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Old 07-07-2014, 12:43 PM   #1
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Grants Pass

I am planning a trip from Southern California through Oregon. My wife wants to visit and camp at Grants Pass. From what I can gather from local grade issues, there are some pretty steep grade alerts in route to Grants Pass from the North. I have been raving about 2 years with a Thor Tuscany, 36MQ, W/ Cummings 360HP diesel. My experience on steep grades has not been stellar. I use the exhaust brake but have had issues keeping speed down while descending grades at or above 6%. I have a friend who has a 40 ft motor home that has 2 has both a high and a low exhaust or jake brake and he is fearless on steep grades. I typically tow a Honda CRV as a dingy with an Invisibrake system. I am looking for feedback from anyone that has visited Grants Pass with a class A diesel that could share their experience /advice.

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Old 07-07-2014, 12:51 PM   #2
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Hey, we go up and down I-5, Grants Pass has beautiful scenery, never worried about the grades. BTW we travel in a 37' gasser.


Fred and Bonnie
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:58 PM   #3
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First, welcome to iRV2! Lots of friendly people here with lots of information, should you need it.

You should have no problem going over Grants Pass. Although a steep grade, remember that whatever gear you go UP in, use that same gear going DOWN. That will help keep speed under control. Use the "stab" method of braking. With the exhaust brake doing its job, you'll only need to step on the brakes on occasion to keep the speed at the appropriate level you choose. Remember - same gear up, same gear down. Gas engines will provide compression braking that a diesel engine will not - they're different beasts - and that's why you have an engine exhaust brake.

We travel over Wolf Creek Pass here in Colorado very often (it's the only way out of town for us to the east), and this method of keeping speed under control works fine. We normally go down at about 35 - 40 mph at the fastest. And Wolf Creek is WAY steeper and longer than Grants Pass.

Hope that helps! Others will certainly chime it to help you out...
Joe and Debbie, Emma the Aussie Cattle Dog who adopted us
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:02 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum.

I doubt you'll have any problem at all getting to Grants Pass.

BTW, if you have any handling issues with your coach, Henderson's Line Up is located in Grants Pass and are among the best in the nation at diagnosing and fixing handling issues.

Best of Luck

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

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Old 07-07-2014, 01:07 PM   #5
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We blew a catalytic converter going up a grade there and had to stay in GP for a couple of days. It's a neat little town. Visiting the caves was one of our best days. Well worth a stopover for however long it takes IMHO.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:14 PM   #6
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:21 PM   #7
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It seems like its all uphill from Shasta Lake to Yreka. then after that the only big hills are the Siskiyou's at the Cali-Or border. Just after Grants Pass is what we call the roller coaster pretty much up and down all the way to Canyonville.
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Old 07-07-2014, 06:05 PM   #8
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Look up "snub braking technique" on the internet.

Come over the top at a sensible speed (ie the speed you want to go down at) and continually monitor the engine RPM. If it is increasing and sensible snub braking doesn't keep things under control then apply brakes firmly to reduce speed until the transmission drops down a gear. Foot right off the brake. Again monitor the RPM and frequency of snub braking. If still not under control, apply firm braking again until the transmission drops another gear and reassess.

Reason for monitoring engine RPM is that the transmission and engine have only one aim in life and that is not to destroy themselves by allowing engine speed to exceed the safe maximum. Generally (depending on your rig) up to 2500RPM is no problem and in fact the higher the engine speed, the more effective the auxiliary braking is. Too much over that RPM and the transmission will shift UP a gear, the engine RPM will drop and your auxiliary braking is reduced and you are out of control. Brake very firmly until the tranmission drops back a gear again and probably best to then reduce speed further until it driops two gears and then monitor again.

Aim is to be able to maintain speed within a band of say 80% to 100% of your target speed by moderately firm application of brakes when it gets to 100% for a few seconds to get it back to 80% and then stay off the brakes until it gets to 100% again. Brake ON-OFF duty cycle will depend on a few factors but I aim for 10%. Those with a higher tolerance for excitement might be happy with higher.

All sounds too difficult, but isn't really once you figure out what influences what.

The aim is to get to the bottom without smoking the place up. Couple of weeks ago we stopped for a truckdriver on the western side of Monarch Pass. Every wheel on the rig was sending up thick clouds of white smoke and he was walking around and around with a fire extinguisher the size of a beer can hoping his tyres wouldn't catch fire.. Flatlander driver didn't realise he was in trouble until he totally lost all brakes. Had engine brakes but didn't know he had to change down as well. Never been taught snub braking technique. Lucky man.

