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Old 12-11-2016, 10:34 AM   #15
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"Diesel experience" -- not needed to get into a diesel pusher. As with any large vehicle, appropriate steps should be taken as needed to ensure your own safety driving it. As far as the mechanics of it, again not a necessary need prior to getting your feet wet. If you find what you like, enjoy the journey.
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Old 12-11-2016, 11:11 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by cwk View Post
In the past I have driven school buses, fire engines, fire trucks (including both ends of a hook-and-ladder), larger U-Haul straight boxes, etc. But, all of them have had gas engines. What am I missing here? And, if so, where do I go to gain the information I might need to successfully operate a diesel coach?
There is a chance that you may already have "diesel experience". Most of the larger school buses, fire trucks, etc. that I've been around have been diesel powered. I'm not saying those you have prior experience with are, only that there is a good chance they could have been if they are large.

IMHO, diesel engines are used to power larger vehicles because of the torque they produce and that they are more economical over the long run. All, or nearly all, 18 wheelers, Fed X, UPS, construction, logging, etc. vehicles are diesel powered. Economy over the long run would seem like the most obvious reason to me as their purpose is to make a profit. One would have to do the math, with a few assumptions thrown in, to determine just how long that run would need to be.

Best of luck with your choice.

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Old 12-11-2016, 12:23 PM   #17
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We are in the research phase for a Class A for possible future full-timing. Still a few years off, but we have started visiting shows, dealerships, reading iRV2, etc., etc.

One of the typical questions is always gas vs. diesel. I have my thoughts at this point, but will leave that for a later date as we still need to learn more.

What one poster here on iRV2 said got me to wondering. He seemed to imply that it might be better to consider a gasser, unless one had prior "diesel experience." Even if it was with a pick-up truck, or some other type of diesel-powered vechicle. Maybe I misinterpreted his comments?

What exactly is "diesel experience"?

In the past I have driven school buses, fire engines, fire trucks (including both ends of a hook-and-ladder), larger U-Haul straight boxes, etc. But, all of them have had gas engines. What am I missing here? And, if so, where do I go to gain the information I might need to successfully operate a diesel coach?
cwk,

"But, all of them have had gas engines."

And that includes ALL of the fire trucks, including the "hook & ladder" units???? Well partner, I finished up over 35 years of FD about 7 years ago and, when I started in the fire business, NOTHING was gas powered. And that was in early '70 for CDF.

Not a big deal but, to hear of just about ANY fire truck that was built after say '60 or later, not being diesel, sounds a bit odd to me.

Now, to get on with your inquiry. I didn't bother reading tall the answers to your original post. You can look at this situation in multiple ways. First, and most important, a DIESEL engine, is an engine, nothing more, nothing less. It has different operating principles than a gas one for sure. But, it's still just an engine. The largest gas engine(s) you'll find in todays coaches is predominantly the Ford Trident V-10 which, if I'm not mistaken, is around 420 Cu. In. GM was in the ball game for quite a while and supplied anywhere from the small block 400 cu. in. to the 8.1L in the last series it powered coaches with.

Both a gas and diesel engine powered coach, will move you down the road, even towing fair sized toads. The diesel will definitely have more power and torque for hauling the heavier coach and toads for sure. Remember, TORQUE is what GET'S YOU GOING, and HORSE POWER is what KEEPS you going.

Now, due to the operational principles of a diesel, there's no need to worry or think about the old term, "Tune-up". Now, there are regular maintenance procedures and practices that need to be performed periodically, for sure on a diesel. But, it's really not too much more than changing oil regularly and a bit of belts, hoses and that sort of thing. Nothing more in reality, than a gas engine. You have to do all that on one of those too on a periodic basis. So far, same-o, same-o.

Now, where it takes a severe turn in the two different powered coaches is, the chassis, ride, layout, floor plan, and a few other things. Your diesel coaches normally run around on strictly air bags for suspension. The gas ones are still bouncing up and down on springs. The diesel ones are, for the most part, quite a bit heavier rig which, along with the air bags, accounts for a fairly smoother ride than their counterpart gas ones. Although things have changed in the gas coach design in the last few years, like running a heavier chassis with 22.5" wheels, in most cases, you still won't get quite the nicer ride as you would in a diesel. Not always but, pretty close.

In about 98-99% of the diesel coaches, the entrance door is right up front, right next to where the passenger rides. For about 98-99% of us, that's just where we like it. Having it there, provides at a minimum, one important feature. The coach is not "Broken up" in it's floor plan due to the need for the placement of the entrance and door, like just about ALL gas coaches. To some folks, that may, or may not be of importance. It's a choice thing.

