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Old 07-29-2018, 08:50 PM   #1
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Diesel newbie - what do I need to know about my Spartan and Cummins

Ok, in a couple weeks, I'm going to be taking delivery of my first diesel (MH or car/truck). What do I need to know?

I can't remember where I saw it, but either on Spartan site or Newgle, it says change oil every six months, but the Cummins RV brochure says 12 months or 20,000. Which is it? Six or twelve months?

Does the fuel/water separator need to be checked/maintained? If so, how?

Cummins talks about regularly checking antifreeze/coolant with a refractometer and test strips. Do people do this or just have it checked at annual maintenance?

What about the air filter? Is that the little clear cup/gauge in the back? Do these typically have to be dealt with between services? Should I carry an extra one?

What are your daily checks before hitting the road?

As a complete diesel/Spartan newbie, what else should I know?
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Old 07-29-2018, 08:59 PM   #2
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Spartan was super at sending me all the information you will need for the maintenance schedule and parts list. Send them an email with your model year and vin number
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Old 07-29-2018, 09:11 PM   #3
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Check out TheRvGeeks on YouTube. Great source of information and maintenance tips
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Old 07-29-2018, 09:18 PM   #4
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The CD or Flash drive from Spartan is very informative, and can be downloaded to your desk top. Oil change is 1 year. Congratulations!
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Old 07-29-2018, 09:31 PM   #5
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Check out TheRvGeeks on YouTube. Great source of information and maintenance tips
Here's a couple of suggestions, assuming that you are totally new to diesels.
First, always use the term "fuel" as in "I need fuel". The only time you get gas is mealtime. Gasoline in the tank is an expensive mistake.

Second, NEVER run out of fuel. Ever. You can't just pour in a couple of gallons and fire it up. Learn how to to prime the system just in case. If you're lucky you have an electric pump. If not, you prime it.

Third, carry spare fuel filters. And a wrench. Water in the filters will leave you alongside the road... particularly in winter. Unlike gasoline, diesel absorbs water but water still freezes. Filters need to be filled with clean fuel before installing. It's a smelly job.

Most people can run diesel engines for years without problems but being prepared is never a bad thing.
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:00 AM   #6
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I'm not going to go into maintenance. There are plenty of good sources for that. But here are some general things to be aware of if you've never had a diesel powered vehicle before.

1) Diesel fuel doesn't evaporate like gasoline does. So when you spill some -- it stays spilled until you clean it up.

2) When you get diesel fuel on your skin or clothing, you need to wash it off with soap. Plain water won't do it.

3) Because diesel fuel doesn't evaporate, just about all diesel fuel pumps and fuel hoses and handles are slippery and coated with diesel fuel. I often grab a paper towel next to the pump and wrap the hose handle with the paper towel so I don't get fuel on my hand. Some stations provide disposable plastic gloves for this reason.

4) If you ever see "Red Dye Diesel" pass it by. You might be tempted to fill your tank with it because it's cheaper than regular diesel fuel. It's #2 Diesel fuel which your engine uses, but it has the red dye in it so law enforcement officers can tell what it is. And what it is, is fuel without the road-tax. It's for diesel powered engines that don't use public roads and highways. Mostly it's for agricultural tractors and fixed generators and the like. If you ever get caught with red-dye diesel in your tank, you're gonna face some serious fines. And I've heard that police often park in sight of red-dye diesel pumps and watch who fills up with it.

5) Diesel fuel thickens when it gets cold. And when it gets cold enough, it doesn't flow enough to work in your engine. So, in geographic locations where it gets cold enough to significantly thicken the diesel fuel (freezing for example), the stations switch over to "Winter Diesel" when it starts getting seriously cold. I'm not positive about this, but I think #1 Diesel is the same as "Winter Diesel." Anyway, when you fill up with diesel in a cold area -- it will probably be the thinner "Winter Diesel."

6) "Winter Diesel" doesn't have as many BTU's as regular #2. So you won't have quite as much power and your mileage won't be as high when you use it. But that's normal.

7) Because most Newmars have fairly large capacity fuel tanks, it's possible to fill up with regular #2 diesel in a warm area, and then end up in a cold area on the same tank of fuel. And if you do, you might very well have problems starting the engine the next cold morning. So if/when you know you'll be driving into a very cold area, you might think about filling up with Winter Diesel before stopping for the night.

8) Cold weather operation is also why I believe all Newmar diesel (and perhaps gas too) coaches have a built-in engine block heater. It's a regular AC plug you'll probably find in your coach's power compartment. When it's warm, leave it unplugged. When it gets down near freezing, plug it in. When you're plugged into AC power, or when the generator is running, the engine block heater keeps the engine and it's oil (which also thickens in extreme cold) and the main diesel fuel pump warm enough so you can start the engine.

9) Water in the fuel is death to diesels. They'll just stop dead and not re-start until the water is removed from the system. That's why water separators are so important. And it's why I recommend carrying a spare.

