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Replacing Shocks


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#1 golfnick

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 08:41 PM

Have 2000 Monaco signature with tag. 80K miles Have been told I need to replace shocks with that mileage. Is this correct? What would be improved with new shocks?
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Bob Nicholson
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#2 TBUTLER

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 10:36 PM

I've had Bilstein representatives tell me that the shocks on my motor home should last "forever." As an old auto fan, that is hard to believe. Shock absorbers reduce the shock of rough roads and make the ride smooth. You can tell when shocks are worn and need replacing when you go over something like railroad tracks and the coach makes more than one up and down bounce from the change in surface. One time up and down is the most you should experience before the coach stabilizes and stops bouncing if your shocks are in good condition. The same is true with side to side roll. The kind of thing you experience when exiting a driveway. If the coach continues to rock and roll, it's time to replace the shocks.

Sometimes you'll see old cars hit a bump and bounce up and down three or four times or even more. Those shocks are nearly useless. If your shocks are worn or worn out, when you replace them, you'll notice that the ride is smoother, the motor home recovers from rough spots in the road more rapidly and the ride will be safer as the control of the motor home improves significantly.
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Tom and Louise Butler
2004 Monaco Windsor, Cummins 400 ISL
Roadmaster Sterling Tow Bar, Brakemaster, GMC Acadia, BikeE Recumbent Bicycles

After 9 1/2 years full time in our motor home and being Winter Texans we are now living at Sandpipers Resort in Edinburg, Texas. Now we are Summer Chickens!

"The tipi is much better to live in; always clean and warm in winter, cool in summer, easy to move... If the Great Spirit wanted men to live in one place he would have made the world stand still." -- Flying Hawk, South Dakota Oglala Sioux


#3 wolfe10

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 10:56 PM

Replace shocks if:

1 They are leaking (not just damp with oil, but leaking).
2. If the bushings (top and bottom) have any wear or play.
3. They are bent or otherwise physically damaged.
4. They do not control coach motion-- in addition to Tom's excellent advice, I find the easiest place to "test" shocks is over speed bumps at regular (slow) speeds. You can easily tell how many times the front and then the rear go up and down before stabilizing. Anything over 2 oscillations means they are shot. I like them to give better control-- so 1.5 is my maximum.

If they are OK per the above, I don't have any great expectations for the shocks to control side to side motion. YES, the help, but were you to make a shock stiff enough to substitute for HD sway bars, they would be VERY stiff (read that "uncomfortably stiff") in normal driving conditions. So, for excessive sway, start by verifying that all 8 of the sway bar end link bushings and main bushings are in good shape.

Also, some shocks (older pre-FSD Koni shocks) are adjustable. So adjusting them may be an alternative to replacement if everything but dampening is OK.

Brett Wolfe
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#4 harrysusa

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 09:26 PM

Hi Brett,
I have a 1997 Discovery on a Freightliner XC with the original Bilsteins. It rides very harsh, with every bump, rough spot registering inside the coach. I have fixed the wandering with a Steer Safe bellcrank but would like the ride to be softer. I have weighed the coach and carry 90 psi in front & 85 in the rear. The coach has over 104,000 miles on it.
Will I be happier with Konis? What do you suggest?

Harry Salit
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#5 wolfe10

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 09:36 PM

Hi Brett,
I have a 1997 Discovery on a Freightliner XC with the original Bilsteins. It rides very harsh, with every bump, rough spot registering inside the coach. I have fixed the wandering with a Steer Safe bellcrank but would like the ride to be softer. I have weighed the coach and carry 90 psi in front & 85 in the rear. The coach has over 104,000 miles on it.
Will I be happier with Konis? What do you suggest?

Harry Salit

Harry,

Welcome to the FMCA Forum.

First thing I would check is ride height. Get the dimensions from Freightliner. If, for example ride height is too low, suspension travel is severely limited and hitting small bumps can cause the suspension to bottom out/crash. It is easy to check and easy to adjust. As with any ventures under a coach, make sure to use safety stands.

And, I assume your tire pressure is that recommended for your actual wheel position/axle weights by your tire manufacturer.

If Koni FSD shocks are available for your chassis, yes, they will likely give you an improved ride.

