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Old 08-16-2005, 09:49 AM   #1
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On Saturday August 13, 2005 I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Bob Tiffin at Dixie RV, the Tiffin dealer in Baton Rouge, La. Mr. Tiffin was there to greet customers and showcase some of his 2006 models. I was there to learn more about Tiffin's plans for the FRED chassis being introduced by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), of Gaffney, SC.

Mr. Tiffin stated he had been concerned about rising fuel prices for the past couple of years. And he felt the need for a product he could offer that would be priced between the premium quality gas chassis from Workhorse and the currently available rear engine diesel pusher chassis from FCCC and Spartan. He said he went to FCCC asking them to develop a diesel powered chassis that could provide more torque and better fuel economy, but that would be nearly identical to the WCC chassis "footprint" so he could build the same "house" without a redesign.

Tiffin Motorhomes is planning to offer the FRED chassis as an optional chassis on their 2006 Allegro Bay models, which include the 34XB, 37DB, and 38TDB floorplans. He also stated this chassis option will include a diesel genset, located in the same place as the gas genset on the WCC powered Allegro Bays. When asked about price difference, he was unwilling to quote exact numbers, saying they were hoping to get such details from FCCC soon.

According to FCCC literature dated 6/30/05, the FRED 26,000 GVWR (30,000 GCVWR) chassis will utilize a 300 Hp Cummins 5.9 Electronic Diesel, with 600 lb-ft torque, Variable Geometry Turbo-Engine Brake, and 160 amp alternator. The Allison 2100MH "5 speed Transmission with overdrive" was chosen,using an Arens Push Button Shift Selector, and the transmission will ship filled with Transynd fluid.

The FRED will have an 80 gallon fuel tank between the rails, 255/70R 22.5 tires, and a Hendrickson 55 degree wheel cut front axle rated at 10,000 lbs with Parabolic springs and custom tuned Sachs shocks. The rear axle is by Axle Alliance Corp. with 4.78 gears, rated at 17,500 lbs and has Hendrickson 60" taper leaf springs and Sachs shocks. The FCCC warranty is 3 years, 50,000 miles.

Mr. Tiffin started building motorhomes in 1972, and number 50,000 was completed in February 2005 at his factory located in Red Bay, Alabama which now employs more than 1000 people. He is a friendly gentleman who was instantly willing to talk openly with me on a hot Saturday morning, in the shade of the awning on an Allegro Bus. He explained they had received two FRED chassis, for prototype use.

They used a decibel meter to take sound level readings at various RPM levels from the bare chassis. More readings were taken after the floor was installed, and again after the "house" was completed. Mr. Tiffin stated there have been tremendous improvements made by Cummins to quite the engine, as compared to earlier models used in Dodge pick up trucks. He claims the sound level inside the prototype motorhome was almost exactly the same as the level in a gas chassis at the same speed.

He stated the Cummins will reach its peak torque at around 1600-1800 RPMs, and therefore provides hill-flattening power at much lower sound level than you might expect. While definitive testing is not yet complete, they are expecting average MPG to be 10-11 at 55-60 MPH.

At the present time, FCCC is using one of the prototypes for testing and certification, and Tiffin dealers and salespeople are being introduced to the other. Normal production of Allegro Bay motorhomes with the FRED chassis option will begin during the fall of 2005, as soon as FCCC can begin production and delivery of this new platform. Mr. Tiffin plans to send one of the first units produced to each sales region, so you may have to search around to find one, early on. For more information contact Tiffin Motorhomes at 256-356-8661 or go to http://www.tiffinmotorhomes.com. Of course, I'm sure you will find it right here on iRV2.com, too! ED
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Old 08-16-2005, 09:49 AM   #2
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On Saturday August 13, 2005 I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Bob Tiffin at Dixie RV, the Tiffin dealer in Baton Rouge, La. Mr. Tiffin was there to greet customers and showcase some of his 2006 models. I was there to learn more about Tiffin's plans for the FRED chassis being introduced by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), of Gaffney, SC.

Mr. Tiffin stated he had been concerned about rising fuel prices for the past couple of years. And he felt the need for a product he could offer that would be priced between the premium quality gas chassis from Workhorse and the currently available rear engine diesel pusher chassis from FCCC and Spartan. He said he went to FCCC asking them to develop a diesel powered chassis that could provide more torque and better fuel economy, but that would be nearly identical to the WCC chassis "footprint" so he could build the same "house" without a redesign.

Tiffin Motorhomes is planning to offer the FRED chassis as an optional chassis on their 2006 Allegro Bay models, which include the 34XB, 37DB, and 38TDB floorplans. He also stated this chassis option will include a diesel genset, located in the same place as the gas genset on the WCC powered Allegro Bays. When asked about price difference, he was unwilling to quote exact numbers, saying they were hoping to get such details from FCCC soon.

