- Northern California
- Colorado Rockies
- 1 Week in Quebec
- Southeast Coast
- Graduates' XC Trip
- NH Backpacking
- Martha's Vineyard
- Yosemite & Nevada
- Southern Alaska
- Colorado & Utah
- Canadian Maritimes
- Best of Utah
- Southern Loop
- Pacific Northwest
- Midwest & Rockies
- Los Angeles to NYC
- East Coast Trips
- RV Rentals
Revised on Thursday, September 29, 2011 by Herb
New Shocks and Tires for the E-450 Chassis
When I learned that Lolo's typical itinerary would include days of 400 to 600 miles, I wanted to make sure that the chassis was as "tight" and comfortable as I could reasonably make it. The Lazy Daze already has a reasonably low profile so it is somewhat less impacted by wind and passing trucks than taller rigs, but I wanted to improve this wherever possible.
Bilstein Replacement Shocks
I replaced the stock shocks immediately after the first 3200 mile trip home in 1999 with replacement shocks by Bilstein. Make sure you get the firmer kind, not the direct replacement shocks for the Ford e-450 chassis. I was originally concerned that this would be a waste of money, but when I compared the stock shocks to the Bilsteins I was reassured as there was no comparison in the damping.
I bought them via the internet for about $75 per shock, and thought I would install them myself. This was a feasible proposition for the rear shocks, but the fronts were a little more involved than I expected. A local truck place installed them for $50 the pair.
I think Camping World installs them very reasonably and has a decent price on the shocks too, so I would probably go this route if you have one near you.
Michelin 225/75/16 LTX/MS Tires - 9/2011 Update
Before this January's solo trip to Florida I replaced ALL tires with the Michelins that I think are standard on the new E-450 chassis. Although Tirerack.com doesn't expressly recommend them for the motorhome, many seem to have used them without ill effect.
As of this time, with over 8000 miles on them I am an enthusiastic supporter. They give a much softer ride than any of the other tires I have used. Where as before, washboard bumps, or highway cracks would result in a jarring ride, these tires almost seem to float over them. It is almost like you are driving a large car, instead of a FedEx delivery truck. Stuff that used to bounce off the shelves, is still in place after a day of driving.
The only possible negative that I have found is perhaps some reduction in lateral stability. In gusty winds, it seems that the rig might move a bit more easily than it did before. This might make sense since the tires are lighter in weight, and probably sidewall stiffness as well. However, for me it is a welcome trade-off.
There had been some internet chatter about premature cracks and aging but hopefully this has been addressed in the current production. I will report back if there are any premature failures. For now, I can highly recommend them for those who don't enjoy the harsh ride of "Truck Tires" in their motorhome.
Bridgestone 225/75/16 R265 or 273 Tires - Original Post
The 1999 E-450 Chassis came stock with Firestone Steeltex 4RS tires. (Of Ford Explorer recall fame) Newer rigs come with the Michelins. It turns out that my tires also came from the infamous, and now closed Decatur, Illinois plant.
We went through 6 of these tires in various modes of failure - (One was our fault, one might have been a nail, the rest were various tread separations for which we received nothing under the warranty).
I have become very proficient at changing tires, and despite assurances from most tire dealerships that there is nothing wrong with the current Steeltex R4S, I have finally adopted the Bridgestone R265 or R273 as my current tire. Having held both tires in my hands I can vouch that the sidewall of the Bridgestone, and general heft of the Bridgestone is far heavier than the Firestone. They are not as widely available as the Firestones, but if you find a "Real Truck Tire Place", (check the yellow pages for a place that does tire retreading), then they probably will have them.
The tires cost a little more, but changing tires on a vacation gets old very fast and there is a definite risk of damage to the rig if the tread separates from one of the rear tires at highway speed. (I was always a tire pressure fanatic, weighing the rig "12,500 #" and running 65 front, 75 rear - but since the failures I have taken to thumping the tires with a piece of 24" black gas pipe at every rest stop, and am even using an infrared temperature gage to monitor tire temperature in the desert.)