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Old 07-08-2020, 03:50 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: ACE 30.3
State: California
Posts: 9
THOR #18970
Shakedown cruise is in the books, 4,400 miles across country

Hello again everyone. If you'll recall, I'm a first timer and the shakedown cruise is finally in the books. I thought I'd post about it here in case any other first timers could glean something useful. If you're an experienced RV'er then you probably won't learn a lot from my experience as a first timer but feel free to read along and comment, even if just to say "been there, done that".

As far as the shakedown itself, it was a long one. I did the trip solo, it was just me on the road and in the RV. About 4,400 miles according to my trip odometer in just under 2 weeks on the road. I live in Costa Mesa, CA and I really only had two stops. First stop was in central Mississipi to visit family. The 2nd stop was in Destin Florida to visit some friends.

Both stops were "dry camping" all the way, although I did have a 15amp standard outlet to plug into at my mom's place. Unfortunately it was likely not strong enough to run my A/C since there was already an A/C unit on that circuit. When the heat got too unbearable, I would run the generator and run my A/C for a few hours but that was rare.

I also slept at 2 Walmarts overnight and I think I had 3 overnights at rest stops over the two weeks.

I stayed overnight in the RV every night for the full 2 weeks. Nearly 100% shower and restroom use on the RV as well. On the long drive across the country, I stopped at a lot of rest stops, I would use the restroom there too in order to keep my tanks from filling up too fast. Since I didn't plan on stopping at any RV campsites, I knew I wouldn't be able to dump tanks until I got back home, which I did and they were full.

The main things I wanted to proof out with the shakedown was that, a) the RV I just purchased was indeed roadworthy, b) my preparation to stay in the RV for extended time was well done and c) all the systems in the rv were working properly.

So how did I do on a, b and c. Well, the Ford chassis beneath the Thor 30.3 was rock solid. No problems at all with the chassis. The driveability of the stock suspension and steering components are another issue entirely. I'll get into that in a bit.

My preparation for the trip was about as good as can be expected. I had a comprehensive list of things to get before the trip and I got nearly all of them. The main thing I missed was a BATTERY OPERATED FAN. I picked up one in Destin and solved that problem.

The RV systems were mostly working. Nothing major really broke but there a most dangerous moment that made me really question how well these rigs are put together. I pulled over at a rest stop in Texas or New Mexico and I saw that the window coverings near the dinette, the blinds and their entire frame had fallen off the wall and onto the seat backs of the dinette. It was really scary to see the entire window covering and blinds assembly on the dinette. If someone would have been sitting there in the dinette, they'd surely be injured or worse. I looked at the screws that had pulled out and allowed the window covering to fall. They're totally the wrong type for the material they were secured into. These screws were self tapping metal screws, exactly the wrong kind of screw to use on the fairly soft pressboard of the RV interior walls. To me it looks like just really shoddy workmanship by Thor. Luckily, I had a complement of tools and I did have some of the *right* kind of screws. Personally though, I don't think it's strong enough. I think I'll add either more L-brackets or just re-work the whole thing to be more sturdy so I don't kill someone sitting at the dinette.

Anyway, enough about the dinette window covering. Scary yes but I've moved on.

Since I've never owned or even driven an RV before, that entire 6 days of driving was an adventure to say the least. The slop in the steering play, the extreme sway when a big rig passes me on the interstate and all the little things that could use improvement. I'm seriously focused on improving the driveability of the rig if I'm going to keep it for a while. I've seen lots of suggestions for springs, steering stabilizers, CHF and all the little tips here ont the forum. I'll be looking into ALL of them!

With all that said, by far, without question, the single most disappointing and annoying thing about driving the rig was the louder than ever, constant, howling wind noise coming from the nose of the rig. It was driving me absolutely nuts during the trip and I did something I knew better not to do but I did it anyway. I put my earbuds in so I didn't have to listen to the howling wind noise. It really was unbearable. Thankfully, I found a really great post here, filled with answers about how to fix the wind noise. Without a doubt, I'll be fixing the wind noise before I go out again.

As far as everthing else, well nothing too expensive broke. A few things broke, a few things developed some issues but these are all things I expect. Just like when I had my boat, if you take it out just expect things to break. Every time. On this trip it was latches for the kitchen drawers, the entry door to the coach developed its own set of issues, plenty of things shook and vibrated themselves to near the end of their usefulness but all in all, I was glad to get home with only a short list of things to fix and again, nothing too expensive on the list.

I also made my share of rookie mistakes, as I'm sure we all do. Even after a nearly 1 hour orientation from the dealer, I still couldn't remember all the systems. I have read manuals, but still ...

* Once I released the parking brake while the leveling jacks were down. Whoops. I found out the jacks come up in a jiffy. Thankfully I learned that lesson on fairly level ground. Might have been a disaster otherwise.

* I found out the hard way that the dealer had left my fresh water drain open. After thinking I'd filled the fresh water, I got on the road only to realize the tank was nearly bone dry. I didn't get the valve closed until 3 days into the trip in Mississippi, where I finally got the tank full and it lasted me the entire trip.

* I forgot to level before extending the slide. Luckily, I caught myself before even a few inches had extended. I retracted and leveled properly.

* Before I even hit the road, I left the mains power on few a few nights and drained the house batteries dead. I had to use the emergency start to even get the engine started to charge the batteries. Let's hope I never do that again.

* The TPMS I purchased was totally wrong. It was really my mistake. I thought I'd purchased a TPMS with 6 sensors, one for each tire. Apparently, I put the wrong one into my Amazon cart and it only has 4 sensors. I used it anyway just for piece of mind. I'll remove it and use it on my car instead and got a proper TPMS for the rig.

