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Class C Driving Tips

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I thought I would start a thread to find out how to drive my RV. Sounds like a stupid question, but this is the first "big" vehicle that I have driven. I need to know what to listen/feel for when I am overdooing it. I'm not sure how I should drive up/down grades, what speed I should be going, what gear should I be in, if I should stop on big grades and take a break to cool things down etc.

I have a 26' Ford van with the 460fi 1990 model. I'm only towing a 5-rail motorcycle trailer. Again, it may sound like a stupid question but I feel that I have no experiance with these vehicles and never had one growing up and never even rode in one before. I already toasted a tranny (probably from not being used too much by the previous owner) and I don't want to pay for more fixes on this thing.

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Its pretty standard stuff,

i listen for whistling to know if vents, antenna, or doors might be open or up. Listen for loose body panels, and of course to any odd motor noises or hard shifts.

When going up grades i always take my truck out of overdrive, and try to maintain 55-65 mph (just try and stay with traffic) also watch the temp guage and if she starts getting hot you can slow it down a bit and crank the heater to help out. (i had an old 86 ford F350 with the 460 and had all four windows down heater cranked over every grade ha ha ha it worked great for cooling her down though)

Going down grades is another beast, i take it out of OD and let the gears slow the truck mostly, i set a mental target speed, (55mph) when the truck gets to 60 mph i give some slow steady brake pressure until its back to 55mph and that way the brakes can cool in between. most grades i dont even brake, the engine will do it for you mostly.

you will have to see what your rig can handle grade wise, and Body Roll is a very Good indicator as to wether your overdoing anything.

my Dodge pulls my Trailer up the GrapeVine at 85 MPH but its only an 18 footer. and i only have one bike.

My ford ranger can pull the grapevine at 45 with the same trailer. and dont be worried about long grades or overdooing it, alot of my friends have 38-40 Foot fifth wheels and they literally Floor it for Miles up the Five, (its almost all uphill to gorman from my house LOL)

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Another thing to do is if you live somewhere that you can just get out and practice without holding up traffic...give that a go. Sounds stupid but the more seat time you get before a trip will give you some confidence and you'll know what to expect.

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What does a slipping transmission sound like/feel like?

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What does a slipping transmission sound like/feel like?

From a dead stop, the engine will rev higher than what seems normal for a bit, then it will slowly start to catch, sometimes it feels like you have the parking brake on, and it releases.

Most tranny shops will test your vehicle out for free or very little cost.

Good luck, and don't try to over do it, it will become easier to control pretty soon...

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Its pretty standard stuff,

i listen for whistling to know if vents, antenna, or doors might be open or up. Listen for loose body panels, and of course to any odd motor noises or hard shifts.

When going up grades i always take my truck out of overdrive, and try to maintain 55-65 mph (just try and stay with traffic) also watch the temp guage and if she starts getting hot you can slow it down a bit and crank the heater to help out. (i had an old 86 ford F350 with the 460 and had all four windows down heater cranked over every grade ha ha ha it worked great for cooling her down though)

Going down grades is another beast, i take it out of OD and let the gears slow the truck mostly, i set a mental target speed, (55mph) when the truck gets to 60 mph i give some slow steady brake pressure until its back to 55mph and that way the brakes can cool in between. most grades i dont even brake, the engine will do it for you mostly.

you will have to see what your rig can handle grade wise, and Body Roll is a very Good indicator as to wether your overdoing anything.

my Dodge pulls my Trailer up the GrapeVine at 85 MPH but its only an 18 footer. and i only have one bike.

My ford ranger can pull the grapevine at 45 with the same trailer. and dont be worried about long grades or overdooing it, alot of my friends have 38-40 Foot fifth wheels and they literally Floor it for Miles up the Five, (its almost all uphill to gorman from my house LOL)

+1 on everything he said.

I hope the repairs from your aborted trip to the TWMC enduro wasn't too exorbitant

Check all the fluids & air pressures (everytime). I was running late to TWMC & almost didn't notice my inner dual was flat. That would not have been fun.

Always take a walk-around before you start leave home/camp & check for open compartments, antennas left up, jacks down, small furry animals tied to the bumper, etc. Good time to triple check your trailer connections, including lights.

