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Author Topic: Shock Absorbers  (Read 4901 times)
Lin
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« on: January 30, 2009, 04:19:05 PM »

In a recent post about radial arm bushings, replacing shocks was mentioned.  That post has caused me to look at an area that I had ignored.  The good news is that the radial arm plates appear to be centered, so there is no serious immediate problem.  On the downside, some have obvious cranking around the edges, so it should be watched and tended to at some point.  My question thought, was how do you evaluate the condition of the shock absorbers (other than getting King Kong to rock the bumpers).
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 05:05:36 PM »

Lin,

Find a nice cooperating SPEED BUMP in a large parking lot.  Hitting it square, just ease over it and evaluate the depth of the "jounce" or rebound bounce.  There should be nothing about it that suggests anything hitting or slamming.  You will have to try different speeds to find that harmonic where you get the most movement.  Hitting it at 15 mph should not result in any violence IF the shocks are good.

Are there any places in your travels where there is a dip in the road and the bus seems to really crash thru it if you hit the dip a a certain speed?  If so, bad shocks.  Bad!  Sit!  Stay!

People used to get off Greyhounds running the desert because they were "sea sick" from the fore and aft rocking.  Some had a YAW movement that was even worse.  This was due to bad shocks on air ride suspension.

So there is my 2 cents worth for testing hi speed and low speed performance.  I would pay a lot more for Bilstiens if they were available for my vehicle and they are usually competitively priced.  I have replaced new $700 per pair "coil over shocks" with Bils and the improvement was dramatic. Please understand that my lifetime of experience is exclusive of trucks and buses.

YMMV and HTH,

John
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 05:32:17 PM »

When I did a visual inspection of our shocks, I could see where 2 were leaking (oil stain on shocks), so we replaced all on the assumption that if some were leaking, the others were not far behind.  We did notice a difference in the ride after repalcing the shocks.  Jack
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2009, 05:47:53 PM »

We just replaced all of ours. Only because we were sure that they were pretty old, and we were rebuilding the whole undercarriage anyways. (I have WhileI'mAtIt-syndrome Grin Cheesy Grin) The ride has greatly improved since.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2009, 06:01:45 PM »

John,

I once replaced shocks on an old motorhome with Bilstiens.  I merely suspected that the shocks were bad.  The difference was immediately noticeable.  I suppose that going that route would be an improvement even if the old shocks are holding.  Replacing the steering column with the one I got from Tom Y really improved the handling.  I even put off deciding about changing over to integral power steering until I get used to the new feel.  But I would love to have it drive more like a Caddy.  If shocks and bushings would put me closer to that, I am definitely tempted.  I thought that other companies like Grabriel now made comparable gas shocks.  Is that wrong?
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2009, 07:46:59 PM »

On automobile is simple to check for active working shock...just push down each corner and watch how it stabilize as well look leaks and damage ends.

However, a large bus is too difficult due to two or more shocks at the rear and a large mass of body weight to get it to rebound by one man. But with 3 or more men to get it to rebound. It it rebound easily mean worn or dry (leaked) shock.

A bus driver that been his life job would know the difference between new buses to the older ones with many miles for shock performance.

I know nothing about this brand but it look like a well design shock with 3/4 inch rod and 2 5/15 inch dia piston and pressurize with nitrogen.
Road King Shock for Class 8 truck and Large Motorhome

Sojourn for Christ, Gerald

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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2009, 08:16:19 PM »

Lin bilsten doesn't make a shock for the heavy duty trucks and buses Koni does for over 100 bucks each but when replaceing ours on the trucks and trailers we use the Gabriel or Monroe they are as good as the 100.00 Koni's and cost 45.00 for the adjustable Monroe or Gabriel gas shock a plus for you Auto Zone sells by special order 

David
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2009, 09:26:57 PM »

Lin,

When comparing "TOP of the line" shocks they all are close in price.  I happily spend an extra $10 or 20 per corner and go with Bils.  Nothing succeeds like success and the Bils have always been not only a success for me but a spectacular success.  YMMV!

Considering that Bils are not made for our buses it seems a moot point.  Between Gab and Monroe I would not hesitate to go with Gabriel.  Koni is a superior product to Gab or Monroe and they used to come with a lifetime guarantee that they honored speedily and without hassle.  My Bils out performed Rancho 9000 nitrogen adjustables without a doubt.  $40 seems almost too good a price but I think Gab has a pretty good warranty as well.  If I had the money I would go with the Koni's but I wouldn't worry about Gabs if they are spec'd for the bus.  Like many here have said "i felt some improvement" and then "you could REALLY tell the difference immediately". 

