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Old 01-06-2017, 09:08 AM   #1
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Big Engine Worth It?

Among a number of planned mountain trips on our bucket list, we plan to spend 4 months exploring the mountains from New Mexico up to Montana. Will the bigger engines, such as Cummins 600hp, deliver a markedly better driving experience than its 450hp cousin on such a trip?

If I would be glad on every driving day that the "big guy" was pushing me up the hill, then I am inclined to buy a slightly used, "big engine" coach. If not, I might go for a new MH with the more modest powerplant.

Background: My wife and I have decided we want a 45' Class A Diesel to be the centerpiece of our retirement plan. We are both natural born explorers, love driving and never let any grass grow under our feet. We eagerly look forward to feasting on the beauty of our country and developing friendships with the good folks of the RV community along the way. We are based out of Virginia and plan to be on the road 9 months a year. I anticipate driving quite a few more miles than average.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:39 AM   #2
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Big engine's = fuel
But your talking in the 45' coach arena, fuel cost probably doesn't enter the equasion.
With that said there is nothing like ample horsepower.
Let's say 600 hp gets 5mpg
1600 miles / 5=320 gallons x lets say 2.499=$799.68
Lets say 450 hp gets 6.5mpg
1600/6.5=246.1 gallons x 2.499= $615.00
$184.68 difference
Is it worth it ? All I know my old coach will be in the right hand slow lane because it is old and slow. But when I'm traveling I'm not in a hurry either.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BattleWagon View Post
Among a number of planned mountain trips on our bucket list, we plan to spend 4 months exploring the mountains from New Mexico up to Montana. Will the bigger engines, such as Cummins 600hp, deliver a markedly better driving experience than its 450hp cousin on such a trip?

If I would be glad on every driving day that the "big guy" was pushing me up the hill, then I am inclined to buy a slightly used, "big engine" coach. If not, I might go for a new MH with the more modest powerplant.

Background: My wife and I have decided we want a 45' Class A Diesel to be the centerpiece of our retirement plan. We are both natural born explorers, love driving and never let any grass grow under our feet. We eagerly look forward to feasting on the beauty of our country and developing friendships with the good folks of the RV community along the way. We are based out of Virginia and plan to be on the road 9 months a year. I anticipate driving quite a few more miles than average.
Assuming that the engine has been sized right for the coach, everyone should get to the top of the mountain at the same time, regardless of length and weight. For most, the 10hp per foot prevails as being adequate, but as said before, this may not be true, for some of the heavy bus conversions.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:56 AM   #4
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We spend a lot of time in and around the mountains out west and more HP pulling the long steep grades is nice. I have a 40' with 400 HP generally loaded towing a Honda Fit and it does pretty good. I went with the model my DW loved with the HP I could live with. Personally I would recommend getting the slightly used bigger engine with the interior layout you guys love. But, if the choice is interior layout vs engine get the layout you love.


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Old 01-06-2017, 10:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stumpnc View Post
Big engine's = fuel
But your talking in the 45' coach arena, fuel cost probably doesn't enter the equation.
With that said there is nothing like ample horsepower.
Let's say 600 hp gets 5mpg
1600 miles / 5=320 gallons x lets say 2.499=$799.68
Lets say 450 hp gets 6.5mpg
1600/6.5=246.1 gallons x 2.499= $615.00
$184.68 difference
Not really, my 45' 50,000# MH with the 650 ISX gets about the same mileage (7.6 mpg) as my '02 Dutch Star with the ISC 350 towing the same vehicle over the same routes. The big difference is the AquaHot burns diesel (also has 2-2000 watt elec elements) rather than having a propane fired furnace
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:19 AM   #6
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A 45' coach will likely have enough engine to haul it reasonable well. As others have commented, we retirees don't have to be in a hurry. (-:
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:28 AM   #7
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It just a matter of preference. My 450 will go up the same mountain grade as a 600, just a bit slower but that's OK with me. I'm retired and not in any hurry to get from point A to point B. Mountain grades provide some of the best scenery you can come across. Been west, been east, currently out west again and I have rarely pushed my MH near its limit. I'd rather enjoy the view. Lots of times I just get in line with the big trucks and putz up the grade at 30mph.
That said, I've never heard anyone say "gee I wish I had a smaller engine"
A new big engine would be ideal but if you have to trade off new vs used only you can make that decision.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:33 AM   #8
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Thanks for comments. Not to worry. HW will get the layout and colors she wants! She drives like the NYer she is, so she will be especially appreciative if I can help guide us into the right performance range of coach. "Slow poking" is not her style. But, she is also keeper of the books, so I'm not looking to overspend for needless HP.

