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Thread: Big Fat RV engines

  1. #21
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    Just a word of warning -- it looks like several motorhome makers have gone out of business in the past few months. I would make sure you can still get parts for whatever you buy.

    Not just drivetrain, but the small impossible-to-duplicate stuff like interior fittings.

    Chip H.

  2. #22
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    If memory serves, the Chrysler V-10 is around 8.1 liters. It was developed as a truck/heavy use engine, incidentally - and only later got hopped-up in the Viper.

    On the Chevy: I think (and will check) that the 502 is currently (or recently) the production "big block" used in GM's heavy trucks.

    I used to know one of the engineers who developed the V-10 truck engine. It was based on the Viper design but not much would interchange. They are basically two different engines with the same displacement. It was held up three years before going into production so they could get the "whipping" problem on the crankshaft solved. The V-10 equiped pickups go cheap compared to similar trucks with the 6 banger Cummins because the V-10 is a VERY thirsty engine and doesn't have the durability of the oil burner.
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  3. #23
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Anyway, we are now thinking about buying this Class A here, but it's being sold from Kentucky. This seems to be exactly what we're are looking for so we don't mind paying the higher price. Also the 454 engine. We might take a trip to Kentucky just to look at it. But January might not be the best month to drive a RV back to NV if we decide to buy it.


    -Don-

    That RV isn't that far from me. I'm about 100 miles from it. That area isn't known for "churning" used cars. If it was Mayfield Ky., I'd say run away. If you'd want someone to look at it before you buy, send me a private message.
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  4. #24
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    454 vs. 460

    Of the two engines, I'd go with the 454. I ran a salvage yard in the early 80's and both engines sold as soon as they came in. The 460's usually went into cars and pickups though. The 454 went into heavy duty trucks as much as cars.
    The 454 is still in production so parts are available. It's not as cheap to build one as a 350/400 small block though. Parts are as close as your local parts store. That's a point in it's favor since unless it's brand new, there will be repair costs.
    If you call the owners on the one you're looking at, ask them what transmission it has. It may have an Allison transmission. That's a heavy duty truck unit.
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  5. #25
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    Just a word of warning -- it looks like several motorhome makers have gone out of business in the past few months. I would make sure you can still get parts for whatever you buy.

    Not just drivetrain, but the small impossible-to-duplicate stuff like interior fittings.Chip H.
    Drive train stuff is usually no problem because the same stuff is used in many trucks. At least that was the experience we had with our old 1978 Chevy RV. Trucks shops seemed to have everything and not only that, some are open 24 hours in the SF Bay Area.

    As for interior stuff, there's usually some way to modify things, especially if cosmetics isn't too important.

    -Don-

  6. #26
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    I think luck went your way on this one - that second RV looks much better. And not just because it has the 454.

    There was something cheesy about the first one; my Spider Sense tingled at all the caveats and disclaimers the seller posted. He seemed to be hinting that it was a POS with all kinds of problems - problems that would be your problems as soon as money changed hands!
    Problems are fine as long as it's the usual electrical stuff. When we purchased our old RV, almost nothing worked inside. In the first couple of weeks, I repaired the furnace, water heater and refrigerator (sort of repaired, because I had to light it from the outside each time I wanted to use it . I also had to replace the battery isolator as it had a shorted diode. And I changed many other things. All were electrical problems (such as the ignition unit in the furnace and thermostat for the water heater). I got a good deal on that piece of junk because nothing worked. But then I didn't know how junky the 400 CID small block was. But part of the problem might have been that it was designed for the 55MPH days and ran too many RPM's at higher speeds, (as you assumed caused its mealtdown).

    All the problems in my old RV were related to engine and tranmisson. If I could have put in 454 a big block and another higher gear in the tranny, I would still have it today.

    Newer RV's have a four speed tranny and also get a lot better MPG. And I think the only newer engine to stay away from now, is the Ford V-10, right?

    -Don-

  7. #27
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Of the two engines, I'd go with the 454. I ran a salvage yard in the early 80's and both engines sold as soon as they came in. The 460's usually went into cars and pickups though. The 454 went into heavy duty trucks as much as cars.
    The 454 is still in production so parts are available. It's not as cheap to build one as a 350/400 small block though. Parts are as close as your local parts store. That's a point in it's favor since unless it's brand new, there will be repair costs.
    If you call the owners on the one you're looking at, ask them what transmission it has. It may have an Allison transmission. That's a heavy duty truck unit.
    I have noticed that those who sell RV's usually know less than I do about such stuff, and that's not much. Expecting them to know one tranny form the other might be too much to expect form one who sells used RV's. I know what a TH400 looks like from the tranny pan but I don't know what to look for to see if it's an Allison tranny.

