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Old 01-05-2013, 08:17 PM   #1
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First trip out west

We recently purchased a new-to-us motorhome (2001 Holiday Rambler 36pbd, 275HP gas, NOT 330hp engine) as I was concerned about traveling the Rockies with an 12,800# fifth wheel behind a 3/4T ford diesel. We will be traveling from NC to Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, to Yellowstone (through the lower loop of the Tetons in Jackson Hole) then through Cody to Kearney, Kansas City and St Louis back to the relatively flat country of Kentucky and North Carolina. We will have a two wheel tow dolly with a Hyndai Sante Fe on it for the trip. This is my long promised 20th Anniversary trip to my beloved spouse!.

Having NEVER pulled grades such as we will encounter, I welcome any advice you can provide. The unit does have a banks ram air intake and an engine tuner. But....at what speed should I take it out of overdrive? What gear should I go down grades with? How do I know if my brakes are overheating?

Any suggestions or comments will be GREATLY appreciated.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:35 PM   #2
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Best regards to you and your bride!

A few thoughts.

1. Don't think in terms of speed, think in terms of RPM and water temp. You will want to select a gear that allows you the keep reasonably in the middle of your RPM range. I think 275 HP will be a challenge on steep grades. You might consider taking the vehicle off the dolly and having your bride drive it separate during the most challenging climbs. I'm not sure whether pulling an empty dolly is a problem or not. I wouldn't think so but perhaps others might chip in on that. I know, that could be a lot of work but it is an option if you have problems you just can't over come.

2. The rule of thumb is that what ever gear you climbed the hill in, is the same gear you will use to go down the back side.

3. Unfortunately, I think the only way you will know your brakes are over heating is if you see smoke via the mirror and/or they start fading on you. If you find you are riding the brakes you need to down shift. The normal technique is to select a gear that you think will keep you at or almost hold your safe down hill speed. If the speed increases, apply the brakes firmly (not excessively) to reduce your speed to about 5 MPH below your safe speed and then as your speed increases, repeat. If the speed increases rapidly, downshift again.

Remember...first person reaching the bottom of the hill in an uncontrolled state loses.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:36 PM   #3
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Welcome to IRV2 ! You'll find bunches of great info/people here. My main concern is going down hill... Pull it out of overdrive before you start down hill. Let the engine help keep your speed down. If it's a big hill, Don't start off it running 65 or 70, thinking you can slow down or stop like a car. You should know most of this pulling a 5th wheel before. Slower is Better !!! NEVER ride the brakes for a long distance. Use them to slow down, shift the trans down to a lower gear if needed, then off the brakes to let them cool. It's a BAD feeling when you push hard on that pedal but speed doesn't come down !! (trucker) IF you ever see the slightest hint of smoke from your brakes,, Stop and let them cool. Take your time !!!
Going up hill is much easier.. Some will tell you the auto trans will shift when needed,,, just mash the gas... We pass a few of those every trip along side the road out west. Learn your vehicle. If you are pushing more on the gas pedal , but speed is decreasing, pull it out of overdrive and ease up on it. Watch the temps !!!
Have a great trip,,, and just ask any questions you have.
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:38 PM   #4
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Very well said Sky Boss !!!!
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Old 01-05-2013, 08:48 PM   #5
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ALSO...

