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Old 12-16-2007, 07:27 AM   #1
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1974 20' Argosy 20
Richmond , Kentucky
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Drive line vibrations

As we were driving home after replacing all of our tires with new Toyo's we noticed what seemed to be a drive line vibration or harmonic. We didn't notice it before because the new Long March tires we had put on the coach this past summer were all out of round causing horrendous vibration problems. The vibrations were so bad that anything loose in the coach would rattle around.

Have any of you experienced drive line vibration issues? I'm leaning towards the drive shafts as being the culprits but I'm not sure how to go about checking them. My guess is I'll have to take them off and have a shop check them out.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.



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1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
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Old 12-16-2007, 07:33 AM   #2
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Most of mine have always been caused by the U-joints.
Even though they sometimes looked OK, were dry or moved enough to throw balance off.

Block wheels,
Then but trans in nutural<sp
Don't use parking brake.
Double check blocked wheels
Get under there and try to twist or shake drive shaft.

Your opinion is valued, please not your opinion of someones else's opinion.
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Old 12-16-2007, 07:42 AM   #3
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Check the easy things first

Take a look at the driveshafts, and make sure the u-joints are aligned front-to-back. All the u-joints should be oriented the same way, if you look down the shaft, they all should be pointed up, or down. If not, you will have to move the shafts around until they are. It can and does make a huge vibration if they are not in line with each other.
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Old 12-16-2007, 10:56 AM   #4
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As Overlander pointed out, U joints need to oriented the correct way. This is normally a problem that occurs on vehicles with three U joints and a two- piece driveshaft (Hotchkiss drive). What happens is that the constant input speed at the transmission is converted into a sinusoidal output at the miss-aligned u joint. I happens when the driveshaft halves are separated at the spline and re-mated at an odd angle. Always good to check for this as it is a common error made by mechanics-amateur and otherwise. This the same reason that dictates constant velocity joints on front wheel drive cars. NOTE: this problem only occurs when the driveline is operating at an angle. When the driveline is perfectly straight, the orientation of the u joints is immaterial.
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Old 12-16-2007, 11:41 AM   #5
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2005 28' Safari
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Problems with driveline components, U-joints, center bearings, slip yokes, flanges, angles, timing/phaseing, and etc. will cause vibrations that are intermittent. The vibration will come in at a certain speed and disappears at a higher speed, example, 32 to 48 MPH. Check for the items pointed out above, check for any looseness at any of the components. If you don't find any looseness take it to a driveline shop and have them check it out. They can check to see if it is out of phase, balance and alignment etc. If the driveline arrangement is a compound driveline arrangement and is a 3 joint 2 shaft type or more, then usually the u-joint at the center bearing can be
off-phased (looks to be out of phase/time). If you have this type of driveline arrangement and you align the yokes as mentioned above, your vibration problems will get worse. Have it checked by someone who knows drivelines.
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Old 12-17-2007, 01:44 PM   #6
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I have also seen new tires that vibrate even though they are ballanced on a machine. Worth a look, and if bad, they should replace the tire for free.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:08 PM   #7
Desert Fox
1985 31' Sovereign
Tucson , Arizona
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Thumbs up Hi Brad,

Also check engine, transmicion and ceter support mounts. These will also give you vibration in your system
Russell in sunnny and cool Tucson Az.
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Old 12-17-2007, 05:48 PM   #8
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Thanks for the ideas. When we first realized we had drive line vibrations my first thought was the u-joints. However after reading Russell's comment about the motor and transmission mounts makes me wonder what condition those mounts are in. The engine was replaced about 8 years ago and I assume they would have used new motor mounts. I have the receipts and will check on that this evening.

Rob, we know its not the tires as these are brand new Toyo's and the ride improved immensely after getting rid of the near new but out of round Long March tires. It wasn't until we put the new tires on that we realized there was something else causing a problem.

Possibly around new years I might have time to look under the coach.

I'll keep everyone posted as to what we find.