As far as interior setup, arrangements, components, layout, floor plans, and more, based on the amount of money one chooses to spend, all the above mentioned items, CAN be very close to each other in a diesel vs a gas, again, depending MONEY. But, as the money increases, all those items sprial straight up to some really nice looking and very comfortable in diesel coaches. Don't get me wrong here, you can spend a ton of money on a higher end gas coach too and get some really nice interiors.

As far as chassis maintenance, well, this is where things get a bit dicey. The brakes for instance on a diesel are SERIOUSLY thicker and larger on a diesel coach. Not only that but, just about every single diesel produced for quite a while, will have some form of AUXILIARY BRAKING SYSTEM. That can be described as:

1. Exhaust brake (normally found on lower to mid range, smaller diesel engine coaches)

2. "Jake" brake or, otherwise known as a "Compression Brake". (normally found on mid to higher end, larger diesel engine coaches. And, most Jake or Compression braked engines, have anywhere from one to three stages of that particular brake, for selecting just how much auxiliary braking one chooses to apply

3. Variable vane turbo. I'm not schooled at all on these. I'm just aware that this design has double duty in the fact that it boosts power (as any turbo would) while accelerating and, somehow it provides braking when asked for, not a clue how that works.

4. Retarder. Most of the time, when one refers to a retarder, it's a transmission related component. It's a mechanism in the transmission that, when called for, routes the trans fluid through a system by which it's slowed down and therefore, doesn't allow the drive shaft to turn as freely as it would, providing for additional braking when called for. I personally am not a fan of those due to the fact that, that kind of system severely heats up that trans fluid due to its operational principles. We had them on early fire trucks and, they were discarded due those reasons and, the incoming advancements of the "Engine/Jake Brake" was superior in performance.

There's actually one more type of auxiliary braking system. It's called a "TELMA" RETARDER. We used then extensively on all our fire trucks from about '90 on. It's a phenomenal additional braking system in that, NOTHING touches or makes contact. It's actually pretty simple. It's nothing but a spinning disc brake disc, on the drive shaft, very close to the differential. There's a series of ultra high voltage coils, that ride really, really close to that disc but, as stated, it never touches.

When called for, with a "Joy stick" on the dash, (there's four detents that Joy stick can be stationed at, depending on just how much voltage is applied to the coils) that controls the braking action. When applied, those coils use a SERIOUS AMOUNT OF BATTERY power to apply the electro-magnetic field, against that rotating disc. Talk about slowing/stopping power!!!!!!!!

We could slow a 66,000 lb. fire truck approaching an off ramp at 60 mph down to about 3 mph at the end of the off ramp, without EVER TOUCHING THE SERVICE BRAKES! But, based on the operational characteristics, this is why all our fire trucks had nothing less than 425 amp alternators or, at the least, TWO- 225 AMP alternators.

But, I've not seen or heard of that kind of auxiliary braking system on any coach. If it was, it's used on very, very high end coaches. Pretty much out of our reach.

The proper use of any of the above auxiliary braking systems will provide some seriously extended service life of the service brakes. Most of the time, almost 100% of the diesel coaches with any of those systems, will show upwards of 150,000 or more miles on the factory brakes. Pretty tough to squeeze out that much mileage on the brakes of a gas coach.

About 99.99% of the diesel coaches are sporting the Allison MH3000 6-sd transmissions or larger. And talk about "bulletproof". It don't get any better than any version of an Allison.

Now, the old controversy of REAR RADIATOR vs SIDE RADIATOR on diesel engine coaches, still goes on and on. Most of your lower to mid range diesel coaches sport the rear radiators and, mid to higher end coaches sport the side radiators. Well, anyone who's tinkered with maintenance on ANY engine, which involves basic belt and hose changes, alternator replacement, and a few other periodic items, can get seriously frustrated with a rear radiator coach, REAL FAST. Without a doubt, they're a bit tougher to work on. But, as stated, they're on about 70% of the diesel coaches out there.

With the side radiator, it's like opening a door and, the entire engine front is staring you in the face, with all those components mentioned above, right there for you to change, in about 10-15 minutes.

Now, as mentioned earlier, the tires and wheels are usually larger on diesel coaches although, some heavy duty chassis gas ones are dabbling in the larger 22.5" wheels and tires lately too. But, the larger the tire and wheel, the more it costs when it comes time for replacement which, in general RV lifetime terms is, usually aimed at about every 7 years.