Oh, by the way....Koni's used to never wear out but they did start to leak.  Mfr free replacement on warranty every couple years....sweet!  Used to be made in Holland to German standards and European just couldn't ever seem to master the art of seal making from durable materials.  Much has changed since then, I am sure.

Good luck on this and let us all know what you learned and how well it works out.  Don't forget to do my test so you will have something like a performance baseline to compare.  Before i put Bils on my Ranger I had to creep over speed bumps and Wifey would not ride in my spiffy little truck.  I put the Bils on and i drive thru the parking lot with impunity and hit all the bumps at 25 mph.  Driving off a curb is a cream puff experience.  Oh, and Wifey wants to learn to drive the Ranger.  Always a down side , Right?


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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2009, 09:56:03 PM »

I'm going to do a little more research.  I even might speak to Luke and see if he has an opinion on the subject.  I really want to do something that improves handling noticeably, not one that is just okay.  I will scope out some speed bump test sights.  Right now, I go over such things pretty slowly.  I have not clocked it, but I think that a 15 mph speed bump, basically the top of first gear, would shake us up quite a bit.  I remember being impressed with the Bilstein and would trust them if they make the right one.  Once in that old motorhome, a bolt broke and ripped the grommet out of the Bilstein shock.  They Fedex'd me one immediately.  I was pretty happy about it.  I did put adjustable Gabriels on my last bus.  I do not remember noticing a lot of improvement, but, to be fair, I was driving it only once in a while at that time so could not do a fair comparison.  I had also added a steering stabilizer at the same time further clouding the issue.
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2009, 04:01:23 AM »

When I first purchased my 4104, I noticed certain stretches on highway would set up a fore-aft rocking that I called porpoise-ing.  Some areas were bad enough that I had to adjust my road speed to help damp out the harmonic frequency.  Otherwise, I get the "Yee Haw, Ride 'em Cowboy!" remarks from the passengers.

I suspected the shocks and decided to replace the front ones first (an easy DIY with no jacking involved.)   I wanted to go with a quality shock, and looked at both Bilstein and Koni. I eventually selected the Konis because their model was adjustable, and the Bilsteins were not. 

I initially installed the Konis set to their middle firmness setting. After a little driving, I decided to set them a little stiffer. (One tick below their firmmest setting).   That turned out to be perfect.   Porpoise-ing was corrected, and still a very nice feel to the ride.... so much so that I have never felt the need to do the rear shocks.

If you can find a Bilstein model that fits your coach, they make a great product too.  I just think the adjustability allows you to fine tune the ride you want.
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2009, 06:55:45 AM »

fellows use what ever shocks you choose but my 45 footer has just plain shocks made by Gabriel nothing fancy has a great ride I was telling you about other shocks you can buy that don't cost you the farm to buy.John we do pay around 45.00 for the Gabriel SXL adjustable shock  Auto Zone may charge 50.00 I don't know .it is your bus your cash buy what you like or feel comfortable with.John what good does it do to pay for a lifetime warranty on a product that most people drive 10,000 or less miles a year.To test one remove it if you can move it up and down with little effort it is bad  


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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2009, 09:11:08 AM »

What's strange about my AMGeneral transit is that it uses the same shock in front as in the back.  Personally- I've used the Koni shocks on my truck, and they work great.  For a more relaxed ride, the gas shocks will be the ones.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2009, 11:10:45 AM »

It has been a few years, but I seem to recall that Koni spec'd the same shock model for the front and rear of my 4104.  However, in the back there are two shocks at each corner instead of one. After completing the front axel and having corrected my ride problem, I had a hard time justifying spending twice as much to do the rear axel when I was happy with the ride.
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2009, 02:10:12 PM »

Has anyone look in this site? Anyone ever try their shock absorber?

Road King Shock for Class 8 truck and Large Motorhome

Sojourn for Christ, Gerald
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2009, 02:17:10 PM »

Gerald,

I saw that you posted that site yesterday.  I do not know anything about them but was going to call them Monday and see what they have.  I have also heard that Tokico puts out quality shocks, but I don't know if they have them for my application, or what the cost and warranty are like.
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2009, 03:51:28 PM »

Gerald I have never used the Road King shock but have saw the prices at the RV stores and will not be buying any soon 

David
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2009, 06:30:55 PM »

How many years and/or miles does a typical bus shock last?

I asked about the shocks when I had my brakes and everything else done and was told the shocks were still good 12,000 miles ago.  I would be very surprised if the previous owner replaced the shocks as they neglected the brakes and most everything else.
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2009, 08:50:42 PM »

Lin,

Talking to Luke is a superb idea.

Tokico is a really good shock.  Japans best, I think.

