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Old 11-01-2014, 06:34 PM   #1
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Chevy 454 vs Mountains

I have a 1989 34 foot Holiday Rambler with a Chevy 454 in it. I can't really see taking this anywhere near the mountains (steep grades) or am I just being overly cautious. Has anyone here have any experience with this engine and mountains?

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Old 11-01-2014, 06:59 PM   #2
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I just got a 34 foot Fleetwood Southwind, 1988, with a chevy 454 in it. I like to camp in the White Mountains, so I am very interested in the responses you get...

Karl I. Sagal KarlSagal@Gmail.com
Well done is better than well said. (Ben Franklin)
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Old 11-01-2014, 07:01 PM   #3
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Years ago we took our 30' 1985 454 equipped Southwind pulling a Dodge caravan on a dolly from Ohio to Yellowstone, Mt.Rushmore and had a great time.
Our 4 children called it the " vacation of the century"!
It wasn't the fastest rv out there but was more than adequate and as I remember was a pleasure to drive.
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Old 11-01-2014, 07:06 PM   #4
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I believe both the 88 & 89 Chevy 454 engines would not be fuel injected models so not as much power models as 5 /6 years later. Still should have enough power for mountains for reasonable weight toad.
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Old 11-01-2014, 07:23 PM   #5
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Years ago that's all anyone had. As a kid we had a Diplomat with a Chrysler 440 in it pulling a vw bug then a chevy dually with a 350 in it pulling a 32ft fith wheel. There shouldn't be a mountain out there your motorhome won't pull. You may have to let it cool down if a grade is several miles long but that's what people used to do. I would just make sure the motor/trans is in good shape

We are used to massive amounts of horsepower In everything now and forget how to take it easy and let a vehical walk up a hill. Just wave as the big horsepower guys blow by. You'll get there a few mins later
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:14 PM   #6
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I have same engine but with port injection. I'm pulling a heavy dolly and a 3500lb car. I jus' use the gears...that's what they're for. Allow everyone in the left lane to pass. That's what the left lanes are for. I do all the mountain states. Jus' have patience and don't let the high torque vehicles intimidate you. Smile as they go by as you and I get 11mpg @55. Life is good.
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Old 11-01-2014, 09:27 PM   #7
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I had a carb. 454 in a class A and drove it all over! Like the others said, it will get you there just fine, depends if you have the O/D trans or not on how fast drive. If it has the o/d, do not let it hunt back and forth as that will overheat the trans. very quickly! Enjoy the scenery and remember to go down the mountain the same speed you went up! Enjoy, it will do just fine! Rail!
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:47 AM   #8
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my 1993 HR 454 goes through the mountains just fine pulling my Jeep Wrangler.

I did take my sister once and the MH downshifted two gears, she looked over at me and smiled "$20 hill?". LOL
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Old 11-02-2014, 10:52 AM   #9
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Our 88 Bounder has a normal, carb'ed, 3-speed 454 and did the I-70 Vail & Eisenhower just fine. Slowly, but just fine. Never came close to heating up or anything. As others have said, the 454 has been around for decades and there are/were literally hundreds of thousands of them in M/Hs, bread trucks, UPS vans, and MDTs of varying size. You'll be fine.
Always remember, you're a unique individual - just like the other 7 billion people on the planet...
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Old 11-02-2014, 12:41 PM   #10
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Thank you to all, this does help my confidence level... knowledge is power so they say... and I am still new at this.

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Old 11-02-2014, 01:05 PM   #11
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I appreciate all the reassuring comments as well! I'm dying to go out west and have wondered about my 8.1 and the Rockies towing a Wrangler. A little less apprehensive now.
Bill & Pam
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:16 PM   #12
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In my childhood days, we had a 1976 26' class a allegro with a 454 and 4 barrel quadra-jet carb. It was a fairly light rig, i think around 13,000lbs. That old engine was a great workhorse, and dad never hesitated to take the mountains head on... and we always survived. Back then, we got 6 or 7 mpg on a good day with the wind at our backs. The only thing I would suggest is making sure that your cooling system is in good shape... other than that, getting up the mountain shouldn't be a problem.

It's fun sometimes to be able to put the torque to the pavement and race up a mountain grade, but if you can't then just sit back and enjoy the scenery as you lumber up the pass. Like someone said before... you'll arrive a few minutes later than the big diesel rigs, but you'll get to see and enjoy creation out that big front window all the same.

I think what's more important than being able to get up the mountain quickly... is being able to get down the mountain safely. Good brakes... knowing how and when to use the gears to help slow you down... good tires... etc... anything that can keep you from doing a swan dive off the edge of a switchback is probably more important than how fast you can get to the top.

Enjoy your travels...

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Old 11-03-2014, 07:06 AM   #13
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You could always drop a set of headers and straight through mufflers on it. Put a truck air filter on it that is taller than stock, or double stack the stock air filter.
Another trick would be to install an adjustable fuel regulator. By lowering the pressure against the needle, you can skew the mixture slightly without starving it for fuel. inlet pressure will make a small difference against the needle valve. Back when I was running the carb 454, I installed an electronic fuel pump. The higher pressure made it run rich. It would actually spray fuel out the exhaust under WOT. I installed a regulator, which brought it back down. I found I could skew it lean or rich, depending on the fuel pressure. Of course if I got it too lean, it would restrict the flow, but there was a range where it was very adjustable. If you look at the needle valve in your carb, you can see that the force of fuel against the needle pushes down on the float. It is designed for a predicted amount of pressure. Slightly more pressure will sink the floats - of course, way to much pressure will prevent it from closing. Too little pressure will result in the floats sitting slightly higher in the fuel and lean it out. You can't make big differences, but there is a range where it is adjustable.
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Old 11-04-2014, 03:54 PM   #14
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Use to have a 1994 Bounder with a 454, I'm glad I don't have it today, Climbing Wolf's Creek Pass in Colorado, I thought the engine was going to fly out, 35 mph, had to pull over twice, pulling a saturn!. Climbing the mountains of W.V. that 454 was howling! Got a 8.1 Cummins now, right over those mountains now, no problem, going down, put on exhaust brake, don't even have to touch the foot brake.

2001 Islander
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454, chevy

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