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Old 10-14-2009, 08:05 AM   #1
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8.1 GM Workhorse in a 38' Class A

Not getting into brand or model names and numbers, but how does the 8.1 GM motor matched up to the Allison transmission work over all. Is there enought power to get up to speed and hold it there? Any grunt remaining for passing on the road? Any problems that have appeared across the board. Has this proven to be a dependable powertrain? Coach weight is around 18.5K with a GVW of 22K total combined rating of 24K.
Thank you for your imput.

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Old 10-14-2009, 08:23 AM   #2
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The 8.1L is a fine engine and has plenty of "grunt". Matched to the right gearing (transmission and axle) it will move 22-24k lbs quite nicely. Like any gas engine, it does not generate a lot of horsepower and torque at lower rpms, so you have to be willing to let it rev on steep grades - or just be prepared to go a little slower than the diesels. In a 24k chassis, the 8.1L is usually paired with an Allison 2000 or 2350MH transmission, with six speeds.

Gary Brinck
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Old 10-14-2009, 08:57 AM   #3
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I have a 24K GVW Class A motorhome and tow a 3,500 pound vehicle behind it all the time. We are full timers and have driven coast to coast and North to South. We have been in the Rockies several times as well. The motor does surprisingly well. You have to be patient on some of the steeper hills. Some of the lightly loaded trucks will pass us but we can pass the heavily loaded ones. I would not hesitate to get the 8.1 again. The Allison transmission has been rock solid. The only problem that I have had with the motor is that the spark plugs and wires burned in the back which is more a function of the air flow caused by the coach manufacturer than by Workhorse. We had Workhorse add the air ducts on both sides of the motor (as well as replace the plugs and all plug wires) and no further problems.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:33 AM   #4
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Workhorse & Allison

Love 'em! We are slightly over 24K lbs. and have had no problem on some high steep mountain passes in NM & Colorado.

Passing, even at 70 mph (which I do NOT drive) is just fine. Quick & smart.

We find our best mileage is at 60 mph. Lower than that, and will be shifting down to 4th and higher than that, about ever 5 mph kills the mileage about .6 mpg.
Bill N8HDW & Nancy N8HDV
2005 Sea Breeze 8341 on W-22 Chassis
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:47 AM   #5
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We have about 65,000 miles on this MN. Our toad weighs 4200 lb. We are in the middle of our 6th cross counrty trip in it. I'd love another 600 ft/lb of torque, but we don't have it and everything works well. It has climbed every mountain (lots) I point it at. We always run right at 26,000 lbs. I don't pass too many other vehicles and drive about 60 - 62 mph getting an average of 6.8mpg.
Jeanie, Ed & Slade the GSD
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Old 10-14-2009, 12:11 PM   #6
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I have only had my allegro bay since april, but we recently completed a 4800 mile round trip to new brunswick and nova scotia and had no problems with getting up to speed and keeping it there. (we travel 62-63 mph to get better mileage. ) i say to those who travel 70 and over, go ahead and take a chance, i will see you down the road in a little while. We tow a jeep grand cherokee and got about 8 mpg average.
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:30 PM   #7
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I have an 05 Southwind 37C with the 8.1 and Allison team,,, Love it!
Just got back from Virginia this past weekend and averaged about 8.5 mpg doing 60 mph.
Going down that long lonesome highway,Bound for the mountains and the plains
Michael Parks / Then Came Bronson - 1969
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JVJ View Post
  • 8.1 GM motor matched up to the Allison transmission work over all.
  • Coach weight is around 18.5K with a GVW of 22K total combined rating of 24K.
If the GVW is 22K pounds the combined weight rating is 26K pounds. The 8.1L engine and Allison six speed transmission work very well together and are properly matched. All Allison transmissions installed on Workhorse Chassis since 2006 are 6 speeds regardless of weight rating.

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Old 10-14-2009, 05:03 PM   #9
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We have a 37 foot dolphin on the W-24 with CRV toad. Never had a power issue. In fact no issues at all. Do have the ultra power upgrade. Very solid performance. We mainly travel the mountains of the West but have been across the country twice. For the money you can't go wrong.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:08 PM   #10
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My coach is 37'7" which is close enough to 38 for me to comment.

Plenty of Oomph, When I was on a slight grade (Uphill) and got stopped by an idiot parking his sports car under a semi trailer... at 70 MPH (his last mistake in this life) which resulted in a closed road,, Instead of cutting through the median I considered where i was sitting, With Television, Kitchen, "Facilities" and such, and decided to be calm... When the road re-opened I was passing semi's pulling out of there... Dang thing performs almost as well as the car it towes. (the car is a 3.1L 4000lb Mini Van)
Home is where I park it!
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Old 10-15-2009, 11:50 AM   #11
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I have a 2004 Winnie Adventurer 37b which measures 37'12" (yes you read that right) according to Winnie's own lit. I just got back from a Bakersfield to Vancouver rouund trip. Had plenty of steep hills involved. I had stopped at Brazels in Centralia Washington for an annoying noise and they dyno'ed my rig and I got some more horsepower and torque. I already had the UltraPower upgrade, but it needed some tweaking. The 8.1 performed wonderfully after that and I had plenty of power for my almost 22,000 lbs plus 2500 lb tow. You can go uphill quite smartly if you want to sacrifice the gas mileage, but it pulls nicely in the lower range and gets better mileage doing it. This is the closest thing to a diesel that you will find.
Joe & Sherri
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:36 PM   #12
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We have a 38' and love it, handles very well on the road.
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Old 10-16-2009, 02:17 PM   #13
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36 ft Coachmen Epic w/ 8.1 no power problem w or w/o toad
Kathy & George Zimm & 1 Sheltie, Lancelot
Mickleton, NJ
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Old 10-29-2009, 05:32 PM   #14
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Have an Allegro Bay 37DB with the 8.1 Workhorse and Allison transmission. The 8.1 has adequate power and the transmission is excellent. The Workhorse chassis handling is inferior to my previous Ford chassis. I believe if I were to do this again, I'd go with Ford.

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