So at this moment, I'm trying to simplify our initial selection process down to choice between two full size, same brand coaches, with the same/ very similar "HW Approved" layout. One is new with regular size engine and the other is a couple years old with more HP. (I'm not really worried about fuel cost or even quicker time up the mountain).

The focus of my question is about the driving experience.

If we would always feel like we were just "poking" up the rockies then I know we would tend to be more frustrated with the smaller engine. So does the 10hp/1000# formula provide enough umph to usually keep up to say 50/55 mph?
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:37 AM   #9
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All motorhomes suck in the MPG department, period. If one is worried about fuel mileage when purchasing a motor home, they ought think about hotel rooms and drive a car. Anyway, it's always nice to have more HP when it comes to these rolling Kleenex boxes. Our's an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT and, tows either a GMC Sierra 1500 4x4 Extended Cab with a 900 lb. GL 1800 Honda Goldwing in the back of it or, we tow a '15 Jeep JKUR. In any case, we're not going to break any land speed records, flat, down or up hill.

It hovers around 6.5 mpg to somewhere around 7.0-7.5 tops. We get there when we get there. Yep, it would be nice to get 10 mpg while cruising up a 7% grade at 60 mph pulling 6500 lbs. of toad. But, it ain't gonna happen, at least not in anything we can afford.
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tropical36 View Post
Assuming that the engine has been sized right for the coach, everyone should get to the top of the mountain at the same time, regardless of length and weight. For most, the 10hp per foot prevails as being adequate, but as said before, this may not be true, for some of the heavy bus conversions.
tropical36
I have a 250hp 3126 Cat engine in a 35' Safari coach...(that's only 7.14 hp per foot).
Although I can't get to the top of the mountain as fast as a more powerful coach...that 250hp always gets my coach, (and my 3,000# toad), there.
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:15 AM   #11
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You and your DW might eventually learn to relax and drive slower in retirement. Especially when you are relocating your house to a new neighborhood.

Many of us tend to settle in to a hub & spoke travel pattern. Then you can zip down the roads as fast as you can afford the tickets in your little sports car toad :-)

Hurrying along in the big busses isn't always the safest thing. I think a lot of us feel more in control when driving it like a home, rather than trying to drive it like a car. That *would* be frustrating. And probably less safe...

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Old 01-06-2017, 11:19 AM   #12
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It is more of a preference than a necessity IMHO. You will always get to the top with a smaller engine. You MAY however get trapped behind a semi doing 10 MPH in the right lane because you don't have the torque to get around him.

I am 400HP in a 40 footer and this happens to me once in a while if I didn't plan well OR sometimes you get cut off by somebody and have to remain in the lane behind the truck. I don't care, I just enjoy the views that 10 MPH affords me as oppose to 60 MPH.

I don't worry about mileage, I try to maximize it by driving "smart" but if mileage was a concern I would not have bought a DP.

I do not think there is a motor home made that will not lose some speed on some of the grades in the west. It is only a matter of a few minutes added to your trip and to me, does not seem worth it to have the bigger engine. Do I wish I had a bigger engine, well, HECK YES. But it was not a priority when we were looking for a coach. Was it a consideration, yes, but not a deal breaker.

I like the 10 HP per foot rule - I would not go below that however.
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:19 AM   #13
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Not really, my 45' 50,000# MH with the 650 ISX gets about the same mileage (7.6 mpg) as my '02 Dutch Star with the ISC 350 towing the same vehicle over the same routes.
That's what I get in my shorty 22' gasser. What a cruel world!
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Old 01-06-2017, 11:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BattleWagon View Post
Thanks for comments. Not to worry. HW will get the layout and colors she wants! She drives like the NYer she is, so she will be especially appreciative if I can help guide us into the right performance range of coach. "Slow poking" is not her style. But, she is also keeper of the books, so I'm not looking to overspend for needless HP.

So at this moment, I'm trying to simplify our initial selection process down to choice between two full size, same brand coaches, with the same/ very similar "HW Approved" layout. One is new with regular size engine and the other is a couple years old with more HP. (I'm not really worried about fuel cost or even quicker time up the mountain).

The focus of my question is about the driving experience.

If we would always feel like we were just "poking" up the rockies then I know we would tend to be more frustrated with the smaller engine. So does the 10hp/1000# formula provide enough umph to usually keep up to say 50/55 mph?
I'd say closer to 12HP per 1000# of GVWR and close to what I have now. Then again, I'm not anywhere near the max GVWR or GCWR and still wouldn't want anything less and feel that it's about right.
I think you'll find that most of your higher end 40ft coaches will have at least 400HP and the torque necessary, to go along with it.
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