    -Don-

  8. #28
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    That RV isn't that far from me. I'm about 100 miles from it. That area isn't known for "churning" used cars. If it was Mayfield Ky., I'd say run away. If you'd want someone to look at it before you buy, send me a private message.

    Thanks for the offer, but I just discussed all this with Tom and we decided that we are in no hurry to buy any RV and this isn't the best season to drive one back from KY or to take a RV trip. We just might wait until a deal comes to us. That RV has been listed since June 20, so it might still be available in the spring, perhaps a lower price by then too.

    Seems we are the only ones looking for a small class A RV. Perhaps that's why nobody makes them so small any more. Small Class C's are still fairly common and are not out of the question for us.

    BTW, we went around the Sacramento area today looking for RV's for sale. Seems small ones of any class are scarce out here these days. But we see plenty of large ones.

    BTW, the other day Tom telephoned the guy selling this class A in KY. He mentioned there's a big scratch on one side (I assume the side not shown in the photo!) but he said he will accept $21,000.00 because of that scratch. I bet we could talk him down another thousand, but we don't want to get obligated when it's so far away. Tom said the guy's strong KY accent was very difficult to understand!

    There's still a chance we might want your services later, if that thing is still available and we cannot find anything we want closer to home in the next few months.

    -Don- (South SF)

  9. #29
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    "Newer RV's have a four speed tranny and also get a lot better MPG. And I think the only newer engine to stay away from now, is the Ford V-10, right? "

    I think that's about it!

  10. #30
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    Did you know that some people are making Class A's on the Dodge Sprinter platform?
    They're pretty small.

    I think Airstream makes one.

    Chip H.

  11. #31
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    That RV isn't that far from me. I'm about 100 miles from it. That area isn't known for "churning" used cars. If it was Mayfield Ky., I'd say run away. If you'd want someone to look at it before you buy, send me a private message.
    We came up with an idea (danger!). We will still be looking for RV's in this area next week. We found out that there's several places in Santa Rosa, CA (about 40 miles north of here) that sells used RV's that do NOT list them on the internet.

    But if that doesn't work out, we may just have you check out that RV in KY. Are you in KY? The southern accent was really difficult for Tom to understand (I never heard him myself, but I am sure I will have as much trouble as Tom did, if not more). But Tom says he thinks the guy said he will be gone for a month but his wife will be back by next week. It was not clear if she could sell us the RV without her husband being there. We might have to either wait a month or have you call her next week in Lewisburg at 1(270)847-7753 to help clear things up! I assume you speak & understand KY Southern!

    Anyway, we have a possible plan, but it's not yet for sure. The first step will be you calling him and see if you can meet to check out the RV (we will figure a way to agree on paying for your time on E-mail later). But it might depend on what you say if we decide to buy it or not! Don't do anything yet, but I might want you to give him a call soon.

    The plan will be if it checks out okay (we can discuss all this on E-mail later) we will fly to NashVille, rent a car to get to Lewisville, pick up the RV and start a RV trip to Florida after we return the car to NashVille. I will take a month off from work for this trip. We will visit many other places on the way home, taken southern routes to Las Vegas and then back to our Reno home where the RV will stay. I don't think we will have to worry much about snow if we stay south where the elevation is a lot lower. This should be a good time to visit Florida. We've never been there before and I have always wanted to visit the Everglades. I hear this isn't a bad time of the year for such a trip.

    Anyway, this plan is if we cannot find a RV that we like in this area. We have a few more places to look in few days, all about 50 miles north of San Francisco in the Santa Rosa area.

    -Don- San Francisco



  12. #32
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    Did you know that some people are making Class A's on the Dodge Sprinter platform?
    They're pretty small. I think Airstream makes one.
    Chip H.
    Might be too small. We want one about 22 feet long, but we will look at other sizes that are within a few feet of that, as long as it has everything we want.

    -Don-

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    [SIZE=3][COLOR=DarkGreen]This should be a good time to visit Florida. We've never been there before and I have always wanted to visit the Everglades. I hear this isn't a bad time of the year for such a trip.
    This is the perfect time of year to visit Florida... through the end of March or so.

    After that, the skeeters in the Everglades get too bad to deal with.

    Wait until April-ish, and your vehicle will be plastered with lovebugs throughout Florida. Invest in a fine mesh grille screen to protect your radiator, and coat the front of the vehicle with PAM (not the olive oil variety; the 'original' plain lecithin), so that you can hose them off before their acidic body chemistry attacks the paint and chrome.

  14. #34
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post

    BTW, the other day Tom telephoned the guy selling this class A in KY. He mentioned there's a big scratch on one side (I assume the side not shown in the photo!) but he said he will accept $21,000.00 because of that scratch. I bet we could talk him down another thousand, but we don't want to get obligated when it's so far away. Tom said the guy's strong KY accent was very difficult to understand!

    There's still a chance we might want your services later, if that thing is still available and we cannot find anything we want closer to home in the next few months.

