Max speed?

Road stories, questions about driving the B190, lessons learned
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Campfiredan
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Max speed?

Post by Campfiredan » Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:52 pm

Does anyone know the speed at which the 190 is unsafe to drive? I never drive over 70 (and that is scary for me) but I have friend who drives it at 75 and does nasty things like runs up on high speed traffic clots so he can try to ride with the tailgate pushers in the fast lane and get ahead of the clot. Scares the poo-poo out of me since I know how wobbly this thing is when I have to steer suddenly to avoid obstacles. We also took some friends along on one trip recently loading up the van with a total of eight people and their tents and luggage which made it even more wobbly. Anyhow, is there a maximum safe speed for driving it? Is that speed reduced for more passengers (due to it getting more top heavy with more people above the center of gravity)?

Thanks!

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skater
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Post by skater » Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:21 am

Welcome to the site!

I don't know of any specific speed where it's unsafe but like you 70 mph is my max (about 62 mph when towing) - and I do that only rarely. When I first got it I ran it up to above 70 mph just so I'd understand how it would run at that speed, but it's not something I usually do.

Also, with the gearing being low, the max speed I think is somewhere around 75 mph - that means the engine is near its red line and the tranny is in overdrive. Of course running things at their maximum speeds is never good for long term durability... If we can figure out the final drive ratio we could calculate the max speed but it can't be much more than 75 mph.

Personally, I wouldn't let that person drive my camper. It's 9000 lbs, and that kind of weight doesn't stop instantly, and the handling isn't a sports car, which you've noted already. The last thing you want is to be involved in an accident in it, especially if you have people on the couch, because a frontal impact on the van means those people are getting a lateral impact, which means it's going to hurt their necks a LOT more.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
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Campfiredan
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Post by Campfiredan » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:20 am

Thanks, I am going to do some driver "training" with my friend next time we travel. I expect if I mention the drive train and gearing I can suggest that he is ruining my van by driving too fast. That way I'm not being a back seat driver as much as a concerned owner. :) For the other stuff I'm going to have to just say something about high center of gravity or something - or yell.

By the way, is there something that should be done to beef up the suspension? It seems to sway a lot even at slow speeds so I'm wondering if it came like that and is just the way it is. Or is it just getting old and in need of some repair or updates in the shocks and springs? It has swayed since I've had it but I got it about 5 years ago so it was fairly old by then. I sometimes feels like it going to turn over just making a U-turn at slow speeds. Never does turn over but it sure feels scary sometimes.

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Post by skater » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:43 am

From what you describe, it's a good bet the shocks have had it. sudec11 (another user) was telling me she got Bilstein shocks online for it for something like $80/each, which sounds good to me. Of course, that's without installation, but it's not a particularly complicated job, and I doubt it's that expensive. The guy that replaced hers said that the gas was gone from the original shocks!

If it's still not solid enough for you there are other options, such as replacing the front sway bar with something heavier, but I'd do the shocks first and see how that helps.
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Alaskan
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Post by Alaskan » Tue Mar 25, 2008 3:09 pm

Welcome there Campfiredan....

I suggest you replace ALL 4 shocks with the best ones you can afford to start with

At he same time have the sway bar bushings and links checked carefully....that would be on the front of your rig

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Post by Campfiredan » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:24 pm

Thanks, After reading skater's reply this morning that is exactly what I just did - took it in, told them to replace all the shocks with the best they have, and check out the front suspension thoroughly. The salesman who sold the rig to me 5 years ago said it had new shocks and since I've only put about 20,000 miles on it since then I didn't think they would be a problem. But I know he fibbed about a lot of other things so the "new shocks" story was probably bogus like the "all new tires" story and the "fridge works well" story. I wonder if the previous owner ever changed the shocks in the 83,000 miles he drove it. It has been a bit loosey goosey since I bought it so I guess they could have been dead shocks even from day one.

