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LXI thru the years
05-21-2013, 22:24
Post: #1
LXI thru the years
could someone share the changes that came along thru the LXI model years .
what year did they start and what year did they end leading up to the 450 ?
did they always offer 2 slides ?
what brought about the 450 lxi ?
do we know how many were built each year ?

al perna
2000 LXI
ormond beach fla
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05-22-2013, 10:48 (This post was last modified: 05-22-2013 11:01 by pgchin.)
Post: #2
RE: LXI thru the years
Al,
I'll let an LXI owner answer the LXI questions, What I can answer is what the general manager for the factory told me about going to m380's and m450's. Prior to those builds, all birds were custom built to specifications of the customer or dealer. A very expensive proposition for a factory cost standpoint and efficiency. They went to the m380's and m450's in order to save production costs and go to a standardized build process, as well as having a competitive product to compete with the Prevost and Newell's of the day. They always striven to be the lower of the 3 cost provider BUT deliver equal if not better quality and product! That was there goal..................

Pete and Donna Chin
95 42' WLWB
On The Road Always! :-)
" We'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singing,
Whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses!"
-Toby Keith & Willie Nelson
- The bridge from Toby Keith's title album track "beer for my horses"
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05-22-2013, 11:35 (This post was last modified: 05-31-2013 22:46 by davidbrady.)
Post: #3
RE: LXI thru the years
Johnny Sloan had the first slide equipped LXi. His was a 1998 41' and it had two slides. So I'd put the production years at 1998 thru 2003, with slideout rooms from the very beginning.

As you know in 2003 Wanderlodge was gearing up for the release of the M380 so LXi production numbers dropped. The bulk of the LXi's are in the 1999 thru 2001 year range. Bennie Collier told me that there were approximately 350 built in total, only Parliament Coach knows for sure (or maybe Blue Bird Corp if they haven't destroyed all their records). (For those who don't know, Parliament Coach bought the Wanderlodge factory records and Wanderlodge name at the bankruptcy auction for something like $50K).

As far as changes, it's fuzzy. Again without access to the records we can only piece together snippets gleaned from owners' reports over the years. What we do know is that the early LXi's were heavy and there were a sequence of recalls [see addendum below] to upgrade steer axle Gross Axle Weight Ratings. Initially LXi's were equipped with 14600 lb GAWR steer axles. These axles were then swapped for 15500 pounders and finally 16000 lb capacity. At this point I believe all LXi's should be running the 16000 lb axle, whether by build sheet or by recall. (Someone, please correct me if I'm wrong).

With the buses still gaining weight and with the axle upgrade choice exploited Wanderlodge had no choice but to put the LXi on a diet - this came in 2002 and possibly in late 2001. The obvious changes were the elimination of the extra fresh water tank in the first basement bay which reduced water capacity to 120 gallons, the fuel tank also shrank from 300 to 260 gallons. They also stopped using tile flooring in favor of wood and resilient vinyl flooring. I'm certain there were many other less obvious changes, things like aluminum bracketry, panels, and cabinets here-and-there replacing steel. I can say that the results were good for the case of my LXi which comes in at 47500 lb, full fuel and water and packed with personal belongings to travel. My GVWR is 52,200 lb and I'm at about 14250 lb on my steer axle.

Scattered throughout the model range is the use of thermopane Peninsula windows, some buses have them some don't, later models typically have them.

The early buses, 2000 and earlier, shipped with Gel batteries. They also used the Xantrex RV3000 series of inverters but these inverters only support Gel or FLA. As far as I know they don't support AGM. Also, around the same time frame, post 2000, Wanderlodge started to use the Xantrex built-in transfer switch feature. This eliminated the 120VAC relays that are scattered around the earlier bus. Often folks have questions about where these relays are located and I believe they're predominantly under the bed but they may also be elsewhere; I always scratch my head because my bus doesn't use them.

The later buses, post 2000, have done away with the bulk oil fill. This may have been part of the weight reduction diet. Getting rid of the bulk oil fill frees up a lot of space in the engine compartment area which allowed Wanderlodge to more thoughtfully place the 6 4D AGM batteries.

Of course over the years Wanderlodge took advantage of the latest GPS, Audio and Visual systems with the later buses having Alpine 7" flip up screen dash mounted navigation systems and flat panel TV's. My 2002 was equipped from the factory with a bedroom flat panel but a CRT in the living room. The '03's had flat-panels everywhere.

Lastly, speaking with Ridewell engineers I learned that at around 2000 Ridewell performed Finite Element Analysis on all of their suspension systems. At some point, 1999 or 2000 or 2001, the FEA style RAS227/RDT246 suspension assemblies were used. I've crawled under early LXi's and I've identified older assemblies, but I don't know the exact date of the transition.

Addendum (5/31/13): Turns out there weren't any official NHTSA Recalls for the LXi steer axle. Blue Bird uprated axles as part of a Field Service Campaign. Not all coaches were uprated. We're not quite sure what BB did to uprate a 14600 lb axle to 15500 lb, but we know that they retained the 14600 lb Dana I-beam. It could be that hub units, or tie rod ends, or spindles were changed; this needs more investigation. Some LXi's did have the 14600 lb Dana I-beam axle replaced with a 16000 lb I-beam. Sometime around 2001 build orders were modified to require the 16000 lb axle.

david brady,
'02 Wanderlodge LXi 'Smokey' (Sold),
'04 Prevost H3 Vantare 'SpongeBob'

"I don't like being wrong, but I really hate being right"
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05-22-2013, 18:59
Post: #4
RE: LXI thru the years
Pete/David

Thank you both for the detailed info on the LXI. There is a great deal of info to go thru for sure . My first thought is around the front axle . Why did BB seem to struggle with weight ?? you would think this to be a manageable engineering problem for them to deal with ? can you imagine the cost of that Courtesy Fulfillment !! WOW!