Brett
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#6 bigred1cav

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 01:21 PM

I've had Bilstein representatives tell me that the shocks on my motor home should last "forever." As an old auto fan, that is hard to believe. Shock absorbers reduce the shock of rough roads and make the ride smooth. You can tell when shocks are worn and need replacing when you go over something like railroad tracks and the coach makes more than one up and down bounce from the change in surface. One time up and down is the most you should experience before the coach stabilizes and stops bouncing if your shocks are in good condition. The same is true with side to side roll. The kind of thing you experience when exiting a driveway. If the coach continues to rock and roll, it's time to replace the shocks.

Sometimes you'll see old cars hit a bump and bounce up and down three or four times or even more. Those shocks are nearly useless. If your shocks are worn or worn out, when you replace them, you'll notice that the ride is smoother, the motor home recovers from rough spots in the road more rapidly and the ride will be safer as the control of the motor home improves significantly.

Welcome Home, Tom!!!
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#7 harrysusa

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 10:07 AM

Hi Brett,

Well, I bit the bullet & had a set of Konis.
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#8 harrysusa

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 10:23 AM

Hi Brett,

Well, I bit the bullet & had a set of Konis installed at Albuquerque on Thursday & I have driven about 400 miles since.

A number of people said that I will have an improved ride but I am hard pressed to notice any difference from the original Bilsteins (with 105,000 miles). The difference in ride is not worth the over $900 cost. I could have new Bilsteins installed for half the price!!!

My coach is on a Freightliner XC chassis with a rigid axle and loaded for travel it weights 21,250 lbs (no slides). On Konis' web site, for XC it lists only one shock available. I know that the larger coaches with 3 or 4 slides weight over 28,000 lbs.
My question-- should not the difference in weights require different rate shocks ?
Thank you,
Harry Salit
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#9 wolfe10

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:49 PM

Harry,

It does not surprise me that the ride is not significantly different between Koni FSD's and any shock with over 100,000 miles on it-- both should ride softly.

What you should notice is better handling, less porpoising, etc (i.e. better control).

I can't answer your question on two different shocks for your chassis, call Jim Ryan at Koni (859) 488-0339.

Brett
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#10 OnTheRidge

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 09:21 PM

I have an 2000 Freightliner XCS Chassis (2001 Damon Ultrasport) - original Freightliner (Munroe) shocks are toast. So far only Road King has a set of shocks for it. Bilstien 0, Koni front only, Road Kong sounds good but at 3 times the cost of the others it is a bit pricey. Any ideas on other options or should I just go with the Road Kings.
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#11 harrysusa

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 09:28 PM

Hi Brett,
I did not have any handling or porpoising issues before I changed the shocks, & I do not have them now.

I have a Super Steer bell crank which corrected the the lane changes long time ago, caused by passing vehicles. The ride height was checked by Freightliner last week & was "within spec". The air in the tires is based on actual wieght & using Mich tables. And I did a test the ride on the same section of a road with the old Bilsteins & the new Konis & my wife & I could not detect any difference in ride quality. The old Bilsteins were not soft riding, I expected the Konis to be softer. My problem is rough ride over minor irregularities like alligatored pavement, 1" wide grooves, etc. I know that pot holes & bridge abutments will jar the heck out of the coach & passengers. I was not seeking to correct this problem, I just wanted a smoother ride on minor irregularities.

Last year I drove 2006 Providence over 10,000 miles & I did not feel the minor rough roads like I do in the Discovery . I know it is 28,500
lbs and on a Spartan chassis & 9 years newer engineering but almost everyone said the Konis will give a softer ride on the Discovery. I am disappointed with the results.

I did leave a message for Jim Ryan last Friday.
Thanks again for your help,

Harry Salit
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#12 harrysusa

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 10:51 AM

Just an update on my Koni shocks.
Evidently Koni cares only about selling a product, not about customer satisfaction. I have left two messages for Jim Ryan in the last 2 weeks without any response from him.
Harry Salit
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#13 harrysusa

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 10:42 AM

Thank you Brett, day after my post of April 12 I received a phone call from Jim Ryan !! He evidently told Redlands Truck & RV to make me happy.
They went over the coach, checked the ride height again, tire pressures, etc & found some issues but nothing that would give me the hard ride. We test drove the coach with the Konis, then they re- installed my old Bilsteins & test drove again. Yes, there was a slight difference in the initial jar from irregularities in the pavement, the Koni's were slightly less jarring, but not $900.00 worth. As of today I still have the old Bilstein's installed & I am thinking about them.
My tires are over 6 years old & due for a change, will new tires ride any softer? Is there a softer tire? I have XRV's.
My air bags have cracks, will new air bags ride any softer?
My coach is 13 years old, will anything make it ride softer? Or should I forget about it & just (?) buy
a new coach?
Harry Salit
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#14 Pipersam