According to FCCC literature dated 6/30/05, the FRED 26,000 GVWR (30,000 GCVWR) chassis will utilize a 300 Hp Cummins 5.9 Electronic Diesel, with 600 lb-ft torque, Variable Geometry Turbo-Engine Brake, and 160 amp alternator. The Allison 2100MH "5 speed Transmission with overdrive" was chosen,using an Arens Push Button Shift Selector, and the transmission will ship filled with Transynd fluid.

The FRED will have an 80 gallon fuel tank between the rails, 255/70R 22.5 tires, and a Hendrickson 55 degree wheel cut front axle rated at 10,000 lbs with Parabolic springs and custom tuned Sachs shocks. The rear axle is by Axle Alliance Corp. with 4.78 gears, rated at 17,500 lbs and has Hendrickson 60" taper leaf springs and Sachs shocks. The FCCC warranty is 3 years, 50,000 miles.

Mr. Tiffin started building motorhomes in 1972, and number 50,000 was completed in February 2005 at his factory located in Red Bay, Alabama which now employs more than 1000 people. He is a friendly gentleman who was instantly willing to talk openly with me on a hot Saturday morning, in the shade of the awning on an Allegro Bus. He explained they had received two FRED chassis, for prototype use.

They used a decibel meter to take sound level readings at various RPM levels from the bare chassis. More readings were taken after the floor was installed, and again after the "house" was completed. Mr. Tiffin stated there have been tremendous improvements made by Cummins to quite the engine, as compared to earlier models used in Dodge pick up trucks. He claims the sound level inside the prototype motorhome was almost exactly the same as the level in a gas chassis at the same speed.

He stated the Cummins will reach its peak torque at around 1600-1800 RPMs, and therefore provides hill-flattening power at much lower sound level than you might expect. While definitive testing is not yet complete, they are expecting average MPG to be 10-11 at 55-60 MPH.

At the present time, FCCC is using one of the prototypes for testing and certification, and Tiffin dealers and salespeople are being introduced to the other. Normal production of Allegro Bay motorhomes with the FRED chassis option will begin during the fall of 2005, as soon as FCCC can begin production and delivery of this new platform. Mr. Tiffin plans to send one of the first units produced to each sales region, so you may have to search around to find one, early on. For more information contact Tiffin Motorhomes at 256-356-8661 or go to http://www.tiffinmotorhomes.com. Of course, I'm sure you will find it right here on iRV2.com, too! ED
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Old 08-18-2005, 07:40 AM   #3
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Good info, Ed. Thanks for the informative post. This is going to be an interesting development to watch.

The 5.9L Cummins generally delivers distinctly superior fuel economy (compared to V10 or 8.1L V8) in this load range and more torque. I would expect 9.5-11 mpg in a 25-30,000 lb [GCW] rig. If they can harness the noise to gas engine levels on the city streets and staightaways, getting low-RPM diesel power on the hills will be a distinct advantage for this chassis. Should end up quieter than gas during climbs up grades over 4-5%.
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Old 08-18-2005, 01:28 PM   #4
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">This is going to be an interesting development to watch. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
I'm planning to do just that...watch. And I'll be watching for the chance to see/hear one in person.

In the interim, I went to the Cummins website to gather more info about this engine. The sales pitch there makes statements such as :
"It's fuel economy, long oil change intervals and minimum maintence make the ISB the low-cost-of-ownership leader in its class" and
".....is arguably the quietest diesel engine in motorhomes today." and
"the Holset VG Turbocharger functions as an exhaust brake-eliminates exhaust brake maintenance concerns"

The 24 valve-in-head engine develops it's 600 lb.ft torque rating at 1600 RPMs,and maintains it up to 2600 RPMs. The horsepower curve is 175 @ 1600, reaching ~300 HP @ 2600 (governed speed).
The 6 cylinder, 1150 pound, motor holds 4 U.S. Gallons of oil with a 1 year or 15,000 miles change interval. Fuel Filter change is same as Oil, and there is no coolant filter included. Valve adjustment at 150,000 miles. The engine uses the latest diagnostic and engine protection software in it's ECM.

Cummins warranty is 5 years or 100,000 miles, parts and labor, and includes towing for the first year. Extended Coverage plans are available for purchase thru Cummins distributors.

The combination of this engine with an Allison 2100MH tranny on a 26,000 pound GVWR chassis makes it worth watching indeed. I just hope the noise being up front can be properly mitigated. ED
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Old 08-18-2005, 02:53 PM   #5
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Winnebago makes a FRED it's called a View and Fleetwood unveiled a FRED in Louisville but I don't see it in their product mix at this time. Both of these vehicle use a Mercedes diesel engine.
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Old 08-18-2005, 03:33 PM   #6
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Winnebago makes a FRED it's called a View </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
OK, Mike! Ya got me I got all excited and thought you were just doing your usual good job of keeping us all informed.