BTW going down the hill in the same gear you come up is just a rough starting point. Part of the problem is you may not know what gear you came up in anyway, and another is that an auto trannie is not the same beast as a manual transmission. Too many other factors - including maybe having a BIG engine with lots of torque on the way up vs a big load and maybe not such an effective exhaust brake on the way down. Only sure way is to take control of things and keep ahead of the situation.
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Old 07-07-2014, 09:52 PM   #9
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Just came from there. We drive a 39 foot gas and had no problem. Beautiful place. Ate at Taprock on the river and it's really nice. Stayed at River Park RV Park, again right on the river. Really nice.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:22 AM   #10
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We went up I-5 through there last February. I don't recall any particular grade problems. We were slow, but I'm moving 35K lbs with a 330 Cat so we're not the fastest ones up the hill.

We liked the look of the place, so we stayed three nights there, at the Beavercreek RV Park. Poked around town, drove up the canyon, nice place.

Coming downhill, just pick your speed, don't let the traffic pick it for you, and note the yellow speed limit warnings at curves-- they're there for large vehicles that might be top-heavy. Pay attention to them. Others have described the same, time-proven method. If you want to come down at 45, then turn your exhaust brake on as you crest, and bracket 45mph going down. On a steep downgrade, even with the exhaust brake you may pick up a bit of speed. When you pick up to near 50, brake firmly down to under 45-- about 5 seconds. Brake such that you drop about 1 mph per second- 5 seconds, 5 mph. Then get your foot OFF the brake. OFF. Let them cool as you roll. When it builds back up toward 50 again, repeat the process. If you find that you're building speed faster than you're taking it off, (i.e.- more than 1 mph per second), then manually downshift one gear.

The point is to keep it under control- mostly with the engine- by making small corrections as soon as you see a small excursion. That means you have to pay attention. If you never let it get away from you, you'll never have to worry about getting it back. I'm sure you'll be fine.
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:36 AM   #11
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I agree with the others (and just did the I-5 southbound last week).

One thing to keep in mind: if you feel you need to slow down, DO IT! No one ever got fired for going downhill too fast Also, if possible, try and brake in a straight line, and be off brakes (except for the exhaust brake) in the turns -- the weight transfer while turning and braking is very unsettling.

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Old 07-08-2014, 12:45 PM   #12
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One of the things Oregon allows that many states do not is allowing driving on the shoulder. As soon as you cross into Oregon on I-5 you come up behind trucks driving on the shoulder. You can also drive on that shoulder if you are backing up traffic.

Just south of Grants Pass near mile marker 45 is a state campground that is pretty nice on the side of the Rogue River. Up at marker 99 is the Seven Feathers Casino. They have an area for dry camping but they also have a very nice RV park.

As far as the grades others have pretty well covered that issue. You'll probably be a tad slow going up the hills, keep the RPM's up especially if it is hot outside and as they said go slow down the grades. There is a long downgrade starting near mile marker 6 down to Ashland - I'd suggest to be sure to hold down to 50 mph or less. I drive Grants Pass to Stockton area several times a year with my RV and towing.

If you are going to spend a few days in Grants Pass area a few suggestions: Jet boats or rafting on the Rogue River; checking out wild life images (a wild animal rescue group), the Oregon Caves, and the Big Cats of the World both near Cave Junction. Lowest fuel prices most often are at the Fred Meyer stores. If you notice low diesel prices near truck stops that is because the truck diesel is about $.25 less a gallon than we pay. (I've heard Truckers pay at the end of the tax year for road taxes.)
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:32 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by SteveLevin View Post
Also, if possible, try and brake in a straight line, and be off brakes (except for the exhaust brake) in the turns -- the weight transfer while turning and braking is very unsettling.

Great advice which is too often learned the hard way.

I'd add that the engine brake shouldn't be used on wet/slippery roads as well. I once had about a 30 mile steep descent in a sudden rain storm with my 40DP and toad. It required a great deal of concentration to do it without the engine brake but, when in doubt... I follow the trucks. Everyone was making very sure that then kept speeds well under control. Once it gets away from you it's really hard to get it back.

Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

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Old 07-08-2014, 08:01 PM   #14
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I drove the I-5 passes northbound in November last year with the exhaust brake in-operative. No problem keeping the speed down using 4th and 5th gears and occasionally tapping the brakes. I did pay attention to the yellow curve speed advisory signs as JFXG noted. Rig weighs around 30,000 and has air brakes.

Randy, Karen and a couple of mangy cats
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