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1974 20' Argosy Motor Home
1974 31' Excella trailer (parting out, as of 4/1/2015 I have wheels, brake drums, windows & holding tanks left to sell)
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:27 PM   #9
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1984 31' Excella
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Drive Line Vibrations

I have a 1990 GMC 12 passenger van that I tow with (G3500).
It has a two piece drive shaft.
My engine was also replaced by the local Oldsmobile/GMC dealer prior to me buying it.
I had low speed high torque vibration to the point it was making the mirrors useless.
Over a two year period I had the darn thing looked at and serviced by two commercial shops and the looked at by the local International truck dealer (they blew me off).
I finally found the answer on the internet.
My problem while relatively simple to repair was very hard to identify.
First as mentioned in previous posts determine the condition of the universal joints.
They must be perfect.
Next pay close attention to the rear motor mount (transmission mount).
It must be in good order (perfect). Transmission oil and engine oil will make them go soft and fail.
Next the engine mounts. The best way is to jack up the engine (board on a floor jack under the oil pan [bee delicate and careful]). Remember, on the front engine mounts, they are interlocked so that the engine cannot come loose and spin under high torque(yes it will spin).
I assume you also have a two piece drive shaft. Here are the web sites that finally allowed me to identify my problem.

Here is a quick and dirty synopsis:
The drive shaft must be balanced. They have been known to shuck balancing weights.
As stated before, the drive shaft must be phased properly (u joints lined up properly).
Next, and here is what was wrong with mine,
Since the engine and the differential are at different angles then the drive shaft must be straight as if you were looking straight down from above or looking up at it.
I checked mine with a string. I rotated the drive shaft so that a u joint bearing cap face (flat) was straight down (parallel with the ground).
I tied a string at the differential on the pinion shaft.
I tied the other end to the transmission yoke.
I tied the string tight.
I centered the string on the u joint bearing cap at the differential and on the bearing cap at the transmission yoke.
The center u joint bearing cap was about &#190; of an inch out of straight.
I moved the tail shaft of the transmission to the right (passenger side) as far as I could to remove part of the problem and shimmed the center bearing to remove the rest of the out of alignment condition. To do this safetly I had to cut a 2 inch wide &#188; inch flat bar longer than the center bearing was wide and drill two holes in it. This I placed on the top of the center bearing. This was to hold the center bearing and the rubber shock mount for the bearing in the u shaped bracket the center bearing assembly lived in.
Then I started shimming with washers until all misalignment was gone.
Next, with the u joints rotated so that two bearing cap flats are facing the sides of the vehicle and one is facing straight down (very important [just as above]) measure the angle of the cap.
I used a machinists combination square.
My first trial run of flooring the gas pedal was nothing short of nirvana.
Smooth as silk.
And it only took me two years to figure it out.
As a precaution I replaced the transmission tail shaft bushing and transmission rear oil seal.
Good luck.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:45 PM   #10
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Slid under there and check all of the afor mentioned. There are balanceing weights on each shaft,check to see if they are still there,they have been know to fall off.
Then Check that Amid-ships or carrier bearing I bet money its never been replaced . The best of luck finding that vib sometimes they are HAIR JERKERS.
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:51 PM   #11
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One of the ways you can check whether it is tires or driveline, jack the rear end, remove the tires, support the rear axle on jack stands, then start the engine, engage the transmission, and watch the hubs and driveline spin.
So Long!
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:16 PM   #12
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1984 31' Excella
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Drive line Vibrations

First put some lug nuts on the lugs tight against the brake drums to keep them from comming off during rotation.
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:15 PM   #13
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2005 28' Safari
Mono City , California
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There are two types of driveline arrangements, single plane and compound in both arrangements the u-joint MUST have equal working angles. All the things that everyone has memtioned must be in good condition. Check out this web site, you may find some info that will help you.
Go to:
click on service & troubleshooting under driveshaft. View the following vidoes.
RRSD001 and RRSD003 and take a look at the service manual DSSM3264
Hope this helps.
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Old 12-18-2007, 06:12 AM   #14
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Wow, lots of great info here. Brad, do check the varios and obvious as mentioned here. If your 310 has the driveline manual parking brake do check that as well. I found mine to have 3 very loose bolts due to drive line vib.

Check that tail shaft mount on the tranny too.

Good luck, and good vibrations for the new year.

Glen Coombe AIR #8416
1984 28' Funeral Coach
Former Rolling Showroom & PuttLab (now party bus)
"I'm not an expert. But I did sleep in an Airstream last night."
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