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Old 04-10-2012, 08:01 AM   #1
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Grade Climbing

Hey,

New to Rv'ing and my old/new 1985 Holiday Rambler AlumaLite 33' w/454 P-30 engine and chasis.

I have not driven every road in the US yet, so here's my question. Is there a % Grade that a coach like the one described above just simply can not climb?

Thanks very much
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:24 AM   #2
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It will be able to climb any normal grade on regular traveled roads. Now how fast
it will do the job depends on the grade.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:33 AM   #3
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Yea might want to bypass Colorado... Some steep grades but the killer is the altitude that robs your power.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:15 AM   #4
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Utah is another state that builds roads to the highest point you can see.
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Old 04-10-2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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What you can climb depends both upon grade and distance.

Freeways generally top out at about 6% and those may require downshifting. That's doable for a few miles depending upon your cooling system.

Other highways may go to about 8% or so and that might require getting down to first gear. That's a slog but usually doable for getting over the pass.

Rather rare are the roads that have significant grades greater than 10%. The Sonora Pass (wikipedia that you really don't want to take the typical RV over.

Driveways may get into the 14% range but the key there is to not back up them as you have better gears going forward and that is easier on the tranny.

The Sierra and Rocky Mountain ranges are not the only places where you have to worry about mountain grades, either. Back east, the roads are older and there are some grades in PA and elsewhere that provide a good challenge (although usually at lower altitude than in the west)

As noted, many of these grades are at altitude which severely degrades engine power. They also tend to be narrow and have many sharp curves.

Another thing to note is that it isn't going up the grade that is the worry. It is coming down the grade that can give you the willies.

Modern vehicles are much more capable in the mountains than they used to be, both for going up grades as well as coming down them. The new SAE towing standard, for instance, uses the grade out of Laughlin towards Kingman as a referent.

You can probably do just about any grade you encounter. The question is whether you'd want to or not. Most people don't get into the RV experience for an adrenaline rush...
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:09 PM   #6
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Thanks all!!!

I am picking up the coach about 700 miles away, this weekend. So, until I can go through everything (brakes, fluid changes, tune ups, etc), I wanted to be very cautious on the initial run. And also know what I may reasonably expect going forward.

I thought RV'ing is an X sport -

Thanks again - good info,
-Stu
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BryanL View Post
Driveways may get into the 14% range but the key there is to not back up them as you have better gears going forward and that is easier on the tranny.
Not sure where you got your info but it sure doesn't apply to Allison trans.

Series 1st Rev

1000/2100 3.10 4.49

2200/2350 3.10 4.49
2500/2550 3.51 5.09
3000 3.49 5.03
4000 3.51 4.80

Darn forum keeps stripping out the spaces so the chart doesn't line up
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:28 PM   #8
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When climbing steep grades be sure you don't over-rev the engine. This may also over-heat the transmission and cause tranny failure. We drive motorhomes to enjoy the scenery. When climbing a steep grade get over with the trucks, turn off cruise control, and and take your time. When descending, use the same gear you climbed with to help the brakes.
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Old 04-11-2012, 01:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Angel2411 View Post
Hey,

New to Rv'ing and my old/new 1985 Holiday Rambler AlumaLite 33' w/454 P-30 engine and chasis.

I have not driven every road in the US yet, so here's my question. Is there a % Grade that a coach like the one described above just simply can not climb?

Thanks very much
Probably not.
The steepest road I have encountered goes in and out of Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas. It is about 12%
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:58 PM   #10
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We've crossed the divide a few times in Colorado and have the same engine, Chevy 454. What you really need to know besides what has already been said is don't even think your going to make the long steep grades at highway speed. We took 70 west from Denver over Loveland pass the the back way over Rabbit Ears Pass and were lucky to stay above 30 mph on some of the steep stretches. Pulled over every chance we could to stop blocking traffic. I was very careful to keep the engine revs within range and watched the temps.
We empty our tanks before we hit the hills and keep the water tank only 1/4 full. Reducing weight helps.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:20 AM   #11
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Don't forget to change the brake fluid (Flush and change, don't just top up). Brake fluid absorbs water, which can then boil if it gets very hot. The steam won't work as a fluid, and your brakes won't work.

Also, we drove our 1983 Winnebago Chieftain on trail ridge drive in Rocky mountain National Park. 13,000 ft+, and had no problems while driving slow going up, and down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel2411 View Post
Thanks all!!!

I am picking up the coach about 700 miles away, this weekend. So, until I can go through everything (brakes, fluid changes, tune ups, etc), I wanted to be very cautious on the initial run. And also know what I may reasonably expect going forward.

I thought RV'ing is an X sport -

Thanks again - good info,
-Stu
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:09 PM   #12
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No sweat, our slightly newer engine/chassis has pulled 13% grade into Presidio and crossed the CO Rockies on US 50. We have pulled some long climbs in Alaska and the grade to my son's house in VA climbs 800 feet in two miles on dirt and we do it easily, if slowly.

All of these grades require patience. We have gotten down to 28 mph (I had time to read the speedo with care and double check it against the GPS) going over the Rockies, but over we got. this engine is the 8.1 L Vortec and the trannie is Allison 1000.

All this is another way of saying I doubt you will find a road you want to drive that you can't. In our case we have found a few roads we wished we hadn't taken, but we are here and undamaged after the fact.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:20 PM   #13
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Darn forum keeps stripping out the spaces so the chart doesn't line up
Mr_D, Not the forum's software fault ...

What you might want to do the next time is cut a "Snip" using the tool in WIN7. Save the snip and upload it in the photo gallery. Next copy and paste it in the post like you would have wanted to.

You can also save the snip on your machine. Go to the Manage Attachment button "below" in the make a new or reply to a post. You'll see it. Click on the "Browse" and find the snip. Click on "Upload." Close the window and save the post. It'll show up as an attachment. Don't make the snip too BIG or it won't upload - file size limits are stated.

TaDa !!!
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:52 PM   #14
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Stu, there are two books you might want to get. They are Mountain Directory West and Mountain Directory East. Depending on where you are going you may only need one. These books tell you State By State what percentage of grades you will encounter on your choice of roads. I have the West one and use it if I'm going to an area I'm not familar with. You'll find most Interstates are not much of a problem. I fully concur with what the others said, it's not the climb that will cause the pucker factor, it's going down hill. The key to getting to the bottom of the grade is lower gears and tapping the brakes when needed, never ride them going down hill. They heat up fast.
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