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Old 11-08-2016, 07:39 PM   #1
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State: Maryland
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THOR #5837
New Thor Chateau 23U review

I bought a new Chateau 23U on Friday. I bought it from a dealer half way across the country and drove it home over the weekend. Here is my initial review. Note that I am a motorhome newbie, so forgive any naÔve and ignorant comments. It is loaded with nearly all the available options, including:
HD-Max exterior
Exterior TV
Convection microwave
Leatherette dinette and driver/passenger seats
Child safety tether
12v attic fan in bedroom
Upgraded A/C
Outside shower
Heated holding tanks
Second house battery
Stainless steel wheel liners
Keyless entry & valve stem extenders
Spare tire
Back-up monitor w/touch screen stereo
Heated, remote side mirrors with side cameras
Cockpit carpet mat


I wanted a fairly compact class C or maybe even a B+ because we are a family of 3 and will keep the RV in our driveway. We like the barrel chair behind the cab on this floor plan, so narrowed our search to this floor plan or something similar.


When I first started doing my detailed inspection of the coach, it was quickly obvious that these are assembled very quickly using cheap materials and with little quality control. However, at this price point this is pretty much what I expected. A lot of things are just held on with a couple of small screws and are kind of flimsy. Youíd think that something that takes the shaking and abuse of a motorhome would be put together a little more solidly.


My inspection revealed a few issues that I had the dealer fix. The cheap tile-look wallpaper that they use for backsplashes in the kitchen and bathroom were bubbled and peeling. The screen door would not latch. And the outside shower had no hot water and was leaking. I also found some minor things I fixed myself like a battery hold-down that was not secured and some plumbing fittings that needed tightening. Also, the tape holding a tank heater blanket on the tank was peeling. I asked for some duct tape so I could better secure it, and a dealer employee said heíd fix it with the proper kind of tape. His fix looked good, but it all came loose once I started driving it and is currently hanging down under the coach until I get a chance to fix it. The bathroom door also would not stay closed while driving. I adjusted the latch during a stop and fixed it.


This thing is kind of a beast to drive. I expected it to feel big and cumbersome and not ride and handle like a big SUV or minivan, but it was often a white-knuckle experience. It would wander around in its lane, the steering is vague and unresponsive, and it really gets pushed around in any crosswind or when another truck passes. I had read that this is common on these and that there are fixes such as larger swaybars and steering stabilizers. Since my class C is only about 24í I didnít expect it to be that bad, but it has a fairly short wheelbase for its size, which probably hurts stability. I donít think Ford has updated the design of the Econoline in decades, and it felt like I was driving a 30 year old truck, not a new vehicle. My dad used to have a 1965 Ford pickup, and it had the same I-beam front suspension. Even the dash and instrument design look like something out of the 80ís.



One thing that really surprised me was how noisy it is going down the road. The road noise, engine noise, and especially the wind noise are really loud, making it hard to listen to music or a podcast or to have a hands-free phone conversation. It sounded like the windows were rolled down even when they were closed. It also rattled and banged a lot over pavement irregularities and expansion joints.


I expected fuel economy to be around 10 mpg, but on my first day I was only getting 6.6 mpg. However, I was driving pretty fast since I was on a tight schedule to get back home. I was driving about 75 mph most of the time. I drove 80 mph for a little while, but found it much more of a handful to drive at that speed and wasn't really comfortable going over 75. On the second day I slowed to about 70 mph with some significant stretches at 65 mph, and the gas mileage went up to 8.7 mpg. On an actual vacation trip I would take my time and slow down for better fuel economy and a less stressful drive.


The V10 engine is plenty powerful. Up steep grades it wouldnít even slow down. It would downshift and guzzle more gas, but there is plenty of reserve for being loaded and towing if we need it.


So, the RV is really nice when itís parked, but itís not so nice to drive. I imagine the expensive Mercedes Sprinter based RVs or the Super C's drive a lot better, but they cost a whole lot more. I got more used to driving it after a while, but having to play the stereo really loud to hear it over the noise got very painful.


Even though the driving experience wasn't great, I'm still pretty excited about it. On an actual family vacation trip I won't be driving 800 miles a day by myself. We will slow down and probably share the driving and enjoy the journey.
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Old 11-08-2016, 07:56 PM   #2
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Model: Four Winds 23U
State: Illinois
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THOR #992
I have a Four Winds 23U, basically same thing. I know have 19000 miles on it and love it. Fixed the loose steering by adding a Saf-T-Plus stabilizer and it made a huge difference I cab now drive one handed the majority of the time. It does take some time to get use to the vehicle but once you do I am sure you will enjoy it. I get 10MPG almost all the time. Happy Travels.
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:26 PM   #3
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I have the 22E on the Chevy chassis. It is basically the same without the barrel chair. I have noticed all the things you mention, particularly the wind noise. I could deal with the engine as it only growls when it downshifts on hills. I always wondered if the more streamlined B+ units were as noisy.
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Old 11-09-2016, 01:22 AM   #4
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Model: Vegas 24.1
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The handling is something to get used to. I have a Vegas that uses same chassis. For me, a reflex front damper and getting correct tire pressure was key. Too much pressure makes it squirrel. There are good posts explaining dead spot in steering.
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Old 11-11-2016, 01:00 PM   #5
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I crawled under the chassis to take a closer look at the suspension and stuff. I have done sports car racing as a hobby and have a good understanding of suspension setup, but I'm not as familiar with trucks.