10) Most big stations that have diesel fuel and lots of turnover, don't usually have water in the fuel problems. But stations with slow turnover -- where the fuel sits in the underground tanks for a long time, can/will get water in their fuel. And since water is heavier than diesel fuel, the water goes to the bottom of the tank. So if you're the unlucky customer who gets the fuel near the bottom of their tank -- you could get some water with your fuel. It's rare, but it happens.

11) There's water in the air. When your diesel fuel tank has plenty of air in it (less fuel in the tank), that moisture in the air inside the tank can condense onto the cold outside metal fuel tank, turn into liquid water, and collect at the bottom of your fuel tank. So it's a good idea to keep your fuel tank full of fuel -- so there's a minimum of air in the tank to potentially condense into water. This is particularly important when the coach is in storage for long periods of time. The steel fuel tank on my old sailboat eventually rusted through from water collecting at the bottom and just sitting there.

12) As has already been mentioned, running a diesel engine dry of fuel is a really bad idea -- and often the engine won't restart after the tank has been filled until it's been primed. I say "often" because many newer diesel engines have electric fuel pumps that will self-prime. In my experience with older Mercedes diesels, my boat's diesel, my brother's boat with big twin CAT diesels, and the diesel engine in my pickup -- none of them will self-prime after the fuel tank is run dry. All of them need to be primed and in fact have special levers and pumps and valves for accomplishing this. I've read that many newer Cummins engines will self-prime. But be prepared to need to prime the pump after you run the tank dry. This is also why you need to fill a new fuel filter with fresh diesel fuel before you install it. If it's empty, there's air in the fuel system and it might not prime. The instructions for my 2008 Cummins ISC say to fill the fuel filter before installing it -- so I'm guessing that means my engine won't self-prime.

13) If you plan on doing some engine maintenance yourself, you might consider buying a pack of oil absorption mats. These are available at marine hardware stores to place in the bilges under marine engines to absorb any oil or diesel fuel before it gets into the ocean. They can be handy for RV servicing too. They look like fancy flat disposable diapers. They absorb oil and diesel fuel, but not water.

Whew. I've run out of breath.

Have fun with your new RV.
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Old 07-30-2018, 04:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnedator View Post



I can't remember where I saw it, but either on Spartan site or Newgle, it says change oil every six months, but the Cummins RV brochure says 12 months or 20,000. Which is it? Six or twelve months?



It’s not 12 months or 20,000, it’s “once every twelve months”, unless you are that extremely rare RV’er who actually drives over 20,000 miles in a year. Nobody does that except over the road truck drivers.

The six month thing applies to chassis lube.

You might want to look into signing up for one of the Spartan Academy classes. They are taught at Spartan factory in Charlotte, MI and at other locations around the country. They fill up fast, but are well worth the investment of time and money.
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:43 AM   #8
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It’s not 12 months or 20,000, it’s “once every twelve months”, unless you are that extremely rare RV’er who actually drives over 20,000 miles in a year. Nobody does that except over the road truck drivers.

The six month thing applies to chassis lube.

You might want to look into signing up for one of the Spartan Academy classes. They are taught at Spartan factory in Charlotte, MI and at other locations around the country. They fill up fast, but are well worth the investment of time and money.
Classes (other than Entegra ones) are sold out until the end of the year.

No question it will be time vs. miles for me, it's more that late last week when I was reading through all the information I could find on Newgle/Spartan site, I came across six months instead of 12 for oil change, so was looking for clarification on that.
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Old 07-30-2018, 05:51 AM   #9
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Whew. I've run out of breath.

Have fun with your new RV.
That was great. Thanks so much.

On the called weather vs. warm weather diesel. I think I've read previously that you can add something as well to prevent the diesel from thickening. Is that correct? I can easily see filling up with warm and then heading to a cold place, or having it stored with a full tank and then venturing out. I live in Arkansas where it's pretty mild and plan to use it year round.

I know my brother in law always fills up when he returns to town. While I figured he did it just so he's fueled next time he hits the road, but it has the added benefit of making sure the tank is full and reducing condensation in the tank. I'll need to establish that habit, even if I'm ready to get to the house after a long trip.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:14 AM   #10
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If you are looking at doing work yourself. Register on http://quickserve.cummins.com
This will give you a lot of information on your engine.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:23 AM   #11
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If you are looking at doing work yourself. Register on http://quickserve.cummins.com
This will give you a lot of information on your engine.
I don't plan to do much maintenance on my own, other than things I need to know about for pre trip inspections and in case something goes wrong on the road, so things like extra fuel filter, how do deal with the fuel/water separator, etc.
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Old 07-30-2018, 07:22 AM   #12
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1 You picked the best chassis and engine to get Spartan/Cummins
2 Join Newmar Kountry Klub and FMCA
3 Join Cummins Power Club for 10% discount on parts and labor
4 Go to a couple FMCA and Newmar International rallies and select some seminars that you are interested know more about
5 Almost all Newmar owners enjoy sharing information about Newmar coaches and traveling
6 Keep following irv2 as it is the best source to get questions answered and share information
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