So, hope some of this info helps in your thought process. There's quite a bit more but, I'm pretty sure you've read enough so far, time for lunch.
Scott
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:19 PM   #18
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You definitely do not need diesel experience to own one. That's ridiculous. We had no clue when we bought ours and we full-timed and traveled constantly for 8 years without issues.
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Old 12-11-2016, 06:43 PM   #19
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Thanks to all of you! Wow. I just learned so much more than I knew yesterday.

A few new thoughts.

My fire engine and truck experiences date back to the 1970's. I had both volunteer and paid positions; two different municipalities. I did not maintain or even fuel-up these rigs. I just drove when the guy occupying the right hand seat said "Go!" And, yes, I could get water out of the pumper in less than a minute. I do remember waiting for the air pressure to rise for the air brakes on some of the rigs. Maybe some of them were diesel as well?

The school buses were 1960's to 1972 vintage: They were all gas at our bus company. I did have to fill those.

It may be possible that I did misinterpret the "diesel experience" comment by someone that prompted me to start this thread. Maybe it was a "diesel background" that would be helpful when evaluating a potential purchase? Especially a used rig? That would make more sense.

I have looked at a few diesel engines at some dealers. They looked like a lot of heavy duty plumbing pipes. I really didn't recognize much. I used to work on car engines back in the 70's (owned/operated a retail service station), so I do know what a gasoline engine does. None of them looked like what I saw.

Anyway, I probably need to start reading the mechanical forum sections. I have been concentrating more on the house side of a coach. And, I should definitely have someone who knows what they are looking at to check over any potential purchase. Maintenance I can learn. I just need to start with a good engine and chassis.

Again, thanks. I am open to more ideas, so please consider this topic still open. I really am grateful to learn from everyone on this forum. I doubt this entire RV concept would have ever even be probable for us otherwise.
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:37 PM   #20
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We are in the research phase for a Class A for possible future full-timing. Still a few years off, but we have started visiting shows, dealerships, reading iRV2, etc., etc.

One of the typical questions is always gas vs. diesel. I have my thoughts at this point, but will leave that for a later date as we still need to learn more.

What one poster here on iRV2 said got me to wondering. He seemed to imply that it might be better to consider a gasser, unless one had prior "diesel experience." Even if it was with a pick-up truck, or some other type of diesel-powered vechicle. Maybe I misinterpreted his comments?

What exactly is "diesel experience"?

In the past I have driven school buses, fire engines, fire trucks (including both ends of a hook-and-ladder), larger U-Haul straight boxes, etc. But, all of them have had gas engines. What am I missing here? And, if so, where do I go to gain the information I might need to successfully operate a diesel coach?

Having driven fire trucks for 22 years I have to say I have never seen a ladder truck that was gas. What was it?
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:03 PM   #21
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Some good comments above. An if you waited for the air to build for the brakes, it was likely diesel.

My first was 1975, a Peugeot Diesel that got about 40mpg. As noted above, they now have Turbos to increase air flow, and engine brakes. I prefer them to gas engines, but it is a matter of load. A 2005 Dodge Hemi pulling a 7,00lb trailer got about 7mpg. A 2007 Dodge Cummins 5.9 Diesel got 13 MPG on the same trailer. Diesel adds a lot of up-front cost, I think it is now about $8,000 in a pickup and over $25,000 in a MH. Premiums in used vehicles will be less.

First, you have to like the interior. She went "Oh My" on ours. Next up is how long. Do you need/want a washer dryer? On some DPs, the generator will run all the air conditioners while driving, and you can run the generator underway. Figure around a 10KW generator or more. So factor in all the things on your want list.

Diesel is displacement, or bigger is better. A 10 year old diesel can be had with up to 600 HP, with engine brake. Mine is a 13L Cat at 525 HP and 1650 Lbs/ft torque. It goes up the hills at around 45,000 GVW plus a towed quite smartly, and down under control, but the transmission and engine brake want to restrict speed to around 45, maybe not a bad idea on a lot of mountain grades. Another thing, 10 year old engines do not have all the smog issues and tend to more efficient. Having said that, it is still 6.5 to 7 mpg to move that weight.

So a diesel will need more oil at the change (gallons, not quarts), should be good for 15,000 miles or one year. A Hydro-Hot or similar coach heating system will also need annual service. Filters will be more. But a diesel may have a Mean Time Between Failure of 1,000,000 miles, and RV use is more in the range of 5,000 miles per year, with some up around 15,000 miles.

