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Fuel economy question Jeff 2-21-03  
I have a 76 Winnebago with a Dodge 440. I am moving from Colorado to Florida in a month or so and would like any help in getting the most MPG that I can. My budget is very limited. I've only really driven it from Denver to Vail about 130 miles when I bought it a couple months ago. Towing nothing behind it, I got 4.3 MPG, of course that was getting on that 440 pretty hard climbing some major passes. Once I get past Denver, things get fairly flat to Florida. I'll be pulling my Jeep Wrangler on this trip.

What kind of MPG can I realistically expect and is there anything a modest shadetree mehcanic like myself can do to get better MPG?

If I can't get closer to say around 8 MPG or better, I may have to leave it behind, my budget just won't handle a 2000 mile trip at these gas prices at 4 or 5 MPG.

Re: Fuel economy question Eric 2-28-03  
Well I am a Mopar guy and I would offer these suggestions......since that Winnie is as aerodynamic as a barn-door - keep the speed at or lower 55mph. Install a vacuum guage and USE IT. Consider putting water-injection on the motor THEN bump the timing UP about 4 degrees.(this should help 3 to 6 mpg) INFLATE all tires UP to the max psi shown on the tire.

AND - you probably have a Thermo-quad carb on there......get your Bud to show you how to richen or lean out the primary circuit OF that is a simple screw-driver adjustment.
Re: Fuel economy question Joe 2-21-03  
Make sure it is "in tune" before you go. Like good spark plugs, clean air filter, gas filter, etc. Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Look over your exhaust to see if there isn't any crimped or bent pipes. Keep your speeds to 55 to 60 to try to conserve fuel. And after all of that, most likely you won't get your 8 mpg.
I know you don't need the lecture, but I have been in the repair business for a long time and have seen your situation way too many times. Somebody starts out on a long trip operating on a shoe string and the first thing that happens collapses their world. Small things like blown tire, fuel pump, starter, alternator, blown hose, loss of the belts, oil leak, flooding carb. or so many things that can happen to an older motorhome like yours. Reconsider this trip until you are better prepared. Please. I know that I will get criticized for this response, but my heart goes out to people in your situation. I post responses on this board to try to help and hopefully it does. Please think this one over better especially if you are bringing family along.
Re: Fuel economy question david 2-24-03  
I've got a 78 Class C 24' with the 440. I got 7-8 running from SF to Portland. Just a few hills there. I had just purchased it and driven it up from Irvine (about 600 miles). Had a lot of problems with backfire & hesitation. A good tuneup and repairing all of the "smog fixes" people had done cured most of the engine troubles. Turns out it had two bad plugs, so I'm hoping for slightly better results next trip. I use about a quart of oil every 150 miles, but replacing the PCV hose may help that.

My biggest problem was the alternator mount. Some lazy joker had left off the bolt that goes from the alternator to the engine block, leaving thirty lbs of metal shaken on the bracket. It busted twice and let the fan slip. has new brackets ($30), but I'm looking for the bolt and spacers.

On the plus side, the previous owner dumped $6k into refurbishing the interior and fixing the rear axle. It's great being able to take my two greyhounds on trips and the money I save on kennel fees makes a big dent in the gas bill.
Re: Fuel economy question Sam Watson 2-21-03  
Very sage advise, Joe.One shouldn't undertake such a trip in that vintage motorhome unless you have around $3,000 or better "emergency" money available. If you arrive at your destination without having to dip into these funds, so much the better, but if a need arises on the road, you have the funds to cover it.
Re: Fuel economy question Jeff 2-21-03  
Thanks. I really do appreciate the advice. And I for one totally agree... Basically, I came out to Colorado for a new career training only for a few months or so. I live in Florida. Once here in CO, I was floored by the cost of rental housing. Way too much for the gains in career and salary. So, I had an odd idea one day when I passed a nice looking old Winnebago on the side of the road. It's just little ol me puttering around anyway, I could live in that for the time being. It's worked great.. minus a few hard lessons on winter time RV'ing. It's been a dream of mine to own one anyway, and now, I have found myself rather attached to my home-away-from-home and would like to take it back with me. Otherwise, I have to sell it,which is probably what I'll do.

I'm simply researching the idea. An older RV in such good condition, with all the features I could want, is so hard to find, and what I payed for it was a steal. Just seems a shame to part with it.

But, like I said, just testing the waters.. and advice from far more experienced folks like yourself is exactly what I need. Thanks again.


By the way, if I do make this trip, I'm snatching up an old buddy of mine for a little company and breakdown insurance. The boy could use the vacation anyway. He's a Dodge Tech. and he knows just about everything about these old MOPARs there is to know.
Re: Fuel economy question Sean 2-21-03  
Also, keep in mind that Denver to Vail is only about 100 miles with about a 4000 ft elevation increase, so it's not a good run to gauge fuel economy, particularly for a predominantly flat trip like Colorado to Florida.

In addition to the other advice, remember that fuel economy is heavily affected by speed in something as large and un-aerodynamic as an RV. Keep the speed around 55, and draft behind trucks if the opportunity presents itself.
Re: Fuel economy question Joe 2-22-03  
Jeff, I'm glad you listen to reason and if you decide to make the trip with your motorhome, have your Mopar traveling buddy go over the motorhome in preperation for the trip. Remember that just for a tow truck to move you off the interstate will cost $300 to $400. Good luck.
Re: Fuel economy question Sully 2-22-03  
Little more on Fuel economy...

My 71' 413 in my Winnie averaged 6-7mph with a slight oil leak and no tune up, from Reno to Los Angeles. Of course I took the back route, and drafted as much as possible, and averaged about 50mph... but I did squeeze quite a few MPG out of her... till of course my fuel tank solonoid valve went out and I thought I was (Insert Explitive here.) At any rate see what your Dodge friend thinks about engine additives... all of my friend mechanics have good things to say about a couple of the choices... and I can say that I noticed a bit of difference when I used it in mine.

Of course I have since done the tune up and all the good loving to her and am waiting on the fuel tank valve before I take her out to test her mileage.

Re: Fuel economy question david 2-22-03  
I just bough a 1985 cross country with 46000 miles on it...before it left the lot i had a tune up and brake job done on it...i then drove it SLOWLY from NJ to Tx..along the way I threw a fan belt, had it replaced and 5000 miles later still have the new one...i guess the mechanic just didn't tighten enough...since then I have driven Tx to Arizona and down into Southern Mexico, and have had a few warning lights come on which I attended to immediately...all in all 8000 miles later I have a great older motorhome...and can only say take a few little side trips before the big journey...and find and work on those problems....Happy Traveling...
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