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Old 09-30-2022, 04:12 PM   #1
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Long steep grade

Wednesday I took a road trip to Flaming Gorge Ut area. The road goes through Vernal Ut and up hwy 191 through multiple tight switchbacks, plus you are going up a steep grade on this road. after getting to Manila you can return down Hwy 44, which has fewer curves. The issue with Hwy 44 is this down hill is 28+ miles of steady 8% grade. I have a CAT C-13 with the 2 speed engine Jake brake. My question is will this system handle this road with its steady grade? Kinda nervous since there are no runaway ramps on this route.
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Old 09-30-2022, 04:19 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DADSDOGHOUSE View Post
Wednesday I took a road trip to Flaming Gorge Ut area. The road goes through Vernal Ut and up hwy 191 through multiple tight switchbacks, plus you are going up a steep grade on this road. after getting to Manila you can return down Hwy 44, which has fewer curves. The issue with Hwy 44 is this down hill is 28+ miles of steady 8% grade. I have a CAT C-13 with the 2 speed engine Jake brake. My question is will this system handle this road with its steady grade? Kinda nervous since there are no runaway ramps on this route.

Will that "mechanicals" be fine-- absolutely.


As long as YOU are somewhat familiar with driving a heavy vehicle on both UP and DOWN grades.


How much mountain driving experience do you have in any heavy vehicle?
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Old 09-30-2022, 04:40 PM   #3
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I drove Hwy 44 south out of Manila just last year and had no problem with our two speed engine brake. It's not a continuous 8% grade as there are areas where it levels out some even a few uphills. Your other option is to go north on 530 to Green River Wyoming to I-80.
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Old 09-30-2022, 05:03 PM   #4
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I think you have some bad info. Utah 44 is 28 miles long, but not 8% all the way, not down all the way. Starting from Vernal, the altitude is ~7500'. Going west, the highway goes up and down to the gorge, but never over 8000' and never below 7000'. The highway then goes down in the gorge and climbs back up the other side - ~7200' at the Sheep Creek Overlook, ~6100 feet at the bottom of the gorge, and the ~6400' up to the north edge. FVrom the north edge into manila, the road is basically flat. The section from the Sheep Creek Overlook to the edge of the gorge is just 2.5 miles. I got these numbers from Google Earth. Google Earth also shows a lot of photographs along the route. It looks like a beautiful drive.

The secret to maximum control going down is to start slow and go slow. Your camper with the Jake Brake should make this drive easy. On 2 lane roads with long steep grades, your speed should be 30-40 mph (unless other wise marked to be lower). If there are switchbacks or tight turns, you wiull want to go even slower. I downshift my transmission when I start down, engage my exhaust brake, and coast down the hills. If my speed starts to climb, I use my brakes. I always try to brake in a straight section before a turn. If my target speed is 35, I might let the coach speed get up to 40mph and then brake to 30 mph. I am careful not to ride my brakes, and I want them to cool down between the points where I have to brake.
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Old 09-30-2022, 07:21 PM   #5
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I accidently put Manila as the mid point, it actually was Dutch John Flat, we went to Dripping Springs state park to see what the sites were like. However just before we got to it, we stumbled on Pine Forest RV park, it was in the pine trees and had 57 sites, abt 17 we could fit at 44 ft lenth. Full hookup, 30/50 amp, clean rest rooms, Bath house and laundry facilities, free internet, etc. My only concern was the the constant 8% grade warnings on hwy 44, Manila was at the very end, lots of scenery plus numerous deer and couple wild turkeys. Looks like a quiet place, I have been in mtn roads, just never such long grades. Slow and easy, I can toggle from 3 cyl to 6 cyl Jake brake settings. Thanx everbody for the feedback.
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Old 09-30-2022, 07:30 PM   #6
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If you are still in the Manila area, look for CR093/281 Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area just a few miles south of Manila. It's a country back road drive through some outstanding geological formations. It's not suitable for the motor home but a great drive in the toad.
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Old 09-30-2022, 09:46 PM   #7
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Find out which gear you Jake Brake will hold the speed steady and go with that and then
it doesn't matter how long the grade is.
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Old 09-30-2022, 10:26 PM   #8
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We were in Vernal two weeks ago. Stayed there and just drove back and forth to Flaming Gorge in the towed a couple times. The 8% grades going to Flaming Gorge were mostly very short. Coming back to Vernal is far more lengthy, steep and has 10 switchbacks. We chose to skip that experience in our gasser.

