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Old 07-03-2006, 08:46 AM   #1
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We're getting ready to take the coach from Texas up to the Yakima WA factory. We'll be going from Kerrville TX, Carlsbad NM, via Albuquerque (for a quick stop at Cummins Coach Care), around the back of the rockies on 666, through Moab UT, through Salt Lake City UT, and then I84 for the most of the rest of the way.

The 400HP Cummins is overpowered for our coach size and weight, so I know I won't have any trouble climbing. I'll be more focused on fuel efficiency so I'll probably be taking it easy anyway.

From what I've read, the 2 stage exhaust brake can do most of the work on the downgrades, and I shouldn't have to use the service brakes too much. That sounds good to me! Is it true?

I also know the rule about using the service brakes for a few seconds to slow to 5mph below the speed limit (or your desired speed), and then let the speed build back up to the speed limit (rather than "riding" the brakes).

Any Alpine Coach mountain driving tips are appreciated.

Thanks!

Audrey
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Old 07-03-2006, 08:46 AM   #2
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We're getting ready to take the coach from Texas up to the Yakima WA factory. We'll be going from Kerrville TX, Carlsbad NM, via Albuquerque (for a quick stop at Cummins Coach Care), around the back of the rockies on 666, through Moab UT, through Salt Lake City UT, and then I84 for the most of the rest of the way.

The 400HP Cummins is overpowered for our coach size and weight, so I know I won't have any trouble climbing. I'll be more focused on fuel efficiency so I'll probably be taking it easy anyway.

From what I've read, the 2 stage exhaust brake can do most of the work on the downgrades, and I shouldn't have to use the service brakes too much. That sounds good to me! Is it true?

I also know the rule about using the service brakes for a few seconds to slow to 5mph below the speed limit (or your desired speed), and then let the speed build back up to the speed limit (rather than "riding" the brakes).

Any Alpine Coach mountain driving tips are appreciated.

Thanks!

Audrey
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Old 07-03-2006, 09:28 AM   #3
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Hello Audrey & John:

I sometimes slow to more than 5 mph depending on the grade and road conditions. I only have a 350 Cummins, with an exhaust brake and tow a Suburban. I find that slowing as much as 15-20 mph on a long steep grade is easier on the brakes as they have a longer time to cool before my next application. I have never had a problem of over heated my brakes on long grades.
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Old 07-03-2006, 03:58 PM   #4
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Aud- we live @ 1300 feet on the road from Sacramento to Reno/Lake Tahoe so we're in the mountains every time I leave the driveway. I have only wanted the high stage on the 2-stage JB once- on an overly steep decent in Baja renouned for its death dealing truck accidents (there are two truck graveyards at the bottom of the hill). I'd say the downgrade is about 15%, but it might be a tad higher, and its very windy. JB on high was almost too much restraint.
Generally I travel in D-6, jake off, but have incorporated the switch to jake-on somewhat instinctually as a part of the braking process. Especially when cresting a hill, its CC-off, then if the hill is steep or traffic is heavy, jake-on (cruise if you haven't noticed, disables the jake actuation even when jake is selected on). And if the hill is quite steep, then touch the brake pedal; I don't know if it is just our unit, but jake doesn't seem to kick in unless engine is over-reving or if service brakes are actuated.
On most hills, low stage jake will decelerate us to the low 40's eventually.
Another tactic is to manually shift into 5th or 4th; that implies you are watching your gears all the time to shift back out. This takes some practice, as it takes my eyes off the road to find the downshift button. I can't do that in Mexico as either the roads are too narrow or I'm not that coordinated.
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Old 07-04-2006, 10:41 AM   #5
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Yeah - I agree with the manual downshifting. I don't really see the point of it anyway, since the exhaust brake does the downshifting for you as soon as you let up on the throttle.

I guess going uphill I might have to manually downshift if the engine keeps shifting up and down, but I've noticed that cruise control is smarter and acts more smoothly than I do. I haven't been able to "outdrive" the cruise control yet.

EngineerMike - I've been to Baja by small boat. Awesome place. Awesome whale watching off both coasts. I don't think I'm brave enough to drive my RV down there though.

Audrey
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Old 07-04-2006, 11:19 AM   #6
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We take the RV every year; last year we met folks in a 40' 2-slide in the dinky town of Mulege, and saw other Alpines both singly an in caravans. Choosing the Alpine was partly a function of the way it handles lousy roads; makes the Baja trip pretty easy.
We even see Monaco's there

The wife & I are talking about organizing a Baja caravan for Alpiner's and friends from Havasu who have asked. We may not get it organized for this year, in which case it'll be an '07 fiesta.
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Old 07-04-2006, 10:01 PM   #7
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Mike,

Keep us in mind also. Might fit with the SoCal Chapter outing in Nov. '07 in Chula Vista!

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Old 07-05-2006, 12:55 AM   #8
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Ooops! Looks like I hijacked my own thread. LOL!

Any more mountain driving tips?

Thanks!

Audrey
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Old 07-05-2006, 09:11 AM   #9
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The Allison transmission manual "suggests" manual downshifting during mountainous driving.
It is also my understanding that keeping the RPM over 2000 will ensure that the hydraulic fan provides maximum cooling. Happy Travels!
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Old 07-06-2006, 02:39 PM   #10
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Audrey,
I have no idea about mountain passes in NM or what it is like going over Soldier Paas between Moab and SLC, but once you hit I-84 you probably won't even use your brakes until Deadman's Pass and the very innocuous sounding Cabbage Hill downgrade-- just before Pendleton Oregon .

Then you get to test the effectiveness of the Allison transmission's retarder system and practice your downshifting. Both of which are highly recommended over taking one of the runaway truck ramps the Oregon DOT has so thoughtfully provided. Hey, its only a 2000 foot drop in 7 miles with a couple of 6% downgrade hairpin turns. Just follow one of the many UPS triple-trailers descending the hill and you will be fine. In fact, the view as you descend will be spectacular but only one of you will be able to enjoy it. [You should have tried it in the "old days" before they completely rebuilt it- now that was a brake burner ]

Once you are at the bottom and sailing into Pendleton-- you can handle anything in the future-- if the pilot figures out how to unclench his/her fists and the co-pilot stops trying to push out the front of the coach with his/her feet .

Norm
PS When ya' be in Yakima datewise?
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Old 07-06-2006, 07:10 PM   #11
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Thanks Oregon Coyote!

Someone did mention the long steep downgrade into Pendleton Oregon on I-84, so I had a clue there was something exciting in store for me. Thanks for providing some details!

Yes, I'd rather be BEHIND a UPS triple-trailer rather than in front!

I'll post here when I get past that descent (knock on wood)!

Hmmm - I do have that Mountain West book - I guess I had better read it before taking some of those roads.

Our appointment is July 31st.

Audrey
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Old 07-06-2006, 11:14 PM   #12
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Audrey, don't sweat it, its a gorgeous drive and the Alpine can handle it with ease. I just came that way 2 weeks ago on my way to Junction City Oregon. Use the Jake brake and relax, tap the brakes occasionaly to keep the RPMS down.
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Old 07-07-2006, 01:52 AM   #13
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Thanks Wayne!

Did you manually set a lower gear to descend as well as using the Jake brake?

Audrey
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Old 07-07-2006, 06:10 AM   #14
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No, I just let it manage the downshifts. I find that it does a good job on its own. I occasionally use the low high switch if the low position is allowing me to gain speed. I did manually downshift my 2000 Alpine with the Pac Brake but it was more playing with the equipment.
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