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Old 07-21-2016, 07:23 AM   #15
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I agree with manually shifting for any serious climbing or descending.I am a rookie in the mountains but through trial and error that manually shifting and using the exhaust brake when needed seemed to be "easier" on my MH,with a Jeep toad. It takes some practice but as already noted, the most important thing is staying one step ahead of what's up ahead.
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Old 07-21-2016, 08:45 AM   #16
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Don't know that I subscribe to the "keep the RPMs up or you'll overheat" theory. Having just completed two coast to coast runs, including Vale grade on I70, numerous other grades in WV and PA as well as other states, I found that either works for my ISL 370. If using max torque my engine will heat to ~205 then the fan kicks in and cools to 185. The trans stays at 198 or so. This cycle repeats during the climb. This data is from my Silverleaf VMSpc reported by the engine/trans. I find my Speed is higher using torque. Manually downshifting brought steady 45-50 speeds in 4th, and temps the same. I used that on the Vale grade and the Johnson tunnel (Eisenhower WB) grade. IMHO, today's engines have been designed for the road conditions and inexperienced drivers. And also those of us that have been driving them for the last 20 or so years.
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Old 07-21-2016, 09:03 AM   #17
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I noticed from your signature you have the 450 cummins. Are you sure you don't have the Jake Brake instead of the exhaust break? I have the 2 speed Jake Brake, and Allison, I just flip it on and let it do its thing. If you have the exhaust brake, then this advice is invalid.
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Old 07-21-2016, 11:55 AM   #18
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If its a serious grade up or down (over 6%, and especially over 8%) then I'm a strong believer in manually shifting to the gear associated with the speed you expect to be going. For uphill I'll usually delay it until I get to the right speed naturally, but for downhill I'll get ahead of the curve and slow down and manually shift. For me that would be 30-40 mph and about 3-4 on my 6 speed Allison. I find if I don't I end up going downhill a bit too fast and needing to brake in addition to engine brake.
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Old 07-21-2016, 05:28 PM   #19
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My RV is completely different from yours so I don't how yours handles temps going up grades but on mine, like others have said, I manually shift down when the engine temp starts to climb. On my rear radiator shifting down increases fan speed and forces more air through the radiator and better cools the engine. I also disengage cruise/speed control.
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Old 07-21-2016, 06:59 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by jacwjames View Post
We did that trip in 2009 right after we bought the coach, went all the way to Alaska then dropped down to Napa Valley before heading back east. Saw lots of mountain. We didn't have a clue as to mountain driving so we relied on the transmission to select the gears and it performed great.

As to sites to see, you will be visiting some of the nicest NP's in the country. Just take your time and see all that is available. When we left Yellowstone my wife decided we needed to go to Billings so we decided to go across Beartooth Pass, what a drive. Wife took +40 pictures going up but only 3 going down, she cursed me holding onto the passenger seat armrests saying "she would haunt me if we crashed and injured any of the 4 dogs we had in the coach". Needless to say we survived.

If you have passports it would be worth a days drive across the Ca border into Waterton the sister Canadian NP of Glacier.
We do not have passports and now I wish we did.
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Old 07-21-2016, 07:01 PM   #21
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I noticed from your signature you have the 450 cummins. Are you sure you don't have the Jake Brake instead of the exhaust break? I have the 2 speed Jake Brake, and Allison, I just flip it on and let it do its thing. If you have the exhaust brake, then this advice is invalid.
I have a two stage break and thought it was called an engine brake.
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Old 07-21-2016, 07:06 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by lenny-shawna View Post
I have a two stage break and thought it was called an engine brake.
Yes, it's an engine brake.

Jake Brake ( Jacobs Brake Co.) is a brand name of engine and exhaust brakes.

Most references to Jake brakes are referring to the internal engine brake, not the ones that block the exhaust.
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Old 07-21-2016, 07:13 PM   #23
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lenny-shawna,
Well, yes, you can let the Allison think for itself and it will do its job and survive. But, in true practical reality, based on just what kind of weight you will be hauling, the grades you will encounter, your ability to "out think" that programming of it and, the engines requirements, how crowded the roadways will be (just in case you decide to pickup speed for a grade and use a faster lane etc.) and a few more parameters, the "human" brain can, in most cases, be of more benefit to that engine and it's available HP than waiting for the trans to decide.

Our coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon, 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT, is moderatly powered for many of the grades you will encounter. It is seriously more advantageous for me to think ahead of time and do what manual shifting is needed to keep that coach and engine, at peak efficiency.