So find one you like, and go back in years to fit the budget. Other than TV, not much has changed in RV design in the last 10 years.
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Old 12-11-2016, 09:27 PM   #22
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Having driven fire trucks for 22 years I have to say I have never seen a ladder truck that was gas. What was it?
1949 Pirsch. Pretty sure it had a gas engine. If I remember correctly it had a 100' ladder. I remember taking a "break" while on duty to climb the ladder to eat my doughnut. Why? Because I could. That was about 40 years ago.
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Old 12-11-2016, 10:58 PM   #23
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Pirsch fire engines were most if not all gas engined rigs, big 6 cylinders, probably Waukesha brand and they could have been equipped with air brakes.
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Old 12-12-2016, 07:17 AM   #24
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I also agree that you do not need diesel experience to have successful DP ownership. In my opinion ( I have had 2 gas rigs and 2 DPs) if you are going to full time and you are going to travel and see our great country and you can afford a motorhome go diesel. Not because it is diesel, it is because you will want the space and storage that the big rigs have. In addition the ride, the handling, the quiet operation, the engine brake etc. all combine to make living in a box much better. Driving a gas rig in a cross wind compared to a DP is something you have to experience to fully understand. Having a 18 wheeler pass you unexpectedly in a gas rig can be a white knuckle experience, compared to being a hohum experience in a big DP.

All this said, THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in choosing a rig is the floor plan. You and the DW must have a floor plan that fits your lifestyle or you will not be happy. Having a washer and dryer, a king bed, dish washer, a bath and half, hydronic heat and hot water, storage, good TVs etc. all of these things are common place in our homes, so why wouldn't you want them, in your home on wheels.

You have a lot to consider, and more often than not you have to go through a few rigs to really understand exactly what you are happy with. There is a lot more to consider than just gas vs diesel.

Good luck!
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Old 12-12-2016, 07:25 AM   #25
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"Diesel Experience" = knowledge of the difference between a diesel engine and a gasoline engine.

Do not let you diesel engine run out of fuel. Modern diesels are a little better, but still an opportunity for hard recovery starting.

Fuel filtration is very critical to long life, etc.

Takes more battery to start.

Requires pre-heat "wait to start" on those cold days. Might have glow plugs or intake air heater grid. Will be super hard to start on a very cold day if those items are not working.

Requires a different motor oil to suspend the diesel soot particles that make it past the piston rings.

My "diesel experience" started in 1958. Since that date have owned a multitude of diesel engine equipped tractors, dozers, and trucks.

"Diesel experience" is easily learned. Most people just want to turn the key and go, and leave the "experience" to better trained personnel.
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Old 12-12-2016, 07:51 AM   #26
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...Driving a gas rig in a cross wind compared to a DP is something you have to experience to fully understand. Having a 18 wheeler pass you unexpectedly in a gas rig can be a white knuckle experience, compared to being a hohum experience in a big DP.

All this said, THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in choosing a rig is the floor plan. You and the DW must have a floor plan that fits your lifestyle or you will not be happy...
Disagree with the comments above on the crosswind and being passed by an 18 wheeler. For all of about $400 upgrade I compete on handling with a DP that costs $50000 more than mine. I also did what's commonly known as the CHF, loaded and balanced weight and properly inflated my tires. Gassers today are considerably better than what was available in the past. I used to be a DP'er owner so I do have a comparison of both.

No DW (she was divorced many years ago) so it is just me that has to be happy in my "small" regular sized queen bed
I don't get to use the bath and a half at the same time but the mid bath is convenient while I watch my 40" tv in the living room The older I get the more I need to go

Point is to have an open mind and budget is a HUGE factor.
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Old 12-12-2016, 08:06 AM   #27
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I am not the one OP heard comment, but I agree. I have never owned a diesel vehicle and that meant to me that I was and am more comfortable with a gasser. Having driven gas vehicles all my life is just a certain comfort level.
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Old 12-12-2016, 08:14 AM   #28
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Disagree with the comments above on the crosswind and being passed by an 18 wheeler. For all of about $400 upgrade I compete on handling with a DP that costs $50000 more than mine. I also did what's commonly known as the CHF, loaded and balanced weight and properly inflated my tires. Gassers today are considerably better than what was available in the past. I used to be a DP'er owner so I do have a comparison of both.
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I'm with you on the cheap suspension upgrades.

I took a 2000, E450, white knuckle, Class C and made it a pleasure to drive. A new rear sway bar and some poly bushings, all around. $300.00, at the most. No CHF on E series chassis.
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