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Old 04-20-2017, 06:52 PM   #1
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Axis 24.1 I-Beam Bushings

We took our 2017 Axis 24.1 (E450) over to Dallas Frame & Alignment this morning to have it aligned and install a Safe T Plus. They've been in business forever and some of the top RV shops around send theirs over for alignments so we thought it was a good place to have the work done. Within minutes of looking at it the techs called the manager over and then they came to see us in the waiting area. Both I-Beam bushings are "either bad or defective" and they can't align it until that's resolved. They also advised against installing the Safe T Plus until we get any warranty issues taken care of.
I asked them to show me what they were talking about & I crawled under the Axis with the tech while another tech turned the wheel back & forth. The bushings are definitely loose and allow a lot of play. They said we'd ruin tires quickly if this isn't fixed. Wondering if anyone else has had issues with these bushings, and did Ford warranty them?
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:30 PM   #2
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Don't you wonder how many alignment shops skip/miss this part of equation?

I had a E chassis some years back that had some factory bushing issues that I didn't know about. Threw a lot of money at trying to make it handle better. Sure wish the first alignment would have caught the bushing issues.
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Old 04-21-2017, 01:40 PM   #3
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Don't you wonder how many alignment shops skip/miss this part of equation?

I had a E chassis some years back that had some factory bushing issues that I didn't know about. Threw a lot of money at trying to make it handle better. Sure wish the first alignment would have caught the bushing issues.
When I had our Axis aligned the mechanic had to replace the bushing on the right side to complete the job properly, it cost an extra $70.00 for the bushings and shims he said was necessary to bring the thing into proper adjustment.
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Old 04-21-2017, 02:28 PM   #4
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Having them add shims to increase Caster is a big benefit to the heavy box that sees mostly highway travel. My take is the factory Caster setting is good for delivery vehicles, but not optimally tuned for stability with our max loaded RV use.
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Old 04-21-2017, 02:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TyCreek View Post
Don't you wonder how many alignment shops skip/miss this part of equation?

I had a E chassis some years back that had some factory bushing issues that I didn't know about. Threw a lot of money at trying to make it handle better. Sure wish the first alignment would have caught the bushing issues.
My exact thoughts... I wondered, had I taken it somewhere else, how they would have handled it. It was an hour drive each way in Dallas traffic, but worth it for the information. I have an appt Monday morning at Ford to look at it.
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:01 PM   #6
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.....cut..... I have an appt Monday morning at Ford to look at it.
There is no way for it to be worn in a new chassis, so if defective, or wrong part was installed, Ford should cover under warranty. Please let us know what position Ford takes on this. It would not surprise me if they say it's fine, but I hope I'm wrong.
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:13 PM   #7
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Having them add shims to increase Caster is a big benefit to the heavy box that sees mostly highway travel. My take is the factory Caster setting is good for delivery vehicles, but not optimally tuned for stability with our max loaded RV use.
Doesn't additional caster also make a vehicle more susceptible to side forces, like cross winds?

Just wish motorhomes were designed with more emphasis on handling from the onset.
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Old 04-21-2017, 03:15 PM   #8
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There is no way for it to be worn in a new chassis, so if defective, or wrong part was installed, Ford should cover under warranty. Please let us know what position Ford takes on this. It would not surprise me if they say it's fine, but I hope I'm wrong.
I'm going into this cautiously optimistic. Our Axis has less than 1500 miles on it so no, nothing on it is worn. When the tech moved the steering wheel back & forth while we watched from underneath those bushings allowed a LOT of play.
As we were discussing me contacting Ford, the tech said if Ford says it's all fine and won't fix it, tell them you'll be calling again in the near future about the front tires!
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Old 04-21-2017, 06:59 PM   #9
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Doesn't additional caster also make a vehicle more susceptible to side forces, like cross winds?

Just wish motorhomes were designed with more emphasis on handling from the onset.
Quite the opposite ... more stable and less effected by external forces.

The downside to a couple more degrees of caster is that the steering gear box has to work harder to turn the wheels and RV life has minimal real turning involved. Part of why I say factory is more tuned for a delivery vehicle.

Emphasis on handling: The old gearbox steering is long overdue for replacement! Simple trac bar and adjustable swaybar like CHF but pre-set would be big steps to making an RV drive "right" when we get them. These would not compromise the other lines of chassis use either.
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:21 PM   #10
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Quite the opposite ... more stable and less effected by external forces.

.....cut....

As far as I know, these are two different issues as they relate to side loads like cross winds.

When you add positive caster, you also add positive trail. They go together. When the vehicle is traveling straight down the road, this added trail causes the wheels to want to stay pointed straight ahead, which most of us would feel as more stable at speed. I think on this we are in agreement.

However, additional caster trail (distance tire contact patch behind steering axis at road) means that if a force is applied from the driver's side, it will create a couple (a torque trying to steer the tires) that will steer the vehicle in direction that wind is pushing it. Instead of the motorhome fighting the wind trying to push it sidewards, it tries to steer itself in that direction; thereby compounding the problem.

Another reported problem with excessive caster is potential for high speed shimmy. Most of us don't drive that fast, but if we did, we wouldn't want the front end shaking like a bad grocery cart.