Anyhow, I also now have five new tires since one pretty much exploded from dry rot on my last trip through the middle of nowheresville Georgia in January and I got them all replaced at the nearest Walmart after I made it there. Scary. Fortunately it happened in Georgia where it was pretty warm rather than Rome New York where I eventually went. Changing a tire in the New York snow at 0 degrees would have been an adventure to be avoided.

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Post by skater » Tue Mar 25, 2008 4:32 pm

After reading your most recent message you now have me wondering if there's a problem in the steering - something worn out that's letting it pull to the sides. I hope it's the shocks (I don't want to have given you bad advice), but if it's not I'd check the steering next...

On the other hand I think you'd probably notice 'loose' steering - you'd turn the wheel and nothing would happen until you turned it relatively far, that sort of thing.
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Post by Alaskan » Tue Mar 25, 2008 5:13 pm

Tell them you wanna see the old shocks....

You're looking for leakers and also to see if they just happen to be the original Ford shocks

And....skaters right...have them check all the front suspension for anything that might be wore out and if they tell you there is something, go look at it and have them SHOW you....especially if you took it to a Ford Dealer

These rigs came with friggen ball-joints that didn't have grease fittings....cheap ass Ford

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Post by Campfiredan » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:18 pm

The steering does seem a little loose but nothing really problematic - seems to be in the normal range of the various vehicles I drive, not as tight as some but it doesn't feel uncomfortable. At any rate the van rocks pretty bad whenever a truck passes and I catch its wake and when the wind is blowing across the roadway -- even when I'm driving at fairly slow speeds so I think the first problem is likely the shocks. I thought it was just a normal thing for the van since the center of gravity is so high but the more I thought about it the more I thought I'd feel better with good new heavy duty shocks. It might just be that I am not experienced with RVs and tall vehicles and it just feels too rocky for me - but other people have commented about it so I think there is something wrong there. Once I get new shocks I'll see how well it drives and I might be able to better evaluate the steering. If it isn't the shocks that are the problem at least I bought some emotional insurance which is important to me when I am on the road.

I'm getting the shocks at a place where I have my other car and my parents cars fixed regularly so I trust them to not inflate any problems (at least they never have before). I have my own lack of trust about Ford dealer repairs - they always seem to be about twice as expensive when I've had them give me a quote then took it elsewhere when that quote was too high for my wallet. I think they will only use the more expensive Ford parts and their labor is higher too. When the A/C went out they wanted over $2000 for an evaporator and a condenser and the place down the road did the same repair for half that (they just replaced one of those two things and it works fine). I also had a rigid metal transmission fluid line wear through and it cost me an arm and a leg since the Ford place had to "fabricate" a new line because Ford doesn't keep parts for anything as old as a 1990 (I think they said not over ten year old - what kind of business model is that?). I was in a big hurry and hadn't established any trustworthy repair places at that time so I went with it but now I suspect they could have found the part at a plain old parts store but wouldn't do that. Might have been legit but I sort of question it. Anyhow, I don't go to the Ford dealer for repairs anymore since cheaper places abound.

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Post by skater » Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:40 pm

I'm not disputing what you say about the dealer, but it's funny for me because my experience has mostly been the opposite of just about everyone else: the dealers are the ones I can trust around here, and the third-party shops are the ones trying to screw me over. :)

Like the shop that claimed I needed brake pads on a car I had. I took it to the dealer I'd bought it from (used) just a few months before, they called me and said, "Why do you think this car needs brake pads? I wouldn't replace them."

That's not entirely true, though - there are two independent shops I trust. But one of them can't really work on the camper (garage doors are just barely tall enough, but the lifts aren't), and the other is 25 miles away...not really convenient any more. I guess I need to find a shop that can work on the camper and that I trust for those times when I won't be able to fix the problem myself.
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Post by Alaskan » Tue Mar 25, 2008 10:28 pm

Dan..... tell us about the steel transmission line that got a hole in it, me n' skater need to know about that

Dan...what state are you in...?

Nice to have someone to talk to RJ....!

