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Old 01-25-2005, 03:06 AM   #1
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We will be heading out of town in about a week to likely trade our current rig for a 2002 Journey 36GDL. While I'm certainly going to drive it before I sign any papers, what can I expect in terms of handling? I've read that the shorter WB Journeys like the 32 and 34 do not handle that well. One of the reasons we're willing to spend the additional $$ is to get a more solid and secure driving experience.

I realize it's not a Foretravel, but how does it track, etc?
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:06 AM   #2
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We will be heading out of town in about a week to likely trade our current rig for a 2002 Journey 36GDL. While I'm certainly going to drive it before I sign any papers, what can I expect in terms of handling? I've read that the shorter WB Journeys like the 32 and 34 do not handle that well. One of the reasons we're willing to spend the additional $$ is to get a more solid and secure driving experience.

I realize it's not a Foretravel, but how does it track, etc?
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Old 01-25-2005, 06:04 AM   #3
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I think the handling issue with the shorter length coaches references gas chassis. Diesel chassis handle totally different with air suspension, so your expectations will be more then positive.

Although, there are a lot of quality coaches out there for sale in the used coached market, I would take my time and look real close for the best deal possible.

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Old 01-25-2005, 06:18 AM   #4
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A 36' Journey won't handle the same as a 32 or 34 footer. Nor will it handle like any other brand's 36' DP. The shorter DPs do have a less favorable wheelbase to overall length ratio but these ratios are only starting points. While it's true that a 32' DP won't be as stable as a 40' DP that doesn't mean that the shorter DP will be bad. The biggest difference is how the coach builder distributes the weight on the coach. The only way to really compare is with some seat time. With any luck, it'll be windy out and there'll be lots of 18 wheeler traffic when you test drive the coach. That when you can truly see how it'll handle.
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Old 01-25-2005, 06:40 AM   #5
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My 36G tracks and drives well, much better than any gas coach I have driven -- However, in the center, the steering is very soft. No play, just very easy to turn the wheels.

Personally, I like a little more caster in it (tendency to go straight). I called Freightliner and they said there is a range on the caster spec. If it is already on the top of its range, don't touch it, but if it is not, then add a degree or two of caster depending on where it is.

Overall, the rig is very easy to drive. The bow wave on an 18 wheeler or a Prevost passing doing 85 pushes a little, but not much.

I called the alignment shop Freighliner uses here. They quoted me $119.00 for an alignment, and $49.00 to change the caster.

If you drive the one you are looking at and it only has this minor problem, I would not reject it for this alone.

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Old 01-25-2005, 10:42 AM   #6
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How about enhancements on pushers....people add all sorts of gizmo's to gassers to make them drive better? Steer-Safe, Tru-Trac...are they also helpful on DP's?
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:02 AM   #7
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I don't have one, nor do I feel unsafe in how the rig handles now. I would just like a "firmer" center position.

Another variable is tire pressure. I am running mine at 100# now. Check the pressure of the rig you are thinking about buying. If it is below 85, check the tire sidewall rating and put air in the tires if needed.

I believe 100 is safer and more sure footed feeling for me. I don't notice a notably stiffer ride with the air suspension. Your coach may have the older and smaller tire size.

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Old 01-25-2005, 11:17 AM   #8
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I had an 32' Adventure 2000 then 32' 2003 Journey then traded it in on a 36' 2004 Journey. The 32 Journey was dramiticly better than the Adventure. On long trips I would be worn out by the Adventure. The 36' is again that much better than the 32'. It has the right ratio of weight to wheel base. Semi's do not move me around and it tracks straight with out any input. It turns on a dime. It rides 10 times better than the 32' Journey and is 100 times better than the Adventure. The Adventure was on a Ford chassis.
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Old 01-25-2005, 12:59 PM   #9
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I started a similiar thread before I bought my Journey 36G. It started out discussing storage, but got into handling qualities. The 2nd post from Joe-K was particularly educational. It pretty much made up my mind for me - I figured advise from someone that has driven the unit a lot is better than anything I can learn on one test drive. Here's the thread:

http://irv2.infopop.cc/eve/forums?a=tpc&s=8076099152&f=2486094452&m=936101816 &r=936101816#936101816
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:19 PM   #10
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This is all helpful feedback. My current '97 Adventurer 32 with Steer Safe and Bilsteins rides and handles amazingly well, except in stiff crosswinds. So, if the 36 G is measurably better, that will be great and would be my expectation. I am traveling 844 miles for this particular coach and I just wanted as much info on the front end as possible.