Somehow, I don't think a 10,200 GVWR "sprinter" chassis under a class C is quite what "we" had in mind when reviewing the recently announced FRED by FCCC.
Ya know, payback is......well you know ED
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Old 08-19-2005, 06:49 AM   #7
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by edgray:...Somehow, I don't think a 10,200 GVWR "sprinter" chassis under a class C is quite what "we" had in mind when reviewing the recently announced FRED by FCCC... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I agree...FRED is a diff animal than the Sprinter
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Old 08-19-2005, 08:58 PM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by LandHo:
I agree...FRED is a diff animal than the Sprinter </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Com'on guys I don't think that FCCC has a copyright on FRED do they? If the machine is a front engine diesel, and runs like front engine diesel and makes noise like it's a front engine diesel then it's a duck er... a FRED.

By the way guys although nobody thought about this but could FRED run on Ethel? If it did then we'd probably see a "Mertz" variant before too long.
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Old 08-22-2005, 08:09 AM   #9
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Posted by DriVer:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">If it did then we'd probably see a "Mertz" variant before too long. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

NAW, That would require Mercedes to buy Hertz , and then what would Ford do without it's biggest market! ED
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Old 09-07-2005, 04:17 AM   #10
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FreightLiners FRont End Diesel FRED, is spec'd as a CLASS "A" only and they do have exclusive rights to some of their technology.
The Sprinter units are Class "C", which is an area that some manufacture have been directing their attentions.
These high fuel prices have a lot of MotorHome Manufactures scurring to come up with something that will bring in revenue.
If anyone watched Senate hearings last night, I think the Senators were way to easy on the Energy Commission. The 3 Energy Commission Administrators were dumbfoundedhad and gave nothing but laim excuses for the high prices. It was almost like they themselves were sleeping all this time. I commend Senator Burr, he almost jumped in their face and kept them squrming in their seats. Something is amuck there and we need our Senators to get really tough with these folks. As one Senator put it, "this isn't a competitive market place, it's corupt". And I'll second that all day long.

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Old 09-07-2005, 09:36 AM   #11
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Radarr:
These high fuel prices have a lot of MotorHome Manufactures scurring to come up with something that will bring in revenue. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Radarr, Just speaking about high fuel prices "alone", my observations show that diesel fuel prices remain significantly higher than gasoline. Some state governements add additional taxes on diesel fuel more so than for gasoline. With the justification being solely fuel cost the need for FRED seems somewhat less important and one can only see diminishing returns comparred to a front engine gasoline engine.

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">While definitive testing is not yet complete, they are expecting average MPG to be 10-11 at 55-60 MPH </div></BLOCKQUOTE> My experience at this speed with the gas engine I'm using has returned MPG values in the upper 8s and low 9s.

I believe if we were to work the numbers out that the CP/Mi would be too close to matter.
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Old 09-07-2005, 02:51 PM   #12
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Mike, I guess the price differential depends on where you travel. Saturday we leave here for Michigan. Diesel is cheaper at every Flying J we can stop at. In Canada, at London, Flying J is 0.82US per gallon less for diesel. In Michigan it is 5 cents a gallon less at Grand Ledge.

When we head south to Florida at the end of October there are 4 Flying J's on our list as fuel up points (no idea what our new ISC will consume yet). From north to south on I75 diesel is cheaper by 14 cents, 12 cents, 35 cents and 6 cents.

Further, the Flying J site has several stations marked in yellow for potential problems with supply (some in GA and FL) and those problems are for the supply of regular not diesel.

So, as usual, there are two sides to every coin.
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Old 09-07-2005, 02:51 PM   #13
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Being relatively new I wonder about this and maybe some of you old timers can help. Have companys tried front engine diesel before with "large" Class A's? If so, why did they not continue with them? Regarding the cost of fuel, in our area gas is considerably cheaper than diesel. In my opinion it would take a lot of miles at the 1-2 mpg you may gain to recoup the additional costs of the front engine diesel over a gas engine. It might work out to be the way to go, but I along with others will have to wait and see.

Take care.
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Old 09-08-2005, 05:37 AM   #14
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I don't think any ever made into actual production. The earlier diesels were very noisy and to quiet them down was difficult.
I'think you'll be surprised at the actual cost difference/savings and how much you will benifit from the diesel. FreightLiner wounldn't have gone through all the expense of getting their chassis certified if it wouldn't meet the criteria the customers have been asking for.

I would like to see FreightLiner use more larger CAT engines, but the cost of certification for each one is very expensive, and there needs to be a strong demand to warrant the expense.

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