    -Don- (South SF)

    If you think a Kentuckian accent is hard to understand, try talking to a Hoosier from around here. They even have trouble up state from here hearing what we mean. You should have heard the nurse when I called a friends wife after she had her last child, in Australia. There are a couple of RV dealers here in town. If I think about it and remember to take a camera, I'll see what's around here. One is a bit shady but ther other one doesn't have a bad reputation in the garages around twon.
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  15. #35
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Don, I'm not in Kentucky but I'm southwest of Louisville. Every Saturday, I head to Sebree Ky. to visit my mother so I'm partway to Lewisburg. I used to date a gal who lives in Central City Ky (where the Everly Brothers are from) and that's just north of there. I live in Evansville In. (well, outside it but I have an Evansville mailing address) but I do speak Kentuckian.

    Look around your neck of the woods and I'll look around here. I know there are several on the local craigslist and I'll see what is there as well as at local dealers. I'll also spread the word around. Perhaps someone has one exactly like what you want, they lost their job and want to sell it either for payoff or just cheap to move it quick.
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  16. #36
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by grouch View Post
    Look around your neck of the woods and I'll look around here. I know there are several on the local craigslist and I'll see what is there as well as at local dealers. I'll also spread the word around. Perhaps someone has one exactly like what you want, they lost their job and want to sell it either for payoff or just cheap to move it quick.
    Thanks. However, that one in Lewisburg sure looks good to us. And if we decide on a trip to Florida, I won't mind putting on all those extra miles to get it home since that will be a RV trip vacation with almost half the miles saved.

    But we still want to look around here first to see what's availbale. So far, it seems like there's not many like that for sale out here, but we have a couple more places we can look in a few days.

    -Don-

  17. #37
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Thanks. However, that one in Lewisburg sure looks good to us. And if we decide on a trip to Florida, I won't mind putting on all those extra miles to get it home since that will be a RV trip vacation with almost half the miles saved.

    But we still want to look around here first to see what's availbale. So far, it seems like there's not many like that for sale out here, but we have a couple more places we can look in a few days.

    -Don-
    Don,

    I just realized my neighbor has a motor home he's looking to sell. It is a big one - the kind you get in and drive, not the kind you pull with a truck. They bought another one of these beasts a few months back and so now are looking to get rid of the old one. I don't know offhand what make/model it is but I can find out if you are interested and could also take some pics for you.

    It's an older, retired couple who own the 100-plus acre farm behind us, FYI.

  18. #38
    DonTom
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Don,

    I just realized my neighbor has a motor home he's looking to sell. It is a big one - the kind you get in and drive, not the kind you pull with a truck. They bought another one of these beasts a few months back and so now are looking to get rid of the old one. I don't know offhand what make/model it is but I can find out if you are interested and could also take some pics for you.
    It's an older, retired couple who own the 100-plus acre farm behind us, FYI.
    The main thing to start with is how long it is. The shorter, the better. Less than 26 feet in total length. Most are larger. The larger ones are a lot easier to find for sale out here.

    "RV" covers many vehicles, but a "motorhome" means it has its own motor. I do NOT want to tow.

    With motorhomes, there are Class A, B and C. An "A" is like the one in KY. A "B" is a van conversion. A class "C" is like the one I bid for on E-Bay. I will consider a small Class A or Class C with a decent large engine.

    -Don-

  19. #39
    DonTom
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    Today, I received my $253.08 worth of factory service manuals for my RV (just for the 2000 Chevy Express part, not for anything in the coach).

    Anyway, the first thing I did was decode my VIN number and I got a pleasant surprise. It said my 7.4 L engine is MPFI. I assumed it was TBI. So I checked deeper in the manuals and it clearly shows it as MPFI, showing the 8 injectors on the fuel rails. In fact, TBI is not even available in this model and year of Chevy Express with a 7.4 L engine.

    Why was I thinking it was TBI?


    -Don- San Francisco

  20. #40
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom View Post
    Today, I received my $253.08 worth of factory service manuals for my RV (just for the 2000 Chevy Express part, not for anything in the coach).

    Anyway, the first thing I did was decode my VIN number and I got a pleasant surprise. It said my 7.4 L engine is MPFI. I assumed it was TBI. So I checked deeper in the manuals and it clearly shows it as MPFI, showing the 8 injectors on the fuel rails. In fact, TBI is not even available in this model and year of Chevy Express with a 7.4 L engine.

    Why was I thinking it was TBI?


    -Don- San Francisco
    Good news!

    Actually, you weren't off base to expect TBI. While MPFI has been the standard in passenger cars for a decade, TBI could still be found in vans/commercial-type vehicles. Part of the reason for this, I imagine, is that smog/mileage standards don't apply (or are much less stringent) over a certain GVW and also that TBI is cheaper.

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