Thanks, again, folks. Hopefully, as I gain more RV and MH experience, I can also be helpful.
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Old 01-26-2005, 05:59 AM   #11
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You've already received some great advice about the motorhome you're going to look at. I'll echo those same feelings that I'm sure you'll like the 36GD. We sure love ours.

The overall handling of the motorhome in my opinion is fantastic. Origonally when I first test drove our motorhome, and on the first couple trips, I was a bit cautious as the steering felt a bit sloppy and the motorhome seemed to wander a bit. After looking at the suspension, I talked to Freightliner about adding steering stabilizers, etc. FL claims, (and I believe them) that this chassis will perform very well when it is properly setup, has decent weight distribution and is adjusted properly and does not need add on suspension devices. First question they asked me "was if I checked the ride height?" Once I did, and corrected the fact that one corner was significantly low, the handling changed dramatically...it was perfect.

In speaking with FL, I learned how important weight distribution and ride height are. Weight distribution is primarily fixed by the coach builder, although one can try to shift cargo around to alter the distribution slightly. The 36GD, like most dinette slide configurations offsets the weight of the galley with the weight of the superslide. I don't have my numbers handy, (I'm sure they are in another post somewhere) but the 36GD is nearly balanced. Even the FL chassis designer commented that the 36GD was one of the best laid out coaches from a weight distribution point of view. He reviewed my four corner weights and was pleased with the numbers.

The FL chassis does have a very light steering feel as Kiwi mentioned due to the level of power steering assist. It doesn't affect the handling, but the steering feel would be a little nicer with more steering effort in my opinion. I guess I just like the sports car feel motorhome where the steering is stiffer, and the wheels return to center more own. With the light steering, it is easy to get in the habit of oversteering or overcorrecting constantly. By holding the wheel steady, you'll be amazed how well it tracks even on poor road conditions.

Being a engineer and a tinkerer, I actually decided not to take Freightliners advice and add a steering stablizer to the motorhome this past Fall. The stabilizer was not added to improve the handling, but rather to act as a safety device if a wheel should drop off the edge of the highway, or if I'd have a blowout. I also felt the centering force would be a added benefit I could feel in the steering. I ended up adding a BlueOX Trucenter from RVUpgrades.com (the forum sponser) I really liked the unit as it did provide centering force with an adjustable centering point. Real nice unit and it gave me the driving "feel" I wanted. Now I can actually release the steering wheel and have it return to center by itself. Sort of counter acts some of the steering assist when the wheels are turned.

Bottom line, drive the unit, see how it handles. Having a good chassis and coach weight distribution are important foundations for a good handling coach. Since you'll have those, I'm sure you'll like the handling, but if there is some issue, have the dealer check that ride height.

As one final thought, There is one item I am disappointed in with our motorhome. The 2002 and earlier 36' units came outfitted with 235/80/R22.5 tires. 2003 and later units (as well as the 39' coaches) were outfitted with 255/80/R22.5. Our unit is just barely under the weight rating for the tires requiring us to keep maximum air pressure in all tires. When I replace tires, I will upsize to acquire a safety margin as the Winnebago designers did on the newer units. This isn't a overload situation, or a reason not to buy, but simply a "heads up" to a future change.

Good luck with the test drive, and hope we can answer any questions you have in the futurre.

Joe
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Old 01-26-2005, 07:05 AM   #12
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Joe:

Thanks for the info. I tried last evening to send you a private message but it would not go through for some reason. I am not an engineer but do like gadgets and love to tinker so if there is no Tru Center or similar stabilizer on this coach (original owner told me he added several accessories...didn't ask about steering stabilizer), I will probably add that.

It is good to hear so many good comments on this coach. The 36' Journey we saw at a recent RV show was impressive...felt like it was well appointed but not overdone...a good value overall.

