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Old 02-26-2015, 09:38 PM   #1
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Rig Feedback Chevy Big Block

I'd like to hear from those who have had experience with the chevy big block, 7.4, 8.1 engine's.
Preferably your opinion's on towing with it, either the 2500 or the 3500 crew cab serie's, 2 wd or 4 wd
What you pull
What you like and don't like
What tranny
Reliabiity
Problem's
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Old 02-27-2015, 01:31 AM   #2
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I have an '03 GMC ext. cab short box 2500 HD with the 8.1 and Allison with 56,000 miles on it. I pull an '11 Forrest River 271 rl Wildcat. Advertized weight was 7600 pounds I think with a 1080 pin weight. When I load the truck with the camper's weight, it only drops the back of the truck 1 1/4 inches, as measured at the receiver hitch. Best fuel mileage I've seen was 8.2 and worst was 7.6 while pulling the camper and empty it's around 11.5 MPG. The truck has the Allison 5 speed. The only thing I'd like to change is the shift points in the tranny. It seems to want to run in a higher rpm range than what I think it should before it shifts to higher gears. My 2000 Chevy 3500 with the 350 and l480E tranny runs between 1500 and 2200 rpm with the 8.1 between 1600 and 2600, both trucks empty. I think the diesels I've rode in shifted at much lower rpms than my 8.1. I've read that the 8.1 makes 90% of it's torque at 2000 rpm and I believe it. I've never ran the motor past 3200 rpm climbing a grade out of over drive and it likes 65 MPH a lot in OD.
I chose it over a diesel because of initial cost at purchase and cost of maintenance and repairs, should they happen. Sure the diesel will pull better at lower rpm and save on fuel cost,, maybe but I'll never have a turbo go out on me and other things related to a 17 to 1 compression ratio. I may buy more fuel but I saved about $10,000.00 on the purchase price over a diesel truck of the same year and make with the same 51,000 mile odometer. I can drive it for a long time on $10,000 worth of fuel. It's a relaxed drive, pulling my 5th wheel as compared to having my foot on the floor with my old 350. It will pull a long ways before it finds a grade steep enough to kick it out of overdrive and doesn't stay in 4th for long. Really doesn't hunt through the gears and that is what is relaxing about driving it.
I've done a lot of reading on power upgrades on the 8.1 but most of them seem to only help upper rpm performance, where I don't need it. It's really fine the way it is, no matter what super truck you think you have there will always be someone out there with more power than you and I've never raced anyone to a camp spot yet.
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Old 02-27-2015, 01:34 AM   #3
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Here's a pic of mime.
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Old 02-28-2015, 11:02 AM   #4
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Thank's for the reply very helpful.
Is the weight of the fiver pretty light, I thought they were up in the 11,000 range?
Is the truck 2 or 4 wd?
I'm pulling with an 04 Silverado 1/2 ton crew cab, with a supercharger and getting 10mpg towing a 29 foot keystone cougar however I'm not sure of the weight off the top of my head.
We're considering another camper and if we do I'm gonna have to get another truck unfortunately.
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Old 02-28-2015, 03:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by 04 keystone View Post
Thank's for the reply very helpful.
Is the weight of the fiver pretty light, I thought they were up in the 11,000 range?
Is the truck 2 or 4 wd?
I'm pulling with an 04 Silverado 1/2 ton crew cab, with a supercharger and getting 10mpg towing a 29 foot keystone cougar however I'm not sure of the weight off the top of my head.
We're considering another camper and if we do I'm gonna have to get another truck unfortunately.

My 5th wheel had an advertised weight of around 7500 pounds. I weighed it once loaded, with fresh water full and ready to camp at 8640 pounds. The Extra Lite Wildcat says 1/2 ton towable on the sticker, maybe so but I'm very comfortable with my 2500HD doing the job.
All my fuel mileage calculations are actual using GPS speeds and miles and gas pump readings as this truck is not equipped with a fuel mileage readout. I'm not a light truck guy, I'd rather have larger bearings and brakes than what ~might do the job. It's really a comfortable job for this truck to pull and comfortable to drive. Most of the time it's cruising in overdrive and very quiet inside!
I've recently looked at an Open Range 311 FLR 5th wheel and it had an advertised empty weight of somewhere around 8800 pounds and 35 feet long. I wouldn't be afraid of pulling it with this truck.
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:07 AM   #6
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I had a '04 Chevy 2500hd with the 8.1 and Allison 5 speed. We pulled a Sundance 2998RB that weighed around 11,500 loaded. The truck pulled with no problems, expect that it only got about 6.5mpg loaded, but the best I could ever get empty was around 10mpg. Traded the truck in with 100,000 miles on it.


2011 GMC 3500hd dually
2014 Avalanche
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:11 AM   #7
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Also mine was a cc/sb 4x4 all stock except tires, 285x 75R 16


2011 GMC 3500hd dually
2014 Avalanche
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Old 03-01-2015, 09:57 AM   #8
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Also mine was a cc/sb 4x4 all stock except tires, 285x 75R 16


2011 GMC 3500hd dually
2014 Avalanche
Those larger tires will kill your fuel mileage and power. That said I have 265's on mine, I bought them for my 2000 3500 when I pulled the 5th wheel with it for only a summer. I put the 265's on the 8.1 because when I bought the 8.1 it still had the original 245's on it and they were shot. When these 265's are worn out I'll go back to 245's for better gearing effect. I have 3.73 gears in the truck now, if it had 4.10's I'd leave the 265's on because they just look better in the wheel wells.
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