* The black tank seemed to fill up really quick. I'm not sure how accurate the sensor is. I think it starting saying FULL about a week into the trip. I continued to use the restroom for an entire week. I guess in this case, FULL really only meant half full.

Those were probably my major screw-ups. It could have been worse right? With so many miles, there's a lot of things that could have went wront.

So, you're probably wondering about my thoughts on the RV experience thus far. I have no buyer's remorse at all. I had a great time in the RV and I'm really glad I have such a comfortable rig I can drive to anywhere and have everything I need right there with me. Gas mileage was as good as expected and I eventually got used to driving the rig.

Also, I wouldn't recommend to anyone that you take a trip that long solo, for lots of reasons.

Now that I've got the shakedown cruise out of the way, I'm looking forward to doing a bit of exploring and putting some fun memories in the books! Thanks for reading.
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Old 07-08-2020, 12:06 PM   #2
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Model: Axis 24.1
State: Michigan
Posts: 9,193
THOR #1150
Sounds like a good trip overall and you've learned a lot.

My relevant comments:

Self-tapping screws: I think that is all Thor has as they use them for everything on the coaches.

Black tank: It is very common for the black tank sensors to get fouled up and read erroneously high. In addition, it is likely that your bathroom sink drains into the black tank.
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Old 07-08-2020, 01:12 PM   #3
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Model: Siesta 24SS
State: California
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THOR #12698
Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you had a great trip and learned a lot from it. If you come across something that needs attention and not sure how to go about it, just ask here on the forum. We are also interested in things you have done to make it better. I am getting ready to leave Anaheim Hills on Friday for Yellowstone for 10 days.

Paul
Good Sam Member, The Equalizer Level System, Sumo Springs
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Old 07-08-2020, 01:24 PM   #4
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Congratulations on a successful trip! Glad to see that everything (pretty much!) worked out okay...
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Old 07-08-2020, 02:16 PM   #5
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: Palazzo 33.3 34'bunkhouse
State: Georgia
Posts: 2,451
THOR #4735
most all 'shake down' cruises happen before it ever arrives at the dealer, as it has to be driven from the factory to the dealer.... mine had 800 miles before we test drove it - I'm sure any 'shaking' had already happened...
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Old 07-08-2020, 07:56 PM   #6
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: ACE 30.3
State: California
Posts: 9
THOR #18970
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulwadley View Post
Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you had a great trip and learned a lot from it. If you come across something that needs attention and not sure how to go about it, just ask here on the forum. We are also interested in things you have done to make it better. I am getting ready to leave Anaheim Hills on Friday for Yellowstone for 10 days.

Paul
Good Sam Member, The Equalizer Level System, Sumo Springs

Hi there Paul. A local RV'er. That's awesome! How in the heck did you secure a spot at Yellowstone!?
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Old 07-22-2020, 12:01 AM   #7
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Model: Four Winds 31W
State: North Carolina
Posts: 43
THOR #19382
Welcome to the group! We're newbies also and your post was very informative. I do have a ? what is a shake down cruise?
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:21 AM   #8
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: ACE 30.3
State: California
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THOR #18970
Quote:
Originally Posted by KrisCatNC View Post
Welcome to the group! We're newbies also and your post was very informative. I do have a ? what is a shake down cruise?
Shakedown cruise is really where you "break-in" your RV. It's pretty typical that RVs will need a bit of fine tuning when they're new and have been driven a bit.

I wasn't sure what a shakedown cruise was either but I soon learned things are literally shaking and rattling lose while I'm driving. It's all about working out the kinks.
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Old 07-22-2020, 01:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrisCatNC View Post
I do have a ? what is a shake down cruise?
Shakedown cruise is a nautical term in which the performance of a ship is tested. Generally, shakedown cruises are performed before a ship enters service or after major changes such as a crew change, repair or overhaul. The shakedown cruise simulates working conditions for the vessel, for various reasons. For most new ships, the major reasons are to familiarize a crew with a new vessel and to ensure all of the ship's systems are functional.
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:28 AM   #10
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Welcome to the group glad everything went pretty well. That’s the lengthy shakedown cruise.
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:01 PM   #11
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: ACE 30.3
State: Texas
Posts: 135
THOR #10883
Hi! I have the same unit and we like it very much....now. We had several issues at first that I corrected because camping world is so bad. I have 10,000 on it now, last trip a month ago was east Texas to Angel fire and Red River NM. I agree with the handling issues for sure. I am used to it now but big rigs passing can still be a pain if there is a cross wind. I am going to install a roadmaster steering Stabilizer and heavy duty rear sway bar. I am anxious to see how it works out.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:09 AM   #12
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THOR #17478
Congratulations on your purchase and successful trip. Most do a weekend to a week close to to home in case something major goes wrong. You did all and all have a good trip. Enjoy. On out old Class C we were pushed around by passing trucks and buses. It took almost half a turn of the wheel to keep it in the lane. I installed Steer Safe and air bags along with a front end alignment. Nothing else. I could drive it with one finger. I filled the airbags up some to put more weight on the front end, then the alignment.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:59 PM   #13
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Brand: Thor Motor Coach
Model: ACE 30.2
State: Tennessee
Posts: 37
THOR #10574
Welcome and congrats on the trip! We have an ACE 30.2 and have had most of the same issues and joys you encountered

There are many great CHF posts here. Iíve done the front CHF and it was the most meaningful improvement to my rig to date. I bought a steering stabilizer too but havenít installed yet, but for me that is more for blowouts.

As for the wind noise, check out this post - https://www.thorforums.com/forums/f27/thor-ace-high-pitch-wind-noise-solved-5223-3.html

People have solved it with oem replacements, aftermarket grills, duct tape and spray foam - and I just zip tied window screen to the grill. The rig is still loud, but no high pitch squeal.
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