If it feels like you're going to fast, slow it down. Unless passing, stay in the slow lane so you only have to deal with cars zooming past on 1 side.

If the wind feels unsafe, pull it over & take a break.

Most of all; use & enjoy your RV! See you in Early OCT at the next TWMC event.

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Biggest tip I give to newbie RV operators-they are top heavier and wider than your average personal vehicle, so you're going to have to adjust accordingly when entering curves. Watch for the curves posted speed, and be sure you are BELOW that number.....RV's wallow in curves, and once they start to go, it's already too late.

For mountains, figure what speed you went up the hill, and go down about the same speed, using the transmission to hold you back (downshift out of OD or D and into whatever gear uses the compression of the engine to hold it at a comfortable speed). Remember, you can go down a mountain ten thousand times too slow, but you'll only go down a mountain once too fast.

My advice on the trans is to install a temp gauge and keep an eye on it while climbing hills, driving headlong into the wind, and other high load scenario's. If you don't already have a trans cooler, add one now.

At EVERY stop, check your tires for low air or impending tire failure, and don't leave home without a good spare, a jack that will safely lift the rig and a good breaker bar and the proper socket to remove the lug nuts, along with some blocks to chock the tires so it doesn't roll while you have it up in the air.

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All good advice. I have an 89 class C 26ft with 65K miles. I have the fuel injected 460, but I don't have overdrive. I have the 3 speed tranny (which isn't too bad I guess).

Overheating will be a big concern for that engine. The exhaust manifolds hold a lot of heat. They will snap off the bolts to that manifold and you will get exhaust leaks when it overheats. Listen for hissing sounds coming from the doghouse.

btw... I actually had some headers put on mine about three years ago. It runs very cool with just an extra bit of power. When climbing hills, I will rev it to about 4000-4200 rpms. Sometimes i have to downshift to second. But just let the engine sing. Its a great engine and it can take it. The engine and tranny will run cooler and better in the correct gear at 4000 rpms than in the wrong gear at 2500 rpms. I've been over the rockies twice and even had to drop down to low gear. I think that there were certain climbs over the rockies that I did at about 25-30mph. That engine will just chug along and never quit.

Make sure that you have the correct thermostat and that your cooling system is functioning.

Its a 460, so don't be alarmed that it will burn oil. You may have to put in a quart every now and again. You'll get much better gas mileage if you just run the tires at 75lbs of pressure.

My tranny went out six months ago. I had a leak right near the tranny cooler and the fluid level got too low. I found a guy to rebuild it for $900. You don't want to pay that. So be careful

Drive slow and deliberate. If you are in a hurry, you shouldn't be driving the RV. It will go between 60 and 65. Gas mileage will suck no matter what you do. It will really, really suck if you don't keep those tires inflated at 75lbs.

I continue to pay to keep little things fixed in mine. Its a good rig and is still a lot cheaper than a new one. We drive about 5K per year average, with a big trip every other year.

I put in two extra house batteries and an extra 30 gallon fresh water tank for extended dry docking. But, I'm not crazy enough to carry that much water unless I know for a fact that I am going to use it. I do have to dump my grey water tank often.

I put on a steering stabilizer and slightly stiffer bilstein gas shocks to smooth out the ride.

My Onan 4K generator is noisy as hell, but it works. I also have an extra gas tank so I can carry about 75-80 gallons total. (Again, I don't carry that much unless I am driving up to bishop or something.

lets see... watch out for vapor lock when you climb up high. You will notice your performance going way down and the motorhome will stutter. When I notice that happening, I just pull over and pop the gas caps and let the pressure vent out. Then I get in a drive away.

The brakes on this thing are ok at best. Absolutely positively do not ride the brakes down a hill. Be smart, downshift and go down the hill as slowly as you went up it. You are probably carrying at least 12,000 lbs and your brakes will boil. I made this mistake when coming down out of the rockies and my pedal went to the floor. :worthy: I downshifted and finally got the rig to stop after a couple of miles. After that, it took over an hour for the brake fluid to cool enough to get me a little bit of pressure.

Flush the brakes and tranny every year no matter what.

I've owned this thing about 6 years now and I've done a little work on almost every part of it. But its paid for and worth keeping. It tows all of my toys and my kids can take a shower.

