Q: Our motorhome is equipped with a 1998 Ford V-10 engine that is rated at 266 horsepower. The newer V-10 is rated at 305 horsepower. What was done to achieve the horsepower increase, and can our 266-horsepower engine be upgraded to produce 305 horsepower? If so, what parts would be required, and at what cost?
Dennis & Kristie Karsen, F260959
Lamy, New Mexico
A: I contacted a representative at Ford with your question, and he indicated that your motorhome has a 6.8-liter 270-horsepower engine. The 2000 model year was the first with the 6.8-liter 305-horsepower engine. It has different pistons, camshaft, intake manifold, EGR valve, etc. It would appear that to achieve the additional horsepower, you’d have to exchange engines, and that would not be cost-effective. There is no simple “chip change” to gain 35 horsepower.
Q: I purchased a 1987 Champion LaSalle with 37,000 miles on it that’s in excellent condition. I was parked in a shopping center and the generator was running fine, the refrigerator was working, etc. When we returned to the motorhome and turned on the air conditioner, the generator stopped. I tried to restart it, but the start switch would not stay on and the generator kept shutting off. I finally had to stick a plastic bowl in the casing to hold the generator switch in the “on” position to keep it running. When we arrived at our destination campground, I turned the generator off, and now it will not start at all. Could the battery be run down? If so, can I “jump-start” the generator by connecting the auxiliary battery to the main RV battery? How do I tell which one is which? You can probably tell that I am not mechanically inclined. By the way, the generator was recently tuned and serviced.
Bill Carter, F335686
A: You could have multiple problems. Without seeing the generator’s wiring diagram for the start/run circuits, it is hard to tell what might have happened. It could be that by jamming the start button to remain in the “on” position, that some damage was done to the start circuit. Some start circuits bypass the emergency shutdown features during start-up “” such as low oil pressure, low oil reservoir, high temp, etc. “” and these may be able to tolerate only short periods of bypass. You could indeed have a low battery, but usually you can hear a start solenoid click, even if it does not crank. Some motorhomes have a “generator boost” button on the dash for emergencies. My recommendation is that you have the generator inspected at a service center, as this could be a complex problem.
Insulated Water Hose
Q: I am full-timing this winter in Maryland and staying in one place. I want to insulate and put heat tape around a water hose, as has been recommended to me. I bought a short 10-foot hose, since my coach is close to the outlet. I found a blown-foam pipe-wrap tube big enough for the hose and the tape. But all of the heat tape products I have found so far say they should be used for pipe and PVC only, not for hoses. I checked the local RV shop, several home improvement and hardware stores, and even a marine shop. Most had nothing, while others carried EasyHeat pipe-warming products. Any ideas where to go from here?
Reid Ellis, F283632
Palm Harbor, Florida
A: If the fresh water tank is located in the coach or a heated basement, you don’t need a constant water hose connection; just replenish the tank as required. If this is not an option, I would find a length (as required) of flexible all-metal, spiral-type electrical wire conduit with an inside-diameter size to accommodate the outside-diameter size of the hose and fittings. Slide the water hose through the metal conduit and fabricate a wind barrier using a material such as metal-backed tape for one or both ends. Using a premium-brand heat tape that is thermostatically controlled, wrap it around the outside of the conduit, allowing convection to warm the hose inside. A thermometer taped to a 2-foot or 3-foot piece of 1/8-inch welding wire pushed inside along the hose could be a guide as to how much heat tape is needed. Be advised that this procedure is only a suggestion, and all safety procedures must be practiced.
Q: This is in regard to the “Tire Inflation” letter that was printed in the November 2003 issue of FMC (page 33).
My 2002 33-foot type A motorhome, built on a Ford chassis, has 12,000 miles on it. The outside shoulder of the passenger-side front tire suddenly wore down so far (more than 1/2-inch) that I had to replace it with the spare. I thought that an under-inflated tire wore on the inside and outside shoulders and assumed I must have a serious alignment problem or a defective tire. I plan to have the motorhome aligned at the earliest possible moment. By the way, as we traveled I have paid RV dealers to check the tires, so I don’t know whether it was running on low air pressure. Do you have any advice on what I should do next?
John M. Hall, F319103
A: This does not sound like a tire pressure problem. If only the passenger-side tire is showing outer edge wear, it is most likely a case of excessive positive camber on that side. We believe that is what they will find at the alignment shop.
As the motorhome suspension settles in during the first year of use, the beginning alignment could move out of specification and result in some type of irregular handling and/or tire wear. However, this is not the only possibility, as other factors could be involved in your particular instance.
“” J.B. & R.H.
Q: I’m wondering about the airflow around my 1987 Foretravel Grand Villa. It’s equipped with a Ford 460-cid pusher engine and is very sensitive to overheating. I live in Texas and have driven it in 105- to 109-degree temperatures. Believe me, the engine is “cranky” at those temps. I have done everything to ease the problem, from changing the crankshaft pulley to a complete radiator rebuild.
It seems to me that any rear-engine RV will experience poor cooling, as the vacuum generated and airflow disturbance behind the vehicle will reduce the air available to rear fan systems. Also, it makes sense that some method of introducing laminar flow into that area would reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency. Has anyone studied this or produced a product to ease the airflow problem? What does the airflow look like under a motorhome at 60 mph? I know that on race cars it is compressed and streamlined, because the vehicle is designed to block the flow (air dam) and the bottom is smooth, unlike a motorhome. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Ron Rimbey, F311528
A: Your initial concern about the airflow around your motorhome body raises a good question. I have often wondered whether any builder of gas-powered pusher motorhomes has ever taken a unit for wind tunnel testing.
The cause and solution of a given problem often may be found to be a combination of contributing conditions.
Does this engine have a distributor ignition? If so, is the timing advance curve working okay?
Is the engine temperature nearer normal at colder ambient air temps?
The viscosity and grade of motor oil, and the water-antifreeze blend, may affect cooling efficiency in some instances.
Air, like water and electricity, will take the path of least resistance. Air dams, constructed and installed to force the moving air to go through the radiator (instead of around it) are of super importance, if applicable in your case.
Is the engine cooling fan driven directly from the crankshaft pulley or by a remote second belt? Is the fan the thermal clutch type or fixed drive with variable pitch blades? Does the fan direction blow air through the radiator? The fan’s diameter, and the number and pitch of its fan blades, have to be considered.
Consider the effect you think the transmission oil temperature is having on engine temp.
Has the water pump received a clean bill of health? Does it have a thermostat of the proper type?
I would think this unit would have a heavy-duty coolant overflow reservoir system to ensure that the radiator is always 100 percent full of coolant. If any portion of the automotive cooling system is higher than the radiator cap, air could become trapped and possibly never bleed out to the overflow tank. If this happens, cavitation and aeration certainly would occur and have a negative effect on cooling system efficiency. Does your motorhome have this feature? If so, is it working correctly? A bad or incorrect radiator cap could defeat this system.