The Chassis Upgrades:
Crawling underneath soon afterwards, gave me some sense of why the ride was so improved.There are yellow Sumo Springs on each corner which take some of the body weight, by cushioning it with air encased within the yellow spring units. These
For more information on the Sumo Springs check out this link: https://www.supersprings.com/products/sumosprings/
For a comparison of the old versus the new Ford F53 Chassis check out this link and video: https://www.tfltruck.com/2020/02/exclusive-ford-7-3l-v8-van-vs-rv-vs-chassis-this-is-not-the-worlds-greatest-truck-drag-race-but-its-cool-video/
The Interior Dash and Controls:
Moving back inside, the dashboard is updated with red needles on very readable gauges with a blue backlight. There is a center of dash display screen that allows the user to select from various functions in a menu to have them displayed. In addition to a clear tachometer on the left and a analog speedometer on the right of this display, one has the ability to program the speed readout in a digital format, in kilometers (which is required in Canada) or miles per hour, while the white lettered analog speedometer is graduated in MPH with a smaller Kilometers per Hour grey scale. Having the ability to quickly change the digital readout, makes it easier to drive on both sides of the border. Fuel consumption statistics, cruise control settings, its status and two trip odometers are also part of this display.
Warning lights are ample, brightly lit and easily discernable, all of which make the transition easier. The controls and switches are well placed although the headlight switch is a little off to the left on the lower side of the dash. It does have an auto headlight function. In addition, one of the programmable features allows the coach exterior lighting to be programmed to stay on for a few seconds after shutdown. There is a column mounted lever for the windshield wipers with a good wiper delay and pulse function. The same lever when pulled and pushed, turns on the high beam lights and flashes those lights, when needed. The shifter has a manual mode which is user selected, allowing the driver to select each gear manually by rotating a collar on the shifter. In addition, on the end of the shifter lever is the Tow-Haul activation button to change the transmission programming when required.
I found the seating position to be somewhat awkward compared to that of my previous coach. The seats have lots of forward-rearward travel and adjustable seatback rake. The position of the seat to the dash is good however the tilt wheel does not tilt down anywhere near enough to be truly ‘tilting’. As an example, on most vehicles when the wheel is fully tilted down, it is often difficult to leave the drivers seat without raising the wheel. On this coach there is much too much space, the wheel is not really tilted into a usable position. Ford and Fleetwood need to address the mounting of the column to provide much more angle to the ‘tilted’ steering wheel. The result is that with the armrests, that also do not adjust separately, are more raised than required when the seatback is adjusted to be comfortable, making the driving position to be like driving a bus, with your body over the wheel in effect, rather than driving a car, with the steering wheel in your lap. How that will play out on a long trip, is still to be determined.
While both Driver and Passenger seats do rotate, the mechanism can be awkward to use and it takes some effort to accomplish the rotation of the seats to face the living area. The seatbelts do exit from their attachment points in the vinyl seat covering, however the covering finish is very loosely designed and poorly executed.
As is common on all Bounders, there is lots of storage, both inside and out. By forgoing the front over-the-cab bed, we gained five cabinets of storage, three of which are large ones. I decided to use them for my office and business documents, the coach manual package and so on. The central dash drawer is excellent for small loose items such as pens and supplies along with title, insurance and similar documents and discount cards. We both appreciate the passenger side sliding desktop, while the formed areas on the top of the dash make this area a good place to lay items while working there.
Above the dinette and sofa, there are multiple overhead cabinets with the back one opposite the TV, having provisions for the video distribution equipment, satellite receivers and DVD player. The door of this cabinet must remain open to allow the remote controls to reliably function. Below the dinette seats, on both sides are two deep drawers, which we really appreciate having. The kitchen work area has storage space below and although the upper cabinets have lots of space, there are only two shelf levels. To make better use of this space, I added some adjustable shelf tracks and two shelves, one in each upper cabinet over the sink to store items above the countertop. Since we ordered the gas cooktop without the oven, there are drawers located where the oven would have been. I removed the towel rack included with the cooktop, because towels placed on it constantly get caught in the cutlery drawer immediately below. We installed an ‘over-the-drawer' towel rack on the top drawer face, that allows us to open the drawer without catching the towels each time the drawer is closed. I will post a summary of some improvements we have completed later in this blog.
The bedroom area hanging closet storage is adequate and the bedroom storage drawers provide a lot of usable space. Having the washer/dryer in the bedroom area makes it very convenient to use. The storage underneath the washer/dryer is another bonus. One additional storage area, we discovered is behind the bedroom TV, which is flush mounted on a side swinging door. When it is opened, there is access to the 'IllumaPLEX' Lighting and electronic control system with integral fuse panel and a good sized storage area.
The bathroom has limited storage in the medicine cabinet because it only has two shelves. As in the upper kitchen cabinets, adding shelves greatly enhances the usefulness of this cabinet. Towel racks are also few in this room. The walk-in shower with sliding glass doors is tight, yet workable and the large white skylight adds to the light and feeling of adequate space in this bathroom. Some would say the toilet and shower are too close together, however we found the area workable, especially in a 34-foot motorhome. We did make some improvements, which I will detail later in another Blog posting.
The TV is mounted on an extendable arm with a sound-bar affixed below, making it a compact entertainment platform. The TV can be watched from the dinette, front captain’s chairs or while sitting on the sofa, by simply pulling it out to adjust the angle and location. The TV features added LED accent backlighting which gives light against the feature wall. It is a nice, non-distracting night light when viewing the TV.
We also like the two ‘Fantastic’ vent fans with covers that allow the vent tops to be raised without risking rain entry. The fans perform well and move a lot of air through the coach. Ours had an annoying whine which the maker tried to correct with replacement motors. The one drawback to them, is that the black opaque material used for the covers does not allow much sunlight in. Having another source of natural light makes a huge difference to the overall enjoyment of the areas where the fans are mounted. This approach to ventilation is an improvement over the Fantastic fan's self closing vent lid with rain sensor. On those older units, if the vent is raised overnight, the presence of an overnight dew, causes the vent top to close and raise constantly.
Bounder brought the concept of basement storage to the RV industry thirty-five years ago, and there have been many iterations of how to execute basement storage over the years. The 2021 Bounder has numerous, side opening doors with gas struts and most have some access to cross-coach storage overhead. This upper storage which is above the RV chassis below the coach floor, is limited in height. There is ample storage given the cargo capacity limitation of the coach built on this Ford chassis. Each cargo bin is either a Rotocast unit or a metal bottomed storage unit. With a little planning it is possible to load chaise lounge and regular chairs, BBQ Grill, tool boxes and supplies, together with all items needed to make a comfortable camp site. As with any coach, ensuring there is not too much loaded and balancing where cargo is located is an owner’s responsibility.
The Inverter, Battery Control Center, Solar Panel Controller and Control Panel are mounted in the cargo bin immediately behind the entry door, adjacent to the coach batteries which are under the top inside entry step.
The fully enclosed generator is immediately ahead of it. The electronic control system does have an Automatic Generator Start (AGS) feature, to start the generator, should the batteries be low, if the power fails or if the interior temperature begins to rise above the pre-set thermostat temperature when the AGS is activated.