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Old 05-30-2013, 07:13 PM   #1
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1978 28' Argosy 28
hillsboro , Oregon
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Late 454 vs early 454 & 400 vs 4L80E

1st time motorhome owner. Trying to figure out how to reach all them belts! Looked at converting to a serpentine belt. Would make things a whole bunch easier and more reliable.

Read a post where someone was doing this, followed by a post suggesting to go a step further and just drop a late 454 with all the goodies on it. Located a lo mile '93 454 w/4L80E trans.

Has anyone used the 4L80E trans and how does it compare to the 400? I see where someone here has been taking an awful long time converting to a 4L80E. I prefer to drive and not have a project. It's just that this motor and tranny have a desirable price.

Would like to hear from anyone who has done the serpentine conversion. May pick this motor up just for the brackets and water pump.
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:29 PM   #2
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I had a 4L80 in my Suburban and the mode I did that I would recomend to anyone using it with a pre 1997 ECU would be to install a BD Torque Loc. That allws you to lock the convertor in any gear at road speeds above 32 mph. Nothing beat it for pulling a hill in a lower gear. Keeps the trans temperature down to normal driving temperature.
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Old 07-23-2013, 01:09 PM   #3
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How well would this run in my 92 L/Y 454

Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
I had a 4L80 in my Suburban and the mode I did that I would recomend to anyone using it with a pre 1997 ECU would be to install a BD Torque Loc. That allws you to lock the convertor in any gear at road speeds above 32 mph. Nothing beat it for pulling a hill in a lower gear. Keeps the trans temperature down to normal driving temperature.
Anyone use this in a motor home?
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Old 07-25-2013, 08:04 PM   #4
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I have the 4L80E in my 93 LY. I like how it shifts with the OD, but when I'm towing or driving in a lot of hills I use the regular drive position.
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Old 08-07-2013, 11:02 AM   #5
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1988 34.5' Airstream 345
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Grab that setup!

Hi gbell: Welcome to the forums, and the world of classic motorhomes!
I am hoping that you have an easier time of fixing the things that you will run into on your Argosy, than I have had with my 345.
If that 454 is a running motor it's a keeper at the right price. Make sure you get the COMPLETE fuel injection system, (including the fuel pump if possible). The vehicle computer might be helpful also.
A single serpentine would be sweet.
Yes, there is a big difference between driving a 4L80e equipped motorhome and a TH475 equipped one. Slightly better fuel mileage, lower highway revs, and a less strained driving experience at speeds over 50.
Although the 4L80e is basically a TH400/475 with an overdrive, and electronically controlled shift added. The 4l80e will NOT fit as a replacement for aTH400/475, with out radical changes and additions.
Good luck.
All the best. Rich
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Old 08-07-2013, 01:59 PM   #6
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The 4L80E doesn't seem to last as long as other transmissions.
With that having been said it still usually lasts 200,000-250,000 miles.
I guess that really is a reasonable life span.
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Old 08-07-2013, 05:51 PM   #7
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I did my 4L80E in 2011 (winter project) replaced a Allison 545 that had gave up.
4L80e what have I done!
Remember to get the wiring harness and computer. The fuel pump may be in the tank of the donor, but you can get 'inline' pumps that work will, and the tail shaft housing on the new transmission will need to accommodate the e-brake (it applicable) off the 400. The drive shaft will need to be redone. The rear x-member may need to be modified. The cooling lines hookup to the 4L80E different. Your shift lever may not work. I would highly recommended a 'racing' multiclutch torque convertor.
I did learn from my errors. My change over would have been a lot smoother if the 'good' transmission I bought had lasted more than 500 miles before it burnt to a crisp.
I'm glad I did it. If the 4L80E is built right it'll take 900 horses in front of it. It is one tough tranny.
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Old 08-08-2013, 03:18 PM   #8
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Having had roughly the same size motor homes, one with Quadrajet 454 and 4L80E and the other with TBI 454 and Turbo 400, I can categorically state there is no comparison. The TBI unit is easy starting, smooth delivering power, makes you feel you have about twice the BHP, and about 40% (I'll stand by that) more economical. How much of the economy is due to the overdrive transmission is open to debate, but a considerable portion no doubt. The 4L80E always seems to be in the right gear, and takes you rocketing up hills if you wish, or climbing steadily and easily, which is the way to get the 40% fuel savings. If you read all the "How can I get better mileage out of my 454?" threads on many RV forums, it seems that a 30'+ MH of any make with the carb and Turbo 400 tranny gets 5.5 to M-A-Y-B-E 8 mpg in the long run, and the TBI plus OD tranny gets 8 to 10. Over thousands of miles with both configurations, I got about 6mpg with the first, and 9.8 mpg with the second. And that's all I have to say.
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
I had a 4L80 in my Suburban and the mode I did that I would recomend to anyone using it with a pre 1997 ECU would be to install a BD Torque Loc. That allws you to lock the convertor in any gear at road speeds above 32 mph. Nothing beat it for pulling a hill in a lower gear. Keeps the trans temperature down to normal driving temperature.