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Post by Campfiredan » Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:30 pm

Can't tell you much about the transmission fluid lines. I had a small leak which I discovered by seeing some fluid on the road where I parked while traveling then, right when I got to where I was going, (here in Gainesville) the transmission starting having trouble shifting. So I took it in and the Ford repairman said there are two steel preformed metal lines that were rubbing against each other and they wore a small hole in one of the lines but both had to be replaced since both were seriously worn. I think they are down near the front right under the engine but I'm not sure. The guy told me they had to have a shop bend some blank tube into the right shape and, I think, flare the ends for fittings since Ford doesn't keep that part in stock any longer. Cost me a few hundred dollars - don't remember exactly how much. I was in a pickle at the time and had to leave the van up here (before I moved here) and borrow my parent's car to get home to get back to work so I bit my tongue and told them go ahead and get it fixed and I'd come back in a couple weeks to pick up the van. I hate it when that happens! Anyhow, the repairman might have been perfectly honest about it - he seemed pretty embarrassed that Ford didn't stock the part and even more embarrassed about the cost for that little piece of bent tube. But some folks are good actors... Anyhow, the two shops I now use for my cars are cheaper than Ford and have been excruciatingly honest so I am happy with them. One has a high bay and the other seems happy enough to work outside.

I do think Ford has a better grasp about engine problems though so I still go there for anything that looks like it is internal to the engine or the engine computer thingy. But everything else I know I'll get a better price from the third party shops - they also use third party (cheaper) parts. On the A/C repair that was a bit of a problem since I somehow got a brand new defective fitting that blew on the road a week later but the guy replaced it and replaced all the freon and compressor oil that blew out (a pretty big cost I think) without any hassle so I was happy with the results in the long run.

I live in Gainesville Florida. Lovely weather here today!

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Post by skater » Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:35 am

Gainesville? Not a University of Florida fan, are you? (I went to UGA for grad school. :) )

The tranny lines thing is an interesting story. Mine were replaced/bypassed when I got the new transmission in two years ago, because the new transmission included a new cooler and new lines to run to it. But it would be a good thing to add to a "new buyers checklist" if we ever start one.

For the air conditioner, my engine's air conditioner is completely shot - I'm looking at a new compressor and a couple other things just to get started, so I'm figuring I'll probably replace the entire system. Sounds expensive but it's not as bad as you'd think, especially if I do the labor myself then have it checked/filled by a certified shop.
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Post by Campfiredan » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:24 am

Gainesville? Not a University of Florida fan, are you?
Not much of a fan of the UF football team since football seems totally strange to me. Never figured out the attraction. I am, however, doing a little bit of fill-in refereeing for the Gators Underwater Hockey team. Not what UF is mostly known for but a fun team which doesn't take itself too seriously. It is actually a combined university team and non-university club so membership is sort of open - especially to people willing to ref. My trip down to Key Largo last week was with the team as a ref. Might be going up to Washington DC with them next week. They keep trying to get me to actually join the team as a player but my answer is "I'm waiting until I get younger." Sports is too much like work if you ask me. :D

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Post by skater » Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:33 am

Campfiredan wrote:Not much of a fan of the UF football team since football seems totally strange to me. Never figured out the attraction. I am, however, doing a little bit of fill-in refereeing for the Gators Underwater Hockey team. Not what UF is mostly known for but a fun team which doesn't take itself too seriously. It is actually a combined university team and non-university club so membership is sort of open - especially to people willing to ref. My trip down to Key Largo last week was with the team as a ref. Might be going up to Washington DC with them next week. They keep trying to get me to actually join the team as a player but my answer is "I'm waiting until I get younger." Sports is too much like work if you ask me. :D
Funny. I was in the UGA cycling club and we'd drive around and race at each school (and UF was a common destination), but we didn't take it that seriously either - in fact, we'd actually get to know the people on the other teams. It was a lot of fun and I was thinking last night that my best memories of grad school are actually of the cycling team.

I'm in the DC area. :)
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

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