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Old 04-06-2014, 08:20 AM   #1
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AZ Mountain Driving---How!

Hello everyone,
I am new to this forum and new to the world of Motor Homes.

I have a Tiffin Red 38QRA 340-Cummings and 3500 Allison-towing Jeep Wrangler

I am from FL so I have little mountain driving experience.

Is my coach going to be able to handle grades of 6-7% on I-40?

When approaching a grade should I have the Trans in standard or economy mode? The going up what should my actions be. I think that I am a little more concerned going up then coming down.

Any help would be appreciated.....Thanks

GKU
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:35 AM   #2
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What year is your Tiffin? Mine is a 2010 and it has the MT2500 Allison trans. For climbing you are better off in standard mode because it will downshift sooner and will run to higher RPMs before upshifting.

I don't know I-40, but pulling the big hill up I-81 out of Scranton, PA with our toad I can actually accelerate (slowly) up to 60. I haven't hit a hill (yet) that worst case I can't climb in 4th at 50 mph.
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:47 AM   #3
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Economy mode is fine for flat land and rolling hills but you will not want to use it in mountains.

You should be fine. When climbing/descending grades remember that rpm's are your friend with a diesel. Don't always rely on the Allison to do all the shifting for you. When climbing you can use the buttons to downshift to a lower gear to keep the rpm's up and keep the engine from lugging. That will also prevent overheating.

Use your exhaust brake on the descent and supplement with firm but intermittent use of the service brakes. For example, if you want to maintain a speed of 45mph on a down hill grade, let the exhaust brake hold that speed if it can. If your speed increases, stab the service brakes firmly to get your speed back to 45. Do not ride the brakes which can cause them to overheat and fade.

Don't worry. Folks drive in mountains all the time with much lesser rigs. Just take your time and don't try to be the first one to the top of the hill.

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Old 04-06-2014, 08:51 AM   #4
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GKU... For any kind of mountain driving, or just large hills for that matter, you just need to pay attention and plan based on the hill. I don't know your coach but I am sure you will do fine. Don't lug your engine (low RPM's - low torque). Before getting on the hill I make sure I am running around 2,000 - 2,100 RPM, just select an appropriate gear. As you begin the climb keep an eye on your tach, as it begins to drop, the critical thing is to not wait too long to downshift or you'll loose the torque band and momentum. I normally downshift at around 1,700 RPM. Continue to do so to match the grade and length of the hill, just don't over rev the engine either. If you don't get it right no worries, just stay in the right and enjoy the slow lane, then try again on the next hill. We go over 11,000' passes all the time pulling a Jeep with a Cummins 350, no problem.

Happy trails...
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:49 AM   #5
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I live in northern Arizona and drive mountains frequently. I have a 275 HP ISB pushing approximately 27,000 lbs. Keep your radiator clean and when climbing keep the RPM s over 2,000 RPM.
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Old 04-06-2014, 09:59 AM   #6
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I can tell you this, I-40 SUCKS, and it especially sucks between Kingman and California (although kingman is a lovely place!)

I'm not sure which direction you're going, but the mountain pass near flagstaff is like a rollercoaster with narrow lanes against a wall of rock, twists, blind curves at the bottoms of grades, and pot holes the size of your grandmothers house, surrounded by 18 wheelers who think it's fun to do at 90MPH, and especially think it's fun to overtake you in a blind curve.... for about 22 miles...

IF you decide to drive on this incredibly poorly maintained road, be on the ready for how your exhaust brake works. And just get your coach down to say 45 and flip it on, it will hold you back no problem. Matter of fact, it will slow you down to 25 without even touching the brake... but be ready, cause everyone is gonna hate you for it

Ya wanna have real fun?? Do it at night

Better route, take 1-10 if you can. It's flat, wide, and lovely!
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:03 AM   #7
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quick followup, your coach is a great coach, it will "handle" it just fine, better than your nerves will, that's for sure.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:08 AM   #8
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Thanks for the help I am starting to feel a little better...just a little.

So going uphill should I hold a steady throttle and let the trans do the work?
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:11 AM   #9
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Yeah you will climb that hill just fine. I hit the bottom of it as fast as I can hahaha... I see it coming, so I just speed up..... and you slow down to the 50's, then 40's then it holds steady - I can actually accelerate up that grade, and you would be able to too.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:13 AM   #10
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Don't know when your tranny downshifts but as said before. Keep RPMs over 2000. If you have to do it manually do it.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:14 AM   #11
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And more than likely, you won't even have to touch your gears until you go downhill, but your coach is SMART, you're driving a top of the line rig there man, and your's, like mine, knows exactly when to shift and when not too. Going downhill, once I put on that engine brake, it knows what to do... once you hit a specific slow speed, it will nail 2nd and hold it.

Going up is not a problem.

Here's what you DO have to watch for. Some 18 wheelers will scream up that grade! And some won't! Some will put on their flashers and slow down to 25. If you get trapped behind one, forcing you to slow down too, it will take a lot of fuel and time to accelerate past them (which you WILL be able to do) So keep an eye on traffic ahead and behind you so you can plan your lane switches ahead of time. Cars will scream past you and be on you faster than you can spot them. So just be on the lookout
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:17 AM   #12
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Are you just passing straight through AZ from New Mexico to Cali? What's your route and trip here?

Hey if you go by Kingman, there is a GREAT rv park there just off the freeway, we allllmost didn't leave that place. Blake Ranch RV Park
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:21 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MandG-Fun View Post
GKU... For any kind of mountain driving, or just large hills for that matter, you just need to pay attention and plan based on the hill. I don't know your coach but I am sure you will do fine. Don't lug your engine (low RPM's - low torque). Before getting on the hill I make sure I am running around 2,000 - 2,100 RPM, just select an appropriate gear. As you begin the climb keep an eye on your tach, as it begins to drop, the critical thing is to not wait too long to downshift or you'll loose the torque band and momentum. I normally downshift at around 1,700 RPM. Continue to do so to match the grade and length of the hill, just don't over rev the engine either. If you don't get it right no worries, just stay in the right and enjoy the slow lane, then try again on the next hill. We go over 11,000' passes all the time pulling a Jeep with a Cummins 350, no problem.

Happy trails...
Quote:
Originally Posted by charles tuit View Post
Don't know when your tranny downshifts but as said before. Keep RPMs over 2000. If you have to do it manually do it.
X2 on keeping the RPMs up a little. Much better to climb at 3/4 throttle in one gear Vs same speed at WOT in the next gear up.
both are doing the same work (and same HP/TQ output) But The Water pump, cooling Fan, and oil pump are turning faster and doing a better job.
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:50 AM   #14
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I can't think of any steep grade you need to be all that concerned with on I-40 between NM & CA. There a little of a climb as you approach Flagstaff from the east, but not even close to 6%. Now If you choose to head south on I-17 from Flagstaff to Phoenix you'll run down a couple of steep grades, and one 6% climb at Camp Verde. If you stay on I-40 to Barstow and head south on I-15 in CA, there's a good drop after you pass Victorville. If you continue east from Barstow to Bakersfield on Hwy 85, you're going to do some climbing at Tehachapi Pass. These are all highways motorhomes travel every day. If your not experienced with steep grades, going up is easy, you need to be more concerned with going down. Just take it slow, come down a gear or two, and let other pass if they want. Welcome to the Southwest!
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