Belfert,

Do the speed bump test at low speeds.  It shouldn't bounce more than 2 cycles and coming off the bump it shouldn't hit bottom.  Start at a very slow speed cause if they are worn it will be a hammering experience.  With fresh Koni's or equal it will seem controlled and not like you might break something.

John
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« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2009, 09:07:54 PM »

Lin,

With the buses weight on the tires AND the thing blocked so it won't kill you....do the following.

Have it started and get a buddy in the drive seat.  Go under and look at all the steering stuff while Bud rocks the wheel back and forth.  Steering box and it's mount should be rock solid without any movement whatsoever.  If the ball joints are not apparently moving between the halves, wrap your hand around the joint covering the gap and see if you can "sense" any slop.  It is going to be moving around a little but there should NOT be any relative movement between the top half and the bottom.  These things need to be "solid" or you get a lot of behaviors that make driving a chore.  This won't check bushings but they can be checked by apearance.  Jack up a corner and slide the very end of a 2X4 under the tire.  Lift on the wood and you should NOT hear or feel any clunking....loose bearing.

If it is all tight as far as you can tell, install the integrated power steer.  Then get it aligned and inspected by a shop.  With new shocks at that point you should be set for life as far as this part goes.

It should go down the road like it was in a groove and when cornering you should have to "set" the wheel once and have it carry thru the curve/offramp.

Let us know what you discover,

John
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2009, 06:26:16 AM »




     After reading all of these post about the shocks absorbers I know one way they use to test them at Flying J (service centers)

     they would use an infared gun to see what the difference of the heat coming from each one.   Has anyone tried this?

     Also the ones on buses the same on trucks?


   Steve 5B.......
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2009, 02:38:56 PM »

Shocks expend energy as "heat" and a proper shock will generate a lot of heat on a rough road.  All the shocks in the front should be the same temp and the same for the rear.  Fly in this ointment is that quality shocks will fail at the same rate and will fail gracefully.  There will be no difference in their temps even at the end of their useful life.  If there is, your cool one is shot but they should all probably be changed.  who would ever change just one?

2 cents,

John
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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2009, 02:49:41 PM »

I live on a mile long dirt road.  Maybe I will go up and down it to give the shocks a workout and see if there is any temp difference.  I normally drive my car at about 30 mph or so on that road.  I only drive the bus at 15 or less or it gets very bumpy.
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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2009, 03:19:51 PM »

Lin
I have had my MC-5A on the dirt a few times and the dust the cooling fans produce is amazing. I think the trick is to keep RPM low?

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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2009, 06:07:35 PM »

Airbag,

I leave a huge trail of dust, but it is from the exhaust kicking it up.  If I rev the engine here, the exhaust will dig a hole.  It's not really a dirt road, it's packed sand.
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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2009, 06:21:27 PM »

To test shock absorber reaction on large heavy vehicle…either both front or rear drive wheel go squarely over speed bump at 5 mph or less. If it bounces more than 1 1/2 times you need to take a closer look at the shocks. However one side may try to rebound more than opposite side. Jack up & safety block to check tire tread completely around the tire and from inside to outside.  Cupping or unusual wear in any area indicates the shocks may not be holding the tires on the road.  Look for broken mounts, damaged bushings, and oil on the shock absorber barrel. If all appearance is good but more than 1 ½ times rebound…too weak or internal leaking valve or dry.

If your bus has tag wheel…you need to raise and chain up so that it isolate from front & rear dual reaction test.

If tag wheel bounce while partial or full brake locking…leaking or bad check valve or worn rubber grommet…replace shock with new rubber.

The bottom-line to test any shock absorber…you need drive 5 mph or less over speed bump of 3 to 4 inch and no more than one bump at a time to see the result. If you can rebound the bus by hands like we do on cars, the power to you.

Sojourn for Christ, Gerald
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« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2009, 06:41:34 PM »


     After reading all of these post about the shocks absorbers I know one way they use to test them at Flying J (service centers)

     they would use an infared gun to see what the difference of the heat coming from each one.   Has anyone tried this?

     Also the ones on buses the same on trucks?
   Steve 5B.......

Good shock will produce heat after and after several reactions. It only a partial of the shock test and selling point to sell shocks to a confuse customers.

Buses shock ratings are not the same as truck unless the mass of that portion is the same weight, axle load rating and suspension travel distance.


Sojourn for Christ, Gerald
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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2009, 09:34:45 PM »

Lin,

I think you have proved that you bus shocks are bad.  I don't think there should be that much disparity in the speeds down the road.  The difference in the performance of the vehicle between good and bad shocks is profound.  Stated here it was "you could really tell the difference right away".  Replace your shocks with the very best you can afford.  #1 Koni and #2 Gabriels.  Do Sojourner's, Gerald's test.

