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Old 11-14-2021, 01:45 PM   #1
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Maybe engine time

I still need to have it fully diagnosed but a week ago I took her out for a spin and heard a strange sound coming from the engine. The sound is a like a tick but more of a PFFFFFT sound. Frequency of the sound changes with engine RPM. It gets louder when the engine is under load but is almost none existent when not. Louder when the engine is cold and gets quieter after it's been run for a while. To me is sounds more like an exhaust manifold leak than anything else but now I'm not sure. Pretty sure it's not lifter tick.

I'll be looking for a RV mechanic that can, and is willing, to work on a 454 based P32 motorhome in the Atlanta area. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? What options if the engine does need to be replaced. Rebuild? Replace? Crate or used?

Just looking for some inspiration and suggestions on how to deal with this.
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Old 11-14-2021, 04:22 PM   #2
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454 needing attention

Have a good mechanic look at it. Get a gray haired old guy that is familiar with old school 454 big block Chevys. Ask around at any local drag strip if there is one close by. A dirt track or small speedway is another good spot to find a big block Chevy expert.

If it truly needs a replacement engine check out Jasper Replacement Engines from Jasper, Indiana. They are the best IMHO. I have installed 6 Jasper engines over the years and they have been flawless. They have a program to remanufacture your current engine if you want to maintain a numbers matching vehicle. Not the least expensive but the best engine and the best warranty.
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Old 11-14-2021, 05:03 PM   #3
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A decent mechanic can carry out several tests to determine the condition of your engine before leaping to the conclusion that you need major work. Compression test, leak down test, etc., even oil analysis, to see what is going on.

Pull the dipstick, do things look normal.
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Old 11-14-2021, 05:45 PM   #4
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I was at the Petit LeMans this week and that's what got me concerned. I had Motul do an engine oil analysis since they were doing it for free for spectators. The only problem that came up was a higher than expected copper level. They said it could be from bearings or from a failing oil cooler. I did just replace the oil cooler that was leaking so that could have been the issue. Just don't like the idea of a failing bearing causing it.

Strange thing is the sound doesn't sound like typical rod knock. I'll see when I find a good big block mechanic to take a listen.
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Old 11-14-2021, 05:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by 92landyacht View Post
I still need to have it fully diagnosed but a week ago I took her out for a spin and heard a strange sound coming from the engine. The sound is a like a tick but more of a PFFFFFT sound. Frequency of the sound changes with engine RPM. It gets louder when the engine is under load but is almost none existent when not. Louder when the engine is cold and gets quieter after it's been run for a while. To me is sounds more like an exhaust manifold leak than anything else but now I'm not sure. Pretty sure it's not lifter tick.

I'll be looking for a RV mechanic that can, and is willing, to work on a 454 based P32 motorhome in the Atlanta area. Any suggestions on how to deal with this? What options if the engine does need to be replaced. Rebuild? Replace? Crate or used?

Just looking for some inspiration and suggestions on how to deal with this.
It may have broken a exhaust manifold bolt like the LS engines are famous for. My 6.0 did it and it sounded exactly like you described and was loud on a cold engine and under load getting quieter as things warmed up and closed the gap. There is a repair kit for the 99+ LS engines that is very simple to install without removing anything from the engine but I haven't seen anything for the old 454s. Crawl underneath and look at the rear most and front most bolts on the lower side of the exhaust manifolds and see if one is gone. You are looking for nuts as the 454 has studs with nuts. Possible a nut or two just came off, that would be an easy fix. But that usually only happens in dry country where rust is non-existent.
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Old 11-14-2021, 07:28 PM   #6
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It may have broken a exhaust manifold bolt like the LS engines are famous for. My 6.0 did it and it sounded exactly like you described and was loud on a cold engine and under load getting quieter as things warmed up and closed the gap. There is a repair kit for the 99+ LS engines that is very simple to install without removing anything from the engine but I haven't seen anything for the old 454s. Crawl underneath and look at the rear most and front most bolts on the lower side of the exhaust manifolds and see if one is gone. You are looking for nuts as the 454 has studs with nuts. Possible a nut or two just came off, that would be an easy fix. But that usually only happens in dry country where rust is non-existent.
The sound does seem to be coming from the right front of the engine. I plan to pull the engine cover and see what I can find. If it is a snapped exhaust stud, I'd be ecstatic. Just don't want it to be a rod bearing. That would probably mean one less AS on the roads.
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Old 11-15-2021, 07:26 AM   #7
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That sure seems like the typical exhaust manifold leak. Have you had the doghouse cover off and revved the engine?
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Old 11-15-2021, 07:58 AM   #8
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Possible Exhaust leak

454's were famous for cracking the stock cast iron exhaust manifolds under high load conditions. Lots of them were replaced by custom headers. If the problem with yours is indeed a cracked manifold or busted stud, which I hope it is, see if there are aftermarket headers available for your application.

At the same time a nice custom bent true dual exhaust system will help that old 454 breath a little better.
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Old 11-15-2021, 07:58 AM   #9
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When the manifold pooped on our '95 Burb 454 @ 58k I went the full BanksPowerPack route.
I second the Jasper replacement if it comes to that.(we even offered them as an option at the Chevy store when needed.)