Regarding ride height...is that adjustable by adding air to the affected corner?
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:18 PM   #13
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Great info Joe K. Do you know if the air system and adjustments would be the same for a 99 Chieftain DP on a freightliner chasis? I am getting some wandering at hiway speed and have opted for a truecenter steering system. I havent had it installed yet. I know I am well under the GVW but not sure about the weight distribution. I have 90 pounds air all around on fairly new XRV Michelins. Any info would be greatly appreciated
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Old 01-26-2005, 12:33 PM   #14
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Bill,

If your chassis is air ride, I'd say it has the height control valves and if the settings are not correct, your handling will be affected. The following link will take you to Freightliners FAQ where the first two questions concern checking ride height. Not surprisingly, they state "The front ride height will change the front-axle caster settings. This can effect the handling of your coach on the highway and tire wear. "

Read the complete FAQ right here

If you have access to a scale to have the motorhome weighed, you'll learn alot. The best weighing process is to get 4 corner individual weights to really learn about your weight distribution.
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Old 01-26-2005, 02:16 PM   #15
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Thank you Joe for the feedback. I appreciate it and will put it to good use. The link helped and I am guessing that the 1999s are similar to the 2002 and up. By the way, I was born in Ellwood City and raised in Youngstow Ohio. Been to Butler many times. Sounds like you are a knowledgeable and experienced RV'r. Have a great day......Bill
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Old 01-26-2005, 03:02 PM   #16
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There isn't anything that I can add to Joe's very comprehensive posts, as he is Spot-on accurate with all of his information. I just wanted to jump in here and mention that I did exactly the same thing as Joe, regarding setting ride-height, and being very happy with the handling, but also found that the light-touch steering was not perfect for me. So, I too, added a Blue-Ox Tru-Center steering stabilizer and found that the steering now feels like it should, and returns to center much more pronounced when coming out of a turn.
I also wanted the Tru-Center for the same safety reasons as Joe.

Regarding tires, I too, had the Michelin 235 XRV's and were uncomfortable with them, as they were at max cap. and I read about too many problems. SO last year, I replaced all 6 tires, with only 20,000 miles on the Michelins, with Goodyear 275R70 22.5 G670's. They are an "H" rated tire (compared to XRV's "G" load rating, and are 1.1 inches wider at the tread, but still pass the minumum dual spacing test. They are the same loaded radius as the XRV's, so Speedo and trans shift is unaffected, and they are made to run on the same 7.5" wheel width. In short, Goodyear has made them as a direct replacement for either the 235 or 255 R80 XRV, and they are an RV-specific tire, so they ride very nicely, in spite of their heavier load carrying capacity. They carry more wieght at 80 pounds than the XRV's are rated for at maximum pressure, so I feel there is a nice safety margin in running these tires.
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Old 01-27-2005, 05:14 AM   #17
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Capt Bill, if your ride height is off can one adjust it himself, or, is it one of those things better left to freightliner?
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Old 01-27-2005, 05:26 PM   #18
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One other thing to consider when thinking about ride height is that it not only affects handling, but also the drive line angle. If the ride height in not within spec there is a very good chance that the you'll experience a vibration in the coach. I've left the setting of the ride height to Freightliner.
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Old 01-27-2005, 06:40 PM   #19
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As Joe-K pointed out in a previous post, ride height is not really difficult. You need a level parking area to park the rig, parking brake off, and wheels chocked. You need to be certain of which suspension system you have and which rear spring shackle (open or closed), as there are a few different ones used in the same year (at least 2002) chassis. Once you know whet the ride height should be set to, and this info can be obtained from Freightliner, it's a simple matter, as Joe said, to adjust.

If you are not sure you should be doing this, it may be better to have a dealer do it. But he needs to have the info correct as well, and if he doesn't have the right measurement for your coach chassis config., it will be set incorrectly.

Believe it or not, a Freightliner factory tech at Gaffney, S.C. set mine incorrectly, and the vibration was so bad the coach was undriveable on the test ride. He never said a word about it, and I told him I cannot drive back to Delaware with the rig vibrating and growling like that. He set it back to where I had it.

When I was in Baltimore at an Oasis dealer having other work done, they checked it, and where I had it set was nearly perfect. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-30-2005, 03:39 PM   #20
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ike Joe-K and others, I have a 2002 Journey DL 36GD and it rides better than any of the 4 motorhomes I owned including 93 and 95 Vectras. I agree that a heads up is due on the 235/80/22.5 tires originally installed....I replaced mine at 13,000 miles with 275's and now feel secure with a good safety rating range and the ride is even better with straight on tracking even on crown roads....good luck....RKL
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