Let me know what other experiences I can share. I am much smarter about it now that I was when I first bought it. I didn't know anything.

Good luck.

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Another tip I just remembered-when climbing a grade and you're going slow, click on the 4-ways so that brain dead motorists coming up on you who have no depth perception will have a little warning bell go off in their empty head that tells them "this vehicle may not be going as fast as I am".

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This is great advise guys. Thank you!

To answer a few questions...The tranny blew, and with towing, troubleshooting and rebuilding, it cost just under 3k to get going again. The RV does have a K&N filter and Thorley Headers, air bags in the back with Bilstien shocks.

I just flushed the old brake fluid when I got the tranny rebuilt since I had the brakes go to the floor on the first trip while going about 30-35mph. Changing the fluids every year sounds like a good idea...I'll definitely look into that and a tranny cooler/temp gauge is in the works. I'm also going to check the header bolts since I hear a "hissing" but the hissing doesn't really sound like an exhaust leak, it sounds more like the AC kicked into "hi".

One other question for a FNG with a dually...is there a special gauge I can buy to check the pressure on the inside tire? That thing is a PITA to get to! and is there an adapter to air the tire up easier?

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One other question for a FNG with a dually...is there a special gauge I can buy to check the pressure on the inside tire? That thing is a PITA to get to! and is there an adapter to air the tire up easier?

There's several ways to solve this problem-you can get a long stick tire gauge- http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/rv-wheel-covers/rv-tire-gauge.htm You want the one with the straight head, not the angled one.

A bit fancier way is to put extensions on the valve stems that make them easier to access- page 3 on this PDF https://www.miltonindustries.com/uploads/Pages_12-16.pdf

If you really want the cat's meow, and the ability to check the pressure on all 4 rear tires at a glance, Cat's Eye's are the ticket http://www.linkmfg.com/catseye/catseye.html They come in a range of PSI's that the eye opens at, and you can fill both tires off the same schraeder valve.

Whatever your pocket book desires!

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Thanks CH. Seems we can always count on you for the answers.

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Know exactly how tall it is. I've seen several OOPS! with gas station overhangs as well as drive-through style buildings. Fortunately, most owners of these establishments have half a brain (or their insurance company does) and they post the clearance.

Practice backing up - before you need to do it.

Get a daily walk around routine, lights, tires (including spare), fluids, damage. Keep a quart of oil and a quart of ATF in the vehicle. Nothing sucks more than having to run out to get either when you need it and don't know the area.

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Oh, wow, were there any survivors?

That's the worst that I've seen.

Most were a lot of damage to the vehicle and the building, some even shifted on their foundation, but none collapsed.

Thought of something else. You can get one of those fancy wireless tire monitors that will tell you the PSI and temperature of all the tires. But it's a whole lot cheaper and more reliable to just do a walk around before you drive off.

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Oh, wow, were there any survivors?

That's the worst that I've seen.

Most were a lot of damage to the vehicle and the building, some even shifted on their foundation, but none collapsed.

Yup, driver and passenger were without any major injuries (minus loosened bowels, soiled clothing, scrapes and heart palpatations).

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People that do things like in your video should be forced to drive vehicles with the over sized load test whips for the next five years. He was short by a good two feet. Or I guess I should say, he's now shorter by a good two feet.

I don't know what they're called, but what I'm talking about is a really long pole that the pilot car has strapped on the front end, it's as tall as the load, so if the pilot car's whip smacks a bridge or other overhead obstacle, the over sized load driver knows he ain't a gonna fit.

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I'm not sure if this has already been stated... if the operator is sitting in front of the steering axle then they must start their turn after the steering axle pass's the corner of the intersection. People have a tendency to start their turn when they pass the corner while in the drivers seat. If you're sitting in front of the steering axle you can't take corners like you're driving a car. You must take turns wide or you rear tire will go over the curb.

Coach style RV

RV%20retirement%2014.jpg

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Beware of the coach overhang behind the rear tires. You don't want to turn to sharp with something beside you on the side your turning away from that overhang swings way out. Like if your at a gas station and the pumps are on your left and your turning right make sure you pay atention to your left rear against the pumps.

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