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Old 03-10-2003, 03:46 PM   #1
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Question front suspension, tires, shocks...

hey folks...

i just dropped off the argosy (1977, 28') at merchants truck center in manassas park, va for some much needed front end repairs. it was starting to become almost undriveable.

basically, if i was doing around 40 and hit a bump, the fornt end would begin to shake, and the shake would get worse to the point where it felt like it was going to shake itself apart. the only remedy was to drop the speed down to 10-15 mph as quickly as possible.

anyway, i'm thinking balljoints or tie rods ends or something. they'll let me know in a day or two. if anyone has other ideas, i'd love to hear 'em. also, since it's in there, anybody think i should replace the shocks? i'm thinking about a set of bilsteins. the ones on there now are probably the orginals!

also... decided that i should really put new rubber on this thing. i plan to use it a little more this year and there is a fair amount of visible cracking on the sidewalls. merchants has michelins for $201/ea, or kellys for $127/ea. i know the michelins are much better, but i'll probably put less than 2000 miles on this thing this year, maybe only 1000 miles. should i spend the extra money? i'm concerned that whichever tire i use will need to be replaced in long before the tread wears out anyway, so maybe i should go with the kellys. (i park the rig on the street, and unfortunately can't use tire covers). will the truck handle significantly better with the michelins? will it get better mileage?

one last thing... i'm probably being silly just considering them, but i found a place in TX that sells alcoa rims for $125 each (used, unpolished). i really like the look of them. is there any benefit to the alcoas other than cosmetic and weight-savings?


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Old 03-10-2003, 10:38 PM   #2
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Bilstein's are great shocks, pricey but geat performers. Used them for years on all sorts of vehicles and never been less than pleased. Look into the Bilstein steering damper, it is also the best. Yours is probably shot. You would be surprised at what a new set of tires will do for drivability. Michelins are nice tires and have been discussed in recent threads on this website. I would go with the Kelly's if you think they will sun-crack before you wear them out. I really do not think you will feel that big of a difference. The Alcoa wheels will also gain you a slight power/milage increase because of the lighter weight. Also less upsprung weight means better wheel/shock control.

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Old 03-11-2003, 05:11 AM   #3
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The shake could be from worn parts or alignment. Tire price difference for the tires sounds like radial and bias ply. Shocks definitely would make it ride better. Just remember when you start changing parts on the front end (including tires) the last thing to do is alignment.

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Old 03-11-2003, 08:27 AM   #4
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The Alcoa rims sound like a pretty good deal. If they are in good shape. I would be careful of buying them if they have much in the way of balancing weights visible, or if they seem to have any problems with the rim area, or show signs of having a number of weights removed...
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Old 03-11-2003, 09:28 AM   #5
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Sounds like you have what 4x4 folks call "Death Wobble" I think your MH is set up like Dana 60 axle with a King pin arrangment. There is a couple problems that can cause DW. The first is wore out parts like the lower bearing (like a ball joint but there is an actual bearing in there). There is a Cone arangement on the top and a nylon peice. The nylon is a wear peice but it left bad for too long then the cone gets damaged. Getting that cone off takes about 600ftlb of Torque.
Once the Nylon is worn then you get side to side slop because you loose the preload provided by a spring in the top of the steering knuckle. Basiccly what happens is the knuckle is bouncing up and down on the end of the axle fork when you hit a bump. On the up bounce the top of the knuckle has side to side slop and causes the wobble.
THis is a big problem on big tire 4x4's and even with new parts sometimes you have to stick a 1/4 inch thick washer in behind the preload spring to increase the preload to deal with the heavy tires.
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1988 R20 454 Suburban.
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Old 03-11-2003, 10:05 AM   #6
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The chassis are P30s, upper and lower control arms, ball joints, etc. There could be 1 bad part, or everything starting to go. I know when I was looking for mine one of the things I looked at carefully was zerks, had they ever seen a grease gun.

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Old 03-11-2003, 06:48 PM   #7
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As for as the tire choice goes......just a bit of advice from someone whe has "did it"......., and will never do it again.

Do not mix the radials and the bias ply tires. I had a medium duty truck in the early 80's, thought I'd get a few more miles out of the original tires, and left Bias Plies on the rear, and replaced the fronts with Radials....BIG mistake.

It wandered all over the still scares me when I think of how squirrley it got on a wet road.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 03-11-2003, 09:37 PM   #8
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front end troubles...

well, we're going to start with the steering damper, but i still belive it's something more akin to worn busihings or ball joints. we'll be taking a closer look tomorrow, but first i need to replace the fuse for the rear airbags. it's blown and the shop (obviously) is having hard time diagnosing the front end when the rear end is collapsed.

thanks for the leads and i'll keep ya'll apprised of the situation.

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Old 03-12-2003, 02:40 PM   #9
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The damper will really mask any problems until they are severe. If you have a shake or vibration it is either worn parts or alignment. Has it been up on a lift? You really shouldn't need to have the airbags pumped up, start prying around on the parts, one or more will be loose and show movement when you do.

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Old 03-12-2003, 05:26 PM   #10
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I think I posted this elsewhere too, but here it is just in case.

If you are looking for Bilstein shocks, check out

I got a set of four for the car that were well below what other places wanted.



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