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 01:52 PM

We have a 1992 Newmar Mountain Air with a slide. It is a diesel tractor, not pusher. This winter I replaced my Mor Ride components as well as all six shocks. I decided to get Monroe shocks, because of the cost of other makes. It made the rig ride so much better, I don't know if I am driving the same one or not! The front end doesn't dip and make noise as it used to. Side motion is virtually nil. The coach sits higher than before. For the cost, I feel it is worth the gamble. There is nothing that says you must only use "name brands" to get good results. Strutmasters made it well worth it for me to try something other than the proverbial Cadillac brands.

Rolling smoothly, away we go!
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#15 golfnick

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 03:32 PM

I had new koni's put on and 2 months later 6 of my 8 tires replaced. Tires made most difference in softness of ride by far. I did find I had 2 of the front 4 shocks leaking and a crack in a mount.

Bob Nicho0lson
2000 Monaco Signature

Shock concern posted earlier
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Bob Nicholson
Monaco Signature 42ft

#16 wolfe10

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 03:36 PM

I had new koni's put on and 2 months later 6 of my 8 tires replaced. Tires made most difference in softness of ride by far. I did find I had 2 of the front 4 shocks leaking and a crack in a mount.

Bob Nicho0lson
2000 Monaco Signature

Shock concern posted earlier

Bob,

I am not clear on what you are saying.

I presume it was the old shocks/mounts that were leaking/cracked.

And did you replace tires with same size, brand and at same PSI, or was there a change in any of these factors? How old were the tires you replaced?

Brett
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#17 harrysusa

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 10:22 AM

Hi,

Here is an update on my hard ride issue.

Bilstein suggested that I install a shock that is 15% softer than the stock shocks, they are front: BE5-2545 & BE5-2546 for the rear.

After installing them in June I have driven almost 5000 miles & the difference is just amazing! I am very happy with these new shocks & with the ride improvement.

Next step is to replace my 6 1/2 year old tires. I understand that new tires will also improve the ride.

Harry Salit
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#18 DeltaDonnie

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 11:16 PM

Road King is what I installed, boy what a diference. The Coach really rides nice now, definite improvement from before.

Ok I have to confess, I had three out of four Koni shocks broken in the rear, maybe thats the real reason it rides better. I did lots of research and my Coach does not have over extension straps, so consequently it needs a superior dampening force to minimize over extension. According to Road King they expect I will not experience this again. I hope there right.
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#19 wolfe10

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 09:00 AM

Don,

I hope (the correct verb-- and not a very good one when you are dealing with physics) you are right about the new shocks being able to stand up to being the axle stop.

No matter how stiff the dampening in a shock, it will not stop you from reaching the axle stop on extension-- if it were stiff enough to do that, it would give you an extremely uncomfortable ride.

And if the shock happens to be strong enough to act as an axle stop without pulling apart, it will put a severe load on the shock mounts which then become the "weak link".

Bottom line-- I would look at having a standard axle strap installed to control overextension.

Brett
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#20 MikeCanter

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Posted 29 March 2011 - 06:18 PM

This writeup is part of what I have found out about shocks used on Monacos. Monacos have been fitted with both Bilstein and Monroe shocks and sometimes it has been real confusing as to which ones are or were on a motorhome. Hopefully this will help answer Bob’s question on how long his Bilsteins will last and add to what Brett has already stated.

I talked to Bilstein factory representative that actually was involved in the design of the shock absorbers used on Monaco MHs and I would like to pass this on to all. I think it answers a lot of question about what owners have observed or had problems with.

I think some Monaco owners have already figured out that there is a dividing line on the year of the Monaco MHs and the type Bilstein shock used. Congratulations you are 100% correct. On most Monaco coaches made in 2002 and earlier the Bilstein shock valving design was oriented more towards performance than comfort. In case people don’t know, the internal shock valve controls the speed, rate and resistance of the shock piston to suspension movement. So if the valving is designed for performance it normally makes the shock have a harsher ride and you feel more of those road expansion joints and pot holes. Most RV’ers do not like to feel all that and complain that they want a smoother ride. This harsh ride that is immediately fixed when the original Bilsteins shocks are replaced on a 2002 and earlier Monaco by ANY of today’s top three brands such as Bilstein, Koni or Road King shock absorbers and leads to the assumption that the initially installed Bilsteins were bad. In most cases that is an incorrect assumption because they were just not designed the way we want them.

