/
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Old 10-08-2015, 04:00 PM   #13
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Jamie, as with E-Series stripped chassis, the 5.4L V8 was standard and the 6.8L V10 an option. So far I've seen a few of each engine advertised for sale. The V8 should be OK for such an aero motorhome. In every case it would require me traveling quite a distance to see one in person; and right now it would be hard to get away for a few days so I don't want to waste time pursuing an inferior product (if that's what they are).

Oddly, I haven't seen any pictures of the shorter model, and wonder if they even went into production. The smaller one also may not have the large pass-through at rear due to bedroom slide. That would be a deal breaker for me.

For the more common longer model Gulfstream added an extra two feet of rear overhang, which may make it handle poorly in crosswinds and or when towing a toad. There is a lot I like but much risk too -- hence my question about how good is Gulfstream. I really like the Euro windows -- saw them on a trailer and loved their function. They are awning style, open fully, have built-in shade and roll-up screen.


Maybe now that Thor is building the Axis on E-450 with even higher 14,500 GVWR they may come out with additional floorplans -- not that that will necessarily help me.
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Old 10-08-2015, 04:29 PM   #14
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Jamie, one other interesting difference, did you notice cab floor area is not elevated like on Axis/Vegas. Driver and passenger sit lower, and engine doghouse is hence taller like on standard vans. Yet the steering wheel looks like it's at correct height for driving position. I wonder if Ford offered two separate driving positions at one time, or if it was revised to make it higher prior to Axis/Vegas.

This difference caught my attention because of the transmission shifter cable problem on stripped E-Series chassis. If column is lower the cable may have more room to miss exhaust.
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