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Old 05-17-2015, 07:34 PM   #1
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Gas vs. Diesel

Without searching through the entire forum, would anyone have any good links or discussions on gas vs diesel engines specifically in Airstreams? I am a diesel fan but my mechanic would kill me. I would also like to know the differences in the different diesel engines/tranny combos and which performed best. It will go into any decisions I make on purchasing one. I am leaning toward the 24.
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:48 PM   #2
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Without searching through the entire forum, would anyone have any good links or discussions on gas vs diesel engines specifically in Airstreams? I am a diesel fan but my mechanic would kill me. I would also like to know the differences in the different diesel engines/tranny combos and which performed best. It will go into any decisions I make on purchasing one. I am leaning toward the 24.
I bought a diesel - mainly because I always wanted to try one, and am very happy with it when towing our 10,000GVW 30 footer up and down mountains in the SW. I don't regret the purchase.

But it is probably about $10k more than gas, and is probably overkill for a 24 footer, so unless you just want one (as I did!) probably not justifiable.

If you do opt for one, I doubt you'd go wrong with any of the big three. Ours happens to be a GMC with the Duramax/ Allison combination and trailer package.

We bought it new in 2008 and have towed the trailer 35,000 trouble free miles with it so far - and anticipate the same for a few years yet!


Brian.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:17 PM   #3
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In this case I was not clear enough. I am looking at an older model from the '70s-'80s era. My mechanic says the only good diesel is one that is still under warranty. So he would agree with your decision though! I am trying to find out time tested results.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:30 PM   #4
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The problem with Diesels in my opinion.... the Low Sulfur Diesel! Back in the day if you spilled a little Diesel Fuel on the concrete it would be there for days & days & days, not today! The Tree Huggers have even ruined Diesel!!
The older diesel engines would last a million miles or more but maybe not anymore, the sulfur helped to lubricate the engine. Those in the know add a lubricant to the fuel to help offset the "cleaner" diesel. I use Dextron III in my 6V92 Detroit Diesel that is in our '82 Newell Motor Coach.
PS after having to "Lemon Law" my '07 "Powerstroke" I have chosen a '14 Silverado with Gasoline Engine to tow my '58 Traveler and everyday needs.
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Old 05-17-2015, 08:39 PM   #5
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In this case I was not clear enough. I am looking at an older model from the '70s-'80s era. My mechanic says the only good diesel is one that is still under warranty. So he would agree with your decision though! I am trying to find out time tested results.

There aren't that many '70s-'80s diesel Airstream motorhomes out there to choose from. With few exceptions, they will have an Isuzu motor and modified TH400 transmission. From what I read here, with some care and patience they will last a very long time. There are, however, many mechanics to choose from.
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Old 05-17-2015, 09:06 PM   #6
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diesal vs gas?
No contest. if you want to use the truck/ mh for another 1 to 200,000 plus miles. diesals were made for buses and transport trucks that need to go at least 100,000 miles per year. But for the average joe perhaps putting on 10 to 20,000 miles per year, they are a waste of money. Not only is the initial cost $10,000 more but the maintenance costs are out of this world. And then the cost of fuel is somewhat higher per gal. And for what reason? To brag to your buddies that you have a diesal? If that is what you want, go for it. Do you need one? To pull an Airstream? no. to power a m/h? not unless it is much longer and heavier than a 32fter. or even a 36 fter. And then there is the joy of driving thru the campground spewing out smoke and fumes to piss off others in the campground. sorry to burst some peoples bubble but you really need to separate the needs vs wants.At least imho.
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Old 05-17-2015, 09:43 PM   #7
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Wow, from the man of few words department, who thinks we all have some telepathic abilities....

All the previous posters are right in some way or another, although woodytwo has a clear case of diesel envy.....or is that diesal envy, (must be that bio french fry stuff, and he's pissed off for making the campsites stink of Mcdonalds)

If you're looking for a 24' diesel moho I really doubt they ever made one. I'm pretty sure most 24' moho's were Argosy units which were all gassers. However that doesn't preclude someone from converting it to diesel. I have seen the Isuzu turbo diesel on a 26' (custom order from Airstream), 28' rear baths and more commonly on the 31's like mine, with diesels going right up to the 370's. The Isuzu's were paired with the Turbo 475 tranny's although later in 84+ the 4sp Allison was an option. If you're looking at a rig to drive faster than "55" comfortably, you may want to go with a gasser.

The new modern diesels (2007+) are going through the very same growing pains that gas engines went through in the 70's and 80's with stricter emissions forcing manufacturers to resort to voodoo science to try and get diesels to comply; often with (expensive for the owner) bad results. Cummins boys with the newer Ram 6.7l are resorting to 21 different mods just to make the trucks run right and in doing so are trashing all the get clean crap. Particulate filters on a VW TDI diesel cost $4,500.00 to replace when needed.

The old diesels like my Isuzu 5.8 with its mechanical everything is a pretty bulletproof motor (just don't overheat it). It runs like a swiss digital, gets great MPG in my 31' and I wouldn't trade it for the world. It really doesn't require too much maintenance other than 15L oil changes but you do want to keep a rather jandiced eye on the oil pressure and temp gauges. Diesel conditioner will alleviate the low sulfur diesel problems and keep the injectors clean which is critical as you don't want an injector piddling on a piston.

The life spans of the diesels is 3-1 in comparison to the gassers. You will swap 3 454's to resleeving one diesel.