Lots more to do in Vernal than up at Flaming Gorge, especially this time of year.
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Old 10-01-2022, 08:27 AM   #9
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Made a trip thu that area years ago with no issues.

500hp 2-stage Jake and some common sense .... a beautiful drive.

Seen here Flaming Gorge one of the best road side lunch breaks we've ever had in 50k miles of travel in our coach.



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Old 10-11-2022, 02:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DADSDOGHOUSE View Post
Wednesday I took a road trip to Flaming Gorge Ut area. The road goes through Vernal Ut and up hwy 191 through multiple tight switchbacks, plus you are going up a steep grade on this road. after getting to Manila you can return down Hwy 44, which has fewer curves. The issue with Hwy 44 is this down hill is 28+ miles of steady 8% grade. I have a CAT C-13 with the 2 speed engine Jake brake. My question is will this system handle this road with its steady grade? Kinda nervous since there are no runaway ramps on this route.
First, the engine brake can be on as long as you need without harming your engine. Second, the key is to enter the grade at a speed that allows it to maintain your speed. I would suggest that this is about 40 mph going into an 8%, but certainly no higher than 45. If it starts to creep on you get on the service brakes early and hard, and get your speed down to around 30-35, and let it coast again until you see it near 45.

I've only had a tense moment on a grade in wet/snow where I could feel the wheels skidding a bit under engine braking. Tag axle helped a lot in that case.
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Old 10-12-2022, 09:49 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by DADSDOGHOUSE View Post
Wednesday I took a road trip to Flaming Gorge Ut area. The road goes through Vernal Ut and up hwy 191 through multiple tight switchbacks, plus you are going up a steep grade on this road. after getting to Manila you can return down Hwy 44, which has fewer curves. The issue with Hwy 44 is this down hill is 28+ miles of steady 8% grade. I have a CAT C-13 with the 2 speed engine Jake brake. My question is will this system handle this road with its steady grade? Kinda nervous since there are no runaway ramps on this route.
We went down that road in a GMC motorhome in 1996. It's really bad to burn up brakes. We lost ours about halfway down. There was a brand new truck, a Ford, that had also lost
his brakes. We both made it to the bottom-there is a truck garage at the bottom- and after a while, both our brakes came back. Your rig should be ok, with caution. There has been mechanical improvement since then. But it's a very tough grade, it goes on and on, and if I were you, I would try to pull over when you can, and allow them to cool off a bit. Take your time on that grade! It's serious.
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Old 10-13-2022, 08:45 AM   #12
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Find out which gear you Jake Brake will hold the speed steady and go with that and then
it doesn't matter how long the grade is.
Spot on.

Crawl down a steep grade just as you would crawl up it. Let your transmission and engine braking system do the job.

Stay off your service brakes. I did the press the brakes and slow down, let them cool method and lost 95% of my braking in Death Valley of all places.

To compound the issue, the toad battery had gone dead and the toad braking system did not function at all.

Managed to get it to a crawl. Had put it in neutral when at a crawl and then actually coaxed it into reverse. This held the monster just enough to let me jump outside and drop a 4x4 under the tires and the jump into the toad (which is always left unlocked while towing) and dropped it into park and put its brake on.

Smoke billowed from the rear brakes so I hit them with an extinguisher. That cooled them enough I suppose to keep them from bursting into flames.

I talked to my cousin that had run trucks for over thirty years. He told me to always let the engine/transmission and engine braking system do the job.

Never rely on the service brakes for a long grade.

I have been driving RV's for 40+ years. Had some soft brakes a time or two and had been given that advice there would never have been a soft brake situation.

One other thing he suggested. Using the service brakes in a daily flat drive that the slack adjuster might not get adjusted automatically.

I found my front brakes had not contributed much to my stopping on that hill based on the lack of heat coming from them. I adjusted them manually and since then I step on the brakes hard several times doing the air down check and when dumping air.

Sorry for the long response.
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Old 10-13-2022, 09:20 AM   #13
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The issue with Hwy 44 is this down hill is 28+ miles of steady 8% grade.
I doubt that. 8% of 28 miles would mean a total descent of over 11,800 feet. I don't think the starting and ending elevations are anywhere near that far apart.
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Old 10-16-2022, 07:13 PM   #14
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Just a sidetrack question,
I have a 8.3 Cummins
Just got back from a trip from the smokiies,
I do the brake and release as not to overheat brakes, I even tried to used the lower gears and for some reason that didn’t seem to work
If I use the exhaust brake, will that cause any type of excessive issue or damage?
I just replaced an exhaust manifold recently, not sure why it cracked, assuming it was bad design
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