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Old 12-20-2002, 06:27 AM   #1
Rik
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Unhappy Motorhome engine replacement

I went back to Alabama to get my new-to-me 1983 Airstream motorhome, and found that is has a bad rod bearing. I would like to put in a Target or Mr. Goodwrench engine, but the upshot of dozens of phone calls is that GMC/Chevy apparently doesn't have the carbureted 454 motorhome engine available any longer - it's too OLD! Kind of like me.

The coach is presently in Huntsville, AL, in the northern part of the state. I love the rig, and, one way or another, WILL get a good motor in it and bring it home to Santa Cruz, CA.

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards, and Merry Christmas,

Rik
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Old 12-20-2002, 07:14 AM   #2
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The early EFI engines just used a throttle body instead of the carb. Have you tried to find one of them? It might not be available as a dressed engine, but GM's website lists flat lifters for older engines, which to me means they must still make the long and short block.

How bad is the one in the MH? If it has just spun a bearing (knocking) and not actually thrown a rod it is rebuildable. There are dozens of outfits that do this and will give a decent warranty. Even if it is not rebuildable the only extra it will cost is the core deposit.

Try a Chevy or GMC truck dealer. These are truck chassis, they might have better part number lists than a car dealer.

John
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Old 12-20-2002, 08:29 AM   #3
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Try this. These engines were used for everything from trucks to irrigation pumps. I can't believe they are not available as a long block any more. Don't ask for the complete engine, just a short or long block.

John
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Old 12-20-2002, 08:52 AM   #4
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Brand new replacement big block Chevrolet engines are available fer sure, refered to as "crate motors" for most any application, from towing to race car. They come both long and short block or as pretty complete assemblies with some accessorys. They are reasonably priced for a new engine w/warranty. I don't have websites handy but look in any performance car magazine. Most have list of advertisers near the back. Look for Scoggins Dickey Performance Products or Berger Chevrolet, or ask the guy at the Chevy dealer that is the hot rod car guy. Chevy dealers sell 'em direect. I think the towing version is less than $2500, or a competent automotive machine shop can probably rebuild yours for a little less. Think I'd rather have the new one. Howard
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Old 12-20-2002, 08:56 AM   #5
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fuel injection instead?

A Chevy mechanic told me that you can substitute a fuel injected motor for a carb. model but you'll have to install an electric fuel pump and the "brain" to make it work. But that might mean it wont pass a California emissions test.....
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Old 12-20-2002, 09:03 AM   #6
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Howard,

I agree with your crate motor option. There are several models to choose from in the Chevy line. I will pull out my latest car mags and look for an advertisement and repost to this thread tonight.

If I remember correctly, you can get the 502 towing motor which is basically the same motor as in new workhorse chassis motorhomes. You might have to change the manifold to work with your carb setup, but you might also consider going with something like the Holley Projection fuel injection kit. Its basically a bolt on replacement for carbureted engines in a TBI setup.

If you're going to throw money at it, might as well do it right!

If you're a huge horsepower nut (like me), throw in the Ram Jet 502! Just kidding! Powerbands are all wrong.

Tripp
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Old 12-20-2002, 11:26 AM   #7
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just passed on some info to bob for a engine and transmission . im going out of town for the holidays . i live in huntsville . so call bob and he will fill you in.
later al
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Old 12-23-2002, 10:01 AM   #8
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Sorry it took me so long to get back! I flipped through my magazines, and Scoggins Dickey is probably the best place to start with crate motors. You might check with your chevy dealer too though. They might just have a 454 or 502 crate motor thats been sitting there awhile and make a deal-not likely, but you never know.

Let us know how it turns out.


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Old 12-23-2002, 11:15 AM   #9
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rik,
You might also pose your question on www.pickuptruck.com since a lot of those guys are replacing engines or have beefed them up for towing. They should have some good sources. By the way, since so many Chevy owners have complained about cold start knock due to short piston skirts on the 6.0 litre engines, it looks like Chevy is starting to replace the engine or give a 100,000 mile warranty on them according to the GM trucks portion of that forum.
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Old 12-24-2002, 08:45 AM   #10
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How about Diesel?

Below is a post from member Joe. I wonder what would be involved in converting a 454 powered unit, to a Cummins 5.9 Diesel? I know if I ever have to spend the $ to replace my big block, I will look hard at this option!

Merry Christmas to all!

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Another option for a 82 310 Turbo is a 5.9 Cummins with the 518 Chrysler automatic trans. It is a neat swap and makes a lot of power. We have done two of these in the last year and a half and they really work. Joe


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Old 12-24-2002, 12:12 PM   #11
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Gas-diesel conversion

Check your rear axle ratio; diesel run at a lower rpm than gas, you might be pushing top end pretty hard at expressway speeds. If it is turbocharged you need a source of vacuum for heater controls, brake booster, etc. You will need new motor and trans mounts, throttle cable, wiring, cooling, etc. I have seen many of these started and not finished because of the work, fabrication, and money.

Diesels are not cheap to start, expect to pay a decent amount for a used engine. Older diesels can be very expensive to maintain. For them to last they need an excellent maintenance program and you don't know the history of most donor engines. Gas to diesel conversion is not cheap, there are a ton of modifications and parts to be made. I would stick with a straight up gas replacement; by the time that dies it will be 2020 and have 200,000 miles.

John
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Old 12-26-2002, 11:55 AM   #12
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Feb. '03 issue of Off-Road shows a Ford 6.9 International diesel taken out of an F-250 and replaced with a Cummins diesel from a '92 Dodge. The article states that the '89-'98 Dodge trucks have the 12 valve non-electric Cummins motor which was easier for their install. They also stated that the '94-'98 have the best torque potential. The '92 engine was purchased for $2,000 and included the Chrysler 618 overdrive auto transmission. They also attached an Atlas II transfer case.
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Old 12-29-2002, 08:23 AM   #13
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Rik,

Have you figured out what you are going to do? I am truly sorry you have to replace you engine, but I must say I am sure this group has a bunch of us out here thinking we are one big hill away from an engine replacement and are living vicariously through you!!!
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Old 12-29-2002, 01:06 PM   #14
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Engine swap

Rik
The cummins swap is a real bell ringer but you are a long way from home to start on such a project. This project is best done when you have the luxury of time to procure parts do the job. It would be expensive to hire it all done and not be involved in the actual job. I swapped a cummins into our 82 310 and turned it into a unit that will operate above 90 mph and makes a real 14 mpg at 70 mph. The parts to do the conversion cost me about 4000 and it took about a month to do the swap in my spare time.
I dont know what to tell you about your unit but in my case the option was clear.
Good luck
Joe

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