Pre '97 all you have to do is jump the ALDL connector from A to H (IIRC) with a manual switch and lock up the converter whenever you want to. Costs maybe $2. I did this on several Astro Vans and my old SOB.
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Old 10-02-2014, 12:20 AM   #10
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1978 28' Argosy 28
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Thanks for all the imput

Maybe I should just leave it all alone. After reading dozens of posts, I think my Argosy is just fine as it is. This rig keeps up with anything on the road. It accelerates up mountain passes and blows dust for other RV's to eat. The only mod that I see is a dual exhaust with glass packs. Pretty loud if standing outside. Comfortable on the inside. Maiden voyage was a 800 mile fishing trip from Northern Oregon to Northern CA. Kept my foot in it all the way and averaged over 7mpg. The 4L80E exchange sounds like more work.

Found an '86 454 from a motorhome. Same trans, same carb, but has the serpentine belt. Almost a plug and play exchange. There maybe an issue with the power steering pump for the brake boost.

Maybe I should just leave it all alone. It ain't broke.
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Old 10-02-2014, 04:17 PM   #11
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"Trying to figure out how to reach all them belts! Looked at converting to a serpentine belt. Would make things a whole bunch easier and more reliable."

If you feel changing belts is too much, read the posts of how much has to be done to get the motor out and back in

Find a good shop that has successfully changed the belts and let them do it. I thought the serpentine was impossible to get to but the guys replacing the a/c didn't have any trouble and didn't charge as they had the belt off anyway and I had the spare in the parts locker.
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Old 10-02-2014, 06:14 PM   #12
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Hillsburgh , Ontario
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I'm of the opinion that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I have the Isuzu turbo diesel with the 475 (400 with straight cut planetary gear as opposed to helli cut gears). I would love an extra gear up as opposed to the 20% reduction gear my US Gear reduction box gives me, but I'll be damned if I rip everything out that's working to put in something that may not. I did think that a 6 sp Allison would be a great fit but $ for a SAE adapter and adding a throttle position computor made me balk.

The longer I keep the computers out of my coach, the longer I can work on it.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 05-12-2017, 01:55 PM   #13
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1975 20' Argosy 20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Punch View Post
Having had roughly the same size motor homes, one with Quadrajet 454 and 4L80E and the other with TBI 454 and Turbo 400, I can categorically state there is no comparison. The TBI unit is easy starting, smooth delivering power, makes you feel you have about twice the BHP, and about 40% (I'll stand by that) more economical. How much of the economy is due to the overdrive transmission is open to debate, but a considerable portion no doubt. The 4L80E always seems to be in the right gear, and takes you rocketing up hills if you wish, or climbing steadily and easily, which is the way to get the 40% fuel savings. If you read all the "How can I get better mileage out of my 454?" threads on many RV forums, it seems that a 30'+ MH of any make with the carb and Turbo 400 tranny gets 5.5 to M-A-Y-B-E 8 mpg in the long run, and the TBI plus OD tranny gets 8 to 10. Over thousands of miles with both configurations, I got about 6mpg with the first, and 9.8 mpg with the second. And that's all I have to say.
X2 I just finished a swap.
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Old 05-13-2017, 11:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heyraylata View Post
X2 I just finished a swap.
Two nice looking AS's.

Swapped what? The belt? To a 4L80e? TBI?

The first thing I did was the TBI. Was getting 4mpg, w/4 speed 545 was going into 2nd on most long hills with my foot to the metal. After upwards of 7-8mpg and climb with the cruise w/no problems. Well till the Allison died on the way home. I did get within the 100 miles of AAA towing. Replaced it with a (bad) 4L80e. Another AAA tow home. Had rebuilt. Worked great, but by then the 454 was getting weak.
So, I rebuilt the engine to a 489ciu. Was getting 10-11 mpg till I dropped a valve in Los Cruces, MN. Paid Bogart repair shop 3X what it cost for me to build it not counting all the part I bought and it ran like crap. It took my three time putting the roller cam lifters in before the guy figured it out. They bored it from .030 to .040 over and then Bogart blamed the lousy running on the EFI which they had no clue of. Barely made it home. Then I bought a new CPU that was programmable. Still couldn't it to run. Was out on a tuning run when I to to call AAA again. That's when I started the swap to a 1996 12v Cummins and 2008 Allison 1000 6sp.
I keep having medical issues and I'm down from 3 months.... Again
Boy that was winded. But this fill the time while I heal.
Mel
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