The Ford E450 chassis is well-known for outstanding durability, reliability and all-around good engineering. The E-series chassis has been used for trucking, ambulances, shuttles, RVs and other heavy-duty applications since the 80’s. This motorhome had about 100,000 miles on it when we bought it. Currently it has roughly 111,200 miles. With conscientious care, a Ford E450/V10 chassis should last for 300,000 easy-driving miles. So it’s not even half way in to its work-cycle.
The engine and drivetrain are clean and function perfectly. The engine and transmission are leak-free. The engine burns absolutely no oil. Depending on road conditions, weight, wind and driving habits, the Ford V10 will get somewhere between 9 and 12 MPG.
However, as excellently-engineered as the E-series is, we wanted to be sure that our new full-time home was as safe and easy to drive as possible. So we put an enormous amount of work (and expen$e) in to improving the suspension and handling.
THE TOTAL REBUILD
First, we decided to completely rebuild the front suspension with ALL-NEW components from a brand-new, unused 2014 Ford E-450. This upgrade from 2007 to 2014 means new ball-joints, new sway-links, new axles, improved radius arms, larger brake rotors, larger brake pads, larger calipers and new bearings. All original Ford components were purchased from the good people at Quigley 4X4 in Manchester, PA.
We’ve installed Koni™ FSD shock absorbers, designed exclusively for specific motorhome applications. These shocks are a vast, huge, amazing improvement over the standard factory shocks found on Ford E450 models. Not only do the Koni™ FSD shocks eliminate sway, wander and wind effects, they deliver a smooth, quite ride over any road or highway. All four shocks are valued at $700! The price was a shock, too, I guess.
For increased stability, safety and load-carrying ability, Air-Ride (front) and Firestone (rear) airbags were installed. These airbags help also with load-leveling and stability during turns and in windy situations. Additionally, you can fine tune the overall softness or hardness of the ride. This is a $400 value!
HEAVY-DUTY SWAY BARS
The stock sway bars on the E450 are probably okay for passenger vans but are woefully inadequate for a motorhome. Worse, a Class-C RV can be vulnerable to crosswinds, uneven roads and turbulence from passing 18-wheelers. To correct these problems, we removed the wimpy factory bars and installed Hellwig anti-sway bars.
With the addition of heavy-duty Hellwig sway-bars, our motorhome is virtually unaffected by wind and passing trucks. NO FIGHTING THE WHEEL! The vehicle also stays flat and even during hard turns or turns over uneven surfaces such as driveways – all of which is VERY important in a heavy RV. The new, super-heavy sway bars also keep the coach steady when you are parked, even on windy days.
Both sway bars installed usually cost about $1,000.
REAR TRAC BAR
The E450 can sometimes be difficult to handle because of excessive lateral movement of the back half of the coach. This can be brought about because of wind or uneven loads but mostly it is caused by having a tow vehicle which can cause the motorhome to handle unpredictably.
This potentially dangerous handling is totally eliminated with a SuperSteer rear trac-bar.
Now towing a car is so easy, you’ll forget it’s even back there. The trac-bar also keeps the RV steady on sharp turns and helps minimize the effects of passing trucks, even at highway speeds! A $600 value
The last thing we added to the suspension was a Roadmaster Reflex Steering stabilizer from eTrailer. The Roadmaster is not only valuable in the event of a tire blowout but it also helps the front wheels avoid rut-tracking and reduces driver fatigue and minimizes both understeer and oversteer.
The damper and mounting hardware sell for about $300.
The new front-end also received NEW alignment bushings from Ingalls Engineering to increase the steering’s positive caster angle. The custom alignment was done by the incredible mechanics at Atlas Spring and Alignment in Austin, Texas. I cannot think of enough nice things to say about this shop!
This improved alignment greatly increases steering responsiveness and makes the RV track straight. Also, the steering easily returns to center after a turn.
More information about the alignment process is detailed here:
The alignment shop:
OTHER MECHANICAL UPGRADES
• NEW BRIDGESTONE COMMERCIAL REAR TIRES
• NEW BOSCH MASTER BRAKE CYLINDER
• NEW ENGINE BELT
• NEW SPARK PLUGS
• NEW AIR FILTER
• NEW 6v HOUSE BATTERIES
• NEW GENERATOR CARB