There is already a steering damper of some sort installed from the factory, looks similar to the Saf-T-Plus type. Just from eyeballing the wheels, it looks like the front wheels have some positive camber, so I think that getting the camber to zero or slightly negative would help. I've also heard that increasing caster helps a lot, so at some point I will probably get an adjustable camber/caster sleeve and get a good alignment done. I was going to check tire pressures, but all my gauges only go up to 60psi so I need to get a wider range gauge.

I read that some motorhomes come with adjustable swaybars, so you can just move the endlinks to a different hole to stiffen them, but my swaybars do not have multiple endlink attachment points.

I also noticed that the plastic mud flap that's in front of the left rear tires has been rubbing on the tires. It is only attached at the top so wind resistance pushes it into the tires, and it has worn holes through the flap. There is an empty bolt hole in the flap and some ripped out screw holes at the side of the coach, so there was apparently a strap that was supposed to hold the flap away from the tires, but it's gone now. As a temporary fix I ran a wire through the hole in the flap and secured it to a bracket to hold it away from the tires.
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Old 11-11-2016, 01:24 PM   #6
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Model: Axis 24.1
State: Michigan
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THOR #1150
Quote:
Originally Posted by jabrabu
I read that some motorhomes come with adjustable swaybars, so you can just move the endlinks to a different hole to stiffen them, but my swaybars do not have multiple endlink attachment points.
That fix is only available on the F-53 chassis and you have an E-Series chassis (CHF - Cheap Handling Fix).
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Old 11-11-2016, 01:35 PM   #7
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THOR #5196
The steering device you see is a dampener, similar to a shock. Steering stabilizers have a spring mechanism which holds the wheel on center, different from the dampener you have.
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Old 11-15-2016, 07:25 PM   #8
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Model: Chateau 23U
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THOR #1490
I aired down the front tires to 60 psi. no steering problems. I just removed the rear sway bar. and beefed up the bar with adding a 1 1/2 X 3/16" plate inside of sway bar which is located behind the differential. and added 1/4 X 3/4" flat bar on top of the sway bar. then beefed up the two vertical supports with the same 1/4 X 3/4" flat bar. This mad a big difference. no more sway. But I still maintained the stock sway bar supports.
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Old 11-15-2016, 07:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sikoriko View Post
I aired down the front tires to 60 psi. no steering problems. I just removed the rear sway bar. and beefed up the bar with adding a 1 1/2 X 3/16" plate inside of sway bar which is located behind the differential. and added 1/4 X 3/4" flat bar on top of the sway bar. then beefed up the two vertical supports with the same 1/4 X 3/4" flat bar. This mad a big difference. no more sway. But I still maintained the stock sway bar supports.
Did steering improve when you lowered the front air pressure?

I assume you welded the extra material onto the rear swaybar to stiffen it?
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Old 11-15-2016, 11:19 PM   #10
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THOR #1490
Handling improve tires a bit. and yes welded the material to the bar. pre heat post heat. if anybody thinks other
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Old 11-15-2016, 11:22 PM   #11
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Model: Chateau 23U
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THOR #1490
the bathroom door. mine was springing open. remove every stainless screw from the piano hinge. ran them over a belt sander. shortened them up. the heads of the screws.
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Old 11-04-2017, 07:38 PM   #12
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State: Virginia
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I bought a new Four Winds 23U last June. Drove 60 on I81 and when a truck passed doing 75 it threw me all over. White knuckle. I added a sway bar on the rear. Easy bolt on job. Heavy duty. That helped a lot. Weighed at a CAT certified scale fully loaded. Went to the Michelin web site for air pressure according to weight. That helped more. Then I read about 3 + degrees of positive camber on front wheels. It seems that the E450 has low camber to make for easy steering box trucks in the city. Positive camber tightens it all up. The local Ford dealer had to put camber shims in to get it to my specs. Now the steering and handling is excellent. Search the forum for the amount of positive camber to use. If you do not have any luck I will look up what I did.
As to my overall judgement of the 23U on the E450 chassis with the Ford Triton V10 motor, it is an excellent product. I can pass a semi going up a mountain and sometimes average 10MPG. Most of the time I get around 8 or 9 mpg. I saved a ton of money with the V10 so I can afford a lot of gas. The "house" installed by Thor is also very good. All the latest technology works very well. So what I have to tighten a screw or adjust a window every now and then. My wife and I are having a blast. By the way, I found a local RV expert welder to upgrade my 500# tongue weight Class IV hitch to a true class IV rating of 1,200 + #s.
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