David . what is "FIITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS " ? would this have been the prelude to the 450 LXI suspension that is rated above the Prevost in Ride ?
would you say thru 1998-2003 BB made improvements in all areas ?

would be nice to pint out the changes and determine which are those we , owners of early models could do to turn a 1998 into a 2003 ??

al perna
2000 LXI
ormond beach fla
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05-22-2013, 22:02
Post: #5
RE: LXI thru the years
(05-22-2013 18:59)al perna Wrote:  Why did BB seem to struggle with weight ?? you would think this to be a manageable engineering problem for them to deal with?

Hi Al,

Motorhome's gaining weight is a problem that feeds on itself. Buyers want all the latest features: slides, fancy awnings, granite floors, and all the electronics and luxury conveniences. All these goodies add weight, but then to care-for, feed, and support these features, the chassis needs to be lengthened and stiffened; then we need a bigger engine and transmission to push the longer, wider, and stiffer chassis loaded with all these consumer demanded goods; but then these consumer demanded goods need more electric power so we add a big generator and a large battery bank; but now we need extra large inverters and chargers to keep the batteries charged, and the alternator needs to be beefed up to supply extra juice; then all these consumer devices generate a lot of heat so we need to add extra air conditioners and even over-the-road compressor units with large and heavy condensers... So, you can see weight gain in coaches is a downward spiral that can quickly result in a coach that exceeds it's GAWR.


(05-22-2013 18:59)al perna Wrote:  What is "FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS "?


Finite Element Analysis is an approximate numerical solution to a real world problem that's unsolvable in closed form. One such problem is calculating deflections in the irregularly shaped components that make up a Ridewell suspension system. For example, we know how to solve deflection in simple shapes made of steel - say a block. To solve for deflection in a complex Ridewell suspension hanger we computer model the hanger. We also model the hanger's attachment points and the applied external forces. We then chop the hanger up into a gazillion blocks, write our simple equations of deflection for each block taking into account the boundary conditions of our neighboring blocks, and let the computer numerically solve the resulting huge set of equations. The output is the deflection at every tiny block in our model. We can also solve for stress or any other physical property at each block. As we increase the number of blocks in our model, the approximation becomes more accurate.

In the old days Ridewell would do some beam analysis, make some educated guesses, and test the final product in the lab. As of 2000, they analyzed all their suspension systems using FEA techniques which enabled them to identify stress concentrations and excessive deflections. They were then able to redesign or add gussets and other support attachments to improve their design.

david brady,
'02 Wanderlodge LXi 'Smokey' (Sold),
'04 Prevost H3 Vantare 'SpongeBob'

"I don't like being wrong, but I really hate being right"
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05-23-2013, 18:41
Post: #6
RE: LXI thru the years
Just checked my factory rating plate up barely visible under my power operated sun shades and found it lists a 14600 lb GAWR steer axle. I guess ours didn't get the upgrade. :>( Morey

Morey Zuber
99LXi41
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05-23-2013, 19:11 (This post was last modified: 05-23-2013 19:51 by al perna.)
Post: #7
RE: LXI thru the years
My front rating under the shade is 15,500 lb GAWR steer axle ours is a 2000 LXI

David

Did BB make any other changes besides the front axle, to the suspension ? I know they went from a lift tag, to a steer able tag, then back to a stationary tag. Are there any other changes you can think of ?

al perna
2000 LXI
ormond beach fla
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05-23-2013, 21:32 (This post was last modified: 05-27-2013 12:08 by davidbrady.)
Post: #8
RE: LXI thru the years
Morey and Al,

I'd take a look at the tag on the Spicer steer beam axle. There should be writing on it saying something like I-1460, I-1550, I-160 for the 14600, 15500, and 16000 lb axles. Try to point a digital camera down there so you don't have to crawl under the coach.

Al,

I don't know of any other major changes or recalls during the 41/43'LXi run except for the steerable tag when Blue Bird attempted to weld the center locating pins. There is the recall that I've attached for a fixed tag axle that someone once reported for the LX. My tag axle looks entirely different than the one in the attachment, but the earlier LXi's might be different. I suppose it's worth checking.


.pdf  Scan0004.pdf (Size: 480.79 KB / Downloads: 313)

david brady,
'02 Wanderlodge LXi 'Smokey' (Sold),
'04 Prevost H3 Vantare 'SpongeBob'

"I don't like being wrong, but I really hate being right"
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05-23-2013, 21:55
Post: #9
RE: LXI thru the years
David

so you think besides those mentioned recalls , all LXI s share the same base frame and suspension ?
so thru those years they made them lighter by the changes you mentioned in post #3 .

I still have the bulk oil fill but with my oil changes every 6 k miles I have not needed to use it . I think I would choose to remove it, as Ron did
and follow his lead on good use of the dead space .

al perna
2000 LXI
ormond beach fla
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05-23-2013, 23:04 (This post was last modified: 05-23-2013 23:07 by mikebulriss.)
Post: #10
RE: LXI thru the years
I am kind of surprised that a 99 would have the same front axle as on my 91. I thought they went to a heavier front axle in the mid 90s when they went to the 40+ lengths, but Vintage Birds history says it was the same front axle until the 2001-2003 models that got the axle upgrades. Still surprised it took them that long to upgrade.

BTW, I thought that axle part number was on the metal build tag on the frame in the engine compartment? Saves from crawling under.

Mike Bulriss
1991 WB40 "Texas Minivan"
San Antonio, TX
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