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Lifting my class C

Nomadist
Explorer II
Explorer II
I have a new-to-me Class C, a 1997 Four Winds, 23ft long.

Often, when I enter a gas station or other driveway, I drag my butt on the pavement. Technically, I drag the hitch (see pic below). I'm afraid this will get worse when I'm towing my 7x14 trailer that will carry my motorcycle. I also want to go onto dirt roads and perhaps a tiny bit offroad to do some boondocking.

This picture shows the problem:



And how low the hitch has been placed is making it worse:



My options seem to be:
  • add castor wheels
  • raise the vehicle permanently with a lift kit; I've identified one for $2k (installation extra) that will do the job
  • raise the vehicle on-demand with air bags
  • raise the hitch
  • a combination of the above

I'm sorting through the options and, as this is my first RV, I'm learning fast.

A few notes and tips I've learned from others:
  • the lift kit will bring up the entire rig by 5", front and back
  • the geometry of this type of vehicle does not allow for many good options (agreed! who designed this with so much cabin behind the rear wheel?); the person who mentioned this to me stressed getting castor wheels no matter what else I do
  • like the castor wheels, I've been advised to add airbags no matter what as this helps firm up the rear when loaded with the trailer; this person also suggested foregoing the lift kit and just going with the castor wheels and air bags because lifting the entire rig will make the steering less safe. This makes sense to me and I'm leaning toward this (castor wheels plus air bags, no lift kit).

But the problem is made much worse with the hitch placement. My question to the folks here is whether the hitch can be raised in some way. The visible part appears to be attached to a long bar that appears, in turn, to be attached to the frame. Is there a hitch design that isn't so low? It looks like that alone would give me four more precious inches.

Then again, with the wheels and airbags, maybe lifting the hitch isn't necessary. Perhaps I should spend only a bit of time and money since I expect this to be my training rig to be upgraded within 24 months.

Thoughts?

Edit: got the pictures in
79 REPLIES 79

MNtundraRet
Traveler II
Traveler II

I used to just drive on a diagonal to enter and leave stations. I never changed anything.

Mark & Jan "Old age & treachery win over youth & enthusiasm"
2003 Fleetwood Jamboree 29

enblethen
Traveler
Traveler

Why are you not checking the springs?

Even replacing springs?

Bud
USAF Retired
Pace Arrow


2003 Chev Ice Road Tracker

valhalla360
Explorer III
Explorer III

Have the springs checked and if good, look into airbags with an auto fill system. Expensive but it should help.

Casters will just eat up ground clearance and if you hit them hard, they can cause damage. Reality is the overhang is poorly designed and it's going to be lipstick on a pig for any of the solutions. newer rigs with big overhangs start higher and usually angle up as you go further back.

Tammy & Mike
Ford F250 V10
2021 Gray Wolf
Gemini Catamaran 34'
Full Time spliting time between boat and RV

I would stay away from the use of casters. Several years ago, I pulled a class C off a driveway because the casters raised the rear of the rig that the drivers lost traction.  He was exited driveway a little faster and skidded on caster. 

Bud
USAF Retired
Pace Arrow


2003 Chev Ice Road Tracker

MrWizard
Moderator
Moderator

The only way too raise the hitch is to remove the bumper,

I agree with the use of airbags and caster wheels

I can explain it to you.
But I Can Not understand it for you !

....

Connected using T-Mobile Home internet and Visible Phone service
1997 F53 Bounder 36s

enblethen
Traveler
Traveler

My guess is the springs have sagged. Replacing springs with ones with a little more arc or even adding an overload setup would solve your problem.

Bud
USAF Retired
Pace Arrow


2003 Chev Ice Road Tracker

enblethen
Traveler
Traveler

My guess is the springs have sagged. Replacing springs with ones with a little more arc or even adding an overload setup would solve your problem.

Bud
USAF Retired
Pace Arrow


2003 Chev Ice Road Tracker

VA-Apraiser
Explorer
Explorer

How about taller tires? I did this with my 4x4 Class C Four Winds 5000 and that helps quite a bit..........

Nomadist
Explorer II
Explorer II
Looking forward to reading those stories, Bruce, and I'm already loving my experience on the road so far. Very happy to have made the jump away from sticks and bricks, even if it's not likely to be forever.

BruceMc
Explorer III
Explorer III
Gjac wrote:
This was very informative I did not realize the Chevy chassis had more GC at the hitch. Is the difference significant say 2 ins or more? I guess the real question when one starts looking at 24 ft Class C's what is the min GC they should look for at the hitch so it does not drag?