Monaco motorhomes 2003 and later that have the Bilstein shocks absorbers with the updated valving for comfort and control and normally these shocks as with all premium shocks will last over 100,000 miles so changing them out at an early mileage to another brand probably will not result in much change in the way the MH rides and may in fact make the ride a little harsher or different to the ride with the original Bilsteins.

Monaco purposely redesigned the Bilstein shock for the 2003 MHs to give you the best ride and control. My ride and control on my 2004 MH is superb with the factory installed Bilsteins and I would not consider spending all that money to change them. With 8 or 10 shocks we are talking are fair amount of money. So it is important to be careful on judging your 2003 and later Monaco based on 2002 and earlier ride complaints.

The life expectancy of any of the top three brand shocks, such as Bilstein, Koni or Road King, is normally over 100,000 miles. Bilsteins are used on UPS vans and exceed 100,000 mile life on a regular basis as would the other top brand shocks. Bilstein shocks use what is called a wet seal at the top of the shock body where the rod enters the shock which means it will seep a little oil every once in a while to keep the seal lubricated. Occasionally a small amount of oil may leak out and run down the side of the body of the shock and this is considered to be normal and as long as the body of the shock is not flooded or soaked with oil. I have seen a little oil on the body of two shocks on my MH and was going to change them but I wiped the oil off with a paper towel and solvent and the oil never came back so according to Bilstein the shocks are still good. I think the reason mine leaked a little oil was that the MH was stored for two years and that seal dried out a little so when I initially drove it leaked until it got wet again and resealed.

I have seen several posts where Monaco owners have complained that the top rubber doughnut eye bushing has failed and the shock is loose or banging around. Monaco specified that Bilstein use a different design eye on the top of the shocks so they could use a larger rubber doughnut bushing to reduce the road noise and vibration being transmitted through the shock into the frame. It appears that this Monaco specified rubber bushing does not have the life expectancy of a stock Bilstein bushing. Failure of this rubber bushing does NOT mean the shock is bad and has to be replaced.

A replacement bushing can be obtained from Bilstein by calling them at East Coast 1.800.745.4636 or West Coast 1-800.537.1085 and asking for them to send you the special Monaco top rubber bushing. They are four dollars each and can be soaped down or sprayed with silicone and inserted into the eye on the top of the shock and you are good to go again. You can tell if your top rubber bushings are bad either by looking at them with a flashlight or reaching up there with your hand and see if they are cracked or split. If cracked or split then you should have the shock taken off and that top rubber bushing replaced. If the bushing totally goes and you have metal to metal then you may hear it banging around or it may break off the top mounting bolts and do some real damage to the area above the top shock mount. The standard Bilstein bottom rubber bushing will normally last the life of the shock.

A lot of Monacos were also fitted with Monroe shocks and the Monroe shock is yellow also which is confusing. So now we have yellow and blue Bilsteins and all yellow Monroes. I wonder if that confuses people as to which shock they have or had. On all the Bilsteins I have seen the top part of the shock which is just a protective cover coming down over the rod is made of a flexible plastic and the Monroe is hard steel. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two yellow shocks is that the yellow Monroes have a hard metal yellow top half that covers the rod. The yellow Bilsteins have a plastic top cover which is blue and can be either smooth or rippled. The big thing is that Bilsteins always have a yellow main shock body and a blue top dust cover and a Monroe is all yellow on the shock body and a hard metal yellow dust cover.

One thing is that is showing up here that I am in perfect agreement with is that Monaco's decision to use Monroe shocks was a bad one and has caused a lot of heartburn and $$$$$. Most Monroe shocks on RVs only have a life expectancy of around 18,000 miles and when they fail the ride is horrible. Control of the MH is difficult and the ride is super harsh. If you have Monroes then I would highly recommend changing them before they go bad. if you also replace the Monroes with any of the top three brands being the Comfort Bilsteins, the Koni FSD or Road King you are going to see a great improvement in ride comfort and control. I would bet that unless somebody did a back to back test with all the top three brands you will not be able to tell the difference from one to another but again the ride is going to be so much better than the Monroes.
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Mike Canter
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