Is your Santa Fe 2WD (front) or AWD? If it is AWD...it is highly likely that you can NOT dolly it. If it is front wheel drive...
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:01 PM   #6
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Are you sure that your engine is rated at 275 horsepower? In 2000, the Ford V-10 had a 6.8 L engine with 310 horsepower at 4,250 rpm, powerful enough to tow large amounts. It also had a maximum torque of 425 foot-pounds at 3,450 rpm and two valves per cylinder, with a single overhead camshaft configuration.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:08 PM   #7
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Just remember you can come down a grade 1000 times to slow, But you only get to come down to fast once!
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:23 PM   #8
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I've traveled all over those passes in Colorado, Wyoming etc in My Motorhome towing a car. Going down is harder than going up. Going up is slow and most times in first gear @ 25-30 mph but the air is cool at those elevations and your motor will climb all day. I stay way under redline on the tach and pick a speed for the engine that sounds good to my ear. Traffic isn't a too big of hassle and most everyone is patience . When I crest the top I treat it as if its steep and I start slow in first gear if needed and keep foot on floor away from brake until engine races to that certain RPM again and then I slow with the brakes down to 20-25 mph and release brakes and let engine control speed while brakes get a chance to cool. I do that process over and over all the way to the bottom .I think if at any time the brakes feel spongy Or not right would pull over at the nearest place you can and let the brakes cool down for like 45 minutes or so.... It's better than risking your life. But never had to do that but I always try to take care of the brakes starting from top not knowing how long the grade is or how many curves etc . Once you get up and over a few you'll gain some knowledge and feel more comfortable. It's best to piss a few drivers off by going slow than to piss all of them
Off if you crash and close the road and maybe lose your life !
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:23 PM   #9
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For us, that's "back east" and "down south". We're about as far north as you can get on the western edge of mainland USA before the Canadian border, which is about 45 staright-line miles away and about 65 driving miles. We're actually further north than Victoria BC.
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:08 AM   #10
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[QUOTE=Sky_Boss;1421385]ALSO...

Is your Santa Fe 2WD (front) or AWD? If it is AWD...it is highly likely that you can NOT dolly it. If it is front wheel drive...[/QUOTE


Unfortunately it IS the 275 HP motor (model change over was in middle of year) and the Sante Fe IS FWD, not AWD. Appreciate the excellenty advice. Joe B
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:10 AM   #11
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrol 65 View Post
Are you sure that your engine is rated at 275 horsepower? In 2000, the Ford V-10 had a 6.8 L engine with 310 horsepower at 4,250 rpm, powerful enough to tow large amounts. It also had a maximum torque of 425 foot-pounds at 3,450 rpm and two valves per cylinder, with a single overhead camshaft configuration.
Yes it is 275hp. The engine change over took place in mid-model year. Thanks for the help. Joe B
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Old 01-06-2013, 06:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TdogKing View Post
I've traveled all over those passes in Colorado, Wyoming etc in My Motorhome towing a car. Going down is harder than going up. Going up is slow and most times in first gear @ 25-30 mph but the air is cool at those elevations and your motor will climb all day. I stay way under redline on the tach and pick a speed for the engine that sounds good to my ear. Traffic isn't a too big of hassle and most everyone is patience . When I crest the top I treat it as if its steep and I start slow in first gear if needed and keep foot on floor away from brake until engine races to that certain RPM again and then I slow with the brakes down to 20-25 mph and release brakes and let engine control speed while brakes get a chance to cool. I do that process over and over all the way to the bottom .I think if at any time the brakes feel spongy Or not right would pull over at the nearest place you can and let the brakes cool down for like 45 minutes or so.... It's better than risking your life. But never had to do that but I always try to take care of the brakes starting from top not knowing how long the grade is or how many curves etc . Once you get up and over a few you'll gain some knowledge and feel more comfortable. It's best to piss a few drivers off by going slow than to piss all of them
Off if you crash and close the road and maybe lose your life !

Thanks folks. The info about what speed you take the hills will help plan out time estimates. I have NO intention of trying to race up or down hills as even here in the East some idiots always end up either wrecking someone else or themselves forgetting the massive active/passive weight of the unit they're passing and cutting in front of.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:15 PM   #13
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One other point, as has been noted going up is easier than going down because you don't really have a loss of control risk going up.

If you underestimate a grade, or the rig starts moving too fast DON'T try to gently reduce your speed with a gradual application of the brakes. Get on them hard quickly and get your speed down, get in a lower gear, and let your brakes cool.

Don't worry about all the vehicles piled up behind you, but if you have a big line, and the chance presents, pull off and let them blow on by.
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Old 01-06-2013, 12:17 PM   #14
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Can't help you with towing, but a suggestion that you have already probably researched. Try and stay at least two days in Cody, it is a wonderful town with the greatest museums I have ever witnessed (5 separate in one location); you cannot do justice in a few hours, or even in one day, but the western culture is overwhelming! Enjoy, I know you will love it.
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