Given all other factors are the same, I'd agree. That said, I think the manufacturers have significantly reduced the rear overhang in their designs, independent of chassis in the last couple of decades; rarely do you see newer MHs with those types of overhangs. I'd venture to say the hitch GC between GM and Ford is more insignificant these days, depending on the needs of the owner.

While GC is important, there's also a lot more factors that goes into choosing a particular chassis, such as:

o Choice amongst existing stock - you'll find Ford under 95% of those units, and 100% for specific manufacturers. (or MB Sprinters, or Dodge...)

o If you have a chance to order a new MH (or procure an existing unit) with a choice of chassis, compare the differences in cab room, drive-ability, power, desire for a particular brand (I favor GM over Ford, for dozens of reasons), etc.

We liked the house on the Four Winds a little better than the Sunseeker, but we love the GM chassis on the latter. As always, they are way to large on the outside and way to small on the inside!
2016 Forest River Sunseeker 2250SLEC Chevrolet 6.0L

Gjac
Explorer
Explorer
BruceMc wrote:
Gjac wrote:
BruceMc said: ... Do you mean the GC of the front end is less than ford, and it raises the rear end? Most gas 24 ft C's have the 158-159 WB so I assume the over hang is pretty much the same. Is there a minimum GC at the rear hitch you need so it does not drag?


There's two factors at play here. First, and perhaps more important, is the length of the overhang. Let's say you have two motorhomes where both are on the same chassis with the same wheelbase, but one is 24' and the other is 27'. As there's 3 more feet behind the wheels, there's a lot more chance for interference - the hitch will be in contact with the ground more frequently.

Secondly, because the GM chassis front end rides lower than Ford, that increases the GC (ground clearance) at the hitch, given the ride height is the same at the rear axle. If you have two motorhomes of the same model on GM and Ford with the same/similar WB (wheelbase), the GC of the hitch will ride higher on the GM due to the lower ride height, again, given the ride height is the same at the rear axle.
This was very informative I did not realize the Chevy chassis had more GC at the hitch. Is the difference significant say 2 ins or more? I guess the real question when one starts looking at 24 ft Class C's what is the min GC they should look for at the hitch so it does not drag?

pianotuna
Traveler
Traveler
Nomadist wrote:
BruceMc, that's my understanding, too (that for Class C's the length behind the wheels is the most important factor).


It is more about the ratio of wheel base to length. Ideal is 55% which would be 178 inches and 26 feet.

As one gets closer to 50% drivability drops off FAST. Below 50% and you will be correcting the steering more or less constantly. That makes it tiring to drive.

I went from 27 feet to 28 feet 5 inches--there was a WORLD of difference and it took me over two years to get used to it.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

BruceMc
Explorer III
Explorer III
Ah, I found them!

These stories relate to this thread due to the high-centering events...
Enjoy!

First, the Cat Encounter Story, then the other 8 Disasters...
2016 Forest River Sunseeker 2250SLEC Chevrolet 6.0L

BruceMc
Explorer III
Explorer III
I tended to take that Four Winds into places where I shouldn't have gone, and and a result, ended up high-centering it on more than one occasion. Two of those occurrences were on the same trip - the first, I was able to dig my way free, but I needed help on the second one. I solicited the help of a Toyota pickup owner who didn't think he could help me. It didn't take much, but we were free again.

Take your time, learn your rig and enjoy! You'll become accustomed to the attack and departure angles that cause interference, and how to approach similar ones in the future. I learned to pull in at an angle rather than head on, if at all possible. Sometimes it became a game - are we gonna drag the tail? We'd slow down to lessen the impact, and more often than not, the tail wheel did its job.
This unit had big casters on the hitch, one had been damaged by the previous owner. They were anchors, in my opinion, not helpers. That's why I went with a single roller that didn't hang down. Granted, it got slid sideways on occasion, but it was a rolling slide. It helped a lot.

I should post my "9 disaster trip" story again one of these days - RV.net seems to put inactive threads in archive after a year, then purges them. My older posts are long gone.

With the combination of fully inflated airbags on the rear axle, helpful roller(s), and driving technique, you'll do fine.

Enjoy!
2016 Forest River Sunseeker 2250SLEC Chevrolet 6.0L

pianotuna
Traveler
Traveler
I solved most of my issues by getting taller tires. I did replace the rims, too. I still have a roller in place but scrapping is mostly a thing of the past.

I did add a leaf (and replace some broken ones) on the rear wheels.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.