John
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« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2009, 03:48:48 PM »

I spoke to Master Luke today and wanted to pass on the conversation.  He said they have always used Gabriel shocks and found them adequate.  He did not put down Koni, but said that they could not justify the cost.  I checked the price and it was close to $200. each.  At six shocks, I probably would not take that plunge.  I also asked about symptoms of radial arm bushing failure.  He said to look for areas that have been cleaned by rubbing.  When I mentioned that a couple of mine were cracked, he said that can happen even when you first put them on due to the pressure.  Looking for signs of wear and rubbing seems to be the test.
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« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2009, 06:55:41 PM »

Lin, did Luke give you a price on shocks he can sell you?  I bought shocks from US Coach not long ago and I think they were only $100 each.  Maybe expensive?  He had them in stock and I had them the next day, and it took only a few hours to install.  The ride difference was night and day!  I don't, however, have a clue as to what brand they were.

Mark
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« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2009, 07:52:29 PM »

Mark,

I did not ask him for a price since I am not done with my research.  He said that he uses Gabriel and did so even when they were running buses.  I guess it is a good chance that that is what you got.
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« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2009, 08:18:57 PM »

Lin,

How is this for a plan:  Install Gabs on the front and look for that "extreme improvement.  If not, put those shocks on the rear and put Konis on the front only.  Keep adding shocks to the rear till you think it is OK.  Applies if your front and rear shocks are the same. 

Just a thought, now

John
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« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2009, 10:01:52 PM »

John,

I have come to a similar plan.  I think that I will go with Koni on the front and see about the back.  If the front ones that I remove are okay, I can use them to replace any bad ones on the back.  But if I do change the backs, they'll all be the same.  So far Mohawk is the best source.  They have Koni for about $148.  That's $40. less than anywhere else I have checked so far.  There are two options, but the one that Koni's tech says would be great for the front are 1 inch shorter in full extension than OEM.  They are the same compressed.  As the bus sits though, that would still allow 4-5 inches of extension.  They recommend a different one for the rear.  The OEM are the same back and front.  By the way, MCI 5 -9 all use the same shock.  The Koni recommendations are based on the valving and not merely the size.  It does sound like they know what they are talking about.  Also, Mohawk recommends the same one for the front.

Monroe has a non-adjustable gas shock that would fit.  They're somewhere around $50 -$60 each.  The Gabriel situation is confusing.  Gabriel has a hydraulic shock, but say they do not have a gas one.  Mohawk has a shock that they said is made by Arvin/Gabriel that they also say is gas.  This would have to be clarified if I decided to use those for the rear.

Although the Koni are expensive, it seems to me that, if I get the improvement I am hoping for, i will be well worth the $200.  Actually, it may turn out to be about one of the most cost effective upgrades one can do.
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« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2009, 05:11:29 AM »

I checked my records. I bought my Konis on line from www.shox.com    I paid $130 each, but that was eight years ago.
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« Reply #33 on: February 05, 2009, 06:45:46 AM »

lin I do not know much about buses  but if you have a independent suspenson on the front and not a axle they require a dual action shock found this out the hard way.   

David
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« Reply #34 on: February 05, 2009, 07:08:21 AM »

WEC,

When I checked with shox.com, they wanted about $190/each.  I will be going away for a week or so and will buy them when I come back.  Although I will continue to look, I have doubts that I will do better than Mohawk's $148.
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« Reply #35 on: February 05, 2009, 07:17:44 AM »

Lin,

Excellent!!!!! Smiley Smiley Smiley

Did you get a chance to eyeball the steering components as I recommended? Huh

Good to hear that you are now in the implementation mode. Grin

John
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« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2009, 07:35:14 AM »

John,

I have had the front end all checked and it seems to be fine.  I also have played with adjusting the steering box a bit.  I want to be clear that the bus steering is within a range that I consider acceptable.  I just think it could be even better without installing integral power.  You hear of people complaining of handling with power assist a lot, and others telling them that is just the way power assist is.  I am not sure that that is absolutely true.  It could be that a lot of other problems are just glossed over by blaming the power assist's natural limitations.  I still could probably fine tune the steering box adjustment, but it is not unlikely that the box is worn and can not be perfectly balanced between bind and play, and you have to choose play over bind when it comes to down to it.
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« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2009, 08:03:01 AM »

Lin,

You can access the wear by turning it to lock and adjusting for zero clearance.  Then turn to center and see how much you have to screw it in till it touches.  Don't forget to back it off.

John
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