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Old 08-23-2019, 07:20 PM   #1
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1988 29' Airstream 290
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1988 290 LE: 8.1L + Allison Swap

Thought you guys would get a kick out of this. Stage 1 of my 8.1L swap in my motorhome. Big thanks go to Moodified13 for not just showing it was possible but for providing lots of guidance along the way

First step was was getting the beat-ass old 454 and TH400 out of the rig - a bit of a tricky task when you only have inches of vertical clearance and no way to get a standard engine lift in there.

Referring the historical documents left by Moodified, we built some forklift extenders bolted up to the exhaust manifold studs. We then lifted and pulled the engine/tranny out through the front.

Few things I would do differently the second time - but it worked well enough.
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:24 PM   #2
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8.1+ Allison -Continued

More pics of the engine + tranny removal
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Old 08-23-2019, 07:37 PM   #3
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8.1 + Allison Swap

We were feeling pretty scrappy and resourceful with our bolt-on lifting forks + tractor setup. Until we tried to lift for the first time. Nada. Turns out the lifting capacity drops off quickly as you move out from the bucket attachment point. Luckily we had my engine hoist and were able to scrap together the non-OSHA approved jerry rig shown here.
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Old 08-24-2019, 04:33 AM   #4
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Innovate, adapt, overcome.

Stay tuned for the next chapter shoe horns and grease on the tight spots plus a bigger lifter.
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Old 08-24-2019, 08:45 AM   #5
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1987 34.5' Airstream 345
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Hey,
Your going to put an 8.1 cummins in there? Is there room for that? Is it a 8.1B model or just an 8.1. The b model is a full blow diesel, rebuildable with sleeved cylinders like a big OTR truck engine. I had one of those in my FL70 FedEx truck.very good engine. I got 10-13 mpg , and I weighed empty, I think about 12 K. I'd be interested in your progress. Would you take a ton of pictures. I may go diesal for something like that. They got tons of power. You wouldn't t be slowing down on hills, that's for sure. DJ
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Old 08-24-2019, 03:52 PM   #6
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I think it's the 8.1 GM big block gasser. Replacing the 454, 7.4.
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Old 08-24-2019, 03:53 PM   #7
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Hopefully he will be putting the allison 1000 in with it!?
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Old 08-24-2019, 04:14 PM   #8
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8.1l + Allison

Yep - putting in an 8.1L vortec gas engine plus the Allison 1000. Uses the same motor mounts as the 454 but looks like itíll still be a tight fit
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Old 08-24-2019, 05:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davejay View Post
Hey,
Your going to put an 8.1 cummins in there? Is there room for that? Is it a 8.1B model or just an 8.1. The b model is a full blow diesel, rebuildable with sleeved cylinders like a big OTR truck engine. I had one of those in my FL70 FedEx truck.very good engine. I got 10-13 mpg , and I weighed empty, I think about 12 K. I'd be interested in your progress. Would you take a ton of pictures. I may go diesal for something like that. They got tons of power. You wouldn't t be slowing down on hills, that's for sure. DJ
Yeah, don't think so... You'd seriously have to rethink the doghouse, front suspension and your sanity.
Cheers
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Old 08-24-2019, 09:30 PM   #10
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They say the exhaust manifolds are the same bolt pattern between the two? Just curious.
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Old 08-24-2019, 10:32 PM   #11
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The vortec 8100 is externally identical to the 454. The Allison is a monster compared to the th400.

Overall, a much better setup than a metered fuelmleak and no overdrive!
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:49 AM   #12
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Did you manage to hunt down a 6-speed Allison or going with a 5-speed?
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Old 08-25-2019, 08:17 AM   #13
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I am watching this, I am interested in the control electronics part of the job. What are you using?
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Old 08-26-2019, 09:34 AM   #14
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I am watching this, I am interested in the control electronics part of the job. What are you using?
I started with a complete donor assembly (8.1L + Allison + accel pedal + all harnesses, computers, sensors, etc) so everything already worked together. From there I added a new Howell harness and had the ECM reprogramed for the new application.
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Old 08-26-2019, 10:31 AM   #15
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Very impressive!

Just so you're aware a standard engine hoist works quite well for removing/installing the 454 engines in these coaches. You just need to use a lifting plate like the one below.

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Here's a couple of pictures of the 454 being installed in my 74 Argosy.
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The only issue I had was I ran out of clearance at the top so I had to jack the front of the coach up slightly during the engine installation process. I didn't have this issue when I removed an engine from a 1986 345. The 345 sits taller than the Argosy which is what caused the jacking issue on my Argosy.

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Old 10-04-2019, 01:48 PM   #16
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Very impressive!

Just so you're aware a standard engine hoist works quite well for removing/installing the 454 engines in these coaches. You just need to use a lifting plate like the one below.

Attachment 350533


Here's a couple of pictures of the 454 being installed in my 74 Argosy.
Attachment 350530Attachment 350531


The only issue I had was I ran out of clearance at the top so I had to jack the front of the coach up slightly during the engine installation process. I didn't have this issue when I removed an engine from a 1986 345. The 345 sits taller than the Argosy which is what caused the jacking issue on my Argosy.

Attachment 350532

Brad
That definitely would have been a lot easier on us during the removal process. The 8.1L is several inches taller than the 7.4L liter and we had minimal clearance at the top even while lifting from the sides/bottom. Oil pan cleared the frame rails by < .5" as well - tight fit all around!
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Old 10-06-2019, 08:53 AM   #17
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That definitely would have been a lot easier on us during the removal process. The 8.1L is several inches taller than the 7.4L liter and we had minimal clearance at the top even while lifting from the sides/bottom. Oil pan cleared the frame rails by < .5" as well - tight fit all around!
Wow! Will all of that fit under the doghouse?
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Old 10-06-2019, 04:21 PM   #18
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Hey,
I got to thinking about what I posted. Cummins diesels come in 8.3 and 5.9 configurations. I got a customer, that builds boat motors,and he uses 8.1 s in that application. His engines are supercharged. Is yours. That would be a trick setup. He buys OE crate motors, all set up from the factory. Keep us posted, would you? Tons of pictures too. Suggestion, make your engine Hoist vertical boom about four feet long. That will allow you to go straight in with the horizontal boom. I like the additional engineering you needed for getting it out. We guys are amazing sometimes. Who was Rube Goldberg, and where did that saying come from. DJ
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