Wednesday, January 30, 2019

RV Long Haul UPGrades

After getting back from our 3K+ road trip to FL the Gear Vendors overdrive unit is looking more and more attractive. Not just from the MPG improvement at highway cruise but with the hill-climbing issues of do you do 3rd gear or scream the engine in 2nd when going up hills? Oh the fun of it all! Driving through PA and VA with the 2 lane roads going over as many hills as possible and around a curve to boot left me wanting a better way to drive than going 40mph in second.
Rear end ring and pinion swaps may work for smaller vehicles not towing anything.

Okay, for folks looking into this upgrade take note. 1) I looked at swapping out the rear end to a lower ratio from 4.10 to something like 3.73 to get the highway cruising. Cost was about $900 for parts/ labor. However, the swap would also leave me with the risk of NOT being able to tow anything ever and also stressing the transmission on hill-climbing anyway due to the shift in rear end ratio... OK 2)installing a rebuilt 700R4 transmission. Cost? About $1600 to get the tranny, install and fitting it in with possible driveshaft alteration. Now, this also means my shifter would need alteration to deal with the 4 vs. 3 speed automatic. Likely would never be able to manually select 1st gear. Also, the 700R has a tendency to blow up on heavy duty installs. 3) install a Gear Vendor overdrive unit for about $3400. Holy cow! So it's double the most expensive option so what the heck??
Swap a 4 speed and all is good, right? Maybe not if it's not rated for heavy duty...

I'll tell you why this is not as crazy as it seems. OK, it is crazy but when you want a bit more for your money you look a bit closer.

What do you want to accomplish? Better mpg on the highway on long trips? A way to hill climb without frying your engine or tranny? When cruising you are not stressing out your engine at 3K rpms all day long. A better way to control shifting for just about any road condition without having to depend on the 3 speeds and kick-down alone? Something else to fiddle with and occupy your time while driving your rig? Come on, if you could drop a 5 or 6 speed manual into your old class A you would seriously consider it. I would if my arms were longer.....

A Gear Vendors Unit may provide the right amount of control and highway cruise ability.

I have looked into the Gear Vendor unit needed for our RV and it's not a motor home one due to the Chevy chassis we have. That saves a few hundred on the costs. The install involves taking off the transmission rear housing, installing an adapter along with the overdrive unit, then altering the driveshaft to fit. If you understand basic mechanics and have some help this can be done.

So, you've decided to go for it. What is the basic payback on this unit? Well, that depends on how much traveling you do and where. If you just look at mileage savings (they say this unit improves mpg by 23%) then from a fuel cost it would take the LH2 (getting 6.5mpg) getting close to 8 mpg and with the size fuel tank (64 gallons) that would figure to about 100 extra miles per tank. So, instead of going 416 miles on a full tank you could go 516 miles. With about $2.30 gallon you spend about $150 a tank full.  So much MATH! If you took our trip to FL at 3200 miles total that's like 6 tanks vs. 7.7 tanks or about 1.7 tanks of gas for a total of  $225.  The more costly the gas, the quicker the payback. I spent an average of 2.60 gallon on the trip.

A unit like this would take about 12 trips to pay for itself just on gas savings alone. Seems like a crazy expense but when you look at the wear and tear on an engine that has to run at 3K rpm for a long trip without it then it's not so bad.

As with any upgrade the cost vs. the benefits may not be as easy to figure out and sometimes its really up to how you use your RV or plan to use it that my make that decision.

Happy and Safe RV'ing all!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

We Made It!! Road Trip 2.0 Recap!

Alrighty Folks! We pulled into the home base this late afternoon, just about on schedule and a day early to boot! I'll be crunching all the numbers to right now the basics are this:

Total miles logged: 3,243.4 miles.
Total gallons of gas consumed: 495.8
Average MPG: 6.54

That's about 10 days in a really nice hotel for one room and we normally need two rooms for the entire family so this actually worked out. Not as well as I'd like it to be but that is for another upgrade project.

Two options going forward are the Gear Vendor's overdrive unit and/or a retrofit EFI unit to replace the carb. Each and both are being looked into.

We arrived in FL at our KOA and set out over the next two days to see EPCOT and Universal in marathon days of walking and ride taking. So much walking and waiting at the rides. Ticket prices were insane but they get people like us to pay...

This ride averaged 50 mins wait. Too much for the crew after a long day at EPCOT. Guess we'll never know what tomorrow will be like....

View of one of the EPCOT lakes before we make our tour of the countries.

Universal the next day. Harry Potter world in Daigon Alley.

Gringott's Bank with the dragon strapped to the top. Where is PETA when you need them??

Now, here are some pics of the trip back home with some descriptions for each. The walking tour of the St. Augustine Colonial Quarter was interesting. St. George Street and the "original" city area was great to walk through and experience. The kids got to walk all around the fort but couldn't get inside because of the govt shutdown but still it was pretty cool.

We decided after heading down to the outlaws for a visit that we would squeeze in one last mini-vacation stop before doing the big drive up the east coast back home. That was St. Augustine for New Years and I have to thank the folks at the St. Augustine KOA for making that happen on such short notice. We wound up with 2 nights there at an event that some told me they reserved 6 months in advance. Dumb luck or just redemption for the bad events of 2015 but I'll take it....

This is just part of the 30 plus minute fireworks/ music show at the 16th Street pier around 8:30 pm. Great crowd and lots of vendors there to feed you. There were bounce houses for the kids but don't expect a full carnival setup with rides. Still good to get to with buses provided by the city from local parking areas and malls. Glad to have experienced it first-hand for 2019. A really good way to come back from being stranded in a broken RV in 2015 I can tell you! The City really kept the peace with a good law enforcement presence and making sure everyone knew what was OK and not.

The trip back north after that consisted of a 11 hour drive up as far north as we could until we parked overnite at a Pilot truck stop north of Rocky Mount NC then headed to see family MD. Over-nighting there and then the 7 hour drive back home.

Glad to have worked out the remaining bugs in the RV and see how she runs over 3K miles and 2 weeks of travel.

Now we will have to plan another road trip out West! Happy Vintage RV'ing everyone! Stay tuned and be safe out there!