When I said it's too bad they don't build motorhomes with handling in mind, I was thinking in terms of keeping them low, wide, proper weight distribution, limited rear overhang, etc. Having to "fix" a bad design with stiffer sway bars or the like just doesn't seem appropriate to me -- they should all drive acceptably from the factory.
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Old 04-21-2017, 11:34 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by TexAxis View Post
We took our 2017 Axis 24.1 (E450) over to Dallas Frame & Alignment this morning to have it aligned and install a Safe T Plus. They've been in business forever and some of the top RV shops around send theirs over for alignments so we thought it was a good place to have the work done. Within minutes of looking at it the techs called the manager over and then they came to see us in the waiting area. Both I-Beam bushings are "either bad or defective" and they can't align it until that's resolved. They also advised against installing the Safe T Plus until we get any warranty issues taken care of.
I asked them to show me what they were talking about & I crawled under the Axis with the tech while another tech turned the wheel back & forth. The bushings are definitely loose and allow a lot of play. They said we'd ruin tires quickly if this isn't fixed. Wondering if anyone else has had issues with these bushings, and did Ford warranty them?
I live in Desoto and want to get alignment and Safe T Plus installed. Did you have to provide the Safe T Plus or are they a dealer? Could you please post their phone number and address?

Thanks!!!
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Old 04-22-2017, 12:27 AM   #12
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I live in Desoto and want to get alignment and Safe T Plus installed. Did you have to provide the Safe T Plus or are they a dealer? Could you please post their phone number and address?

Thanks!!!
We're in Rockwall. Dallas Frame and Alignment's info is on their website here. They aren't a dealer; I contacted Safe T Plus and bought from one of their authorized dealers.
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Old 04-22-2017, 12:37 AM   #13
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Just got my MH back from the garage where they installed the Safety Plus T, Roadmaster front and rear heavy sway bars, did a alignment with caster set at 5 degree and what a difference - 1000% better. This is a local Goodyear dealership where they work on cars, trucks and motorhomes and they seemed very knowledgeable about setting up motorhomes verses heavy trucks
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Old 04-22-2017, 01:17 AM   #14
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We're in Rockwall. Dallas Frame and Alignment's info is on their website here. They aren't a dealer; I contacted Safe T Plus and bought from one of their authorized dealers.
Thank you very much for the info!!!
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
As far as I know, these are two different issues as they relate to side loads like cross winds.

When you add positive caster, you also add positive trail. They go together. When the vehicle is traveling straight down the road, this added trail causes the wheels to want to stay pointed straight ahead, which most of us would feel as more stable at speed. I think on this we are in agreement.

However, additional caster trail (distance tire contact patch behind steering axis at road) means that if a force is applied from the driver's side, it will create a couple (a torque trying to steer the tires) that will steer the vehicle in direction that wind is pushing it. Instead of the motorhome fighting the wind trying to push it sidewards, it tries to steer itself in that direction; thereby compounding the problem.

Another reported problem with excessive caster is potential for high speed shimmy. Most of us don't drive that fast, but if we did, we wouldn't want the front end shaking like a bad grocery cart.


When I said it's too bad they don't build motorhomes with handling in mind, I was thinking in terms of keeping them low, wide, proper weight distribution, limited rear overhang, etc. Having to "fix" a bad design with stiffer sway bars or the like just doesn't seem appropriate to me -- they should all drive acceptably from the factory.
Chance... Are you really recommending people don't ask to have their caster increased a couple degrees for their RV?

I know the single sided physics principal or fact you quote ... and to that, in the context of "normal" RVs, what do you think would be too much Caster like where the negative might start to outweigh the benefits in real life? ... The though in my head is somewhere around 6.5 degrees or more, though I've never had occasion to prove it to myself as I've never been able to get above 6 degrees with my RVs.

I know first hand what getting Caster into the +5 degree range does for the E- series chassis dating back into the early 90's. I can tell you that there's seldom a travel around where I live that doesn't involve wind and the difference between 3'ish to 5'ish caster is more stability in every condition I've experianced. Since that's about all that can be achieved with typical sleeves on an E- chassis I doubt anybody here could even get into the category of too much or falling off the negative behavior side of Caster! Maybe that is why some might use the reference more is better or get as much as you can.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:01 PM   #16
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Chance... Are you really recommending people don't ask to have their caster increased a couple degrees for their RV?

....cut....

Respectfully, I believe it would be irresponsible of me to recommend modifications that exceed what highly educated and overpaid Ford suspension engineers have set as an acceptable range.


If a couple of extra degrees remains within specifications, then go for it.
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Old 04-24-2017, 02:12 AM   #17
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Who said anything about "exceed" ... a bit extreme don't you think?
Do you have any real wisdom to share? Like what might be an optimal caster target for a heavy loaded pavement pounder?
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Old 05-02-2017, 10:26 PM   #18
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Update: Long story semi short, we spent 2 days and a lot of quality time with the Service Director and Shop Foreman of our local Ford dealer looking at our I-Beam bushing issue. I had them both under the RV checking it out and neither felt there was a problem with them. They submitted a ticket to Ford Engineering and sent measurements to the engineers, and no one could find a problem with the bushings.

I took the Axis to another RV alignment shop (Plano Tire in Plano, who I recommend), had it aligned (it DID need an alignment) and the Safe T Plus installed. It drives MUCH better now. Thanks for all the input & advice.
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Old 05-03-2017, 12:55 AM   #19
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That's quite the interesting chain of events! Where did the "a LOT of play" go?
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Old 05-03-2017, 01:24 AM   #20
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That's quite the interesting chain of events! Where did the "a LOT of play" go?
Interesting and time consuming! I did relay what the alignment tech said to the guys at Ford and showed them what he had pointed out and they said there just wasn't a problem. I pushed and they called Ford engineering to get their input & that's where the measuring came in. Ford engineering actually told our local dealer if they wanted to find another new E450 chassis to measure and compare to they could, but based on what they saw on ours there just wasn't anything wrong. That's when we accepted their assessment and moved on to get it aligned. I'll keep an eye on the tire wear and hope this doesn't come back to bite us!
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