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2017 HR 419 Seminar Feedback.

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I received this email from a HR 419 member. Van William and myself, Craig French, drove to Goshen IN in May to present two different seminars to over 100 coach owners. The 2017 HR Maintenance Session was an amazing success. A GREAT group of people and wonderful turnout. If you ever get the chance this is not your normal rally. A plethora of seminars and you actually learn a LOT about your coach. There are a few minor errors in the email but you will get the point :-)
Thank you Mike Hughes for all of your help presenting this information to coach owners !

"419 Newsletter Article 6 August 2017
Roadmaster Chassis Ride Enhancements
By Paul Miller

At the 2017 Maintenance Session I attended two sessions by Craig French and Van Williams, titled, "Roadmaster Chassis: Suspension and Handling," and "Roadmaster Chassis: Sheppard & TRW Steering Gears Characteristics and Upgrades." In the first session they described how the leaning of the coach while cornering could be reduced by installing a Watts Link in the front, or both front and rear of the coach. They also described how adding cross bracing to the rear trailing arms could reduce the sideways movement of the coach in a crosswind from the flexing of the trailing arms.

In the second session they described how Holiday Rambler and Monaco used both Sheppard and TRW steering gears and that the TRW unit was adjustable, so that excessive play in the steering wheel could be adjusted out. The Sheppard hard steering gear is not adjustable and can have 1-1/2" to 2" of play in the steering wheel and be within tolerances. In both sessions Craig talked about the significant improvement in handling he experienced with these modifications on his 2012 Monaco Knight. He also said if you are moderately handy you can install them yourself as he had done.

From the very first time I drove our new 2013 HR Ambassador I noticed excessive play in the steering wheel, but I never knew I could eliminate it until listening to Craig and Van. At the MS Craig came out to my coach and we measured 1-1/2" of play in my Sheppard steering gear. I had also experienced some sideways buffeting of the coach in a head wind or cross wind, especially driving out west. I knew then that I wanted to make these modifications to my coach.

I ordered a front Watts Link kit and a rear cross bracing kit from MonacoWatts LLC using a discount code handed out at the MS that saved 10% of the cost. The kits had to be manufactured and shipped from California and I received them in about three weeks. The installation instructions that came with the kits were clear and easy to follow and the bolt-on installation was straightforward.

Before I ordered a new TRW steering gear I reviewed the installation instructions that Craig and others had posted on the iRV2 website. I wanted to be confident I could do the whole job myself, or I would have found a shop that could do the installation. I had no trouble convincing myself that indeed I could do it. Craig had found an excellent source for rebuilt steering gears in Weller Truck Parts in Grand Rapids, MI, and the POC was listed on iRV2. Everyone at Weller was extremely helpful and professional. They helped me determine which model number Sheppard I had and found the appropriate TRW model and Pittman arm. Once I placed my order the unit arrived in three days. After installation Weller paid for shipping the old steering gear to them and I got my core deposit returned in a few days.

I followed the detailed instructions for swapping steering gears posted on iRV2 with one minor change. Their gear was bolted on with three 7/8" bolts; mine used four 5/8" bolts. The two hardest tasks were removing the Pittman arm from the drag link and drilling an access hole for the TRW adjustment screw, a 1-1/2" hole in a 1/2 steel plate in an awkward position.

Now the results. Our first long trip was from Virginia to Amana, IA, for the HRRVC EIR, and then north for a circle tour of Lake Superior, which we're still on as I write this article. The coach handles so much better now, with much fewer and smaller steering wheel movements driving down the road. The steering wheel is almost as responsive as a car, and in windy conditions I can feel wind trying to buffet the coach but it hardly moves side to side. I'm really glad for Craig and Van's presentations at the MS and all the work they have put into finding solutions to Roadmaster chassis handling issues. Total cost for the Watts Link and cross bracing was $1,190 and the total cost for the new steering gear and Pittman arm was $856. Well worth it."

Cheers,

Craig French

Craig and Angie
2011 Monaco Knight 36 PFT
TRW steering gear, Front and Rear Watts Link's Rear X bars, Koni FSD's, CCV's.

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