Is it just the noise without any loss in power that is the concern?
A hiss or leak sound can also be a restricted exhaust (cat converter), but it would also cause a noticeable loss in perf/mpg.

Good Luck

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Old 11-15-2021, 10:07 AM   #10
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No noticeable loss in power. Oil pressure normal and no smoke from exhaust. Oil looks clean with no metal visible. In fact the oil looked almost new. The only concern was the oil analysis that came back with coper at elevated levels pf 47.27 parts per million. It was the only metal of concern out of a long list to wear metals including:
Iron
Chrome
Nickel
Aluminum
Lead
Tin
Titanium
Silver
Antimony
Cadmium
Manganese

Contamination and Chemistry levels were all OK as well.

I did check the previous owner's repair history and they did have to service the exhaust manifold once. No notations as to what was done though. Just says serviced manifold.
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Old 11-15-2021, 11:03 AM   #11
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If you're real lucky and have minimal rust you may only have to tighten the nuts up, unless the gasket failed. I believe the 454 uses exhaust manifold gaskets? Also check the donuts where the pipe clamps to the manifold.
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Old 11-15-2021, 12:47 PM   #12
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Yep, I'm hoping to be lucky. I'll get a chance to take a closer look in a few days.

Just for grins, I priced out a Jasper engine.... At over $5300.00 for the engine plus shipping, plus installation it would be hard for me to think about an engine replacement on a motorhome this old.
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Old 12-18-2021, 04:22 PM   #13
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The ole girl is now at the RV shop for diagnostics. Keeping my fingers crossed that it's something simple. Should know in a few days but they're very backed up due to a shortage of mechanics. Go figure.
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Old 12-19-2021, 08:06 AM   #14
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Getting a vehicle into a service shop anymore seems to be rather difficult. The pandemic seems to be forcing people to keep their old vehicles running instead of buying new.

Hope it ends up being something simple!
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Old 01-06-2022, 01:27 PM   #15
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Just got word from the RV shop. Looks like both of the exhaust manifolds are cracked and will need to be replaced. Right now, they're estimating total cost of repairs to be ~$2200. Could be worse but still a bit pricey.
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Old 01-06-2022, 04:37 PM   #16
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Just got word from the RV shop. Looks like both of the exhaust manifolds are cracked and will need to be replaced. Right now, they're estimating total cost of repairs to be ~$2200. Could be worse but still a bit pricey.

replaced with what ?
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Old 01-06-2022, 05:02 PM   #17
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396's, 427's and 454's both run HOT. The Engines also are squeezed into the space available, too. It is not the replacement of the manifolds, but if the engine needs to be dropped. Replace BOTH if they drop the engine.

Have a compression check. Price a valve job if the engine is pulled. Rings could be bad, then the replacement engine begins to sound better. Then the Transmission breaks a seal gasket.... Have fluid dripping? Sometimes best to add transmission fluid if modest leaking.

All depends on 'future plans of ownership'. I learned on fixing my own cars and hot rodding. Now... buy new and have been much happier for doing so.

If you plan to keep what you have is one thing. What about welding the manifold cracks? Cracked heads are easily done. Then I would get a valve job while at it.

Lots of options. Find a garage that will look and give you some options. If the engine needs to be dropped, which after looking at the engine in a 345 Airstream RV... I would not want to even get close to that.

How long have you owned this RV? Many sell their RV before things fall off. My neighbor has not figured that out... after TWO.
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Old 01-06-2022, 08:14 PM   #18
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fwiw, our 345 came to us with a pronounced exhaust manifold leak. I donít have the receipts at hand, but I recall paying Summit Racing about $700 for a set of Doug Thorley headers and had to wait awhile for them to be built, and about the same amount to a really good shop in Missoula to install them. This was about three years ago.
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Old 01-06-2022, 09:35 PM   #19
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Drawing on my Central Office time, fielding calls, we found that a lot of RV manufacturers (or aftermarket repair establishments) were not installing (or re-installing) the rubber skirting in the fender well. If they aren't there, you will see exhaust manifold failures, and repeated failures of replacements.

Do you all have them? I seem to recall Airstream was one of the offenders at that time.

Same thing for the close out skirts between grille surround, radiator and fan housing. High coolant temps.
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Old 01-07-2022, 06:22 AM   #20
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Drawing on my Central Office time, fielding calls, we found that a lot of RV manufacturers (or aftermarket repair establishments) were not installing (or re-installing) the rubber skirting in the fender well. If they aren't there, you will see exhaust manifold failures, and repeated failures of replacements.

Do you all have them? I seem to recall Airstream was one of the offenders at that time.

Same thing for the close out skirts between grille surround, radiator and fan housing. High coolant temps.

Starting in the mid 80's, I have seen the fender well metal skirting in place. Early 80's were typically missing them. Same for the radiator surrounds, except they were made of deteriorating rubber. I am one of the offenders to not have replaced the radiator surround and should consider doing that.
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