Clear as mud?
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:06 PM   #8
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Great advice! I appreciate all the feedback. I was asking in respects to the 24's because I did see a couple for sale. It is possible they were converted. I did not look that far. So Woodytwo kind of nailed it for me. I love the allure of the diesel, but for now I will not be traveling super long distances for long periods of time. Unfortunately that has somewhat convinced me to go to gas. It also depends on what comes up for sale. If I happen to find a diesel 24 for a steal (yeah I know, good luck) then I would still jump on it.

But now another question in regards to gas: 350 vs 454? I used to drive a gm 2500 with a 350 and I could pull a bobcat skid steer without knowing it was there. I really liked that engine. I find it hard to believe it would not be plenty sufficient for a 24. As I said, I will not be spending huge amounts of time on the road, and as of now, I do not plan on towing. Is the 350 stretched thin on a 24? Is there evidence that it is under a little too much strain? The only reason I ask is for mileage. I have not seen the mileage for a 350. I know the 454 is around 6-7 mpg.
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:20 PM   #9
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Diesel fuel economy 36ft motor home = 14 no toad, 11 w/toad.

Gasoline fuel economy 36ft motorhome = 8 no toad, 11 w/toad.

Both models had an 80 gallon fuel tank, so range between fuel stops if important to you.

Diesels will climb a grade easier, and cooler than gasser.

Maintenance is cheap on older diesels if you are handy with a ratchet. Expensive if not.

Really what you run into with diesels is the unknown. Many demonize them, but show me where you can get a gasser with over 1 million miles and only oil/filter changes like you can on the 5.9l cummins.
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Old 05-18-2015, 02:34 AM   #10
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I don't think there are many 24' Argosy's with a 350. It seems only the 20' had 350 or 454, all the others were 454.

Having an old Isuzu diesel the filters and oil change are the real maintenance items. Not really a big deal. If you want to see how the 454 does look at the mohos for sale adds and see how many have new or rebuilt engines with less than 75000 miles on the coach. My old Isuzu is pushing 180000 miles. By the way that is less than 6000 miles a year over 33 years.

The premium on a new diesel is pretty steep but in a 35 year old moho the condition of the coach means more to the price than the diesel does. If you like to drive fast put a Gear Vendors overdrive in, a simple installation. I can cruise at 70 comfortably and 62 to 63 is almost like a fast idle.

There is a reason that trucks and buses and just about anything industrial runs on diesel.
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:07 AM   #11
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Gas vs. Diesel

There is a significant difference it the commercial chassis like the Spartan EC2000 or the Freightliner vs the P30. These chassis are designed to run 100,000 miles a year vs 100,000 total.

In either case neglect can bite you in the posterior. Sitting for long periods can be more of an issue than mileage. Improper operating practices can lead to expensive damage on both. Probable more so on the commercial chassis.

Unfortunately, the 94 and 95 360s are the only option on the classic.

I'm finding that maintenance on the Spartan is really easier that lighter vehicles. Everything is built to be serviceable. You need bigger tools and shop at different store for parts. Prices are higher than discount parts we buy for our cars and bitch about them failing after a short time.

I'm not slamming the P30 and they can be reliable and enjoyed for years if properly cared for.
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:14 AM   #12
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If I find a diesel I can afford, I think I would jump on it. I know they made the 24 in a 350 though, so I am going to keep looking for one for now. But only if it makes sense. I take it from the silence no one has any experience with one though. In a 24 that is. I have been toying around with the idea of a 20' too, so I would still like the feedback of anyone that has had the 350. I think it was interesting that a link one of you sent talked about the 350 as a "throw away engine". Something to be mass produced, used for racing and trashed. It was never really intended to be used as a durable long use engine. It was just thought of as reliable since there have been so many made.
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:41 AM   #13
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Kota, that is something I was going to bring up. Although I would appreciate the day I could have the luxury of owning either the P30 or the 360, I think the point of sitting around means a lot. I think no machine can sit idle for any period of time and not suffer. But it seems gas engines have a better time starting up after being left sitting in the yard compared to diesels. My experience with diesels is brief, but I have owned a few Mercedes 300TD wagons (back in my biodiesel days). Those things were tough as nails. I found one in a junk yard and bet the owner $50 I could drive it out. He took the bet. I replaced a radiator hose, installed a battery, cranked it up and drove it home (and sold it the next day for $1000 he he.) So my personal experience with diesels is just the opposite from what I think is the main consensus. Since my rig will be spending more time idle than on the road, it seems that gas might be easier to maintain. But that does not come from any practical experience.
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Old 05-18-2015, 04:52 PM   #14
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I think no machine can sit idle for any period of time and not suffer. But it seems gas engines have a better time starting up after being left sitting in the yard compared to diesels.
I have to disagree with this statement. Diesel is by its own nature quite oily; a natural lubricant if you will. It doesn't turn into varnish like gasoline does if not stabilized, so its keeps parts and seals lubricated for the long term. Diesel is not as corrosive as gas ESPECIALLY gas with Ethanol.

For an example, I have a friend in Australia that returns every five or so years to Canada. He has three Toyota Landcruisers stored at his Moms place, a FJ40 (gas), BJ42 (diesel) and a BJ60 (diesel). Both diesels will start up with little or no fuss and a bit of smoke; he gave up trying to start the gasser.

If your more comfortable with gas, buy a gasser. All we Airstreamers want is for a neglected old Argosy to find a great home with someone that cares.

Cheers
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