Now, not only is it advantageous to drive in that manor to "help" your engine but, in many cases, based on the outside temps, you will keep your engines heat down at a lower operating temp by downshifting for a grade, within reason, to keep your RPMs up which, will keep the fan speed up, which will pull max air through both the CAC and Radiator.

Some folks will simply push the pedal to the floor, let things operate as the electronics have planned, and go for broke, so to speak. That's OK, it's their coach/engine. I prefer to ASSIST ours to help preserve its life span.

As for descending grades, and the use of the exhaust brake, well, that subject's been covered a few zillion times on this and other forums. The "Standard" is, if at all possible, descend the hill as fast as you would climb it. Well, that's all well and good if, IF, the circumstances allow for it. But, quite often, you may crest a grade or, all of a sudden, you're descending a grade before you realize it and, you're about to gain speed.

So, in that case, you let the E-brake take over and, watch and listen to both your engine and tach, AND WHERE YOU'RE GOING! Depending on the grade, your present speed etc. your e-brake may or may not, begin to slow you down. Yes, based on it's operation and, the programming with both the Allison and the engines ECM, your coach will automatically down shift to the next lower gear than you're presently in. If you begin a grade in 6th, and, you're at say, 65 or so mph, you may not feel the actual down shift due to the fact that a 6-5 down shift, at 65, the ebrake is too over powered by inertia and, 5th gear is not low enough to make a difference at that speed. Never the less, it will do it automatically.

And, what you'll see on you shift pad is "2". Not to be alarmed, your trans is not in SECOND gear at 65 mph. That's only a target gear for the operation. If your trans were to actually downshift to second at 65, you'd find engine and trans parts spread all over a couple of zip codes.

So, take your time, learn as you drive, learn your coach, engine and transmission. There's lots of USA to see and feel while you travel. So taking care of your coach, WHILE you're driving it, will help you accomplish your trip/vacation.
Scott
Good advice and I definitely take the proactive approach to extending the life of these machines. I just was not sure on downshifting a large coach like this.

Apparently I going to have to educate myself on how to properly manually shift this beast.

Thanks again,
Lenny
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Old 07-21-2016, 07:16 PM   #24
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Thank you everybody for taking the time to share your expertise with me.
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Old 07-21-2016, 07:55 PM   #25
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You might find this to be worthwhile: Mountain Directory for Truckers, RV, and Motorhome Drivers

Here's a description of what they have to offer:

VITAL INFORMATION FOR ANYONE DRIVING A LARGE OR HEAVY VEHICLE

In an attempt to make mountain driving a little safer for truckers and RV'ers, R&R Publishing Inc. has been collecting and publishing information about mountain passes and steep grades since 1993. We now offer this information in several formats. We still have the printed books (over 140,000 sold) and we now have three digital versions. We have ebooks, which will work on PCs and laptops running Windows, we have apps for iPhones and iPads, and we have apps for Android phones and tablets.

Take care,
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Old 07-21-2016, 09:30 PM   #26
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Definitely get the 'Mountain Directory'.

I predict that after you do your first western 'hill' you'll love it!! They grow on you.
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Old 07-22-2016, 05:51 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by 777 Driver View Post
You might find this to be worthwhile: Mountain Directory for Truckers, RV, and Motorhome Drivers

Here's a description of what they have to offer:

VITAL INFORMATION FOR ANYONE DRIVING A LARGE OR HEAVY VEHICLE

In an attempt to make mountain driving a little safer for truckers and RV'ers, R&R Publishing Inc. has been collecting and publishing information about mountain passes and steep grades since 1993. We now offer this information in several formats. We still have the printed books (over 140,000 sold) and we now have three digital versions. We have ebooks, which will work on PCs and laptops running Windows, we have apps for iPhones and iPads, and we have apps for Android phones and tablets.

Take care,
Stu
Stu,
I will certainly read Mountain Directory.
Thanks
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:37 AM   #28
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You will do a lot better manual shifting to keep your RPM's up while climbing. Engine will run cooler.
I agree with this post.
Check your temps when climbing grades.
My Monaco with Cummins ISC and Allison 3000 tranny liked to overheat while climbing even less than 6% grades. I called the dealer and the solution was very simple. Manually downshift when going up long grades. Never had a problem after that. Shift back to auto at the top of the grade and turn on the engine brake as you begin to descend.
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